Happiness Week: Wednesday

Remember, although today was just another average day to you, to someone this was the most important day of their life and changed who they are forever.

It was a great day with great people living their lives one day at a time.

The skin on the back of my hands cracked further. Bare knuckle brawling look to them now. I put soothing lotion on them so it’s okay. I get to wear my gloves all day tomorrow so I’m really excited because I will look cool! They’re very nice gloves. Black leather. Fleece lined. Three stitched lines across the black in a classic style and a belt buckle decoration on the wrist. Constant contact with the affected area numbs the pain. I can feel my pulse.

‘Would you like some tea?’ Sure… oh… wait… you were asking that stranger I see… That’s okay I can’t make tea for anyone anyway… The whole Chanoyu Japanese tea ceremony would take too long to perform properly anyway… Russian caravan tea for the win!

More people came to see the cat. He entertained them. Then he disappeared again once it was just the two of us. So much fun. He still has no name. He enjoys chasing and being chased but not being captured.


I saw a ‘Phantom of the Opera’ dog today. It was a mixed black, red and white furred dog. The fur of the entire left half of its head was perfectly white like the mask in the musical version (unlike the full mask Eric wears in the novel and some film versions). Also a safety conscious mother would not let her daughter go to the other side of the river to find things. They were stood by the bridge connecting the two sides. Such great maternal instinct! She could just sense danger.

So upbeat it makes my hands ache. There are still three more days of this…

Retractions: My co-worker didn’t wear a nasal excretion covered scarf… although today she wore a different scarf so make of that what you will. Also it was the ‘L’ in ‘salmon’ not the ‘D’ she was obsessed with… but I was certain it was the ‘D’ and it makes for a funnier story if it is. Spoil sport…

IMALU – UH UH: So upbeat with added ‘Engrish’ content… Wait for the stole on her shoulders to start singing. Then realise that the hunter killed one of the animal men and was cooking him… except he had turned into a Louis Vuitton padded bag… I like how open to experimentation the Japanese are with their media but at the same time I am weary of some of the excesses they allow too considering what a conservative nation they are…


Happiness Week: Tuesday

My co-worker arrived before me waiting outside our workplace to be let in. She stood in my exact spot near the door where there is no windchill during these cold Winter days. On the exact flagstone I stand on every morning. That’s okay. I was later than her as she arrived early today. I needed a break from this daily, reassuring, morning routine. She always has something interesting to say about the ongoing scandal about the lack of lids for her take-a-way morning coffee. I dont know how she can survive the 10 minutes from the coffee shop to us being let in so she can make her first cup of tea for the day. She must surely risk dehydration. It’s not as if I take that time every morning to silently meditate and listen to the water of the running river and the birds in the air singing their songs. She said she was my friend once. That is a generous thing to say. She is a good person.


I prefer courtesy to my colleagues over personal self-interest. They all really appreciate that I do this for them.

The equipment keeps giving everyone static shock. That’s okay. We need to be kept warm and if the cost is that the air in our office is dry enough to allow the build-up of static electricity then so it must be. It made my co-worker’s dry cough all the more worse though. She coughed enough she began to hallucinate she was becoming a lake due to how much she had drank during the day to compensate for the stuffy enviroment inside. She even refused to have the window open when it was offered. Such consideration! We were all so thankful, after all, static electricity is a vital part of many industrial processes including, but not limited to; xerography, air filters (particularly electrostatic precipitators), automotive paints, photocopiers, paint sprayers, theatres, flooring in operating theatres, powder testing, printers, static bonding and aircraft refuelling.

My co-worker sneezed into her scarf repeatedly and then wore it, no doubt, making her ailments worse. That is such a hygienic thing to do. I am sure none of her nasal content solidified on her neck when she left. She likes pink. Pink bobblehat. Pink leather gloves. Pink scarf… though she insists it’s salmond and insists on pronouncing the ‘d’ in salmond even though the colour is salmon while [Alex] Salmond is the Former First Minister of Scotland. She is very intelligent.

No one could bring themselves to say goodbye to me when I left. That’s okay. It would be too sad to do that and I wouldn’t want to upset them.

When I returned home my cat scratched my hand deeply because I stroked him. It bled for a while but at least it means my body can heal now. He would come by me, look expecting to be fed and then walk away again. Once the others came he was very friendly with them and got a fuss. He still has no name. He still watches from the top of the stairs if there is no food. He sticks his bottom in the air a lot when stroked. He has a pink anus. My co-worker would like him.

Even more happiness. Have you got diabetes from the saccharine nature of these posts? Even more tomorrow!
And now part 1 of the infamous Duck Song to send you on your way.

Duck song part 1

Happiness Week: Monday

More exercises in positive thinking!

Today my cat sat at the top of the stairs. I go and stroke him. He accepts this for a while. He likes it. He held my arm, kicks at it with his back legs and bites down on my hand as if it were caught prey. What fun playing together we are having!

He preferred to be by himself except when he wanted to be stroked. When other people came in the house he really liked them as they spoilt him and gave him a nice soft covered cat bed. He runs around the house often and broke into my room just to snoop around. None of my books have been damaged which is great news!

