Doing a Garbo

I can totally empathise with Greta Garbo and wanting to be alone when I consider the vast majority of the people I unfortunately must share this planet with. Most well-meaning and good people it has to be said but people who seem to feel (in my experience anyway) that I must toe a certain line, or be excluded. I am only too happy to be shunned in that instance.

Tonight was a case in point. I have been badgered for some time to ‘go out and meet people.’ So I joined a group which usually meets online rather than in person. It was to be a quiz night and we were to use a Skype type of thing to converse.

I have noticed for a while now how masculinity seems to be viewed with a kind of disdain in certain quarters. I turned up at the appointed time. I usually stay quiet until I know people however because I was a new face and didn’t want others to feel awkward, I smiled and waved to everyone as I entered the room, introduced myself, and asked after everyone there.

There were slightly more women than men. The men in the group had soft trebley voices and had a sort of gender-neutral look about them. They seemed very pleasant though. I have a deep voice and a full beard. I’m a tall lanky kind of bloke however I look masculine.

Suddenly, two of the women turned off their cameras so I was looking at avatars although I could still hear them speaking. Then I couldn’t hear them speaking at all although conversations were clearly being had with the others there. F*cking uncomfortable, it has to be said.

There was an air of forced jollity about the proceedings. The woman running the group was very friendly however she was talking constantly and kept giggling. It turned out it wasn’t going to be a quiz night after all but a round of questions where you have to give the silliest answers which the others later would grade us all on. I’m surprised we weren’t given little shiny adhesive stars on a PDF wall-chart we could take away with us.

I could feel the panic and pointlessness of it all building within me. I thought back to when my heart stopped beating last year and the fact it would one day stop again but for all time and I thought “Do I really want to waste my evening here doing this?” I took a few minutes more of the absolute nonsense of it all and then just left, exited the window, unsubscribed from the group and then deleted my entire online account associated with it. The freedom felt wonderful.

Don’t get me wrong, I know some fantastic people. S is one of those and she will read this. I could never tire of you. Your mind is incredible. You are incredible. Another friend of mine, P, is a really nice bloke and I’m happy to know him. Then there are those of you here who Like and comment on my blog entries, as I do yours. It gladdens my heart to know you are out there somewhere in the world. However, if I am completely honest I could quite easily and happily go and live in a log cabin in the woods for the rest of my life never seeing or hearing from the vast majority of people ever again. I glean nothing from their company.

I woke up this morning with both cats laying beside me. I had fallen asleep to a live YouTube video feed of a storm-chaser driving towards a tornado over the pond, in the good old U. S. of A. Today, I have drunk coffee and listened to Genesis, Sting, Mr. Mister, Chris Whitley and Bob Dylan. I have cleaned out the snail’s enclosure, fed and watered them and put new soil in as well as changed their surroundings by moving sticks and stones around. I put new food in for the crickets. Aside from my mother, I have not set eyes on another human being all day. Just felines, insects and molluscs and that’s been just fine with me.

My mum will ask after tonight’s ‘quiz night’ and sigh heavily when I tell her that it wasn’t for me, just as she has sighed at me having no inclination to ‘climb the ladder’ in terms of career, learn to drive, be in a relationship or want to reproduce. I am kind of ‘in the world but not of it.’ As a child, nothing made me happier than sitting by myself reading books, listening to music and hanging out with a dog or cat. Invariably a cat. I didn’t know I was a ‘loner’ then or ‘weird.’ I just knew that during those times I felt most at peace with myself and the world around me.

40 years later and I’m just the same. This is me. I am doing a Garbo. Largely, “I want to be alone.”

Bastet

Bastet is a Goddess of cats, the sun, the East, fire, love, intoxication, music and dancing, joy, celebration, fertility, secrets, magic, and sex. However, she is also a Goddess of war and known for her wrathful vengeance. She has the head of a cat and a slender female body.

She protects homes from evil spirits and disease, especially ailments associated with women and children. She also plays a role in the afterlife as a guide and helper to the dead.

Due to Bastet meaning “She of the Ointment Jar” she has become known also as a Goddess of perfume, and is called the “Perfumed Protector.” She is associated with the Persea tree, which symbolizes protection and the afterlife.

Large annual festivals to honour Bast were held in Bubastis. Cats were sacred to Bast and due to her being a protector of felines, cats were treasured pets in many Egyptian households.

