Omar’s Diary for Friday 3rd February 2017

On Sunday, Trainer Servant  made a house visit and stayed for dinner. That I did not mind as he is very kind to felines like myself although I have not given him the privilege of picking me up yet. That will come later and will be entirely on my own terms. What I do mind is that Trainer Servant insists on bringing his canine named ‘Annie’. Her breeding may be excellent but oh my goodness does she need to learn some manners.

Firstly, it is not the best of form when one is a guest in a house to pursue the number one feline, me, cornering me on the telephone table in the hallway. Secondly, it is most uncouth to beg for titbits from the dinner table. It just looks so degrading and is something I, a well-bred feline, would never in my wildest dreams ever consider doing. Even for the most delicious morsel that happened to appear on the Servant’s table.

annie

Annie – the Welsh Terrier – no manners at all

The Servants were away the other night and so Chav and I were looked after by Itinerant Lady Servant  who served our breakfasts. This is a most welcome change in the routine as normally my Servants are up very early and serve feline breakfast at about six or six thirty. This is just too early as at this time of day it only seems like a few minutes ago that I have hung up my smoking jacket and retired for the night. No, nine in the morning is a much more civilised time for breakfast for the well-bred feline like myself and the Chav just has to fit in with the rest of the household as far as meal times are concerned.

I understand that while the Servants were away that Man Servant got into a spot of bother with Lady Servant. From what I gather he was being the perfect gentleman, wherever they were, by telling Lady Servant he would bring her smart clothes from the car for her to change into somewhere in the dry.. The day they were away it did rain an awful lot. Man Servant took her bag out of the car and placed it on the pavement. He then took his out of the car, locked it and proudly walked into the coffee shop where Lady Servant was waiting. She took her bag and went off to change. All was good until she returned to their seats still wearing her casual clothes.

‘My clothes are soaked!’

‘How?’

‘Look, the bag, it’s soaked, my trousers, my sweater and my blouse for this morning….all soaked!’

What happened was that Lady Servant’s bag is a light canvas holdall and when Man Servant put it down on the wet pavement the bag made quite a decent effort to dry up a puddle outside the coffee shop.

Oh dear, it does sound like things were a bit stressed.
Lady Servant rushed around the charity shops and managed to recover the situation.

Man Servant apparently said that she looked smarter than she would have in the original choice of clothes. What was he thinking after all those years reading about diplomacy? My self, personally, I would not even have thought of saying that sort of thing. I gather the drive home was very quiet that afternoon.

This morning they were both away early looking very tired.
Recently Man Servant bought a subscription to an online newspaper. Without divulging which paper, I hasten to add that it is a quality one that when he does buy a copy is still in broadsheet format. This means that I can no longer peruse a paper of such good standing as often as I would like to. So, I have to make do with the free ones that come through the letter box. The local paper is mildly interesting and did get rather heated correspondence leading up to the BREXIT referendum and just after. The publishers blocked all letters raising such high political issues just before Christmas. Instead the letters are much more local on subjects such as the bus service. Doesn’t affect me as I have my own limousine and chauffeur. Ideas for reorganising the traffic. Doesn’t affect me. Then there are the short articles about achievements at local schools and local sports teams. All very important but I must admit quite parochial.

I do hope when Man Servant is out and about over the weekend that he does bring home a decent newspaper as I really do want to catch up with what is happening in the wider world.

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Omar’ Diary for 29th December 2016

Bank holiday Sunday

Pointed toilet paper, weight based insults and a model

Man Servant was awake and up early this morning. He even managed a short walk to the local shops which most sadly did not yield any Dreamies for me which although it is nice to see him up and about my disappointment outweighed my pleasure. Lady Servant had to go off to something called ‘Work’ whatever that is. A big red car collected her and took her away.

Her absence gave Man Servant and myself the opportunity to enjoy some shared quality and feline servant bonding time. He sat down with a cup of coffee and I had a few Dreamies from my now rapidly diminishing supply. He spread his newspaper, The Times or Old Thunderer as it used to be nicknamed when all newspapers came from Fleet Street.

