A Night At The Opera…And Other Things

Photo by Prudence Upton

Photo by Prudence Upton

So I went to Melbourne for the long weekend. I went to see The Marriage Of Figaro, while the Hubby went to see Jeff Martin & The Tea Party. It was an eventful weekend, during which I managed to pull a muscle in my neck, sprain my ankle and wrist slightly at the opera, get uncomfortably sunburned….and then see the news, when stopping for lunch in a nearby Hungry Jacks (that’s Burger King for you Americans) that Paris had been attacked by terrorists. That led to a prolonged discussion through most of Sunday with the Hubby, about terrorism, muslims, Christians, and the state of the world. We disagree on quite a few things, and we both have slight difficulty in expressing our thoughts, so it proceeded in stops and starts as we collected our thoughts, came up with new arguments and insights, and went to church.

Since most of my thoughts regarding the situation are reasonably bleak and not at all fun (there are no winners in this kind of war), I’m instead going to concentrate upon the delightful, fun part of the visit.

That being the opera. It was three and a half hours of fun, zany story told in a delightful blending of voices that were as impressive as they were beautiful. Susanna is to marry Figaro. Figaro made a bad contract with Marcellina, who wants to marry Figaro and has the right to marry him. Count Almaviva is in lust with Susanna (and every other girl in the flamin’ castle). Countess Almaviva is in love with her husband, who needs repeated punching in the face with something hard and heavy. Cherubino is in (puppy) love with Countess Almaviva. Count Almaviva, in spite of chasing every woman in the castle (sensing a theme here?) is jealous of Countess Almaviva’s attention to Cherubino. Oh, and then there’s the little maid Barbarina, who is in love with Cherubino and also seems to be playing footsie with the Count.

Sounds confusing, yeah? Well, it wasn’t. Not really. It translates to the stage VERY well. I wasn’t confused for a moment and I loved every bit of it.

Basically, Susanna (the brains of the outfit) spends the opera trying to:

-Fix the count and the countess
-Avoid the count’s attentions
-Get the count’s permission to marry Figaro
-Marry Figaro before Marcellina can get to him
-Fix Cherubino’s romance/life

She is sometimes helped and sometimes hindered by Figaro, who she declares to have not enough wit, but who proves by the end of the opera to know a trick or two. Their romance left me feeling highly satisfied at the conclusion.

Things I loved:

-The subtitles. SUBTITLES, PEOPLE. THE LIVE OPERA HAD SUBTITLES. I can’t express how much that meant to me. I expected not to understand more than one in ten words (if that). Instead, I was able to enjoy not only the excellent singing and delightful acting, but the puns, insults, snark, and at times gorgeous lyrics. I’m never going to stop being excited over the fact that I could see a live Italian opera and enjoy it with perfect understanding.

Cherubino

Photo by Prudence Upton

-The music. I expected to recognise a few of the themes and leitmotifs. I did not expect to recognise one in every three or so. Apparently I’ve heard a heck of a lot more music from The Marriage of Figaro than I ever realised. Not only did I recognise a lot of it, but it was all gorgeous! I’ve always liked Mozart, but this was especially delightful. The orchestra was talented but understated, never overpowering the singers, and they blended beautifully.

-The acting. It’s hard to say the exact things that were so good, because there were just so many. It was tiny little things like the ‘stuff you!’ kind of curtsey Taryn Fiebig (Susanna) gives Shane Lowrencev (Count Almaviva) as she’s very politely putting him in his place. The cringe-inducing way that Count Almaviva manages to run his hands over every flamin’ female he comes into contact with (hint: he makes sure he ‘comes into contact’ with ALL OF THEM). Small and perfect touches all the way through.

-The plot. Oh heck, the plot! So delightfully mad! So wonderfully insane! I will never be sick of massive, elderly female characters who are intent upon marrying the young, handsome male lead. The ones who trade polite (and sometimes not so polite) insults with the heroine, whom the hero really loves and has chosen to marry. And who, upon learning that the male lead is in fact their son, immediately switch courses half way through and are in raptures at their new-found son.

-The lighting. Oh my. I don’t think I can say enough about how good it was. My program says that the lighting was ‘realised’ by David Parsons, and that the lighting designer was David Finn. These blokes need a medal. The lighting proceeded from early morning through to late morning; from thence to afternoon and then late afternoon; and eventually, through evening and even night. It was done elegantly and entirely believably: I could have sworn they had the windows open to the outside world, and that we were rapidly going through one summer’s day.

