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Nov. 3rd, 2023


Peace and Love

If you know me, you'll know that I'm very into all things 1960s, and particularly 1960s American: the music, the films and TV shows, the clothes, the weirdness.

Well, I took all that love and I wrote it into a furry novella!

Peace and Love is the story of uptight raccoon Roger, his hippie roommate Frank, and Peace Man, the gorgeous, groovy folk singer Frank brings into Roger's life, turning it upside-down.

The novella will be released on 1 December at Midwest FurFest, and you can preorder it from FurPlanet right now!

The lovely cover is by Idess.

Cover of Peace and Love. A raccoon carries a linsang through mud at a music festival. They are smiling at each other and clearly in love.
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The Mysterious Affair of Giles

Way back in 2013, Kyell Gold made a blog post in which he expressed the desire for 'a woman with a great British accent' to narrate the audio version of his Agatha Christie-inspired furry novella, The Mysterious Affair of Giles.

Hey, I said. I'm right here.

It's taken a long time for various reasons, but that audiobook, narrated by me, is now available on Audible.

It's a fun story with a large cast of characters, and I had fun differentiating between the upper and lower classes; the males and females; the chipper, the cheeky, the bright, the shy; the foxes and weasels and otters.

Happy listening!

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Oct. 27th, 2023

Cat Air

A Weekend of Airports

I spent a long weekend in Berlin from 12 to 16 October; a trip I was going to make in early September, but postponed on the grounds that I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it much.

I also discovered that - for everyone who asked - having a metal rod in your leg does indeed set off the body scanner at airports.

I was staying with a friend who lives in Mariendorf, to the south of the city. She was out on the evening of my arrival but left her housekey in a Secret Place for me to pick up, which felt appropriate for the City of Spies. So I hung out with her cats, Max and Moritz, until she got in.

The next day was Friday, and I'd booked myself on a tour of the old Tempelhof airport. Grandiose showpiece in the 1930s; USAF base for divided Berlin and one of three landing-site for the Berlin Airlift, along with Gatow and Tegel; finally closed in 2008.

This was a great treat for someone who enjoys both aviation and 20th century architecture. The vast, empty arrivals/departures hall with its checkin desks (many for fictional airlines; it's frequently used as a filming location), the old Restaurant sign, the Second World War bomb shelter with cheery cartoons painted on the walls and - surprise! - an Ilyushin Il-14 and Focke-Wulf Condor in one of the hangars. "Oh! I forgot we have some planes here at the moment!" claimed our guide as we all ooohed in appreciation.

Checkin desks in a deserted departure hall.

Wall clock, and restaurant sign in letters that would once have lit up.

Focke-Wulf  200 Condor, used as both a civilian aircraft and a bomber, in a hangar.

My friend is a scootering acquaintance, and I'd arranged to hire a Vespa so we could ride out to the aviation museum at Gatow on Saturday. I picked it up on Friday night and we rode through the darkening city. The original plan for the evening had fallen through and we ended up seeing Rocky Horror Picture Show cabaret at a friendly little gay bar on the outskirts, an experience I certainly wouldn't have had on my own.

Then Gatow on Saturday morning, riding out of the city into the autumn countryside. This was the RAF's base, where they kept a mighty strength of two Chipmunks (inoffensive-looking little two-seaters, in fact used for checking out the lay of the Soviet land). One hangar now holds beautifully restored aircraft and a history of flight, but I preferred the lineup of Cold War planes outside, their paintwork shabby and fading.

A lineup of fighter aircraft outdoors under a blue sky. Their paint is a little shabby.

An indoor display in which the single propeller Chipmunk trainer is hung above the MiG-29 jet fighter.

It was a beautiful if chilly day, but it turned to rain in the evening as we rode through the city centre to meet friends for dinner.