It was very cold today. The skin on my knuckles has split and I cannot wear my gloves as they will only dry the skin out more. When Winter passes I will better appreciate good skin care!


I have a low burning headache which reoccurs more and more often because people think I am in the wrong. They are right because they are good people and I know they are good people because they tell me they are. If a large number of people agree about something then statisically they will usually be correct. It’s basic Utilitarian felicific calculus too – ‘The greatest good for the greatest number’. Also if you feel pain it means you are alive still and your body parts have not become necrotised. No painkillers for me then, I’m full of life!

I have no time to do anything pleasurable or to relax in the evening. Life is giving me a hard taught lesson that I need to prioritise what I do and be better at time keeping.Go on life, get in there!

Also I am learning to make shorter entries! No one likes rambling unstructured entries do they? 🙂

More happiness… Can’t you just feel it smothering you with its relentless optimism?

Here’s a song by David Sylvian called ‘For The Love Of Life’.

Happiness Week: Sunday

I got a new cat from Cats Protection! He was a stray and had been there 3 weeks.

They named him Totoro as he is grey and white. He must have reminded someone of the titular character of the famous Studio Ghibli Film. We have tried to think of a name for him but do not know what to call him. He has a patch fur that is much shorter on his right front leg as they had to shave it to give him an intravenous drip.

At the centre we arrived early but the receptionist let us in. There were boys told not to laugh or be noisy. I think only one of them was getting a cat and the other was his friend. They got goodie bags containing balloons and cat masks. Someone came in looking for kittens but they didn’t have any that were ready to leave their mother yet so the woman left empty handed.

We filled out the paperwork and brought him home. I picked up a lot of leaflets about cat care. I also got a car sticker. The staff at the centre think he was ‘the handsome one’.

They gave us a free pocket sized torch toy that projects the image of a mouse on the ground. He liked it. They also gave us 4 weeks free pet insurance and a discount card for the type of food they approve of called Purina.

When we put him in the spare room and opened his carry case he explored under the wardrobe but there is very little headroom under it so he laid flat with his legs out to the side so he could slip under it. He came out a few moments later.
He eats dry food. He drinks water.

He pulled up the carpet in the spare room when we had to leave him alone to get him food and other things. He was sat up on the desk looking at me open the door.

He has gone around in circles time and time again around the house. Often he is following us or playing a chasing game because we are keeping an eye on him. He is often twitching his tail back and forth. Maybe he is like Dr Banner in The Avengers where he is always angry… he doesn’t like shut doors. He runs over to them when they are shut and tries to get to the otherside.

We were given a sample of a spray to put on things to stop him spraying his scent on them. It works.
He is very playful. My relative bought him a ‘fishing’ trype toy with a small dead duck on the end filled with catnip. He really liked it.

When the others had to leave and I was left to hold him while they left I put him down after they left and he waited and then attacked my arm. He did not have his claws out and meowed at me.

He is very hungry. He is very high strung because of all the new noises. He doesn’t like the sound of the toilet water system after the toilet has been flushed. He waits outside the doors waiting for you.

Though I blocked access to my room, with a laundry basket, he still went in there and tried to go under the bed but I had blocked it with all the cases of books I have. I like to read. I have many books. He does not understand the concept of a door opening as I would swing it back and forth and he would try to scratch under it.

He has a high pitched meow. He runs up and down the stairs. He likes to sit at the top of the stairs. He likes to lie down in the centre of the kitchen and in the centre of the living room. He goes up on the chairs. He likes to explore. While exploring behind the television and furniture he got a lot of cobwebs all over his whiskers. He doesn’t like sudden sounds. He likes to be stroked a lot. He will insist on it. He is a big boy. He is very tall when he stands on his hind legs. He often has looked over things to see what is on top of them.

If you did not read this in anything other than the voice of a five year old this was less that an absolute sucess. So…This week, every day, there will be happy cheery updates because… Happy Happy Joy Joy! Happy Happy Joy Joy! Happy Happy Happy Joy Joy Joy! Once when I was jobseeking a member of a recruitment agency insisted I smile. She waited 5 minutes for me to do it. It was an abuse of power but isn’t it wonderful that she cared enough that she forced someone down on their luck to conform to her perception of reality rather than acknowledge the difference in our current situations. I’m sure she went and found someone in a wheelchair and told themm to dance. Just the kind of ‘kick up the backside’ kind of mentality the unemployed need. Recruitment Agencies are not my favourite industry. (See even that was phrased in a less than negative way because it suggests there are industires i dislike more like… war profiteering). Tomorrow more HAPPINESS!!!

7 Things You Didn’t know About Me: I am Javert apparently…

I have seen a few people do these ‘7 things you don’t know about me’ challenges on Facebook. Of course no one would ask me as I have a pessimistic mind. I would likely just make up fantastical things to joke it off and reveal nothing of myself or things I consider arbitrary like the fact I carried both a brass statue of Ganesha and some lucky coal from my grandmother in my pocket when doing many sixth form exams. That statue however has been lost somewhere. Nonetheless without Facebook’s restrictions here are some matters to state. Are they totally honest or a bit fabricated? You’ll never know and thus it’s just another layer of mystery about who it is running this on going concern.