I was deeply offended when Man Servant drew my attention to an article on the front page headed ‘Middle in denial over alcohol and weight’. I know I might be a member of the ‘middle aged’ set but I definitely do not partake of alcohol. As for being overweight I keep informing servants that my adequate bulk is adequate for me and is my breed standard. My muscular structure may be a tad relaxed at the moment but I am not overweight.

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In the letters page there has been a debate running about why hotels fold the end of the toilet paper into points. Both Lady and Man Servant are quite well travelled and thought it was a way of showing that a room had been serviced. Apparently this is not the reason. It is done this way to assist sight impaired servants to find the end of the roll. Felines do not use toilet paper even if we do have en suite facilities and anyway, where we would dispose of it? Oh yes I remember, we have servants to do that sort of thing.

Horse training servant made a house visit today to Omar Towers. I was very comfortably ensconced on the sofa and he sat down right beside me. The last servant to do this went away with some scratches. When this particular servant sat down he looked at me and mentioned how good looking I was so I really could not be bothered to put up any resistance until I heard the comment:

‘He’s big.’

I may be big but as I have mentioned on more than one occasion I conform to breed standards.

I gave a reactionary stretch to try and push him off the sofa. It didn’t work so I curled up and tried to get back to sleep which was fine until I heard:

‘I can’t see which end is which, where’s his head?’

That was it! I gave one huge stretch and managed to get my hind claws into his flesh. Two seconds later he was making polite comments about having to rush off back to his farm to get some work done.

Lady Servant returned to Omar Rowers and we all settled down for a cold winter’s evening in. While Lady Servant was watching the TV Man Servant brought out a model making kit which was one of his Christmas presents. He laid all the shiny and brightly coloured parts out on the table. Temptation exceeded self-discipline and I just could not resist getting on to the table and look at all the little parts.

omar-and-the-models

‘Oh look’ Lady Servant said ‘he wants to join in and help.’

‘Oh no I don’t’ I thought.

Lady Servant won’t be quick enough to intervene to prevent disaster and I know Man Servant won’t be able to lift me because of his surgery so the paw came out to touch one set of parts to gauge reactions.

‘Omar! Leave it, I can see what you are up to’ Man Servant said.

I then swiped my paw at the smallest shiny parts I could see. They were scattered across the carpet. Before man Servant could react I then took another swipe at some bigger parts. These too went across the carpet. Man Servant was much distressed. Lady Servant just smiled and said something very placatory about me not being given the opportunity to join in. Man Servant harrumphed under his breath as he scrabbled around the floor looking for all the dispersed parts.

‘I think I’ll leave it until tomorrow. I will need an extra tool from my box in the garage…….goodness knows how they think an eight year old could build that model’ Man Servant declared as he put all the little parts back into a plastic bag.

Our evening finished with Man Servant checking the weather for the next day. One weather site said that the overnight temperatures will be above freezing.

‘Good, that means that I do not have to scrape the ice off the car tomorrow morning for my first drive in two week’ Man Servant said.

And so the day ended with Man Servant looking forward to a frost free morning.

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Omar’s Diary for 27th December 2016

Bank holiday Sunday

 

I am afraid that I have been somewhat absent from the pages of social media lately. This is due to circumstances beyond my control. Man Servant, who loyally takes my dictation for these publications, had to undergo some surgery the week before Christmas. Since then he has been somewhat preoccupied with other matters; primarily returning to full health.

When Man Servant returned home from hospital he did look a sorry sight. Ashen coloured, hardly able to walk and very very sleepy. So sleepy that I think he out slept me over his first few days home. In addition to these sufferings Man Servant had also come home with an extension to his body. He had a thin clear pipe leading out from his waist that was connected to a clear plastic bag. This was not very nice to look at as it contained blood of varying hues. At first Man Servant carried it like a handbag. After a few days he started to tuck the bag and as much of the pipework into his jogging bottoms. Anyone could see there was a contraption hidden in his clothes but at least we could not see its contents.

