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Last Months Newsletter

September 2002

Dear Visitor

A little late - again. And I can't really blame Lloyd and Hill 13, because I seem to have been working on everything but that. I have, however, been playing catch-up ever since the virus (which is still e-mailing me now and then), so that's my excuse.

There's new stuff on the site - short excerpts from each of the books, and a new-style competition. And if you've got time, please have a look at the research section of Writing Advice, on which I have placed a request for information.

I'd really like to know what you would like to see on the site - is there anything you look for that isn't here? I'm entirely open to suggestions. And on the subject of suggestions - there is currently a front-runner for Judy's mother's name, but keep them coming!

So what's been happening with me during August? Not a lot, after the heady excitement of July. So I thought I'd tell you about Greta instead.

If you live in Britain, you might remember the Pete and Dud sketch where Pete is complaining bitterly that he can't get a moment's peace from that Greta Garbo - she's at his bedroom window every night, asking if she can come in.

That's how Greta got her name - at least the name she's goes under when she's here. I'm sure she has a real name, but I don't know it. Greta is part-sealpoint Siamese; she has greyish brown markings, and blue eyes. And a very nice blue collar, so she belongs to someone, but whoever it is can't see much of her, because her one aim and object is to get into this house.

She started calling before we recently carried out extensive renovations, but far from putting her off, the fact that the house now has a conservatory running the entire width of the back has simply provided her with more opportunity. She gets on to the conservatory roof, and we've found her in bedrooms, the bathroom - even the loo. We can only have the windows open about an inch, or she's in. When she discovers that she can't get in that way, she jumps down from the bedroom windowsill on to the roof, and light-footed she ain't. We have to warn visitors so they don't think the chimney's come down.

And when she gets in - which she does, often, especially during this weather when the tendency is to open windows and doors - she eats poor Frankie's cat food and his Go-Cat. Frankie has always been good at teaching us simple tricks, and one of these is to give him a supply of both tinned and dry food before he goes out. That way he knows it'll be there when he gets back. And when he eats it, he eats it in stages. Half now, half later.

Not any more. If Frank's out, Greta's in, and the food is gone. She leaves him his water, though. Just as well he's not a milk fancier, because I suspect that's Greta's drink of choice. Anyway, if I come downstairs to find all Frank's food gone, I know that Greta's been. And it was by sheer chance I witnessed something that would have puzzled me greatly: Greta and the Locked Room Mystery.

I came in to find Greta polishing off Frankie's Go-Cat (she starts with the tinned food and moves on to the dry stuff). She shot past me, towards the front window, the way she had come in. The window has two large panes that open from the side, and a little one between these two that opens from the bottom. It's on a cantilevered hinge, so when you open it, there is a space above and below it. Greta jumped, landed on top of it (on the side of the glass that is outside when the window's closed), squeezed through the gap, and took off, kicking it with her back feet as she launched herself into the air, which action neatly closed the window behind her. If I had come down a moment later, I would have found the house catless, the cat food gone, and the windows all securely shut. Edgar Allen Poe couldn't have done it better.

I don't know who Greta belongs to, but I'm sure if they buy her collars they feed her - assuming they ever see her for long enough, that is. Even when she can't get in, she's there, sitting on the windowsill, sometimes miaowing silently, in the hope that we'll think she lives here, and absent-mindedly open the window for her. Frankie can't quite make up his mind how he feels about her; sometimes he'll sit and snarl and hiss at her through the glass, and at other times he ignores her. The other day they were both lying stretched out and sound asleep in the front garden. I think stealing the cat food is just an excuse - Greta is stalking Frankie. And she isn't the first.

One day I'll tell you about the pink cat…

See you next month.



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