Just three weeks short of his first birthday, our Svennypoo has killed his first bird, causing some mixed emotions. At least I’ve discovered how mobile phones are the best way to read books in the modern world.
I want to start this entry by thanking everybody for the well-wishes, congratulations, cards and presents my partner and I received upon announcing our engagement. It was a little overwhelming to be inundated with such a high volume of lovely responses; it blew me away and we’re very grateful. We’ve decided not to start making any proper plans until October, because my brother gets married on the fifth and he and his partner deserve the focus. I have sneaked a few peeks at different possible venues though, and I’m very much looking forward to getting married. The only thing set in stone is that we have to have a chocolate fountain, by order of my partner’s daughter! Her auntie had one at her wedding and she loved it, so she is very excited to have an opportunity for another. Beyond that one decision, the rest will wait until my brother is hitched, and that’s fine by me. It’ll be nice to enjoy being engaged for a few months before the stress of the cost of a wedding kicks in! So yeah, thank you again for your lovely messages, they mean the world. I’m a very lucky man.
It was yesterday, when I was at work, that my partner sent me a message I’d been expecting for a while. It was a photo of a dead bird, accompanied by the caption, ‘Sven has his first kill!’ Honest to God, I didn’t know how to feel. Seeing the poor larl thing lying there, slain at the paws of my Svennypoo, I just felt so bad for the bird. He’d done nothing wrong to anyone, just singing his merry little starling song and flying around without a care, only to be lured into the trap by my murderous moggy, his life ended in the flap of a wing. It reawakened all the feelings I had four years ago, when I embarked on a vegetarian lifestyle for two-and-a-half years because the thought of animals dying for my pleasure left me feeling so guilty. I’ve been back on the meat for eighteen months, and I do feel my lack of exposure to non-domestic animals is part of the reason. Now, the reality of my food choices had been thrust back into my consciousness by my cat, and I felt overwhelming guilt for a good while.
The other part of me felt nothing but pride. Like a father watching his child score his first goal for the football team, our innocent kitten had become a real cat, a few weeks shy of the official passage of time. The second photo sent, of him looking exceedingly smug, made me feel happy for him. Cats aren’t troubled by the tedious moral quandaries of the human; they act on instinct, they act on survival, and they act as they are hard-wired to do. I couldn’t hold the murder against my boy, because he hadn’t done anything wrong, not by his standards. He’s spent all day being super-affectionate with me, so I wonder if he senses my mixed emotions and is trying to show me he is still my darling Svennypoo, even after ascending to the rank of Sven the Slaughterer. It’ll take some getting used to, and it’s my guilt to bear, but it is a relief to know my boy can look after himself if needs be. For him, it’s a major milestone, and I am proud of him for reaching it.
My partner finds my moral quandary quite amusing. He’s a cat, she said, of course he’s going to kill birds. Of course, she is right. Another thing she has been proven correct about, which she also finds amusing, is my acceptance that reading books on a mobile phone is a wonderful thing. I have teased her for months about how she reads epic fantasy stories through a small screen, when she has a Kindle and so many books upstairs. I just couldn’t see how it would be a pleasant experience. That was until, bored from the lack of football articles being shared on Twitter during the football social media boycott, I decided I needed to re-read Stephen King’s On Writing. I figured, if I couldn’t read football articles – I could’ve done, to be honest, I was just too lazy to search for them – I may as well read something that could benefit my writing long-term. Installing an eBook reader on my phone, I was amazed at just how pleasant it was to have something proper to read on my phone, rather than endless football articles and wrestling Reddit threads. I felt like the time I killed on my phone was well-spent, rather than wasted, and it was actually so much easier to read on my phone than on my Kindle or from a book.
This, I still feel really weird about. I was always one of the traditionalists, one of the it-must-be-paper crowd. Though I have a Kindle, I don’t think I’ve even charged it up for three years, and finding the time to read a book, free from distractions, has proven a challenge for several years now. Since installing that eBook reader last weekend, I’m on my fifth book in six days. I am reading voraciously, and my time on both social media and forums has declined considerably. This, I can assure you, is A Very Good Thing Indeed. Though I am reading my fifth book on my smartphone, I am yet to read a fiction novel on it, so I cannot comment on how that experience will feel. Perhaps it will feel too impersonal, too distant, too wrong for me to enjoy reading the likes of Neil Gaiman or Chris Carter through a small screen. Given how many long, epic, multi-book fantasy stories my partner gets through on hers, I simply do not see it being an issue.
I can read several hundred Chrome tabs a week on my phone, yet I was always too snobby to try and read a single book. Now I have, I’m actually a bit furious with myself for wasting so much time not doing so. Unlike a Kindle or a physical book, I can take my phone everywhere, right there in my pocket. Now that my pretentions have been dropped, I can re-engage fully with one of my greatest passions. Give it a try yourself; you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you lose yourself in a book, rather than waste your time on social media.
Getting engaged, watching my boy become a real cat and re-discovering the magic of reading; it’s been a bloody good week. Thank you for your ongoing support.
Song of the Chapter:
‘Wrapped Up In Books’ by Belle and Sebastian
Quote of the Chapter:
“Of all God's creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”
"One of the most insightful works I've read on mental health problems in men ... It is very well-written and a real page-turner. I would recommend it to anyone.
Dancing With Disorder
"It communicates a deep understanding of troubled individuals who suffer from the challenges of mental disorders ... Courageous, wise, humorous and thought-provoking ... an easy-to-read, surprising and subtly moving chronicle.
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