Sorry folks, Mobi is taking a week off.
Hopefully normal service will be resumed next Sunday – look for news of my blog updates on twitter, at @mobithailand
The life and times of a much wedded, Pattaya-based, recovering alcoholic
12 May 2013 Leave a Comment
Sorry folks, Mobi is taking a week off.
Hopefully normal service will be resumed next Sunday – look for news of my blog updates on twitter, at @mobithailand
05 May 2013 1 Comment
Not too much of note has happened in the life of Mobi during the past week.
Noo has finally got her UK tourist visa so its all systems go for our three week trip in July.
I have no idea what my brother, two daughters, and quite possibly my sister, (if she makes it from South Africa), will make of the third Thai woman (after my two wives, Noi and Dang), that I have brought to meet and stay with them.
I guess the truth is that they are all well used to my predilection for beautiful young Thai ladies, and they will no doubt take it all in their stride. I think they are very tolerant of this alcoholic, ‘black sheep’ in their family.
As I have grown older, I have learned to appreciate just how tolerant, kind and understanding they all are.
If nothing else it will provide them with endless hours of conversation, and in any event, I am quite sure that Noo will charm them and bowl them off their feet – she is such a good hearted little gem of a woman.
I am very pleased to report that I am making good progress on my efforts to raise my level of fitness and reduce the circumference of my stomach prior to my UK trip, if for no other reason that none of my jeans fit me any more.
As I wrote last week, my arduous trek to a waterfall in Koh Chang was an eye opener to my precarious state of physical well- being.
Since returning I have taken to having a short, sharp swimming session in the mornings when I get up, which has the effect of getting my heart pumping and hopefully strengthening my heart muscles.
Then at sunset, we go for a longer, brisker and more testing walk than previoiusly. We either take in a good ten minutes march up a nearby hill, or alternatively, we climb the dozens of steps up to a Buddha image perched on a high hill, just above the Wat near to my home. (see Mobi-Snaps, above)
These days, even at sunset, the temperatures are still in the mid-thirties and the humidity is still very high so I can’t pretend my walks are particularly pleasant at the moment, but I do believe they are beneficial. as I certainly feel a bit fitter.
I’m probably dreaming, but I am sure my stomach line has receded a few centimetres.
When we return from our trek, sweating and worn out, we then spend another ten minutes taking the dogs for their walk in near darkness and fin ally I wrap things up back in the pool and swim a few widths to cool off.
Life could be worse.
Say what you like about Nicolas Sarkozy and his corrupt administration and his nationalistic anti-British prattling, but the poor Frenchies have come to realise that he was a thousand times more preferable than his successor – the unrepentant Marxist, Monsieur François Hollande, – who has now held the froggy reins of power for exactly one year.
OK, the Sarkozy clique indulged in the usual French sport of ‘Ros-bif’ baiting, even trying to deflect news of the downgrading of their country’s credit rating by trying to claim that the UK economy was in much worse shape and if any country should be degraded, it should be us.
Well it was, in due course, but how much the French had to do with it nobody will ever know.
But we hardy Brits are used to our Gallic cousins across the English Channel trying to put the knife in, and with the help of the Sun, we take it all in good spirit, with an Anglo Saxon shrug of our magnanimous shoulders.
It is all good sport and frankly means very little in the grand scheme of things. It’s just the way we – and they – are.
(We understand and appreciate that their inferiority complex stems from the fact that they are still licking the emotional wounds we inflicted by whipping their beloved Bonaparte not once but twice, and by being saved by the Brits - with a little held from the Yanks…- in two world wars.)
But dear little Francois Holland went one better. He decided to go in for a little Kraut bashing. This wasn’t too smart, considering that Germany hold the keys of the Euro-kingdom.
At last year’s European summit, instead of sitting down with Mrs Merkel to hammer out a viable compromise on austerity measures, he tried to rustle up an alliance with Spain and Italy behind her back, thinking this would be enough to counter the German position.
This enraged the Germans and ironically brought Mrs Merkel and David Cameron in closer alliance than they’d ever been. Not quite what La Presidente had in mind.
Hollande’s henchmen then started making increasingly belligerent statements about “German-imposed austerity”, accusing Mrs Merkel of “egotistical intransigence” and calling for “a democratic confrontation with Germany”.
Merkel was incensed with Hollande, not least because the French president and his froggie spin doctors had allowed the German-bashing because they wanted to deflect the domestic dissatisfaction with Hollande away from him and onto problems with Germany.
The Germans then countered with comments that France was “Europe’s biggest problem child”, with a stalled economy and a “meandering” reform programme.
Sound familiar? Now where have we heard all this cross-border nationalistic bashing before?
Do the krauts have a point?
Well let’s see.
French public debt: 94% of GDP (UK: 87%)
French public spending: 57% of GDP (UK 45%)
French unemployment: at end of 2012 it was 10.2%, but, unlike the rest of the developed world, the French government have stubbornly refused to release any unemployment rates in 2013.
But we do know that unemployment in France has increased to 3.2 million, (an 11.5% increase since Hollande came to power), which is its highest ever.
By now, the French rate may well be hovering at 11%, as compared to 7.9% in UK in April, 2013. (Yes, like the rest of the world, except La France, we do publish the rates…)
It gets worse.
The internet giant, Yahoo, had agreed to acquire 75 per cent of Dailymotion, a successful French internet video site, valuing it at $300 million.
But the belligerent, anti-American minister for industrial recovery scuppered the deal by stating in an interview: “Yahoo wants to devour Dailymotion, but we told them no and that it had to be a 50:50 split”. Whereupon Yahoo called the whole thing off.
Similar grandstanding by the self-same minister had already driven the Indian tycoon Lakshmi Mittal from the Florange steelworks in Lorraine, and the American company Titan International from a floundering Goodyear tyre plant in northern France.
Then France’s budget minister, the man in charge of fighting tax fraud, was revealed to have a secret bank account in Switzerland – and in all likelihood another in Singapore – and to have lied to the president and parliament about it.
Sorry folks, but the bad news goes on and on, but I am feeling weary of the research…
Don’t I feel a little sorry for my little Gallic cousins?
Well in a way, I guess I do, in the same way as I might feel sorry for a pit bull terrier that had to be put down for attacking a child.
Just in case you think I’m just France-hater let me assure you that in my younger days I spent quite a while in that country; as a tourist, as a business visitor and latterly running a Paris office out of the Place Vendôme. So I do have a few French credentials.
The French can be rude, spiteful, disingenuous in business and in their work practises and unhelpful and deliberately perverse on a personal level.
In the rural areas of France, particularly Brittany and Normandy, of which I have some knowledge, I generally found the French to be friendly. Even in Paris, which is notoriously anti-Anglo Saxon, I did meet some very nice people.
But in the main, the citizens of Paris and other major French provincial cites are distinctly ill-disposed to foreigners and do not want them working or living amongst them.
There is still a huge anti-Semitic sentiment in the country, which from time to time reveals itself in the form of outrages of one kind or another.
It is not only the Brits, Yanks, Germans and Jews who are the targets of French anti-foreigner sentiment.
It turns out that every year, a number of Japanese tourists have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what’s become known as “Paris syndrome”.
Paris syndrome is what some polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations.
The experience can apparently be too stressful for some and they suffer a psychiatric breakdown.
Around a million Japanese travel to France every year, and many come with a deeply romantic vision of Paris – the cobbled streets, as seen in films, the beauty of French women or the high culture and art at the Louvre.
The reality can come as a shock.
An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures.
But for the Japanese – used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger – the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much.
This year alone, the Japanese embassy in Paris has had to repatriate four people with a doctor or nurse on board the plane to help them get over the shock. The only permanent cure is to go back to Japan – never to return to Paris.
But I have little doubt that the loveable little froggies will rise above their present predicaments – as they have done before after two devastating world wars.
I am sure that things will carry on as though nothing has ever happened.
Paris will continue to empty itself of its entire working population during July and August, the work police will continue to ensure that no one is allowed to work more than 30 hours a week, and that they will continue to put every conceivable obstacle in the way of foreigners who try to do business in their God-given country.
A five-year-old boy in the US state of Kentucky shot dead his two-year-old sister using a gun which was marketed for children. The gun, a .22-calibre rifle was called a Crickett and was given to the boy as a gift.
The death has been ruled as accidental. The girl was shot in the chest as her mother went outside to feed their dogs and the gun was apparently stored in a corner of the family’s mobile home.
Officials and residents in the rural Kentucky county said it was common for children to begin shooting guns at a young age.
The Cumberland County Judge said, “It’s a normal way of life, and it’s not just rural Kentucky, it’s rural America – hunting and shooting and sport fishing. There’s probably not a household in this county that doesn’t have a gun.”
The rifle was manufactured by Keystone Sporting Arms, which has a “kids’ corner” on its website featuring images of children at shooting ranges and on bird and deer hunts. The guns are sold in pink, blue and other colours and designs.
The 17-year-old company states its mission is to nurture gun safety among young shooters and displays testimonials from parents who say they are grateful to be able to go shooting with their children.
In the past three days at least three young boys have shot their sisters in the US.
In addition to the Kentucky shooting case, a five-year-old girl was shot and killed by her eight-year-old brother in western Alaska on Tuesday, while a seven-year-old boy shot his sister, nine, in the leg in Auburn, Washington state, on Thursday.
A Democratic Kentucky state lawmaker said: “Why single out firearms? Why not talk about all the other things that endanger children, too?”
This is a ‘menu link’ on the home page of ‘Keystone Sporting Arms’ website. There are three other options to click on and they all work except the ‘Cricket’ link which seems to be “either experiencing problems, or is undergoing routine maintenance”.
Or, following the shooting publicity, maybe it has been overloaded with enquiries…
I’ll let you be the judge…
I wonder… is there another country in this wide world of ours where five year old kids are encouraged to take up arms and where guns are specifically marketed for their pleasure.
You just couldn’t make this up.
We all like to bash the brutal and misogynous treatment of women under the Islam culture, yet in the heartlands in ‘The land of the Free’, they teach five year old kids how to kill each other with guns.
Why is it that the Americans themselves are the only ones who can’t see the total madness in all this?
Because generations of Americans have been brain-washed by the powerful, money-hungry gun lobby into believing that it is their God-given right to bear arms, and that the ‘seconded amendment’ was especially enacted by their founding fathers for this purpose – which it patently wasn’t.
But I am sad to say that nothing will change in my life time.
For the benefit of my non UK readers, the above title refers to two British TV dramas that were recently aired on ITV.
I am not going to do an in depth review of these two mini-series, but having seen both, I do have a few observations.
‘Broadchurch’ – a ‘whodunit’ in eight parts, set in the fictional English seaside town, was a veritable ‘tour de force’.
It was brilliantly written, directed and acted and was eminently watch-able, as was testified by the ten million or so viewers who tuned in, proving it to be ITV’s most successful drama of the year by a long way.
Unlike most crime series, there was a single crime and a single plot line running through all eight episodes, much along the lines of the highly successful Scandinavian police series such as ‘The Killing and ‘The Bridge.’
It would certainly appear that the Scandinavians have shown us the way on how to develop the characters properly and to keep the audience enthralled and on tenterhooks throughout the length of an entire story, without resorting to having a new crime to solve every week.
If I was being picky, both the Scandinavians and the Broadchurch writers were obliged to use a few ‘red-herring devices’ to keep our interest going. Having been a huge fan of the Swedish and Danish offerings, I knew that any likely suspect that emerged in earlier episodes, never mind how damning the evidence, was highly unlikely to be the ultimate killer.
But don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with formulaic drama, as long as it is new and fresh and isn’t overdone. That is why we all loved Broadchurch – because it was different, and didn’t have the case solved after one or two episodes which was then followed by new cases new characters and new story-lines.
This may sound silly, but one of the main reasons that I loved Broadchurch so much was because it was the first series I have watched in years that didn’t have a ‘Next’ section at the end.
You know, the part where within a few seconds of an episode concluding, they tell you exactly what is going to happen in the next episode.
I don’t know about you, but I absolute detest these appalling and dumbed-down efforts to ensure we tune in next week by showing us all the juicy parts of next week’s story. It absolutely drives me crazy, and every time a ‘next’ starts, it’s a race against time for me to shut it off before all is revealed.
I suppose if you are the kind of person who reads the last chapter of a book before you start reading the remainder, then fair enough – but my gut feeling that few of us ever do that. If we like a good story, be it a book or a TV drama, we like it to read or watch it in chronological sequence, and not be continually titillated, by what’s coming next.
Can you imagine coming to the end of a chapter in a novel and then reading:
‘Next! Tom dumps his girlfriend! Jimmy is caught stealing from work, and Jennie’s cat is poisoned….’
Why don’t the producers have sufficient belief in their work to feel that the sheer enjoyment of watching will ensure the viewers will tune in again next week, or the next day? It beats the hell out of me, and is one of my massive gripes with today’s television.
Then there was ‘Lightfields’ – an ambitious, well-crafted, supernatural ‘whodunit’ drama spanning three separate generations in the Nineteen forties, seventies and 2,000’s.
I say well- crafted, as it was superbly filmed, acted and directed, and by rights should have been every bit as successful as Broadchurch.
It was interesting to compare the two. In many ways, both were similarly constructed – a running whodunit with an in depth, ‘soul-searching’ examination of the principal characters.
Yet one succeeded and one failed. Broadchurch attracted over 10 million viewers, whereas Lightfields slumped to under 3 million on its second episode.
Well, I think it was purely down to the script. It wasn’t even that the dialogue was bad – it was just that the underlying plot simply could not hold our attention in the same way that Broadchurch had managed to do
The denouement in the final episode of Lightfields, where we finally learned who did it and why they did it and why the ghost had been haunting certain people through the years was a total let down.
It lacked credibility, (even accepting the existence of ghosts), and gave us a soppy, cheesy, happy ending, that no one was expecting or wanted. But by that time most of the viewers had already deserted the sinking ship…
There was also something else.
Clearly the producers of Broadchurch were so confident of keeping their audience that they saw no need to slap on a ‘next’ at the end of each episode.
In contrast, Lightfields was so brazen in its approach to this device that before you even realised the current episode was over you were watching ‘key’ excerpts from the next episode. You watched for several seconds before you realised what was happening and before the producer had the good manners to plaster ‘next’ across the screen.
Frankly I was livid!!
But you know that already.
Click here for this week’s collection of Mobi-Pics
28 Apr 2013 Comments Off
The past week was dominated by our little mini-break to Koh Chang, as you can see from the photos.
In days past when I owned a saloon car (sedan to you Americans), any time I went away somewhere with my wife and/or family for more than one night, it would always be a battle to cram all our things in the boot,(trunk).
In spite of our best efforts, we always ended up with a load of excess stuff that just wouldn’t fit in the boot and the poor back-seat passengers had to nurse it all the way to our destination.
But it seems that there is a rule that the amount of luggage and junk you take with you on a journey up-country will be directly proportional to the space available.
So we set off last Tuesday, at 8 a.m. with so much stuff in the back of our pick-up that anyone would have thought we were going on a three month safari. Or maybe we were going to a Thai car boot….
It is a nice, easy, 3 hour journey from Pattaya, down the 36 highway to Rayong and then join the ubiquitous Sukhumvit Road, (apparently the longest road in the world) , designated route 3, down through Chanthaburi to Trat province where the car ferry awaits visitors to Koh Chang.
I drive quite a bit slower these days, partly because I am getting older and understand the need to be more careful, partly because I no longer drive a BMW , (although the Triton has a surprising turn of speed, if I so wish to put my foot down), but mainly because I have a ‘back seat driver’ sitting next to me who continually scolds me whenever I drive too fast.
Despite all my, (and Noo’s efforts), to keep my driving within legal limits, I still managed to attract the attention of a lone cop standing in the middle of the road, somewhere near Chanthaburi, who unilaterally decided that I was speeding.
How he determined this I have no idea as there was no evidence of speed cameras or radars and he didn’t even have an accomplice situated back down the road to warn him of my coming.
It transpired that the main plank of his evidence rested on the fact that I was driving in the outside lane and that anyone in the outside lane, must, by default, be speeding.
Anyway, he was friendly young soul, who asked me if I spoke Thai. When I replied in the affirmative he proceeded to demonstrate his impressive knowledge of English with such words as ‘going too fast’ and ‘must pay money’ tending to dominate his conversation.
As luck would have it, he was from the same part of Nong Khai as Noo, and within seconds they were exchanging childhood reminiscences of such wondrous landmarks as Tha Bo food Market.
He asked Noo for 200 Baht, but Noo pleaded poverty and asked if he would accept 100. He pointed to the gold on Noo’s wrist, desperately trying to contradict her assertion of impoverishment, whereupon the gallant Mobi chimed in to remind him that gold had just taken a massive tumble in price.
This argument seemed to win the day, and he happily accepted 100 Baht and even shook my hand as I tried to wai….
We seem to have beaten most of the morning crowd to the ferry harbour but were immediately sent to the back of the line, (not easy in a pick-up truck), for trying to board the ferry without paying – well how was I to know that I was supposed to stop at a large kiosk marked ‘FERRY TICKETS’ in English and Thai.
No matter, we succeeded in securing the last slot on b0ard and parked up for the 30 odd minute journey across the Gulf of Thailand to Thailand’s second largest island, (after Phuket).
It was one of those roll-on roll-off ferries , similar to the ones they use across the English Channel to France, except about a 100 times smaller, and watching from the bow, I could see how easy it would be for a slightly swelly sea to wash over the open ends and upturn the ancient, rusty craft.
But it was a calm day and the seas was a flat as a mill pond – so no worries and we arrived at the banks of Koh Chang unscathed.
We were heading for Penny’s resort, a lower end hotel-resort, about half way around the island. I had previously experienced a lot of trouble finding this place on my Garmin sat nav and after endless searching, I eventually found it, quite by luck under the most bizarre spelling of ‘Phennies’ resort! I mean, I ask you….
Anyway, the trusty Garmin directed us to Penny’s doors – well almost. After turning off the main highway and following the signs that Penny had thoughtfully placed at strategic intervals along the road, we came to a sign that said Penny’s resort with a narrow pointing sharp left – straight at a building covered with washing lines and laundry.
Surely not! I know I booked a cheap place, but not that cheap.
Determined that this couldn’t possibly be our destination, despite the sign, we drove on a few more meters towards the coast and came to a T-junction. Noo jumped out and asked a woman sitting in a nearby restaurant and returned to inform me that Penny’s was just along on the left and that the woman had been very abrupt and rude in her reply.
Thankfully we finally found the real ‘Penny’s’. I wasn’t surprised that the woman had been a bit rude. I wonder how many travellers had been confused by the sign and had stopped to ask her the way. But then again… maybe it was just me…
Phennie’s – sorry I mean Penny’s – was nice and our room was quite exceptional. Very clean, modern, a good size, with fridge, TV, functioning aircon and loads of tables, hooks and electric outlets – all the things I look for in a room for all my junk. Noo’s son was provided with a separate mattress and there was still loads of room for the three of us to swing our cats.
Noo had brought a whole load of stuff so that we could cook our own breakfasts as I had quite forgotten to tell her that the room rate included free breakfast! Ah well, I still enjoyed the early morning coffees.
The resort had a quaint bar and restaurant and a small swimming pool which was just in front of a scenic, but rocky coast line.
All in all, very pleasant.
After stuffing ourselves silly with sea food at a nearby restaurant we drove to the nearest sandy beach which had public access and Noo and Dom took a brief little dip.
There followed a slow drive southwards around the island, stopping whenever we found access to a beach or a sea view. We drove almost as far south as possible and then retraced our steps to Penny’s, where we collapsed, semi-exhausted on our beds.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the temperatures on Koh Chang were several degrees below those in Pattaya and as such, a lot more tolerable, which made our afternoon treks even more pleasurable.
Leaving Dom in the room to watch a load of cartoon-type rubbish on TV, Noo and I went out in search of a steak dinner. Driving northwards, we soon came across a brightly lit strip of bars and restaurants. After a brief stroll we settled on a place which was unusually named ‘Monkeys Bar and Restaurant’.
It was an elegant establishment and boasted and extensive international menu, including a steak section – the most expensive items on the menu. Never mind, we rarely spoil ourselves on such luxuries, so we both opted for the rib eye steaks with usual trimmings.
The steaks were quite possibly the worst steaks I have ever had the misfortune to eat anywhere in Thailand, and believe me I have had some ‘turkeys’ through the years. The steaks were almost inedible – full of fat and gristle and even the meat that did exist was barely chewable. They were absolutely atrocious.
Now I know that in years gone by, we may have been chancing our arm a little by ordering steak in a Thai restaurant, but in more recent times in Pattaya, we have had steaks in local restaurants on numerous occasions, and the meat has always been there or there about – quite palatable and often very good.
So I had no reason to suspect that as the steaks held pride of place in the menu, that I was about to be served one of the worst meals of my life.
The thing I just don’t get, is why would a supposedly decent looking restaurant, run by two Brits with their Thai wives, obviously catering to foreign tourists, not try to do their best to provide the punters with acceptable fayre?
Why would they dare to serve up such terrible food?
Ignorance? Nah! There is no way that the proprietors weren’t aware that they were serving up sub-standard meat.
Do they not care what their customers think? OK, it’s a passing trade so maybe they don’t care. If they really cared about their reputation, and if they couldn’t get hold of decent meat at a decent price, then why didn’t they just remove the items from the menu?
It never ceases to amaze me how many hundreds upon hundreds of farangs who have had no previous experience of running a business, much less a restaurant or a bar, come to Thailand and think they are God’s gift to the food and beverage business.
Ah well, after spending more time trying to dig the gristle out of our teeth with tooth picks than we spent trying to eat it, we made a hasty retreat and stopped by a nearby 7/11 to pick up some food for Noo’s son.
I must say I was jealous of his distinctly unhealthy feast and even five days later, I am still suffering from sore teeth!
Day two dawned to greet another sun-filled sky and we enjoyed our hotel buffet breakfast before setting out to drive and then walk to Khlong Phlu Waterfall.
The waterfall was a good half a kilometre trek from the parking area, and I initially thought would this would be no problem for an ageing but hopefully semi-fit Mobi.
Boy was I wrong!
It might have only been 500 metres, but the route was ever upwards, through dense jungle terrain , up rocky, narrow paths, over rickety bridges and undergrowth, climbing higher and higher to the base of the waterfall.
The humidity must have been close to 100% and before I had walked a 100 meters I was totally exhausted and dripping with sweat.
About 11 years ago, I went on a mini-break to Khao Yai National Park with my then-wife, Dang and spent two days traversing similar paths to hidden, distant waterfalls. On that occasion, I took it all in my stride. In fact, I well recall Dang telling me how pleased she was that I was ‘up to’ all the strenuous exercise – she was most impressed.
How the mighty Mobis have have fallen. I am clearly a mere shadow of my former self and have a long, long way to go before I can consider myself even halfway fit.
But I refused to be defeated and slowly but surely I struggled along the ever climbing path and eventually made it to the view point – totally spent, but still in one piece.
Frankly it was an eye opener, as I had dared to think I was much fitter. I have been taking a walk every evening for quite a while now, and including the time I also spend walking the dogs, I’m probably exercising almost an hour a day.
