View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Saturday 23 July

A cold day, with the mercury only in the mid 50s Fahrenheit (lower teens Celsius). Nonetheless, I was able to sit outside for a while to read a book - with my coat on.

Norway continues to come to terms with the loss of more than 90 lives yesterday, in two apparently linked attacks in and near Oslo. Seven people died in a massive bomb blast near the government headquarters in the capital. 85 people, mainly teenagers, are known to have lost their lives as the culprit went to an island in a lake outside Oslo and started shooting them on sight. The total death toll is still uncertain, and there is talk of a second gunman. No motive has been established, but initial investigations seem to point to right-wing extremism. The suspect, a 32-year old man, is said to have referred to the right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders as "a good guy". Mr Wilders, to his credit, has denounced the atrocities in Norway as utterly repugnant to all decent people. I don't have a lot of time for Mr Wilders, but feel he has reacted appropriately to this revelation.

A tragedy of a different kind and scale was enacted in the Kyle of Durness yesterday. This is a river estuary some 12 miles east of Cape Wrath [the most northwesterly point of the British mainland]. Sixty-five pilot whales became stranded at low tide; the Kyle virtually runs dry as the tide ebbs. Fifteen of the animals died, the others were helped out to sea by Coastguard and Royal Navy personnel who happened to be on exercise in the area.

Kyle of Durness, 29 August 2004

Cat claws at dawn

One of my local Twitter contacts is rueing the moment they decided to step in to break up a catfight. Doing that is like having a wrestling match with a roll of barbed wire. Both cats went for either forearm, and wounds inflicted by both claws and teeth of a cat tend to get very nastily infected.

I recall having a similar experience some 25 years ago, when my sister had left her two kitties at my parents' house for a week or so. Bear in mind that at the time we had our own cat, an un-neutered tomcat called Thomas (above), in the house. Territorial was the name of his game, so when someone left a door open I found myself with Thomas to the right and the guestcat (whose name I cannot reveal on here) to the left. Thomas went into fighting mode, ears back, crouching into attack pose, whilst the guestcat ambled in, tail up and almost saying "C'mon, let's have it out then". I stepped in and put out a hand to push each cat away. Thomas thought the other cat had jumped out at him and lunged into my forearm - only to immediately recognise his mistake. He disappeared. I bundled the other cat behind the door where he should have been all along. I found Thomas sitting in the window of the nearby sitting room and he rubbed his head against my hand, almost as if to say: "Sorry about that, boss, didn't realise it was you. You could have fooled me it was another effing cat". I had a deep wound of one of his claws, but it was only a fleshwound, nothing serious.

Thomas has made me ill on one occasion, but again, not his fault. He tended to be infested with fleas, and one day I was given the job of powdering the cat. Neither of us liked it, and I used rather too much powder. Thomas looked white, rather than his normal black and within a few hours I started to feel feverish and quite unwell. Anyone who has ever dipped sheep with the old organo-phosphate sheepdips will know the feeling.