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12 September 2016

You learn a lot of things over the years. One is that the old saying, “do unto others,” is reasonable. However if you live long enough you also learn a corollary. “Do it first, and then dodge – FAST.”

Our local paper tends to use these in the Saturday Supplement, and over the last few months quite a few more have appeared. I cover recycling and consumer suggestions, and now and again something more general. But the last ones have been – COOLING CATS AND DOGS IN THE HOT WEATHER, A FEW NEW USES FOR YOUR EVERYDAY SPOON, MUCH TO DO WITH THOSE GIANT PUMPKINS, A NEW PURPOSE FOR OLD DRINKING STRAWS, WHAT NOT TO FEED PETS, SUGAR; MORE THAN JUST A SWEETENER, and BRIGHT IDEAS FOR RUBBER BANDS. Often the themes are based on something I do, or have been asked about, and on that basis I don’t think I’ll run out of ideas any time soon.

I write a series of tales about Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and their regular visitors, Miss Emily and her Burmese cat Mandalay – the cat burglar. Mandalay tends to come home with some very odd items at times. The stories are based on a cat a friend told me about years ago, and on my own feline friend. Now and again Thunder ‘acquires’ an item, when he does so he takes it under the couch to squirrel away and there, sooner or later, I find it. In the last few years he’s helped himself to the chimney sweep’s torch, and my house manager’s reading glasses.
Then last week it was my fly-buys card. I ran about for days looking for that, came to the conclusion that I must have lost it, arranged for a replacement, and then – just as the replacement arrived – I happened to be moving a power cord that runs behind the couch, and there was my card. I knew who’d had it all right. He sat there complaining as I picked it up. That was his, he’d gone to all the trouble of collecting it and tucking it away safely. It was HIS and I should give it back. I didn’t and I wonder what he’ll acquire next, but I have a feeling this episode too may end up in one of the Mandalay stories. And people ask where I find plots.