Ranking Pets

Does what it says on the tin.

7. Rabbits
Names: Thumper and Cottontail

Rabbits are the worst. 

My sisters and I were suckered in by the fact they look cute and are traditionally portrayed well, like Bugs Bunny, Bucky O’Hare and Buster, Arthur’s mate.

But when we got them we realised they are awful pets. 

They didn’t like being held, they didn’t do much and they lived in the garden, taking up space I had previously used as a stand in for Wembley stadium. 

We had the long eared pains for a couple of years but the novelty wore off pretty quick. Our only real interaction with them came as we chased them around the garden after their many escape attempts. It would have probably been better for all if we’d just let them take their chances on their own.

After a while my mum took over looking after them as we got bored of the twitchy nosed tools. It’s a sign of how much we’d gone off them that Thumper, the last bunny standing, was dead for a few days before us kids realised, my mum curious as to how long it would take (note: Mum had disposed of his body compassionately, just didn’t tell us of his untimely demise).

6. Pet Rock

Name: Forgotten as changed often.

I got these as a gift. They were basically some rocks with faces on. They sat on my shelf.

So, how are these better than rabbits?

  1. They took up less room
  2. None of my pet rocks ever bit me
  3. I never used a rabbit to squish a giant spider

Yeah, so Rocks > Rabbits. Unless you’re making a stew.

5. Tamagotchi

Names: Gwyneth, Willow and more that I forget.

For those who don’t remember, Tamagotchi were a big deal in the late ’90s. These pocket sized electronic pets were everywhere and kids were obsessed with them. One such kid was my youngest sister.

Unfortunately, the kids were so invested in keeping the crudely animated blobs alive that they weren’t focusing in class. And so, my sister’s school banned them. But I was in big school and so took on the responsibility as our teachers were more worried about stopping their students smoking or getting pregnant.

I renamed the thing Gwyneth after Miss Paltrow, which makes no sense as I wasn’t a fan of hers. But I must have had a reason.

At first I kept her alive to help my sister, but soon she’d lost interest and I was obsessed with keeping it going. Gwyneth lived quite a long time before she bought the farm and I replaced her with Willow. Willow didn’t live as long and after that, jaded by the losses, there were a few others who didn’t last long.

4. Hamster

Name: Pablo

I inherited Pablo after my second attempt at uni. He was our flat pet and originally belonged to my flatmate Phil. However, I took custody and he lived with me for a while.

Hamsters are odd pets. They’re quite shy and dislike being held, which limits their fun factor. However, they are very cute and at least do stuff like running on their wheel.

I spent a lot of time talking to Pablo, jabbering away to him when I was alone. It was company while everyone else went about their lives and I stayed in, hunting jobs.

He put in a good innings by hamster standards but sadly went to play on the big wheel in the sky.

3. Goldfish

Names: Squishy and Fang.

I expected Squishy to die from the moment I got him. 

I won him at a funfair, and he was tiny. I gave it a couple of weeks before I had to flush him.

But the little guy surprised me. He grew quickly and seemed in good health. He even survived a fire in our halls. And the drive home from Lampeter. 

In fact, Squishy would live for another seven years, joined in 2006 by Fang, who is still going. 

They might not be the most entertaining of pets but I loved Squishy for his survivor attitude and the connection to my uni days. They’re also quite calming to watch and, like hamsters, easy to talk to.

2. Dogs

Name: Carrie.

Honourable mentions: Phoebe, Millie, basically every other dog I’ve met.

My little sister really wanted a dog. After years of pleading and promises my parents relented. Unfortunately, the dog we got was Carrie.

Part Jack Russell, part English Bull Terrier, part unspecified dog and part hellhound, a family new to dogs couldn’t have picked worse.

We had her a few years during which she moved from cute puppy to raging bitch. She’d lunge for other dogs, for cyclists, for pretty much anything that walked or crawled. She would drag our cat about by the scruff of his neck, the cat too soft and dim to run away.

Finally, she bit all three of my sisters. My mum realised my little sister, driving force of Team Dog, was scared of the white ball of rage. Carrie was rehomed and the Page family chalked up dogs as a failed experiment. 

Two of my sisters are now firmly on Team Cat. But me? While I love felines, I still want a canine buddy.

