Like most people, I am susceptible to crippling bouts of paranoia… the dramatic, horror-film type where you’re in the house by yourself, but you can hear strange noises. A passing policeman gives you a thoughtful stare as if to say: “Ah, yes, I know all about YOU.” You’re in the middle of a crowded shop, yet the hairs on your neck are standing up in primal awareness. You turn around and YES, there’s someone staring at you…

I have a particular sort of paranoia. I was walking to the bank when I passed this man I HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE IN MY LIFE and he looked at me. I wasn’t wearing anything out of the ordinary, or gibbering and waving my arms around, as I have been known to do. He didn’t look at me in a man appraising a woman way – disappointment that way would lie, as I am nothing special and dress somewhat nondescriptly… but HE LOOKED AT ME.

I dismissed my paranoia as a temporary aberration and carried on. I went shopping with my mother, and as we rounded the corner into the next aisle of the supermarket THE MAN was there, examining the reduced items with extreme interest. Our eyes met as he clutched a marked-down mackerel and I fled in fear, leaving my mother shouting: “Come back! I haven’t looked at the wasabi/pickled gherkins/chestnut purée yet!”

I met my son in town later. I saw THE MAN standing over the same DVD section we wanted to look at. My palms broke out in a clammy sweat and I said nonchalantly to my son: “Oh, let’s go somewhere else, I’m sure I’ve seen it cheaper there…”

That day, I saw THE MAN a total of seven times. He looked at me. He didn’t make any menacing overtures, or even look at me threateningly, although I must confess when I saw him on the bus home, he did look somewhat puzzled as I scrambled from my seat and demanded to be let off the bus IMMEDIATELY.

I haven’t seen him since.

I often see people I’ve never seen before anything up to ten times in one day and then never see them again. Is there a whole gang of these nameless individuals out there, just waiting to… to… LOOK AT ME??

Think I’m going to bed now. I’ll be safe there…

Ponderings about Pigeons (and other birds)

Ponderings about Pigeons (and other birds)

Where do woodpigeons go at night? I don’t mean the scruffy inner city birds that jostle and flurry about your feet hoping for a crumb to fall their way as they spot you eating from three miles away… I mean the plump grey birds with pink waistcoats and confident eyes, they have an assured air that places them above their city cousins.

I have seen city pigeons sleeping, huddled desperately on concrete ledges, scrabbling for footholds. But where do woodpigeons go? I see them in my mother’s garden, she has a bird table, and I watch the woodpigeons fighting and circling over the seed, with all the ferocity of a bunch of portly grey suited businessmen, squabbling outside a fast food restaurant in their lunch hour. Perhaps they book into Travel Lodges…

I am not too keen on birds. (Having four cats I know rather more about the inner workings of birds than I ever wanted to.) However, I enjoy seeing the dainty prettiness of bluetits and blustering starlings as they visit my mother’s bird table. The magpies are a sight to behold, smart, dapper birds with their immaculate white shirt fronts, smooth black sides and iridescent tail feathers, gleaming in the sun like Labradorite. They loudly declaim their arrival, seize the best bits of food and fly off in a clatter of wings and beaks. I wasn’t very pleased to discover that some bird had stamped all over my mother’s hanging baskets, in search of nesting material, leaving muddy clawed footprints all over her white pansies that I had carefully planted for her the day before.

My son has a budgie. Being a ‘cat person’ really, I never intended him to have a budgie, but it so happened that the budgie found us… At first he seemed suitably grateful for his rescue, but as the years have gone by, he has become rather imperious and misogynistic towards me.

“Hello, just vacuuming the room,” my back is turned for a minute.
“Vacuum that, woman!” as I saw the bird deliberately and with malice aforethought, chuck a great beakful of seed on the floor.
“You are not meeting my standards!”
And this from someone who craps in their own seed bowl.

However, I suppose he’s quite pretty, with his carnival attire of yellow and green. What’s more, my son loves him, so for the foreseeable future, this grumpy, biting, screeching bird will remain safely under my wing – if you’ll pardon the pun!

Tiger’s Eye and Tabby Cats

Tiger’s Eye and Tabby Cats

My son has been crystal shopping again. He visits a lovely, crystal-wise lady once a week and usually comes back with a little something for me too. This week it was Tiger’s Eye, I am not normally drawn to Tiger’s Eye, but this piece felt particularly special. As soon as my son placed it in my hand, I thought: “This reminds me of my cat.”

I examined the piece more closely and it is made up of the most fantastic layers of colour, starting with the rich mahogany brown, shading to milk chocolate, then a shimmering caramel gold with an almost custard yellow stripe to finish. It’s a virtual rainbow of browns and looks good enough to eat, like a very expensive millionaire’s shortbread from an exclusive London tea room.

Tiger’s Eye’s properties are as interesting and varied as its colours – a typical interpretation is that it balances earth and sun energy, to allow the owner or wearer to resonate at a higher level and access psychic energies… It’s a protective  stone that can help with depression and resolving internal conflicts.

