Write here, write now

Instead of writing wedding invitations, I thought a better use of my time would be to enter a writing competition…because giving myself something else to do at this busy time isn’t foolish at all (read: It is utterly foolish. I am a knob).

I got a prompt, in my case the prompt was ‘Pets’, and I had 48 hours in which to write a personal essay for the Yeah Write Super Challenge. How hard can that be? Flash Gordon only had 14 hours to save the earth and he managed it.

This is a three stage competition and I’m very excited to report that I’m successfully through to the second stage!

Part of my reason for entering the competition was because I was procrastinating, those damn wedding invitations won’t write themselves because the judges provide feedback that I can use to help to make me a better writer.

The judges give feedback on what they like about the piece of writing and where there is room for improvement. Regarding my work, the judges liked the “compelling and humorous ending scene” but felt that “the essay could have used another round of proofreading for commas and dangling participles”.

A dangling participle does sound like a painful affliction but I can assure you that it is a grammatical term meaning ‘a participle intended to modify a noun which is not actually present in the text’ (I totally googled that and still can’t work out where the dangling participles are in my essay. Feel free to let me know when you spot them!).

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I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT I WAS A DOG PERSON

I always thought that I was a dog person, until I got a cat. Now I KNOW that I am a dog person.

Nine years ago I decided that I wanted a cat. Not just any old cat, I was very particular about the make, model and colour that my heart desired: Short haired; Kitten; Most definitely ginger. The colour was not negotiable.

We found a local breeder who had two kittens left from a large litter; one ginger, one tortoiseshell. When we arrived the little ginger madam was nowhere to be seen so whilst the breeder played hide and seek with a baby cat, I innocently picked up tortoiseshell to give her a cuddle.

It transpires that tortoiseshell was cunning. She had been turned down by other families and she realised that she needed to up her game and close the deal. She had a pretty little face with a white patch of fur above one eye that made her look permanently surprised and baby pink pads on the bottom of her feet. She looked up at me affectionately with her big blue eyes and snuggled into me, then she let out a tiny little sigh, closed her eyes and started purring contentedly.

Of course, I fell for it. Ginger who? I took tortoiseshell home with me that very day.

And that was the most affection I’ve ever had from her. Turns out, tortoiseshell is actually quite a bitch. It was a ruse, I was swindled by a twelve week old kitten. The wily minx.

Tortoiseshell’s hobbies include the popular ‘This will make her death look like an accident’ where she sneaks herself directly in front of me when I’m walking in the hope that I will trip and break my neck. The classic ‘This will probably get her fired’ where unbeknown to me she sits on my work laptop keyboard typing random letters in the middle of an important document that I only ever spot after I’ve sent it to my boss, and finally the unusual ‘I’m crazy obsessed with potatoes and don’t care who knows about it’ where if you so much as open a bag of crisps within 5 miles of her she’ll hurl herself at your head trying to reach the bag. God forbid you peel a potato in her presence, she propels herself full speed into the kitchen and up to the kitchen sink, trying to rub her face against the half naked potato. So desperate her desire for potato skins that she will plunge her paws into a water filled sink just to reach one.

She does not understand that her tail belongs her. Every time I have a bath she sits on the edge, her tail absent-mindedly trailing in the bubbles. When she jumps down from the bath I see her scowl, absolutely enraged because her tail is wet. She glares at me as if I were responsible, then starts waving it about madly from left to right, drenching half the bathroom before chasing it round in circles and finally licking it dry in disgust.

She loves all food and certainly does not discriminate between ‘cat’ food and ‘people’ food. If she is not eating she considers that there is something wrong with the world. A few years ago she became unwell, she kept being sick, lost a lot of weight and looked awful. As she really likes her food, I was worried. Eventually I took her to the vets.

The vet was concerned because she was dehydrated, they admitted her to the clinic, put her on a drip and started running tests. After she’d been in the clinic for 36 hours I had a phone call from my vet. “We’ve managed to examine tortoiseshell, her belly was pretty large.”

‘Oh gosh, this is it, she’s got a tumour or something awful’ I thought to myself. I held my breath, anxiously waiting to see what the vet would say next.

“Whilst we were examining her, she emitted a large amount of foul smelling gas.”

“Okay….”

“And now she seems absolutely fine”

£430 that cost me. £430 for the vet to make my cat fart.

My next cat will be a dog.

This is tortoiseshell, also known as Tabitha

Don’t trust this cute face, I’m a furry assassin.

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No muse is good news

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I haven’t had time to write for a while because the irritating realities of life have been getting in the way; employment, household chores, battles with my ex-husband, the usual. I mean figurative battles through polite conversations and emails with my solicitor, not actual combat. I’m not She-Ra, princess of power.

For anyone who was not a seven year old girl in 1985, She-Ra is He-Man’s twin sister. She had her very own television series aimed at girls which was fabulous and entertaining and *whispers* cancelled after one season.

Every day I intend to write and every day something dull gets in the way and stops me, but today I am determined to put pen to paper, well, fingers to keyboard at least.

I went to a party last weekend, which I should point out was absolutely not “something dull getting in the way” of my writing. It was great fun with lovely people, even taking into account the fact that I drove and had to drive home with a tipsy Brad passed out snoring on the back seat. As he’s nearly 6ft and my car is 5ft 3in wide, he did have to contort him himself ‘man origami’ style into a folded up version of himself in order to fall asleep, but annoyingly he managed it.