Following his return from hospital Man Servant had a daily visit from a lady servant in a blue uniform. This seems remarkably unfair as I have been in feline hospital, private of course, and when I have been discharged I have never had home visits.

Christmas Day was very quiet but that is alright as we like things quiet in Omar Towers. Lady and Man Servant stayed around home for the day. I was given a new toy full of drugs to play with. This one lasted just over an hour before I managed to break it open and eat the contents. The manufacturers just do not make things to last like they used to. On Boxing Day Lady Servant went out for lunch with trainer servant and another servant. Man Servant did not look too well and elected to stay at home. I think he was very wise as it would have been most off putting for other diners if his bag and pipe fell out of his clothes. I also think that he really did not look very well either. Instead we settled down to watch the racing from Kempton Park. Needless to say every horse I chose failed to oblige so I am much relieved I did not publish any racing selections that day.

One afternoon Man Servant was upstairs on the bed when lady servant in blue arrived. I also was lying on the bed. She opened a small package which was packed with scissors, bandages and various other bits that all looked very mysterious. As she put on her rubber gloves, which matched her uniform she looked down at me.

‘I’m afraid the cat will have to be moved before I can do anything. He is within the infection zone.’

How polite of her to suggest I was at risk of contracting an infection from her or Man Servant. I stretched out to my full draft extruder Bank holiday Sundaylength and tried to return to sleep. I could feel the penetrating stare of the lady servant in blue penetrating my eyelids.

At this point Lady Servant entered the room and I must say was most unceremonious about the way she picked me up and bundled me out of the room. It was then that I realised that I was the infection risk. How rude of the lady servant in blue to even suggest that I could be a risk! And an itinerant servant at that!

My revenge on the servant species came later that night. I crawled into the servants’ bedroom and pulled myself up on to the bed. Man Servant was fast asleep on his back. The dreaded tube hung from under the covers and his bag hung on a drawer handle on his bedside cabinet. With stealth like qualities the special services would die for I worked my way on to Man Servant’s stomach exactly where his wounds were and the tube was attached. I watched him wince, grit his teeth and try to sit up and remove me. He couldn’t. He flumped back on to his pillows and winced a bit more. At this point I thought I had won but alas no. Man Servant turned on his side and of course as I am rather big, breed standard I hasten to add before anyone thinks I am obese, there was actually no-where comfortable for me to rest that would cause discomfort to Man Servant and I had to retreat to another position on the bed.

Today, Tuesday 27th December, Man Servant was visited by two lady servants in blue. They went straight upstairs where he and I were stretched out on the bed. Not wanting to be accused of being a potential source of infection I vacated the room and went downstairs to sit with Lady Servant. A few minutes later the two lady servants in blue came downstairs carrying a white plastic bag full of something. Presumably while they were upstairs they took the time and trouble to empty the waste bin in the office. After all, that is what servants are supposed to do. They were followed by Man Servant looking full of life and colour. He was wearing a pair of jeans and there were no bulges or pipes that I could see under his clothes. It only took me a couple of seconds to work out what was in the bag the lady servants in blue had brought down. They could have at least used a Waitrose bag.

That brings my diary up to date. Man Servant is recovering Lady Servant is coping and I am getting my three luxury meals a day plus random offerings of Dreamies so life is good. As Man Servant is making such good progress and as they say in some of the best circles when a person of class and distinction recovers from illness ‘There will be no further bulletins posted on the gates of Omar Towers.’

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Billy Connolly & Usain Bolt

TIMING YOUR RETIREMENT IS CRITICAL

bolt-connolly

For our Christmas entertainment in 2016 we bought two DVDs. One was ‘Billy Connolly Wild Horse Tour’ and the other one was ‘I Am Bolt’.

The first one we watched was the Billy Connolly one. He always makes me laugh and even though I was less than a week from having my gall bladder removed I was prepared to risk the integrity of the stitching and dressings during this ninety odd minutes. I don’t often take note of the critics’ comments that are bannered across the packaging of DVDs but there were two, in fact there were only two on the casing. The Guardian said ‘This show is not the work of a man with a diminished sense of humour – it’ classic Connolly culled from a 50-year career.’ That was a good omen. The Telegraph review said that ‘It’s no sentimental journey but business as usual, with the ease of a consummate story teller’. Another good omen that my stiches were at risk.