Sunday was quieter; we rode to a Turkish restaurant for breakfast, my friend taught me the basics of backgammon, I went for a walk in the nearby cemetery and saw red squirrels. While my friend went out to dinner, I returned the scoot then asked Google where I could get something to eat nearby. When I noticed a cafe specialising in crepes and waffles, Nutela Rosé, it had to be done. (All the other customers either had small children or were clearly on an Instagram mission. Yes, that's candyfloss. And marshmallows. I regret nothing.)

A plate with a waffle drizzled in pink chocolate, strawberries, pink ice cream, candy floss and marshmallows.

Monday morning I let myself out of the flat and did some supermarket shopping before the trip by bus and S-bahn to the airport, where my armoured, abrasion-resistant motorcycle jeans upset the security staff so much they took me to a cubicle and made me unbutton them. Then I spent 15 minutes in a queue for passport control while passengers from countries still in the EU breezed past. It was a relief to arrive at Gatwick and get back on my own motorbike, which conveyed me home inside half an hour.
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Sep. 25th, 2023

Husky Airways

Summer's Almost Gone

I love summer, and I feel as though I got cheated out of a significant chunk of this one with the whole broken leg thing. So it was nice to snatch a little back this past weekend.

Saturday night was an open air cinema screening of Top Gun: Maverick at Gatwick Aviation Museum. We arrived in plenty of time to tour the museum, buy a couple of secondhand aviation books in the gift shop (in my case) and browse the food stalls before settling in to the camping chairs we'd brought.

The screen was set up between the Avro Shackleton and the Percival Sea Prince, and when it was dark enough ("No projector is stronger than the sun!" we were told cheerfully over the Tannoy by the setup guy) the movie rolled.

I'd seen it in the cinema on release, and it's pretty fun, but the surroundings, with the stars overhead and EasyJet flights from Gatwick taking off left to right behind the screen, made it magical. I was chilly by the end even in a jacket over a fleece, because it's definitely September, but I'd brought a flask of coffee and the car ride home was warm.

A cinema screen next to an historic aircraft. The moon is behind a cloud.

On Sunday I cruelly interrupted Howard's viewing of the Rugby World Cup to make him take me swimming at Divers Cove, my first time in the water since July. This was billed as a night swim, the last of the season, and although it was still light when we arrived around 6pm (rendering the lights swimmers were required to wear a little unnecessary, though pretty), the organisers had set up flaming torches along the path to the lake and festooned the lookout pier in fairy lights.

I did two laps, and by the time I was ready to get out the sun had disappeared and the moon was up. Tea lights flickered. There were hot dogs for sale, and marshmallows on skewers to toast at the braziers, and I took advantage of both these things.

I am swimming away from the camera, around a lake. Other swimmers ahead are visible by their floats. There are fairy lights around the pier.

Sep. 22nd, 2023

Cat Air

The COVID Virus Is The Lord

On Wednesday night I did something I wasn't sure I'd ever do again: I listened to a new Paul Simon album for the first time.

He announced in 2018 that he was quitting touring (I saw him in Hyde Park. It was emotional.), but not quitting music. Seven Psalms is his fifteenth (solo, studio) album and it's...different. Seven vocal and acoustic tracks, linked, designed to be listened to in one go (or two if, like me, you bought the LP because HMV was offering an exclusive print with it).

I'm not sure it's a religious album, despite the title, despite all the times the Lord's name comes up. Spiritual, certainly. Sacred, perhaps.

I could write at length (and I'm sure somebody has) about religion in the works of Paul Simon: the early stuff like Blessed and Bleecker Street, and the people bowing and praying in The Sound of Silence; the radical priest in Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard; Fat Charlie the Archangel and Graceland, Elvis's home or heavenly allegory? By So Beautiful Or So What (did it really come out in 2011, good grief), God and his only son are paying a courtesy call on Earth and the imagery is playful, yet beautiful.

The art gallery at No. 9 Cork Street (you probably don’t know this unless you, too are on the mailing-list) is currently holding an exhibition of coloured sketches inspired by the album, by Charlie Mackesy, author and illustrator of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Small framed images in a large white room, a projector showing videos of the sketches in progress - lines appearing and deepening, colour flushing the picture - and the album playing from the room next door, where you can sit for a while and listen if you wish.