-The use of a woman as Cherubino. I don’t know if that’s what always happens with this opera, but I’d have to think it’d be a difficult part for a man to sing–even a really good tenor. Be that as it may, I found it a wonderful choice. It emphasised the boyishness of Cherubino, the slim, raw, youthfulness of the character. And Sian Pendry was wonderful in the part: she managed the boy dressing up as a girl bit amazingly well: you would have sworn it was a young boy swaggering in those skirts.

-I’m still squeeing over the fact that Cherubino sings Lizzy Bennett’s song! (Yeah, yeah, technically it’s Lizzy singing Cherubino’s song, but whatever). I’m delighted. It adds so much more meaning to a part of the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice than it already possessed. It’s a song of longing, of surprising and new love being discovered, of uncertainty and novelty. It’s perfect for that part of the movie and whoever chose it is a genius.

Things I didn’t like so much:

-It wasn’t as loud as I expected. I suppose I’m just used to having the telly turned up ridiculously loud when I’m watching G&S operettas (so I can sing at the top of my lungs), but although the opera was a pleasing loudness, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations of flamboyantly crashing loudness. I was just a smidge disappointed at that.

-Nope, that’s it. It was an awesome opera, and I now need to find a dvd version to show the Sis.

So that’s it. My night at the opera. Hopefully the first of very, very many. I highly recommend it.

Adventures In Real Life: The Opera

Well, it’s still NaNoWriMo, which means that this post will be short and sweet (Oi! I heard you! Yeah, you in the back row. The one who said ‘Aw Yiss!’).

As a kind of prelude to this post, I’d like to say that I’ve always had a kind of love/hate relationship with Opera–and by that I mean sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it (after all, even an anthropomorphised institute can’t love someone).

Gilbert and Sullivan, I absolutely adore. Not just their sometimes cunning, sometimes laugh-out-loud humour, but their glorious, clever music. Stephen Sondheim, though not perhaps technically opera, I also love. And there are bits and pieces of the popular, well-known operas that I’ve heard and loved, though I’ve never actually seen or attended an opera; a real, overblown, gloriously loud opera.

I’m not so fond of the excessive amounts of vibrato that warble through real operas. I like a clear, clean soprano that has no need to disguise its shortcomings or ornament its beauty. Classic opera singers aren’t, therefore, among my favourite singers–which is also one of the reasons I’ve never sat down to a real opera. Another reason is that traditional operas seem to have an immense amount of maiming, slaughtering, incest, unfaithfulness and other unpleasantness. As Anna Russell says: “In an opera you can do anything you like, so long as you sing it!”

But now, love/hate relationship aside, I’m going to attend my first opera! Opera Australia are performing The Marriage of Figaro in Melbourne, where the Hubby and I are going for a long weekend as of tomorrow. I think the first thing that drew me in was the glorious costuming. I mean, look at ’em! They’re gorgeous! The crew that makes these makes them properly: no hidden zips and quick changes, and tries to buy only what would have been available at the time. This is the article I read about it–it’s fascinating! Apart from the costuming, I’ve heard a snippet or two of this opera on Classic FM and found it quite beautiful. The storyline, too, sounds absolutely hilarious!

So this is me! Going to my first opera! Tomorrow! I’ll have to find a suitably fantastic ensemble….

I’m Coming Out…

(Though probably not in the way you think.)

It’s come to my attention (especially lately, with the dust-up at the Hugo Awards) that if a person doesn’t fall in line with a certain set of beliefs and -isms, and isn’t aligned with a certain political and social worldview, that such a person will never be accepted into the mainstream of SFF writers. That’s okay. I write what I write because I love writing it, and there are enough other like-minded people around to find the sort of thing I like to read, as well. I don’t write to meet certain set amounts of POC in a book, or to advance a social/political belief, or to fight for gender equality. I don’t like being preached at through books I read, and I don’t intend to preach at my readers.

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This particular idea was strengthened in the last few days. Over the weekend a thread cropped up on one of the blogs I like to visit. The question was (paraphrased): What makes you stop reading a book? How long do you give a book before you give up on it?

It was a question that interested me, and so of course I commented. In my comment I listed several things that would make me stop reading a book: sex scenes, rape scenes, bestiality, graphic torture, and homosexual themes. I went on to add that I would also stop reading if I didn’t connect with the characters, and mentioned that I would also stop reading a book if there was continual profanity. I wasn’t making a statement of what I believed, or of what I thought was right and wrong. I was simply stating what I didn’t read.