But I now realise that it has probably been a bit too easy, and I’m not really pushing myself at all. It has just been a gentle daily stroll along more or less flat countryside. As for the rest of my day – well I hardly move from my computer desk at all, which is clearly no good for me.
So I am resolved to change my fitness regime. I have some hard days a-coming – and I need to be much fitter if I am to take on the challenges of trying to make a living in my old age.
After we, (well Mobi anyway), had recovered from our waterfall adventure, we decided to drive northwards to the far tip of the island and then take a long drive down the eastern side, past the ferry harbour, to the south eastern end.
It was much further than I had thought and about three quarters of the way there, we became ridiculously hungry. As luck would have it, we came across a very picturesque Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, nestled alongside the coast, with a beautiful view of the ocean beyond. Lovely food and great service.
Koh Chang cuisine had redeemed itself after the horrific monkey steaks of the night before.
Back at Penny’s room, I was all in, and Noo and Dom took off to buy some junk food for me to eat later. No more Monkey Steaks.
On Thursday we woke in time to enjoy our free breakfast and then set off for the long journey home.
It wouldn’t have been that long except that we had to wait over an hour at the ferry crossing and once having successfully navigated the Gulf of Thailand yet again, we had to drive extra slowly for quite a while as Noo sussed out the best place to stop and purchase a small stock of durians – which are very much in season right now.
Noo is totally obsessed with durians, those wonderful, spiky, tasty fruits, (or so I am told!), with a smell so bad they are banned from all the top Thai hotels…
(She was allowed to buy three of these sweet tasting, foul smelling ‘objects’ with strict instructions that they must be consumed outdoors.)
Once the offending fruits were duly purchased, treble-wrapped and stacked in the rear of the pick-up, we made up for lost time and were back indoors by 3.30 p.m.
Our four dogs gave us a tumultuous welcome and behaved as though we had been away for a year.
Any visitors to the bar scene in Thailand will be very familiar with the timeless phrase that has been shouted out by bar girls to punters who stroll past their places of employment, since the dawn of time – well since the beginning of bars anyway.
It matters little whether the man being inveigled is indeed a genuine masculine hunk of ‘Adam-like’ proportions, or some dirty, ancient, pot-bellied, tattooed, bald freak of a specimen.
They are all ‘hansum men’ in the eyes of the hookers and provided they have the price of a drink in their pockets, they are all worthy of their undivided attention.
It struck me the other day that the Saudi Arabian government might like to utilise the services of these Thai ‘experts’ on the male form to hunt out those young Arab men with such overwhelming aesthetic qualities that they present a clear and present danger to all womanhood.
Yes… maybe, but clearly there is a serious problem in this most conservative of republics.
Three men were recently forcibly removed from an annual culture festival in Saudi Arabia and subsequently sent back to the UAE after it was deemed that women would find them irresistible.
The delegates from the United Arab Emirates were in attendance at a heritage & culture festival in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, when religious police officers stormed the stand and evicted the men because they were too handsome.
The three Emiratis were taken out on the grounds they were too handsome and that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices feared female visitors might fall in love with them.
You think I’m joking?
Afraid not, it’s 100% true.
However, I do have some doubts as to official the reason as to why these exceptionally ‘handsome men’ were deported.
After all, even if the Saudi women were attracted to them, it is inconceivable in a country where the women are only allowed out in the company of their husbands, and then in a totally subjugated role, that anyone would have the opportunity, let alone the sheer balls, (excuse the expression), to become acquainted with temporary male visitors to their country.
I’d say nigh on impossible.
So what was the real reason?
Well, having spent the best part of three years in Emirates many years ago, it did not escape my attention that a vast percentage of the local population were in fact homosexuals.
Women were kept at home to procreate, and the young men hung around with their boyfriends in coffee shops and restaurants and it was a common sight to see them all kissing and holding hands with each other almost anywhere.
I also saw it when I lived at a camp out in the desert, where it seemed that the entire male Indian and Arab population of the entire area were having it off with each other. It was all accepted as the norm.
So I wouldn’t mind a small wager that the real reason these hansum young men were deported had a lot more to do with their homosexual tendencies and their effects on the local male population than anything to do with corrupting the shackled and burqua’d female population.
Why else would the UAE release an official statement indicating that the religious police were anxious over the unexpected presence of an unnamed female artist in the pavilion. Apparently, her visit to the UAE stand was a coincidence as it was not included in the programme which had been provided to the festival’s management.
Sounds like load of old balls to me…..
Strange but true.
A plan has been approved by councillors in Kerry, South western Ireland which will empower police to issue permits to allow the holders to override the legal alcohol limit, when driving home from pubs after an evening’s tipple.
The motion was passed by five votes to three, with seven abstentions – though 12 councillors were absent for the vote which took place towards the end of a long meeting.
Rumours have it that the missing councillors had adjourned to a nearby pub.
A number of the councillors who approved the measure are reportedly themselves pub owners – but the councillor who proposed the motion denied that this had influenced the vote….
He maintained that people could apply for the permits who lived in isolated rural areas where there’s no public transport of any kind, and they ended up at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they can’t risk losing their licence.
He agreed that there was merit in having a stricter rule of law when there’s a massive volume of traffic and busy roads with high speed. But on the rural roads he was talking about, you couldn’t do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour and it’s not a big deal.
The current drink-driving rules were forcing an older generation to stay at home. All the wisdom and all the wit and all the culture that they had, the music and the singing, that’s all being lost to the younger generation.
These older people might as well be living in Japan and Jerusalem because the younger generation don’t see them at all any more.
He might have a point….
Or, how about the local pubs forking out for a ‘door to pub’ bus service?
Not only did aluminium exist in the stone age, but apparently it came in fully extendible ladders.
Well it did according to the BBC, and if it was on the BBC , then it must be so.
The other night I was BBC World News when they had an item on Stone Henge, informing us that archaeologists have now established that there were settlement in the a region of Stone Henge some 7,500 years ago – 5,000 years earlier than previously thought.
On top of this, the folks at Stone Henge are now seeking to hire a General Manager for a salary of £65,000, whose duties will include ‘liaising with druid leaders and overseeing arrangements for summer and winter solstices.’
English Heritage’s spokesman said it was “important to ensure we keep the dignity of the stones”.
Sounds easy, I reckon I could do that. Shall I apply?
However, the real bombshell arrived near the end of the news segment when BBC showed us volunteers building stone age dwellings by hand, using only local materials that were available 7,500 years ago. We were reliably informed that the dwellings were being built in exactly the same way as they would have been constructed all those thousands of years ago.
So imagine my shock when the camera panned over to the roof of a half -finished house and zoomed in on a worker climbing an aluminium ladder that had been placed against it. Sure enough, there was a gallant volunteer, doing his thatching from atop the ladder.
I wonder what other present-day accoutrements that we previously thought belonged to the 20th/21st Century, were actually around in primordial history?
That veritable pearl in the Arabian gulf, home to prestigious Grand Prixs and home to the American fifth Fleet, just can’t stay out of the news.
So what’s happened now?
Nothing much, really…
On the day of the race, protesters blocked several roads and police fired tear gas at a school in Bahrain.
Scores of police cars and a couple of armoured vehicles stood along the highway from the capital Manama to the race circuit. The number of security in some areas was more than the number of protesters, according to a spokesman for the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
Immediately after the infamous race, during which dozens more protesters were arrested, permission was denied for the UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, to visit the country.
The previously planned trip, (previous to the 2013 Grand Prix), has been postponed indefinitely by the Bahraini government and Mendez stated that it was effectively a cancellation.
“Let me be clear,” he said, “this was a unilateral decision by the authorities. Unfortunately, it is not the first time the Government has tried to avoid responsibility for the postponement of my visit, which was originally supposed to take place over a year ago.”
The special rapporteur called on the Bahraini government to “honour its commitments” and spoke of his “compassion with the people of Bahrain who were expecting my visit, and in particular, victims of torture and ill-treatment and their families”.
And just what did that self-appointed, human rights champion, the billionaire spokesman Bernie ‘knucklehead’ Eccleston have to say about his precious Bharain Grand Prix
“The government here are stupid to put this race on. It is a platform for people to use protesting,” he said.
“MPs are good, we see them once a year, we never see them otherwise. They suddenly pop up, which is good because no-one knows who they are and suddenly get their name in the paper so it does good for everybody.
“At least the groups who are there are talking with each other and trying to sort things out. I’m speaking to the leader of the opposition after qualifying.”
I mean how disingenuous can you get? Doesn’t it make you want to vomit?
There’s only one thing this power hungry megalomaniac is interested in, and that is to make more and more filthy lucre from his obscenely expensive Grand Prixs.
Nothing else matters, and he will say anything to anybody to try and justify the continuation of races, regardless of the death, suffering, torture and blatant human rights abuses in the host country.
While we are on the subject of states who imprison their citizens without trial, who routinely commit unspeakable acts of torture, and are guilty of widespread abuse human rights – AND ARE ALSO CLOSE MATES WITH THE AMERICANS – let’s take a quick look at the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan.
This enlightened country locks up opposition activists without trial for years, it’s prison authorities routinely beat prisoners and use electric shocks, asphyxiation and sexual humiliation to extract information and confessions.
Participants in unregistered religious services are beaten, fined, threatened and intimidated, and religious literature which is not state-approved, including the Bible, is often confiscated and destroyed.
The authorities routinely carry out forced abortions on their women before brutally sterilizing them – locally known as the government ‘reproductive health’ program.
Uzbekistan is a lightly populated country of some 21 million where the only recognised religions are orthodox Christianity and Judaism, but where the majority of the population are of the Muslim faith.
These barbaric sterilization measures are nothing short of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and everyone knows it.
Certainly the freedom loving, human rights promoting Americans do. Even they ain’t that stupid.
Uzbekistan is included in Freedom House’s list of “The Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies”
Yet apart from making some muted noises of protest, (as they also do in the case of Bahrain), the Yanks let nothing disturb from their main purpose.
Following the cock-up with Pakistan, when an American attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and Pakistan cut off NATO’s access to the border with Afghanistan, some 75% of America’s supply traffic to Afghanistan now passes through the sleepy, dusty streets of Termez in Uzbekistan and over the Friendship Bridge to the Afgan border.
Apart from giving the barbarous Uzbekistan over $12 million dollars in annual aid, our allies across the pond have largely turned their backs on the wanton human rights violations, torture and killing that goes on in the country.
Why? Because it is in the best interests of America to keep on the right side of the criminal Karimov who has despotically ruled Uzbekistan since the Soviet era, back in the early 90’s.
Click here for this week’s collection of Mobi-Pics
21 Apr 2013 Comments Off
Back in March, 2004, I married my fourth wife, Dang, and the following month, we went on a delayed, two week honeymoon in Phuket.
We stayed at the Royal Phuket Yacht Club, a very beautiful, upmarket hotel located on Nai Harn Beach, and all things considered, has a pretty good time. It was very quiet, as it was only 4 months since the tsunami had devastated parts of this beautiful island paradise.
Here is a small selection of some snaps that I took during my stay.
Mid-April in Pattaya brings the madness that is Songkran – Thai New Year – where everyone gets drunk, hundreds are killed on the roads and the whole population decides it is great sport to throw water at each other.
The official day of Songkran is April 13th and for most of the country there is a 2-3 day period when the Thais ‘play’ Songkran; but here in Pattaya, it goes on for the best part of 3 weeks and is only just winding down as I write this piece.
I fully expect that over the next few years, the Sonkran water festival will slowly extend its tentacles throughout the entire month of April in tourist spots like Pattaya, as it brings in so much luverly- jubberly money from all the water- throwing obsessed tourists and Thais alike.
For senior citizens such as Mobi, it is a time of year when we hunker down in our humble abodes and wait patiently for the annual madness to pass.
For Pattaya’s young and not quite so young and spirited citizens, like the loverly Noo, it is an opportunity to go and play with water for nigh on 10 days on the trot without being accused of reverting back into their second childhood.
Every day she drove off around mid-day, sometime meeting up with friends, sometimes going alone and joined the melee in Pattaya, returning home around 6 p.m., soaking wet and exhausted, still with a cheeky Thai look of fun all over her lovely face. It will probably take her about a week to recover.
The advent of Sonkran has also brought with it some much needed rain and thunderstorms, with a consequent drop in the soaring temperatures that have been gripping Pattaya for many weeks.
However, the last couple of days have seen a return to bright sunshine and climbing temperatures, but I note from the Weather Channel on my trusty smart phone that storms are due to return soon, so fingers crossed.
In any case, on Tuesday, the three of us are off on a little mini break to Koh Chang, which was booked prior to Mobi’s financial collapse. We are staying at a small, quiet resort (I hope) at the end of White Sands beach for a couple of nights and I’m hoping it will be a nice change – a chance to re-charge our batteries and plan for a much poorer future than I had ever imagined in store for me, barely a few weeks back.
I was last on Koh Change almost 10 years ago, when I drove down with my then- wife, Dang, for a couple of nights. It will be interesting to see how much the island has changed during the intervening period. Quite a lot I would imagine.
My abiding memory of that trip was the distinctly low quality of bar girls who adorned the small clutches of beach bars that operated in those days and the audible expressions of envy from the leering male tourists when I waltzed into the bars with the delectable Dang on my arm.
She was in her mid-twenties and at her most dazzling. In those days she favoured micro-mini skirts which showed off her gorgeous legs and thighs to the full. She was by far and away the most beautiful girl on the island.
She knew it, I knew it and so did the poor muts sitting there with their distinctly third grade ladies of the night.
‘Eat you hearts out’, I used to think to myself, but in the end, it was Mobi who ate his heart out – much more than those ‘poor muts’ at the bars could ever dream of.
Maybe I can repeat the trick with Noo…. hardly likely, with a 12 year old kid in tow…
On Monday, it will be 4 weeks since I sent my manuscript of ‘A Lust for Life’ to the publisher and as yet, not a word. I have no idea how long these things take, and whether indeed I will ever receive an acknowledgement – one way or another.
How long do I wait before I explore other avenues?
The simple answer is that I should be trying other avenues while awaiting a reply, but knowing how difficult it is to get anyone’s attention, I think I’ll wait a little longer.
After all, I don’t want to waste my time if the eventual response is positive. I think my next step will be to start to look at the idea of self-publishing on Amazon.
There have been thousands of hits to the blog ‘pages’ containing my novel, although it is difficult to know exactly how many hits, as anyone who accesses the novel through my home page is not included in the ‘hit count’ to the novel pages.
I have no idea how many of you made it through to end of Part 4, and I am the first to admit that it’s not everybody’s ‘cup of tea’. Frankly, even within my own family and friends, there are few who would go out of their way to read this kind of novel.
However, I do believe there is a potential readership out there and I have received some very kind and gratifying comments. That alone has convinced me that my efforts weren’t a complete waste of time.
So many thanks to all of you who have taken the trouble to read it, especially to those who took the trouble to write some nice comments.
During the past week, I published “The Remarkable Adventures of Terry the Tom-Cat”, a children’s’ story that can also work for adults. All I can say is that if “A Lust for Life” didn’t do much for you, then may I suggest you try ‘Terry’.
The story is only 20,000 odd words as compared to 218,000 for ‘Lust’, and whereas there is little humour in ‘Lust’, I like to think that ‘Terry’ is full of humour.
It’ll only take you half an hour or so to read the whole lot – so give it a go and see what you think….
No, this isn’t about Boston.
Sorry folks, I cannot let my weekly blog pass without commenting yet again on the almost incomprehensible failure of the US Senate to pass some extremely modest gun control legislation, which would have expanded background checks to people purchasing weapons at gun shows and on-line sales,
This was in the face of of numerous polls which established that 0ver 90% of the American population supports such measures!
Yes, I know, it really beggars belief, doesn’t it?
So why did it happen?
Well if you had tuned into Fox news and other American TV channels, (and even BBC World news), over the past few weeks since the terrible events of Newtown, you would have gleaned at least a suspicion that such a defeat may be inevitable.
Most of you probably know by now that I have strong conservative leanings and have much sympathy for the Republican Party’s views on the US economy and a host of related issues such as Obama-Care and the ever expanding overblown welfare state where a mind-boggling 46 million US citizens are currently receiving food stamps.
I also have much sympathy for some of their views on ‘pro-life’ although I wouldn’t go as far as some of the extreme elements who wish to ban abortions in almost all circumstances.
In matters of abortion and related issues such as providing under-age girls with free contraception and letting them deal with matters of sex without reference to their parents is,I believe, totally wrong.
In all these and many other Republican–espoused issues, I tend to generally agree with what they have to say, and quite often I have been shocked and appalled by some of the extremist, extreme socialistic views of the left wing Democrats, of which, I regret, Obama seems to be one.
But it is as if I am in a different world whenever the subject of gun control comes up.
It is almost as though these rationally minded people, who generally talk such sense on a wide variety of topics, (including some on which I disagree, but nevertheless respect their views), have suddenly had their brains hi-jacked by some alien force.
Against their better judgement and will, they seem forced to vomit out so much utter clap trap that they hardly seem to be in possession of their sanity. Here is a small sample of their ravings:
And so it goes… on and on and on…I mean, honestly, you really couldn’t make this stuff up. Dozens upon dozens of apparently intelligent, highly educated people uttered such crap that even they must be embarrassed when they view back what they have been saying.
To be fair to the arrogant Bill O’Reilly, while hedging his bets a little, to his credit, he couldn’t see much wrong with the proposed legislation.
We all know why so many Republicans and not a few Democrats speak such garbage on the subject of gun control.
(For my non- American readers, let me just inform you that the bill in the Senate would not have been defeated if it hadn’t been for some prominent Senate Democrats who also voted against it!).
They do it because they are in the grip of the all-powerful, all pervasive, monstrously rich, insidious gun lobby headed up by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
For generations they have convinced Americans, -right up to the learned justices in the Supreme Court – that legislation which was enacted over two hundred years ago to ensure that local militias, comprised of ordinary citizens, could be readily armed when necessary, meant that it was an inalienable right in the 21st century for all people to own arms of whatever size and power; and to acquire them at will, without fear or hindrance.
And today, such is the control they hold over politicians of all political hues, that they can demand obedience to their cause, even though 90% of the electorate are in favour of the extremely modest legislation.
The senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which during the last election, spent around $25 million on contributions and lobbying.
The NRA, with its membership of three to four million, lobbied hard and effectively against the bill. It spent $500,000 last Wednesday alone, on an advertising campaign criticizing “Obama’s gun ban”.
It had already said that it would award a negative mark to senators who voted for the bill to be debated. Four Democrats, all from predominantly conservative states, joined Republicans in voting against.
The pattern of spreading untruths about the proposed legislation served its purpose. The lies upset an intense minority of gun owners and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.
The passion of gun owners can never be underestimated. Either they are convinced, or the lobby groups have convinced them, that any form of control would soon lead to draconian bans, despite repeated assurances from Democrats, including President Obama, that they will respect Second Amendment rights.
Every time restrictions are proposed, the gun lobby argues they will make no difference to the number of massacres. Newtown may have been tragic, the argument goes, but the lone gunman would have committed his heinous crime anyway.
This logic rests on the supposition that it is not the gun that kills but the person. It is pointed out that gun ownership is high in Finland and Switzerland (though still half the rate of the US), which have lower crime rates.
This ignores the point that a person with a high calibre weapon with a 30-round magazine can kill many more people than someone armed with a revolver, a hunting rifle, or a knife.
The point they omit is that you don’t know if restrictions work until they are tried, for a long period of time. The case against control is hypothetical because it has never been properly tried.
It may be that the constraints that were defeated on Wednesday wouldn’t have made much difference. But we just don’t know. America won’t know the effect of even moderate controls until it tries. And this was an occasion when most Americans wanted that effort to be made.
After all, who would have believed that the events of 1866 would eventually lead to full equality for black Americans. It may have taken 100 years or more to get there, but you have to start somewhere or nothing will ever happen.
So it is, I believe, with gun control.
Obama was furious, and his bleeding heart liberal mate, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York and a national champion of gun control, called the vote “A damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington”.
For once I don’t blame them and I am 100% on their side.
But where was Obama over the past six years on the subject of gun control? If he felt so passionate about it why did he remain totally silent on the subject for so long?
Was it – dare I suggest – that he knew full well that it wasn’t a vote winner? That by making his views known; it may have hurt his election chances?
Is Barack Obama already a lame-duck president?
Doesn’t anybody listen to what he says anymore?
Maybe, nobody is interested in winning his approval and maybe few care if he thinks they have “let the country down”.
Is he a second-term president who has lost all his leverage because he’s no longer running for office and everybody is patiently waiting for the day when he quits the White House?
Maybe Obama’s difficult personality has made matters worse. Gloating in victory, adolescent in defeat – he doesn’t make it easy for folks with different views to work with him.
Why should conservative senators give him a legislative victory after he has spent four years painting them as knuckle-dragging rednecks who hate women and the poor and want to push ageing, sick grannies off the cliff?
These ‘gun control’ events may turn out to be a damning indictment of Obama’s presidency – loads of style, lots of inspirational, tele-prompted rhetoric and, when the votes are finally counted, not too much to show for any of it.
America has four more years of this lame-duck president telling them all that they have let him down. If only he could tear up the Constitution and rule by decree he might save himself a little disappointment.
Fortunately, American democracy doesn’t quite work that way, despite the efforts from the socialist left and the extremist gun lobby to make it so.
I can’t believe how many times I have put fingers to keyboard to write yet again about the unbelievably sickening decision to stage Formula One Grand Prixs in the repressive Arab state of Bahrain.
This decision is based purely on commercial greed.
Ecclestone and his cohorts know full well about the repressive and undemocratic conditions that continue to prevail in this tiny, US-backed state – probably better than you and I do – but their propagation of lies, evasions, and distortions of the facts to justify the holding of this globally watched event, frankly beggar belief.
Some of my previous articles on this subject can be found:-
I have no particular desire to go over old ground, so I will confine my comments to a few salient bullet points.
(So the FIA President is also a leading expert on international relations, civil unrest and national tensions is he????)
People are being killed daily, but the government wants the world to believe that there’s nothing wrong in Bahrain. At a protest in Shi’ite Al-Aali, thousands called for greater freedoms and for the downfall of the king.
Enjoy your blood money… Bernie, Sebastian, Lewis, Fernando, Jenson, Kimi and the rest of the billionaire gang… may your untold riches never suffer from the loss of your beloved Bahrain Grand Prix revenues.
Click here for this week’s collection of Mobi-Pics
16 Apr 2013 Comments Off
Here it is folks. The children’s story that also works for grown ups.
Ty it… you may like it…you may be amused…
Copy it, print it out and give it to your kids.
As ever, all comments are welcome.
A light-hearted tale, about a very unusual cat, in a make believe world for older children… (and their Mums & Dads)
This is the tale of a remarkable and most unusual tomcat called Terry.
Terry had a special gift that many cats said was unique in the annals of Mogology. In fact Professor Longwhiskers, of whom we shall hear more about later, said as much when he first examined Terry as a young kitten.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Terry didn’t know he had special gifts when he was born one cold February morning, and if hadn’t been for an unfortunate series of events, he may never have known, and may never have met his true destiny.