1) Empathy over sympathy. I try to be happy. It’s just the natural ebb and flow of life. People who appear forever happy are in someway trying to avoid tackling certain hard matters in their life and potentially setting themselves up for a greater fall in the long run sadly. Prehaps it is because I too easily identify with peoples’ issues when they voice them to me and in some part ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ yet, all too frequently in my case, this means I take the burden of that person’s issues upon myself whether I can help or not. Sometimes people just want someone to listen and I would like to think I am good at this though I am not the person they wish they were speaking to.

2) I am very weary of people who immediately, upon a first encounter, use terms of familiarity if I do not know them personally. For example terms like ‘mate’, ‘butt’ or ‘buddy’. These overly familiar terms are used to make you lower your defenses by suggesting the speaker has an openness and lack of judgemental opinions. However, to me, it is a red flag telling me to be weary as the use of this bluntly ued social skill is intended to achieve something detrimental to myself – namely to make the recipient ‘off guard’ which means you don’t practise cautioun with someone whose intentions may not be that good. Often the people who casually use these terms of address are amongst the most judgemental people I have ever met.

3) ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’ is my leifmotif. The first time I heard it was on an anime VHS ‘Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still: Volume 1’ which I bought at a car boot sale many years ago. It was performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and an unnamed tenor. However it originally comes from the comic opera L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti.

It plays during a character’s recollection of how the world wronged his father and deemed him a monster. His father, Von Folgen a senior member of a research facility, was deemed a monster for causing the destruction of a large mass of land during an experiment involving a new power source, the Shizuma Drive, claiming it was flawed and unsafe to be used. He set off a reaction killing him and many of the people involved at the location. At the end of the anime, after the villains, Big Fire composed of the Magnificent Ten and their henchmen, have killed many of the heroes, the International Police Organisation, and have themselves fallen in battle, it is revealed that the Shizuma Drive, which had revolutionised the world and was a universally used power source to the point fossil fuels and nuclear power were obsolete, is in fact truly faulty and dangerous of a world scale. Von Folgen had seen that it would cause a chain reaction within the atmosphere eliminating the ozone within seconds and all life on the planet would be wiped out within minutes at a certain point in the new power source’s use. The villains all along had actually been saving the world the entire time and their methods, while damaging to government facilities as no one believed what they were saying, had been for the greater good compared to the heroes defence of these locations. In the end it was a pyrrhic victory. Giant Robo, the title robot, is revealed to be powered by nuclear energy hence why it and it alone could continue to fight Big Fire during the power black outs. Ultimately in order to stop Von Folgen’s ambition they had to ironically rely on the power sources which they had abandoned. By the end of the series the world has survived but is devastated as their over reliance as left them in a true dark ages while all Von Folgen had desired was for people to embrace this ‘beautiful night’ and find alternative means of power without the risk of annihilation due to greed for success.

In the context of the original aria it is a man in love with a girl who buys an elixir of love, in truth just some wine bought from a conman, and while watching the girl laments that if only she could understand him “Una furtiva lagrima” (A furtive tear) is the romanza from act 2, scene 8 of the Italian opera L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti. It is sung by Nemorino (tenor) when he finds that the love potion he bought (in fact a bottle of wine from a conman) to win the heart of his dream lady, Adina, works. Nemorino is in love with Adina, but she is not interested in a relationship with an innocent, rustic man. To win her heart, Nemorino buys a love potion with all the money he has in his pocket. That love potion is actually a cheap red wine sold by a traveling quack doctor, but when he sees Adina weeping, he knows that she has fallen in love with him, and he is sure that the “elixir” has worked.

Eventually it turns out the elixir is not required but in reality it would be a tragedy not a comedy. Nemorino seems to suffer from limerence at this point leading to…

4) I excel in formal situations rather than informal ones but that isn’t a valuable ability in society if you don’t have ‘soft skills’. I prefer one to one communication or better yet small groups. I work well in formal situations more so than informal ones. So ironically in the modern day work enviroment, where everyone refers to each other by first name, I feel a bit uneasy knowing the truth of the matter is that this is a social facade and the underlying authority and division between roles still exists.

I was for a time in charge of mentoring a group of people on interview skills. Most of them were successful in finding jobs within weeks of my mentoring which far exceeded that of the more senior experienced staff. Of course at the end of the probationary period I was let go as I did not follow the rules which made it more of a babysitting job than actually helping people get jobs. If people got jobs quickly I suppose it would somehow negatively affect the organisations profits so ironically doing the correct thing was ‘wrong’ and so I found myself ironically joining the people on this course being held back from achieving what I could. In the end I found employment by myself and so this entire process was pointless. They just let me do my own job search because I didn’t need them. I could tell stories of those who were evil and manipulated this position of power but what is the point. The abusive will always gain power in society but disguise it with token gestures of altruism they make sure people witness and will hold testimony to.