My own statue of Bastet


Bastet is the daughter of Ra, sister of Sekhmet, the wife of Ptah, and the mother of Mihos. Since the Second Dynasty, Bastet has been worshipped as a deity, most commonly in Lower Egypt.

It is believed that each day She rides through the sky with Her father, the sun god Ra. As his boat pulls The Sun through the sky She watches over and protects Him. At night, She turns into a cat to protect Ra from His greatest enemy, the serpent Apep.

Due to Her protective duties, she is nicknamed The Lady of the East, Goddess of the Rising Sun, and the Sacred and All Seeing Eye. She is also known as the Goddess of the Moon and is thought to be the Eye of the Moon and the Eye of Ra.

Bastet is still worshipped today and Her protection is believed to be cast over modern felines, particularly black cats.

Glorious Sunny Day

It was a glorious sunny day yesterday and I made my way out into the garden where I was joined by The Radiant Queen and The Handsome Prince.

Here’s The Queen eyeing up 2 Starlings who had dared to venture onto her patch of lawn.

In the far distance is The Handsome Prince who is guarding the entrance to The Secret Garden.


Here was the garden, washing blowing in the breeze. I love the trees at the bottom of the garden. I say trees because most presume it’s one large tree however it’s two separate ones. On the right (as you look at the image) is a Flowering Cherry and on the left, a Sycamore which must have started life as a seed dropped by the birds as we didn’t plant it. I love the fact it has grown in a way which compliments the shape of the tree next to it.


If you look at the post at the end of the hedge just to the left of the washing on the line and go up vertically from there, that’s pretty much where the Sycamore begins and it grows to the left as you look at the image. The Flowering Cherry is from the post and then goes to the right as you look at the image. Nature is amazing.

A Duty Of Care

Last night, I needed to clean out the cricket habitat and I was extra careful as I did so because these little critters jump out and I have already lost one which ended up as food for a hungry spider in the corner of the room. Anyhow, 2 escaped. I managed to get one back in no problems. The second one, I was super careful with however when it was safely back in the enclosure, it just died. There and then. That really upset me. How could something be there fully alive in one second and be completely gone the next?

I felt I should have just let it escape but my mind was on it perhaps enduring the same fate as its predecessor and so wanted to get it back at all costs. Some might say “Look Jon, they’re only crickets and in 3 months they will all be dead anyway.” That’s not the point. I brought them home because I didn’t want them to be live food for reptiles. I have a duty of care towards them for one thing. I have bonded with them and love them for another as I too love the snails in their enclosure. As I love my mum and the cats. There are gradations of feeling/emotion within that of course. However, I want them all to have the best things. A nice clean place to live with lots of space and ready access to water and good food.

I am now dreading the next clean and change of food. If they stay too long in their surroundings without a clean, ammonia gas builds up and they will suffocate. A part of me feels I should not have been enticed to where they sat on the store shelf because of their beautiful chirping however again, I couldn’t bear the thought of them being eaten alive. Some sources online report that they feel no pain however I don’t believe that. I was at a local nature reserve and inside were reptiles and in with them were live prey and I saw agitation as they tried to escape their fate. I saw fear writ large in their reactions to where they were and what was to befall them.

I strongly believe in reincarnation and so I believe they will return as something with a longer lifespan and a more auspicious position within the animal kingdom to come, however I am still their custodian while they are here and I want them to know they are cared for. I put some new lettuce in for them this morning and some cucumber. Both were fresh and moist. It didn’t take long for them to motor over to their latest food offerings however I couldn’t help but think about their friends who are not here today, friends they may miss and could be grieving for.

This brings me to Eric Clapton.

I love his music. He is my favourite musician of all time even if his recorded output over the past 25 years or so has been extremely boring. He shoots animals for fun. He fishes. He has played concerts in support of organisations which like to hunt down beautiful animals for ‘recreation.’ It has always weighed heavily on my mind. I feel conflicted over it.

Do I just listen to his work up to the time he first took to a field with a shotgun or do I bypass it (his music) altogether? What does he get from pointing the barrel of a gun at something living and flying carefree through the air, a creature nurtured and looked after up to its day of release? I am distraught over losing a cricket, which is a living creature in my care. Why does he (EC) feel the need to want to shoot at something so lovely, for ‘sport?’