I looked at its sleek stripes and thought of tigers, powerful and colourful, and by extension, a certain tiger princess that happens to live with me… my cat. I have four cats, but my tabby cat is definitely number one. She is the smallest, but the most intelligent and rules the other three with a dainty paw of iron. Her fur mirrors the colours of this piece of Tiger’s Eye, chocolate brown and gold, and I don’t know if she’s psychic, but she is mistress of the significant stare. “Get up. I need the door opening.”

She is delicate, yet beautiful, able to make astonishing leaps across the garden in pursuit of any intruder. She is fastidiously clean, yet thinks nothing of leaving a tracery of muddy pawprints in the bath and sink. ” I needed fresh water. You weren’t there.”

I have owned other tabby cats. My previous one lived until he was sixteen and was very much a dignified old man. He had white paws and waistcoat, in the manner of a nineteenth century politician and never bit or scratched. If my son took liberties with his person, he would simply place a white paw upon sticky little fingers and push them away, as if to say: “Now really old chap, not quite the done thing, is it?”

By contrast, Madam Princess is a tornado of unpredictability. One minute she will purr sweetly and gaze up at you adoringly, the next she will slice your hand and bite your ankles out of sheer boredom. She will seize upon a catnip mouse and claw it, yet has never harmed a real mouse. She doesn’t really like the other cats, but will accompany them outside to chase off the ginger tom that dares to intrude upon her territory.

My little cat is indeed an earthy tigress, harnessing all the power of her bigger relatives, yet balancing all this ferocity with an innate spirituality unique to her. I see her at night, sitting on the windowsill contemplating the moon and dreaming of conquering the world. A furry angel.

My life is enriched by sharing it with my cats, and crystals, although I have yet to unlock the mysteries of my Tiger’s Eye stone…




I have to admit that I am one of those people who are picky about punctuation – punctilious even.

There is nothing more pleasing to me than reading or writing a beautifully constructed sentence, two ideas balanced like scales of intellect, either side of a lovely colon. (No, not the intestine – look ‘:’ !)

A comma placed at the right point in a sentence can give you pause for thought, to absorb the idea or even change the whole meaning of  sentence. Then of course, in lists or descriptions, a comma can link  these separate ideas like a whole string of wordy sausages.

Naturally next there is the full stop. This serves various purposes, finishing the thought before moving onto the next idea or just chucked in for emphasis. I’m particularly fond of the ‘dot dot dot’ which, thanks to my son,  I recently found out is called an ellipsis. My English teacher at school despised this form of punctuation, as it is most commonly used in trashy romantic novels while the heroine breathlessly swoons. I like it because it mirrors the vacant silences to which I am sometimes prone…

I admire  the apostrophe. To have put up with continued misuse and misplacement requires a strength and determination that appeals to me. Any other punctuation mark would have given up, died and dropped off the page long ago. The exclamation mark is jubilant, practically jumping off the page to poke you in the eye with its eagerness: “Listen! No, really!”

The question mark  can be timid, like a child in class, wanting to be excused, or imperious and beckoning like a sergeant major: “Just where do you think you’re going?”

I have nothing to say about speech marks, but I do like the drama of a hyphen – that’s it.



My son has put me off pink. The colour – not the singer, she seems a pleasant enough lady… No, the colour… I was never a girly girl, although when I was little, my mother used to dress me in lacy frocks and the like. (I was never allowed milk chocolate because of the mess, only white chocolate and I must confess my liking for white chocolate has stayed with me well into adulthood.)

Anyway, as a reaction to my frilly childhood, I was and still am, a jeans and jumper person. Practical, yet comfortable. You can scrub the grout in your bathroom, or hurl yourself to the floor to retrieve an errant mouse brought in by a thoughtful cat. However, as I have got older, I have found myself leaning towards the pink and sparkly type of things every stereotypical woman is supposed to love. This was possibly started by my affinity with Rose Quartz. My first piece is a beautiful deep pink and when used as a focus for meditation turns everything pink and happy and I feel like I am literally looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses.

This particular day, we were at my mother’s and I was just chatting about redecorating to her, how I would paint the whole house in lovely harmonising shades of pink, with perhaps a couple of large chunks of Rose Quartz placed artfully here and there. The whole theme was centred around this wonderful carpet I had seen. It was pink! It had sparkles in it! In a carpet!

I turned to my son to ask for his opinion on pink everything and he muttered hesitantly, yet determinedly: “Bodies.”

Just the one word, but I was somewhat taken aback. I should perhaps mention at this point he is vegetarian, so this one word, from his viewpoint conjured up lots of horrible connotations… Slabs of pork, pallidly glistening under the fluorescent light of the butchers… vacuum packed steak, still oozing blood at the edges… bodily orifices… yuk.

Colours are quite important to me. My moods colour my days, from the murky black of a depression session to the sunny yellow of a better day when the sun is out and the birds are singing.

(“And what colour are your feelings today, Samantha?”

“Olive green with little spikes” I live for puzzled silences…)

My Rose Quartz bristled with indignation in my pocket. After a pause for reflection (and a reassuring pat to my Rose Quartz) all I could manage was: “Oh.”

Anyone for orange?