This is because every other dog I’ve met has been tidy. I’ve dog sat for friends and I love dogs. I mean, cleaning up their shit is a drag.

But I genuinely love dogs. MWF’s mum has a Jack Russell who is amazing. All my mates’ dogs are ace too.

And so I would really like a dog in future, with my preference being for a French Bulldog.

1. Cats
Names: Tom, Jerry, Tiger, Yoga, Tad, Llew, Midnight and Pumpkin. 

As the above list shows, cats are the most consistent pet I’ve had. There were cats when my mum brought me back from the hospital, and there has been at least one cat in the Page house since then.

MWF is a crazy cat lady waiting to happen, and so early on we knew that we would always have cats. 

Enter Midnight, our wonky eyed cat who was followed by Pumpkin, a manic ball of energy who speeds around the house like a white and orange Tasmanian Devil. Sadly, Midge and Pumps didn’t get on, so Midnight has returned to MWF’s mum’s house while Pumpkin is now the boss here.

Pumpkin recharging for his next assault

Cats tick a lot of boxes. They are cute and like attention, without being needy about it. They have distinct personalities, and are entertaining to watch, there’s a reason cats dominate the internet. You can play with them but they’ll also just curl up and chill with you. And they are loveable. 

In my opinion cats are the best pets. You can disagree. But you’re wrong.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO. 


I don’t shave for Sherlock Holmes. Or anyone else.

“Are you going to shave for the wedding?”

This is something I’ve been asked quite a lot recently. Sometimes repeatedly by the same person, which is a little annoying. One of my friends is not a fan of the face fuzz and clearly feels that I would look better clean shaven on the big day. This is fine, but as I’ve stated that my opinion opposes this the matter should be laid to rest now, right?

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Me in the classic “look at my ring” pose

This is the first time I’ve really grown a beard properly. Prior to this I just used to occasionally let it grow for a while because I was too lazy to shave regularly. I am terrible at shaving, and would emerge smooth faced and bleeding like a character in an ’80s slasher movie.

As a student nurse I had to keep myself tidy while on placement, mainly because of the constant whining of my mentor. However, since I decided nursing wasn’t for me, I’ve not shaved in about a year and a half.

I’m not sure I should share that as it highlights just how patchy and crap my facial hair growth is. Seriously, look at the above photo. There’s enough hair there for me to rock a decent moustache and chin beard, but it’s all spread out across my face, meaning that my beard isn’t the best. I wish it was like one of those old magnet and iron filings things where I could just move the hairs around my face until I had a decent full beard.

I’d love to boast a full on Grizzly Adams beard, but alas, my hair grows in a stupid pattern. At least it now looks like an intentional beard, for a while it just looked like laziness.

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Brian Blessed- Beard goals.

This is a downside of having a beard at the moment. I get the sense that people see it as me following the current trend for hirsute men. This isn’t true, it’s just a coincidence that beards are “in” while I’ve grown mine.

The reasons for my beard? Simple really;

  1. My hatred of shaving
  2. Laziness. It’s one less thing to do during my early morning zombie state.
  3. MWF likes the hairy look, so making her happy is an additional perk.
  4. The last time I did shave, for a job interview, I looked really young. And stupid. So, I’ll stick with mature and stupid for the foreseeable future.

I’ll give the beard a trim before the wedding, so that I look a little smarter than normal, but I don’t think shaving it off would do much.

Besides, it doesn’t matter how tidy I look at the start of the day, sooner or later I’ll spill food or drink down myself and shatter the illusion of being a smartly dressed grown up.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: Tormenting the Chubsters

I don’t think it was deliberate. I don’t think a child that small is capable of such casual meanness but unknowingly the five year old was trolling every single member of Chub Club.

As we queued nervously to be weighed or flicked through our books realising treats would have to be sacrificed this little girl danced happily in the centre. The focus of all the group’s envy.

Firstly, she was happy and comfortable in a way that had abandoned her elders present. Her dancing was untempered by self consciousness, boundless enthusiasm making up for any ability or music. But more than this, and the real reason for the jealousy was that she happily are a Cadbury’s Wispa without any remorse.

