Cold Blow And The Rainy Night - Tom Cox

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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Cold Blow And The Rainy Night



I was waiting for a call from the vet to find out if my cat had survived an operation to save her life so I took myself out of the house and onto Dartmoor. It was no sane weather to be on the moor, but it felt like the right thing to do. As I walked I plotted a route hastily on my increasingly soggy and dog-eared OS map: six and a half miles, rising steeply from the flat land, past the appealingly named village of Owley, then around the back of the desolate expanse of Ugborough Beacon, returning over its peak. A short hike, by my current standards, but by no means an easy one. 

I entered the edgelands of the moor via one of its most gothic gateways, beneath the tall Victorian railway arches supporting the London to Plymouth line. By my reckoning, by the time I returned, the surgery would be finished, and the vet would be due to call. Ahead of me the Beacon was hidden in plumes of occult-looking cloud. Gloopy churned mud slowed my progress: arable winter Devon encapsulated in each footstep. I looked forward to getting onto the high part of the moor, which, though much wetter, would have better drainage that would make the going smoother underfoot.

My phone rang when I was barely halfway to the summit, before I reached the part of the moor where reception became a figment of another world. It was Dermot, one of the two excellent vets who’d been working on my cat. He was partway through surgery and wanted to tell me that the infection from the dog bite my cat had suffered, and the resulting internal damage, was worse than he’d suspected. He felt it best to warn me now, due to the risks involved and the greater financial expense. The money had not been an issue for one second since I’d first rushed my cat to the surgery nine days earlier: I am far from economically secure and choose to do a job in which that situation is unlikely to change but I would have found a way to cover it, whatever that meant for my own future. 

I listened carefully, learning even more about the inside of my cat than I had already since last Monday, which was a lot. As I heard about all the damage done to my sweet undersized cat by the large jaws of a dog let off its lead by its negligent owner in a place where it wasn’t even permitted to be, the rain rat-a-tatted more heavily on my anorak. The two largest segments of darkness in the sky looked like a pair of bullies edging in on what pathetic slither of daylight there was. I looked up towards the moor, two droplets of rain ran down my cheeks and I felt like I was in a film scene put together solely to labour the point of what a relentless unforgiving bastard winter can be.

I am enchanted by the winter countryside: with the spooky myths that stick timelessly to it and the stark folk ballads that compliment it. I like to marinate in them, for a while. Utimately, though, I’m a spring and summer person. I struggle with winter’s dark and, the more rural you get, the more that dark can overwhelm the senses. For some people the tough time is January and February. For me, it’s always been December: that sensation, growing more acute as Solstice approaches, of each day being a narrowing wedge carved out cold chunks of black. This is why we invented Christmas, but Christmas has its limitations as an anti-depressant. I am fond enough of of the day itself but am not a fan of waste or forced jollity, which doesn’t make me especially well-disposed to the build up to it. Once New Year arrives my spirits begin to turn in a better direction, all the way to April and May, by which point I’m so giddy in the sweet humming air that I want to climb every tree and kiss every bumblebee I lay eyes upon. I’ve been the same all my adult life, although it took me a while to properly recognise it.

I was perhaps more aware than ever of the darkness approaching this time: more conscious of my need to look after myself at the end of a tough year, more conscious that I live in a relatively isolated place, near friends but hundreds of miles from my family and the other people closest to me. I’d not been doing too badly but then on Monday last week the youngest of my four cats - Roscoe, who is actually a girl - dragged herself into the house bleeding from several parts of her lower body. It is at time like that you realise just how precarious you are in the height of winter. What if several other awful things happened too? Who was to say they wouldn’t? How do other people survive through that?

A few weeks ago I went to a pub on Dartmoor - not one of my favourite pubs on Dartmoor, it has to be said - and apropos of nothing, a man tried to lure my friend Laura and me into his offensive impromptu lecture about the UK’s current terrorist threat. We listened to his tiny misinformed viewpoint about the Muslim faith and his “Christian country” and did our best to change the subject, realising that saying what we actually thought - that he was a dicksplash, for instance - would change nothing for the better. I wondered what had made the man obsess about Muslim terrorists like this, here in one of highest parts of the UK’s South West Peninsula above sea level, surrounded almost entirely by sheep, ponies and moss. Was it those Muslim terrorists I’d often witnessed sitting about looking shifty in the Bronze Age hut circles at Grimspound, plotting the downfall of western civilisation? Or perhaps it was the Muslim terrorists you constantly saw paddling down the River Dart these days, in their terrorist canoes, from the river's hard-to-locate source at Cranmere Pool? It was clear that it was his very insulation and separation from terrorist attacks that had made him more irrational and fearful. I could not relate to this, but I do often fear winter more irrationally when I’m slightly insulated from it. When I’m at home, protected from winter by a roof and central heating, it seems much more frightening, plays on my mind much more malevolently. This is part of why my method of conquering it is to face it head on. I walk through its gaping jaw, voluntarily, spontaneously, when I should be doing other stuff. When I do, the rain and wind somehow don’t seem as scary as when they’re hammering my bedroom window at night. Invariably, I feel better afterwards.