Our story starts with Terry’s dad, who was a bit of a rebel, called Tony.
Tony wasn’t what you could call a conventional cat. In fact, long before he married Annie, he was known in polite circles to have some very wild ways. Somehow, he never quite fitted in, and he was always struggling to obey all those silly rules that the Mayor and elders of PMC (Pitsea Mount Catsil) had laid down for the local community.
But although Tony was always getting into trouble with the elders because of his frequent rule breaking, many ordinary cats secretly admired his independent spirit. Even some older members of the community, whilst outwardly showing their disapproval, with their haughty “Tut-tuts” and “Oh such naughtiness!” were secretly happy to tolerate Tony’s rebellious nature.
This was because he did things they didn’t dare to do, and he always had that irrepressible cheeky grin on his ginger face. At the end of the day, most cats couldn’t help smiling, and they couldn’t help liking him.
But that was before he broke one of the great laws of The Tabbythia.
The Laws of The Tabbythia weren’t silly laws, like those passed by the local Pitsea elders. No, these were serious laws that had been laid down by those wise old founding Moggies, in a distant, bygone age.
The particular law that Tony disobeyed, was one of the most serious, for it was the one that forbade all free cats, who were born in the Catdom of Feralia to marry any cat who had been raised amongst, and lived with humans as a pet.
Such cats were known as “Humpets” (shortened from HUMan’s PETS), and any contact between Humpets, and Feralise cats, (as the free cats of Feralia were known), was strictly forbidden.
The law wasn’t there just to interfere and control the course of true love, but was made for very practical and sensible reasons. Humpets couldn’t speak Feralise, and they also had great difficulty in looking after themselves, without their human ‘mothers’ and ‘fathers’.
So it was decided that mixed relationships would cause too many problems. If allowed to set up homes, willy nilly, inside Feralise territory, humpets would create a huge strain, not only on family relationships, but also on Feralia’s struggling social services.
But Tony didn’t care about all that practical stuff, and he didn’t give two hoots for laws of any kind.
He was young, a bit wild and out for a good time.
Annie was a beautiful young black and white Humpet who lived with her human family, in Pope’s Crescent, a narrow, leafy lane, only a couple of miles from Cat Hall in the Feralise region of Pitsea Mount.
One hot summer morning, Tony decided adventure out and explore the neighbouring Humpet lands, and he hadn’t strayed very far when he found the love of his life – the gorgeous and beguiling Annie, who was frolicking on the lawn of her human owner’s back garden.
At first, Annie assumed that Tony was a Humpet from one of the neighbour’s houses, but it soon became apparent that Tony didn’t understand her strange Humpet meowing, and when Tony tried to speak – oh my goodness –such a peculiar sounds these Feralise cats seemed to make!
Of course, Annie didn’t understand a word, but in spite of this, she was soon entranced by Tony’s easy charm. The two of them worked out a complicated system of paw language and unconventional meowing, and it wasn’t long before they became inseparable partners during those long summer days.
After a two months courtship, the irrepressible Tony asked Annie to marry him.
In spite of all the laws forbidding such a marriage, Annie was swept off her feet by the handsome, swashbuckling cat, and agreed to the union.
The problem was finding somewhere to get married, but as usual, the ever-resourceful Tony had a solution. During his previous wanderings, Tony had made friends with a rebel ship’s tom, Captain Growler, who lived on an old river barge, moored at Pitsea Creek.
Even though Tony was always breaking the laws of Feralia, he wasn’t afraid to make use of those very laws when it suited him. So he decided to take advantage of one of Feralia’s most ancient statutes – the one that still permitted ship’s cats to perform marriage ceremonies; so one cold and windy autumn morning, that gnarled old bruiser, Captain Growler, performed the marriage ceremony for Tony and Annie.
At first, the illegal marriage flourished. Tony and Annie set up their home in the cosy shed at the back of the garden in Pope’s Crescent, and the adoring couple spent many happy evenings together.
But it all started to go wrong when Annie’s human owners found out she was going to have some baby kittens. They kept her confined to their house, particularly at night and to make matters worse, they discovered that Tony had been living with Annie in the shed.
Once they realised that this huge feral tom was the father of Annie’s babies, they did just about everything they could think of to make him go away.
When the humans realised that shouting, screaming and throwing buckets of cold water weren’t going to deter Tony, they started throwing stones at him, and in desperation they even set the neighbour’s dog onto him.
Poor Tony was finding it very difficult to continue living in Pope’s Crescent, and as time went on, the two cats saw less and less of each other. Tony begged Annie to run away with him, to some far away part of Feralia, but she was reluctant to leave the comfort and protection of her human home.
Annie feared what would happen if she went to live in Feralia, for after all she would be an illegal wife, who couldn’t speak the language, and she knew she couldn’t fend for herself properly.
Eventually, on a cold November evening, Annie delivered her babies– six wonderful little balls of fluff – five females and one tom. Two of Annie’s daughters were ginger, the third was jet black and the fourth was black and white.
At first, the humans thought the fifth kitten was also a girl so she was named Teresa, after a favourite human aunt. Teresa’s colour was tortoiseshell, a mixture of orange with black blotches and a snowy white chest, which would normally mean that the cat was a female. But a careful examination revealed that Annie had indeed given birth to a most unusual kitten – a male tortoiseshell. So TEResa became… TERry.
Three weeks after they were born, the five baby females were taken from Annie and given to other humans to keep as pets. This left Terry alone with his Mum, who was doing her best to bring him up properly, even though she was pining terribly for her beloved Tony, who these days, she hardly ever .
As the weeks went by, Tony was finding it even harder to be with his wife, what with the neighbour’s dog being set on him, and water and stones being thrown at him every time he came near Annie’s house. The best he could do was hang around in the vicinity of Annie’s home and hope for a quick glimpse of her – or maybe even a stolen lick.
Then one late afternoon in February, when the snow was thick on the ground, he was roaming in the fields next to Pope’s Crescent, when he heard the squeal of a kitten, which came from the direction of Annie’s house.
He immediately raced to the garden, and was just in time to see little Terry scampering across the snow on the front lawn, before diving through a hole in the fence and running helter-skelter down the road. Annie and even the humans all gave chase, but the poor terrified mite ran with unbelievable speed and somehow out-paced them all as he disappeared into the distance at the end of Pope’s Crescent.
Annie was distraught, as she had never travelled beyond the end of her road before, and something seemed to prevent her from leaving her familiar territory to follow Terry into the busy High Road. After all, she was a Humpet.
No such inhibitions restrained Tony, and he caught the scent of his son rushing across the open grassland on the other side of the High Road, that led up to Pitsea Mount. Tony was sighing with relief that Terry had avoided all the deadly traffic, and he had almost caught up with the kitten, when disaster struck.
As if from nowhere, a huge brown fox suddenly appeared, and with an astonishing turn of speed, he immediately pounced upon Terry and sank his slobbering teeth into Terry’s neck. Tony was distraught, and did the only thing a desperate father could do when his son was in danger. He charged straight at the fox and knocked him off balance, which to his utter relief caused the fox to release Terry.
The fox was furious at the loss of his delicious tid-bit and immediately set off in pursuit of Tony. He chased him out across the snowy grassland, which ran along the side of Pitsea Mount, and way out towards Pitsea marshes. Eventually, the two of them disappeared into the ever-darkening gloom of the early winter dusk.
As for little Terry, he went rolling helter skelter down the hill in a little bundle of fur and snow when at long last, a gorse bush stopped his downward slide, bringing him to a halt in a small heap.
The poor mite was in a very bad state. He was severely winded, his neck was bleeding and one of his front paws was injured, possibly broken. Whenever he tried to get up, the paw gave way underneath him, and he squealed in pain.
The night closed in and Terry lay in the snow – cold, hungry and frightened. He was getting weaker and weaker, and it was becoming increasingly likely that he would not survive the night.
Lurk and Kurk, two identical, jet-black Feralise tomcats, were out for an evening’s foraging and if cats didn’t have such an incredible ability to see in the dark, Terry might never have been spotted.
‘I say, Kurk, do you see that orange ball in the snow down there?’
‘Lurk, that’s not a ball – it’s an animal – a kitten if I’m not mistaken.’
‘What’s a kitten doing out at this time of night? He’ll catch his death’, said Lurk as he approached the motionless Terry.
‘Lurk, I don’t think he’s one of ours. This kitten isn’t from Feralia – he’s a Humpet – look, he’s got a Humpet collar round its neck,’ said Kurk, who was a bit of a know-all.
‘We better leave him then,’ said Lurk. ‘We’re not allowed get involved with Humpets.’
‘We can’t leave him. Look Lurk, he’s been badly hurt. If we leave him here, he will die.’
‘Maybe the humans will come and collect him.’
‘No way! He must have run away and got attacked by something – probably by a fox. The humans will never find him, we have to help.’
‘What can we do?’ asked Lurk.
‘We have to take him to the Catspital on Pitsea Mount and see if the nurses can help. He can’t walk so we’ll have to get a hedger.’
‘We can’t do that, Kurk, we’ll get into trouble – you know hedgers are only for cats who belong to the FHS, (Feralia Health Service).
‘No-one will know he’s not from Feralia, not if I take his collar off.’
‘But he can’t talk. You know Humpets can’t speak Feralise – they have a different language,’ protested Lurk.
‘We’ll have to take a chance on that. Go on Lurk, you run and get the hedger and I’ll stay here and look after him. And I’ll take his Humpet collar off.’
The Pitsea Mount district of the Feralia Health Service was in much the same state as in other districts – too many patients and not enough nurses. So it was another two hours before Lurk managed to track down a free hedger to make the short journey from the catspital, to the gorse bush, where poor Terry was lying injured and unconscious.
Kurk was still guarding the nearly frozen kitten, and when Lurk and the hedger arrived, he was nestled close against Terry in a desperate attempt to keep the poor kitten warm.
The hedger consisted of two adult hedgehogs, curled up into perfectly shaped balls, with a long pine tree branch clasped in their sharp teeth. Attached to the branch was a small bed of leaves and twigs, large enough to carry an injured cat, and Lurk and Kurk quickly dragged Terry onto the hedger.
The gallant hedgehogs – such faithful friends of Feralia, dragged their prickly bodies back up the hill, with the two cats taking up position at the rear, helping to push the heavy hedger with their foreheads.
Eventually, the four animals, with their precious cargo, arrived at the catspital entrance on Pitsea Mount, where a husband and wife team, consisting of a very ancient tabby called Mr Bob and a curious looking Siamese female cat named Suzie Woo, immediately took charge. They dragged Terry into the warmth of a small alcove and started licking him all over to try and get his blood circulation going again.
Mr Bob and Suzie Woo were still fussing over Terry when the limping, feared figure of Ben Stumper appeared at the patient’s bedside.
Ben Stumper had three good paws, and a small stump where his rear left paw used to be. He was a large, old grey tom with very long fur and a huge silver ruff around his neck. He had been the Chief Medical Cat (CMC), at Pitsea Mount catspital, for as long as anyone could remember, and ran the place with an ‘iron’ claw.
‘What’urr we got ‘ere thahn?’ he asked in his broad old fashioned rural Feralia accent.
‘E’s a poor li’ckle kitten wot’s been savaged by a fox,’ replied Mr Bob, in the more familiar local way of speaking.
‘Who be he? Wurr’s ‘e come from then?’ Ben Stumper asked
‘Gor luv a duck, Chief, we don’ know, does we. E’s been brought in by them there Lurk and Kurk bruvers. Unconscious ‘e was – nearly dead – poor li’ckle mite!’ said Suzie Woo.
‘E better be Feralise thahn, orr thah’ll be trouble for all concerned.’
‘Feralise? Course e’is, Chief, said Mr. Bob. The bruvers wouldn’t ‘ave brought ‘im in if ‘e wasn’t Feralise. They knows the rules.’
‘Wahll, soon as ‘e wakes up, I want to be called. We’ll soon see if he speaks our tongue.’
‘And if ‘e don’t sir?’ asked Suzie Woo fearfully.
‘If ‘e don’t, tha’hn it’s back out thar in the snow, to Humpet land- wharr’e belongs!’
With that, Ben Stumper limped away, and disappeared into the labyrinth of alcoves and tunnels that made up Pitsea Mount Catspital.
There was quite a crowd around poor Terry when he finally opened his hungry little eyes the following morning. Word had spread quickly that the brothers may have broken the rules and brought a Humpet kitten into the village.
Lurk and Kurk were there, fearful of their punishment for breaking the rules.
Then there was Suzie Woo and Mr Bob who had nursed Terry all night long, and had probably saved his life. Ben Stumper had also just arrived, and if that wasn’t bad enough, he had brought with him three members of Pitsea Mount Catsil.
Firstly there was Dame Shirley, a very rich and ‘haughty taughty’ black and white cat, who had been a member of the Catsil for most of her nine lives. The second Catsil member was Bumbling Billy, a caring old Tabby, who meant well but was generally acknowledged to be rather dim. Last but not least was the Mayor himself, Len Deddyrock, known far and wide as “Red Len”, due to his ginger colouring – fur so vivid that it appeared to be almost red.
Terry looked around him in a state of bewilderment. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He was so thirsty and tired, that all he could manage was a weak croak.
‘Give ‘im some milk – quick!’ said Mr Bob, as Suzie Woo rushed over with a punnet of fresh milk.
Terry drank thirstily as the crowd inched their way forward, all desperate to hear his first words.
‘HUSS-PUSS, HUSS-PUSS,’ Terry finally said, in a subdued voice.
‘Thar! Oi told’e. Oi knew it – E’s a Humpet! Can’t unnerstan’ a word ‘e’s a sayin,’ shouted the strident Ben Stumper.
‘Wait a minute,’ shouted Lurk, the poor thing’s only just woken up, and he’s very weak. Give him a chance.’
Red Len decided it was time to make his boring voice heard.
‘Yes, yes, we must give him a fair chance, it’s only right and proper, and in accordance with good manners and in keeping with the prevailing circumstances….’
‘Really, really Mr Mayor!’ interrupted Dame Shirley, in her posh, high falutin’ accent. ‘You do go on so, with your political rambling. Let’s hear what the young urchin has to say for himself. Come on young man – speak up – if you can!’
Terry stared at the cats. He didn’t understand what was going on, and didn’t know what he was supposed to do. But something inside him told him that he was in danger if he didn’t try to speak to them.
‘HUSS-PUSS, MEOW-WOW….’ He said
There was silence. He tried again.
They didn’t understand him. Then, from somewhere deep in Terry’s brain, something he didn’t quite understand prompted him to make some new sounds.
‘H..H-Hello, M-my n-name’s T-Terry,’ he stammered in faulting Feralise.
‘Oh!… Ar!…,’ murmured the assembled group of cats.
‘He’s Feralise! I told you!’ shouted Lurk, with some relief, thinking that he would now escape punishment.
‘Not so fast! Not so fast! Said Dame Shirley. I don’t believe he’s Feralise. You heard those strange Humpet sounds he was making before.’
‘Then how is it that he can also speak our language?’ asked Kurk.
‘I don’t know, but I want you two cats to tell me exactly where you found him.’
‘And …er…if he is one of us… if he is one of us’ repeated Red Len, ‘where are his parents…where’s his mother and father??’
‘Well – er I don’t know,’ said Lurk.
The two brothers started to look so guilty, and Lurk realised that they wouldn’t be able to hide the truth for ever.
‘All right, I admit it – he is a Humpet – he had a Humpet collar on. But we had to rescue him or he would have died.’ Lurk admitted in a fearful tone.
‘Out with ‘im tharn. We cain’t ‘ave no Humpets staying around ‘ere,’ said Ben Stumper.
‘But he spoke Feralise,’ pleaded Kurk.
‘And he’s too weak to go back out there in the snow,’ added Lurk.
‘Mr Mayor! Use your authority and throw this delinquent Humpet out! I demand you do it now it, now!’ Said Dame Shirley.
‘Well…er…yes I suppose I must. It’s the law isn’t it? We can’t have Humpets fraternising with Feralise. It will cause all sorts of terrible problems.’
‘Like what?’ asked Kurk.
‘Well…er… he won’t understand all our rules and regulations… and we can’t explain them to him, because he can’t speak Feralise…’
‘But he can,’ said Lurk, ‘We all heard him speak just now didn’t we?’
Bumbling Billy, the dim one, who up to now had kept out of all the discussions, decided that it was time to talk some sense.
‘It seems to me that the poor boy is much too weak to be sent out into the cold to fend for himself. Why don’t we let him stay here for a few days so that he can recover his health, and then we can send him back to Humpet-land – if that’s what we all still want to do.’
‘What on earth do you mean? Of course he must go – the sooner the better. Eh, eh Mr mayor?’ said Dame Shirley.
‘Well yes, but Bumbling Billy has a point. It wouldn’t be right to send the kitten away while he is so weak and injured. Maybe we can leave it for a couple of days.’
‘And,’ continued bumbling Billy, ‘why don’t we send two members of our SCS’s (Special Cat Services) out to the frontiers, and try to find out just where this poor little kitten has come from, and find out what has happened to his mum and Dad. He may be a Humpet, but he’s still one of God’s cats.’
‘Yes, yes, I should have thought of that myself. Yes, yes, I will make the necessary arrangements,’ echoed Red Len.
‘That’s all settled then. Now, can we leave the poor li’ckle mite in peace?’ said Mr Bob, as he started to usher all the cats away from Terry’s bed.
And so it was agreed that Terry the Tomcat would be allowed to stay at the catspital at Pitsea Mount for two more days, while information was gathered about the whereabouts of his parents.
Terry was feeling much better – so much so that he couldn’t wait to be allowed out of his leafy bed and back into the wide exciting world that beckoned him beyond the doors of the catspital.
But Mr. Bob and Suzie Woo continued to fuss over him, and wouldn’t let him out of their sight, for fear that the disruptive elements in the community might try to take the law into their own hands and evict him from the Catdom.
The news of a possible Humpet in their midst had spread far and wide, and the cats of the neighbouring hills and plains of Feralia seemed to be evenly split – between those who wanted Terry out, and those who felt he should stay. However, the main question on every cat’s lips was, Could he, or couldn’t he speak Feralise? And if he could, then how was that possible?
Apart from a rather strange, gnarled brown old cat called Professor Longwhiskers, the only cats who were allowed to visit Terry during this period, were Lurk and Kurk.
On the second morning, they arrived bright and early, just in time to see Terry tucking into a delicious meal of minced mouse and juicy leg of sparrow.
‘Well, he certainly seems a lot better now, doesn’t he, Lurk?’ said Kurk.
‘Oh my goodness yes; and what a delicious meal you’re eating my dear boy,’ said Lurk.
Terry ignored the visitors and kept on tucking in as though he hadn’t had a decent meal in days, which he hadn’t.
Kurk observed, ‘I don’t think he understands us, Lurk.’
More chewing from Terry, and then finally in his young squeaky voice, ‘Well, you don’t fink I’m gonna speak wiv my mouf’ full, do ya?’ he said, in almost perfect Feralise, but with a distinctly local dialect.
‘Why, my dear, dear boy! we can understand you, can’t we Lurk?’ said Kurk.
‘We most certainly can, my beloved brother,’ answered Lurk, ‘so maybe you’re Feralise after all.’
‘I’m not sure wot I am, sirs,’ squeaked Terry.
‘Speak some Humpet then,’ suggested Kurk.
Terry thought for a minute, and then he opened his little mouth and squeaked, ‘HUSS-PUSS, MEOW-WOW.’
‘It’s amazing!’ said Lurk and Kurk together. Although they didn’t understand a word Terry had spoken, the strange hissing sounds bore the unmistakable ring of Humpet-speak.
‘How can you speak Humpet and Feralise? It’s truly amazing!’
Their puzzlement was interrupted by the arrival of a party of VI C’s. (Very Important Cats). Leading the group were familiar faces, Dame Shirley, and Red Len, the Mayor and Fuzzy Boris The Doris, deputy Mayor. Then Professor Longwhiskers followed them into the ward, and bringing up the rear was Ben Stumper, the feared catspital Chief.
‘Yes…er… well young Terry me lad..’ started Red Len, when as usual, he was interrupted by Dame Shirley.
‘We have come to inform you that The Catsil of Pitsea Mount have held a special meeting, and we have reached a decision on your future.’
Poor Terry looked terrified, as the aggressive Ben Stumper pushed him into the centre of the group, to hear his fate.
‘Well Terry,’ said the Mayor, ‘The Catsil has determined that you are in fact a Humpet…’
‘Even though he speaks Feralise?’ shouted Lurk and Kurk almost together.
‘Yes…er well, Professor Longwhiskers, our technical expert, can explain,’ the Mayor answered.
The learned Professor started to lecture the assembled group.
‘Hum… Hum… Yes, unique in the annals of mogology,..this young cat, Terry by name, is a very special being. There has never been a cat before who can speak both tongues.
‘Certainly, there have been illegal inter racial marriages in the past, but the children of such marriages have only ever spoken Humpet, and they have always stayed in the Humpet world.
‘I have called all my learned colleagues on the feraphone, and no one has ever heard of a multi-lingual cat before. You are truly a one off – yes, yes, most interesting – I shall be writing about you in the next edition of the Mogology monthly.’
‘So, as you are a Humpet – all be it a Feralise-speaking Humpet – I’m afraid you have to go!’ said Dame Shirley sharply.
‘Go? Go where?’ asked Terry fearfully.
‘Oh my poor boy!’ said Lurk. ‘I suppose you must go back to your Humpet family.’
‘Yes… er you must. Well… I mean no…er … you can’t,’ mumbled Red Len, leaving everyone more confused than ever.
‘What the Mayor is trying to say,’ said Dame Shirley, ‘is that you can’t go back to your Humpet family, because they’re not there anymore.’
‘Not there? What do you mean?’ asked Kurk.
‘The two SCS (Special Cat Services) soldiers we sent out have discovered that the human family you were living with have moved, and your mother, a Humpet named Annie, has gone with them,’ explained Dame Shirley.
‘Moved?’ asked Terry, ‘Where to?’
‘Yes… er… we don’t know exactly, but we think they moved to the Midlands– a very long way from here. They moved yesterday,’ said Red Len.
‘But what about Terry’s dad? If Terry can speak our tongue his dad must have been Feralise,’ said Lurk.
‘Yes, he was. A very bad and disobedient cat named Tony,’ said Dame Shirley. ‘And he hasn’t been seen since the day that Lurk and Kurk found Terry. We have determined that Tony was undoubtedly killed by the fox who nearly killed Terry.’
‘So what will happen to Terry? He’s Dad is dead and his Mum has moved away,’ asked Kurk.
There was a long silence, as no one wanted to tell them about the terrible decision that the Catsil had made.
Even Dame Shirley seemed unusually reluctant to speak, but finally she said the words that everyone had been dreading.
‘It’s not our problem. Rules are rules and they must be obeyed! He can’t stay here, so we’ll get two SCS (Special Cat Services) soldiers to escort him to the edge of our territory, and then he’s on his own. He’ll have to find a family that will take him in.’