I’m not saying nobody else present has eaten chocolate recently, but I doubt any have done without a twinge of guilt or lack of thought.

I’d eaten a pack of M&Ms with the Superbowl and had regretted it. As I queued for the scales I felt distinctly pessimistic about how I had done this week. The M&Ms had followed a pepperoni pizza and been followed by a small stack of ginger nuts. 

It was barely a drop in the excess of Superbowl weekend globally, but it was still a mistake and a moment of greedy weakness, under the flimsy excuse that it was a special occasion.

So I wasn’t feeling confident.

I paid my membership and then emptied my pockets, removed my shoes and hoodie and rechecked my pockets. I neared the front of the line, the scales looming and my spirits low.

I’d followed the new regime, but there had been a few wobbles and there was nowhere to hide. I hadn’t given my all and I was about to reap the consequences on the display.

Stepping into the scales I watched the number climb. And climb and then stop. 

I gaped in surprise.

 I had lost 4.5 lbs. 

I was pleased with my slightly undeserved success and decided that I needed to steady myself. The wobbles must stop and I had to fully commit. Stock to the rules and not go over my treat allowance.

I prepped a salad and healthy snack for my shift the next day and watched TV. 

But as I lay in bed awaiting sleep the voice of greed started to whisper.

“I could murder a Wispa right now.”

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Chrises on Infinite Earths 

“What if…?”

Those two words can drag you right down the rabbit hole. You think about how things might have played out differently, chances missed and roads not taken. 

Of course, it’s all pointless. Any science fiction fan knows that one slight change can create a whole parallel world. 

Given a time machine and the chance to do things over would I, knowing it risked what I have now?

My life isn’t perfect, and there are things I’d change but for the most part I’m happy. I’m marrying a fantastic woman later this year and am relatively healthy. Who knows what altering something I did might do?

Let’s say I went back and worked harder in uni the first time, actively pursued a writing career and became a writer for real. Read by thousands, not just whatever schmucks stumble across my blog. In some alternate world I might be their version of Hunter S. Thompson or Norman Mailer.

But without the winding, unplanned path I’ve taken the past decade I wouldn’t have wound up trying to be a nurse. I wouldn’t have met MWF and wouldn’t be sat in our house, our cat dozing on my lap, writing this. I might be sat lonely in some flash flat, or dating someone I don’t love. I could be divorced. I could be dead.

That’s the scary thing about the whole alternate reality thing. Sure, there are infinite possibilities of where your life has taken you but there are millions of universes where your story already finished. Or never even began. 

Worlds where your mum and dad never met because some minor event went a different way earlier on. And the whole thing just expands to mind bending proportions. The fact that it’s you reading this is a result of thousands of years of things going a certain way, and that one tiny bump might have meant it didn’t happen.

Hell, a chromosome either way and you’d be a different gender.

It’s the kind of thing that starts to mess you up when you think about it. When you realise just how close you’ve come to having a different life. The whole thing is an exercise in wishful thinking, you wonder about how you could have done stuff right and been better off, but the fact is at a certain point you’d have stopped being you. 

Our experiences are what shapes us, I am who I am because of the mistakes and failures along the way as much as my wins. I’ve learnt and grown because of things which have hurt me or been difficult, and if I had a smoother road I might have developed in a different way. And the fact is, while I know there are parts I could improve, for the most part, I like who I am today.

I may not have the job I want, but in the world where I played for Wales or became a superhero I might have lost out on the stuff I do have.

So why torture myself with what if questions? I should just appreciate the good that I have in my life, and work to change the parts I don’t like. 

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: Gain and Pain

Yesterday evening MWF and I went and joined Chub Club, as both of us are wanting to get a bit healthier and lose some weight before our wedding which is now less than nine months away (eek!). 

I haven’t weighed myself in a while and wasn’t stupid, I suspected that I’d gained weight. But I was thinking that I’d land somewhere between my starting weight last year and the lowest I got to. I figured that 2016 was going to be a case of “two steps forward, one step back”.

Unfortunately this was not the case. In the first quarter of last year I had done pretty good but after stopping Chub Club my drive to lose weight veered off a cliff. Last night I found out I had regained all the weight I had lost, with an extra 2lbs on top. I am heavier now than I was a year ago. In fact this might be the heaviest I’ve ever been.