This was my favourite picture, and, by happy accident, the soundtrack meshed so the words played as I read them:

Illustration of a person standing in the sea with their back to the viewer. The caption is Gonna carry my grievances down to the shore / Wash them away in the tumbling tide.

Mark Radcliffe's Folk Show on Radio 2 this week was entirely dedicated to Paul (I listened to it this morning and I notice Mark made exactly the same religious/spiritual distinction as I did above!). Not surprising at all to learn that the title came from a dream. Paul, speaking from Manhattan, sounds old but happy, smart, fit (describing his lifestyle as 'peripatetic').

I hope the album isn't a goodbye, although if it is, it is a beautiful one.

The seeds we gather
From the gardener's glove
Live forever
Nothing dies of too much love

Aug. 5th, 2023


Go Go Gadget Leg

Hospitals, nothing too graphicCollapse )

Jul. 27th, 2023

Husky Airways

Yes to Adventures: Bremen 3

I was nervous about the trip home. I'd been warned in advance that the weather forecast for Sunday wasn't great and there was a chance we would be stuck in Bremen, or unable to cross the Channel and forced to spend the night in France (oh no how terrible). As it turned out, flying conditions were OK but a headwind meant our return flight would be much slower than our trip out, so it was decided that we would do it in two legs, stopping in the Netherlands to have our passports stamped and eat lunch.

At the airport, we went through the door marked General Aviation (commercial airport: our baggage and bodies had to be scanned, none of this simply strolling to the plane like at Denham), where the three of us were informed by Security that because I was a passenger, I would need to go through the passenger gates with all the folks flying EasyJet to Stansted.


It also wasn't going to work, as I didn't have a boarding pass. So I was swiftly promoted to aircrew on the grounds that I loaded bags, passed the pilot his water bottle etc, and we took off on schedule at 1pm.

The first half of the flight wasn't all that pleasant, for pilots or passengers - I mean aircrew. We were on visual flight rules, which meant keeping the ground in sight by 'scrubbing along', as my friend put it, under the clouds. The low height gave good views but the clouds made it bumpy and, while it was perfectly safe or we wouldn't have taken off, everyone needed to concentrate, either on flying or on keeping their breakfast inside them. I'd been shown how to connect my phone to my headset by Bluetooth, so I listened to music.

Flying among wispy clouds, and sometimes through a denser patch so everything briefly disappeared, past giant silent whirling wind turbines, listening to The Dark Side of the Moon, was a surreal, spooky experience, and one I will never forget.

The weather gradually improved, and by the time we landed at Midden Seeland it was still windy, but the sun was out. This was the type of small airfield that has a café where non-aviation types come for a meal and to watch the planes (I go to a lot of those in the UK). Fortified by lunch (Dutch border control arrived to stamp our passports while we were eating, and did it at our table), we took off again.

The second leg took another two hours but was much more pleasant. We landed back at Denham around 5:30pm, I helped put the plane to bed, and was home just after 7.

The limitations of annual leave and the vast number of other things to do in the world mean I may not be able to accept every flying adventure I am offered. I hope there will be many more, though.


Yes to Adventures: Bremen 2

How to entertain myself in a new city today? A little shopping, I thought, and headed for the Schnoor, the old town and artists' quarter. It was so arty that most of the shops didn't open till 11 or later, but I strolled round looking at things, had a coffee, and by this time the place had opened up and was sufficiently full of other tourists to be annoying.

The best thing I found was a shop devoted entirely to papercraft models. I bought a Fokker Dr1 and a Citroën 2CV, to be assembled on a rainy day (I may not have long to wait).

Before the trip, I'd researched swimming options and discovered that there were city beaches, one of which was easily walkable from the town centre. So I bought picnic components at the big supermarket by the station and headed down to the waterline, pausing only to leave a copy of Dr No in a little free library outside the language school.

