During lockdown, our community magazine, the Hawkesbury Parish News, has heroically continued to publish, thanks to its dedicated team of volunteers writing, editing, printing and distributing it about the village.
In the absence of news of events, which usually makes up a large part of its content, the editor, Colin Dixon, has solicited plenty of new and interesting editorial to fill the space, including personal lockdown diaries by local residents.
Although many of the services advertised in its pages are suspended during lockdown, these companies are continuing to support the magazine, as they book and pay for a year’s advertising each January. They deserve our support in return when normal life returns.
In these strange times, it is comforting to see the Hawkesbury Parish News drop through our letterbox each month, giving some semblance of normality and regularity to the disrupted pattern of life in the time of Covid-19. A huge thank you to the whole team for your continuing service to our community.
Now here’s the column that I wrote for the June issue.
My top tip for lockdown entertainment is to acquire a pair of kittens.
We did this only by chance, collecting Bingo and Bertie (named after P G Wodehouse characters) at nine weeks old, two days before lockdown.
21st March seemed a particularly auspicious day for us to bring them home. Not only is it the Spring Solstice, but it was also my parents’ 67th wedding anniversary.
Reading the adoption paperwork when we got home, I was astonished to find that they were also born on my birthday, January 18th – the same day that our older cat Dorothy moved in. Dorothy was a stray found by neighbours (the Rounds) in their garage on a school snow day. She was personally delivered by another neighbour, Roland Starling, when I joked on Facebook that she could be my birthday present – that’ll teach me to be flippant! Best birthday present ever, though!
As Dorothy did when she first came to live with us, the kittens have provided daily cheer and distraction. The timing of their arrival has meant that we have spent as much time as possible bonding with them, and they settled very quickly.
Much as we love the kittens, my daughter has already declared that she is looking forward to seeing how they turn out when they’re full grown. I know just what she means. When she was born 17 years ago, I worried that I might be sad when she grew up. I soon realised that at each stage of development, I loved her even more.
Of course, kittens are for life, not just for lockdown, but I’m glad to have at least this one positive souvenir of these challenging times.
We are very grateful to the Cats’ Protection League for caring for our kittens until they were old enough to leave their mother. Their loving care gave Bertie and Bingo a wonderful start, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons that they are such affectionate, good-natured creatures now.
Further reading inspired by cats: “Springtime for Murder”
In the fifth Sophie Sayers Village Mystery, I wanted to write about cats and so I introduced some new characters – an elderly neighbour, Bunny Carter, who has a house full of cats, and an irritating do-gooder who keeps trying to foist more cats upon her while also trying to persuade her to leave her fortune to the local cat charity (not a bit like the wonderful Cats’ Protection League, I hasten to add!)
Sophie, as a cat person like me, is easily persuaded to adopt a black kitten, whom she names Blossom, a name nominated by my friend Sue, and not Beelzebub, which was suggested by my friend John, whom I suspect is more of a dog lover! Unfortunately Sophie discovers too late that Hector, her boss and her boyfriend, is a dog lover too…
Full of fun about cats and cat-lovers, and featuring the usual banter between the regular cast of characters in this series, this story is underpinned by serious thoughts about family relationships and the importance of solving family feuds before it’s too late. (Bunny, who earned her nickname by producing so many children in her younger days, has fallen out with all of her offspring.)
The book is available as both a paperback and an ebook, and makes a relaxing escapist read at any time of year.