the m john harrison blog

Tag: the cat


The old cat would have loved it out here in the sun today.


i’m not good at making decisions

I still expect the cat to come running every time I open a tin. In fact he’s upstairs on my desk, in a white cardboard box five by six by seven inches, with a date & “sympathies” written on the front. “I know we’re in a weird place with this,” I tell him. “For you it’s a transitional place. I appreciate that.” Meanwhile, I say, he can entertain himself with the pigeon on the telegraph pole, the magpie on the pavement, both of real interest & easily visible from the window. Spring being on its way–to judge from the hail we had this morning–he can look forward to a lot more action of that kind. “Now you’re not out there so much, the garden’s full of birds.” I pat the box in what I hope is a reassuring manner. “I’ll find somewhere to put you eventually.”

cat: roofer: mars

The cat had his followers so I am re-categorising & tagging posts that featured him. Just click below. Oh & here’s a new photo. What else? Not much. Watched Skyfall, nothing to say about that. The roofer arrived & is banging about. I found the following scrawled in the bedside notebook when I woke up this morning. “The mad poets, paranoid logicians & ceaseless illiterate romantics of science fiction’s Golden Hour, when everything seemed–& was–possible under the light of the pulp sunset.” The writing looks like mine but the content is clearly a rogue transmission from the Curiosity rover. Let’s get that code sorted, people, before the tin can says too much.

remember remember

The day after Guy Fawkes you expect full November, damp with a sulphur edge. But this morning is clear & sunny & the water has frozen in the pots on the balcony. I write that its surface is “buckled & sparred”. I put on my Superdry coat. I redeem the old cat’s ashes from the vet’s on White Hart Lane. For a second–ambushed by some passing notion not of mine but of the future’s, a memory of something that will never happen–I imagine falling over a curb & dropping him. That wouldn’t do. Pensionable is bad enough: wearing the coat of an adolescent is bad enough: having a broken hip & being covered in addition with the remains of your pet would be irretrievably uncool even in East Sheen. The leaves of the street trees have gone from green to an urban dazzle of ochre, tan & purple in what seems like a single night.

pot on face

This animal is twenty years old–

…Nineteen & a half years old enough to know better.


C’s tulips are still good.

The cat is old & blind but still likes to go out & drink rain.

the west yorkshire sublime

A cold dry wind blows the dust around the collection of plant pots outside the kitchen door. The old cat can’t settle. His favourite chair keeps the draughts off but it’s not close enough to the radiator. I catch him trying to lean against a two-bar electric fire. Reasoned with on the subject, he creeps resentfully from room to room. I creep around my memories of winter in Holmfirth, three feet of snow outside another kitchen door, icicles on every cable & telephone wire. “I can’t find the car.” “I think we left it next to the telephone box.” “I can’t find the telephone box.” While I’m sentimentalising the West Yorkshire sublime, eight ring-necked parakeets arrive & gang around in the cherry tree. They’re down from the bitter air of Richmond park, looking to grift these soft-living suburbs.

Re-reading: The Tin Drum. Leafing through: Grigson, The Englishman’s Flora. On order: Wittgenstein, Remarks on Frazer’s “Golden Bough”; Miller, The Drama of Being a Child.

hypertension blindness

My old cat developed hypertension blindness across forty eight hours. After an evening of disorientation, he flatly accepted his condition and began to work on his new territory, setting off in random directions until he encountered something he knew. By the next day he had mapped his way to the food, the water, the litter box, the favourite chair. He had stopped bumping into things. He would approach a surface head on, then turn suddenly but smoothly (as if he had detected its temperature, or its smell, or some small air movement associated with it, a draught moving along the skirting board, say, down the steps from the hall, into the kitchen) and walk along it as quickly as he had before the lights went out.

He never showed a sign of panic, although he did, once or twice, give things a puzzled look. Four or five days later he can go where he wants, jump up onto chairs & sofas & beds, arrive in the kitchen thirty seconds after the smoked salmon comes out of the fridge. When he gets bored, he visits an unmapped area, exits from it on a wrong line, bumps a wall, steadily argues his way back to somewhere he recognises in the matrix of scents, sounds & air movements. We give him pills for the hypertension & he isn’t keen on that. Hands come out of nowhere. They force open his mouth & put something in. Otherwise his life is much the same as ever. Two days ago he shouted at the door until we opened it. Time to work on the garden.

pearlent, so far it resembles

a collision between AE van Vogt, Elizabeth Taylor & David Lynch in a universe designed & constructed by Charlie Mingus. All going to plan, then. The quotes below might help. I’ll not be blogging for a while yet. Meanwhile here’s cheesecake of the cat, shouting his mouth off as usual. Reviewing: Tony & Susan, Austin Wright. Reading: Tariq Goddard’s bizarre & funny novel The Picture of Contented New Wealth. Listening to: Crystal Castles.

“…there were no correlations, no consequences; nothing had any effect except to produce the ghost of a ghost.”
–AE Coppard, ”Clorinda Walks in Heaven”

“Our instruments have limits. Since knowledge of physical reality depends on what we can measure, we will never know all there is to know. … Much better to accept that our knowledge of physical reality is necessarily incomplete.”
–Marcelo Gleiser

“In a certain sense, everything is everywhere at all times.”
–AE van Vogt

& don’t you love the phrase “propulsion architecture” ?

the cat

The cat has grown very vocal in his old age.
I’m thinking of renaming him Bagpipe.

Photo: Cath Phillips