Society idolises the self promoting individual as part of a group. If you even have a passing knowledge of a sport you can identify the main figures in a sports team who are noted as excelling past their comrades however the individual who does not belong is demonised if they act in a manner which flies in the face of cohesive teamwork. A sportsman who was an excellent player decades after their career has ended will still find themselves the centre of societal events even if they treat all those they deem unworthy of their company like dirt. It is only natural such people are valued though they are everything you are told when growing up to detest. Humans are a social animal and any animal which excels is valuable as a ‘good’ example while those that do not otherwise conform are a liability to the group and must be cast out to ensure the group’s security.

Yet ironically modern life has allowed the outsider to survive though not to thrive and thus natural selection has led to many issues. Boo Radley of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ needed to be cared for by his brother yet the modern age could allow him to survive by himself as communication is less and less done face to face. Such figures are left to imagine interaction or to facilitate it only in passing and so ultimately the mind-set is forged that there is no need to invest in others as all things are fleeting. Of course people understand this in some sense but to such people that moment of loss is all the more immediate and so when it comes to pass it is a matter of fact not of loss as it is just the way things are meant to be. It may be due to people finding me a good listener.

As long as you have the right look and good communication skills it doesn’t matter if you are under qualified and shameless in your self promotion because you’re ‘the right sort’ no matter what situation you’re in.

5) I empathise with characters that have high moral standards but are ultimately flawed individuals often leading to their downfall by the end of the story. In a brief way I have always preferred characters with a staunch set of values, be they hero or villain, and willing to die for them though often these figures are presented as isolated people and not people to be viewed in any positive manner. The most well-known example would be Javert from Les Miserables. In the book he is introduced far later than in the musical but in both his view is that the law, as a set marker of morality, is unquestionable and this is reflected in his songs and ultimately his fate as he commits suicide when, depending on your perspective, he either kills himself unable to accept Jean Valjean is a morally good man though in the eyes of the law he is a criminal or, as I prefer to interpret it in line with the novel, he commits suicide because it is the logical end to the matter. In order to capture Valjean would mean prosecuting a man who is noble and doing the right thing but at the same time he is duty bound to uphold the word of the law and the simplest answer is to remove himself from the equation. He is not a villain as the musical audience wish to pigeon hole him. He is one of ‘the retched’ although instead of living in poverty as many of the characters do he is instead retched as he is restrained from doing moral right due to being so steadfastly insistent on maintaining the letter of the law even when presented with situations he knows to be ‘good’ despite not being legal.

He knows Valjean stole bread to feed starving family, he sees the benefits the factory has given to people who Valjean assumes a new identity and he sees the mercy Valjean has during the revolution even being willing to finally allow Javert to take him in so he is not in trouble. For Javert to finally find his creed to be wrong and that upholding the law is morally wrong but letting Valjean go is legally wrong so in order to resolve the matter he removes himself form the equation as stated previously.

This sentiment of upholding a creed no matter what is also present I the film ‘In Bruge’ where Ralph Fiennes as Harry Waters states killing children is something even he, a career criminal, deemed inexcuseable and in fact sparks the events of the film in motion.

At the end of the film he kills a racist midget and believing he is a child keeps to his word and shoots himself in the head stating ‘Got to stick to your principles’.

I notice in a lot of films, especially super hero ones, the hero is excused killing as long as they do not do it directly or are shown to show some partial remorse about doing it. For example in the recent Superman film he snaps General Zodd’s neck. He cries but there were alternatives on how to resolve this matter which the film makers could have taken rather than this route and justify it with ‘…and Supes decided never to kill again’. In Spider-man he leaps out of the way of the Green Goblin’s jet platform allowing the villain (who is clearly mentally ill due to the side effects of an experimental serum), to be impaled on the device while he leaps out of the way. In Batman Begins the hero manipulates the situation so Ra’s Al Ghul is stranded on a train heading into an explosion and doesn’t save him. This is a gritty reboot but nonetheless though Batmasn hasnt dirtied his hands with the actual act he did create the situation in which to kill his adversary. In these cases the hero created the lethal situation, or allowed it to occur, and we are meant to view this as the villain being hoist by their own petard. I find that the media is endorsing some very disturbing hypocrasies in morality in such films which becomes ingrained in the mindset of children. Further examples involve V of ‘V for Vendetta’ who is a vigilante and in the original graphic novel a villainous anti-hero terrorist figure fighting a totalitarian state as the greater evil yet in the film this is dumbed down to him fighting for freedom without any civilian casualties and Evie’s torture/training being presented in a far more sympathetic tone than the original story. It is no surprise that Rorschach from Watchmen is the most liked character though his morality is clearly in the mould of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism which Steve Ditko, one of the founding figures in modern American comic books fully endorsed which led to the creation of Mr A after he and Stan Lee found they had very conflicting views on how the heroes should act.