There were contributing factors, but ultimately the buck stops with me. I got lazy, greedy and made stupid decisions. I chose takeaways when I should have made something healthier. I could have gone easier on the chocolates and sweets, and I could have shown a lot more self control.

So, because I am a greedy fool I have left myself a mountain to climb and less than nine months to do it in. The fridge is now filled with fruit and salads, I’ve googled local gyms, chocolate and desserts are a thing of the past.

Even my beloved Lattes aren’t safe, becoming a treat and not my standard order. I’m going to be drinking black coffee again. Dark and bitter days lie ahead, but it’ll be worth it.

The only plus point is that Chub Club insists on going around the group with everyone sharing how they’ve done. Just watching made me uncomfortable so I definitely don’t want to be sitting there telling everyone that I’ve gained weight.

Eat healthy. Exercise more. Sounds simple, right? Let’s see how it goes.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


2017 Resolutions

That time of year again.

1. Lose Weight

This was a resolution last year and started well but fell off in the second half of the year. Hopefully, with MWF and I now having our own place this will be easier to stick to now.

Also going into 2017 I have more drive to lose weight as there will be wedding and honeymoon photos which I’d like to be able to look at without hating how I look.

I’ve also decided that as part of this I’m going to blog about it more often even when things aren’t going well. Sharing it online will hopefully motivate me to do well, so if I go a few weeks without writing about it feel free to remind me in the comments.
2. Be Nicer

I could stand to be kinder and more patient, and make more of an effort with people.

3. Stop Just Daydreaming and Actually Follow Through on Stuff

From the bucket list to my writing, I’ve always got half baked plans I’m my head but I need to knuckle down and work to achieve them. Thankfully I already have 1 and 1/7 bucket list items planned, butI want to do more.

I need to actually try and not just spend ages fantasising.

4. Broaden My Reading

This year I read a lot of zombie, superhero and Ed McBain books and while I enjoyed them and will read more, I feel I should try and add a bit of variety.


5. Remember the Good Stuff

Going to make sure I take time to appreciate the good stuff and might even keep a list.

Only five this year, but hopefully ones I can achieve. Keep reading to find out how I do.

Anyway, if you have any words of encouragement or resolutions of your own let me know in the comments. Happy New Year! BETEO.


A belated thank you to Dr Heimlech

This weekend saw the passing of Dr Henry Heimlich, famous for his life saving technique. I’m not going to lie reading his brief obit from the Beeb there were two things that hit me (a) surprise, as I thought he was already dead and (b) shock, as I’d assumed the manoeuvre had been around a lot longer.

1974?! It took us longer to work out how to stop someone choking than it did to get to the moon! 

The manoeuvre being used by Mrs Doubtfire

Anyway, I felt bad that he had only just died as I should have probably written and thanked him because without the good doctor’s invention I wouldn’t be writing this post.

Back in the early nineties I was on the yard at primary school eating an aniseed ball and reenacting the death of a minor film character when the sweet lodged itself in my throat and began to choke. Panic rose in my friends and I but we hurried inside and found a dinner lady.

They may have almost killed me but I am now massively craving some

The dinner lady, her name sadly forgotten, kept a cool head and several abdominal thrusts (as the manoeuvre is known as by many) later the red sweet hurled from my mouth, skittering across the school corridor.
So, thank you anonymous dinner lady and Doctor Heimlich, for saving my life and stopping me from being a playground legend and warning against sweets.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Annoyed (5)

The other day I was seriously annoyed at work. In the morning I’d caught the bus in and grabbed a copy of the Metro thinking that the Rush Hour Crush, sudokus and crossword would help pass the time. 

It tends to be quite quiet at the start of the shift so I settled in with a cup of tea and started the crossword, having secured one of the few pens that were floating around. 

A few clues in I had to go do something, and set my paper down. A few minutes later having done whatever it was I returned and my paper was gone. I had a quick look about and it was nowhere to be seen. Not in the staff room, not in the office, not moved to somewhere else.
I was tamping.

