The Eyes Have It…


What’s the first thing you look at when you meet someone? For me, it has to be the eyes… you can read a lot about a person – or an animal – from their eyes. It’s obviously a very significant body part as look how many moths and butterflies adopt the eye pattern to give the impression of being big and scary…

My mother’s puppy, Rocky, has a habit of putting his head on my knee and slow blinking. As any cat lover knows, I am aware that in cats this is the feline equivalent of a kiss… sort of … but I’d never seen a dog do it.

So, I Googled it and was enchanted to learn that it means the dog has no aggressive intentions towards you, it’s making friendly eye contact and is relaxed in its environment. It just so happened that I was eating my dinner when Rocky sweetly laid his head on my knee and slow-blinked his eyes lovingly… and demonstratively… displaying non-threatening intentions towards my salad!

It also amused me that he regarded me of sufficient importance in the “pack” to be appeased thus… I think Erin, Mum’s German Shepherd, regards me as an equal (perhaps), maybe a rather annoying sister, as she rolls her eyes expressively at my mother when I want to hold her paw, or her tail… or touch her nose…or look at her teeth…

My four cats all have different colour eyes which amuses me. Lily’s are emerald green, which show up beautifully against her black fur, as do Tooty’s – her eyes are a striking shade of yellow. Ting’s, of course, are as blue as a summer sky, the show up purple in some light; and Madame La Princesse, Charlie, has a special shade of greenish gold, uniquely all her own to reflect her feline intelligence… I wish I could my eye make up like hers…

Human eye colour is a funny old thing too… some people even going to the extent of wearing contact lenses to change their eye colour. If eyes are supposed to be the mirrors of the soul… isn’t that a little deceptive? Like wearing sunglasses… faces can be hard to read, then, without making direct eye contact.

Eye colour can form part of an accepted image too – look at James Bond. There was an outcry when Daniel Craig got the part of OO7 – blond haired? Blue eyed? This couldn’t be… but why? Why did having blue eyes make him less suitable, or visually pleasing to the eye, as James Bond? Why had so many fans identified the fictional agent with a dark hired, dark eyed suave man…

KH 1The lovely Ciaran Hinds (

Women are apparently attracted to men with dark eyes, according to scientific research, as men blessed with dark eyes are more likely to be confident and successful… is it the strongest caveman thing? Now, blue eyes can all be traced back to one common ancestor, who was a mutation; so perhaps the subconscious yearning for a man with dark eyes does indeed hark back to neolithic times when dark eyes were most prevalent and therefore most successful.

NP1Nathaniel Parker ~ in Inspector Lynley (

Men with dark eyes feature as the “hero” or “lost one” in my little pieces of creative writing, and these dashing, dark-eyed heroes wander nonchalantly through my dreams…


The lovely Mr. Jeffrey Dean Morgan of ‘Supernatural’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ fame

And yet, both my sons have blue eyes… My own are (of course) a somewhat uninteresting shade of green, ironically enough, similar to the new shade chosen for cigarette packets. “Opaque Couché” – the ugliest colour in the world, so Australian researchers say… Oh well. At least “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”… and I am blonde. Sort of.

The Art of Conversation Hasn’t Died…

Crystals for conversation (from left to right) Blue Aventurine, Lapis Lazuli and Dumortierite… All help with honest and open communication and Lapis especially helps to teach the power of the spoken word…

I’m not a big talker. Never have been, although I will quite happily chat if I’m relaxed and in friendly company and I’m reasonable at making small talk. It’s not because I’m not interested, I am, I’m always interested in learning about other people and hearing what they have to say, it’s just that I’m also quite shy. There’s a Yorkshire saying that I love for its brevity and wit that sums up the canny sharpness and economy of the North… “See all, say nowt.”

Comm (4).jpgThe furry vocal throat of Princess Charlie… complaining that the focus was all wrong

In the spirit of that, I have passed many an entertaining bus journey catching snippets of overheard conversation and pondering the fate of the talker and the possible outcomes… For example, two girls on the journey home after – I hope – a rewarding afternoon’s shopping.