Some might argue that today I had chosen to look winter a little too squarely in the face. On a teeth-chatteringly cold day back in February I helped with the conservation of a Bronze Age stone row only a mile or two from here but next to this that lingered in the mind like a humming spring day. Leaving the farmland behind and approaching the Beacon what I saw ahead of me now was a dreary, drenched otherwordly landscape of gradually fading visibility. When hard-bitten veterans of the moor told me that there was a certain kind of Dartmoor weather you shouldn’t be out on your own in without an experienced companion and a compass, the scene ahead of me was pretty much what they were talking about. I knew that visibility would only reduce itself as I climbed, and the already somewhat nebulous paths would become less defined still. 

You couldn’t even call this rain any more; I was walking through the middle of that occult cloud I'd seen earlier. It arguably seemed even more occult when you were inside it. In three miles, I had not yet seen another human, but ahead of me I spotted two black dogs near a dead tree. Before I got closer and made them out for what they actually were - sheep - my heart skipped a beat; not because I believed they were the Devil’s Wishthounds of Dartmoor legend but because ever since the attack on Roscoe the sight of any dog has triggered a new unease in me.

I’d initially blamed Roscoe’s injuries on another beast of formidable size: a giant, excitable stray cat, probably a Bengal cross of some kind, whom I’d hastily named Uncle Fuckykins and who for the last three months had been living in my garden and garage and making her life a misery. It was only when the vet had fully examined Roscoe that I realised the absurdity of my suspicions and how uneccesarily hard I’d been on the cheerful Fuckykins: these bites had all the hallmarks of dog - probably a big one, at that. She was extremely lucky to be alive and would need extensive surgery. Then I had a moment of clarity: I remembered, earlier that same morning, before Roscoe dragged herself through the cat flap, being awoken by the sound of a man running, behind my garden hedge, his frantic shouts of “Oscar! Oscar!” It was a very similar sound to the one I’d heard coming from the owner of a Short-Haired Pointer called Poppy who'd bitten me on a walk last year: that of a posh, weak man who cannot control his dog. Of course, the unseen man running after the dog behind my hedge and the attack on Roscoe could have been a coincidence, but it seems unlikely.

A couple of positive elements of the story did at least emerge over the following couple of days. I was determined, if Roscoe came through this and returned home, to make her life as comfortable as possible, so, having taken her to the vet, I rang around and got hold of a cat trap from Cats Protection. A couple of days later, using some of the cat food that I think of as Posh But Smelly, I managed to lure a frantically meowing Uncle Fuckykins into this knee-high prison then transport him to the care of a nurse at the vet’s, who ran a scanner over his back. No price came up for Uncle Fuckykins - I sensed that if one had it would have been extortionate - but the scanner did tell us that he already had a registered home. While the nurse checked her computer and left the room to telephone his original owner, Fuckykins leapt onto my lap and marched up and down on it, as if gently preparing to go into a battle. The news that came back from the other room was a combination of the surprising (his actual home was seven whole miles away) and the unsurprising (his original name was not Uncle Fuckykins). Much-adored and answering to "Mogs", he’d been missing since May, which probably explained why he was currently attempting to extract seven months of love from my thighs all in one go.


Uncle Fuckykins


I felt uncomfortable about making an announcement about my gravely ill cat on Twitter, a place where sociopaths have sent me pictures of cats killed by cars and wished death on one of my other cats, apparently due to his thoughtless habit of being fairly well liked as a cat and sometimes being retweeted into their timeline. But there are also people on there and Facebook who are very much not sociopaths and who have got to know Roscoe through my last couple of books, and I ultimately felt they deserved to know. After I’d posted a screenshot outlining the incident, something happened that astonished me: without being asked, many of my readers got together and donated to the cost of her surgery via this website. 