The worst part was I knew I couldn’t go around raising a fuss because (a) I’ve been there a fortnight, so still need to hide my true self from my co-workers and (b) it’s the Metro I hadn’t bought it. I’d picked it up on the bus, and the whole way the paper makes it’s cash is that it gets picked up and passed on. You see a copy lying around and unless it’s right next to someone it’s fair game.

But still! It had a half done crossword in! Clearly I wasn’t done with it. For the rest of the day I was keeping a vague eye out for it but no joy.

It was seriously infuriating because it deprived me of entertainment and the satisfaction of completing it.

This is the kind of unfinished business which means had I died Thursday my ghost would have haunted work until it could finish the crossword and gain peace.

I was denied my triumph, my well earned joy at a puzzle solved. It’s not often I find myself feeling like Sherlock Holmes, especially since I gave up the morphine,  but when I’ve started working something out I get a little bit obsessed and want to see it through.

Being deprived of this choice was not a good conclusion and left me deeply unsatisfied, in the same way if someone had stolen the dancing men before Holmes had worked out what they meant.

It also left me annoyed with my new co-workers, all of whom I now viewed with suspicion, unable to confirm which one had stolen my paper.

What kind of place have I started to work in? What kind of monsters am I working with, who throws out someone’s incomplete puzzle, it’s just not cricket.
Oh, and the answer to the title clue? “Cross”.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO. 


Underground

Inspired by a Daily Post prompt.

And I should warn you right here, this is a bit of a grim blog. So consider yourself warned.

I’m not a very brave guy. I have a lot of fears. Off the top of my head- clowns, spiders, zombies, heights and that I’m actually allergic to nuts but have been brainwashed into forgetting this and am one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup away from death.

But high on the list? 

Being buried alive.

A few years ago I went and saw Ryan Reynolds in Buried and left the cinema shaking, and I can’t think of a film that has left me so shaken. if you haven’t seen it, it’s a cracking thriller from what I remember.

Shout out to the “groundbreaking” pun

I can’t remember when I first heard about people being buried alive, I think it came from being told people used to get bricked into walls back in medieval times or something. But it chilled me then.

I’m claustrophobic and as a kid had problems with the dark, so it makes sense that this would mess with me, but unlike a lot of fears this one gets worse the older you get. 

And knowledge is not power here.

As a kid I thought it would suck. As an adult I realised that was a massive understatement.

Not just the enclosed space but the just knowing it was all over. That would be the worst part. If you have a terminal illness you can say goodbye to your loved ones, but just knowing you were trapped?

Forget Kill Bill in the real world you ain’t getting out. And that’s what terrifies me. You hear those “they thought they were dead” stories and they usually have a happy ending, I mean the person was alive after all, and probably headed for a big pay out from the doctor who dropped the ball.

But I can’t be alone in thinking what about the folks who woke up after the burial? How many coffins have scratch marks on the inside?

This has to be the most morbid entry I’ve ever written. Blame bingeing on The Walking Dead and being tired, I guess. Although I suppose it is kinda reassuring that if there ever are zombies a lot of them will be trapped six feet under.

I am painfully aware that should I ever become a masked crime fighter I have just told my enemies how to get rid of me in the worst way.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Oh, dear, what can the matter be?

I wrote about using the disabled toilets at work to change a little while back and despite my unease have continued to do so. Today, however, the powers that be may have sent a message for me to stop misusing these facilities.

I found today’s shift tougher than normal as I’ve just had a week off, so was out of my work rhythm. Tired all I wanted to do was head home for some cold pizza and The Walking Dead but first I needed a bus and to change clothes. 

Luckily the staff disabled toilet is a lot cleaner than the customer one because it hardly ever gets used. I hastily changed, trying to avoid seeing my reflection in tte mirror and was soon ready to go.

I reached for the handle which was a little loose. I turned it. Nothing.

I jiggled it and tried again.

Still nothing.

Realization hit. 

I was locked in.

I tried fiddling some more, pulling the door as tight as I could, twisting the handle in every possible direction.

After two or three minutes and countless attempts I had to accept defeat.

With embarrassment oozing from every pore I reached up and pulled the distress cord.

A few minutes later I was rescued by a helpful, and clearly amused, security guard. I thanked him and got the hell out of there.

I think tomorrow I’ll just wear my uniform on the bus.

Any thoughts ?  You know what to do. BETEO.