Bernard Socks was allowed to go out today for the first time in a week. Ever since last Tuesday he’s been racing around the house, yelling his head off (‘Weeeee-ooooo!’) demanding to be let out into the garden; to run along the fences and down the alley. But he couldn’t – he was under strict instructions from the vet, Uncle Joe.
Bernard Socks has a run of stitches down his chest, and that’s why he couldn’t go out to play until this morning. He had a little ‘procedure’ last Tuesday, to remove a funny swelling that he’d developed on his chest. It was thought to be an abcess, or a cyst – but on inspection turned out to be a number of little abcesses just under the skin. It looks as if he’s been bitten several times by something with nasty little teeth, somewhere out on his travels. And, sure enough, when I looked back in my diary – just before the swelling appeared, he came running in one night, quite cross and sorry for himself and looking rather scared.
Last week the hairdresser declared that his stitches have healed remarkably well. Which was a relief. I’d watched him carefully – nervous of those threads sticking out of his shaved chest. It looks like he’s wearing a too tight cardigan. They won’t come out till Friday, but today he was allowed to go outside – and out he went: thundering down the hall to the kitchen door. He flung himself into the garden. Racing down the path, pausing to drink from the pond, squeezing round the Beach House and clambering up a tree after squirrels. The squirrels have got a bit cocky during his week-long absence. He ran around so madly – looking for the other cats down our street to fight with – that he was back by lunchtime and snoozing upstairs at the bedroom window for an hour.
So, he’s bright and he’s happy after a few days’ imposed seclusion.
I don’t mind seclusion, myself. It gives me a chance to read at the weekend. It was lovely to spend long hours with books that have nothing to do with anything I’m working on. Long hours at my desk during recent weeks have meant that I’m reading less for pleasure than usual. But my weekend with Mary Simses’ smooth, enjoyable novel, ‘The Irresistable Blueberry Bakeshop and Café’ (a kind of ‘Whistlestop Café’ for richer, more uptight characters) and the new HUGE Salinger biography was well worth waiting for.
These are pleasantly quiet days at the start of December. The garden is ruinous and squelchy with fallen leaves like linoleum. Inside the house we’re still partly-covered in soot upstairs from our roofing disasters – but the walls are, at least, perfectly smooth with cool pink new plaster. I’m on a little break from writing fiction, while I concentrate on writing about those Dr Who Annuals. Right now I’m in the late Sixties, and it’s an interesting time. These books get stranger and more rewarding, the further you read into them and the more time you spend. I’m hoping these chapters I’m writing about them will encourage people to read these supposedly ephemeral books again. I think there’s a rare and true piece of genuine Dr who magic trapped inside these Annuals.
I also love the fact that they were written and drawn and put together right here in the centre of Manchester. They aren’t just an alternative and neglected strand of Dr Who, they’re also from the North…
So – it’s December. And time soon to be thinking about what my favourite books of the year have been. And to think about the things I’ve written, and finished and the plans I’ve made and how far they’ve got. And – most pleasantly – it’s about the shorter nights and hours of reading, and working out which books I want to spend those most comfy evenings with…