I am devastated, RIP my lady Petal cat (2006?-2021).
Only the week before, I reported that Petal had sniffed out a mouse at the back of our house (she did nothing about it once I had opened the back door).
Last week I was at the vets three times with Petal, her presenting complaint was me asking if she could possibly have had a crisis of confidence after the mouse incident because she didn’t seem herself (she hadn’t). A few days later I was crying on Manchester Road (you’re not allowed inside the vets at the moment). Poor Petal went downhill in the space of a week. She had not been eating as much for a while but had been completely normal in all other ways.
Last Sunday, however Petal stopped eating altogether. Long painful story later the vet tried a few different things and Petal was booked in on Friday to have further tests, but Thursday evening was the real start of the end for her.
I’m only blogging about Petal because I would always post about my animal friends.
We adopted Petal with her mother Flower in 2008, Petal we think was 14 or 15 years old when she died.
Not actual garden footage, my new four legged friend moved too quickly for me to take a photo (or decide if it was a mouse or a rat).
The other day, fourteen year old Petal cat was meowing most vehemently at the back door.
Above is a photo of Petal cat in her favourite place, sitting on me, so I had been surprised at her interest in the garden, she hardly ever goes out.. I soon found out what Petal wanted when my eyes were drawn to a little brown bottom (followed by a thin tail) scooting behind a dividing wall. I froze at my back door. Meanwhile, Petal elegantly sniffed the air and returned back inside (I love how cats style things out as though they hadn’t intended to pounce anyway)..
Our next door neighbour informed Mr Henthorn that he had seen a mouse playing around at our shed door. When husband built the shed, he put gravel underneath it. I thought this was a fancy way of shed maintenance, but now the gravel has come in handy because I can see that it had been disrupted by our new guest.
I do hope you’re not reading this in search of advice about how to get rid of vermin. There is plenty of this on the internet – I know because I searched myself the other day. That is the sum total of what I have done, however. It has been very cold and wet here and my legs have been too hurty for any garden adventures. And in any case, Martha the Border terrier has taken a great interest in the shed door of late and even insists on a midnight visit to bark into the corner.
I think Martha has scared them off (whatever they were) the gravel remains safely under the shed today.
I started this year with a list of intended blog posts, the titles are all great… I just haven’t written them yet because my head has been full of nonsense.
Other mini-dramas, I have noticed this week is that… even though we are in this situation… you know what I’m talking about… people still find the time to be mean behind the screen.
Anyway, I have removed myself from the receiving end of the screen to free up the time to help my parents. My dad in particular has asked for my help with something and I would hate to have to put Mum and Dad off because my head is full of nonsense from outside sources.
I saw on the news that a parish council meeting in Cheshire is trending on Twitter:
Avoid people who are mean behind the screen. You wouldn’t want you to end up trending on Twitter, or living on Curmudgeon Avenue…
I remember hearing something on the radio (BBC Radio 6) that stuck in my mind. I am always returning to the past, recalling snippets of random stuff. I then waste almost a full day thinking, doing internet searches and finally, wondering what made me remember this nugget of useless information.
I was on my way home from work (that’s how long ago it was), when I heard a presenter talking about an Irvine Welsh interview.
Apparently, Irvine Welsh compiles a playlist for his characters when writing a novel.
This was on the radio, and as I was driving so I couldn’t write this down… this idea stuck in my head.
(I can’t find the interview on the internet but if you Google Irvin Welsh loads come up for him).
Despite this concept sticking in my head, I don’t remember reading a book since where a playlist was obvious. (Please let me know if you have).
I must have had music in mind when I wrote some of my books.
In 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire), my character Rose Bradshaw sings (no lyrics were used) Edith Piaf songs to her Uncle Billy.
The Curmudgeon Avenue series references plenty of music (without using the lyrics).
In book 2, Harold and Edith get asked a question about Nirvana, at their pub quiz (on accidental proposal night). Later on in the book, they listen to Afternoon Delight by the Starland Vocal Band. Wantha and Ricky turn up the ‘CHOONS’ when club classic Shine On by Degrees of Motion is played on the radio.
Book 3 brings the new character Gil Von Black. Patchouli met him at a speed dating event in Radcliffe. Gil Von Black is ‘famous person royalty’ in my fictional version of Whitefield. He is a retired session musician who has played with Black Sabbath and even (ha!) Def Leppard.
Plenty more heavy metal references are dropped in book 4, but it isn’t until book 6 that we get to find out the characters’ guilty pleasures.