Do you want to take a guess as to whether someone replied to me? And as to what they said?

If you guessed that they did, and that the gist of their comment was that they had decided I was equating torture and rape with homosexuality, and that they were offended by their own inference, you would be right.

In vain did I point out that I had never equated them with each other, that sex scenes and characters I didn’t identify with were also on the list (was I also equating them with rape and torture? Spoilers: no) and that these were my own personal preferences as to what I did or did not read. A few of the commenters were simply determined to be offended. In which case I reckon they must be offended at the dictionary, too, since it also lists homosexuality along with some other nasty words and ideas. There seems to be an idea that if you don’t agree with what a person does or doesn’t support, that you can ‘call them out’ to tell them how offended you are, how unkind or bigoted they are, and how they need to be more careful in what they say.

So I’m coming out. 

I don’t agree with homosexuality. I won’t write about it, or (in almost every case) read about it. I won’t promote it. I think it’s wrong.

I don’t agree with abortion. I won’t write about it in a positive light, and I won’t promote it. I won’t read books that promote it. I think it’s wrong.

I don’t agree with misogynism. I won’t write about it in a positive light, and I won’t promote it. I won’t read books that promote it. I think it’s wrong. Also, I find it highly annoying.

If you’re not going to read the books I write because of that; well, that’s your right. Just like it’s my right to read and write what want to read and write. I won’t be silenced in my convictions, and by God’s grace I’m not going to be bullied into being too scared to speak what I think is right. If that means that some people (or even a lot of people) won’t read my books and feel that they have to call me various names; well, that’s their right. It’s a free world after all.

And I’m free to act upon my own convictions, too. If you’re lesbian/bi-sexual/gay/trans; if you’ve had an abortion; if you’re a misogynist– I don’t hate you. I do have a different moral system, and it’s not going to agree with yours.

It helps if people remember that. And it helps if we all decide not to be instantly offended by everyone who doesn’t agree with us (especially if you’re reading values into simple statements of preference). Fortunately I have quite a few family members and friends who identify as lesbian/bi-sexual/et al, and are always willing to have open discussions with me. They don’t love me any less for my beliefs, and I don’t love them any less for theirs. We certainly don’t agree with what is right and wrong, but none of us are closed minded enough to say that the other isn’t allowed to have their point of view.

The internet is not the same. Fair enough. But I don’t try to tell others what to read or write, so don’t expect me to change my beliefs to suit you, either. Whether I make a living at writing or only ever manage to keep it as a side-job, I want to honour God; and I can’t do that if I’m too afraid to stand up for what I think is right.

If you want a reason to label me, to refuse to read my books, to call me names, I’ve listed some for your convenience. Choose any or all of the above. And for my writer friends, whom I have loved ‘meeting’ as I began to publish, and who may or may not agree with me: some of you write stuff I don’t like to read, but I’d have to be daft to say that you’re bad writers because of it. Most of you are brilliant writers, some of whom simply write things I don’t always read.

Also, no hard feelings if you feel that you no longer want to interact/follow/’like’/talk to me. These can be divisive issues, and many publishers don’t like their authors to associate with ‘my kind’ of person just in case mud, doing what mud does best, sticks.

You Are What You Eat Read

At the Day Job I meet a lot of interesting people. And by interesting I mean people who have punchups at the service desk, entitled crusties who bring 60+ items through the 15 or less counter while berating anyone who dares to tell them they can’t do it, and that bloke who always comes in with striped thermals under his  knee-length shorts. (Seriously, I love that bloke. I get a kick out of seeing what colour stripes he’ll be rocking each time).

Then, of course, there are the ones who are interesting for a different reason. Quite often as I’m putting a customer’s groceries through, it’ll come out in the conversation that I’m a writer. The conversation then usually veers in one of three directions.

  1. Customer is VERY interested, and wants to know what sort of thing I write. When told that I write YA and NA Fantasy (most particularly rewritten fairytales) they ask to know my name so they can look me up. They are thereupon given my card.
  2. Customer is interested, and confesses to reading quite a lot, but not usually fantasy/YA etc. Depending on whether or not they are also interested in blogging/self-publishing/etc, I may or may not hand out a card.
  3. Customer wishes to tell me ALL THE WISDOM and let me know exactly how I should be writing, what I should read to be successful, and that I should give them my phone number so they can encourage/mentor/teach me the ways of life. (None of these so far have actually been writers, just rather pompous but kind-hearted individuals who genuinely seem to care about my growth). They make me want to back away slowly, but mean no harm. I try to avoid giving them my card.

