Gongs, bats and ethical basket weaving

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So, once more my nomination for Mrs. Blog has been grievously overlooked in the New Year’s Honours List. For “services to the retail trade” I can think of no more deserving candidate. I mean, what more does a woman have to do??

At least, among this year’s awards, I can see two names which regular readers of this blog will know are close to its heart, those of Margaret Aspinall and Trevor Hicks, key players in the Hillsborough Family Support group since 1989.

And, more locally, I’m very pleased to see recognition for “Batwoman” Jenny Clark, founder and driving force behind the Sussex Bat Hospital, whom Mrs. Blog and I had the pleasure of meeting at Weald Woodfair a few years ago. For many years I believed that moles, even if they didn’t actually wear velvet smoking jackets and walk upright, were approximately two foot tall. Similarly, I understood bats to be the size of a small pterodactyl and prone to sweeping down upon unsuspecting lambs and primary school children who refused to wear their balaclavas in winter.

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In reality, as I have come to accept, both species are somewhat smaller in stature but no less fascinating. Jenny brought a few of her delightful charges to her stand at Woodfair and, with Mrs. B bluffing a bit of bat-based veterinary expertise, we were privileged to handle one or two of her “clients”.

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It’s all a matter of scale…

…and specialised yoga positions

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Fulfilling this blog’s noble mission to inform and educate, I think I’m right in saying there are no fewer than 18 species of bat in the UK but, with the Greater Mouse-Eared reduced to just one of its kind (which is a bit sad when you think about it, unless it has real relationship issues), that may not be a cause for complacency. Wikipedia tells me there are three “vagrant” species of bat in this country, which conjures up to me quite an appealing image of waywardness but something that UKIP may have a view on.

For thirty years the bat hospital has provided succour to long term residents as well as shorter term care for those that may be returned to the wild. I for one am delighted to see this recognition to Jenny Clark and her collaborators. To read more, click here:

I have come to terms with the realisation that “It’s a Dog’s Life for the Other Half” isn’t going to bring me the Nobel prize for literature, nor an invitation to read extracts to a Saga cruise. I rather fancied the idea of including in my powerpoint presentation just after the ship’s evening buffet an illustration of a hysterectomy to remove a diseased womb from a cat.

A diseased womb from a cat…

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…not to be confused with the cruise ship special “poulet a la creme”…

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I am however still excited by the reviews that the book is earning in media as varied as Spirit FM, Sixtyplussurfers (I think they surf the net, not the briny), Ponybox, Vetnurse and Alligator World.

Before Christmas there was a live chat with Talk Radio Europe, broadcasting from Malaga to British ex-pats – I can only assume you get nostalgic for tales of fleas and dog vomit when you’ve been abroad for a while. And there’s an outstanding invitation to both Mrs. Blog and me to be interviewed live on the breakfast programme on BBC Radio Sussex once we’re both fully recovered from the flu.  Mrs. B says she doesn’t want to do it until she can look her best – I’m not sure she’s quite got the hang of “radio”.

Last week brought an interview on The Latest, a Brighton based TV channel “in front of a live audience”.  I imagined that my appearance on stage would involve much dry ice and whooping (by me, mainly).

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The reality was a little more subdued but highly enjoyable nonetheless. With promises of free drinks all round, I corralled a handful of friends and neighbours into making up the numbers at a small recording studio near a very windy seafront near Palace Pier. Mrs. B saw this as an excellent opportunity to try out on me the Remington “Rotary Trimmer for Nose and Ear Hair” which Santa had kindly left for me at Christmas – though I was keen to ensure that this didn’t involve destroying any valuable bat habitat that I might have been unwittingly carrying about with me. At the studio I was preceded by other locals equally deserving of a wider audience, chatting about their new book on ethical basket weaving or a macrobiotic approach to quantitative easing. I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by an American comedienne so at least there were some gags in there.

No hint yet as to whether my first royalty cheque will cover that round of drinks at the recording studio, but you never know…

Meanwhile, Mrs. Blog has announced that our combined recovery from a medical condition that we used to call “winter” shall be facilitated by a repeat trip to Barbados – as soon as possible. I am under instruction to make necessary arrangements, using where possible the Airmiles accrued by Mrs. B so assiduously through her conscientious deployment of credit card(s) and thus “free at the point of sale”. I have today requested a quote from a hire car company operating on the island and was tempted to try out the optional extra of Satnav to see if the Bajan version came across as more “chilled” than our British equivalent.

Mrs. B is, as I write, about to set off for the first of what will surely be a series of pre-holiday scouting trips to check out appropriate beach and evening wear – for both of us. I must pretend to be busy to avoid being taken along.

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And so the countdown begins.






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