For those of who do not yet know, Billy Connolly has Parkinson’s and has been through treatment for prostate cancer.

It was brave of him to go on stage to perform and full marks to him for doing so. Yes, he still has an absolutely wicked sense of humour which illuminates his anecdotes from childhood in Glasgow through to his latest health issues. In fact, it is precisely those health issues and their associated anecdotes that are the best part of this stage show. He is candid about Parkinson’s and gets across a message about prostate cancer.

The show is definitely not the work of a man with ‘a diminished sense of humour’ and nor is he making a sentimental journey.

However, what I do feel is that the recording was just one performance too far. For those fans who wanted to see his usual energy, spontaneity with life and energy in his eyes I am afraid they have gone. If you want to remember Billy Connolly performing with all of those qualities summed up as ‘stagecraft’ then I would be very reluctant to recommend this DVD.

Billy Connolly now lives in New York and I can’t help feel for him as his progression through Parkinson’s continues. I have a favourite uncle, Colin, who has the disease and it is cruel beyond heart breaking the toll it extracts from both the sufferer and their families.

‘I Am Bolt’ is a documentary about the life of Usain Bolt. This film doesn’t just show his outstanding performances on the track but also thee blood, sweat and tears that lubricate the gears and engine of his success. This is excellent viewing for any one aspiring to be the best not only in sport but any other field of endeavour they choose. The path to brilliance is not linear.

There were two very telling moments in the build up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. One of those moments came during a training session where the star of the film was pleading with his cach that he wanted a holiday. For almost two decades of his life he has been governed by training schedules, diet, competitions and the inevitable injuries that any athlete will suffer and have to recover from. Countless hours in airplanes and countless nights in lonely hotel rooms around the world. All he wanted was time to himself.

The other telling and insightful moment was a comment by one of his support team. They acknowledged that Usain Bolt had become the best. They also acknowledged that when you become that good your only competition is yourself and that is one of the loneliest places on earth anyone can suffer.

It was the confluence of having been at the top for three Olympiads knowing he had achieved everything he could meeting the primal cry for a holiday and the loneliness of being the best that lead Usain Bolt to announce his retirement after the 2016 Olympics.

‘There are two tragedies in life. One is to love your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.’ (George Bernard Shaw.)

He could have trained punishingly for another four years, competed for another four years at the top and competed in the 2020 Olympics, run the risk of getting beaten and then only known as a former champion. Whereas by retiring when he did our memories of his greatness can never be tainted by defeat.

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Omar’s Diary – 26th November 2016

omar-and-ig-index

I think I made Man Servant go long on crude oil

I am not very sure what I have done wrong to deserve such rough and disrespectful handling as I have had this week.

The other evening I was sitting quietly minding my own business when suddenly Man Servant picked me up by the scruff of the neck, roughed up my coat and then sprayed with some awful smelling liquid. As I was being sprayed I definitely overheard the word ‘fleas’. This really cannot apply to me, a feline of such good breeding.

After this traumatic experience and having been able to collect my dignified and aristocratic air I sat to thinking what on earth I had done to deserve such treatment as surely this was a disguise for some form of punishment? Then again, it is in neither of the Servant’s natures to punish me or the Chav. There might be the occasional raised voice but nothing quite as physical as the other evening.

Then I remembered. The other evening the Man Servant was looking at his IG Index account, left the screen on and went to make a hot drink. Overcome by curiosity I looked at the screen and was fascinated by the red and blue flickering lights on the screen. Due to my genetic heritage I could not help but look at the price of oil in advance of the big OPEC meeting in December to decide if production should be increased or decreased. I rested my paw on a key called ‘ENTER’ and all sorts of things started to happen on the screen. Red and blue flickering lights were all over the screen. Just then I heard Man Servant coming back up the stairs so I slammed the lid of the computer down as fast as I could. Just like he does when Lady Servant surprises him in his office. I wish both of them would wear some sort of bell so I could hear either of them coming.

