I'm not about to comment on last night's draw with the US - there's more than enough of that in the media! - though I thought it was an interesting example of the way different people interpret the same event in different ways when some American fans claimed that their goal wasn't due to a goalkeeper's blunder but their striker's skill! I must admit to being slightly less enthused by football in general since I've lived in Wales, where rugby is the national game, and in my opinion, a generally far more exciting one! Wales fairly inevitably didn't make it to the soccer finals, so watching England playing the US was OK, but no more than that. At least I didn't fall asleep watching it! I have never really lived down the fact that I 'dropped off' during that historic 1966 World Cup Final! In my defence, I didn't have a clue about the rules of the game at the time and with a young baby and a demanding job, I should imagine I was just a little bit tired as well as bored! And it wasn't until 1998, when the football over-ran into the programme I'd turned on the television to watch and England were losing, but in the final few minutes turned the game around and won, that I finally understood what all the excitement was about and caught 'football fever'!
These footballing greeting cards weren't prompted by the World Cup however, but were simply part of my ongoing attempt to make cards for men and boys, where there seems to be a bit of a gap in the market.
June 12th was not all about the footie though! It was also a friend's birthday; and, as she is a cat-lover, I decided to try my hand at painting cats, spurred on by Michele Webber's squirrel painting and, of course, Carole Barkett's lovely wildlife paintings, though I don't aspire to ever matching their talents!
I do like cats; in fact I would call myself very much a 'cat person' in spite of being 'catless' for the past thirteen years. I grew up with a great many cats and, until I left Norwich in 1997, we always had a cat - or two.
The very first that I remember was Rusty, and he was probably older than I was. He was a battle-scarred, rather faded old Ginger Tom. One day, when he was very old and I was still very young, he 'disappeared', presumably to that great hunting ground in the sky; and soon afterwards everyone we knew seemed to be giving us kittens to replace him. We ended up with about half a dozen, gave a couple of them to my grandparents and kept Dusty, Snowy, Copper (because of his big feet) and Zebo. I don't remember what became of them but I do remember Copper falling from quite a height through a decrepit balcony and landing on his feet - one of his nine lives spoken for, I suspect!
Then, later, there was a succession of cats that belonged, in theory at least, to my children. The first was Bitsy, a rather plump and matronly tortoiseshell and white that we took on as an adult cat. She disappeared once too - but we found her again, twenty four hours later. A neighbour's slightly strange child who had been playing with my daughter in our house, had shut her in a drawer, where she remained overnight. And it wasn't an empty drawer either! So the poor thing had spent the night in an extremely confined space - and, my goodness, did she make a bolt for the outside as soon as we discovered her! I'd better not go into how Bitsy used to talk to me or I will lose all credibility as a rational person...
The last cat who shared our home was Molly, a sleek black cat that had belonged to my daughter. She came to live with us when my daughter moved to a flat where no pets were allowed after the second of the sibling 'ferral' cats we had taken in from a rescue centre was run over on the nearby main road. They were an extraordinary pair! Pickle, a dainty little grey tabby and white, seemed to be thoroughly in charge of her much bigger Ginger Tom brother, Pumpkin. She would wash him, pin him down with her 'arm' as he slept and generally let him know that she was the boss. He was by far the more nervous of the two and my arms were permanently covered in scratches - until his sister was hit and fatally injured by a car, at which point he 'came out of his shell', and became a much more relaxed, friendly and affectionate cat! An amazing transformation!
I never really bonded with Molly, probably because I never felt that she was 'my' cat - as if one could ever claim ownership of a cat! So when the people who were buying my house asked if I'd include her in the price of the fixtures and fittings, I happily agreed. I knew that the two little girls who were going to move in would give her far more attention than I would be able to as I was about to take on a wreck of a house, living out of packing cases and with zero 'mod cons' for months at the very least while the builders did their worst.
And in any case, cats, I believe, tend to attach themselves to places rather than people so better all round that Molly should stay put, leaving me free to get a cat (or cats!) of my own choosing once I was settled in my new home. Somehow that moment has never arrived! I've always been either too busy to cope with the litter trays, vaccinations, clawed upholstery etc or too impecunious to afford the catfood, not to mention the vets' bills!
But I do like cats; I like their independence, their self-sufficiency (as long as they get their board and lodging!!!), their apparent indifference to many of the comings and goings that would send a dog into a state of tail-wagging, yapping excitement.
There appears to be some sort of affinity between artists and cats; I don't know why this should be the case. Of course they are wonderfully 'aesthetic' creatures (apart from our old Rusty!) - but then so are many animals! I'm curious to know if anyone has any theories about this, or whether it is in fact true that cats and artists tend to hang out together?
And, by the way, here are some of my first attempts - I'm sure they won't be my last and I hope I'll improve!