Roscoe came through her original surgery with apparent success and, five days later, I brought her home, along with two drains attached to her to catch the fluid from her wounds, and a small hospital’s worth of medication. But something about her did not seem right, even taking into account the ordeal she’d been through. The following day, with a high temperature, she was readmitted to the vet’s; it was found that the infection had re-entered her abdomen and the decision was taken to operate again. With every step of the way, I felt more helpless, more angry towards the owner of the dog, whose guilt - unless his conscience got the better of him - I would never be able to prove. She’d always been my most aloof cat (or perhaps just my most “cat” cat, in contrast to the three embarrassingly needy half-cats she lives alongside) but recently, possibly due in no small part to the reign of Uncle Fuckykins, we’d bonded like never before and she’d slept on my bed every night for weeks, burrowing into my side for warmth in a way that could be kind of annoying sometimes but which I now missed terribly. I hated to think of her alone, in pain, not knowing why she was where she was. As I pressed on through the mist, I was gripped by the conviction that I was walking purely for her. Yes, it might be safer for me to turn back, in view of the weather, but this was not about me. 


With each step, the cloud around me was getting thicker. Another, even more indomitable Wisht Hound moved across the path ahead of me: a horse, this time. That’s if it was still the path? At this stage, I was only using the trickle of water running down it as a guide. I was aiming for Squirrel Cross: surely one of the most sarcastic names on the moor, since there could be few less squirrely places in the British countryside than this. I gave thanks for that compass my parents had bought me last Christmas, for my moorland walks. That brilliant useful compass, sitting back on my desk at home. 


The cross loomed out of the gloom like an alien totem: half a cross, really, at best, with a worn stone face that reminded me part of Zardoz, part, incongruously, of TV’s ALF. Four paths diverged from it, and I took the first left hand one, at a slight diagonal. After less than a minute, it vanished. For the next mile I used some kind of path instinct that’s probably very primal but also tied to a trust that’s perhaps grown out of seven years of completing at least one rural long walk per week. I could not have definitively said what I was on was “footpath”, only said that what surrounded it was fairly definitively “not footpath”. Prehistoric bird shapes swooped in the gloom ahead and the wind shrieked its character assassination in my ear. 

I’d seen the Beacon scowling at me so many times, dominating the landscape on the stretch of the A38 between South Brent and Ivybridge, but I’d never imagined it could be this otherworldly and ominous on top, like that one planet people talk about in a sci-fi film but which nobody actually goes to because it’s near devoid of life. The path began to go downhill: a sign that I would be out of here soon. I was surprised to feel a marginal tickle of relief. Earlier I’d been thinking, in a quite accepting way, that it wouldn’t be such a bad place to die, Ugborough Beacon, and that at least I could do so knowing that my last book was my best one, even though I never got to write all the others which were supposed to be much better than that. The mist cleared and the turf around me widened out into what looked oddly like golf fairways. This was because they were golf fairways. I knew the golf course. I planned to play it in a couple of months, in another bout of self-punishment. I was almost back. I still had not seen another human. 


I drove home, opened my front door, peeled off most of my sodden clothes. Other clothes - clean - hung on radiators. They were on the radiators because Roscoe wasn't here to stretch up and pull them off the radiators with her paws then sleep on them. The phone rang. It was the vet. Roscoe had woken up from her anaesthetic.

They’d done their best for her and she seemed reasonably bright but there was a long way to go and only the coming days would reveal if the operation had truly been a success. I had been on walks of at least four miles every day since her accident. I remembered the toothache and backache I’d been suffering from for the last fortnight: mysteriously absent, for just a few hours, but now back with added interest. I ran a hot bath, thinking that it was time to rest for a day or two, and also of all the work I had been postponing. Early the next morning, though, I set off again, through steep crevices cut in the steep hills a few miles from my house: red earth paths and water lanes where you could be quiet and alone. I knew where I was going but it was only when I got to the churchyard in the village centre that I realised why I had truly gone there. Beside the lychgate at the entrance to the churchyard stands a yew tree estimated to be 1000 years old. Its gnarly limbs grow down around and on top of gravestones. Legend has it that if you walk backwards around the tree seven times without stumbling “one true wish will come to thee”. It’s the kind of thing I might not have done alone when I was younger, for fear of looking silly in front of a potential passing stranger, but I don’t give much of a fuck about looking silly these days, nor about who sees it. After I’d completed the seven circuits I decided not to speak or think the wish, being of the opinion that the yew tree, or its mystical guardian, would be wise and intuitive enough to know, and would feel patronised having it spelled out in neon. I walked the seven miles home front ways, aching, with night chasing me all the way. I called the vet again: Roscoe was eating well, her temperature good. She was still very sore and weak but with luck, she might be home in four or five days. That was three days ago. Two more, and who knows? I might finally be able to stop walking.


