Monthly Archives: February 2009

A Little Less Of Charley

If you have been hanging on for over a week to find out how the story of Charley the cat and his visit to the vet turned out, I apologise for keeping you on edge. If, as is more likely, you have stumbled onto the saga at this point, you might like to discover the first part of the tale here.

 I’m not one to cut a long story short unless I have to, and this is potentially a long story, so here goes.

Charley went off to the vet for the unkindest cut of all, although he had to spend the night before with the aforementioned Carol, before his ordeal. This apparently involved something called a crusher basket that held him securely while the anaesthetic was administered. After that (apparently, I wasn’t there) the deed was done and he arrived back here the same day – slightly groggy and later, as mad as hell with Sue and the rest of the world. But then, wouldn’t you be?

A day or so later, Sue noticed that all didn’t seem quite right in the area of the missing artefacts. In fact she became so concerned that I had to make a phone call to Jean, another mad cat woman who organised Charley’s whole experience. Jean then turned up and whisked him back off to the vet where some remedial work was carried out.

If you ever want an entertaining five minutes, try getting a cat that doesn’t want to go into a cat carrier. For Sue it involves wearing a coat and leather gloves (to avoid another trip to hospital, I suppose)

On Charley’s return, his determination to break out of our house seemed to increase. He has tried climbing over and through the door as well as tunnelling under the carpet. Tonight he tried to destroy the (locked) cat flap. Sue was on the verge of letting him out, but my wise counsel prevailed. I said, “Goodbye Charley, we’ll never see you again” and Sue had second thoughts.

Perhaps she should wait until he has settled down here a bit more.

Perhaps that might involve an end to the current  feline re-make of the 1960’s cult TV classic “The Prisoner“. Perhaps it might even end the ongoing boughts of alternate hissing and wailing at Sue’s number 1 cat, Misty, and pitiful miaowing by each door in turn, followed by the window and, for some reason, underneath the settee.

I think there must be a secret tunnel under the settee that only cats know about, for in turn, they have all had a fascination with under the settee.

Anyway, the pungent smell seems to have disappeared along with Charley’s two veg, although I really can’t see why our friend Tony had to christen Charley “CNN” for Charley No-Nuts.

Ride Safe


Charley – Our Adventures With A Cat

It’s important to let you know at the outset that I am not particularly keen on pets, but Sue has always had a soft spot for cats. In particular she’s a real soft touch for a cat with a sob story. So we have cats, although they tend to treat me with the contempt that I probably deserve.

We used to have three cats, Mickey, Ashie and Molly, all of whom spun a line to Sue and adopted her rather than the other way round. Unfortunately, after quite a long time as the real power in our house, all three died about a year ago in a fairly short space of time. One after a road accident and the other two of old age. Sue and I were very upset and I couldn’t  imagine that any other cat could ever replace them in Sue’s affections.

Now I’m not brave enough to make any claims about Sue’s fickleness, but on the same day as the funeral of the last of the original trio, Misty arrived at our house with Sue and for a short while was going to be our only cat.

Misty - The first of Sue's current herd of cats

Misty - The first of Sue's current herd of cats

(Is “herd” correct as a collective name for cats?)

In just a few weeks, however, Buster, a neighbour’s cat had other ideas and moved in on a part-time basis. He now sleeps and eats here, and apparently also visits a number of other local houses for more food – possibly including his owner’s house.

Buster - Sue's part-time cat

Buster - Sue's part-time cat

 Things were settled for quite a while until a fateful day last week when Sue met a fellow mad cat woman who I will call Carol (because that’s her name), who lives at the other end of our street. They got into conversation about a little ginger cat that had been effectively thrown out of someone’s house because they had a baby. This struck a chord with Sue because that’s how she got Misty as well.

I am normally quite a laid-back liberal-minded sort of guy, but the plight of this little cat even got to me. The full deyail of my views about such irresponsible pet owners are really not fit to publish on a respectable blog, but I will just say that I beleive that anyone who can mistreat an animal by leaving it outside in the cold and snow of the last few weeks is not fit to bring up a child. 

When Sue told me about this cat, my heart of stone melted just a little and I told Sue to go and fetch it. My somewhat uncharacteristic emotional response may have been a lttle premature because she couldn’t find it that night, although Sue did attract the curious attention of at least one of our neighbours who is now as convinced as I am that she is the mad cat woman that I have already claimed her to be.

A day or so later, Charley, for that is the name that Sue has endowed him with, arrived. This simple sentence hides a great deal of hissing and growling between the newcomer and Misty. It also seems that Buster cornered Charley behind a settee and there was much noise and commotion that was only broken up when Sue picked Buster up.

This might have been a bit of a mistake on Sue’s part because the cute bundle of fluff pictured above clawed and bit Sue’s wrist. It also turned out to be a mistake on Buster’s part as this was the cause for his banishment from the front room to a bed under the kitchen radiator.

Two hours later we set off to hospital when Sue’s hand and wrist were swelling up and hurting a lot. She is now on antibiotics, but otherwise OK.

It also turns out that this cat is an un-neutered tom, but that Carol has links to an organisation that will get him “done” for free.  Like everything else in Sue’s cat life, this turns out not to be simple. Originally, we were told that we would get a voucher to take him to our regular vet for the dirty deed to be carried out.  Now we hear that he is being collected on Wednesday, but that he will have to go to Carol’s house on Tuesday night. We won’t see him again for about a week after the operation when I would guess that the whole process of getting him and the existing cats to co-exist peacefully will have to start again.

With the current arrangements, there is a tense stand-off in the front room, but no further signs of physical violence. Sue even managed to grab a photo of Charley this evening.