Deep down, I know I have to stop listening to him altogether. No one else delivers so much to my brain receptors as EC does. His tone, feel, playing approach, note choices, what he doesn’t play as well as what he does. His magnificent bends, that vibrato. I have been listening to him this morning. As soon as he starts playing, all my concerns pertaining to this matter fall away. The trick then is not to start listening and then that can’t happen. Easier said than done though.

Returning to my crickets for a moment. I didn’t intend for any of them to die however my intent in wanting to bring them home with me came from a place of purity. I feel a responsibility, a duty of care to those around me. This is why I became vegan. Why was I distinguishing between my pets whom I doted upon and other forms of life which I sat down and tucked into without a care as to their living (and dying) conditions beforehand? In some countries they eat cats and think nothing of it.

So, just as I care about my crickets, snails and cats, I also tend to the birds in the garden. I make sure they have plenty to eat on a daily basis. I am mortified if even one feeder is running low of food let alone run out altogether. The birds won’t starve if one or two feeders are empty until the next day as there are still 10 others of various kinds in my garden plus neighbours who also feed birds. Why then am I squaring away the love of a person’s music over the lives of lovely creatures who very likely won’t be dead when they fall from the sky and hit the ground, after they’ve been shot at by the maestro in bird killer mode? Why is this okay for me?

It isn’t.

I have listened to EC daily since my 12th birthday in 1985. I had seen him play Live Aid in July of that year and was taken by his music. I wouldn’t stop going on about him so my parents bought me a cassette, which contained music of EC’s from the Robert Stigwood management years. Two songs stuck out to me right away – Have You Ever Loved A Woman? and Key To The Highway. I wasn’t just introduced to the most important musical influence of my life but also to Blues music which is my favourite genre of them all.

EC has been the mainstay of my life since then and I can say with complete honesty, he has kept me afloat on more than one occasion. Hundreds in all likelihood. Some may again say “Come on Jon, there are probably loads of musicians who are into all kinds of shady stuff far worse than what EC’s up to, which we will never even know about. Keep listening if his music brings you enjoyment.” That’s not the point. I do know and it’s still about a duty of care, this time to the truth. EC likes to shoot animals for a hobby. How would I feel if he showed up at my house today with a shotgun and asked where the birds are and would I point them out to him cos he wanted to shoot them? I wouldn’t only tell him to F*ck Off, I would escort him off the premises and guess what? I would never listen to his music again.

I know what I must do.

Wednesday 24th May 2023 – The day I begin my journey of getting clean from my addiction to EC’s music. It’s going to be hard but worth it. It won’t save the lives of the birds he is going to kill however I’m no longer feeding into that cycle by listening to & buying (into) his music. I have a duty of care after all.

Direction

I am trying to find the direction for this blog. As of yet, it is drifting rudderless and maybe it has to until I can ascertain where it needs to be? Maybe that is part of the charm? I don’t know. I just hope you will all stay around while it finds its way.

I am sitting up in bed right now. Well, ‘bed’ might be too strong a word for what I have going here because I am in the kitchen.

The thick mat which usually sits on the carpet in front of the fireplace in the lounge is the base element for the thin but firm mattress which is sitting on top of it, then a thin blanket on top of that and all finished off with pillows and a thick duvet.

My mate, a gorgeous jet black cat is beside me. My other cat is upstairs and I do one night on/one night off with my pal because he attacks my other one. Tonight is the ‘one night on’ with him.

He didn’t come back in until just after 10 p.m. because he knew I was unhappy with what he did earlier – which was to bring to me a living, petrified creature of unknown species (it could have been a small hare, a rat or a mouse). I didn’t see it other than it was in his mouth and before I could ascertain what, he had shot off down the garden and over the fence with me running closely behind. I don’t know the fate of said creature other than it was intermittently screaming in terror.

I have been watching YouTube videos this evening and I stopped a short while back to tell him (not that he can comprehend my words but maybe he would be able to get a sense of them from the feelings I imbued them with?) that he never needed to fear me ever and certainly not based upon what had occurred earlier in the day, that he could have shown up immediately afterwards and I would have let him know I wasn’t happy (by shaking my head and holding off a tad in terms of affection for a very short time) but that he would have also known, in no uncertain terms, that I was glad to see him and that he is loved by me, which he most certainly is.