Cold Blow And The Rainy Night Reviewed by Tom Cox on 14:58:00 Rating: 5

79 comments:

Caroline Ost said...

Hoping Miss Roscoe is home soon.Sounds like youfound the culprit
Pay him a visit Tom and tell him what his untrained dog has done.

Lori Heyd said...

Good thoughts and prayers for you and your Roscoe.....until one has loved and been loved by a cat they can empathize but not fully understand the heartache. I can't imagine life without my two "Old guys" Lori

Anonymous said...

Lovely Tom & I'm sure the yew tree knows.

Meryl Rimmer said...

I'm not sure how a story can be traumatic yet enjoyable to read. It was torturous to read about Roscoe & her fight for survival but you described the beauty of your surrounding so well. Don't give up the day job, I glad it's as a writer! Keeping my fingers, toes & my four cats paws crossed that Roscoe makes a good recovery from her injures. Your signed book is in Santa's sack for me & subscribing is a pleasure if it means I can continue to read your writings. Best wishes & seasons greetings to you all. Meryl & feline friends - Callie, Viggo, Ferdy & Nina. Meow!

Mary b said...

Thank you for posting this. It is a a beautiful and haunting piece. Crossing fingers on Roscoe's behalf.

Lesley Bourke said...

Just leaving 3 hugs, for Roscoe, Mogs, and Tom.

fifowkes said...

Powerful writing, Tom. Seven times backwards around the yew tree will work - positive karma to Roscoe. I feel the same about winter! Great news about Uncle Fuckykins, and glad he got to super-pad you - maybe he knew you needed it! And glad you survived the moor. Love to you, Roscoe, The Bear, Shipley and RAALLLLPH. xxx

Sue Nicholson said...

Don't go getting lost or dead on foggy moors - you'll be no use to Roscoe, The Bear et al (or us) in a boggy grave!

Jackie Poole said...

Hauntingly beautiful prose, I feel your anxiety with Roscoe, I feel she'll pull through. She has already proved what a fighter she is.
I think you should pay Oscar's pathetic posh owner a visit, armed with the vet reports & bill for Roscoe's treatment.
Thank you for the update & next time you're out walking, make sure you've got your compass.....
Oh, & stick to the roads, beware the moors.

Jenn said...

Oh, Tom. That was heartbreaking and lovely. Sending good thoughts to Roscoe and to you.

Squirl said...

Sending lots and lots of positive vibes to you and Roscoe. I just keep seeing her totally healed and well. I hope the asshole with the dog moves to another country. Hang in there, we're all pulling for you.

Anonymous said...

You write so touchingly about your beloved cats and about nature and you also always manage to make me laugh out loud. The words about Roscoe moved me to tears. I got out of bed and went to cuddle my cat Sherlock and tell him how much he means to me. He brings me more peace than any human can. I cant commit any money I'm afraid, but I will include Roscoe in my prayers tonight. XX

Alice Bondi said...

I'm glad that walking is such good therapy, or whatever you want to call it, a way of making life less grim when fear and anxiety could take over. In just over 24 hours, the solstice comes, the world turns. "At the still point of the turning world, there the dance is". Maybe it's just superstition but I have a feeling the Roscoe will take a leap forward in her recovery on Tuesday after that still moment.

Angel7 said...

Prayers for you and Roscoe. I did buy another book. I hope she is well and home soon.

Angela said...

Tom, I've never posted on your site before but I love your writing, your cats and your humanity. I wish your little one well. Maybe animals are just a way for us to show the love we all have to give. I have a feeling your little cat will survive and thrive. I really hope so.

Ellen Z said...

Roscoe.. Thinking of what to say after reading this,I recalled a priest's lecture: animals are far below humans. God has ordained beating cat or dog, he himself wouldn't hesitate to kill a cat digging in his flower bed. In a painful time I find you,your cats and all who have written---good.