‘I thought I left the computer on’ Man Servant said as he walked to his desk ‘Oh well, may as well call it a day anyway’.

That was the evening before I was ‘punished’. Perhaps I had bought some oil by mistake and Man Servant did not find out about this trade until he opened his computer the next evening, before the rough handling. After I had been mistreated I ran upstairs to my favourite chair in the office and there was his screen open again. I quickly looked down his list of trades and could not see anything to do with oil. I was so relieved for all our sakes as some well-known people such Alex Salmond in Scotland, who used to be an oil trader, was oh so confident he could predict the price was using $130 a barrel in the budgetary forecasts used in the SNP campaign for an independent Scotland weeks before the price fell to less than $50 and the electorate voted ‘No’ to independence.

This reminds me of the old joke about how does one become a millionaire through oil speculation? You have to start as an oil billionaire.

Perhaps I really do have fleas which is a lot better than losing a fortune on the oil market?

The household has been very upset recently following the American Presidential Elections. I understand a member of the servant species who has had absolutely no experience of public service let alone politics and international affairs of the geopolitical kind has won the election. I have heard that one of his election lies, sorry that should read ‘pledges’ but as I cannot find the backspace key that word will have to stand, was to build a big physically intolerant barrier to prevent Mexican servants from entering America. Why? All those members of the servant species want to do is improve their lives by working hard.

This is very much like my attitude to the Chav feline who has infiltrated our house through the cat flap seeking a better life. Although I was intolerant at first and made my feelings very plain to her being here I did change my attitude when I remembered back to when I had been made very uncomfortable and unwelcome in my previous home. I did the only thing I could and decided to leave to seek a better life. Most fortunately I was taken in by my present servants. Although the Chav came later, when I was hoping to be a solitary feline, we all manage to rub along together in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.

Black Friday, whatever that is, has come and gone. I honestly believe it is some cynical marketing strategy developed by the media and retailers to stimulate spending ahead of Christmas. Fortunately neither of my Servants allow themselves to be swept up in this gross incarnation of consumer spending.

The serious countdown to Christmas begins now that American Thanksgiving has gone. I have noticed that there are several parcels arriving at other estates nearby that have tape on them saying ‘Amazon’. I wonder if that is the same ‘Amazon’ that was reported on the TV the other night? The report exposed how the servants driving the delivery vans are working extremely long hours for very little money that does not even afford them a living wage. It is so sad to hear this type of report as once again all the servant drivers are trying to do is earn a fair wage so that they can support themselves, their servant families and any felines they may have.

This now raises a very serious moral issue for me. When I do my Christmas shopping on line, which hopefully will not involve buying crude oil when I press ‘ENTER’, I will make a stand against the type of exploitation I have just mentioned and insist that all parcels for the Servants and the Chav are delivered by Her Majesty’s Royal Mail. However, this is where my moral dilemma infiltrates my conscience. If enough consumers made similar stands then the drivers working for Amazon would lose their jobs. What is worse? To be unemployed or to be employed and badly taken advantage of?

Perhaps the Chav has brought fleas into the house. Wouldn’t surprise me for a moment as she does mix with some rough felines from the street like Lager Boy from next door. I notice that she hasn’t been rough handled and sprayed which seems most unfair.

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Environmental paradoxes in a local paper

new-milton-advertiser

One of our local papers in the New Forest area is the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times which has been published weekly without interruption since 1928 and is understood to be the last broadsheet local newspaper in the country.

Within the pages of the 18th November 2016 edition were a couple of articles that caught my attention and in a very local way highlighted the conflict between man and his environment on a very micro scale.

The first one was headlined ‘Wetlands plan sunk after evidence doubt’. For those not living in the immediate New Forest area this article is about how the plans of Natural England and the National Parks Authority to return an area back to its natural wetland state were thwarted, for the time being, by local pressure groups and the local council finally deciding by one vote to refuse planning permission for the project to go ahead.