This afternoon I had one of the less off-putting interesting ones. We had quite an interesting chat about The Classics (which he wanted to know if I had read, and was kind enough to approve when I said that I had— well, some, anyway). He then wished to know which classic authors I enjoyed. Of course, I mentioned Austen, Dumas, Scott et al, which he seemed mildly pleased about. I was on the right track, he said. We then moved on to Shakespeare, where we had slightly differing views on his tragedies (I find them highly amusing, and full of rich themes like hope and love and forgiveness).

Then he asked if I had read Kafka, Dostoyevsky (yes, I had to Google it to find out how Fyodor_Mikhailovich_Dostoyevsky_1876to spell it) and a few others that I either didn’t recognise or found vaguely familiar but was uncertain of their body of work. When I confessed my ignorance, he smiled kindly and said that I was going in the right direction, but that I should broaden my horizons. I agreed generally, but said that some of the classic authors I didn’t enjoy at all; to which he replied that reading them wasn’t about pleasure, it was about broadening the mind. Sometimes, he said, you have to force yourself through them: they’re heavy going, but worth it in the search for illumination (my paraphrasing here).

That got me thinking. As a writer, everything I read has an effect on me, even things that I really dislike. In one way or another, every book I’ve read has contributed to my ability as a writer, even if that contribution was how not to write. Sometimes I’ll dislike a set of characters and love a setting. Sometimes I’ll greatly admire a plot and dislike everything else about the book. Sometimes I’ll just hate a book so much that I can only think of how I would have written it AND NOT RUINED IT. In one sense, therefore, reading for the sake of broadening my mind and my skill isn’t to be lightly dismissed.

I do not, however, tend to continue reading things I don’t like. I don’t read just for the sake of broadening my mind. I read for pleasure. (With the exception of Christian authors like Sibbes, Spurgeon, Goldsworthy and others, whom I read both for pleasure and instruction). I’m not even sure that I should read merely for the purpose of broadening my mind. If there’s no love for what I’m reading, why bother? Even when I read biographies and autobiographies, I read because I’m interested in the person, and thus could still be said to be reading for pleasure. I’ve gotten past the age where I feel that I have to be able to proudly proclaim that I’ve read this great author or that famous poet: I feel quite happy in proclaiming that I read for pleasure.

Will I read Kafka and Dostoyevsky? Possibly. Probably. Maybe. But I’m pretty certain it’s going to be because I want to, and not because I should.

Mistakes I’ve Made This Week

  • Calling a woman ‘sir’ at the dayjob. In my defense, she was wearing bloke’s jeans, huge sneakers, a bloke’s flanny, and had short back-and-sides. And I only saw her from behind, in my peripheral. Still . . .

  • Waiting so long to read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I was gonna try and finish up the book I was reading before I began, but I’d heard such good things about it that in the end, I couldn’t help myself. Now I’m sorry I didn’t start on it first. It’s simply wonderful so far.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. NOT my cover, unfortunately. It's lovely.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. NOT my cover, unfortunately. It’s lovely.

  • Eating maybe just a teensy little bit too much chocolate. Okay, I overloaded on sugar. But it was in a good cause, because the hubby was forcing me to watch Vampire Diaries. Which brings me to . . .

  • Being inveigled into watching The Vampire Diaries. Aarrrgh! My eyes! The soap! Seriously, either Elena needs to stake both of the boys to stop having to INTERMINABLY CHOOSE BETWEEN THEMor the boys need to cut Elena in half so they can each have a piece. I mean, it’ll be bloody, but they’re vampires. They love blood. WIN/WIN.

  • Not drinking enough tea. I need to drink more. Tea is the great relaxer; comfort and contentment all in one lovely warm cup.

  • Messing about on the internet instead of writing. Oh boy, did I do this! Someone may need to stage an intervention.

Must  . . .

write . . .

must . . .

finish . . .

book!

  • Twisted my ankle while carrying the washing outside and down the stair. Yes. Stair, singular. Just one step. And I managed to twist my ankle on it. Huzzah! I’m half-way to Mary-Sue YA heroine status already!

How ’bout you guys?

Housekeeping

Did you guys know that printed books should always be odd-numbered on the right page? Or that text should be right and left justified? Or, for a matter of fact, that when you shorten the front of a word with an apostrophe (ex. ‘leave ’em alone’) that the apostrophe must face the same way as one that shortens the end of a word (ex. ‘doin’ what comes naturally’).