Suzanne ‘Toonan’ Rose’s guilty pleasure is Vanilla Ice (remember Ice, Ice Baby?) Edith Ricketts’ guilty pleasure is the theme tune to Murder She Wrote. Wantha Rose doesn’t have any guilty pleasures, Wantha Rose apologises to nobody. Patchouli, however…. well her guilty pleasure is Lionel Richie, the reason for this is a corker. (Sorry, I can’t tell you it would be a massive spoiler).
All of the advice on the internet is you cannot use song lyrics in your book because of copyright. (Some sites give details of how to ask permission but I presume this will cost). I choose not include lyrics but referring to artists is fine.
During the second half of this year, I plan to start writing my next standalone novel. The characters have rattled around in my mind for a long time. I think it is time I figure out their tastes in music.
Curmudgeon Avenue has been going on for quite some time, some would say for longer than reasonably necessary. In this Curmudgeonly edition, the nincompoops of Curmudgeon Avenue would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Gordon Bennett is obsessed with the pothole growth on the street as we get proper emosh at Wantha and Ricky’s wedding. Christmas is coming, and Francesca is getting fat meanwhile Zandra may have overdone it with the scented candles. And the ghosts are immune to any lockdown restrictions.
Put down the sausage rolls and the leftover wine, A Curmudgeonly Christmas is a perfect end to the Curmudgeon Avenue series and the year!
Written with British English Grammar and turn-of-phrase.
‘Toonan! This is going to be a disaster!’ Francesca rushed to the counter atGenevieve’sin her dressing gown, having noticed Toonan…
Well, here it is, the week between Christmas and New Year. This is the week where, traditionally we are all grumpily requesting the return of our routine, because we have all been doing one another’s heads in at home. To be fair, that is how we have been all year, but getting along nicely in the next breath.
You may have eaten too much turkey, you may have had too much fun, you may need to put down the chocolates, wine and sausage rolls.
Curmudgeon Avenue is a six part series set in the actual town of Whitefield, just north of Manchester UK – fictional street. The house grew weary of its nincompoop residents and started writing a diary about the gossip, romance and dramas on the street.
(Unusual second person witness narrated with British English grammar, spelling and turn of phrase)
This final instalment has been great fun to write. A contemporary story, I decided to tell it how it is and include the current global crisis. BUT with three weddings to arrange, a socially distanced hen do and an unexpected turn of events, it was tricky!
Chapter 29: The Day This All Ended
On the day this all ended, the sky was overwrought for the end of December. This year had been going on for quite some time, EVERYONE would say, for longer than reasonably necessary, and some would even say this is the end of an era.
Television programmes clung to the idea of Christmas while folk respectfully requested the return of their routine. Edna and Genevieve had searched high and low for the ghost of Edith, wishing to bid her farewell before their extended French holiday. Despite their sneaky suspicions about the under-the-stairs-door they could not open, they were unable to find her.
Small Paul had not left Number One Curmudgeon Avenue disappointed; of course, Gordon Bennett agreed to be his best man. Zandra Bennett was thrilled too (and even cast aside her dismay at no new wedding outfit. Not even new costume jewellery).
‘Tooooonaaaaan!’ Wantha shouted at the spare room door of number four Curmudgeon Avenue. ‘It’s your weddin’ day, innit!’
‘Alright, Wantha I’ve only just got to sleep, been awake most of the night,’ Toonan said.
‘Toonan! What are you playing at? You’re gonna have bags under your eyes!’
‘Well, I suppose I’ll match Small Paul then, aww his mum’s so sweet she said nowt about his black eye.’
‘Do you want me to go round there and put some concealer on him?’ said Wantha.
‘No, I don’t think so, no thanks Wantha.’
‘The black eye gives him a bit of an edge, I suppose.’
‘Are you alright, Wantha? You look a bit peaky…’ surely nothing else could go wrong with Toonan and Small Paul’s wedding?
Meanwhile, at Number One Curmudgeon Avenue…
‘I don’t know how much more of this I can take,’ said Edith. She had been trapped for days inside her prior sanctuary with a smell and two ex-husbands.
‘How much more of this? We were happy, Edith until Harold came along.’ Reg huffed.
Harold (ghost of) wobbled his head and then stared into nothingness ahead of him. This is how Harold always dealt with confrontation, don’t forget. Pretend it was not happening, yet Edith could hear him, she could hear sniffing and swallowing, sighing and wobbling.
Is it a happy ending? Bitter Sweet that’s how I’d describe it.