I think it should be noted that Javert mentions that he was born inside a jail and holds himself to a higher cause having been raised amongst the worst of society (which gives him a jaded perspective). Yet we are to identify with Jean Valjean who has been on the run for years. I suppose Hugo, viewing society at large, and Doestoevsky, viewing the individual’s sense in ‘Crime and Punishment’ conflict here. To Raskalnikov ultimately it is his own sense of righteousness killing the money lender, mistaking it for a morally justifiable action, which results in his personally enforced sense of guilt for the grevious act once he sees how little consequence it has had to the order of wider society. It is no doubt ironic that Raskolnikov compares himself to Napoleon in his belief of justified actions. It was a period of human history where the letter of the law and morality was being challenged and not assumed to be one and the same as it had been for centuries previously.

Porfiry Petrovich, who is the head of the Investigation Department in charge of solving the murders of Lizaveta and Alyona Ivanovna, who, along with Sonya, moves Raskolnikov towards confession operates under very different methods to Javert however. It is interesting to think that Javert, who is authoritarian, is considered a villainous figure or at best an anti-villain so we have figures like 2000AD’s Judge Dredd (based on Javert saying ‘I am the law and the law is not mocked’ and Sylvester Stallone’s role as Dredd infamously repeating the phrase ‘I am the law’) when adapted. However Petrovich, who is more open to using coercion and manipulation to persuade Raskolnikov to confess though he has no actual evidence, is adapted into friendly, almost comical, Columbo who rambles about things for a while before saying ‘…eh, and one more thing…’ before nailing the guilty with a single question about how things do not add up in regards to people’s account of the events.

6) I have not met anyone I was friendly with in school face to face in over ten years. More just by coincidence than anything as many moved to England for their jobs or even as far as Australia or Germany making themselves a life in these other countries. Even then I am not sure what the word ‘friend’ means to people nowadays when they use it. Certainly Facebook and social media with their use of ‘friend’ instead of ‘contact’ or ‘acquaintance’ have changed the context of the word’ common usage. Prehaps it could be said it has even led to misinterpretation by simplifying the language we use day to day causing us to use the word ‘friend’ when we mean an association far less intimate than the common dicitionary definition of friendship which leads to misunderstandings.

7) I find people are more prone to immediately think the worse of others than give them the benefit of the doubt. I find if you are quiet people reveal their true personality as they will assume things about you thus demonstrating their own personal prejudices. It is surprising what you discover about people this way. The extrovert with many friends, in not being able to gauge you, can become hostile as you are, to them, an unknowable element which they rarely encounter thus precieve you immediately as a threat for keeping ‘secrets’ from them when others would merely respect your sense of privacy. Some people may expect to just get their own way and as society has appeared to become more informal with people addressing their superiors by first name, rather than Mr/Mrs/Miss ____, it appears everything is more relaxed when in fact things are perhaps even more formalised in the sense of interaction where people will be forced to do certain things as a favour’ when really it is an instruction. Being in absolute control of the situation is a major hangup for many people it seems. ‘An easy life’ is the mantra I often hear stated. People want an easy life and yet this easy life comes at the expense of worsening the situations or others with ambiguity of where they stand in a group.

‘Good People’ get to do what they wish while adhering to the morality we are told to value in society leads to ostracism for making things difficult for others.

Don’t ‘stand up’ for anything just ‘go with the flow’ is deemed far better despite what we keep telling each other and holding as a virtue in our morality tales through out human history. Let those who wronged you walk away happy because, you know, they haven’t given a second thought to what they did afterwards. They owe you no apology because doing so serves no purpose for them. They’re ‘Good people’. Good people get to use violence. Good people get to demand others adhere to their morality no matter how self serving it is. There is only light and dark in their world. Good and evil. Me and them. ‘Shut up and be happy because you are bringing me down’ they might say at any point in their life from the cradle to the grave. They have a right to demand it. You don’t have a right to challenge them. They have the right to condemn you to others later even if they put on the facade of agreement. Because they’re Good People while you are an outsider even in your own community.

This is nothing but a wolf howling at the moon…

A Visit to the Cat’s Adoption Home

I went to the Cat’s Protection rehoming centre recently.

It is a good charity and very well run with a welcoming, unpressured, enviroment for visitors.

It is a single floor brick building which seems to have been purpose built for housing the charity and cattery.

You walk in and on the left behind the door there are a few trinkets, card, toys and snacks for cats sold in aid of the charity. On the right is the reception desk and the offices for doing the paperwork. A few metres on the left is a blue door with two windows of safety glass and a thick yellow vertical bar leading to the cats for rehoming.

There are two corridors through this door. The second runs off to the right at the end of the first one and has a similar door to bar the cats escaping should they somehow find a way to escape their cell.