I didn’t until I started self-publishing. Got any idea how long it takes to go over 300-odd pages of text, looking at every flamin’ apostrophe? Oh yeah, and MS Word just puts ’em through as regular apostrophes. You gotta think about every shortened word as you type it. (Well, there’s probably a function I can turn on somewhere in the recesses of the program, but beggared if I know where it is.)

Also on today’s housekeeping: both Masque and A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend: Volume One are on a Goodreads giveaway at the moment, until about mid-April. I’ve got three signed copies of each to give away, so if you’re interested, click through the link on either above, and enter to win. A handy little feature of Goodreads that I found out about just a few days ago, and that I’m very happy to make use of!

And as I announced on my Facebook and Twitter pages, Wolfskin is at present being sent out to bloggers and reviewers. If you’re interested in getting a free copy (either ecopy or paperback) for the purposes of a review, contact me at gingellwrites [AT] gmail.com, through the comment section, or from the form on my Contact page.

Fourthly and lastly, I’ve been bingewatching On The Up with the wonderful Dennis Waterman, delightful Sam Kelly, inimitable Joan Sims, and pot-stirring Jenna Russell. SO MUCH FUN. So many glorious one-liners. And I’m completely in love with the ending.

Well, that and the equally wonderful live-action version of Black Butler. I’ve watched it three times now. It’s become one of my all-time favourites along with Alice (mini-series version with Andrew-Lee Potts), The Fall (Lee Pace), and City of the Lost Children (Ron Perlman).

Seriously. Watch any of these.

Over and out.

(What? You didn’t think my housekeeping would include actual work, did you? Well, apart from all the apostrophes.)

Fun Stuff Around The House: Chest Of Drawers

I’m coming to the end of my 2 weeks of holidays. It’s been a great time, I’ve been amazingly productive (writing-wise, anyway), and I’ve managed to keep the house (relatively) clean. I’ve gone out, stayed in, read books, written lots; vacuumed, washed-up, polished, dusted, and consumed an immense amount of tea, pinapple lollies and muffins (English muffins, if you’re American and don’t know the right words to stuff 😀 )

Now I’m painting a small chest of drawers. It’s coming along nicely. I have an overabundance of stripy stockings and colourful socks (that’s a lie: a person can never have too many stripy stockings and tights) that were having difficulty squeezing into the drawers of my tiny bedside table. So when I was in the 2nd hand store the other day and saw a diminutive chest of drawers for only forty bucks, I snatched it up. (Not literally: sis and I carried it out. Then there were a couple guys who offered to carry it for us, and since I believe in encouraging chivalry whenever I meet it, we said thank-you nicely and let them do it. They seemed to have more difficulty than we did, but it was nice of ’em, anyways.)

I’m a fan of the ‘distressed’ look furniture, which was just as well, since there were a few chunks taken out. No need to hit this baby with chains and hammers! No, it is a superior piece of furniture that came pre-distressed. All I really needed to complete it were a few sample pots of paint.

I matched up my colours at the Mitre 10 down the road, then brought everything back home and went to work. I sanded her down, took all the knobs off, and took all the drawers out. That’s when I discovered that I am in fact getting old and that my back didn’t appreciate the hour or so I spent half-hunched, sanding away madly.

cod 1cod 4       cod 5

The next day it was time for the first coat of paint. Sanctuary Point (a kind of sage green) went on just right. Two coats made it look just lovely. I’m using it as a base coat so that when I put the Almond Sugar (a kind of eggshell off-white) coats on, I’ll be able to sand through it in places and have a combination of the two. My back still didn’t love the work, but really, biggest challenge at this stage was keeping the flies and dog-hairs out of the paint pot and off my freshly painted work.

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Dido, my mini foxie, was helping out. Her task is to supply all the 'cute' I need.

Dido, my mini foxie, was helping out. Her task is to supply all the ‘cute’ I need.

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Today, I added a coat of Almond Sugar to the main frame and the door knobs. Then I decided it was time for breakfast and promptly gave up for the day. So, my grand project lives to see another day. I’ll post more pics when it’s complete.

And since no glut of pictures is complete without a picture of what I had for breakfast, here you go:

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be settling in for the rest of the holidays with my laptop (the better to write), my cuppa (the better to drink), and my stack of books (just plain better):

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The Saga Of Cat

This is the saga of The Cat; who was Possum, became Henry, then The Cat, returned to Henry, and at last became Possum once again.