I stroked his head while I said this and he nuzzled against my hand, purred and we looked at each other adoringly. He is now laying beside me, curled up, his catnip mouse toy entwined in his paws. All is good. I hope he sleeps well and has the sweetest of dreams. I hope that whatever it was I saw him with has a far more pleasant future incarnation and lives its life out free from harm also knowing it is loved, far away from presently dreaming feline predators.

What It All Boils Down To

I spent all of yesterday crying, worrying, regretting, wishing, thinking “I didn’t do enough” for my little fur pal, Xev.

I was remembering times when she came to visit with me but I was too busy working on things which felt oh so important at the time but actually weren’t at all because here I am and I could be doing them and all I feel is the palpable sadness and sense of loss due to the physical absence of my best friend.

That last day…

She was so frail. It took her a full half a minute to stand and yet when I awoke and called “Good morning Xev. Did you sleep well? Did you have nice dreams? I hope so” to where she was (which was sleeping on a chair about 10 feet away), I heard her jump down to the floor and make her way over to me. She climbed with great difficulty onto the sofa next to where I was laying on the floor.

I had been sleeping downstairs for months. I have another cat Bonnie but she (Xev) and her son Lexx would bully her so I would spend the days equally sharing time between them and then at night, I would sleep one night on the floor downstairs to be near Lexx and Xev and one night upstairs in bed to be with Bonnie. Usually though it was 4 nights with Xev and Lexx and 3 nights with Bonnie because Mum sleeps upstairs and there’s always company for her (Bonnie) at night.

So, going back to her last day (which I didn’t know was her last day) she jumped down from where she had been sleeping and walked over to where I was. She climbed up and over me with difficulty to get to the sofa and laid there right up close to me, where I stroked her and told her she was loved as I did every day. Lexx was on the sofa sprawled out beside her. I had said Good Morning to him too and told him he was loved. I never showed favouritism. Each cat got exactly the same amount of attention/affection. I just felt more of a closeness with Xev.

He soon got up and made his way outside. She stayed with me. Then it happened. She suddenly looked into my eyes and it was as if she was searching them. She had never looked at me like that before. It went on for about a minute and a half. I remembered the quote by Rumi – “What You Seek Is Seeking You.” In those precious moments, I became aware I was no longer looking into the eyes of a cat or even my best pal but rather the very depths of the Universe. I went into what I can only term a bliss state. I at first smiled and this made way for a grin. I beamed from ear to ear. We merged. There was no Xev and Jonathan. We were One.

It was at this point, she got up and it took a long time to do so as it was such an exertion for her. She moved across to where I was and climbed right up onto me so she was perched on my left arm (I was on my right side, looking towards the sofa where she had been), her little paws dangling over the edge of my shoulder and her little face looking down at me. I put my hand over her paws and she licked them. I stroked her from that very awkward position because she was laying on my left arm. I winked at her and she winked back. I had trained her to do that. She then began purring and did that long blinking cats do when they know they are safe and loved. I returned the compliment. Her purr was beautiful and contained within it so many frequencies.

We laid like that for perhaps 7 or 8 minutes and then I needed to get up. She slowly moved off and I went to have a pee, wash my hands and then went into the kitchen where I had a cup of tea. She came and stood just a few feet from me. She looked so small that morning. For some reason, I didn’t stroke her and that has bothered me however had she moved towards me, I absolutely would have done. She didn’t look up at me. Just stood there. She then went to get some water and I made my way through to the coffee table where I usually sat and used the computer.

She climbed up the armrest of the adjacent sofa just inches from where I was sitting and this exertion totally exhausted her. She half stood, half laid there shaking and panting. I moved across to her and kissed her left shoulder and she immediately began purring and leaned in to me. I told her she was loved, over and over again. That she meant the world to me. It was at this point I looked at Mum and we knew it was time.

I continued to hold her and told her she was loved, stroking her as she purred and continued to lean into me. I held her like this for 5 or 6 minutes before the carrier was placed in front of her. She fought against going in there, clinging to me. She wasn’t having any of it. Then I tried by lightly touching her paws and she let go immediately and got into the carrier with no issues at all. I didn’t know that would be the last time I would see her again or else I would have made a bigger fuss of her when she was inside the carrier. I regret not having done so.