I took the foot ferry across; the return journey cost €3 and the distance was, I reckon, about 150 metres, making it a cent a metre. It was an overcast afternoon and there were only a couple of families sitting on the beach. Nobody else was swimming, which made me hesitate - not because I thought it might be cold, or dangerous, but because people might LOOK at me.


When it started raining I made a move, since if I stayed on the beach my clothes would get wet, whereas if I took them off and put them in a bag, they wouldn't. I spent a pleasant quarter of an hour swimming and floating around in the clean water with its gravel bed, and nobody took any notice at all.

I made the return ferry journey, which must have taken a good 2 minutes, and walked back into town. The rain got worse, and I did something you can no longer do in the UK, but can in Germany: I went into C&A and bought an anorak.

My friends joined me for the evening and we sought out a restaurant, ending up in Fisherman's. They were able to fit us in on a Saturday night and served a fantastic meal; I had brown shrimp, which I love (supermarket prawns taste of nothing by comparison) and which came surrounded by scrambled eggs to the right and potatoes fried with onion and bacon to the left.
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Jul. 24th, 2023

Cat Air

Best of British

Sometimes, a year or years after you've sold a short story to one anthology, you'll get a chance to sell it to another as a reprint. Maybe it fits the theme of the new anthology (and the editors have specified that reprints are OK), or maybe it's eligible for a roundup of stories published in the preceding year. Reprints are free money. Authors like reprints.

And so I submitted For I Shall Consider My Cat J/FRY, published in 2022 in Felis Futura: an anthology of future cats, to NewCon Press for consideration, and I'm thrilled to announce it's been accepted into their Best of British Science Fiction 2022.

(It feels a bit icky, these days, to describe anything as 'Best of British' (best of British racism! Best of British food banks!) but I'll make an exception here.)

I've read my contributor copy and gosh, the other stories in it are so good I can only assume mine got in by mistake. I mean, they're actual proper sci-fi! Not some nonsense about monks and robot cats!

You can buy or preorder, depending when you see this, here:

Best of British Science Fiction 2022

And on Tuesday 25 July, at 7:30pm British Summer Time, I'll be taking part in the online launch here:

Husky Airways

Yes to Adventures: Bremen 1

"Never say no to adventures," said Ian Fleming (mind you, he didn't have a proper job). So when my pilot friend offered me a spare seat to Bremen, where he was going to a fascinating conference on instrument flying, I snapped it up.

I met my friend and his co-pilot, another member of the group that owns and flies a Cessna 182 out of Denham airfield (planes are expensive and collective ownership common), on Friday morning and we took off at 10, flying non-stop for 3 hours. We passed the wind farm off Sheerness (how anyone can object to these on aesthetic grounds is beyond me), container ships crawling across the Channel, and a French coastguard plane flying low and slow the other way.

There was a surprising amount of Netherlands to cross before we reached Germany. While Denham is a small, grass airfield run like a club, Bremen is a commercial airport receiving short haul and domestic flights, so we were met by security and conveyed to the terminal in a minivan after having our passports stamped.

My pilot pals were staying in the airport hotel (also where the conference was held) while I had booked something more central, so after a sandwich I hopped on the tram to the Hauptbahnhof. As soon as I'd checked in I was eager to hit the streets, where I sought out the Musicians of Bremen.

This Grimm tale, learned from a Ladybird book when I was small, was my only point of reference for Bremen. Four elderly animals, realising their owners are planning to throw them out or kill them now they're no longer useful, join forces to make a go of it as musicians in the big city. On the way they discover a band of robbers living it up in a house in the woods, scare them away, and decide they're so comfy in the house they'll just stay there.

In the story they don't make it to Bremen after all, but their likenesses have:


The pilots joined me for a drink in an authentic little bar with ashtrays on the tables, where we asked for the local beer and discovered it was Beck's. They went on to a prearranged pilot dinner while I had a nice meal in a South Tyrol-themed restaurant (everything wooden, pictures of cows, sheepskin rugs on the chairs), then went back to the hotel to find out what was on TV on a Friday night in Germany.

It was Moonraker.

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