Paw Prints ponders: why social meeja?

I’ve been ghost hunting recently.  That is, looking for photos of places near me that might be haunted.  ‘Talk to Julie,’ said Himself.  ‘She’s lived here a long time, she’ll have some suggestions.’  She did:  and a lot of them were useful sites on… Facebook!

I am of an age (ahem!) when many of my contemporaries regard social media with dismay and suspicion.  They are sure their identities are going to get stolen and they will be pursued through the ether by rabid trolls.  I have to admit I was the same, for a long time; then, when I put a cautious toe in the water I began to see the benefits.

I really don’t care if my friends had porridge or toast for breakfast (and there are plenty who will tell you about it in exhaustive and repetitive detail) but Facebook and Twitter have more to offer than just idle chat.  Whether you are into local history or stamp collecting, there are bound to be like-minded groups where you can share experience and information.  And Facebook and Twitter are great if you are doing research into, say, ghosts.

Sometimes there are serendipitous encounters.  I once ‘friended’ a man called Ed because he was sharing and re-tweeting my posts and tweets.  ‘He’ turned out to be the editor of a local magazine, and she has been amazingly supportive ever since.

Sometimes you can use social media to find something quickly:  I was looking for a musician to play a Mozart Horn Concerto for a PowerPoint promotion.  Six hours after I posted my plea, I had my musician in place.

And there are always the pleasant surprises when someone you have lost touch with pops up to say hello.

There are some caveats, of course.  It’s easy to acquire ‘friends’ on Facebook, but I am wary of accepting people I don’t know, and whose ‘mutual friends’ I don’t know either.  Followers on Twitter seem to appear out of nowhere, but there’s no obligation to follow them back if you don’t want to.  It should go without saying that if you post a picture of your house (or, heaven forfend, your address) and then burble on about your holiday, you may set yourself up for a burglary.  But that’s just common sense, isn’t it?

All this is terribly old hat, of course.  No-one with any cred, I gather, uses Facebook any more.  I don’t care.  Pinterest and Instagram are still a closed book to me – I leave that to the yoof – but I may get there eventually.

And trolls?  Here’s an idea:  laugh at them!  I acquired one on my blog a little while ago.  I trumpeted the fact all over Facebook and quoted choice snippets from his post.  For instance, he claimed to be an expert in ‘gorilla’ warfare.’  Pity the poor gorillas, I said, should we contact the WWF?  Needless to say, that particular troll was never heard from again.  And, if you are not brave enough for a confrontation, there’s always the ‘off’ button.

If you’re interested in my ghost researches, or anything else come to that, come and find me on Facebook – Paw Prints in the Butter – or tweet me @perdisma.  I promise not to harm a single gorilla.

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Paw Prints mourns

In the space of one hour on Sunday 21st January 2018, life as we knew it came to an end.

At six o’clock I got up and began to make the usual morning preparations. I went into the bathroom and Purdey, my constant shadow, tried to follow me. She couldn’t – she had lost the use of her back legs. We cuddled her, we coaxed her, hoping against hope that this was just the morning aches and pains of an old dog. Then we called the emergency vet.

We took her to the surgery, not our usual one but an affiliate. The vet was kind, but a stranger to us. She stroked Purdey, listened to her heart, did a few tests. Her face told us the story. Yes, we could have prolonged the agony, given Purdey a few extra hours or a day, but the outcome would have been the same and we would have had to watch her struggle.

At seven o’clock we left the surgery without her. She was just three months shy of her 16th birthday, and she had been in our lives for fourteen and a half years. In that time se had turned our whole way of life upside down.

We now live in Sussex because of her. Because of her I embraced caravan holidays – a thing I swore I’d never do. She starred in a You-tube video (Rosemary and Angela thought they were the stars – they were wrong). She inspired me to write a book.

It’s too soon for happy memories, yet. Instead we have those micro-milliseconds of forgetting: checking for poo bags in my left-hand pocket; making sure that the dustbin is secure and that food is pushed back out of ‘furry nose range’; walking round her cushion, which is no longer there; opening the back door for her last thing at night. And then we remember, and remembering tears the heart out of us. But these are the worst times, and worst times eventually get better.