‘But that’s terrible!’ shouted Kurk. ‘What if no one wants him? In this weather, he’ll die, the poor little mite!’
‘You can’t do that!’ added Lurk, ‘It’s not fair. He hasn’t done anything wrong.’
‘I’m afraid the decision is er… final…’ mumbled Red Len
Lurk and Kurk started to move closer to Terry as if to protect him, when the awful silence was broken by the arrival of two more cats. It was Bumbling Billy, the dim one, and with him was a very tall, black and white cat who looked very distinguished.
Despite his upper class airs, the newcomer’s appearance was so thin and gaunt, that he looked as though he hadn’t had a decent meal for weeks.
‘Hello everyone, may I introduce you to Henry,’ said Bumbling Billy. ‘“Hooray Henry”, to give you his full title.’
The older cats present knew that the term “Hooray” was reserved for very senior cats who held high positions in the central government in London.
‘Just call me Hooray,’ said Hooray Henry with an air of false modesty.
‘Hooray has come all the way from London to tell you what the government has decided to do about Terry,’ explained Bumbling Billy.
‘What do you mean?’ asked Dame Shirley. ‘We’ve already decided.’
‘Ahem!’ said Hooray, in his distinguished high-class voice, ‘I must advise you that we, the Hooray Cats of the central government have the power to overrule decisions made by a local Catsil. We are very grateful to Bumbling Billy here, for bringing this most serious miscarriage of justice to our attention.’
‘You bumbling idiot!’ said Dame Shirley to Bumbling Billy. ‘Why couldn’t you leave these matters to us. We know best.’
Ignoring her outburst, Hooray produced a long tabbi-scroll from his briefcase and started reading the official decree.
‘It is solemnly decreed that Terry the tomcat, son of the Feralise Tony and the Humpet Annie, is hereby made a ward of the realm and ordered to remain in Feralia.’
The brothers Lurk and Kurk burst into spontaneous applause, and there was much smiling among the assembled crowd.
The only cat who disapproved of this unexpected news was Dame Shirley, who cried out in anger.
‘This is preposterous! Never in the history of Feralia has such a monstrous decision been made. I protest! I protest!’
But Hooray hadn’t finished reading.
‘And it is further decreed, that the Pitsea Mount Catsil be responsible for the upbringing of the Humpet known as Terry the tomcat, and will look after him until he reaches adulthood.
‘At which time, the said cat, Terry, will be inducted into the SCS, (Special Cat Services), where he will receive special training, so that his unique gift for languages may be properly employed for the benefit of the Catdom.
‘By order of the government, signed, Prime-Mogster of Feralia, the ‘Orrible S’our Dave Kamikon, Knight of the Pharter.”
This was an astonishing turn of events and there was a long silence. Dame Shirley appeared to be permanently struck dumb, but eventually Red Len, the Mayor, seemed to gather his thoughts, and spoke to Hooray.
‘Well, this is most irregular, yes, most irregular. But I foresee so many problems with this decree. I think it will never work. Indeed it will never work.’
‘And why is that, Mr Mayor?’ asked Hooray.
‘Well, for a start, we’ll never find anyone to foster a Humpet. No one would agree to foster a Humpet. And, what then, what then?’ he asked in usual repetitive manner.
‘If Pitsea Catsil cannot carry out its duties as ordered, then we would have to close the Catsil, and we would rule Pitsea directly from London,’ said Hooray Henry with a menacing, Cheshire-cat like leer.
‘But that’s scandalous!’ said Dame Shirley. And all because of some half-breed Humpet! It’s scandalous, I tell you!’
‘But all you have to do, dear lady, is find some foster parents.’
‘It’s impossible! Who would want to take a Humpet into their own home?’
‘We’d take the poor li’ckle mite, wouldn’t we Suzie?’ said a voice from the back.
‘Who’s that?’ asked Dame Shirley.
‘It’s us, Dime Shully, said Mr. Bob. Me’n Suzie will adop’ ‘im. We luv the poor li’ckle fella.
‘Gor yeah, Dime Shully,’ said Suzie Woo. ‘We sure do luv’im. We can be ‘is foster mum and dad, can’t we?’
‘And who are you?’ asked Dame Shirley with an air of disdain. Your local accents are so bad! Are you sure you are qualified to take on such an important task?’
But of course they were very well qualified. They may be a little rough ‘around the edges’, and not very sophisticated, but their reputation as faithful, caring nurses had spread far and wide. And everyone knew they had hearts of gold.
‘Well… er… then, that’s settled. That’s settled,’ said Red Len, who was relieved to hear that Hooray’s threat to close his Catsil would be dropped if they could find suitable foster parents to take care of Terry.
Poor Terry, the cat at the centre of all this kerfuffle, was becoming more and more bewildered by the sudden whirlwind of events that he had been caught up in.
Even though he only barely understood this strange, Feralise language, he had just about managed to follow what was being discussed.
First of all, he heard that his mother Annie had moved away to goodness knows where, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the next thing he learnt was that his dad was dead.
Then he was going to be thrown out, and then he was ordered to stay. And now he was to have new parents. It really was all too much for him, and his little mind was in a whirl. His paws gave way, and he collapsed on the ground, in a blind funk.
Mr Bob and Suzie Woo had seen enough ill treatment for one day.
‘Oh you poor li’ckle fing!’ Shouted Suzie Woo.
She and Mr, Bob rushed over to the bed and picked up Terry by the scruff of his neck, ran out of the catspital, and down the path to the peace and comfort of their own little home.
And that’s how Terry the tomcat, at the age of three months and three days, came to find himself in a new home and with new parents at Pitsea Mount, in the Catdom of Feralia.
Nearly nine months had passed, and although some of the elders would probably disagree, Terry had put a lot of fun into the mundane lives for those who lived in and around Cat Alley, where he stayed with his new Mum and Dad.
Like his real father before him, Terry was always up to mischief, and he always had a cheeky grin on his black and white face, (not forgetting those ginger blotches).
Poor Mr Bob and Suzie Woo didn’t realise what they had let themselves in for when they agreed to adopt Terry, and life for them became a hectic, mad-cap existence. Not a day passed when there wasn’t a new crisis involving the irrepressible young tomcat. In just one week alone Terry got himself into enough scrapes to fill a storybook.
On Monday, our little hero was involved in a fight with some of the wimpish kittens of the neighbourhood and had to be given a proper ‘talking to’.
On Tuesday he was found stuck thirty feet up a giant oak tree and he had to be rescued.
On Wednesday, he was trapped out on the marshes when he became entangled in a gorse bush and was unable to move without ripping half his fur coat off.
On Thursday, he fell down a disused well, and on Friday he escaped the clutches of a chasing fox by the skin of his teeth.
And on Saturday? – Well on Saturday, Terry went missing, and on Sunday, after the biggest search party Pitsea Catsill had ever mounted had failed to find him, he crawled home under his own steam. The naughty tom had spent the weekend with Captain Growler on an old river barge moored at Pitsea Creek.
Barely a day passed when either Mr Bob or Suzie Woo weren’t called home from their work at the catspital to deal with yet another crisis involving the precocious Terry.
But they didn’t really mind all this disruption to their well-ordered existence, because they couldn’t help loving their wild and naughty young ward. He didn’t mean any harm – he was just full of life and high spirits, and he was always cheerful.
He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He even spoke kindly about the ‘haughty taughty’ Dame Shirley, and the terrifying Ben Stumper, despite the fact that both of them were always trying to get rid of him and have him banished back to Humpet-land.
Lurk and Kurk would often come to call, to help with Terry’s education, and there was also a weekly session with Bumbling Billy, the only member of the Catsil who was prepared to help.
Bumbling Billy was very well qualified to teach Terry all about the ancient history and rules of Feralia as he was one of the few Pitsea elders who hadn’t been educated at the elite acatemy of Fleaton.
Fleaton was so-called because the young students would spend their entire school years trying to get rid of all the fleas that settled on their young bodies, and as a result, they learnt very little.
In spite of this, an education at Fleaton was absolutely essential for any moggie who wished to make his paw-mark in the catdom of Feralia.
(Amongst Fleaton’s most famous students were Hooray Henry from London, the deputy Mayor, Fuzzy Boris , and last but not least the orrrible prime-mogster, S’our Dave Kamikan.)
Lurk taught Terry such things as how to catch birds and mice, and Kurk taught him how to use his feline instincts properly. (For instance, how to find his way home when he was lost.)
Bumbling Billy, (who everyone knew was so dim), related the legends of ancient Feralia, and explained how the great Catdom had originally come into being.
Mr Bob and Suzie Woo also tried to help with Terry’s education, but their main job was to love, nurture and especially feed this fast growing kitten.
Loving and nurturing such a loveable cat as Terry was a pleasure, but feeding him did become more and more of a problem as the months passed. Young Terry was rapidly growing into an enormous cat.
His appetite was insatiable, and he never seemed to stop eating. When he was about seven months old, his foster parents had to appeal to the Catsil for help in feeding their ravenous foster son. The Mayor and the deputy Mayor couldn’t make up their minds what to do, and Dame Shirley wasn’t any help when she simply told them to ‘Let the urchin starve!’
Fortunately, by this time Terry was so popular in the general community, that many cats were happy to ‘chip in’ and help to feed the ‘little giant’, and so another worrying problem was solved.
As time went on, Terry became more and more of a handful, and as much as everyone loved him, many started to count the days when he would he would be leaving to take up his place in the SCS (Special Cat Services) training school in London.
It was generally thought that the school would be the ‘making of him’, and that the strict discipline there would calm his irrepressible nature and turn him into a more respectful young cat.
It was also thought that the college would teach him to take better care of himself, and many yearned for the day when their loveable rascal would finish his training in London and return from his college as a model member of the Pitsea community.
Just two weeks short of his first birthday, and about nine months after he had come to live in Feralia, the expected tabbi-scroll arrived from London, which instructed Terry’s foster parents to take him to London the following week to be enrolled into the SCS.
Terry had always known what his future plans were to be, as despite his tender age, he had never forgotten that fateful day when Hooray Henry had come to Pitsea and read out the decree.
But whenever either of his foster parents had tried to talk to him about it, he had remained unusually quiet, and had quickly changed the subject. Now that the time had come, and Mr Bob and Suzie Woo had no choice but to sit Terry down and discuss his future with him.
‘Now then, young Terry me lad, the tabbi-scroll is come from the SCS, and next week we ‘as to take you to London,’ said Mr Bob, when he came home from the Catspital one evening.
‘But Dad, I don’ wanna go. I likes it ‘ere,’ Terry replied. ‘Do I ‘ave to go?’
‘Oh yer poor lickle fing,’ said Suzie Woo. We likes yer to stay ‘ere as well, but yer ‘as ter go luv. It’s all been agreed.’
‘Agreed? Wiv ‘oo?’ asked Terry. ‘I never agreed!’
‘You woz too young to agree my dear boy,’ said Mr Bob. ‘We all agreed for you.’
‘But that’s not fair!’ said Terry.
‘Listen Terry,’ said Mr Bob, ‘If we ‘adn’t agreed, you wooda been cast out of Feralia in the middle of winter, and you wooda probably been a long time dead by now.’
‘But I don’ wanna go. I luvs yer all so much. I’ll miss you so. You’ve both been so good to me,’ said Terry, with tears in his eyes.
‘Oh my poor lickle baby,’ cried Suzie Woo. ‘We’ll miss you too – somefink rotten. Won’t we Mr Bob?’
‘Of course we will. But it won’t be forever. You’ll come back when yer’s finished yer training. This is still yer ‘ome. Always will be, my son.’
And so the discussion went on and on, long into the night, with everyone on the edge of tears, especially when they mentioned that he had to go away.
After that night, nothing more was said about Terry’s imminent departure, and plans were quietly made for Mr Bob to take Terry to London on the following Thursday morning.
Wednesday night quickly arrived, and some of Terry’s closest friends came round for a little farewell party.
Lurk and Kurk were there of course, together with some of the young wimps of the neighbourhood. Very late in the evening, dear old Bumbling Billy arrived to wish Terry luck, and just as the party was breaking up, who should arrive, but Captain Growler, having travelled all the way from Pitsea Creek.
‘Ah hah me ‘arties!’ C’aint let young Terry ‘ere go off wivout giving ‘im a proper sailors’ farewell, can we now?’
Captain Growler proceeded to dance a sort of cat’s hornpipe, but he must have been tippling the rumbaba, as every time he tried to get up on his hind legs, he only succeeded in falling over, much to the amusement of the assembled moggies.
The party was finally over, and a very quiet Terry settled down in his special corner for some much-needed sleep. Tomorrow was going to be the start of a new life, away from the love and comfort of Pitsea Mount.
When Mr. Bob came looking for Terry early the following morning, he wasn’t in his usual spot, waiting for his breakfast. At first, Mr Bob wasn’t too bothered, as he thought that Terry had probably woken up especially early, due to the excitement of the forthcoming trip. He was probably outside somewhere, saying goodbye to his friends, Mr Bob decided.
But when a thorough search of the neighbourhood did not uncover Terry’s whereabouts, the foster parents became increasingly concerned.
‘E’s vanished off the face of the ‘urf!’ said Mr Bob.
‘Oh my goodness – where d’ya fink ‘es got to?’ asked Suzie Woo in a high state of distress.
‘I dunno, Suzie. Maybe ‘E’s run off. ‘E never did wont ter go to that there school!’
‘Oh the poor lickle fing! Wot we gonna do Mr Bob?’
‘I’m gonna ‘ave ter tell the Catsil, Suzie. Maybe they can send out a search party.’
When it became clear that Terry had really gone, the worried couple reported his disappearance to Red Len who as usual, was completely at a loss to know what to do. Unfortunately, Dame Shirley just happened to turn up when the Mayor had almost decided to mount a full-scale search.
‘Mr Mayor – I must protest! This is a waste of Pitsea Catsil’s valuable resources. We have done everything the London Government and the ‘orrible S’our Dave Kamikon demanded of us. We have fostered that dreadful Humpet – against our wishes – and what a nightmare the last nine months have been!
‘That cat is a delinquent – just like his father before him. We have done our duty and that’s the end of the matter. If the ungrateful little wretch chooses to run away on the very day that he’s due to go to London, that just shows what a bad cat he is. We must wash our paws of him!’
‘But what will become of ‘im?’ asked Suzie Woo.
‘That’s not our business,’ replied Dame Shirley in her haughty taughty manner. ‘I suggest, Mr Mayor, that you send a message to that awful cat – what was his name? Hooray Henry – and tell him what’s happened. Then it’s all up to S’our Dave and those awful people in London. It’s out of our hands, thank goodness!’
And so the discussion continued, and even though Red Len wanted to help the despairing foster parents, he allowed himself to be persuaded by the domineering Dame Shirley. And this time, Bumbling Billy, who had gone to visit a sick relative, wasn’t around to save the day.
What on earth had happened to Terry?
Well, if Bumbling Billy had been there, it probably wouldn’t have taken him long to work it out. Even though everyone knew he was pretty dim, he somehow had a habit of being a little bit smarter than most of the other cats on the Catsil, (which wasn’t saying much).
The clue of course was in the guest list. Who had arrived late that previous night when the party was nearly over? Most suspicious! Yes, it was of course, Captain Growler who had a hand in all this.
On the previous occasion when Terry had gone missing, (and had ended up spending the night with the good Captain), he had told Captain Growler that he had made up his mind to run away, and that he was never going to the college in London. So on the evening of the party, the Captain had decided to come and find out what Terry was planning to do.
‘I’m gonna run away, Cap’n,’ Terry had whispered to Captain Growler late that evening.
‘Run away! Now where’s ya goin’ ter run to, me young ‘arty?’
‘I dunno, Cap’n, but I ‘aint going ter London.’
‘Well if yer moind’s set on running away, then yer better come and stay with me for a woil; on that there old barge, up at the creek.’
‘Oh fanks ever so much Cap’n. I’m really grateful,’ said Terry in his usual effusive manner.
‘Now, we’d better make some plans to meet up, when all these ‘ere folk ‘ave gorn ‘ome,’ said the Captain.
Terry had waited for everyone to go home, and when he was sure that his foster parents were fast asleep, he crept out of the house, and raced along the road to the agreed meeting place.
A week later, Terry, (with a much thinner tummy), was starting to sorely miss all the creature comforts that he had enjoyed with his foster parents at their comfy home on Pitsea Mount.
It was mid-November, and Captain Growler’s old barge was very cold and draughty, and the broken old hammock that the Captain had let Terry sleep on had given him paw-ache.
He didn’t really know what to do next. It had been great fun to run away and stay with the Captain for a few days, but the novelty was starting to wear off, and he was feeling rather homesick.
Captain Growler realised that his young shipmate wasn’t happy, and mentioned as much to him one evening when they were tucking into a meagre meal of cold rat.
‘Oim a finkin that you aint very cheerful these days moy young fella. Watsamatter then? Don’ ‘e loike it ‘ere on moy ship then?’
‘Course I does Cap’n – but I can’t spend my life sitting around ‘ere.’
‘What ‘ee wanna do then?’
‘I… I’m not sure Cap’n… but I fink I want to travel around.’
‘Travel around? Travel where?’
‘That’s the problem – I’m not sure. But I wanna go look for someone.’
‘Oh? Who be that then?’
‘My Mum, Cap’n.’
‘Your Mum! She be Suzie Woo back at Pitsea Mount. You don’ have to go find ‘er!
‘No Cap’n. Suzie Woo ain’t my real Mum. My real Mum is a Humpet and she used to live in an ‘ouse in a road called Peepers Cressert, or somefink like that. An’ her name is Annie.
‘How come you know all this then?’
‘Bumbling Billy told me. But ‘e also told me that she was gone – that’s why I woz allowed to stay in Feralia – coz my real Dad was dead, and my real Mum woz gone.’
‘Wah she go then?’
‘A long, long way Cap’n. Up in the Mill-an’s or somefink like that. How’m I gonna find ‘er Cap’n?’
‘Oi don’t know lad.’
‘Well I have to try – don’ I?’
‘Yes I does. And the only place I can fink of ter go is Peepers Cressert.
‘Why you wanna go there? Annie b’aint there – be she?
‘No she b’aint Cap’n. But someone might know where she be.’
‘But that place be in Humpet -Land. Us Feralise shouldna go thar. It b’aint right.
‘Sides – they all speak a diff’rent lingo.’
‘I knows all that Cap’n. But you forgetting somfink. I can speak Humpet. I’m arf Humpet meself, ain’t I?’
‘I s’pose ye are, me boy. But I still dunna thunk ye should go there.’
‘I ‘ave to Cap’n. I must find me Mum.’
‘Well it b’aint no good you pining away around ‘ere thahn. If yer gotta go an’ look for yer Mum, yer betta get some food inside yer belly and be off.
‘Yer don’ mind then Cap’n?’ Terry asked apprehensively, for he didn’t want to upset his only friend in the world.
‘Moind? O’ course Oi don’ moind young fella me lad. Yer no diff’rent to me when Oi woz your age. Got the wanderlust, ‘asn’t yer? You be off now, and don’ forget yer ol’ friend Cap’n Growler is always ‘ere if yer need some help or somewhere ter stay.’
‘Fanks ever so much Cap’n,’ Terry gratefully replied as he tucked into his meal.
There didn’t seem anything more to discuss and the two cats finished their meagre repast in silence. Terry had decided to leave at first light the next morning so he settled down in his broken old uncomfortable hammock, and tried to get some sleep. But sleep wouldn’t come. He was too excited and a little fearful of what tomorrow may bring.
It must have been nearly dawn when Terry finally dropped off to sleep, only to be woken after a couple of hours later by the sprightly old Captain Growler, wanting to know if Terry had changed his mind and wasn’t going after all?
But Terry’s mind was set, and although it was a little later than planned, he set off on the long journey back from Pitsea Marshes and around the outskirts of Pitsea Catsil, and then on towards the busy High road that marked the border into Humpet- land.
It was nine long months ago since Terry, as a young kitten, had fled across this busy road in the middle of winter, and had almost been killed by a fox.
This time, Terry was very careful how he crossed this dangerous road. In his lessons with Lurk and Kurk, he had learnt about these human machines called cars and lorries, and he knew he could get killed if he wasn’t careful. Lurk had also told him that the road where he was born was just on the other side of the High road and was known as Peepers Cressert, (or something like that).
Terry crossed the road without incident and scampered down the first side road that he came across and wondered how he could find out the name of the road.
For although Terry spoke Humpet, he certainly couldn’t read that ridiculously difficult language known as English. How could he find out where he was? He would have to ask someone.
He hadn’t gone very far when he came across the first Humpet he had seen since fleeing the area as a kitten. He was a well-groomed young male tabby.
‘Hiya Mate!’ shouted Terry, ‘d’ya knows the way to Peepers Cressert?’
It was so long since Terry had spoken Humpet-speak that he had almost forgotten how to speak the language. The tabby cat looked at the huge, strangely coloured and very unkempt Feralise in amazement.
‘Huss-puss, who are you? huss-puss, I don’t understand a word you are saying, Meow-wow,’ the tabby replied in Humpet-speak.
Terry realised that he had spoken in the wrong tongue, and searched his overtaxed brain for some words that the tabby would understand. ‘It’s been so long’, he thought, ‘how can I remember that silly language?’ After a few moments of intense concentration, it slowly started to come back.
‘Huss-puss,’ said Terry, ‘huss-puss, can you please tell me, huss-puss, if I am in Peepers Cressert, Meow-wow?’
‘Huss-puss,’ replied the tabby, ‘I don’t know Peepers Cressert, Meow-wow. This road, huss-puss, is Burns Avenue, Meow-wow.’
‘Huss-puss, but I know it’s around here somewhere, huss-puss. Huss-puss, what’s the next road along, Meow-wow?’
‘Huss-puss, the next road, huss-puss, is Popes Crescent, Meow-wow’ answered the tabby.
‘Huss-puss, Popes Crescent! That’s it! Huss-puss. Peepers Cressert is Popes Crescent! Meow-wow.’
‘Huss-puss, if you say so, huss-puss,’ agreed the tabby, without much enthusiasm.
‘Huss-puss, can you show me the way, huss-puss? I’m looking for my mum, Meow-wow.’
‘Huss-puss, yes, I can take you there, huss-puss, we can go through this back garden, Meow-wow.’
The truth was that the tabby was somewhat in fear of this strange giant tomcat, and decided that he had better be as helpful as he could. He certainly didn’t want to get into a fight.
So the two cats set off through the back garden of a corner house in Burns Avenue, and through another garden which finally led them into Popes Crescent.
‘Huss-puss, what’s your name, Meow-wow?’ Terry asked his guide.
‘Huss-puss, I’m Toby, huss-puss, Tibby the Tabby, Meow-wow.’
‘Huss-puss, nice to meet you Tibby the Tabby, huss-puss.’ (‘What a crazy language this Humpet- speak woz,’ he thought.) Huss-puss, Tibby, have you ever heard of a cat called Annie, huss-puss? She used to live somewhere in this road, Meow-wow?’