Each corridor has about 8 ‘cells’ in which cats are kept and a venilation system silently keeping air flowing and the temperature constant. Paper work is hung above each one with a photo and a short first person written account of the cat to entice the reader into selection. Some have paperwork taped to the window detailing the observations by the staff about the cat’s mood, eating habits and any other issues. Some even have ‘good girl/boy’ written on them if they are doing better. A few, the most needy, have rosettes attached to their windows with titles like ‘lonely heart’, ‘little star’, ‘overlooked’, ‘golden oldie’ (for those over 9 years old it seemed) and on one something akin to ‘a pair is best’. The last one admittedly had been placed on the window of a daughter separated from her mother. The first day I was told they could go separately though they had come in together but then the second day this was on the window for the daughter so perhaps it was a rogue agent…

Above each cell are a folded piece of A4 with a photo and a brief ‘personal account’ of the cat written in the first person. Many came in because of new babies in their families, some had been here before but their owners got too old to care for them, the one I selected had been wandering the streets. In an odd way you could tell which staff member had written which account as certain ones were long and ended with ‘with purrs and kisses xxx’ while others were very matter of fact being only three or so lines.

Of course there are larger catteries elsewhere on the site but these display cells are where they put the cats ready to be rehomed.

Each cell has full length double window doors secured with a rotatable stop tab at the top to bar the windows from opening. It seems a bit old fashioned but it works. The cat that constantly battered the window couldn’t open its door even with the tab out of place so perhaps it is only a secondary security lock. The first cell on the left in the second corridor on both occasions had two cats sat inside it. On the first day they looked very sad and no doubt uncomfortable sharing such an intimate space together. On the second day they were very alert. I do not think the two cats came in together but perhaps they had become very lonely isolated by themselves and so this was pairing up worked.

In the cells are the following: a blue plastic bowl filled with dry cat food, a blanket to lay on, one of those climbing things to sit on top of or hide beneath. Each has a litter tray filled either with grey clay litter or wood pellets. I do not know why there is this differentiation.

At the rear of each cell is a cat door leading to a wooden shed like extensionm running the length of the building, for them to rest away from visitors. Most sit in the cell where it is warmer this time of year though.

The corridor is sterile. At the corner is a number of printed off A4 scaled photos of the staff and others in fancy dress costumes from promotional events. On the corner is the room in which they wash the cat’s litter
The staff move around with blue plastic bags on their shoes and latex gloves to handle the cats. Blue polo shirts and cotton jumpers are worn. Usually they wear blue jeans and trainers but that is just a casual thing.

The first visit is during the afternoon on the weekend. The ‘busy’ period. There are a number of people there in their small groups crowded around each of the cells. Some cats act out due to the commotion. Some sleep. The staff passed back and forth some helping visitors and taking cats out to be handled while others just need to get from one side of the building to the other.

You don’t hear the cats cry. Most have become institutionalised. They know it’s not going to work if they cry out. It reminds me of the Children’s charity adverts on television tell the viewer that children don’t cry out because they have learnt no one will come. There it is abuse. Here it is a matter of conserving energy. The ones that have been here before know the score. If they are not sleeping then they tap at the window gently, make full intense eye contact, the works. They are Puss In Boots from Shrek incarnate.

A small girl taps on the glass of one cat and reminds me of Verruca Salt from the Roald Dahl story. ‘Mummy, mummy, mummy I want this one’. ‘Don’t open that door dear’. She doesn’t stop the girl. She just lets her keep going. Every generation says the younger ones are spoilt and ‘don’t know they are born’. No its more a case of certain families do not instil in their children the etiquette of proper decorum in public and private life. These children then go on to be successful as they are not as restrained in their conduct and take the chances others don’t. Or they make sure to make others be aware of how discontented they are with their lives without doing anything about it. In any case spoilt rotten.

We did not select a cat the first time. It seemed inappropriate to just drop in and expect to do so. We returned the next day and having checked the website discovered that some I had viewed previously had been reserved.

The second day it is mid-morning and the staff are busy behind closed doors though occasionally they move through the corridor. One cat that had already been reserved on my second visit began to bang its paws against the glass. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. On and on it goes and no one turns up to stop it. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. It’s propped upon its hind legs slamming its paw pads on the glass as hard as it can. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. One cat across the way looks at it. But what can be done? They’re in for the long stretch and this one’s not seen The Shawshank Redemption.

A pair of old women come in. They look for what seems to be only minutes. A staff member appears out of nowhere and is helping them. We were here for over 45 minutes and besides stepping around us we were not acknowledged while looking. ‘For which one of you is it?’ ‘Me it’ll be coming home with.’ 10 minutes later a member of staff finally comes to us as we are by the door and about to leave. Maybe they left us alone as we were pacing back and forth discussing the matter previously. We couldn’t handle the cat due to health issues. We didn’t reserve it until later once home though we were asked if we wanted to do so there and then.

There had been 3 I liked but in the end I just took the one that on the day made the best impression. That impression been formed by three things:

1) Not remaining asleep during the hour and a half we have walked those two corridors repeatedly.
2) Making a noise so I knew what it sounded like.
3) Being observant but neither overly active nor lethargic.

Also full circular eyes while attractive are not something I am used to in animals or humans (well obviously in humans but you know what I mean – ‘wide eyed’). A look of quiet distane, hooded, half open eyes is default for me and often it will appeal to me more than the desperate, wanton attention, fully open eyes demand with their suggestion of bewilderment in the face of stimuli as if to say ‘look see through these windows and find my soul beared to thee’. LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME! They demand without first earning affection.