Girl 1: I bought a bag of those scented tea lights the other day. It said on the bag: “Guaranteed 30 hours burning time.” Well, I lit one and it went out after two hours! I felt cheated!

Girl 2: You do realise that it probably meant the whole bag of candles…

(Puzzled silence… then gales of laughter as the penny dropped!)

Returning home from my mother’s, with my son one evening, four lads, obviously on their way to the pub and having already had a few, were indulging in jovial witticisms:

Lad 1: Look! Look! That’s where John got his tattoo! (pointing at the local butcher’s)

Lad 2: What do you mean? The butcher’s?

Lad 1: Yeah, he nipped in for a pound of mince and came out with his crap tattoo!

(Laughter and embarrassed silence from Lad 3)

I was left wondering why was the tattoo crap? What WAS it? Was it really so bad it looked as if it had been done by the butcher, who I assure you is a perfectly respectable gentleman who has run his family business for years… unless, unless he has a secret career as a tattoo artist!

Item three – travelling on a crowded bus to the vet… an elderly gentleman got on to the bus, tutting and sighing to himself. As he sat down, he evidently couldn’t contain himself any longer and loudly announced:

90 pence for a good screw!”

Shocked silence from the rest of the passengers.

Yes, I remember when a packet of screws from the hardware shop cost 10 pence and now it’s 90 pence for one good screw!”

Relieved silence and a few stifled giggles from the rest of the passengers…

Comm (3)Blue Calcite and Celestite… the Calcite aids clear communication, Celestite enables spiritual communication

My favourite to date has to be two little girls. I was with my son, who is just as prone to giggling as I am, but has the actor’s trick of the trade of being able to return immediately to straight faced immobility… They were sat on the seats across the aisle from me and decided to practise a piece for their school performance. It was a rap. About Shakespeare. I think the playwright would have been charmed by it, but for some reason, it just struck me as unbearably funny…

Girl 1: No, no, let’s do the chorus again, you keep getting it wrong, its: “WILL-iam SHAKE-speare, WILL-iam SHAKE-speare, DOUBLE YOU! EYE! ELL TO THE POWER OF TWO!”

That was it. My shoulders were convulsing as I tried to choke back the giggles, but then I caught my son’s eye. He was laughing, silently, but laughing. I let out a loud, most unladylike snort and became aware that the two little girls had stopped singing and were looking at me disapprovingly.

Mummy! That woman’s LAUGHING at us!”

I tried to look apologetic, but couldn’t. We left the bus quite quickly as “Mummy” was bigger than me… 

Comm (5)“So, which way did you vote then?”

All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe

Tiger Iron and Tails

Tails 7.jpg

Every living creature at some point in its evolution had a tail, and although humans have since disposed of theirs in the Darwin dustbin of “no longer needed”, when it comes to the Animal Kingdom, tails remain a useful indicator of how an animal is feeling and a barometer of its moods. My mother’s dog, Erin, has a splendid furred tail, and she has the endearing habit of wagging it if you wave at her. She obviously feels sorry for us lacking this handy appendage, but humours us by “waving” back.

Tails 3.jpgErin’s splendid furry tail

I have four cats and it is a constant source of amusement to watch how they use their tails. All my girls raise their tails in greeting to me:

Hi, where have you been? Where’s the food?”

and although Ting has the classic Siamese kink in her tail, the message is the same.

Tails 2.jpgSiamese kinky tail

Tooty is funny to watch as she hunts flies on the lawn, crouched parallel to the floor, tail straight out behind her, level with the line of her back as she does the sideways shimmy in preparation for a pounce.

tails-4Little short stumpy Tooty tail

Lily has the longest tail at 11 ½ inches, and as a small cat, she always has to carry it slightly raised to avoid tripping on it, a little like a clumsy Victorian lady neglecting to hold her skirts securely. At rest, she curls it right around her and buries her face in it, and whilst sitting upright, it is elegantly coiled around her feet, as she poses Egyptian queen-style.

