I’ve decided , looking out at the outside world , that this dreary weather is not conducive to any kind of creative or physical activity. It must be something to do with the chemical balance of the brain .That feel-good chemical.serotonin ..isn’t kicking in. I’m not quite ready for one of those SAD {That’s “Seasonal Affective Disorder”}… mood-enhancing light-boxes but if this rain doesn’t ease off……

Is this what happens when writers get the dreaded “Block”? I’ve been rattling away for months on this latest creative jag. The words usually just pop into the brain and onto the page.It’s a bit like drawing, or painting, y’know; taking a line for a walk until it becomes something recognisable as a piece of artwork; moulding it into some kind of shape that works; prodding, tweaking and patting it until it fits some kind of frame .Writing is something similar …as long as you can come up with something to write about. It must feel crazy to be like a Ben Elton …you know ,churning the stuff out like tears flowing down his cheeks. ..A “Black Adder “ television series here..a book or opera there , another “Young Ones” or some stand-up routine before supper …What does a guy like that do when the flow stops? Where does it come from ? Does he lie awake at night worrying about all the stories he hasn’t time to write? So much to do …so little time…..Does he despair when it stops? Maybe it never stops for him .

They say that everyone has a book inside themselves . Yes , of course they do.Everyone’s life is a book , isn’t it? It’s a unique affair for each one of us . That is , if you dare to write about any of it truthfully. If I was to sit and write down some of the stuff I’ve left out , it would read like a fiction anyway; some of it in the horror genre. Some of it is so improbable that I suppose it should be written as fiction.Then again a book has to be physically written and not everyone is up to that pure single-mindedness. I don’t mean “ghost-written” either. The moment another hand begins to mould those taped or spoken words like clay, the “book” becomes something else entirely. Then again …is the story any”good” or interesting? Is there anything to engage the reader at all ? Will anyone be bothered to read it? Why bother at all? We’ll all be forgotten in a few years anyway…Why bother?. Take a look at some old broken. mildewed gravestones in your local graveyard and ask yourself who these people were. If they’ve been buried more than a hundred years already, it’s likely nobody will really remember them. They might have been told about them .They may possibly have read about them, but they won’t “remember” them at all.

It’s been raining in a solid block for two days now so I haven’ t really engaged with the outside world at all, which is probably why my thoughts are turning inwards .It must be what it’s like to be in a gaol cell….except you might be there under that metaphorical rain-sodden cloud for years to come. Imagine that. That’d be something to write about all right.Or maybe not.

Robert Plant has just come on 6 Music Radio talking about his upcoming tour.I’m looking forward to that Belfast gig in the Ulster Hall ,that I talked about some time back. The other PK has got us onto Mr.Plant’s guest list so hopefully that will pan out okay. I’d hate to end up fighting with a doorman or a bouncer at the gig.”Robert Plant doesn’t know anything about any of this!..Now sod off!” That could happen too .Anyway it’s one more improbable thing this year. The other one …the free solar panels which I’d nearly forgotten about, are to be installed at some ungodly hour later in the month.The phone- call came through a few days ago, so watch this space.

There I was thinking all this out when I decided to bite the proverbial and get out for a walk. The rain had momentarily stopped….Rain or no rain, I had to get out of the house! First off, before I’d gotten into my stride and loosened the creaking limbs,the wee eccentric woman from across the road called myself and my wife over in a very conspiratorial way. She was peeking from behind her back-garden gate , possibly a little lonely and wanting to engage in conversation with other human -beings .She was dressed like someone going to the shops in a legendary part of Belfast, replete in her best pyjamas and dressing gown and slippers.. Well there was no rain, so she didn’t need her wellington boots . I thought initially though that there might be a a problem that needed solving…

…”It’s the cats!” she said, knowing from a similar, previous conversation that we’d lost our pet earlier in the year…somebody had spotted someone who had a red van and a long net of some sort. They had been seen luring a cat into their orbit. Cats had been going missing recently .Lots of home-made, computer -generated posters had begun to appear on lamp posts and at the local garage .”Have you seen….” There was no further information but we both sadly missed our “disappeared” Otis, gone this past six months .He was a beautiful creature and affable too.One of our own “disappeared”, never to be heard of again .If nothing else , it would always leave a seed of curiosity nestling in a corner of the mind.Somehow it was easier to think that some red -coated fox had taken him than to consider that some ruthless humans had stolen him for some other nefarious reason.The lady had a theory that the cats were being sent to China to feed the millions there .Her idea was that if they ate just about anything, even dogs, why not a black- bean kitty stew dish too. I thought it was a little improbable , given the distances involved , but then again we’re importing strawberries in Winter from New Zealand and who knows where across the world.Why not export cats and dogs to China? They say that within a generation or two most of the protein required for human existence will come from harvesting insects. I suppose , if they can guzzle down Macdonald’s burgers it’s not inconceivable that wee bags of chocolate -coated crickets could also be consumed as a bar snack or a plateful of some exotic mealy- bug could be used in a stir-fry instead of prawns. They’re basically the same thing , aren’t they?

We walked on .The rains came down and the umbrellas were hoisted . I have to say the birds and the squirrels really love this kind of weather .The river was engorged and racing and purging into the bends but the birds were out skimming the surface and the squirrels were rattling in and out of the trees as if playing a game of hide-and -seek.They probably found it very refreshing. Probably some down -time amid foraging to wash their faces and clean their fur and feathers. The crispy , crackling crunch of the previously golden leaves underfoot , had now turned to a burnt sienna chocolate sludge of boot- cloying glour.

Back at the house , after an equally refreshing cup of Punjana tea, the first thing I picked up was an article about cats going missing in Ipswich, in England .That’s what life’s like , isn’t ? Full of oddness, kismet and serendipity. Apparently up on two hundred pet cats have gone missing in the past eight months and people have really begun to notice.You would, wouldn’t you? If two hundred pet dogs or two hundred children went missing , like an episode from some HBO television series ; you’d notice , wouldn’t you? The ex-pet-owners are theorising that their companions are being stolen by people involved in dog-fighting and there is huge money involved in gambling on these illegal canine tussles. .Well , some people are prepared to enslave their fellow-man so it’s no stretch to imagine them killing and misusing other creatures.

This is the way urban legends begin. I would prefer to think of my little feline blackamoor, Otis finishing his earthly tenure as the dinner of some hungry fox while on his daily constitutional dander, rather than think that he was a victim of some twisted human’s greed or savagery.Meanwhile, as I type this, the Rosetta space probe has just landed on a comet three hundred million miles away after travelling ten years to get there .

I’ll try to balance the scientific inquisitiveness of mankind with the potential predatory barbarity at the heart of the human mind.


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