‘Huss-puss, Annie, huss-puss? Oh yes everyone knew Annie, huss-puss, she lived here for many years huss-puss. She got into trouble with some wild Feralise tom called Tony, Meow-wow.’
‘Huss-puss, yes he was my Dad, puss huss. Huss-puss, do you know where she moved to, Meow-wow?’
‘Huss-puss, somewhere up north I think, huss-puss,’ Toby replied.
‘Huss-puss, Which was her house, huss-puss?’ asked Terry.
‘Huss-puss, it’s number thirty-three, down the end, huss-puss, but you can’t go down there, Meow-wow.’
‘Huss-puss, why not, puss-huss?’
‘Huss-puss, because of Horace The hound, huss-puss. That’s why not, Meow-wow.’
‘Huss-puss, who is Horace The Hound, Meow-wow.?’
Tibby the Tabby told Terry about the ferocious and feared dog who lived at the end of Pope’s Crescent. Apparently, Horace The Hound had a particular liking for chasing cats, and any cat who went anywhere near his home was in terrible danger of getting severely injured, or even worse!
Terry wanted to know if any cats lived near Annie’s old home, and learned that there was a cat who actually lived in Annie’s old house, but she hardly ever came out, because of Horace the Hound.
‘Huss-puss, I must go and talk to her, Huss-puss,’ said Terry.
‘Huss-puss, you’ll never make it there without Horace catching you, Meow-wow,’ said Toby.
Terry told Toby that he had to try, and he would ‘take his chances’ with Horace. He hadn’t run away from home and deserted his family and friends just to give up when he came up against an unfriendly dog.
After all, how dangerous can one dog be? So after thanking Toby for all his help, Terry continued along Popes Crescent towards number thirty-three, where his real mum used to live.
He reached number thirty-one, and was just beginning to think that Horace must be asleep or out somewhere, when the biggest and most fearsome looking animal he had ever seen suddenly jumped up in front of him in the centre of the road ahead. He had a huge brown body, and slobbering jaws, which revealed two menacing white fangs.
Terry stood transfixed to the spot as Horace The Hound glared at this intruder in his territory. Horace started with his usual low pitch growl, which then turned into an ear-wrenching roar, and a trickle of slobber started dripping from his jaws, slowly turning into a stream.
‘What a mouth-watering supper was in prospect’, Horace thought to himself.
By rights Terry should have ‘turned tail’ and run for his life. But in spite of the overwhelming urge to escape, something made him stay and stare right back at this overbearing bully. If he ran, he would never find out where his mum had gone, and he couldn’t accept defeat.
As for Horace, well the big brute couldn’t understand what was happening. He had never known any animal – especially a cat – who had not run away when he had barked at it. He slowly advanced down the road towards Terry, waiting for the moment when Terry would lose his nerve and run.
But instead of running for his life, Terry bared his own, not inconsiderable teeth, and let out a most frightening and threatening catawail.
Horace stopped in his tracks – this wasn’t part of his usual routine. What was this huge cat up to?
Terry continued wailing and spitting, and with a final act of incredible bravado, he suddenly leapt at Horace and sunk his teeth into the dog’s hindquarters.
Horace squealed in both shock and pain, and for the first time in his life he had encountered a cat who was prepared to stand up to him. He retreated with great speed back into his owner’s garden. Horace had well and truly met his match.
Terry was surprised at himself.
He had no idea that he could be so brave and strong, and when he saw the dog disappear into the garden, he quickly realised that he no longer felt any fear.
He continued along the road to number thirty-three, and walked into the front garden, hoping to find the cat who, according to Tibby the Tabby, was supposed to live there.
The cat living at number thirty-three was a female tortoise shell called Punkie.
Punkie had been watching the confrontation between Horace and Terry from the front window and quickly ran through her house to the back garden as soon as she saw Terry entering her territory.
Normally Punkie would be most put out if a strange cat came into her garden, but having seen the courageous stand that Terry had made against that bully of a dog, (of whom she was personally terrified), she welcomed the hero to her door with great gusto.
‘Huss-puss, come here you brave cat, Huss-puss. Come on through to the back garden, Meow-wow,’ she called out in her laborious Humpet-speak.
Terry thankfully ran to the back of the house where he was delighted to find the lovely Punkie waiting pateintly for him.
They hit it off straight away, and after Punkie had ran out of words to describe his bravery, Terry asked her about his mother, Annie. Punkie told him all that all she knew, which was that Annie had moved out with her human owners many months ago. It was just before Punkie had gone to live there with her owners.
‘Huss puss, do you know where Annie moved to, Huss-puss?’ Terry asked.
‘Huss-puss, she moved to the midlands, Meow-wow,’ Punkie told him.
‘Huss-puss, but where in the Midlands, huss-puss? Do you know the name of the town, Meow-wow?’
Punkie thought for a long time, before answering, ‘Huss-puss, it was such a long time ago Terry, huss-puss. All I remember is the name ‘Barn-dell’, or was it ‘Barn-fell’, or maybe ‘Barn-bell’, Meow-wow.’
‘Huss-puss, is that all you can remember Punkie, huss-puss?’
‘Huss-puss, I’m afraid it is, huss-puss. I know it was ‘Barn’… something, Meow-wow. It’s the best I can do, huss-puss,’ she replied sorrowfully.
Punkie suggested that Terry should stay the night in her back garden, just in case she could remember any more about where Annie had moved to, and as it was now getting dark, Terry decided it would be a good idea. Besides, he was becoming rather fond of this beautiful young cat, and he quite liked the idea of spending more time with her.
They settled down in the back garden shed, (the very one that Tony and Annie had shared all those months ago), and they talked and talked and talked. Eventually, the cats were so exhausted that they both fell into deep dreamless sleeps, with their soft furry bodies nestled closely against each other for warmth.
At dawn, hunger pangs woke Punkie from her dreamless slumber, who then ran indoors to obtain some food from her human owners. After she had eaten her fill, she brought some small rations out to the ravenous Terry, who by now had woken in a state of acute hunger.
As Terry scoffed down the scraps that Punkie gave to him, she proposed that he should stay in Popes Crescent and make his permanent home in the garden shed.
This would make her very happy, as not only would her endless problems with Horace be solved, but she was also becoming rather fond of this outrageously handsome and irrepressible tom-cat from another world.
Terry was tempted, as he didn’t want to leave Punkie at the mercy of the cruel Horace, and he was starting to have strong feelings for this exceptionally pretty Humpet.
In the end, he knew he had to go. He had to find his mum, and he would never rest until he had accomplished his quest. He told a tearful Punkie of his decision, but promised faithfully to return one day, after he had found his mum.
But before he left, Terry was resolved to do something about Horace.
So he told Punkie to follow him out to the front of Horace’s house, and called for the slobbering bully to come outside. He wanted Horace to see Punkie next to him, so that the dog would understand that Terry was a close friend of Punkie and that any attack on her would also be an attack on Terry.
After a few minutes Horace duly appeared, and immediately became cowed when he saw the menacing sight of Terry, all fired–up and spitting.
Horace was now a broken pooch, and seemed to have lost his spirit for fighting. No longer would he terrorise the cats of Pope’s Crescent, and he slunk away, with his tail between his legs, trying desperately to hide his shame.
Punkie was so grateful to Terry. ‘Huss-puss, oh Terry, you are so brave, how can I ever thank you, huss-puss?’
‘Huss-puss, don’t be silly, it was my pleasure, Meow-wow. Besides, huss-puss, you have been very kind to me, Meow-wow.’
The two cats made their sad farewells, and at last Terry took his leave.
He made his way back up to the end of Popes Crescent, and onto the busy High Road. Now which way should he go, left or right? I wonder which direction is the Mill-an’s, he was thinking.
As there was no one to ask, he decided to turn left, and off he set on his long journey to find his mum, who was ‘somewhere in the Mill-an’s’ in a village called ‘Barn somefink’.
If he had known that the Midlands was many weeks, possibly months’ walk away, and that when he decided to turn left, he was going completely in the wrong direction, he might have decided to stay put and settle for a quiet life with Punkie.
But a quiet life wasn’t really in Terry’s nature, and if he had given up, there wouldn’t have been any story to tell, would there?
So Terry set off in the wrong direction, and after two weeks of following the busy road which criss-crossed the border between Feralia and Humpet-Land, he eventually reached the sea and could go no further – for the simple reason that the sea was in the way, and he wasn’t about to take swimming lessons.
He had been sleeping in deserted gardens and hedgerows, and during his journey to the coast, he had grown skilful at catching the wayward birds and rats that had become his daily food. Occasionally, when passing through back gardens, he had found a few tasty morsels from the food that the humans had thrown away in their rubbish bins.
Terry stared at the vast expanse of water. The sea seemed to go on forever. It bore no resemblance to the pathetic stream that he had had left behind him at Pitsea Creek. He had no idea where he should go next.
He had to find someone who could tell him the way to the Mill-an’s, but every time he tried to approach a cat for directions, it would turn tail and run. Terry hadn’t realised it, but his enormous size and frightening, unkempt appearance was scaring all the cats away.
He spent days searching in vain for any animal who would talk to him, and just when he despaired of ever speaking to another cat again, he finally came across a wizened old snow-white moggie who had seemed to have no fear of the fierce young tomcat. This was in spite of the cat’s great age and frailty; in fact he was so old, he could hardly walk.
His name was Crankie Frankie. He was almost thirty years old, and had probably used up at least eight and three-quarters of his nine lives. But at his great age he wasn’t afraid of anyone, not even a gloriously huge and imposing animal like Terry.
Crankie Frankie hadn’t seen a specimen like this since he had taken the long journey from the northern parts of Feralia, to settle down and spend his retirement by the seaside. He somehow knew that Terry would be no danger to an ancient moggie such as himself, and greeted him in the familiar Feralise tongue.
‘You’re not from these parts are you?’
‘No I aint,’ replied Terry, delighted that he had found someone who didn’t run away. ‘I’m Terry. Wot’s your name?’ he asked.
‘Folks know me as Crankie Frankie, and I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, young sir,’ he replied. ‘Now where would you be going on a cold afternoon down on the seafront. Is it a ship you’re after then?’
‘Cor blimey, no way Crankie Frankie. I wanna go to the Mill-an’s.’
‘The Midlands is it?’ Well you’re on the wrong road if that’s where you’re heading.’
‘Yer mean yer actually know the way to the Mill-an’s?’ asked Terry excitedly.
‘Knows the way? Course I knows the way. I knows the way to everywhere – and I’ve been to most places, in my eight and three-quarters, long lives,’ Crankie Frankie replied proudly.
‘Cor that’s great. How far is it then – how long will it take to get there?’
The ancient cat sat thinking about these questions for a very long time. Terry was convinced his new-found ancient friend has dropped off to sleep when finally he said:
‘It’s a very long way, young sir, and it will take you many, many months.’
‘As yer been there?’
‘I told you, I’ve been everywhere. But are you sure you want to go?’ It’s a long and perilous journey these days. There’s so many dangerous roads full of noisy cars, and the Catdom in those parts has become very wild. Not much law and order up there – lots of wild Feralise gangs of cats, who attack innocent travellers.’
‘I ‘as ter go, Crankie Frankie. I’s lookin’ for me Mum. I’ll take my chances wiv these gangs that are up there. Now which is the road to take?’
‘Well, I must say you’re a big and strong cat, so you can probably look after yourself. But even a fine fellow such as you wouldn’t stand much chance against one of those wild gangs – if they decided to go after you – so you must go carefully.’
‘Yeah, but which is the road?’ asked Terry impatiently.
‘Which road? Oh my fine boy, there’s many, many roads between here and the Midlands. What you need to know is the right direction to travel in.’
‘So how will I know that?’
‘It’s easy, I’ll teach you. Now you see the sun going down over there?’
Terry looked up to the sky and saw the sun starting to set on the horizon.
‘Well,’ continued Crankie Frankie, ‘that’s what is known as the ‘West’. Now tomorrow, morning, when the sun comes up, it will be rising from the East.’
‘Goes down in the West, and comes up in the East,’ said Terry. How does that help me know which direction to go in?’
‘The midlands is in the North, which is half way between the East and the West. So as long as the East is on your right and the West is on your left, you’re going the right way.’
‘Sounds a bit complicated,’ complained Terry. ‘Is that the only method to find the right way?’
‘You’ll soon get the hang of it, young sir. Us cats have a sixth sense about these things. It’ll become second nature to you before you know it.’
Terry continued chatting with the ancient animal for a couple of hours, and with his help he managed to get his bearings. Finally he made ready to set off again but this time, in the right direction.
‘Now remember what I told you about the wild gangs. Keep your eyes open, and keep away from the main roads.’
‘I will, fanks a lot Crankie Frankie.’
Crankie Frankie watched Terry walk down the road, away from the sea, and when he was almost out of sight, he suddenly called to him.
‘Terr-ee, Terr-ee, come back!’
Terry immediately thought that something had happened to his new friend, and did an about turn and rushed back to where Crankie Frankie was still standing.
‘I’m sorry young sir, but I can’t let you go up into those dangerous parts without giving you one more piece of advice.’
Terry was feeling a bit exasperated at having been called back for no apparent good reason.
‘If you do get into trouble with the gangs, and you can’t escape, then tell them you’re a friend of ‘Tovver the Bovver.’
‘Tovver the Bovver? Who’s he?’ asked a mystified Terry.
‘He used to be a very powerful leader in those parts, and is feared by one and all. Just mention that name and it might save your neck. For no one dare take a chance with a friend of Tovver the Bovver.
It didn’t make much sense, but Terry promised to remember the name, just in case. And then for the second time that afternoon, he set off to follow his destiny, on the road to the Midlands.
After wandering blindly in the wrong direction for the first few weeks of his quest, Terry was now starting to master the art of navigation. He had taken Crankie Frankie’s lessons to heart, and had managed to set a straight course in a northerly direction.
There were days when the sun didn’t shine, so he was unable to see where it was rising and where it was setting. But even this problem didn’t deter him, as when there wasn’t any sun, he had learnt to rely on his ‘in-built’ cat’s instincts, and this time they didn’t let him down.
His journey took him over some wild and strange countryside. Sometimes he was skipping through the undergrowth of thick woods and forests, and on other occasions he found himself scampering across fields of wheat or corn. But in the main, he travelled along the small lanes and roads that ran near to the wide and dangerous motorways.
He was very careful to avoid the traffic, and apart from coming across some occasional rabbits, squirrels and other small animals that lived in the countryside, he stayed very much alone.
He especially kept out of the way of any cats that occasionally appeared in the distance, as he didn’t want any trouble. He had taken Crankie Frankie’s warnings to heart.
The days turned to weeks, and the weeks turned to months, and still Terry continued his trek northwards. By now he was a fully-grown cat of unusually enormous dimensions and the need to fend for himself during the long journey north had changed him.
His reflexes were much quicker, and his young, lithe body was rippling with strength and vigour. He could outrun a fox, catch birds and mice at will, and as time went on, he became ever more fearless.
Although he had avoided trouble during the journey so far, it was only a matter of time before something happened in the increasingly wild and uncivilised countryside.
His luck eventually ran out one evening in early summer, when Terry was tucking into the remains of a rat he had caught for his dinner. He was suddenly attacked by two Feralese cats, who had decided that they were going to help themselves to his evening meal.
One of the cats, a thin, wiry black and white tom, jumped at Terry from behind, and as Terry turned to defend himself, a young ginger female scampered in and grabbed the remains of the rat and set off at a run.
Once Terry had realised what they were about, he disengaged himself from the black and white tom and set off in frantic pursuit of the ginger cat who was holding the precious supper in his teeth.
The black and white disappeared into a nearby field as Terry chased the thief into a forest. The ginger cat was obviously a fast runner and Terry realised he would have the run of his life if he was to catch her up.
But he wasn’t about to give up, and after about five minutes he sensed that his quarry was tiring. Eventually, she stopped, breathless, in a clearing in the forest and stood still, facing Terry, who by now had caught up.
‘Please don’t hurt me,’ squealed the ginger cat, ‘I only wanted a bit of food. I’m so hungry.’
‘Then why d’yer not ask for some then?’ said Terry. ‘Aint anyone ever told you it’s wrong ter steal?’
‘I’m sorry, sir. Here you can have it back,’ she replied.
Terry had a soft heart, especially for pretty young female cats, so he said, ‘Aw we can share it together if yer likes.’
‘Oh sir you are so kind,’ she replied with a friendly purring sound.
Terry started to approach his new found friend in the clearing, when all of a sudden the black and white cat reappeared, but this time he had brought two mates with him. One was a rather bedraggled and rough looking tabby and the other was an enormous, heavily furred, dirty grey tom with huge sharply pointed teeth.
The female ginger, who moments before had seemed so friendly, ran to join the others, and the four cats started to advance on Terry, snarling and spitting and making the most nerve wrenching caterwauls.
Terry had two choices: forget about his dinner and run for his life; or stay and fight. Which was it to be? Well by now I think we all know how brave and fearless our hero is, and we know he wasn’t in the habit of running away from anything or anyone.
‘Nah then you fellas. I just want me dinner back an’ I’ll be on me way. I don’ wan’ no trouble wiv you geezers.’
The four stared at Terry, and stopped in their tracks. They couldn’t believe that a single cat, however big, would have the courage to stand up to four marauding moggies – for that is undoubtedly what they were. The heavily furred grey tom spoke.
‘You be on your way, and leave that food for us. We haven’t eaten all day, and we need that tasty rat. If you don’t leave now you’ll be sorry, I’m warning you.’
But before the gang of four could collect their wits, Terry pounced on the black and white, and took a large chunk of fur out of his backside. As the cat squealed in pain, Terry turned his attention to the tabby, and repeated the punishment.
The grey tom now came into the fray, and tried to jump on Terry from behind, but Terry was young and strong, and shook the grey off him with a huge shrug of his enormous back. The grey went flying.
The ginger female, (the original thief), saw the way the battle was going, and immediately retreated with the others. Terry stood proudly over his dinner.
‘I told you gents, an’ lady, to leave me an’ me dinner alone – didn’t I then? Nah be gone before I decide to have another taste of your flea-infested fur!’
The four were slowly backing away, and Terry was just starting to congratulate himself on his brave victory, when suddenly, out of the forest, there appeared an entire colony of cats.
There must have been a couple of dozen of the most motley and dirty looking cats Terry had ever laid eyes on. Many of them looked half starved, and some were showing recent signs of battles, with gaping wounds, and limping on injured paws.
The large group quickly surrounded him and he had no means of escape. It looked as though time was up for poor Terry. Was he going to lose one or even more of his precious nine lives, he wondered?
‘Now look ‘ere lads. You can ‘ave my food. I don’ wannit after all. Take it and I’ll be on me way.’
The circle of cats took no notice of Terry’s entreaties, and slowly edged their way closer to their prey.
‘Come on now lads, It’s a fair deal, ain’t it?’ Terry pleaded.
There was no answer. They just inched nearer and nearer.
Then, out of some distant corner of his brain, he remembered what Crankie Frankie had told him. What was that name again?
‘Look lads, you don’ wanna fight wiv me. I’m a friend of Tovver, – Tovver the Bovver.’
The effect was miraculous and probably saved several of his lives. The cats all froze in their tracks, and the furry grey cat, who seemed to be some sort of a leader, said, ‘How do you know Tovver the Bovver?’
‘E’s my friend ‘e is,’ said Terry uncertainly.
‘Where did you meet him?’ asked the grey tom.
Terry racked his brain for a believable response. ‘I er met ‘im darn sarf, by the seaside, sarf-end they calls it. I met ‘im an’ a frien’ of ‘is – Crankie Frankie – d’yer know im?’ asked Terry desperately.
‘Crankie Frankie?’ repeated the grey cat. ‘I think you better come with us.’
The large group of cats surrounded Terry and led him away into the thickest part of the forest, and along a narrow path to a large copse of trees and bushes, which was obviously home to this disparate band of cats. He had no choice but to go with them, for as strong and brave as he was, he couldn’t hope to survive against so many.
The grey cat went into a small covered hollow of trees and after a few minutes reappeared with another cat, who had great difficulty walking, as both of his back paws were severely damaged. He was an elderly, Siamese looking cat and he had to drag himself along with his two front paws.
‘I am Siam Sam,’ he said by way of introduction. ‘Now what’s this about Tovver the Bovver? Do you know him?’
‘Corse I knows ‘im’ replied Terry without much conviction.
‘What does he look like then?’ Asked Siam Sam.
‘We’’ – er ‘e’s quite old, an’ er big an er sort of ..er.. furry’
‘Sort of furry!’ shouted Siam Sam, ‘What’s that supposed to mean? Does anyone know any cat that’s not furry?’ Siam Sam shouted to the circle of cats, who all started laughing at the most ridiculous question they had ever heard.
‘Now then, young stranger. I want the truth – have you ever met Tovver the Bovver? If you lie to me, you’ll be in more trouble.’
Terry thought he could hardly be in more trouble than he was already, but decided to tell the truth, as it was becoming impossible to keep up the silly pretence of knowing this Tovver the Bovver character.
‘Well, Siam Sam, I ‘as to confess – I aint never met ‘im.’
‘I thought as much. Now tell me about this other cat that you claim to have met. What was his name? Crankie Frankie?’
‘Oh I met ‘im true enough,’ replied Terry, ‘e’s the one who taught me all about norf and sarff, and e’ told me to mention the name of Tovver the Bovver if I ever got into trouble on my way to the mill-ans.’
‘Describe him to me,’ ordered Siam Som.
‘E was snow white in colour, and so old ‘e could ‘ardly walk. But ‘e woz very kind and ‘elpful, and tol’ me all about the mill-ans an’ how to get ‘ere.’
The Siamese cat looked long and hard at Terry, before breaking out into a mocking wail.
‘You’re a brave and foolhardy cat, but your heart must be in the right place, otherwise he would never have befriended you. The cat you have just described is Tovver The Bovver – our beloved ex leader.’
‘Tovver The Bovver was our leader for more than twenty five years. He is so old, that no one can remember a time when he wasn’t in charge, running everything for us. Then one day, about a year ago he disappeared, and we were left leader-less.’
Siam Sam was sitting in his little hollow with Terry, sharing the much fought over rat that Terry had caught earlier in the day. He was telling Terry all about this colony of Feralise cats that had come so close to attacking him.
Siam Sam wasn’t the leader, but he seemed to be treated with respect by the other cats. After he had dropped his bombshell about who Crankie Frankie really was, he had persuaded all the cats to go away and had led Terry into his own quarters to enjoy a private dinner and chat.
‘But Crankie Frankie’s so old. How can he live so long?’
‘We don’t know, it’s a sort of miracle. Last year he must have decided that even he was too old to lead us anymore, and from what you tell me it sounds like he has settled down by the seaside for a hard earned retirement.’
‘Why did ‘e change ‘is name?’ asked Terry.
‘Well the name of Tovver the Bovver is known far and wide, and if the Feralise government in London knew where he was, he’d probably be spending his retirement in gaol.’
‘Why is that? I don’ un’erstand.’
‘It’s a long story Terry. You see we cats up here in Sherwood Forest are rebels from the Catdom of Feralia. Many years ago we refused to accept the laws of the London government.