It was The Husband’s idea to get a cat. It was a sudden brain fever, I thought. I assumed it would wear off. I quite like being a writer without a cat: I struggle hard to avoid the worst cliches in my writing, and I see no reason why I should succumb to them in real life. Besides which, I’m mildly allergic to cats. Well, allergic to most animals, actually, when they live exclusively in the house.

The fever didn’t wear off. In fact, it burned brighter and brighter- and The Husband wore me down. He was so enthusiastic and pleading and persistent. I found myself agreeing to find him a cat plus accoutrements, thus making myself the stereotypical Writer With Cat. A friend of mine had recently been trying to get rid of some kittens she’d been ‘gifted’ by her affectionate cat, and my sister suggested that she might still be trying to give away the last few kittens. They wouldn’t be more than a couple months old, thus making them still technically kittens, but being a few months old would mean they were litter-trained. I questioned said friend, found that they were still trying to give away the last three kittens, that they were willing to give one to me, and that they were litter-trained, dog-friendly (I have one small dog) and extremely affectionate. They did not eat furniture. They did not run away. They came when called. They preferred cheap dog food! I was eager to have one of these paragons.

The Friend sent photos, which I duly showed to The Husband. He pointed to the last one and said without hesitation: “That one. Get that one. He’s so beautiful! I will call him Henry.”

Fast-forward to the next day. Turns out that paragon kitty is called Possum, and is Friend’s favourite. She expresses hesitation in passing him on, though her children seem glad that it will be Possum to go. I’m disappointed, since The Husband isn’t remotely interested in the other two cats, but assure the Friend that all is well, and that I’ll be able to find Hubby a cat elsewhere if she really doesn’t want to part with Possum. She ums and ahs, and shows me all the cats again. A very long time later, after repeated assurances that I can easily find another kitten for The Husband if it’s at all inconvenient to them all to lose Possum, Possum has been pressed upon me and a sum of money pressed upon them, since I don’t like feeling indebted. The children are excited. The Friend asks if she and the children can come and visit Possum in a few days to assure themselves that he’s getting along okay.

At home, Possum has become Henry, and The Husband seems quite pleased with him. I am finding that, in addition to being a little more allergic to cats than I thought I was, I am decidedly not a cat person. I hate the meeping noises he makes at me for no reason. I hate the way he’s always underfoot. I hate the evil little glare he shoots at me just before he buries his claws in my leg. A sign of affection, apparently. It turns out that I can’t go anywhere without him following me, and that if I shut myself in a room from sheer desperation, he will sit at the door and meep in distress until I come out again. I can’t even go to the toilet in peace, because Henry the cat knows how to open the sliding door to the ensuite! I’m woken in the middle of the night several times by Henry deciding that he must sit on my head, or shove his nose into mine, or lick my ear. At two in the morning I find myself sobbing hysterically: “I don’t like you! Leave me alone!” as I push Henry off my face for the twentieth time. The Husband awakes to find me crying, after having shut The Cat out of the bedroom, and considerately consents to cuddle me until the tears are gone.

He’s a little miffed: he wants Henry to stay, despite the gouges in his shoulder from The Cat using his shoulder as a launch-pad a little earlier. He says he would like to give The Cat a decent trial- at least until The Friend comes around to see us: and then if I really can’t bear it, we’ll give him back. I agree, but Henry has temporarily become The Cat to me.

The next day, The Cat becomes Henry again. He still gives me headaches, but he gets on well with The Dog, and The Husband is very fond of him. I have been trying to get over my new but extreme dislike of having a cat as pet, and partially succeeding. Then I get a call from The Friend, who has called, it seems, for the sole purpose of telling me tearfully that the children have been crying all day and that they all miss Possum. The other cats have changed. They’re not the same without Possum. Over the next few days there are more calls and texts, each one building the guilt I feel, until between the guilt and the allergies, I’m feeling that I’ve made the single worst decision of my life.

At last I tell The Husband that I think we’ll just have to give Henry back. Greatly to my relief, he agrees. It turns out that a cat was more work than he remembered it being from his childhood, and Henry hasn’t entirely endeared himself to The Husband, who has more scratches than fond memories by now. My headache is entering its fourth day of non-stop misery, and I can’t wait until The Friend comes to take Henry away.

I’m really quite fond of Possum. Now that he’s someone else’s cat again, I feel free to pat him and think he’s quite sweet really. But it turns out that I am not a cat person. Guys, does that mean I can’t be a writer? I’m still part of the club, right? Guys?

cat eyes