Liz said...

I'm so heartbroken by what has happened to Roscoe. I can't imagine how sick with worry you must have been. Please know we are thinking of you here in NZ at this awful time and wishing Roscoe a speedy recovery - I truly do understand the role these little ones play in our lives and wish you all the best. Warm regards, Liz and Squeaky (Most Awesome Cat Ever In The Entire World Out Of All Types Of Cats) and the Kittens of Anarchy...and two big dogs (the well cared for, well behaved kind) p.s. Uncle Fuckykins was actually very cute!

Anonymous said...

The dog has attacked you...and now your cat, and is still free to roam. I don't know the law in your country. It seems at the least the owner should be responsible for medical costs.
Please carry your compass. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your precious Miss Roscoe.

Liz said...

I was almost afraid to read to the end. You and Roscoe have been on my mind a lot. I went through something similar with my dear boy Monty - he was attacked by two vicious dogs and nearly didn't survive. But he did, and he lived a happy life until he was nearly 23. If sending good thoughts does anything at all, then you have thousands coming your way. Get that lovely baby home and mending, that's all we want.

Renee McKinley said...

Hugs to you all and extra love to Roscoe.

Charie Long said...

Tom, I've sent along a bit of a donation again in honor of Roscoe. I'm disabled and have been unable to work for the past year straight due to spine surgeries, and for the past five years off and on. With the excessive number of rescue cats and dogs we have, life has been stressful to say the least, and I've been afraid we'd lose our house. BUT -- I've just been offered an administrative nursing job, truly the miracle we needed. Blah blah, I know. The point is that miracles *do* happen, and Roscoe, I believe, will be another, God willing. Bless you and your family, and Merry Christmas from Texas USA.

M.Egan said...

I'm so sorry man. Luck to you and your furry family.

Sue Varriano said...

Sending healing energy to Roscoe and peace and comfort to you as you wait endlessly for her to heal. Waiting is the hardest thing when the outcome is so important!

Sans Souci said...

You, my lad, are a lovely, lovely writer, as well as a lovely human being. I'm so glad to have met you through your sad cat and all the rest of them. As others said, we're all pulling for you and for Roscoe. I don't know if there's anything to it but I have a good feeling about Roscoe. I think she's going to be okay; I surely hope so.

Best wishes always.
Susan

julie ashton said...

I have just bought all four of your books. I have some time off work in January and am looking forward to indulging myself in a delightful read.... Rooting for Roscoe, hope she's home and healed very soon....

julie ashton said...

I have just bought the four books in the series. I have some time off in January and I'm looking forward to indulging myself in a delightful read. Rooting for Roscoe, hope she's home and healed very soon......

Unknown said...

Hi Tom. My heart breaks for you and your little girl kittie. I love your cats and the my cat is sad posts make me laugh. My deceased cat Clifton looked like Bear. My thought are truly with yoy.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could haved pledged more. Your love for your cats and surroundings is ispirational. All the best for Roscoe, and for yourself. Hugs xx

Donna Tickner said...

Oh Tom, this piece is so beautiful, yet painful.....so emotional and deep. It has left me in tears yet filled with joy at your sensitivity and care. Hugs for you and Roscoe....still praying that she'll come through this awful experience.

Donna Tickner said...

Oh Tom, this piece is so beautiful, yet painful.....so emotional and deep. It has left me in tears yet filled with joy at your sensitivity and care. Hugs for you and Roscoe....still praying that she'll come through this awful experience.

Jan Bullock said...

You are the most wonderful writer and I am in tears over poor little Roscoe. Truly no body gets cats and how you can come to love them more than reason dictates than you. I am willing Roscoe to recover and become her feisty little safe again as soon as possible. I too am also in the process of luring an small pretty little cat nearer and nearer the house so I can see if it's chipped. I have at last managed to stroke it. Hopefully we will find an owner if not then I guess we will have four cats not three. All love and best wishes to you and little Roscoe and of course The Bear, Ralph and Shipley.

powellct said...

Well, that's me in bits this morning. Hope Roscoe is well on the mend - and I'm rather hoping Santa is bringing me the latest book......
Wishing you and the team all the best and seasons greetings,
Colin (including the fat black one, and the needy torty with hyperthyroidism)

Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth said...

Lovely writing - such an evocation of time and place.

Strong thoughts to Roscoe from all of us here (and my dogs are appalled at Roscoe's attacker and his owner)

Pepsiwoo said...