A Curmudgeonly Christmas opens with Zandra Bennett’s mother making Christmas plans in August, while Gordon Bennett is out on the street measuring potholes.
Ricky Ricketts and Tanya ‘Wantha’ Rose finally get married (it’s their third attempt). A Zoom wedding means that Wantha forgets all about being walked down the aisle – will she ever find out who her daddy is?
Francesca and Suzanne ‘Toonan’ Rose decide to have a double wedding but Francesca is acting and looking differently to her norm. She thinks her expanding waistline is due to lockdown love handles!
Gil Von Black has doubts about Patchouli, while Small Paul becomes everyone’s hero.
And the ghosts are immune to any and all pandemic restrictions.
A Curmudgeonly Christmas (Curmudgeon Avenue #6) is the final instalment of the Curmudgeon Avenue series and will be published on the 27th of December. Available to pre order from today!
Curmudgeon Avenue has been going on for quite some time. Some would say for longer than is reasonably necessary.
Feeling proper emosh! I have finished writing the Curmudgeon Avenue series with a Christmas special.
Gordon Bennett is obsessed with the size of potholes on the street, Wantha and Ricky may or may not seal the romantic deal. Christmas is coming, and Francesca is getting fat. Patchouli’s past comes back to haunt her – will Gil Von Black be able to cope?
Oh – and the ghosts are immune from any and all pandemic restrictions.
A Curmudgeonly Christmas is intended to provide a bit of light relief during the week between Christmas and New Year. You know the one, that week we are all fed up with eating, drinking and each other!
The book started with Harold Edith and Edna, and the story of how they ended up living together. The series evolved into a social satire about a group of neighbours and their intertwined lives. Gossip, romance, dramas and laughs follow all written with British English spelling and grammar and narrated with a voice typical of how folk say ‘stuff’ in the Northwest of England.
All lighthearted, all easy reads, all a bit of fun.
Audiobooks narrated by the hilarious and talented Lindsay McKinnon.
A convention of comedy-drama is that the narrative ends with a marriage. See Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Love’s Labour’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing and Two Gentlemen of Verona.
And more recently, last Christmas’s Gavin and Stacey Christmas special on the BBC ended with an unanswered proposal.
Ha! I bet you thought this post was going to be about Mr Henthorn and me; well, just for fun, here is a photo from our wedding day captured at the moment I realised he had forgotten to organise the ‘signing the register’ music:
Blimey, I don’t look happy do I? I can’t remember what music was supposed to be played, but we signed that certificate in complete silence and it’s been fab ever since.
Being me, is like living in a sitcom, and so it has been a natural process to write the Curmudgeon Avenue series about a house that detests its unlikeable owners.
I am just coming to the end of writing the final instalment of Curmudgeon Avenue ‘A Curmudgeonly Christmas’ which I am hoping to release the week between Christmas and New Year. 2020. (Don’t you agree that the week between Christmas and New Year is a time for curmudgeons to unite?)
I am hoping to put this on pre-order soon, but until the week between Christmas and New Year, here is an excerpt:
Chapter 6: He Learnt From The Best, He Learnt From Wantha.
Tuesday morning came around as so often they do in Whitefield. September had robbed the residents of Curmudgeon Avenue of an Indian summer, and thoughts were starting to turn to Halloween, bonfire night, (and dare I say Christmas).
Wantha Rose was on the warpath yet again. But like a glamorous soap opera actor, she skulked around the street until somebody paid attention to her, keeping her anger just under boiling point.
‘Toonan!’ Wantha shouted through her sister’s letterbox. She rang the doorbell. And after a short wait, the door swung open to reveal Small Paul wearing pyjamas and carrying a bottle of anti-bacterial spray and a dishcloth.
‘Hiya, Wantha. Toonan’s at work, sorry.’ Small Paul started spraying and wiping the letterbox and doorbell button that Wantha had just touched (which looked a bit rude, to be honest. He should have waited).
‘Oh, FFS!’ Wantha was gutted that her sister was not at home. She watched Small Paul polishing his door furniture. Seemingly, he was in the mood for talking (again).
‘I’m not sure what time she’ll be home, but if you need anything, Sis,’ (he got that off Toonan). ‘Then, I would love to chat.’
Wantha glanced towards the front of Genevieve’s delicatessen-cum-cafe, where her husband, Ricky Ricketts was at work. And even though Ricky could not see her from that angle, Wantha made a showy and sassy attempt to enter Toonan and Small Paul’s house.
I know it’s really short, but it was super hard to find a bit I could share, because there is a massive secret about to be revealed on Curmudgeon Avenue.