Charley - Sue's latest cat poses in front of his own bed in our front room. Little does he know what's in store for him next week!
Charley – Sue’s latest cat poses in front of his own bed in our front room.   Little does he know what’s in store for him next week.

 I’ll let you know what happens when Charley gets back from his personal adventure

Ride Safe

T’was The Night Before Valentine’s Day

So it’s not just last thing on Christmas Eve when the shops fill up with men who have finally remembered that they really have run out of time to get that all-important present.

I bet it’s mostly the married ones who were in Tesco Top Valley’s store in Nottingham just after 8 o’clock this evening buying a Valentine Card for their wives. OK, I confess, I was one of them.

However, I wasn’t cheapskate enough to buy this card.

Tesco Value Valentine Card - as seen on the internet, but not in the store

Tesco Value Valentine Card - as seen on the internet, but not in the store

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone, but especially to my long-suffering wife, Sue.

Ride Safe

A Very Successful Launch

The alarm clock’s electronic nagging shattered our sleep at 5:45 this morning. Sue and I  stumbled out of bed, sleepwalked through breakfast and getting dressed, loaded our gazebo into the car, scraped off the ice from the windscreen and we were on the road just after 06:30.

We arrived at my work at about 07:20 am – a time that many people would consider half way into their morning, but as an office worker, it was horribly early. We weren’t even the first to arrive, as I discovered while making the first cup of tea. Our Chief Executive, Jo, had beaten me in to work (although does live a lot nearer than me).

Regular readers will know that we don’t work in some highly pressurised financial institution (thank heavens), but at the heart of the voluntary sector.  Sue doesn’t even work in the same town as me, but had come along as a guest to the launch of the Volunteer Centre South Derbyshire and South Derbyshire CVS‘s Open Day.

Dave & Sue Outside the Volunteer Centre South Derbyshire on Launch Day

Dave & Sue outside the Volunteer Centre South Derbyshire on launch day - 12th February 2009

Dozens and dozens of people came along during the morning, which we had deliberately planned to start at 8:00 am so that people could pop in on their way to work. Itself, an inspired idea because several people did exactly that. the steady flow of people from a variety of organisations across the area didn’t let up. As a newcomer to the area, I couldn’t have wished for a better opportunity to meet and network with so many people.

My own attention was very narrowly focused on the Volunteer Centre itself, although I did find time for a quick dash round the building to see what superb displays and information each of the teams had put together. I probably shouldn’t single out just one team, but the Safer Homes display was outstandingly good.

However, I have no hesitation in singling out one of my colleagues from the Community Development Team. Ellen (and perhaps more relevant, her husband Euan) pulled out all the stops to make sure that our new leaflets were delivered to us in time for the event. Throughout the whole day, we had comments from our visitors about the fantastic quality of the design and printing of these leaflets. I firmly believe that they are the very best voluntary organisation publicity materials I have ever seen in my many years in the sector.

In fact the whole event far exceeded my expectations. On reflection, I have worked out why it worked so well. The whole of CVS worked together as a team to make it happen. One of our trustees took on car-park duty (on a very cold morning). Isobel, our cleaner volunteered to work with Kay, a reception volunteer to look after the food and drink needs of our guests. Every available member of staff was on hand to talk to people about their own work and to signpost them around our building. Donna went round taking the official pictures, (although Sue also grabbed a few “unofficial” ones). Chief Executive, Jo looked after the Chair of South Derbyshire District Council, Councillor Mrs Ann Hood. Other staff, volunteers and trustees looked after the signing-in sheets, masterminded the food, collected the feedback forms, guided visitors round, carried tea out to the Volunteer Centre team  and often seemed to be everywhere at once.

This was such a contrast to my last involvement in a major event during Volunteers’ Week 2008 when I felt very isolated and unsupported. I feel really proud to be a part of the team that put on such a professional, well-organised and happy event. Yes, I really do like working at the Volunteer Centre South Derbyshire .

Ride Safe

The Bulwell Navvy Cottage And Mission

Although the Great Central Main line was one of the most controversial victims of the infamous “Beeching axe” wielded on the railways in the late 1960s, it’s physical existence in preservation at Loughborough and Ruddington has, I’m sure, helped to keep its memory alive.

The Great Central was the last main line to be built in Britain and was engineered to a very high standard. However, it is easy to overlook that the engineers and designers had very little to do with the physical work that went in to construct it.

Sue, to whom regular visitors to these musings will already have been introduced, is my wife. Some weeks ago she was wandering around some of the dusty corners of the interwebs and came across the existence of a building that had a direct connection with these navvies and was standing no more than a mile or so from where we now live until the 1980s.

This was the Bulwell Navvy Hut, more properly known as the Bulwell Navvy Mission. There is a picture of its interior at

Next door to the mission church stood a small white cottage.

Bulwell Navvy Cottage

Bulwell Navvy Cottage

I believe that this picture dates from the turn of the last century and was used as navvy lodgings.  The sign on the wall says”

‘The Navvy Mission Good Samaritan Home. One Night’s Free Lodgings – Given Only To Navvies In Tramp

It is surprising that there were still navvies living a nomadic existence within the lifetime of my own grandfather and that there must have been enough work to keep them employed. It really brings home the hard life that these pioneers must have had, away from work as well as on the job.

I am featuring the Bulwell mission and navvy lodging because they were close to where I now live, but during the construction of the railways, there must have been many such buildings around the country – many of them, I’m sure, offering far worse quality accommodation.  

There is another railway connection very close to where I live that will have to be the topic of another post here sometime soon.

Ride Safe