Thursday, November 29, 2007

RIP Muffin and Flake

I've had a double whammy of sadness this week: both our rats, Muffin and Flake, pictured above climbing the Christmas tree last year, had to be put to sleep.

A couple of months ago, Muffin had two massive cancerous tumours removed. She seemed to have recovered and most of her fur had grown back. But then she lost the ability to hold her food and developed a head tilt. The cancer had spread to her brain.

At the same time, Flake lost half her body weight. She changed from being obese - she really was enormously fat - to a skinny little lightweight in a couple of weeks. And she was barely able to breathe. It was a tumour in her lungs.

I took them to the vets last night knowing they were both ill but expecting the vet to prescribe a dose of Baytril, the medicine they always give rats. But she said they both needed to be put down. It was awful. I watched the vet inject them, then stood there blubbing while they both lay down together and went to sleep...forever. I wish I'd asked the vet to do it in the back room because I can't get the images out of my head.

This morning, Sara and I buried them in the garden and cried together. Then I threw out all their stuff because the sight of it was making me feel worse.

I'm a complete wuss when it comes to pets. And now we don't have any. We're not going to get any more rats - not until Poppy starts asking for pets, anyway. Or, when we get our own place, we're going to get a couple of cats.

RIP Muffin and Flake. You were a pair of troublesome, pesky, incredibly expensive pests - but we loved you lots.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My life, and other interesting things

There's a new craze going down in the blogosphere - or at least, the teeny corner of it occupied by Sara, Kate and now me. Someone asks you five questions and you answer them on your blog. My questions were provided by Sara. I was hoping for some easy ones, like 'What's your favourite animal?' or 'What do you want for Christmas?' but, no, she's posed some real humdingers. Here goes:

1. What is the one thing you would most like to change in your life, given the chance? And why?

The facile answer is that I'd like to have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Like Nikki from BB, I'm certain I was born into the wrong class. Carpenter father, cleaner mother. There must have been a mix-up at the hospital, and some other sod is going to get my trust fund and massive inheritance. Sigh...

The real answer is easy: I wish my daughter Ellie didn't live in Australia, and I suppose I don't need to explain why. I wonder if I should have made it harder for her mother to emigrate with her... but at the time I just wanted to make things as easy for her as possible. Now my number wish is that Ellie was here so I didn't just see her once a year if I'm lucky. Yes, I see her on Skype twice a week, but it's not the same. I know from the first six months of Ellie's life, and now from having Poppy around, how amazing it is to spend time with your child, and how good it is for them. I worry that she thinks her daddy lives inside a computer (when I actually only live chained to a computer). I miss her and saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I've ever done.

2. What's so great about Embrace?

When I tell people I love Embrace I get one of two reactions:

a) They say 'Who?'
b) They look at me with mixture of horror, pity and amusement, as if I've just told them I have an enormous pulsating growth on my bottom.

But Embrace are brilliant, and it's all down to two things: the tunes, which are uplifting and melancholy and joyful and designed to sign along loudly to, especially 'The Good Will Out', 'Nature's Law', 'Glorious Day', and 'Come Back to What You Know'; and Danny McNamara's voice.

'What?', I hear you splutter. 'But he can't sing! He sounds like a wounded buffalo who wouldn't know the right key if it inserted itself in his jacksie!' But I love Danny's voice. It's warm and intimate and real. And it gives people like me the hope that we could also be pop stars. Well, it would have done fifteen years ago.

3. If you could go back to re-live one day in your life, what day would you choose, and would you change any of your previous actions on that day?

Ooh, this is a good one.

Possibly the biggest life-changing day was when Poppy was born, and the end of that day was wonderful. I wouldn't want to relive it though, because it entailed tiredness, pain (Sara's) and lots of blood. Only a loony would want to go through that again! (What's that you say, Sara - you want another baby?)

No, the day I'd choose to relive would involve lots of pleasure and fun, and a big dash of excitement. A perfect day, when I wouldn't want to change a thing.

That day is actually the one when Sara and I first spent a whole day and night together, staying in the Grafton Radisson Hotel the week we both 'pushed the button' and got together. I remember so vividly waiting in the bar for her, with a large glass of wine and a lot of cigarettes, my heart pounding, feeling like a character in a glamorous movie. Then she arrived, looking so beautiful and I spent the rest of the day boiling over with happiness because we were together at last and we didn't have to hide any more.

I could go into more detail but will save that for my autobiography: 'Mark My Words'.

4. If you were the last person on earth, with only dogs and donkeys for company... would you kill yourself? If so, how?

I quite like dogs, and don't mind donkeys. Obviously I wouldn't want to have a relationship with either species, even if there was no one left on earth to frown upon it and a pretty young border collie... hang on, stop right there Mark! What I actually wanted to say was that I would never kill myself, because I don't believe in an afterlife and I think there would always be something to live for, even if there were only dogs and donkeys around. I can imagine some scenario like 28 Days Later where the whole world has been wiped out by a deadly virus. Somehow, I have survived, due to a one in ten billion genetic fluke. For a while I would go around feeling really special. Until I realised that I must share genetics with dogs and donkeys. And then maybe, at that point, I would actually kill myself. With a massive overdose of heroin. Well, you'd want to die on a high, innit?

5. If you were going to recommend a novel to your biggest idol which novel would you choose? And who is it that you're choosing for? Explain your choices.

Well, of course it would be The Secret History because that's the book I recommend to everyone, and the one I use to decide how compatible we are. If you like TSH, we can be good friends. When I lent it to Sara she went ape for it, so much so that I knew we were meant to be together. Well, that and the sparkling sexual tension between us.

I would lend it to Brett Anderson because he's my biggest idol, and I think he'd like it because it would remind him of when Suede were the coolest gang in the Britpop world, but they were still outsiders, and I think when he let Bernard leave it was a bit like the others pushing Bunny off that cliff, and poor old Brett has had to live with the consequences ever since.

So, does anyone want me to ask them 5 questions?

Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me, please.” I will respond by emailing you five questions of my choosing. You must update your blog with the answers to the questions. Whether you like them or not. You have to include this explanation, and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. So, there you go. Cheers.