The shock of the doll

They gave me a small watch on Xmas Day
But with a watch a little child can’t play
I envied both my sisters with new dolls
As on the old settee the dolls were lulled

I stood there uncomprehending and alone
Had I reached unknowing a milestone?
Then my sister lent me one of hers
I broke that little head upon my chair

I was holding her with tenderness
Scarcely breathing in my velvet dress
So I sat down to rock my babe awhile
The horror of her cracking head was vile

Now I play with numbers and with words
And look back sadly at that little girl

Mary gets a temperature

Mary woke up and found that she had slept all night on the sofa in the living room. This was the first time that she had ever done that and she was very puzzled.

Then she realised she had a temperature she then understood that she had suddenly felt too unwell to go to bed. Mary thought she would have her nap on the sofa but she was asleep for 9 hours. She called for her little cat Emile.

Emil ran into the room oh mother he fried I thought you were dead.

Why did you not go next door and ask Annie to come?

I thought it was too late so I went into my basket and fell asleep and then I ate the cold sausages you left out.

The sausages were not for you. There were for the church bazaar lunch.

Well you won’t be able to go to the church bazaar this now will you? You may have got COVID.

I never had my booster vaccine they’re it she cried thoughtfully. Didn’t have the flu jab either.

Emile said I’ve got something else to tell you. I ate all the stuffed eggs that you made last night and they were absolutely delicious so will you make some more ?

You’ll have to wait. I have used all the eggs that there are in the fridge so unless you can go out and find a hen and see where it lays its eggs you’ll have to wait till I’m well again

Why are you going to go and find a hen?

No I will order them with the groceries from the Co-op. They do organic ones n

It’s a pity that you can’t lay eggs, the cat said.

Human eggs are very small because after the sperm gets into the ovum and it becomes fertile it remains inside the mother being fed through the umbilical cord but chickens don’t stay inside the hen for 9 months the egg is put into the nest and the hen have to keep it warm and eventually it will hatch and out will come the chicken.

So when we eat the egg we are eating the chicken that’s inside it?

Yes although sometimes the egg doesn’t have an embryo 8n it.

They lay sleepily on the sofa wondering why human beings ate the eggs of hens

And so do all of us

Stan looks at the ants

Stan was feeling puzzled. He stood in his front room staring at the rowan tree outside.
Do ants fall in love, he asked himself.
Are swans the most beautiful birds?
Shall I send Annie a card tomorrow?
Should I send Mary one as well?
He went outside and watched the ants running up and down the tree trunk. They seem to work so hard but they never get bored.
But is that true? We have no way of knowing. At last Stan has found a question with no answer.
Is boredom a unique quality of humans?
If that were so we ought to have a Patron Saint of Boredom though not of Bores.
Why are some people so boring?
Luckily Annie had seen Stan and rushed out in a teal coloured all wool dress made more striking by having butterfly motifs scattered on it at random.
“Why have you got those butterflies on your clothes ?” he asked her scientifically
“It’s to cover up the moth holes.”She pertly replied.
“You must have a lot of moths. Do moths fall in love? Do they get bored?”
“You seem in a funny mood today,” Annie murmured.
“Why don’t we go out for coffee?”
“I’ve just made a pot full. Please join me.”
“Thank you,” she cried mildly.
They sat down in the kitchen where Emile was sitting by the window.
“Good morning,Emile,”Annie shouted.
“No need to shout,” Emile miaowed politely.”I’m not deaf”.
“I am sorry, Emile.” she responded furtively,” I am over-excited.”
“Why is that? Stan demanded like an untrained philosopher in a maths class
“Well, I’ve already had ten Valentines.
“Already. You must have done it fast!” he teased her gently.
“No, you horrible idiot. I mean cards.
“You must be popular”
“Some look like women’s writing.”
“Let me see,” he asked swiftly.
To his surprise, one was in the handwriting of his wife Mary.
“Are you bisexual?” he asked her wonderingly.
“No, I’m just annissexual,” she replied saucily.
“What does that mean?”
“Well, it’s just one letter away from “Anti-sexual.”
“That’s a relief. You are not anti yet, then.”
“Not yet”, she whispered coyly.
“Would you make love to a woman?”
“Only if she made love to me.”
.Apparently seeing lesbian movies turns men you watch them?”
“Not bloody likely,I want to get turned off.”
“That could be boring,” she said sweetly as she combed his eyebrows with an old toothbrush.
“Well,I could do the polishing better and get the house sorted out. Fill the freezer with casseroles and defrost the oven.
Yes, though would that be so rewarding as loving another human?
“I guess not” he answered slavishly.
“Shall we go to your place and have a cuddle.
Emile was very put out as he liked to see people kissing but he had grown very philosophical over the years and at least he could get on with his book,
“Wittgenstein’s cat.”
He switched on the netbook and began to type:
“Not everyone knows how important cats were in philosophy. But now we can reveal all.
The saying,
“Of that which we cannot speak, we must miaow” was inspired by Daisy who lived in Cambridge
And,” Of that which we cannot purr we must yowl.” was inspired by Ludo, a fine male cat that lived with Wittgenstein in Ireland.
So as Emile types, we must tiptoe away for he has not much time