And she’s still with us. No, I don’t think she’s ‘watching over us’. I don’t believe she has ‘gone to a better place’ or that she’s ‘waiting at the rainbow bridge.’ But she’s there: in our hearts and our minds and our memories, and in that bubble of laughter when we turn to each other and say: ‘do you remember when she…’

So this is my tribute to Purdey. She was a dog. Some people will understand what a dog can mean to you, others not. So be it. She was pretty – everyone agreed on that. She was feisty and funny, wilful and affectionate, she was occasionally infuriating – and a terrible thief.

We loved her; we always will. That’s it.

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… and Patrick writes

On a warm July afternoon, I walked in through our front door with a small brown and white dog cradled in my arms. An hour later she had decided that this was the perfect billet.

In the blink of an eye I am walking out through our front door with the same small brown and white dog cradled in my arms. An hour later she was sleeping her final sleep.
Fourteen and a half years and eight hundred miles separate those two front doors. Fourteen and a half years for that small brown and white dog to give us so much joy and happiness.

She ruled us; a paw of iron wrapped in brown and white fur. She ruled with compassion and humour. She made us laugh, even when we should have been doing anything but laugh. She was a thief and constantly looking for food. Waiting for the opportunity to snaffle an unguarded cup cake or biscuit. To get her nose in the milk jug. Or the waste bin.
She loved the waste bin. Left alone with the waste bin securely behind doors secured with a bungee I came home to find the cupboard doors off their hinges and a delighted Purdey – feeling very pleased with herself – examining the contents of the bin now neatly spread across the floor. I scolded for two minutes and cuddled her for ten. That was the system.

She may be gone, but she will always be with us. Like most pet owners, we have photographs of her. Thousands of photographs. But they won’t be how it works; they are just the aide memoires.

Deep, dark holes have been ripped out of our hearts, but, given time, those icy voids will become receptacles for all the memories accumulated over the years, melting the ice and the pain. The process has already started and in time our friends will know that it is time to assume the rictus grin and try and pay attention. One of us will be about to tell another Purdey story.

And that is how it should be.

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Computing 101 (for idiots)

Last week I did something extremely clever. I deleted all the files on my external hard drive. Yes, all of them: photos, addresses, deathless prose – the works. And this, ironically, from the hard drive I had bought and connected specifically so that, if I were foolish enough to delete a file, I would have a backup. Duhhhh doesn’t cover it.

In a panic I screamed for my gurus. Tom Cat licked his paw laconically. ‘Have you tried your trash folder?’ he mewed. Wise Owl clicked her beak: ‘Whooo wold do such a stupid thing?’ she hooted (well, me, obviously) and then added ‘Try your trash folder.’

  • Of course, when the red mists of panic cleared I realised this was the obvious solution. I checked the trash folder and, yes, there they were. That’ll teach me to be blasé about technology. Perhaps I should revert to the typewriter after all.
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Paw Prints Ponders

The Demon Technology

Yesterday Himself and I celebrated the 40th anniversary of the day we met.  At a hen party, but that’s another story…

Today he said something to me he would never have said 40 years ago, or even 20.  I was in the kitchen, he was in his office, whence issued some very strange noises.  ‘Is that your printer making that noise?’ I enquired.

‘No,’ sez he, I’m watching YouTube.’

‘Oh, OK’ sez I, and went on peacefully chopping vegetables.

It got me thinking.  There’s so much about life today that we take blithely for granted. Got a problem or a question?  Google it.   Want to post on Facebook?  Take out your phone.  What, your phone battery is flat and you’re away from home?  Then charge it up in the car, silly.  We Tweet on the move, we Instagram in bed, we read books on our phones and watch movies on our tablets.

And then there’s email, which my young(er) friends tell me is soooo last year.  Well, I’ve got news for you, kiddies:  it’s actually last century.  I remember email back in the 80s: we had it at Granada and it was called PROFS.  OK, it was only an internal system (that is, it connected my office in London with my friend’s office in Manchester, but not with the outside world) but we thought it was the bee’s wotsits.

And while we were thinking ourselves fine fellows, communicating without leaving our desks, Himself was out in the real world, marketing… email.  Whisper it not, a Swiss-American corporation called Service 800 introduced ‘electronic mail’ to a startled world way back in 1979.