‘They weren’t fair, and they made us give them half of all the food we caught, just to keep all those fat cats in London in their sleek shiny coats.
‘They called it a paw tax. So we broke away, and set up our own little Catdom in the forest, but it’s been a bitter struggle.
‘Ever since we declared our independence, we’ve had to keep defending ourselves from government attacks on our territory. They never give up, and are determined to put us all in gaol.
‘Tovver the Bovver was a great leader, and we always won our battles with the Feralise troops. He also looked after us and made sure we were all properly fed and looked after. But since he’s gone, it’s been a disaster.
‘No cat has been strong or wise enough to take over the leadership and the rebel Catdom has broken up into several smaller groups. Now the groups all fight each other for food and try to get control of everything,’ Siam Sam said sadly in conclusion.
‘Is that why all these ‘ere cats are wounded and look ‘arf staved?’ asked Terry.
‘Yes, that’s right. These are very bad times, and to make matters worse, ever since the new Prime-Mogster, S’our Dave Kamikon, came into power, he has taken advantage of all our squabbling and renewed his attacks on us. Many cats have already been captured and taken to London for punishment. At least the old Prime-mogster, Phoney Flair, used to more or less leave us alone. He was too busy chasing pussies across the desert in far off foreign parts.’
‘I ‘ate that London Gov’ment, Terry said, ’They tried ter sen’ me there to join the SCS (Special Cat Services), but I ran away instead. I don’ wanna go to no school in London. That ‘S’our Dave is no good.’
‘Yes, he’s a right sourpuss! So you can understand how we all feel,’ said Siam Sam, ‘if things don’t improve soon, we’ll either die of starvation or we’ll all get captured and be dragged off to London.
‘It sound like a real mess,’ said Terry. ‘So who’s yer leader now?’
‘That’s the main problem – we don’t have one. I tried to be leader for a while, but as you can see I’ve been badly injured in a great battle we had with another colony, and I can’t lead any more. There’s a young cocky Persian who wants to take over, but I don’t think he’s the right one. He’s much too rash.’
‘So wot yer gonna do?’
‘I think I’ve found our new leader now.’
‘Who’s that then?’
‘It’s you Terry. Anyone who can stand up to four of our most vicious cats and fight them off single-pawed is a very special cat. And you’re so big and strong and brave. You will make a perfect leader.’
‘Me? You must be joking. I can’t stay ‘ere. I’ve gotta find me mum!’ shouted Terry in astonishment.
‘I think you will have to forget those plans for a while. You must stay here and be our leader. It wasn’t just luck when you met Tovver the Bovver. It was your katty-karma, as we felines call it.
‘Tovver knew what he was doing when he mentioned his real name to you. He suspected that somehow it would eventually lead you to us, and he knew that we needed you. He is such a wise old moggie.’
‘I’m sorry to disappoint you Siam Sam, but I’m not stayin’ ‘ere to be anyone’s leader.’
‘Oh yes you are Terry. That is unless you want to fight your way out, against more than thirty desperate cats. You would never make it – as strong and brave as you are.
‘Besides, it wouldn’t be forever. Just until we get ourselves sorted out again. We have to stop fighting each other and we must chase S’our Dave’s warriors back to London. Come on, you’ll enjoy it, you know you will.’
Terry considered this proposal, (which was also a threat to his life). It seemed as though he didn’t have much choice, and secretly he was starting to quite like the idea of becoming a leader.
‘Well, if you put it like that, maybe I could try it for a while.’
‘Good boy. Now we have to persuade the colony to accept you.’
‘How are we supposed to do that?’
‘Come on follow me, and I’ll show you.’
They walked slowly back to the clearing, and Siam Sam called all the cats out again, and he told them that at long last they had a new leader.
‘And who may that be?’ asked the longhaired grey tom.
‘It’s Terry from Pitsea. I know he’s a stranger to you and he’s very young, but Tovver The Bovver has met him, and sent him to us. Terry is very strong and brave, and like us, he’s on the run from ‘S’our Dave and the London government. He hates them just like we do. I’m sure he’ll make a great leader.’
‘And just who do you think you are, Siam Sam, with your two crippled paws, trying to tell us who our leader should be?’ asked a young cat from the side of the crowd. ‘You’re not our leader anymore.’
‘That’s the cocky young Persian I was telling you about,’ Siam Sam whispered softly to Terry.
‘Well now, Percy Persia,’ said Siam Sam to the Persian. Are you challenging my decision?’
‘Yes I am,’ replied Percy Persia.
‘So do have any other suggestions as to who should be our leader then?’
‘I certainly do.’ replied the cocky cat.
‘And who might that be?’
‘Me, of course. I must be the new leader.’
‘Hear this then, all cats,’ said Siam Sam in a formal tone of voice. ‘We have two cats who want to be our leader. Is there anyone else who wishes their name to be put forward?’
There was silence.
‘What ‘appens now?’ asked Terry. ‘It must be a vote, and that there Percy Persian is so cocky, I’m bound to win aren’t I?’
‘Vote! No, we don’t vote, Terry,’ replied Siam Sam.
‘It’s a fight! Whoever wins becomes our new leader.’
Terry wasn’t expecting this turn of events, and just as he was considering his likely prospects of winning a fight against the brash young rival, he was viciously attacked from behind by the lightning fast Percy Persia who sank his teeth deep into Terry’s neck.
Terry felt a terrible stab of pain, and the blood started to gush out of a large wound. His head became dizzy, and he almost collapsed from the shock and severity of the sudden attack.
Just as he was about to pass out, something inside gave him an extra surge of energy, and he shook his head so violently, that the Persian was forced to release his grip and was flung violently across the clearing.
The cat lay on the ground and Terry closed in for the kill. He sank his teeth into Percy Persia’s head.
‘Kill me then, kill me. Do it quickly,’ screamed Percy Persia.
Terry released his hold on the fallen animal.
‘No Percy Persia, I won’t kill yer. All this killin’ and fightin’ each other ‘as ter stop. You’ll all be wiped out, or you’ll end up in S’our Dave’s gaols. Come on, up yer get.’
Percy couldn’t believe he was being let off. He gingerly got up off the floor and looked at Terry with a new respect.
‘You’re a very kind cat, and you’ll make a good leader,’ he said. I’ll be pleased to serve under you, Terry.’
‘And I’ll be very pleased to’ave you wiv me, Percy Persia. You’s young and strong – you can be my right paw cat,’ replied Terry, already showing signs of leadership wisdom.
Percy Persia walked over to Terry, and licked the congealed blood of the nasty wound he had inflicted in Terry’s neck.
Terry had turned a bitter enemy into a lifelong friend.
And Terry was going to need all the friends he could find, if he was going to succeed as the rebel colony’s new leader.
It was almost as though Terry had been born to lead. From the very first moment that he was accepted as leader of that dispirited and half-starved colony, things started to change for the better.
The first problem that Terry had to solve was the shortage of food, (for every good general knows that you can’t fight on an empty stomach). The lack of food was mainly due to the disorganised way they all went about trying to feed themselves.
Many of the cats were too old, too young or too badly wounded to be able to chase the birds, rats and other small animals in the surrounding countryside. Those that were able to hunt for food had to share their prey with those who weren’t able to. This led to most of the cats only getting a tiny meal, maybe once every two or three days, if they were lucky.
Terry organised the young and fit cats into proper hunting parties, and by combining their efforts, they found that they were able to round up a lot more food. He even insisted that the old, young and crippled cats had to help.
Sometimes they were told to chase the quarries in one direction, where the fit young hunters were waiting to pounce. On other occasions, the hunters chased their quarries into traps, where the ‘oldies’ were able to finish things off.
Within a short space of time, the colony became better fed, looked and felt a lot fitter, and the wounds of recent battles started to heal.
Although Terry didn’t want (or need) a complicated system of elders and Catsil members like those he left behind him at Pitsea Mount, he did need a few trusty assistants with whom he could share his leadership duties.
He decided to make Percy Persia his second in command, and then he brought in Siam Sam and two more cats from that original gang who had tried to steal his dinner.
The heavily furred tom, whose name was Greybeard, would prove to be a strong and loyal front-line soldier, and finally there was Maizy, the pretty little ginger female. Terry realised that Maizy possessed a lot of cunning, which would prove very useful in the coming battles.
Over the following weeks, the five of them supervised the training of the colony into a well-organised fighting force. Once again, Terry insisted on involving everyone in the training sessions. The young, old and crippled were included and were told that they would all have their parts to play.
So when the first serious test of Terry’s leadership skills came about, he had a much-improved brigade of cats at his disposal.
It was one evening, some two months after Terry had become the colony’s leader that the first attack occurred. They had just settled down for their evening meal, when they heard the warning mewing signal from one of the guards who lay hidden in the forest for just such an eventuality.
The hidden guards had been Maizy’s idea, and what a good one it turned out to be. Terry quickly alerted all the cats, and reminded them of the plan they had practised many times.
‘Nah then lads, get yerselves into position, but carry on eatin’, just as though nuffin is wrong,’ he whispered to them.
The marauding gang fell right into the trap, and as they rushed into the clearing to attack the eating cats and steal their food, they were immediately set upon by ten of Terry’s fiercest warriors who by this time had jumped out from hiding places in the bushes.
The battle was short but fierce, and within a few minutes, the attackers were pleading for their lives. Some of Terry’s fiercest fighters, including Percy Persia and Greybeard wanted to finish them off, but Terry called a halt to the battle.
‘Do yer knows any of these ‘ere cats, Siam Sam?’ Terry asked.
‘Why yes, Terry. They used to be part of our own colony, but they broke away when Tovver the Bovver disappeared.’
‘Who’s yer leader?’ Terry asked one of the trapped toms.
‘We haven’t got one,’ the defeated cat replied. ‘He got ill a few months ago and died. Please sir, let us go – I promise we won’t bother you any more – we’re just hungry.’
‘Percy Persia, give ‘em some of our grub,’ said Terry.
‘Are you crazy, Terry? Why do you want to do that? Let’s just kill them!’ Percy Persia shouted back in astonishment.
‘No, Percy. There’s gonna be no more killin’. Now, lets feed ‘em, an see if they wants to come back and live wiv us. But they’ll ‘ave to accept me as their leader.’
Which, of course they did, with much pleasure.
The disasters that had befallen the rebel Catdom when Tovver the Bovver retired, were at long last starting to come to an end. Once Terry had invited the first of the smaller groups back into the fold, it wasn’t long before more small gangs joined them.
Sometimes they joined after a brief skirmish, which was followed by Terry’s offer of peace, provided they threw their lot in with him. On other occasions, there was no fighting at all, as word was out that there was a new fearless and strong leader, and some groups asked to come back of their own accord.
The Catdom became larger and larger, and eventually its domain covered the entire midlands – much the same size as it had been in the old days under Tovver the Bovver.
Despite his young age, Terry became admired for his wise but firm leadership. Every time that he accepted a new group back, he looked for the strongest amongst that group to join him as one of his assistants, and in that way he ensured total loyalty from every cat.
The leadership group finally grew to a total of twelve deputies who became known as Tel’s Toms, (even though, strictly speaking, Maizy was a female).
During the period when Terry was consolidating his Catdom, there had been some minor incidents with cats from S’our Dave’s government troops, but whenever a fight occurred, they were always defeated and sent scurrying back to the South with their tales between their legs.
So Terry was left more or less in peace to go about his good work, without the need to continually be on guard from attacks by the Feralia troops, who were ruled by the Prime-Mogster, in far away London.
But just when he was beginning to believe that S’our Dave was never going to make a serious attempt to re-take the rebel Catdom, he received word that a huge force of cats were advancing northwards. They were seen following a route close to the northern motorway.
He called his ‘Tel’s Toms’ together and told them that this would be their biggest challenge since the departure of Tovver the Bovver. They had to plan their campaign very well, as this time it looked as though S’our Dave had set the whole might of Feralia against them.
To lose the battle would mean the end of their rebel Catdom – and worse, they would either spend the rest of their lives in some horrible London prison, or suffer death on the battlefield! This was going to be the ultimate test and they had to be ready.
‘Their army is much bigger than ours, so how can we possibly hope to beat them?’ asked Siam Sam.
‘And they are very highly trained,’ added greybeard. ‘We’re bound to be defeated.’
‘Yes, there will more of them, and they will be strong fighters. But we can still win if we use our brains,’ said Maizy, ‘there’s more than one way to win a battle, you know.’
Over the months, Terry had become more and more entranced with the vivacious and alluring Maizy. She was so pretty – and so clever! A most unusual combination in a female, he thought. He still hankered after the beautiful Punkie, but she was becoming a distant memory, whereas Maizy was around him every day, working her female whiles.
‘Maizy’s right,’ said Terry forcefully. ‘We have to be smarter than them. We must come up with a really clever plan.’
And together, Terry and Maizy devised a cunning plan that they hoped would win them the day.
It was indeed a cunning plan.
Maizy’s idea was to put all the older cats in the front line and make the government forces think they were Terry’s best soldiers.
‘But they’ll get slaughtered!’ protested Terry.
‘They might get hurt a bit, but as soon as the fighting starts, they can surrender and plead for mercy.’
‘Surrender? What good is that going to do?’ asked Terry.
‘It will make them think they have won, and their guard will be down.’
‘I’m starting ter see wot yer mean. And when they fink they’ve won, out we come from the bushes wiv our best soldiers and attack ‘em.’
‘You’ve got it, Terry.’
‘It’s bit dangerous for all our older cats. Some of ‘em will get ‘urt – maybe even killed!’
‘Terry, we’re going to have to make some sacrifices if we are to see off S’our Dave once and for all. It’s the only way.’
‘I suppose your right Maizy, but I don’ like seeing my cats get ‘urt.’
‘It’s for the future of our Catdom, Terry.’
Terry called the rest of Tel’s Toms back, and together they worked out all the details. Then they held a meeting of the entire Catdom and told them of the plan.
Everyone was excited as well as very nervous, especially the elders, as they were going to be in the most danger. Bravely, they accepted their role and they all eagerly awaited the day of the battle.
The plan almost worked. In fact it probably would have worked if Terry had been prepared to let all the older cats get maimed or killed. But he was too kind a cat to ever let that happen.
The great army from the South arrived at Sherwood Forest, and as planned, the older cats from the Midlands all lined up against them as though they were the main troops.
It soon became clear that they were outnumbered by about fifty to one, and the powerful London force was not interested in accepting any surrender or in taking any prisoners. Some of Terry’s dearest friends were getting hurt badly, and he couldn’t stand it any longer.
Instead of remaining hidden until the London army thought they had won, (as was the plan), Terry rallied his forces and called them out for an early, unexpected counter-attack. As they came shrieking out of the surrounding undergrowth, Terry screamed to the elderly cats to run off along a safe path that his troops had cleared for them.
It was a great and terrible battle. Even when he threw all his cats into the fray, he was still outnumbered by S’our Dave’s highly trained cats from London. But their whole world was at stake and they fought like cats that had nothing to lose.
The battle raged for hours, and Terry was always in the thick of it, along with Percy Persia, Greybeard and the other brave members of Tel’s Toms. Maizy stayed at the edge of the fray, screaming blood-curdling meows of encouragement.
Eventually, Terry’s enormous strength started to tell, and he started to pick off the enemy’s leaders one by one. He inflicted so many injuries on them that they were forced to limp away in pain and desert their troops.
Once the army had become leaderless, the London troops lost their will to fight, and after six hours of non-stop battle, those that remained of S’our Dave’s crack forces disengaged themselves and scurried away in disarray.
The rebels had won the battle of all battles. But the price was high. So many of them were seriously injured, and some, including poor Greybeard, had lost a paw and would never fight again.
It was all over, and Terry knew it would be a very long time before S’our Dave would ever dare to attack them again. As usual Terry was acclaimed as the hero, for it was certainly the case that without his heroic efforts, they probably would have been defeated.
That night, after they all had a chance to recover, and to have their wounds licked, they had a big celebration with some special food that had been saved for the occasion –tasty fish that had been caught earlier in a nearby stream.
‘Well Maizy, your plan didn’t quite work out as we expected, but we won in the end,’ Terry said adoringly to his new love.
‘If you had stayed hidden a bit longer, it would have been a much easier victory,’ said Maizy.
‘I couldn’t stand by and let all those old cats get hurt any longer.’
‘Terry, your heart is too soft.’
‘Yes Maizy, I suppose it is. And I ‘ave a very soft ‘art fer you Maizy. How about us two getting married?’ he asked adoringly.
Maizy didn’t answer for a long time, but eventually she said, ‘Terry, I’ll marry you, but on one condition.’
‘Wot’s that Maizy?’
‘You have to make me your deputy leader. I must be the second in command.’
‘Aw Maizy. I can’t do that. Percy Persia is my number two.’
‘We can run this Catdom together Terry. With my brains and your bravery we’ll be the leaders for years and years.’
No, Maizy, I can’t do that. It’s not right,’ Terry said sadly, realising that he was not going to be able to marry this beautiful creature after all.
‘It’s your choice Terry, but I think you will come to regret it,’ Maizy said, in a voice with a strange and nasty edge to it, before scampering away into the dark forest night.
The party broke up. Wearily and sadly, Terry made his way to his leader’s bed for some hard-earned sleep.
He couldn’t have been sleeping for more than a few minutes, when he was woken by one of the Catdom’s young messenger cats mewing and prodding him with his paw.
‘Terry, I’ve been told to wake you. Tel’s Toms need to see you urgently – something has happened.’
‘Appened? Wot’s ‘appened?’ asked Terry.
‘I don’t know – I was just told to come and get you.’
Terry rubbed his sleepy eyes and followed the young cat messenger into the forest. After a few minutes he arrived at a clearing where the rest of Tel’s Toms were waiting for him.
‘Wots ‘appened then?’ asked Terry.
‘We were hoping that you could tell us that,’ replied Siam Sam. ‘We were all told to meet you here.’
Before Terry could reply, there was a rustle in the surrounding bushes. They had no chance to do anything as they were suddenly surrounded by about fifty of the fiercest looking cats he had ever seen. They were the Red Guards – the pride of S’our Dave’s army.
Resistance seemed useless. There were too many of them, and amongst Tel’s Toms, there were only about six who could put up a decent fight, now that Greybeard had lost a paw.
Then, an old familiar face appeared from behind the ring of Red Guards. It was a cat Terry hadn’t seen for a very long time. He was very tall, black and white, with a thin, hungry-like appearance.
‘Ahem, ahem, young Terry. So we meet again,’ said Hooray Henry, in his upper class, Fleaton accent.
‘It’s ‘Ooray! You’re the one that saved me when I woz a kitten.’
‘That’s right Terry. And now I’ve come to arrest you. You and the other leaders of this disgraceful, uncivilised, illegal Catdom.’
‘Arrest us?’ But why…how… where yer gonna take us?’
‘To London of course, silly boy. You’ve all broken one of the most sacred laws of the ancient Tabbythia. You are all going to jail for many years. And once your terrible friends out there discover that they’re leaderless, they’ll soon be begging to re-join S’our Dave’s great Catdom.’
Terry suspected that Hooray was probably right. His colony wouldn’t last long without a strong leader, and as Hooray was arresting all his deputies, there wouldn’t be anyone left to take-over the leadership.
‘So, you’ve won in the end, aint yer, ‘Ooray ‘Enerey?’ said Terry sadly.
‘We always win. Don’t you know that? You can’t beat the ruling classes. We’re all too powerful for silly ignorant tearaways like you and your kind. If you had come to London and joined the SCS, instead of running away, none of this would have happened.’
‘Ooray, can I ask just one favour?’ asked Terry dejectedly.
‘Favour, dear boy? What is it?’ Hooray asked in his irritable manner.
‘Just let Maizy go free. She’s only a young fing. She’s got ‘er whole life before ‘er. She won’ do yer any ‘arm – will yer Maizy?’ said Terry looking at Maizy, with love still in his eyes.
Maizy tried to avoid Terry’s adoring gaze, as Hooray said,
‘You fool, Terry. Who do you think set this all up?’
Terry looked from Hooray to Maizy, and all of a sudden he had a terrible feeling at the pit of his stomach.
‘It’s not true, is it Maizy? You aint the one ‘oo betrayed us are yer?’
‘As Hooray says, Terry – you’re a fool. You wouldn’t give me what I wanted, so I’ve joined the other side. I’m off to London to join S’our Dave’s government, they’ve promised to make me a Dame of the Farter – and you and your rough band of rebels can rot in jail!’
Terry was distraught. Everything he had fought for over the last few months was in ruins and now his beloved Maizy had betrayed him. Would this terrible day never end?
Terry and the rest of Tel’s Toms were bound with bindweed to prevent them escaping, and they were forced to start on the long march to London.
He had a lot of time to reflect on his highly eventful life, which was now at an end, for surely he would be spending the rest of his years in some dingy cell in London.
He thought back on all the wonderful cats, and some of the not so wonderful cats, that he had met in his short life.
There was Lurk and Kurk, who had rescued him as a tiny kitten, and dear Mr Bob and Suzie Woo who had become his loving foster parents. And kind old Bumbling Billy and the crazy Captain Growler who had given him somewhere to stay when he had first ran away.
He even remembered the indecisive mayor, Red Len, and the haughty Dame Shirley with affection. After all they were all part of his kitten-hood. Would he ever see any of them again?
Then there was dear, sweet Punkie. Maybe he should have married her and set up home in Pitsea. If he’d accepted her proposal none of this would have ever happened. And last but not least, what about Annie, the Humpet mother that he had set out to find? He would never find her now. All was lost.
These thoughts and others were going miserably through Terry’s head as he joined the long column of Red Guards as they commenced their march to London and jail.
‘I’m really sorry that it’s turned out like this,’ said Terry mournfully to Percy Persia, who was shackled beside him.
‘It’s not your fault Terry. It’s that traitor, Maizy, who has betrayed us,’ replied an equally mournful Percy.
The mention of Maizy sent a sharp pain of hurt through Terry’s heart, and his mood sunk even lower.
On and on they trudged, through the dark night. With the Red Guards surrounding them, and their paws restricted by the tight bindweed, there was no hope of escape.
At length, after what seemed an eternity, they stopped in a small clearing in the forest, and the Red Guards enjoyed a small meal. There was no food for the prisoners, and they were forced into one corner where they couldn’t even sit down due to the bindweed restricting movement in their paws.
After their captors had finished their repast, they lay down for a brief sleep, but for Terry and the others sleep was impossible.
Half an hour must have passed when there was a slight rustle in a bush near Terry. At first, he thought it was a bird or stray rabbit, but then he heard some familiar sounds.
Terry looked towards the bush, but couldn’t see anything in the black night.
‘That’s Humpet-speak’, thought Terry. ‘How can I be hearing the Humpet tongue way out here in the wild forest? I must be imagining it.’
‘Huss-puss, can you hear me, Huss-puss?’
‘It is Humpet-speak’, thought Terry. Then very softly, he replied, ‘Huss-puss, yes I can hear you, Meow-wow.’
‘Huss-puss, now listen carefully, Huss-puss.’
The mysterious Humpet voice told Terry that he was going to push a sharp stone over to him, and that he was to use it to cut the bindweed. Once he was free, he could then free his fellow prisoners.