Let’s make the most of it

Mary thinks about the winter

After reading the Guardian Mary realised knitting going to become popular again because that is where the garments that kept her parents warm came from.From knitting needles which her mother used

But with the price of wool nowadays only the wealthy will be able to get to use pure wool.

How did my parents afford wool¿she whispered to Emile?

There’s no point asking me,he told her. Cats don’t wear woollen jumpers.

Cats don’t wear any kind of jumpers Mary told him knowledgeably.

How do you know that there are no cats in Russia or in Alaska who need to wear an extra layer of warmth in the winter?

No it would not be practical They would get wet in the snow and then it would freeze during the night so they would be ill.

in addition to that cats can lick their own fur clean but how would the take their jumpers off and wash them?

I see what you mean, Mary.

Why was wool affordable 50 years ago.

I bought a cardigan pattern at the newsagents but when I looked at search at home I calculated that it would cost £120 to make it.

Since I am not very good at knitting I was afraid that I might do it wrong and so I decided to have a look at cardigans when I was Marks and Spencer’s.

And how much were they Emile asked

£30 or £40 but they’re not thick wool. Some arw5 made from viscose

But with people having central heating thin cardigans might be warm enough?

I know the price of gas is going up. And we will have to adapt to reality or die.

I suppose that we can have a coal fire but we have no fireplace.

We can have a fire in the garden, the friendly cat said knowingly.

But surely we don’t want to live in the garden during the winter even if there was a fire. it is much colder in the garden than inside the house.

Yes I have noticed that, he mewed.

You have your fur said Mary enviously.

if you would like a woollen coat I could knit you one because if that gets wetI could remove it from your little body and dry it on the clothes maiden.

Thank you my love,he said winsomely. You must be the best mother in the world.

Too true,she said ponderously.

Since I don’t have any fur she continued I will have to wear several layers of clothing when I can’t afford to put the radiators on. I could get some clothes like vests from the shop that sells to people who are going to climb Everest.

On top of the vest I would wear a cotton shirt and then on top of that I would where I woollen cardigan with buttons down the front so I could undo it if I got too warm.

I could wear a Harris Tweed skirt on my lower body.

Well I didn’t expect you to wear it on your head ,

Emile smiled.

Thank you dear Mary told him. I will make myself a mohair hat. And I will make myself an infinity scarf.

Can I have one too Emile asked grinning beautifully?

It is a Mobius strip,he went on

I am doing another university degree,the smart cat informed her intellectually

We are doing Topology

I didn’t know that you were dreaming about a mathematics course.

Yes I have been awarded a student loan.

How did you manage that she enquired?

I’ll tell them my name is Emile Tan and I am your son. Well I am running away otherwise

Do they not ask you for the photograph?

I’ll tell them that you will send it later.

I think that you should be doing the degree in criminology and the psychopathic mind.

No thank you I prefer infinite dimensional space.

Have you seen any?

I expect they take us later in the year.

And how can I afford that?

They will give loans to the poor.

That’s all well and good but how can the poor repay these loans?

We will find out later.

I hope it won’t make people depressed.

well if abortion gets to be illegal there will be more mothers starving and not able to produce enough breast milk.

If you’ve been raped it will be very cruel to make you have the baby

And more children who are not wanted so I suppose they could be adopted.

I think we need to go out for tea to cheer ourself up.

Marks and Spencer’s cafe is very pleasant and we could look at the cardigans as well I wish that Stan was here. He could make wonderful cakes and biscuits .