The area in question is between Hythe and Fritham and concerns the flow of Latchmoor Brook through the valley between these two villages. Currently this area is well drained and is a popular site for walking or just sitting by a quintessentially babbling brook to have a picnic, for children to play safely in the shallow waters and for general enjoyment. The way this area looks today’s the result of, as the local MP stated, many men who years ago ‘with spades straightened some waterways’ to drain what once was natural wetland.

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Reasons behind the objections were that any reversion back to its wetland state would involve huge volumes of heavy goods vehicles shipping earth in to raise five miles of river beds and recreate the meanders that fed the original wetlands, a local amenity would be destroyed and made unsafe amongst others.

One of the major problems in the New Forest and throughout most of Britain is the shortage of affordable housing to enable people to climb on to the housing ladder. On the opposite side of the forest there has been a plan submitted to build ninety new and affordable homes on exir=ting green belt land within the New Forest which through the letters page is being objected to.

Now, here is the paradox that this and many areas throughout Britain face. On one side of the paradox is the drive to return the landscape to how nature has created it which is being objected to. On the other side of the paradox is thee drive to prevent that same landscape from being interfered with the demands of man. I am not sure where the middle ground is on these two conflicting principled stands.

On page twenty is a small section for religious reflection. It caught my eye because it’s first sentence started ‘Five hundred years ago sailors feared the horizon’. As we live near the sea I first thought that this was going to be write up of something from the local history archives but alas no, the author worked seamlessly from that opening sentence to God showing the glories of heaven in Revelations 21:1 NKJV. In between the article mentioned that over five hundred years ago the Spaniards erected a plaque at the Straits of Gibraltar with the inscription ‘Ne plus ultra’ (No more beyond). That is what sailors in those days believed, go beyond the horizon and there was nothing. That was until Christopher Columbus went ‘beyond’ and discovered America in 1492.

This is how the people involved in all the decisions affecting our lives as individuals, as a societies and nations should be thinking be they individual voters where individuals are allowed to vote, the elected and the institutions they work through; they should be thinking ‘beyond’. Not for today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year or the next election but further, much further ahead. In fact at least a generation ahead so that whatever legacy the next generation inherit they will not be looking at the results of our decisions and saying ‘What were they thinking of!?’ but instead will be saying ‘That was a good call’ or ‘They were really thinking of us’.

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Rockets or Whistles?

Every time I but petrol at a certain garage I get given a copy of the Sun. I guess this is one way the newspaper can inflate its circulation numbers. Normally on the rare occasions I did pick up the Sun it is for a quick flick through the racing pages while I am waiting to have my haircut or in a coffee shop.

On page 29 of the edition for Thursday 10th November tucked comfortably away below Mariah Carey’s crotch in a red spangled high cut swim suit is the following headline:

EU BAN IS BANG OUT OF ORDER
Shock, horror; that Johnny Foreigner and a European at that is telling us what we can and cannot do.

rocket-ban-cropped

What this story is about is that Peterborough Council, because of EU regulations, can no longer use a maroon rocket to signal the start of the two minute silence during Remembrance Services. The reason for this ban is that it is not really a ban but is a regulation that for health and safety reasons all people using these “high hazard” fireworks, that cost £38 a pop, must be trained in their use by suppliers.

The question the Sun does not ask in this article is “what level of training have council staff had in prior years to use these “high hazard” fireworks which the lifeboat service no longer use to summon crews for emergencies? Is the council admitting that their staff been untrained in previous years and that members of the public have been at risk from injury as well? What would the Sun headline have been if anyone had been injured?

NO REGULATIONS ON HIGH HAZARD FIREWORKS BANG OUT OF ORDER
Several innocent people injured by rogue high hazard firework at remembrance service used to mark the two minute silence.

Instead, “The November 11 silence in Peterborough will now be signalled by a simple whistle”.

Wasn’t it the simple whistle that was blown as a signal to the troops in the trenches to clamber out of the mud holes and advance in enemy fire across no man’s land to an almost certain death face down in the mud and barbed wire a century ago? Isn’t this signal from the past a more fitting way to mark remembrance than a £38 rocket?

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