The cats all seem very sedate and for the most part content. The new comers are, of course, very timid and wide eyed. One I saw was sat ‘hiding’ on top of its toy bunker with its golden eyes peeping over the edge of the bedding. Another would peer through the cat flap only once making an appearance. Most on the second day were sound asleep. At one point one cat had to be moved to another cell and as expected hissed and screamed at being handled. This cat however was stated to be feisty so it is the exception not the rule.

The cat home seems to be very well run. The staff are well informed, friendly and sincere. Although the staff were very busy the second time we visited I assume it was just the time of each day when they have to all be attending to behind the scenes work and cannot afford to spare anyone ‘front of house’. Certainly when speaking about the cats they seem truly enthusiastic and at least one is a dedicated cat owner himself.

When we reserved the cat they took our contact details and were back to us asking the relevant questions and arranging pick up, etc., the next day after the cat had been seen by the veterinarian (who goes there every Tuesday). They ask the questions to ensure the home is suitable for the cat and if need be would arrange a home visit. In our case apparently this was not necessary. They do ask for £50 per cat adopted but this is in fact very cheap as the cats, depending on how long they have been there, either have their first injections or the full course so you are in fact saving money in such a case. You are also asked if you would consider a further donation on top of this which I think is fair.

The information provided above each cat is concise and clear with separate colour coded symbols to indicate each of the areas people may wish to know about: Gender; Age (approx.); Breed; Colour; Can live with cats; Can live with dog; Can live with a family; Can live with mature family; Indoor only cat; Access to outside.

They visit the home if there are children, other animals or anything they think may affect the cat. This is good. Cats are solitary but need others to survive. All animals both social and solitary at some point must interact with others.
So now I need to think of a name for this stray who is now homed… that is the next challenge once the paperwork is completed.

I liked the place. It was a very laid back feel but they were definitely busy and doing their very best to ensure the cats were well cared for and not needlessly stressed by their current circumstances which could easily happen especially with the younger ones or those whose first, and hopefully only time ever here, before finding their ‘forever home’ which the staff truly wish happens with each adoption.


Editting… I just cannot do it…. Delayed updates result… Will be more updates in due course a few days from now.

Burton’s Fish ‘n’ Chips, ‘Lashings of Salt & Vinegar’ Flavour, Baked Snack Mini Biscuits

Who would want salt and vinegar flavoured biscuits? Apparently there was a demand for these 1980s snacks to return. I don’t remember them ever existing. More to the point why play of ‘fish and chips’ but make them ‘salt and vinegar’. I have seen fish flavoured crisps before but I don’t think they were ever popular and eventually disappeared… shortly after the 1980s ironically.

They do however taste like the 1980s would do if distilled into a snack food. Dryly humourless despite the presentation. Unsatisfying despite the excessive effort made for the design of the biscuits and packaging. Unhealthy and unfulfilling without any real sense of taste. You buy for the packaging not the contents. you buy for the novelty not because it is something that appeals to you.

The biscuits come in two forms: Fish shapes and sticks meant to be ‘chips’. I don’t know what the ratio of fish to chips is but if you get mostly chips you will feel cheated. It may just be a ‘visual appetite’ thing (you eat with your eyes so visually appealing food will be more satisfying than something like a mulch of various shades of brown) but the fish seem more fulfilling and definitely pick up more of the salt and vinegar flavouring. The chips are just bland.

The texture of the biscuits is hard to compare with others as it is more of a cracker. I suppose Ritz biscuits, with their crisp but brittle shell and ‘puffy’ interior are the best comparison.

There is not a strong taste of salt and vinegar to them for the most part. I would describe it as being on a par with an own brand variety of crisps from a supermarket as it is present but not consistent across the contents in the packs it seems. In fact I got a small rock of compacted solid salt at one point which was surprising.

I didn’t enjoy them but they seem on a par with the sort of bland, inoffensive, finger snacks you get at a cheap buffet. These probably sell more as a novelty, and nostalgia to those who remember them, than as a ‘serious’ snack (if people ever actually think of snacks as ‘serious’ business). These will not satisfy you if you are hunger and probably serve better as an alternative to nachos or other snack foods used in conjunction with flavoured dips like salsa, humus, etc.

Packaging: The front of the packaging is like a newspaper with some ‘biscuit fish’ scattered across blocking the front page sotry abut a man catching mackerel (what this has to do with fish and chips I don’t know but they seem to want to be kitchey and appeal to the the hipster retro market):

Holy Mackerel! What a catch!
A man, Will Katchum, has recorded the biggest ever Mackerel haul in fistory! He hooked his mega fish while on a trip with his son. He said: “It was a quiet fishing day at sea and then suddenly I felt my rod spin out of control. I thought Holy Mackerel! It codpletely ___ght me___ ___ior helped him reel his _____________d block!!
1. Angling is___
2. Minnows have ___
Better to digest their food
3. Atlantic salmon can leap almost 5m___

What is the point of this amount of detail? It must have cost a lot to design and pushes up their production costs immensely in order to have the text be legible? Also they include the following ‘interesting’ fact:

Over 250 million fish & chips are sold in the UK each year!