‘Huss-puss, what do we do then, Meow-wow? If we try to run, we will still be overwhelmed, Huss-puss. There’s too many of them, Huss-puss.’
‘Huss-puss, is this the great rebel leader, Terry The Tomcat, that is speaking to me? Meow-wow? Now listen carefully, Huss-puss.’
The voice told Terry, that as soon as they were free of the bindweed they should all run in the direction of the nearby bush, where help would be at hand.
‘Huss-puss, how many of you are there out there, Meow-wow?’ Terry asked.
‘Huss-puss, never you mind, Meow-wow. Just do as I say, Huss-puss.’
The sharp stone was slid along the ground towards Terry, and he quickly cut his shackles and told the rest of the group what had happened. Like Terry, they weren’t convinced that they could escape, but decided to go along with it. Anything was better than a life in prison.
Once all eleven were untied, they ran together towards the bush where a huge ginger tom was waiting for them.
‘Come on cats, follow me!’ the large ginger said in Feralise.
‘Where’s the rest of you?’ asked Terry.
‘Don’t worry about that – just follow me, quickly before those Red Guards wake up.’
They didn’t seem to have much choice, but they hadn’t run but a few yards when there was a loud squealing commotion behind them. Maizy and their captors had woken and were in hot pursuit.
This is crazy, Terry was thinking. We’ll never get away, and we’ll probably get badly injured for our efforts. But his proud and gallant heart told him that they had to try. After all, this brave ginger cat was risking his life for a bunch of strangers.
The chasing cats were nearly on them when they reached a huge oak tree. The ginger cat immediately chased up the tree trunk and beckoned for the others to follow.
‘But we’ll be trapped!’ exclaimed Percy Persia.
‘Just do what I say and follow me up the tree!’
Follow they did, high up to the top of the tree, and out onto a long branch. where to everyone’s astonishment, was a sight to behold. There at the end of the branch, bound tightly with bindweed, was the pitiful sight of a terrified Hooray Henry.
The Red Guards were about to follow them up the tree when the ginger cat shouted, ‘One more step and Hooray Henry gets it!’
‘Don’t come nearer, my dear fellows, if you please,’ pleaded Hooray Henry, in his upper class, Fleaton accent.
The Red Guards were in awe of their leader from the London government, and didn’t dare disobey him.
The huge ginger tom told Hooray to order his troops to move away from the tree.
The terrified Hooray passed on the instructions to his snarling cats, and the menacing guards did what they were told.
‘Now tell them to go back further – back into the forest,’ said the ginger tom.
Once again Hooray did as he was told and the menacing guards melted away into the woods.
‘I’ve done as you asked, so let me go free, you wicked ruffian!’ shouted Hooray.
But the ginger cat wasn’t ready to release Hooray yet. Not until they were all a long way from that forest, and out of danger.
The group slowly climbed back down to the ground, and after making sure the way was clear, Terry and his Toms followed the strange ginger and Hooray along a winding track and out into a dark field.
They travelled in silence, for fear of attracting the attention of any Red Guards who might still be in the vicinity. About an hour later, their rescuer brought them all to a halt.
‘This is far enough,’ said the ginger cat, ‘we can let this London toff go now.’
‘Don’t leave me here! I’ll get lost!’
‘That’s your problem. All that soft living in London has taken away your instincts. Go on be off! Just follow that path and you’ll come to the main road. Someone is bound to take pity on such a pathetic creature as you!’
‘You’ll be sorry you all did this,’ said Hooray. ‘Especially you, Terry. S’our Dave’s will never rest until he has put you behind bars. We’ll find you, wherever you try to go.’
With the threat ringing in his enemy’s ears, Hooray made off down the path and disappeared into the night.
‘Do yer fink ‘e’ll be alright?’ asked Terry, ever concerned about his fellow creatures, despite Hooray’s threat to his own safety.
‘Of course he will. He’s a pretty smart cat. He’ll survive,’ answered the ginger tom.
‘I don’t know how to thank you,’ said Percy Persia, you were so brave and daring back there. How did you know we were captured?’
‘Oh I’ve been keeping an eye on you all for some time – especially young Terry over here.’
‘But ‘Oo are yer? And why ‘ave yer been watchin’ us?’ asked a puzzled Terry.
‘Terry, don’t you know who I am?’
‘No – I’s never set me eyes on you before.’
‘Oh yes you have, Terry.’ There was a long pause. ‘I am Tony. I’m your Dad.’
‘Tony? My Dad? But my Dad’s dead!’
‘Do I look dead?’ asked Tony.
‘I woz told that you woz killed by a fox – the one that caught me when I ran away as a kitten. They all tol’ me that you rescued me, but the fox chased yer, an’ yer woz never seen again. They said yer must’ve been killed.’
‘I very nearly was, said Tony. The fox did catch me and we had terrible fight, but he gave up in the end and left me nursing my injuries up in the marshes.
I lay there for days and days, but one day a kind squirrel took pity on me and brought me some nuts to eat. I slowly recovered, but it took several months before I was back to normal and well enough to come looking for you and your mother.
‘By that time you were being looked after by Mr Bob and Suzie Woo. And your mother had moved up to the Midlands.
‘Why didn’t you come back to the Pitsea Catsil and tell us you were alive?’ asked Terry.
‘Because I decided it was better if everyone thought I was dead. Don’t forget, I married a Humpet, and that’s against the laws of the Tabbythia. Those people from London, Hooray Henry and the like, would’ve put me gaol. So I thought it would be better if I stayed dead.’
‘But where’ve yer bin all this time?’
‘Oh I’ve been pussy footing around– moving from place to place. I don’t like to stay in one place too long. I prefer the open road. I even stayed in Humpet-land for a while – that’s where I learned to speak their stupid tongue’
‘But how did yer find me?’ How come you woz around ‘ere ter rescue us?
‘I’ve been keeping an eye on you all your life, Terry. Especially after you ran away from Pitsea and went to stay with Captain Growler. I’ve never been far away, Terry – just in case you ever needed me. And up to now you haven’t. You’ve done very well for yourself and I’m so proud of you.’
The group found a secluded spot and decided to get some sleep before travelling back to their homes in Sherwood Forest. Terry and Tony settled down together, a little apart from the others, and continued to chat well into the night. After all, they had a lifetime to catch up on.
As dawn broke, Percy Persia came over to rouse Terry, who had only just fallen asleep after a night of talking.
‘Come on Terry, we’d better hurry back before everyone starts to wonder what’s happened to us.’
‘Percy, I ain’t going wiv yer.’
‘What!’ exclaimed Percy. But you must – you’re our leader!’
‘Not any more I ain’t. I’m going away wiv my Dad. It’s too dangerous for the colony if I stay on as leader. You ‘erd wot Hooray said. They’ll always be hunting me down. It’s better for the rest of yer if I don’t stay with you anymore.
You’re a big rebel Catdom now, and now we’ve won that big battle I think S’our Dave’s will leave you in peace for a long time to come. Especially if I’m not there as your leader.’
‘But who will be our leader?’ asked Siam Sam.
‘It’s obvious ain’t it? Percy Persia will make a great leader – Now ‘e’s grown up a bit,’ added Terry with a chuckle.
Siam Sam and the others could see the sense in what Terry had just told them, and reluctantly they started to make ready for the journey home without their brave and kind leader.
‘Terry, I don’t know how I’m going to manage without you,’ said Percy Persia.
‘Corse you’ll manage, Percy, just remember everyfing I taught yer,’ said Terry with a laugh, trying to hide the sorrow he felt at having to say farewell to this loveable group of comrades.
The group headed off back to Sherwood Forest, and after sadly watching them depart, father and son headed off in the opposite direction.
‘Where’s we going Dad?’
‘We have to find somewhere safe. Until all the fuss over Hooray Henry’s kidnapping dies down a little. You have to disappear for a while, and the best place to do that is in Humpet -Land. They’ll never chase us in there.
You speak the lingo, just like me, so we can get by. We’ll pretend to be stray Humpets, and we’ll find a kind human who will take us in and feed us. And I know just the place.
Tony led Terry along the highways and byways of the Eastern Midlands, until they eventually reached a pretty little village which had a stream running down it’s centre.
‘Now we have to be careful, as there’s lots of dogs around here, but if we follow the stream down to the end of the village, there’s a lovely little bungalow where I think we might be able to stay for a while.
‘I’m not afraid of any dogs, Dad,’ said Terry.
He recalled the cowardly Horace The Hound, as he followed his Dad alongside the pretty stream that meandered through the picturesque willows and elms.
‘Here we are, young lad, home for a while,’ said Tony, as they entered the front garden of a pretty bungalow.
‘Why d’ya come ‘ere Dad? Wot’s so special about this place?’
‘Because, my son there’s someone special who lives here.’
The front door opened and out ran an elegant black and white female cat, who immediately scampered over to Tony and purred loudly in greeting.
Terry looked at the two cats, who obviously had great affection for each other. His heart suddenly skipped a beat.
‘Dad, where are we? Wot’s this village called?
‘Barnwell, Terry. This is Barnwell. And this is….’
‘Mum!’ shouted Terry. It’s my mum isn’t it?’
The black and white cat turned her attention to the huge young tortoise shell male who had arrived with her husband.
‘Huss-puss, oh Terry, you’re home at last, Meow-wow!
Terry snuggled up to his mother and the two purred so loudly that their throats nearly burst.
So at long last, Terry, Tony and Annie settled down together in the village of Barnwell in the heart of Humpet- land. They had so much to catch up on and so many adventures to relate to each other.
Tony and Terry were finally at peace. At long last they had found happiness as a family and they were content.
Content, that is – for a while.
For we all know that Tony, Terry’s Dad, had a terrible wanderlust. And as for Terry – well he had to stay hidden for a while, to make sure that S’our Dave and Hooray Henry didn’t find him. But that remarkable young tomcat wasn’t going to stay hidden forever was he?
I think Terry was far too remarkable to settle for a quiet life in Barnwell. Surely it wouldn’t be long before he would start to miss all those strange and wonderful cats out there in Feralia.
He had always promised himself that one day he would go back and visit Mr Bob and Suzie Woo – his second Mum and Dad. Then, of course, was the half-forgotten promise he had made to Punkie.
He had promised her that one day he would return – after he had found his real mum.
Ah… and then there were all those other cats with whom he had shared so many exciting adventures.
I think we will hear more about Terry the Tomcat one day.
Don’t you agree?
(c) Mobi D’Ark, 2013
Original drawings by Graham Weilding
14 Apr 2013 Comments Off
Back in 2004, I moved to what I can only describe as a ‘Bavarian style’ house in the heart of Bangkok.
It had been designed and built by by an elderly Thai gentleman, a retired doctor who was also a hopeless and occasionally aggressive alcoholic.
He lived next door to his architectual ‘masterpiece’, and when I moved in, it hadn’t been occupied for a considerable period of time, and was in a bad state of repair. The good doc spent my 3 months deposit in fixing everything up, and my then-wife, Dang, and I spent a year there before moving to my new house in Pattaya.
I have not been back since but I doubt very much whether the house still exists. By now I am sure it has long since been swept away by the aggressive commercial developments that have been going full pelt at the rear of Soi 31 on Sukhumvit Road. The land must have been worth millions.
Anyway, here is the interesting building, as was, where my ex- wife and I whiled away many drunken hours, fighting each other for all we were worth…
Another week, another dollar… I wish it were so!
In my case it’s more like another week, and another lost dollar.
My thoughts continue to be dominated by the news that I may have lost some or all of my savings, and I seem to be slowly turning into a bit of a manic depressive. Some days I feel as high as a kite, and other days I feel very low.
The reality is that I must count my blessings.
For now, I have sufficient money to get through the next six months or so, and if I somehow manage to sell my house, I can keep going for considerably longer. I also think I have enough cash to start a little business, which I will turn my mind to seriously when I return from the UK in August.
(In case you are wondering, the air tickets to the UK have already been bought, and are non-refundable. Although the trip will involve a fair bit of expense, I am hopeful it can be done ‘on the cheap’, as my family will put us up and, hopefully feed us…)
Then there is Noo. She is an absolute gem and quite frankly, if I had to choose between being alone and having a savings account full of money and being broke but with Noo to take care of me, then I would choose the latter every time.
All her family are aware of my precarious financial situation and all of them have told her that under no circumstances should she leave me, which of course I know she never will.
Somehow, I have a feeling that we will weather this latest crisis and that we will all muddle through. The news on my delinquent savings remains reasonably positive, although there is little doubt that I will not see any money for at least a year or two.
It has been insufferably hot in Pattaya for many weeks now with day time temperatures climbing into the high thirties and even at night it has been in the low-mid thirties. Relative humidity has also been in the ninety percentiles. Not very nice!
Then, two days ago, the heavens opened and at long last it rained. From memory, apart from maybe the odd, very brief shower, I think it was the first real rain we have seen since last November.
Yesterday we had another heavy shower during the day, and last night there was another thunderstorm. It has now generally overcast and the temperatures have plunged to the more tolerable high twenties. Tropical storms are forecast to continue for at least the next few days, and long may they last.
But even the advent of storms in early-mid April is far from normal. Typically, the weather stays dry until May- June, but we don’t usually have very hot weather starting as early as February, like we did this year.
The weather seems to be all over the place and there is little doubt that climate change is rearing its ugly head.
Anyway, as today is the first day of Songkran – Thai New Year – maybe the stormy weather will put a dampener on the manic water celebrations. I somehow doubt it.
About 12 years or so ago, after I had retired from my city job and completed my first volume of short stories, which were published as ‘Tales from Thailand’, I tried my hand at a short-ish children’s fantasy story, or novelette.
Although it was primarily targeted at a young, pre-teenage readership, the novelette turned into an adventure story that contained allegories and satire that that I thought might also amuse children’s parents.
Like most of my early work, the printed and ‘Word’ data documents have long since disappeared without trace. I assumed that the text had all been erased from all my hard disk memories.
Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago; when I was going through some old papers that I had kept in storage, I came across some floppy disks which contained most of my old work.
No longer having any computer which contains a floppy disk drive, a good friend lent me a USB drive and adaptor, and I have been able to recover some long lost manuscripts.
The recovered data includes: the text of my first, unpublished novel; the original text for my published short stories; the text of another short story, which is a sort of ‘whodunit’ and last but not least, the text of my ‘children’s novelette’, a work of some 20,000 words.
I am resolved to publish some of this work in my blog over the coming months, and to start the ball rolling I will be publishing the children’s story mid-week. It has undergone a bit of a ‘spring clean’ but is essentially the same story I wrote back in the early 2000’s.
When I re-read it, even though ‘I say it as shouldn’t’, it brought a few smiles to my lips, so I do hope that you will also find it amusing. It is also completely ‘clean’ and it is suitable reading for kids from ages 8-11. The satire is mostly of a political nature and has no sexual innuendos or suggestive ‘double-entendres’.
I think I will spend the next few weeks or so sorting and publishing these long lost manuscripts in my blog, before embarking upon a new literary effort. I’m not getting any younger and I want to do some more meaningful creative writing before Mad Cows’ disease sets in.
In case anyone is wondering, I haven’t heard a dicky bird from the publisher who requested the manuscript of my novel, ‘A Lust for Life’.
I guess these things take time, or maybe it is sitting in a corner somewhere, gathering dust….
A few days ago I watched an HBO film about Beyonce – her life, her family, her highs and lows, and of course her amazing career in the entertainment firmament, as told in her own words and as mainly filmed by her friends and family.
She came across as an intelligent, sensible, hard-working and totally dedicated young lady, who has been determined to succeed no matter what, while still maintaining the ‘common touch’ with her fans and production cohorts.
But let us not forget that the film was totally under her control, being the producer, presenter and God-knows what else besides, so she would come across as a pretty nice person, wouldn’t she? Not that I’m saying that she isn’t…..
But I wonder at the hubristic motives that prompted her to make the film in the first place. OK I am sure she made spade loads of money from it, but she can make that kind of money any day of the week by holding a live performance or releasing a new song.
Personally I don’t think Beyonce’s voice is God’s gift to popular music and in the movie ‘Dreamgirls’, she was totally outclassed and out-sung in every sense of the word in by American Idol’s own – the fabulous Jennifer Hudson.
Having said that, I think she does do incredibly well with the voice God has given her and her vocal pyrotechnics seem to know no bounds. There is no doubt that she is a great singer by any standards – pitch perfect, with an original, endearing tone and with such passion in her voice that it can bring grown men to tears.
Add to this her unquestioned beauty, her unbelievable dancing ability and her sheer zest and talent in putting together show-stopping production numbers, few could deny her mega star status.
I wrote about Beyonce back in January when she caused a storm by admitting that she had mimed the American National anthem at Obama’s inauguration.
Her explanation that she wanted the rendering to be flawless, which it might not have been, had she sung live, was understandable, but in my humble opinion it was a total betrayal of the integrity of the occasion.
It would seem that her personal vanity got the better of her. In her rarefied, mega-star world, it was better to pass a huge deception on the American public than be caught singing a less than perfect rendition.
She just didn’t get that this was fundamentally the wrong thing to do – and I doubt she ever will.
Now in April we learn that she and her rapper husband, Jay-Z, have been whooping it up in Cuba, in contravention of America’s long held ban on their citizens visiting Cuba, purely for pleasure.
Now don’t get me wrong – I happen to believe – like the rest of the world -that this ban is ridiculous and probably counter-productive. US citizens may travel to Russia, Vietnam, and even North Korea and Iran with their government’s blessing, but not Cuba. It doesn’t make sense and simply exposes the hypocrisy of American foreign policy.
I’m not going to to and assert that Cuba isn’t guilty of gross human rights abuses and has literally held the majority of its population in poverty and desolation for decades – of course it has. But so have many other sovereign states in this world of ours, where there is no such restrictions on US travel.
And has this ban on travel made one iota of difference to the despots who run Cuba? You know the answer.
But the law is the law – and clearly Beyonce and Jay-Z consider themselves above the law which is simply there for mere mortals.
If they had travelled to Cuba, and in a subtle way had highlighted some of the injustices of the regime, then I believe they would have had a lot of supporters. Or even if they had indulged in some form of genuine ‘cultural exchange’ which is permitted by the US government, then I doubt anyone would have blinked an eye lid.
To make matters worse, upon their return, Jay-Z released a new rap song in which he stated that the couple had received White House permission for their trip.
The Whitehouse was obliged to make an embarrassing denial and admit it was the Treasury Department that had indeed granted them a licence for a ‘cultural visit….’
Their trip was a ‘jolly’, from start to finish, and they just went there to have a good time and be fawned over by a new set of fans from a country in which few of their fellow American artists ever have to opportunity to cast their spell over.
In other words, it was a huge sop to their over inflated egos – pure and simple.
Then we have the wonderful and oh so charitable Madonna, an incredibly rich mega-star who, regrettably, is well past her ‘sell by date’.
She seemed to think she had a divine right to go to one of Africa’s poorer countries and pluck two babies from an orphanage, ride rough shod over the local adoption laws and spirit them back to America as her new children. Or, more likely, her new pampered poodles – something for her to play with in her old age.
Madonna has claimed to have built no less than 10 schools in the impoverished Malawi – presumably as a price for them allowing her to take two babies out of the country – but even this claim has now come under serious question. The Malawi education minister has stated that Madonna was building classrooms, not entire schools, in the country.
“She has built classrooms at existing schools… really it’s a difference in terminology,” the minister said.
It now transpires that Madonna’s Malawi charity, ‘Raising Malawi’, had spent a grand total of $400,000 on building 10 school blocks which allowed some 4,000 children, who had been learning under trees, to be taught in classrooms.
Sounds pretty impressive? Well yes and no. To the likes of you and I, $400k is a load of money. But if you consider that she is worth in excess of 650 million dollars, and is rapidly heading towards billionaire status, 400,000 dollars is the common folks’ equivalent of the price of a Sunday lunch.
Building 10 Schools would appear to be a massive investment – at the very least an investment of several million dollars, surely?…but 400K?
Come on Madonna, can’t you do better than that?
Madonna thinks she is such a God-like mega-star and that her investment of 400,000, (in return for 2 babies), gives her the divine right to play fast and loose with the family of Malawi’s President. She actually thought that she could go into a tin-pot third world African nation and do what she wanted.
Well, it transpires that firing the President’s sister from a prominent position in her charity wasn’t exactly her smartest – or finest - hour.
The American queen of pop’s relationship with Malawi had already soured with publication of a report accusing many of the local staff in her ‘Raising Malawi’ charity of financial impropriety in connection with the adoption of her two babies.
Now, after her exaggerated claims about building 10 schools surfaced, a statement, was issued from the President’s office which said:
‘Madonna is a musician who desperately thinks she must generate recognition by bullying state officials instead of playing decent music on the stage. She apparently wants the Malawian government to roll out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute in her honour. She thinks she deserves to be revered with state grandeur and needs to learn the decency of telling the truth.’
Hmmm… sounds about right….Madge….
Last but by no means least, we have the utterly pathetic sight of former NBA mega-star having a right old ‘knees up’ with the leader of one of the most vicious and cruel regimes of the 21st Century.
This is the regime that has scared the shit out of its Asian neighbours and the world at large by threatening to unleash a nuclear holocaust.
I refer of course to the recent trip made by Dennis Rodman to North Korea where he was wined, dined and entertained by Kim Jong Un, one of the most feared men on this planet.
What on earth possessed this ageing sports star to prostitute himself in such a stupid and unpatriotic manner?
Didn’t anyone tell him about the regime’s excesses, where anyone who doesn’t smile or clap their hands on cue is locked up without trial; and where starving peasants are left to die in the fields whenever China or the USA cut back on their aid?
I wonder if dear old Dennis feels a bit better now he has hit the headlines with his ill-advised trip?
I wonder if he told his mate Kim that he better not try anything funny….
The hubris of these scary products of our overblown, outrageous celebrity culture seems to know no bounds.
When I returned to the UK in 1983 from my travels around the world, and in particular my 8 year sojourn in Thailand, ‘The Iron Lady’ had been in power for some 4 years.
I have no desire to join the ranks of either those who are extolling her virtues from the roof tops or are celebrating the death of supposedly one of the vilest and execrable prime ministers that the UK has ever had.
Too many millions of words on this matter have already been expressed in print, radio and television and internet, so my paltry efforts would add little or serve to convince the totally polarised pro and anti -Thatcher brigades to change their views.
Suffice to say that I lived in the UK throughout the years when Thatcher took on the unions (and won), almost single-handedly turned Britain from a fourth-rate economic power back to the top table, put wealth, property and share ownership into the hands of the ‘common people’; and strode the then ‘cold war’ world like a colossus – as an equal partner to the likes of Gorbachev and Reagan and Bush the elder.
Anyone who seriously tries to deny all this is simply denying history.
Amongst many other things, she has been accused of being a racist – and she probably was; of being totally merciless when it came to her confrontation with the miners – and she probably was; of doing little or nothing to advance the cause of feminism – and she probably didn’t…. and so on and so forth, ad infinitem.