I had no idea she was so close to death. They ran various tests at the vet’s and then she was sedated so she could be scanned. It was then they discovered she was ‘riddled with cancer.’ She was put to sleep very shortly afterwards and her passing was instant. She didn’t suffer at all.

I couldn’t be there when she died.

She died in the arms of a veterinarian, a stranger, because of all this Covid business.

She died just hours after I last saw her.

I regret not being around as much as I feel I could have been in the run up to her passing. I could have spent more time with her however when I think about it, I was there a lot of the time even if I wasn’t as actively present as I would have liked to have been and I slept down with her on the floor 4 nights out of every 7 each week. She lived in a warm, comfortable home with a beautiful garden and she was free to do as she liked. She had her toys which she loved playing with. She was told she was loved dozens of times each day.

So yes, I could have done things differently along the way but then I guess we could all say that however when it really mattered, I was there for her and when she signalled her quality of life was minimal, I absolutely did the right thing by her and I have zero regrets where that is concerned. So, with recriminations and regrets aside, what it all boils down to is that, at the end of the day, she knew in no uncertain terms, I cared about her and that she was loved.

A Grief Which Persists

On 1st September 2021, I lost the best friend I have ever had.

It was April of 2015 when I initially met her. I was outside in my garden and there she was, walking tentatively across the dew-laden grass.

She was a delight. Our eyes met and we held each other’s gaze for a few seconds and then she went on her way. I knew in that instant I had met someone important.

Every day from that point on, she would be out there. She didn’t let me touch her for a full 10 months but it didn’t matter, I would go outside just to be with her. Eventually, she let me stroke her albeit briefly and that was that. We held each other’s gaze once more. The strongest bond imaginable was forged in that moment.

Our life together began.

We built upon that bond and soon developed a rapport which was demonstrably affectionate. Tender.

Wherever I was, she was. Wherever she was, I was.

At night, she would lay up beside me and I would put my hand on her paw and she would squeeze my fingers and I would gently squeeze hers back.

She used to run towards me very much like a horse during dressage. She would hold her head up high, making eye contact and then run towards me in a sort of exaggerated yet entirely natural fashion. It was something to see. It would melt my heart every time.

She didn’t miaow, instead she would make a miniature roar type of sound. It was very cute.

I never showed favouritism with the other 2 cats in terms of time spent with them or cuddles and petting given however there was a very unique bond between us. It was as if she was a fully actualised person housed within the smallest cat body. She stood less than a foot high from the pads of her paws to the tip of her ears. She was tiny yet occupied a massive place within my heart.

Her loss has broken me.

I find myself standing outside looking for her, hoping that somehow I have got it wrong and that she is okay, alive and just lost and will soon find her way back home. I know this is not the case. I just can’t bear the thought I will never see or hear her again. I loved the sound she made when she played with her toy. Those adorable vocalisations filled the entire house which in turn became a home.

One tiny creature in the grand scheme of things, made the world of difference to me and at times, she was pretty much the only thing which kept me afloat. I suffer with depression. I live with autism. I am ‘different.’ I am ‘other’ where the human race is concerned. She saw through that. She saw me and clearly liked the person she found there and stayed by my side for nearly 6.5 years.

She was the love of my life and I miss her.

I miss her beautiful big round saucer eyes. I miss holding her close to me and hearing her purr and then feeling that purr resonate throughout my entire being. I miss her smell, which was of the garden, cookie dough, and freshly washed linen sheets all rolled into one.

She was magnificent. She was wonderful. She was kind. She was loving. She accepted me totally. She witnessed my meltdowns, and my tears. She sat with me during catatonic phases where I would stare blankly at the wall, sometimes for hours at a time. She did so without judgement. She did so because she wanted to be there, with me.

I miss seeing her run towards me and then me getting down to walk on all fours around the kitchen beside her. Always 3 times in a row which culminated on each lap with her rubbing her little face against the wall.

I miss her sitting in my lap and grooming while I stroked her. I miss watching her pause within that to look at me before going back to washing herself again.

I miss her sitting on the table in front of me, nonchalantly looking out the window yet knowing she was the centre of my attention, the epicentre of my world.

Xev is irreplaceable.

The grief persists.

I don’t just feel lonely without her. I feel alone.

I have lost the one person on this journey through life who not only truly knew me but who also completely understood me.

I was accepted. I was loved. So was she. I adored her. She was my everything.

The loss is unbearable.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