Do they mean these packets (unlikely) or real fish and chips? (Which have nothing to do with these snacks). Random facts have been appearing on the packaging of snacks recently. Penguin biscuits always used to have a bad joke on the back of the wrapper but now on other snacks they have these ‘interesting facts’ front and centre as if to try and balance the unhealthy aspect of the snack with ‘mentally enriching’ general knowledge factoids.

Each 25g Pack contains:
Energy: 515kJ / 123kcal (per 100g 2059kJ / 493 kcal
Fat: 6.2g
Saturates: 1.4g
Sugars: 2.3g
Salt: 0.5g

Suitable for Vegetarians

Fortified wheat flour (Wheat flour, Calcium carbonate, Iron, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Thiamin (Vitamin B1)), Vegetable oils (Sunflower, Palm, Rapeseed, Coconut), Wheat starch, Glucose syrup, Lactose (Milk), Raising agents, (Ammonium bicarbonate, Sodium bicarbonate), Autolysed yeast, Barley malt extract, Whey and whey derivatives (Milk), Sugar, Flavourings, Salt substitute, (Potassium chloride), Salt, Flavour enhancers (E621, E635), Citric acid, Acidity regulator (Sodium acetate), Malt vinegar extract (Barley), Perservative (Sodium metabisulphite).

Salt and salt substitutes in one package… that’s interesting. Just can’t get enough salt but know salt is bad for you? Why not try salt substitutes!? (But they will still put in some salt just for you traditionalists too so they don’t use that share of the market). It’s like smokers choosing to use e-cigarettes instead of real cigarettes. It stops second hand smoke but all the other issues still remain, if not made worse, as you think ‘hey it’s not as bad as the alternative’ and so it’s used with wild abandon and ends up being worse than a measured use of ‘the real thing’. Some of the terms used like ‘autolysed’ and ‘metabisulphate’ make me want to look up and confirm my suspicions about what they actually imply. Quite the variety of vegetable oils used… why with these oils ambassador you are spoiling us.

Allergy Advice: For allergens, including cereals containing gluten, see ingredients in bold. May also contain Nuts, Soya.

Or as I always feel factory made foods need to say ‘hey you have allergies and we don’t want to take responsibility for anything. Just go make your own food at home and never venture to eat anything made by another human’s hand ever for the rest of your life.’

Storage: To keep me fresh for longer, once opened, store in a cool dry place away from strong light.

Why did they write it like the packaging is addressing you like a pet? I hate how designers are doing that with inanimate objects. I never owned a tamagochi. I don’t understand why inanimate objects need to be assigned ‘personality’. It must be considered cute but in the end it’ll just result in hooker-bots killing lonely old men and Marvin the Paranoid Android complaining about how cheerful the sighing doors are. Are Burton’s trying to make you feel guiltiy for eating the thing. Maybe that’s the plan: you just keep buying more and more and never eating it until in the post-apocalyptic world you are using it as bedding and telling tales of Will Katchum’s legendary mackerel haul founding a religion around it until the mackerel becomes a deified beast. Everything H.P. Lovecraft ever said about Cthulhu, Dagon and the Deep Ones will come to fruition… Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nfah Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! I don’t know about you but I’m getting ahead of the crowd and joining my local Esoteric Order of Dagon today!

Fish ‘n’ Chips Nutrition:
Typical Values per 100g / per 25g
Energy (kJ): 2059 / 515
Energy (kcal): 493 / 123
Fat (g): 24.7 / 6.2
Of which saturates (g): 5.6 / 1.4
Carbohydrates (g): 59.9 / 15
Of which Sugars (g): 9.2 / 2.3
Fibre (g): 2.7 / 0.7
Protein (g): 7.9 / 2.0
Salt (g): 1.9 / 0.5
Reference intake of an average adult (8400 kJ / 2000kcal). 25g = 1 pack

This means nothing to me except ‘standard amount of fat for snack foods’. I get the impression they want to imply that because they are baked then they are healthier but I think they are a little late to the game as most people have figured out by now those concepts are not exactly true in the grand scale of things.

Non GM ingredients

No hydrogenated fats

Burton’s Biscuit Co. – ‘Making Every Day More Of A Treat’

That is their motto… I don’t feel it made my day a bit more of a treat. I mean there I was just thinking ‘I want a snack’ and WOAH IT’S LIKE THERE’S A PARTY IN MY MOUTH AND EVERYONE’S INVITED! AAAAHHH! WOO WOO THAT’S THE SOUND OF DA POLICE… Then you wake up somewhere you don’t recognise being referred to as Number Six even though you keep telling everyone you are not a number you are a free man! CONSUME! CONFORM! OBEY!

Burton’s Biscuit Co., is a trading name of Burton’s Foods Ltd.
We’d love to hear from you with comments or suggestions:
Consumer Services,
Burton’s Buscuit Co.,
PO Box 145,
B24 8WR.
0151 676 2352

Email: Consumer.services@burtonbuscuits.com
Website: http://www.burtonbuscuits.com
Twitter: @FishnChipsSnack