If you missed it, the book that precedes ‘A Curmudgeonly Christmas’ is free and available via a BookFunnel promotion here:
There is no other word or phrase for it, my left arm has been feeling numb, weird or ‘dead’ for about three weeks. I’ve had MS for more than fifteen years, and this weird feeling in my arm reminds me of before I was diagnosed. This current arm thing is a nuisance rather than something I need medication for.
BUT… but, it is more noticeable at night and as a result I haven’t been sleeping properly.
All of my life, I have had what I now know to be a ‘slow wave parasomnia’ – shouting out in my sleep. I ‘see’ windows falling in, spiders, and other weird things flying at my face. This first became a problem when I was 22 and my daughter was born (she is 23 now and talks in her sleep but it’s not as bad as me).
Anyway, the other night, I thought I saw my husband crouching down next to me. I thought (in my half sleep state) what are you doing there? So I reached out and put my hand on his shoulder. When my hand went through ‘him’, this woke me and I realised ‘oh, it’s just one of my weird sleep things’ I turned on my other side, and there husband was, fast asleep and oblivious to the apparition that my sleep had just caused.
Until I let him know what had happened the following day. ‘You are so weird’ he said to me. Well, I think that I only have myself to blame for what happened next…
Last night, I had trouble sleeping again, couldn’t get comfy, arm felt weird etc. I heard our dog walking about, which usually means she wants to be let out in the night. Then the cat started running around. This was about 2.30am. I got up, despite me going to the effort of walking downstairs (which is no mean feat when you’ve got MS and your legs are asleep) Martha, our Border terrier stood stationary at the top of the stairs staring at me with her massive brown eyes, a-la a tired child.
Eventually, I fell back to sleep. I was having a dream that I was drinking red wine out of a plastic pint glass. I don’t even like red wine, and in the dream, someone came up to me and offered me a Prosecco. All of a sudden, there was a lot of shouting and then, a pillow was thrown over my head and landed on my bedside cabinet (in real life).
THE SAME THING HAD HAPPENED TO MR HENTHORN!
My husband was having a dream that I was stood over him blowing in his face! Except he didn’t think it was a dream because he thought he could really see me and threw the pillow at me, or where I thought I was, this went over my head. When I protested he said:
‘Oh, are you saying you didn’t just do that to me, you weirdo?’ he was still dreaming I think.
I said : ‘I was having a dream about drinking Prosecco!’ (to be fair I was half asleep and may have just mumbled).
‘Oh, maybe I dreamt it then!’ Mr Henthorn said. We laughed, I’m still laughing about it now.
Great, now I’ve passed on my weird sleep problem.
Not a mini-drama, but Petal cat who is a 14 year old stay at home kind of cat has started meowing to go out. She never does this, she even made out that she was hunting a bird the other day. The mind boggles.
Petal and Martha chilling in Alicia’s room.
So you see, I live in a sitcom, or a soap opera at least.
Earlier this year, I published a collection with some friends called ‘What We Did During Lockdown’ . I got some feedback from a US reader that he thought it was ‘hilarious’ that I had called ‘loo roll’ ‘loo roll’ in my story. Well, what was I supposed to call it? Toilet paper? I never got to the bottom (lol) of it, and was left wondering, what do they call loo roll in America?
During 2020, I have become ever more observant of my own home – as I’m sure we all have. Just recently, I am convinced that my ghost has returned. I wrote about a ghost in my house three or four years ago, because there was a fragrance hanging around just like at my great auntie’s house, my puppy’s toys were all in a neat order and there was bathroom cleaner all over the bath (that I hadn’t done).
This time, I am convinced the ghost is stealing my loo roll (or whatever you call it in your country). Here is the evidence:
You can clearly see from this photograph that my cupboard is half empty, yet earlier that day, it was completely full.
No, I don’t have a loo roll obsession or live with someone who uses excessive amounts. There is just three of us here, my husband, my grown up daughter and me.
The other thing I noticed, a book has gone missing.I never lend books to people.
After something someone said to me when I was still working, I became interested in learning about Buffalo Bill’s Wild West tour (particularly the European leg). This is what the book that has gone missing from my house was about.
Here is the evidence:
You can clearly see a gap in between an encyclopedia of flowers that my dad gave me, and a redundant CD player shaped like a juke box. The ghost has been very sneaky here because I never look on this bottom shelf (and this is where the book has gone missing from).
I hope not, but I think my washing machine has broken again.
This is not the work of a ghost, this is my husband leaving pound coins in his jeans pockets.