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Return to London

As I write this, I’m sitting in Caffe Ritazza overlooking the concourse of Manchester Piccadilly railway station. I strangely miscalculated my train journey from Whaley Bridge – expecting an hour and more to get the Megabus coach from Chorlton Street I found myself with two hours and more. The time has been used well, though: my visa application form is very nearly complete – all I have to do is list some places I intend to visit.

While I was calling my dad to ask his place of birth (which I would have had, but my birth certificate wasn’t were I thought it might be when I looked for it in the house in St Helens) I also asked about Bertha, and he confirmed that she had died ‘a couple of months ago’. This clearly isn’t ‘a couple of months’ in the literal sense, as I came back from Korea in August. Still disappointing that my parents hadn’t bothered to tell me.

Bertha was an old cat so her death was only to be expected; I imagined when I left for Korea last year that she wouldn’t be around when I got back. In fact, I also contemplated the idea that the last time I saw her was when she died – for me, at any rate. The difference between being away from her, never to see her again, and her actually dying is just a matter of perspective, of framing.

For this reason it’s difficult to call up any emotion in response. It’s like she died in stages – first there was the possibility that she might die, then the probability that she had died, and now the confirmation. I think it would have been different if she’d been in my keeping at the time. She was such a lovely, affectionate and idiosyncratic creature that I can’t imagine I’ll have a cat like her again. Being without a cat or cats of my own is one of the main drawbacks to my new lifestyle of travel.

Anyway. I had a bit of scare this morning. Two years ago I’d stayed at a hostel in Bayswater at about this time of year that had seemed mostly empty, and I assumed that there wouldn’t be much of a problem going back there now. It’s closed. I tried calling another hostel in the same chain, but they were full. The next one had spaces – and presumably plenty of them as I wasn’t asked to make a reservation.

Other random news: this morning I ordered a digital camera and a pair laptop speakers from Amazon. The former is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 and the latter are Logitech V-20s. That deals with two things on my post-Korea to-do list. I’m getting reasonably proficient at juggling – my three-ball cascade is OK and I’m now working on a couple of two-ball juggles. I can do two balls in one hand for maybe 10 or 12 catches – when I’ve got that down in both hands I should be able to get the hang of four-ball juggling (which consists of juggling two balls in each hand simultaneously).

I’m reading two books at the moment – something I rarely do, but these are very different: one is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and the other is the Lonely Planet guide for India.

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Categories: Life, Thoughts, Travel
  1. savasana
    22 November 2007 at 12:47 am

    I’m sorry to hear about Bertha even though you seem to have accepted it so well. My Bertha was a wonderful cat named Simon that died unexpectedly a few years ago; I still miss the little guy but remember him with a smile. Nothing compares to the companionship of an animal. Thank you for updating about her. 🙂

  2. 22 November 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Thanks.

    I think the thing that makes animals so endearing that they’re incapable of being judgemental. People may be non-judgemental, but technically I don’t think it’s possible – our minds are so complex that there’s always things we hold back. Cats just need a bit of food and some attention and they’re yours. Until they get bored and want to go and scratch the sofa.

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