Wow. Such a beautiful emotional piece of writing, tears rolling down my face. Thinking of you and wee Roscoe, fingers toes and furry paws crossed as we hope and pray this is the start of her recovery back to her busy wee self. Love to you and your furry family. P.s Don't let this posh git and his mutts get away with this !!

Gabriela said...

Your writing is so beautiful. My best to Roscoe. I will buy your new book. I am also delighted, that (even for a little time) a cat got to bear the majestic name of Uncle Fuckykins.

GILL BOLTON said...

Sending very best wishes for Roscoe's recovery

Kim Richmond said...

Sending all good thoughts to Roscoe (and you) and wishing her a speedy recovery from what must have been a frightening experience for her. Speaking as a dog owner, people who can't, or won't, control their dogs annoy me. Some breeds are easier to train than others, but if your dog's recall is not great, you should really keep it on lead. This man's inability to control his dog should not be anyone else's problem, least of all a defenceless animal. I'll be keeping up with Roscoe's progress and hope that 2016 will see her and the rest of the gang enjoying life and keeping us all entertained.

Vernita Green said...

That was well written but so hard to read.

I was trying my best not to cry reading about poor Roscoe and your own worries about your little furry friend.

I have your other 3 books and plan to get 'Close Encounters of The Furred Kind'

In the meantime, I am really hoping Roscoe pulls through and is on the mend soon

debbie gleeson said...

Sending love and hugs to you and Roscoe from me and my slightly retarded ginger fur baby. Hope she is home soon and the rest of the gang spoil her rotten

Alicia Foodycat said...

Paws crossed for Roscoe. I'm going to cuddle Urchin now.

Anonymous said...

May all that is good and kind in this world and the others continue to protect and comfort you and all your dear ones, Mr. Cox — both four- and two-legged.

I send my love, prayers, and thanks to you for your wonderful writing and the joy, tears, and solace it brings. I bought all four of your most recent books last month in honor of my late curmudgeonly grandpa cat and in tribute to The Bear, Shipley, Ralph, Miss Roscoe, and even George. I hope my small purchase can at least buy a round of Posh But Smelly food for the house and a pint for the owner/herder.

Love and healing from the States. xo

Tania O'Donnell said...

Beautifully written. Hope Roscoe is home well and warm in your arms soon. xxx

Jenny Colley said...

Tom, I'm sending as much hope and trust as I can possibly muster for Roscoe's recovery. I have Talk to the Tail and Under the Paw and will buy the next book later to help out and subscribe to the website. That said, please, please do let us all here know if you need help. I don't have much money, but you can have whatever it takes to make sure your girl gets back to full health, which I am absolutely certain that she will. Take care of yourself, you need to be able to snuggle that girl when she comes home!

Going to go cuddle my three now. If permission is granted by them, of course;)

Anonymous said...

Love and hope to you and yours, Tom. I notice that, even during all your stress and anguish you managed to re-unite Uncle Fuckykins with someone who no doubt missed him and in doing so returned some light to their lives. You're the best - And we will keep cheering for you and for your clan.

Marion Rotter said...

this is such a heartbreaking text. I send you strength to you and Mrs Roscoe - wish a Christmas wonder will come true and she will be better soon! Big hugs Me and my three cats Bonny Clydine and Pushkin.

Rosemary Kaye said...

Oh I do so hope Roscoe battles through - sounds like she is on the right road.

One of my 2 elderly Siamese went in for a 'routine' dental a couple of months ago. I was to call the vet at 3pm to find out when to collect her. At 12.30 the vet called me to tell me there had been 'a problem'. My dear Lizzie had stopped breathing on the operating table. By some miracle, however, the vet and her assistant had got her back, but she was still 'flat' and needed to go to the vet hospital asap. When I went to get her, the vet told me she had done a scan and seen fluid round the heart and a possible mass in the abdomen. She did not think things looked good.

I went with Lizzie in a taxi to the wonderful Edinburgh Vet Hospital - the staff there were unbelievably kind and caring. Over the next 3 days they kept me informed of progress, as they took numerous blood tests and carried out further scans and checks. Her sister sat at home howling and looking for her everywhere. In the end the vets found absolutely nothing wrong with Lizzie, and concluded that she had had a massive reaction to the anaesthetic (even though she had been anaesthetised before, it seems a reaction can happen at any time). She eventually came home wearing a special farmyard animals bandage on her leg, and she's been fine ever since. I don't suppose we'll ever be able to get her teeth sorted, but at least she's still here. Thank goodness we had insurance - I've felt for years it was a total rip off but in this case it really proved its worth.