The point is that you could lay similar charges at the feet of such luminaries as Churchill (who was an out-and-out racist, and committed multiple war-crimes), Gladstone, (who had a penchant for ‘fallen women’), and countless other statesmen who have all helped to shape our nation, from the two Pitts, right back to Robert Walpole.
Most, if not all great statesmen/stateswomen are flawed in some way, and Thatcher was no exception.
But there is little doubt that when the last of those who personally suffered from Thatcher’s most ruthless policies have joined ‘The Wicked Witch’ on the other side, that the late 21st century historians will acknowledge the incredible contribution she made to ‘This Sceptred Isle’ at a very difficult cross roads in our country’s long and chequered history.
I believe it is by no means an exaggeration to assert that if Thatcher had lost the 1983 election to the labour Party, and/or lost to Neil Kinnock in 1987, the economic and unemployment situation in Britain today would not be unlike Greece – without the sun, picturesque islands and Zorba the Greek and Nana Mouskouri look-alikes to help us to forget all our troubles.
But yet again, it would seem that ‘Our Dave’ has totally miss-read the mood of the people and the likely impact in today’s ‘Twitter-world’ of the death of one of the most divisive figures in modern UK political history.
Frankly, even a fool could have predicted the furore that would erupt, once news of her death crept into the minds and hearts of the bleeding hearted liberals and left wingers.
Churchill died in a different age, where all the newspapers were more or less respectful to the establishment, and there was no internet. Anyone who dared to criticise him after his death would have been regarded as a traitor, and probably hung drawn and quartered. (Well not quite, but you know what I mean).
Neither the situation as it then existed, nor the current situation are ideal.
But democracy moves on and it is better to have a vociferous minority who have the right to spit their hate and venom on Facebook and Twitter and hold celebratory ‘death parties’ throughout the land than have the state try to suppress such activities.
I deplore what they are saying and doing, but defend their inalienable right to do it.
But why didn’t Cameron understand this? His first mistake was to re-call Parliament. He could have eulogised without the need to say it in The House of Commons. That could have been done later when parliament returned from the Easter recess.
As it is, all he succeeded in doing was stirring up the anti-Thatcher sentiment, particularly amongst those MP’s who hated her and refused to attend the special session. So the real news was about the anti-Thatcher politicians and their twisted accounts of her wicked term as prime minister, rather than news of a government paying respectful tributes to a great leader.
Similarly, the ‘almost’ state funeral at St Pauls Cathedral next week is a dreadful mistake. Mark my words, there’s going to be trouble. Whatever happens, the opponents of Thatcher are going to have a field day, ramming down the public’s throat what a nasty, wicked piece of work the Iron Lady really was.
Is this what Cameron and the country really want?
It would have been far better to have a very quiet, private, low key funeral in some small but dignified church, maybe in rural England, and follow it up with a large service of remembrance, one year hence, when all the fuss had died down and the fanatical hot- heads had forgotten all about her and moved onto new, deceased targets to excoriate.
In re-calling parliament and holding a massive semi-state funeral along the lines of the late Princess Di, our Dave is asking for trouble.
The great thing about Thatcher was that she had the courage of her convictions and wasn’t afraid to break the mould or her county’s traditions if she believed it to be in the best interest of her country.
The trouble with our Dave is that he has no real convictions and is scared of his own shadow. Is it really in the best interests of a divided country, still struggling in recession to rub their noses into celebrating the life of someone who, within memory, so polarised society?
Woe is us….
A post script
I was just putting this little article to bed when I happened across this piece in Saturday’s Daily telegraph:-
…A student living in Oxford, is the architect of a plan to disrupt the funeral on Wednesday of Margaret Thatcher by lining the streets by St Paul’s Cathedral and turning their backs as the casket passes.
He hopes the stunt will be witnessed by millions of television viewers around the world. He said he is prepared to be arrested. More than 3,000 people have joined a Facebook group advertising the event, dubbed ‘Maggie’s farewell party’.
The protesters wish to “get their money’s worth” from the funeral, which will be paid for in part by the state, and have a “right jolly knees up”.
One attendee promised “civil unrest”. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Francis, whose parents live in a £700,000 home in Royal Tunbridge Wells, said he hoped the demonstration would be peaceful – but said mourners had brought any disturbance upon themselves by holding a public funeral rather than burying the late Prime Minister in private.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “I entirely support that her mourners should be allowed to grieve in peace.
It would seem that I am more prophetic than even I had previously imagined.
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07 Apr 2013 4 Comments
It has been another busy week in the life of this recovering alcoholic.
The real possibility that I have lost a substantial portion of my savings is still obviously at the forefront of my mind.
There has been little meaningful information coming from the fund’s administrators, where all my woes lie.This is hardly surprising, considering that it only went into voluntary administration 3 weeks ago and it will take a while for them to come up with any meaningful financial assessment.
But I am taking the view that no news is good news, and so far there have been no suggestions that the fund has huge holes in it or that in some way has been fraudulently plundered by its managers. It has been more a question of cash flow problems, mainly because the fund has been invested in real estate, which will clearly have negative cash flow until any particular project is completed.
If pressed to forecast what I suspect will be the outcome, I would guess that eventually I will get between 50 and 70% of my investment back, but it will be at least two years, and possibly a lot longer before I start to see any of it.
If I am right, I am going to have to put this gnarled and sick old body to work pretty damn soon in order to put food on my table and take care of my responsibilities.
Noo and I have been putting our heads together on this and do have a few ideas, which I will tell you about later. In the meantime it is absolutely essential that I get my house sold and I will be re-doubling my efforts on this front.
But life must go on and I am trying to come to terms with my new found, impecunious status.
Maybe it will be the saving of me, maybe it will be the death of me. Only time will tell.
Poor Noo wanted to go and pray at one of the major Buddhist temples in Pattaya to ask the ‘Gods’ to return my money!
I confess I treated this idea with short shrift and shouted at her that no bloody Buddha or God is going to bail me out of the mess I am in. I told her it would be total waste of time and effort.
The lovely lady was appropriately chastised and I was immediately overwhelmed with tearful contrition. She wanted to help in the only way she knew and it was very churlish of me to treat her truly-held beliefs with such disdain. Of course I begged her indulgence which she was happy to give, but she has cancelled plans to go and pray for my money…
The incident brought home to me how much this event has knocked me sideways, and I really do have to be circumspect as regards my behaviour from now on. Temper tantrums and intolerance is not going to help solve my problems, and Noo deserves better.
Yesterday, Saturday, there was a double celebration.
One of Noo’s closest friends, a young lady who lives in Chonburi town with a retired American, was getting married and so Noo, Dom, (her son), and I drove over to their home at an early hour to witness the Thai ceremony.
I have attended a number of Thai traditional weddings during my years in Thailand, including one of the biggest ever – involving a certain Mobi and his wife Dang – so I was pretty familiar with the procedures.
It was a steamy day, and the poor groom, a man in his early sixties was doled up in the stifling Thai traditional costume. Friends and family, who had travelled down from Roi Et, in North-eastern Thailand, were all gathered round to have their interminable photos taken.
It all brought back many, not very happy memories, of my own 24 hour ordeal, some eight years ago, when I became married to Dang.
My own wedding, which took place in Dang’s village in Sa Kaeo, is described at length in both ‘Mobi’s Story’ and in Parts Two and Three of my novel ‘A Lust for Life’.
However, I am sure that the happy couple will be much happier that Dang and I were. As ever, there is a large age gap between them but they do seem to be well matched and have already lived happily together for three years. Good luck to them both.
Yesterday also happened to be Noo’s birthday, so as neither of us are really party animals any more, (Noo rarely drinks alcohol and I never do), we made our excuses after the morning rituals were completed and took our leave.
We drove back to Pattaya City and spend the rest of the afternoon at Central Department store. We had a great ‘brunch’ of Cantonese dim-sum specialities, and thenwatched a very amusing Thai movie.
The movie was ‘Pee Mak Phra Kha Nong’ a re-worked and clever and amusing take-off of a traditional Thai ghost story. The cinema was packed with Thais. There was hardly a spare seat to be found, and the entire audience – including surly old Mobi – were rolling in the aisles at the silly, infectious and occasionally dark humour.
It was great stuff and very original. Set in some far off time – possibly back in the days of the 1st World War, and it had a certain ‘Black-Adder’ like quality to it.
For those of my readers who live in Thailand – go and have a good laugh – it has excellent English sub-titles, so you miss nothing.
We rounded off the afternoon by stuffing ourselves with ice cream and cake.
Happy birthday Noo….
I do owe a big thank to Stickman, who very kindly gave me and my latest novel a plug in the Stickman’s weekly blog last week.
I am also very grateful to the kind author who mentioned my humble efforts to Stickman. I am not sure if this well-known author wishes his name to be made public in this regard, so I will keep it to myself for the time being, but will happily plug it at a later date if it is OK with him.
The net result of Stickman’s little mention is that I received a huge ‘spike’ of interest in my blog, and quite a few new readers are now reading my novel – ‘A Lust for Life’.
To those of my original (‘Mobi’) readers who have not yet taken a look at Stickman’s weekly column, if you are interested what’s going on in Thailand, then it is well worth a read. It is very well written – very informative and highly entertaining.
To read it, click on ‘Stickman Weekly’ under, ‘Recommended External Links’ on my Home page.
If you are using a computer, you will find on the right hand side bar, and if you are reading from a mobile device, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Thanks to many of you who are now reading my lengthy saga.
Some of you seem confused about where to find parts 2 , 3, and 4.
Similar to the ‘Stickman directions’ above, all four parts of my novel can be found by clicking the appropriate part listed under ‘Creative Writing’, ’6. A lust For Life’. You will find them listed either on the right side of my Home Page or at the foot, depending on the device you are using.
One or two of you have mentioned that you have found mistakes in the text. This doesn’t surprise me as it is 217,000 words long, and so far I have been the sole editor/ reviewer.
I have found that no matter how many times I read it, there are mistakes and errors that slip through the net – I am just too familiar with text and probably end up glossing over errors without properly taking in what I am reading.
So I would be very grateful to anyone who can point out obvious errors, and I will be happy to correct them.
As ever, all comments are welcome. You may leave a reply at the foot of any page in the ‘Leave a Reply’ box.
Please rest assured that your email addresses will remain confidential and will not be published or passed to any other person or organisation.
(If you are abusive or make personal insults, I will block your email, but that is all..)
A few days ago that impotent and ineffective organisation know as The United Nations, adopted yet another toothless and pointless treaty.
We are told that the UN General Assembly has adopted a ‘historic treaty to control the trade in conventional arms’, voting it through by a huge majority.
Well we all know what happened with the nuclear proliferation treaty. Ifc i was so effective, how is it that nations such as India and Pakistan have viable nuclear devices, to say nothing of rogue States like Iran and North Korea?
And are we supposed to believe that this ‘historic treaty’ is going to do any better?
It sounds pretty encouraging.
The new treaty prohibits states from exporting conventional weapons in violation of arms embargoes, or weapons that would be used for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or terrorism. It also requires states to prevent conventional weapons reaching the black market.
But the omens are not good.
The plan had been to adopt the treaty by consensus, but was forced to a vote after Syria, Iran and North Korea tried to block its adoption and voted against it. On top of this, Russia and China, two of the world’s biggest arms exporters, were among those who abstained from the vote.
Does anybody seriously believe this treaty is going to make one ounce of difference to the killing, suffering and proliferation of arms in this tragic world of ours?
It is just a lot of hot air that keeps thousands upon thousands of people in jobs and achieves little else.
Where was the UN when almost a million people were being slaughtered in Rwanda?
Where are the UN, as the tens of thousands of women and children are brutalised and killed in Syria?
The United Nations?
Don’t make me laugh… I might cry…
I have written on a number of occasions about the standard of hospitals and medical care in Thailand.
Suffice to say, that in general terms, Thailand’s doctors and hospitals are pretty much like elsewhere; inasmuch as there are good doctors and bad doctors, good and bad hospitals, health care professionals who really care and others who really couldn’t give two hoots if you die tomorrow as long as they get paid.
Also, as with the rest of the world, some patients will shower a hospital with praise and have nothing but good to say about it, while others will swear that the very same hospital is staffed by quacks, thieves and uncaring charlatans.
For sure, medical care, like life itself, is always going to be a lottery. Some patients will ‘luck out’ and receive excellent and successful treatment for their conditions, whereas others may draw the short straw and get a bad doctor or a misdiagnosis, leading to understandable anger and distress.
It was ever thus, whether you attend a state run hospital or you go to the finest private hospital that money can buy.
Certainly my own experiences in Thailand have been very mixed, but on the whole, once you learn how to ‘work the system’, the treatment I have received for a number of chronic and life threatening maladies over the years has been, by and large, quite satisfactory.
Sometimes I have probably shelled out too much money for unnecessary and expensive tests, and there have been a number of occasions when I have been misdiagnosed and I have even come across a number of doctors who know less about diabetes than I do.
(A doctor in a private hospital, who was great at treating my dengue fever, was astonished when I told him I had multiple injections of insulin every day, as he had never heard of anyone having more than one per day. Yet multiple injections – to achieve greater control of blood sugars have been standard treatment since the 1980’s!
And he wasn’t the only one who was blissfully ignorant in the latest treatments for diabetes which is becoming endemic in Thailand. But the docs in the top Bangkok hospitals are well up to speed.)
The rule of thumb is that most of the best doctors gravitate to either the major government hospitals or private hospitals in Bangkok, and to a lesser extent to the top hospitals in key provincial cities, such as Chiang Mai and Pattaya. The top Bangkok government hospitals, such as Rajavithi, (where I had my heart valve replaced), and Chulalornkorn, are amongst the best in the world and have some very fine specialists on their payrolls.
As with any hospital where treatment is basically free to the local population, the state hospitals are very overcrowded and there are long waiting lists for operations. Foreigners can also go there, but they will have to pay for their treatment, and will find they have to ‘jump through many hoops’ and are given no special priority over Thais. They have to wait in line like anyone else.
The alternative is to attend one of the many private hospitals in Thailand and there is no question that establishments such as Bumrungrad, BNH, Bangkok Pattaya Hospital, and Samitivej are world class.
There was a time, up to the early 2000’s when treatment at these places was very, very cheap and Bangkok in particular quickly became a popular destination for ‘medical tourists’. But the canny Thai buisnessmeen who owned these hospitals soon cottoned on to the fact that they could jack up their rates and the punters would still keep coming.
Over the past 10 years or so we have seen huge increases at some of the major establishments, such as Bumrungrad and Bangkok-Pattaya. A bulk of these increases relates to ‘in-house’ treatment and in particular the cost of operations has spiralled.
Nowadays, the cost of major operation is probably only 10 -20% less than you would pay for a similar operation in the UK, but is still a fair bit less than you might pay at an American hospital. So it’s still worth having it done in Thailand if you are footing the bill, but a hell of a lot more than you would have paid 10 years ago.
The ancillary costs for staying in hospital have also sky-rocketed.
Strangely and fortuitously, there does not seem to have been a corresponding increase in outpatient treatment, and a 30 minute consultation at with a top specialist in his field can cost as little as 25 US Dollars, and never more than $50. Back in the 1990’s I used to pay the best part of $500 dollars for a specialist consultation in Harley Street, and I dread to think how much I would have to pay these days.
As those who live here will know, hospitals also try to make money on prescriptions. Their in-house pharmacies pad the medicine bills by as much as 2-3 times the cost you would pay in a regular Thai pharmacy.
These days, I always ask the doctors to write down the names of the meds he is presribing and I buy all of them at an outside pharmacy. Similarly I have my blood tests done by a local lab, (unless they are urgent), and save myself a fortune.
There is no question that there are many unscrupulous people in the Thai medical sector and quite a number of them regard foreigners as cash cows – there to be milked out of as much money as possible.
There are few laws with ‘teeth’ to protect patients or bring doctors to account for bad or unnecessary treatment. I believe that most doctors treat their profession more as a ‘business’ than a ‘calling’, although that doesn’t mean they are bad doctors.
Indeed, there was a time when the hospital I used to hate, Bangkok- Pattaya Hospital ,(‘BPH’), was undoubtedly guilty of using every trick in the book to maximise their earnings by persuading patients to stay as an in-patient when it wasn’t really necessary, by carrying out unnecessary, and expensive tests, and by prescribing the most expensive imported meds, and so on and so forth.
One of their favourite tricks was to inform a patient how much his room was going to cost, and then at the last moment advise him that the only room currently available was going to cost double the price previously quoted.
Another trick was to suddenly increase the price of an operation, due to ‘unforeseen complications’, just prior to surgery, and after the patient had been prepped. I have personal knowledge of both of these scams, which by any standards is deplorable.
Yet another is their notorious ‘two-tier’ pricing system – one for local Thai residents and another for foreigners.
But the worst and most publicised of all was their frequent practise of turning away accident victims at the door whenever they couldn’t be sure that the patient had the ability to pay. This, over the years has resulted in the deaths of many foreigners, many of whom were actually fully insured.
If you were to take up any of the above points with a healthcare worker in Thailand, my guess is that he or she would find little wrong with such practices. After all, to them a hospital is a business, no different to selling cars or manufacturing widgets.
Their business has to generate a good return for their shareholders and the onus is on the hospital managers to maximise their profits and to ensure there are no bad debts. The Hippocratic Oath, or any concept of public service simply does not exist in the medical profession Thailand.
And before we, in the west, start to shake our hands, point our fingers and start to decry such callous attitudes –at least let us acknowledge that they are honest. Unlike us in the UK, where we allow nurses at our hospitals to treat elderly patients with so much cruelty and neglect that many hundreds have needlessly died over the past few years. And this is the tip of the iceberg – so let he /she who is without blame….
Ironically, it is this very ‘drive for profits’ at BPH which seems to have led to a change for the better in their policy towards foreigners.
The adverse publicity generated by countless foreigners who have been victims of ‘scams ‘ and also the well- publicised outrage over the callous policy of turning away dying patients at their doors has resulted in some very welcome changes.
These days, before any test is carried out, I am told exactly how much it will cost and my approval is requested. I’ve never had this happen at any hospital in Thailand before. Usually the doctors just send you for whatever tests they think they can get away with and let the cashier argue with you later when you complain about the outrageous prices.
One of my recent consultations with my cardiologist cost me the grand sum of 200Baht ($7) and an even more recent one with a chest specialist was actually free!
There is no doubt in my mind that the word has gone out to take it easy with their foreign patients and to rein in some of their more aggressive practices.
But I wonder exactly who is covered by this new found benevolence?
As stated above, there has long been a suspicion of a two-tier pricing scheme at this hospital. Some years ago, one of my dear friends was hot on the trail of exposing this practice when he was suddenly diagnosed with stomach cancer and six months later. He died on the operating table at Bumrungrad.
I was first registered as a patient in BPH back in 2003, and I am convinced I am on the ‘lower-tier’ as I still hear horror stories about tourists being grossly overcharged for treatment. It seems that they are keen to keep their farang residents happy and thus ensure the minimum of bad publicity. So we never heard the result of his investigations.
Quite recently, something occurred to me when I was sitting in in BPH, waiting to pay my bill. They had a ticket number system and when each patient’s bill was ready, their number were called out and was displayed on the screen.
I realsied that there was two distinct group of numbers. One group started with the prefix ‘8’ and the second group had the prefix ‘2’. Then, as each patient went to the counter to pay his/her bill I noticed that all the foreign patients had tickets with the ‘8’ prefix and all the Thai patients had the prefix ‘2’.
Guess what prefix I had?
‘2’ …of course… Was I in the lower, Thai, group?
Yesterday I called the hospital to make an appointment to see the chest specialist. The receptionist answered my call by speaking my name! OK, no great technical marvel in this day and age, but it is the first time any hospital in Thailand has identified me by my incoming phone number without me saying a word.
I strongly suspect that not only am I on the lower, ‘resident’ tier of their pricing structure, but have probably been singled out for special, favourable treatment, due to my reputation for complaining to them and writing about them on internet forums.
Long may it last, although I suppose there’s always a chance that one day they might decide to slip me something that violently disagrees with me….
Back in 1926, there was a General Strike in England. It lasted nine days.
It was called by the Trades Union Congress in an unsuccessful attempt to force the British government to act to prevent wage reduction and worsening conditions for 800,000 locked-out coal miners. Some 1.7 million workers went out, especially in transport and heavy industry.
The government was prepared and enlisted middle class volunteers to maintain essential services. There was little violence and the TUC gave up in defeat. In the long run, there was little impact on trade-union activity or industrial relations.
Few can doubt that the coal miners had a legitimate grievance when the employers imposed a substantial reduction in their wages. Also bear in mind that miners were in an extremely dangerous industry, where permanent injury and even death were relatively common-place and that most miners families lived barely above the poverty line.
Unfortunately the miners were never going to win, not only because the government had properly prepared itself to deal with such a stike, but mainly because their cause – though just – was in vain.
The harsh truth was that coal production was at its lowest ebb since the world war, that Germany had re-entered the international coal market by exporting “free coal” to France and Italy as part of their reparations for the First World War, and the reintroduction of the gold standard in 1925 had made the British pound too strong for effective exporting to take place.
The poor miners were on a hiding to nothing and after 9 traumatic days when many families had no food on their tables, they caved in and returned to their wretched pits.
We can probably draw some parallels between the General strike of 1926 and the general strike currently being proposed by the TUC for later this year.
In both situations the strikes are in protest against the lowering of wages and/or benefits and the reduction of jobs. In both circumstances the strikes did not/will not achieve anything.
At least in 1926 the miners were fighting for a wage they considered necessary to support their families, but this latest strike, which is being proposed for 2013, is purely political in intent and all it will achieve is a major disruption for the long suffering British public.
Why are they striking?
‘To protest against the government’s austerity measures…’
The last time I checked, Britain was still a democracy and we have elected members of parliament to whom we place our trust to run the country for us. If we don’t like what they are doing, we kick them out at the next election and find someone who we do like.
That is the way the system works. And what is more, it is almost a racing certainly that HM opposition, the estimable Labour Party, will also NOT give its backing this so-called general strike, so pardon my language , but WTF!!!
As if this wasn’t enough, we now learn that Civil servants from government departments, courts and driving test centres are to strike on Friday over pay, pensions and terms and conditions.
The walkout is part of a three-month long campaign of industrial action, which began with a strike on Budget day last month.
Another strike in protest at the government’s austerity measures!
Remember: No-one is starving, everyone has a roof over their head, and everyone is getting free healthcare….
… and Britain is in the worst economic mess it been in since the 1930’s.
Talk about fiddling…
For many years we have all laughed and then been outraged and astonished at the unbelievable nonsense that has been perpetrated in almost every aspect of our life by both national and EU bureaucrats under the guise of ‘Health and Safety regulations.
We all have our favourite anecdotes and I do not propose to add to that reprehensible compendium today.
But what made me sit up in astonishment this week was the amazing number of bogus excuses that have been made for prohibiting all manner of things and actions in the name of ‘Health and Safety’
Here is a small sample of so-called ‘elf an’ safety’ rules which have never… ever existed, except in the law quoter’s miserable, lazy mind.
I could go on and on. I guess it could be a case of ‘reap what you sow….’
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