At the party I was telling my friends about my new lodger, having given washer woman Wanda the boot a few weeks ago. Someone made a comment about the fact that giving my previous lodger the heave-ho, seemed to have coincided with my blog writing dry spell and that perhaps she had been my muse. This has played on my mind all week and I desperately need to write something in order to prove that my ex-lodger was not Samson’s hair in tenant form.

Because I’m feeling under considerable pressure to come up with the goods, admittedly it’s pressure that I’ve put on myself but nevertheless, it’s still pressure, I have looked again to the daily prompt for inspiration. Today’s topic is “Community Service: Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, your neighbourhood, your family, your colleagues — is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.”

The post I should write is about helping your neighbours, forgiving people and being kind to each other and other fluffy and unrealistic goals. I’m not going to write about this because everyone knows what they should be doing. It’s not achievable. It would be like telling my cat not to catch an insect aperitif before her dinner, crunching loudly as she devours it. She’s a cat, that’s what they do.

I think it’s better to highlight something positive instead, if only to get the image of my cat chomping on a cricket out of your head.

I feel slightly uncomfortable with the term “community”. When you live in a City with 273,399 other people, it’s hard to feel like you are part of a traditional community. However, many of the other 273,399 people living in Brighton who aren’t me, are quirky and vibrant and ever so slightly odd and that’s what makes me smile about them.

After work this evening, I popped to the supermarket around the corner from where I live and there was a man walking along the road towards me eating one of those individual tiramisu pots with a plastic spoon. He had the cardboard container and the second tiramisu pot clasped tightly in one hand and a look of profound concentration on his face, possibly because of the challenge of walking and eating with a spoon at the same time. Surely it’s got to be a bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly? I struggle to eat anything out of a pot without spilling it down me, eating as well as walking is quite literally a step too far. The first thing that struck me was to think ‘wow, he must really need pudding’. The second thing that occurred to me was the fact that it was peculiar that I didn’t find it strange that tiramisu man was walking along the road in the middle of the evening eating a tasty, sponge fingery, Italian desert and no one else seemed to notice or care either.

In my community, pretty much anything goes. I once went to a fancy dress party dressed as Cleopatra with flowing robes, over the top make up, a wig and a decorative hair piece. I was driving to the party which was in Horsham and I picked up a couple of fancy dressed friends en route when suddenly my petrol light flashed on. I knew I couldn’t make it all the way to Horsham, so had to stop at the garage and fill up, in full pharaoh finery, at 7pm on a Saturday night. What I remember most about this is that no-one said a word to me, no one laughed, no-one raised an eyebrow, no-one questioned me. On another occasion a group of us dressed as Mother Christmas, Hawaiian Barbie and Pocahontas stopped at Sainsbury’s to buy alcohol and again, not an eyelid was batted. In Brighton we have a naked bike ride, a museum filled with more than half a million stuffed dead animals and an annual chocolate festival just as a starter for ten; Cleopatra filling her fiesta up at a Shell Garage and Pocahontas buying vodka is decidedly unremarkable.(For the record, I was unaware of the existence of this chocolate festival until today when I researched it and now I’m bloody furious. How do I not know about this marvellous event? Do they also have a beautiful shoe festival and a great big cake festival that they have been hiding from me?)

*****

Every cake has a silver lining

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In order to attempt for this blog to not just be a place for me to talk about the joy of cake or to get cross about random things. I have signed up to receive a daily prompt; a subject or topic to blog about.  I haven’t tried it until today but I really wanted to write and I was struggling for inspiration so thought I’d attempt the prompt. Today’s title is “No Fair” http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/daily-prompt-fair/.

It would be tempting to start by saying that today was not fair because of the lack of cake. However, that would be a complete lie because I accidentally fell into the Bakery earlier and bought a cake.

When I say accidentally, I mean completely deliberately and with the absolute intention of buying some cheese straws. And when I say fell, I mean walked in confidently and with purpose whilst simultaneously barging an old lady out of the way in a pastry panic because I mistakenly believed that she was intending to buy up the last of the cheese straws, leaving me with a soggy looking Cornish pasty.

As I was paying for my cheese straws, I caught sight of a solitary iced bun out of the corner of my eye, threw caution to the wind and bought that too. I do love an iced bun. I have an American friend who just does not get them. I can picture her now screwing up her face in that ‘you English people are just odd’ way that she does, exclaiming “I don’t understand, it’s just bread with some icing on top”.

As far as I am concerned, a day that contains cake of any description, even if it is just bread with a bit of icing on top, is always going to be a better day than one without cake.

This cake anecdote sort of sums me up. I am a looking on the bright side sort of a girl and I try to not feel sorry for myself or think that life is unfair. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always manage it. If I ever buy a lottery ticket it is always not fair when I have not won the jackpot because I absolutely deserve it. That said, if I did win, chances are I would buy an awful lot of cake and would have to buy bigger and bigger trousers to accommodate my jumbo jam doughnut shaped bottom so maybe it’s better that the money goes to someone else.  Other things that are a teeny weeny bit unfair are the fact that I have not yet appeared on Strictly Come Dancing. Yes, I know I’m not a celebrity but I’d be really, really, really excited to do it which will more than make up for my lack of fame. It is also not fair that I do not like celery as much as I like cake because that would make dieting a whole lot less of a challenge.

So there we have it, the daily prompt has helped me to expand my horizons, to write about new ideas and different subjects.

I am not a one cake trick pony.

Dammit.