I'm writing all of this just to express solidarity and to tell you that miracles do happen. As you say, it is only when near disasters occur that we fully appreciate our demanding, stroppy, fussy, irrational, loud and naughty animals.

Very best of luck; I love your writing and your photos.

Anonymous said...

I have been following the adventures of your cats ever since your first book and here on Twitter. I do so hope that Roscoe is home soon, maybe in time for Christmas, what a great gift that would be. I'm cuddling with my cat on the couch as I write this and am grateful that he's here with me and safe. Hoping with all my heart that things turn out well for Roscoe.

Anonymous said...

As always your writing is beautiful and touching. My thoughts are with Roscoe and I'm buying your book for everyone I know for Christmas (including myself).

Christine March said...

This lovely piece brought tears to my eyes and made me laugh out loud. Like everyone else I am hoping for Roscoe's fast and full recovery.

Anonymous said...

Well, this was an emotional maelstrom of a piece. Bleak and truthful yet still streaked through with enough shafts of light to make it bearable. Superb writing: your style just gets better and richer over time. And I admire your personal integrity and determination to make your career on your terms. Paws crossed for you all.

Natasha Hadleigh said...

Oh Tom. I kept holding my breath through this and then cried. You are a wonderful writer it's just so sad that this was prompted by such a horrible thing. Good luck to Uncle F and I'm sending every ounce of positive energy I have to you and Roscoe.

Joan Childs said...

Thank you, Roscoe, for being the fodder of prose. But please don't do that again. Heal well and expediently.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tom,

You and your cats give us all so much much joy and laugher on your twitter pages, and I love reading all about them.

I know how agonising it can be to see one of your best friends in pain, and feel there is little you can do.

It sounds as though Roscoe is making improvements, and am sure she will heal with all the love and patience you can give her.

I have been praying for this little girl since I heard the news, I know many of us are.

I send you all the very best wishes, love and kindness xxx

sonyajayne7 (on twitter)

Anonymous said...

Dear Tom,

You and your cats give us all so much much joy and laugher on your twitter pages, and I love reading all about them.

I know how agonising it can be to see one of your best friends in pain, and feel there is little you can do.

It sounds as though Roscoe is making improvements, and am sure she will heal with all the love and patience you can give her.

I have been praying for this little girl since I heard the news, I know many of us are.

I send you all the very best wishes, love and kindness xxx

sonyajayne7 (on twitter)

Penn said...

I will make another contribution via PayPal later; I also have a B&W, and am pulling for Roscoe.

Tom, please take a minute and call the dentist and see to that tooth. In my experience, they don't tend to improve on their own, and you don't need the distraction. And Roscoe (and The Bear, Ralph, etc.) need you intact as well.

Best wishes to all of you.

Bella Lewis said...

I have been thinking about you and Roscoe a lot. I hope she will be back with you very soon.

Thank you so much for returning Uncle Fuckykins to his original owners. You have made their Christmas much brighter and I hope your kindness will be repaid.

Lucy said...

Much love and encouraging chirups to Roscoe xxx

Monika said...

Gentle hugs to Roscoe. I bought 2 of your books and attempt to read them during Christmas vacation. After that, I´ll buy the other 2. I already know I will love them. Wish you, Ralph, sweet The Bear and poor little Roscoe all the best.

Corinne F said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your precious baby :( Sending you both love, strength and healing; you are in my prayers as well. All the best to you and Roscoe (and the others)! Stay strong, for her and for yourself.
Lots of love, Corinne, kitties (Timbit, Tashou, Sniffer, S'mores), and bunnies (Vanilla and Rosie) <3

Angie P said...

Good coming out of bad - for Uncle Fuckykins & his people. Oscar on the other hand should be muzzled & on a lead when he's out. When you feel stronger this man must be found & told for the sake of all the other cats in the area. Or even report your suspicions to the police. There may have been other incidents they know about. Perhaps the local paper could highlight it. Good luck xxx

Layla Morgan Wilde ( Cat Wisdom 101) said...

Bright blessings for Yuletide. You have much support from your friends across the pond.

Caroline said...