It didn’t catch on.  Puzzled that his crack sales team wasn’t making any headway with this revolutionary new invention, Himself went to investigate.  Of course, this was (nearly) the 80s, so ‘investigate’ was another word for ‘went out to lunch’.  Over a post-prandial brandy or two, Himself broached the subject with the communications director of a major bank, one of his biggest clients.

‘It’s wonderful,’ he enthused.  ‘Just think, you can send an instant message to colleagues in New York or Singapore and it’ll be there on their desks whenever they turn on their computers.  What’s not to like?’

‘But who does the typing?’ demurred the reluctant client.

‘That’s the beauty of it.  You do it yourself.  You don’t need to waste your secretary’s time with dictation.’

‘It’ll never work,’ said Bank Man.  ‘Men don’t type.’

And there’s a salutary lesson to all of us whose lives are increasingly ruled by the demon technology.  Never diss it.  Never say ‘it’s not for me.’  Trust me:  tomorrow, you’ll do the typing.

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Strutting our stuff

Well, we writers have to meet our adoring public, don’t we? So last Saturday my fellow Arun Scribe Rosemary Noble and I packed up our books and trundled over to Crawley, in West Sussex, where the library was having a local authors’ book fair.


It turned out to be a huge success: there were 22 writers there, and the organisers told me that many more had applied (so hopefully the next one will be bigger? ) The publicity both in advance and on the day was impressive, and so was the large turnout of potential readers / customers. I talked to lots of people and sold a few books. Here’s my abiding memory of the day: a fellow writer picked up my ‘coming soon’ flyer for the Limericks book, and laughed his head off. Eternal blessings to him for that! Here’s what made him giggle:

A cheerful young fellow named Trev
Went off for a romp in Lodeve.
But he soon lost his smile
When he caught something vile
In a house of delight called Mon Reve.

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Slightly less tentative

Since my September post, the mists of befuddlement have cleared slightly and I understand a little more about this ‘following’ business. Thanks to kind Pete at Verite Design, you can now FOLLOW me on Facebook if that is your wish. Thanks to kind Tom in darkest Wales, you can also SUBSCRIBE to this blog, should you wish to. Check out the two links on the right hand side of this page (oh, and if something doesn’t work, I’d be grateful for a message on Facebook to let me know).

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Rhyming in the kitchen

So (all good narratives have to begin with ‘so’ these days) … I’ve been running around the kitchen chanting to myself. Have I gone doo-lally? Lost what few marbles I still possessed? Nope. Bitten by That Worm again. You know the worm, that niggling inspiration that pops up at the most inopportune moments. And if you haven’t met him, why, you’ll find him right here on this blog (try February 2016).

So there I am, running around the kitchen muttering ‘Plates in the dishwasher… Not a bark or a growl… sweep up the crumbs… As silent as snow… put the kettle on… The dog’s on the prowl… sweep the floor… and where will she go?

Well that’s not immortal verse, I hear you cry. No of course it isn’t, you daft wee thing: it’s DOG-gerel. Still, it looks like I’ve found a title for my new book of comic verse. I was sure it was going to be called ‘Pelicans Can’t Read’, but the Worm tells me it has to be ‘A Furry Nose in the Fridge’. Go figure…

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A new dawn (I hope)

Paw Prints has been a mite dispirited of late, struggling to make these mewsings heard. Now thanks to a wonderful Tom cat (you know who you are…) – I have emerged blinking into a new dawn of technology. Thanks are also due to the regal Lady Bracknell – a.k.a. Jessie Cahalin, originator of the wonderful Books In My Handbag blog:

Plenty of news to relate, but here’s the most exciting for today. At Home in the Pays d’Oc has won a One Stop Fiction Five Star Book Award. Many thanks to Kathryn Bax, always supportive and helpful to the vain, needy and technologically incompetent.

Free books for readers at and lots of support for authors on the One Stop Fiction Facebook pages.

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A tentative paw

One of the reasons I have been so reluctant to post here is that I had a few problems with WordPress. The worst of these is that my ‘follow me’ wasn’t working properly. Now a kind friend has had a go at fixing this, so if you stumble across this blog please hit the ‘follow’ button and let me know how you get on.

Fingers crossed, I’m about to add some contact details…

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