Tails 1.jpg

Egyptian Queen

Charlie has possibly the most expressive tail of any cat I’ve owned. For all her grace and ladylike qualities, it is a little short…although I would never dare tell her so! However, it may be small, but it is perfectly formed, as befits a feline princess. A rich chocolate brown with shades of chestnut, at regular intervals there are striking bands of delicate mouse grey, broader on the outside but tapering underneath, so the whole effect is of a series of crescent moons running along its length, all finished off with a perfect twist of fur.

Tails 5.jpgTabby tiger tail

When Charlie is grooming, I sometimes like to think I’m helping her by holding the last couple of inches of her tail and offering it to her for cleaning. She licks it angrily, sometimes putting a paw on my hand for emphasis:

Wretched thing! It’ll never stay STILL long enough!”

It will wave gently, as she purrs herself to sleep, or thrash in annoyance as she chitters in frustration at rude sparrows. Or, most alarming, it can be fluffed out to what seems at least four times its size and used to terrify…

I was returning from the shops one day, when a little dog fell in behind me. It seemed cheerful and pleasant enough, but apart from a check to make sure it wasn’t going to leap at my throat and bite me, I largely ignored it and carried on home. As I approached our gate, Charlie came out to meet me, but upon seeing this little dog, the most extraordinary transformation took place…A low, vibrating growl emanated from her. The little dog stopped, its head on one side. She raised herself as tall as she could and fluffed out her fur. The little dog wagged its tail doubtfully, and took a step backwards. Charlie’s tail assumed monstrous bottle brush proportions and she charged at the little dog, whose nerve, completely broken, turned tail and ran away, yelping in fear as my little cat shot after it.

Having seen it off, she came sauntering back to me with an air of “Well, if you will bring these strange things back…” as her fur slowly deflated. I did, later, find out that the little dog belonged to someone up the road who had temporarily taken their eye off him:

Oooh, ‘e were only gone for a minute, came back in ever such a state ‘e did, won’t go out in the garden now to do ‘is business unless I’m wiv ‘im and you oughter see ‘im run when ‘e sees a cat..”

So then. A positive lesson learned as a result of direct action, rather like the metaphysical abilities of Tiger Iron. This is a lovely, positive combination stone of Jasper, Hematite and Tiger’s Eye. I have one particular piece that matches Charlie’s colouring perfectly, a blend of gold, chocolate and silver.

Tails 6.jpgGolden Tiger Iron

My initial piece, courtesy of my son and his crystal lady, Lizian, has more red Jasper in it, and I only discovered how helpful it can be by accident. In a rush, one morning, my hand hovered above my crystal shelf, and without properly looking, I seized Tiger Iron and Pyrite and stuffed them into my pocket. Off I went, and not a twinge from my hip all day. It was only later I discovered my mistake and my Tiger Iron practically purred with satisfaction as it demonstrated its worth.

Tails 9.jpgThese stones are redder because of more Red Jasper inclusions…

A typical interpretation of this stone is that it stimulates impulses and banishes stagnation, lending emotional endurance to any endeavour. Tiger Iron clarifies thought to encourage quick and determined action, heightening vitality and helping with tiredness. As a combination stone of Jasper, Hematite and Tiger’s Eye, it combines all of their useful qualities into one positive stone to promote change and supply energy. It gives the wearer space to think and then it will supply the simplest solution. An artistic stone, it will bring out hidden talents and can also be helpful in healing the hips and lower limbs. If possible, wear it so it touches your skin at all times.

Tails 8.jpgDo you see the shadow paw print?

I rattle with stones in my pockets and around my neck, but what I wear and carry is a useful indication of my mood, since I no longer have a tail… 

All photos were taken by my son!