Let's hope your little BatCat musters all her super-powers to pull through - there'll be lots of hedgerow admin for her to catch up on! Thank you for keeping us updated - we really care about your furry tribe, who we've come to know and love through your books (just glad we can help in some tangible way).
Come on Roscoe!

uglav said...

Glad to hear Roscoe is improving. You write well. When I visited England my friend and I didn't make it to Dartmoor, but I think it is going to be on the list of places to visit next time. There can be an exquisite beauty in misery. I find it in the bush here too. There is something about being out in the wild in the bleakest weather that reaches into the very heart of you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom
I hope your precious Roscoe recovers soon and gets back home with you before long. I completely feel your pain. Sending Roscoe love and positive thoughts from Australia.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the deep melancholy I felt last winter on the way up telegraph hill each evening, as I wondered who would pay my car finance if I simply wrapped it around a tree. It says you have to approve all comments, maybe mine isn't blog appropriate but I just wanted to say that I know the bleak winter too

Alice Bondi said...

I forgot to say when I posted previously (too choked up thinking about Roscoe) that I'm just so very pleased that Uncle Fuckykins has found his people again - from what you've said about him, he obviously had had a time of being loved by humans, and they must be ecstatic to have him back - and he to be home. It's making me think I should get my two micro-chipped.

Debbie Leafe said...

Really hope roscoe is better soon. Have read all your books and as a cat lover too I know how hard it must be. Would like to donate something to help. Where and how can I do that? Love and hugs to roscoe ( and the bear, Ralph and Shipley of course)
Debbie L

Tamara Sanders said...

Sent for Close Encounters of the Furred Kind. I would love to go to Devon. I believe some of my ancestors came from there. Hope you will write more books about the area. Hoping the best for Roscoe.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tom Have been praying to the cat gods for Roscoe to recover. The way you manage to combine humour with sadness so beautifully is a real gift. Keep walking. Keep writing.

Tamara Sanders said...

looking on maps of Devon. There is a place called Buckland on the Moor. Pictures posted on the internet are staggeringly lovely. It must have been Tolkien's inspiration. There is also a place called French Beer. Think happy thoughts of summer, and Roscoe all healed up and purring in the sunshine.

ella said...

Get well soon Roscoe!!!!

ella said...

get well soon, Roscoe!!!

Autumn said...

Poor tiny Roscoe! It sounds like she's in the best hands and will be back home soon; they're resilient little things and from what I know of Roscoe from your blog and your books she's pretty tough. Look after one another; a great many positive vibes coming your way.

eArnie Painter said...

Very nice photographs, by the way. They set the mood perfectly.

Anonymous said...

So many posts-is it worth it to leave another? But to me it is, because I've learned to love your little cat family through your books and hope that some of the joy you've brought to my life comes back to you and Roscoe as comfort. Patti

Flock-DMV said...

So sorry about Dear Roscoe. I am sending hugs and prayers and health and vigor to Roscoe. I have a kitty page on Facebook. Its called For the Love of Cats & Kittens-Save the Kittens. Feel free to post notes and photos of Roscoe on the page.


Alison Stuart said...

I am having a running battle with two sets of neighbours both of whom own large, barky dogs (5 dogs between them!) none of which are suitable animals for our small inner suburban neighbourhood. The final straw came this morning when my beloved Toby Kat was pursued to our own back door by one of the dogs, obviously out and off a leash. No harm done, thank heavens, beyond injured pride, and I don't think the dopey beast concerned would have hurt him but she is still a big dog, severak times the size of my elderly cat.
My parents beloved little cat was killed by neighbourhood dogs who got into their garden so I know the damage they can do.
I am sending good vibes to Roscoe and warm, writerly hugs to you.

gentlydementinggp said...

Oh, phew. I didn't know about this till I saw the lovely picture on FB- so very glad to hear Roscoe is on the mend. Reminds me of Jackie Morris's heartbreaking story not long ago which didn't end well... I wish people would teach their dogs that cats are *not* prey. Thank goodness, and obviously your excellent vets too. Have started small monthly sub now I've found this website. Thank you, Tom, and best of luck to you all.

Anonymous said...

Tom, I love this piece of writing, which I have enjoyed reading for the second time. It's been great to have seen the photos of the recovering Roscoe and the video of her playing. I am happy to have subscribed to your website and have bought the books. Best wishes to you and all your friends and the cats - enjoy your winter walks and it'll be Spring before too long!