And they both sat with their mouths drooping like of a great many of the people living in the United Kingdom where they were still trying to get B Johnson to leave downing Street and stop him committing

Adultery telling lies, buying gold wallpaper &:believing his hair makes him look younger


He said I can keep the box

Mary was in the teal coloured kitchen of her almost detached house making a jam sponge pudding when the doorbell rang.She wiped her hands on her new purple trousers because she didn’t want to dirty a clean towel.
She found her colleague Dr Rosa Benchez standing nervously outside shivering
Come in , Mary cried.

Would you like a cup of tea? You need to sit by the fire and get warmer
I’d love that, Rosa said politely but distantly
A few minutes later they were sitting looking out of the bay window watching a blackbird sitting on the fence;they hoped it would start to sing
May I talk to you,Mary? I have got rather more agitated than ever before

.I am wondering if I need counselling or maybe shooting, she joked morosely
OK,said Mary cautiously.Has anything unusual happened ?
Yes, my sister has had her driving license taken away because of big panic attacks she had crossing the Humber Bridge …. you know how huge it is.She got out of the car and screamed,Help! Help!
That was dangerous with so much traffic about
She is furious and says we live in a Nazi state and is writing to the Times
Well, it can happen that you lose your licence,Mary said,but when she has learned to deal with the attacks she can re-apply and get her license back.Simple things like not eating and being tired can bring that on so I have heard.And fear of fear, too.
As well as that,Rosa said,my son has got a recurrence of cancer and is going onto some new drug-type chemo.My ex husband is very distressed and so am I as it was unexpected.
And even worse my new fiance Prof. Charlie Blogge has broken off our engagement with no reason.I can’t think of any at all.Shall I ever trust a man again?
He said I can keep the ring which is a blue sapphire ,supposedly, but when I had it valued they said I was mistaken and you can buy them on amazon for £57 and less.
So she took off the ring and hurled it into Mary’s coal fire where it looked very nice as it got hotter and hotter glowing like a lighthouse off Portland Bill in a sea storm or a banger about to explode

Good grief, said Mary.No wonder you are agitated.We may have to phone Dave the bisexual lovable paramedic available on the NHS 24 hours a day.Or we could have our hair permed and dyed red instead, she murmured to herself
Which of these events bothers you most,Rosa? She continued gently while hoping she would cope.
It is my own feelings that worry me most.I wake up feeling very sad and nervous;I wonder if I am having a breakdown.Then I feel worse as I turn it over in my mind trying to decide what to do.Then I get up and get food into me and think it all over and over again while drinking my tea.
Well, you know it is normal to feel sad, anxious or distraught when bad things happen,Mary told her.
But most people look happy when I see them in the town , Rosa shouted angrily
That is because being outside they put on a mask.They could be feeling worse than you.Anyway, why bother about that? We are all different.Some people think I am very calm but they don’t see me when I’m not.I go stiff like a piece of wood.Then I pass out
So what do you do? Rosa asked her nervously,twirling a golden ringlet around her finger as she watched her engagement ring melt in the fire.
I don’t do anything,Mary said.This is one of the fundamental errors in our society that action is needed for so many things and especially for negative feelings.But it’s usually part of life.Things pass.
I pretend I have a big round box inside me and I let the anxiety live in there nice and cosy until my mind has absorbed and dealt with the pain.Once my box was quite small but it has grown bigger now and so it has room for mad or bad feelings.I do little tasks and listen to music.
Then if I feel really bad I listen to Leonard Cohen and tell myself, he had it worse.But he made money out of it! Not that you can make money out of yours. though it’s worth musing about
Well,Rosa replied.Thank you,Mary.I am glad I am not the only one who feels so anxious sometimes.I shall try to get a box like yours.
You are welcome,said Mary jovially.Come round on Sunday for tea.Emile is out hunting but he loves to see you and so do I
The women hugged cautiously and Rosa went out looking less cold and nervous as she bravely carried her box away .It was invisible to the people walking nearby

Never leave me

For so long you loved and imitated me

Then we were students at the university

Without you, I won’t feel like anyone

To whom shall I turn when you are gone?

When you’re the one who shared my infant bed

When you’re the one who treasured what I said

When you’re the one I soothed in the dark night

When you are gone there can be no more light

When the moment comes,I must believe

For trees shall weep their leaves as if bereaved

Then will my sister heart with sadness heave.

Oh do not do not ,do not ,do not leave

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