Coming soon – The Diary of a Buddhist Cat

Hello, my name is Freddie. I am a cat.

I live in a house with another cat called Gemma and two humans, John, and Mary.

I am about 3 years old though I can’t remember how old I am exactly because they took me away from my mum when I was very young, and my dad had already left home. My mum used to whisper to me gently how many days old I was when I woke up each morning. This was just after she told me she loved me and that I must be brave at all times and always try my best. I love my mum and I miss her every day.

I can’t really remember which day is which as I live in the present moment. This book isn’t really a diary, because diaries have days and dates – I read this in a book – and I will enter all my entries as ‘Today’. Buddhists believe we should all live in the moment – I read that in a book too, I read a lot – and so I must be a Buddhist cat, but I am not sure how I prove that to anyone. Perhaps if I leave all my chapter headings as ‘Today’ then when they discover this book after I pass on someone else will determine that a Buddhist cat wrote this book? Otherwise, I am not sure what to do. Do I have to obtain a certificate or pass an exam? I’m not sure. I can’t find any books which tell me this information and I’ve looked hard.

Luckily there’s a library next door that allows cats to use the facilities, though I’m not sure whether the library realises this yet. I can even use their photocopier to produce pictures of my rear end, which confuses them no little amount, and then they call in the repairman because they reckon there’s a fault with the copier, rather than a cat with a sense of mischief lurking outside the window. To gain entry, rather than use the sliding doors at the front which I can only operate with a great deal of effort, there’s always an open window on the top floor and I can squeeze in there during the day when it’s open. I have to leave by 5pm before the slim lady librarian with the severe eyebrows, blue hair, and clothes covered in dog hairs closes it for the night.

Anyway, I will stop moaning – as Gemma calls it, she’s mean but more of that many times later – I can sense you’re wondering how did this Buddhist cat get into this state? How did I get to the pinnacle I operate at today? Well, you’ve come to the right place for an explanation, clever reader, how did you know?

Actually, to be fair, there’s not that much to it…

As I said, they took me from my mum when I was little more than a kitten and gave me to an older lady ‘for company’. This person was poor and fed me a paltry amount each day. She lived in one room, and I was never let outside to gain the social skills required to get along with trees, streets, and those large moving objects that weigh more than I do, and which would squash me flat if I ever went too close to them. I was a sickly young cat and caught cat flu, which I don’t remember hunting but caught anyway. The lady took me to a vet, and I needed some medicine. The lady couldn’t afford to pay and threw me at the vet, who caught me and paid for the medicine himself before handing me over very gently to a cat shelter.

Coming soon – The Diary of a Buddhist Cat

Hello, my name is Freddie. I am a cat.

I live in a house with another cat called Gemma and two humans, John, and Mary.

I am about 3 years old though I can’t remember how old I am exactly because they took me away from my mum when I was very young, and my dad had already left home. My mum used to whisper to me gently how many days old I was when I woke up each morning. This was just after she told me she loved me and that I must be brave at all times and always try my best. I love my mum and I miss her every day.

I can’t really remember which day is which as I live in the present moment. This book isn’t really a diary, because diaries have days and dates – I read this in a book – and I will enter all my entries as ‘Today’. Buddhists believe we should all live in the moment – I read that in a book too, I read a lot – and so I must be a Buddhist cat, but I am not sure how I prove that to anyone. Perhaps if I leave all my chapter headings as ‘Today’ then when they discover this book after I pass on someone else will determine that a Buddhist cat wrote this book? Otherwise, I am not sure what to do. Do I have to obtain a certificate or pass an exam? I’m not sure. I can’t find any books which tell me this information and I’ve looked hard.

Luckily there’s a library next door that allows cats to use the facilities, though I’m not sure whether the library realises this yet. I can even use their photocopier to produce pictures of my rear end, which confuses them no little amount, and then they call in the repairman because they reckon there’s a fault with the copier, rather than a cat with a sense of mischief lurking outside the window. To gain entry, rather than use the sliding doors at the front which I can only operate with a great deal of effort, there’s always an open window on the top floor and I can squeeze in there during the day when it’s open. I have to leave by 5pm before the slim lady librarian with the severe eyebrows, blue hair, and clothes covered in dog hairs closes it for the night.

Anyway, I will stop moaning – as Gemma calls it, she’s mean but more of that many times later – I can sense you’re wondering how did this Buddhist cat get into this state? How did I get to the pinnacle I operate at today? Well, you’ve come to the right place for an explanation, clever reader, how did you know?

Actually, to be fair, there’s not that much to it…

As I said, they took me from my mum when I was little more than a kitten and gave me to an older lady ‘for company’. This person was poor and fed me a paltry amount each day. She lived in one room, and I was never let outside to gain the social skills required to get along with trees, streets, and those large moving objects that weigh more than I do, and which would squash me flat if I ever went too close to them. I was a sickly young cat and caught cat flu, which I don’t remember hunting but caught anyway. The lady took me to a vet, and I needed some medicine. The lady couldn’t afford to pay and threw me at the vet, who caught me and paid for the medicine himself before handing me over very gently to a cat shelter.

26th August – The Snows of Kilimanjaro

I read this book twice in succession and I still can’t work out why it’s so absorbing – is it because of the flashbacks to the times that Harry has survived because he knows he’s going to die this time? It’s a mystery to me. I don’t like the way Harry treats Helen or indeed talks to her, but if you know you’re going to pass away, perhaps that skews your judgement or you feel resentful that someone will survive you? I can’t know the answer to that. The plane flight at the end of the book over Kilimanjaro is beautifully done.

The Mary Celeste Society

This excerpt is from the book entitled 40 Strange Groups. Little is known about them, hence the shortness of the book and the low price.

==============================

On 5th December 1872, the ship Dei Gratia was about 400 miles east of the Azores, when crew members spotted a ship adrift in the choppy seas. Capt. David Morehouse was surprised the vessel was the Mary Celeste, which had left New York eight days ahead of the Dei Gratia and should have already arrived in Genoa. Morehouse sent a boarding party to the ship.

Below decks, the crew’s belongings were still in their quarters. The ship’s only lifeboat was gone. Three and a half feet of water was sloshing in the ship’s bottom. The cargo of industrial alcohol was largely intact. There was a six-month supply of food and water— but there was no one on board to to consume it.

What happened to the ten people who had sailed aboard the Mary Celeste? This is the main premise of The Mary Celeste Society, who meet every month in Lisbon, to try and find out what happened to this mysterious ship. As Joao Goncalves their chairman says no one knows for sure: “Theories have ranged from mutiny to pirates to sea monsters to killer waterspouts. The story of the Mary Celeste might have drifted into history but for Arthur Conan Doyle’s J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement in 1884; his sensationalistic account, printed in Cornhill Magazine, set off waves of theorizing about the ship’s fate. This is what we continue today. We would like to have found the lifeboat as that would have given us a clue about what happened.”

Speculation concerning sea monsters was easy to dismiss as the Mary Celeste showed no signs of damage, other than from storms. The ship’s fully laden condition seemed to rule out pirates. One theory bandied about in the 19th century was that the crew drank the alcohol onboard and either mutinied or fell overboard after pushing the captain and his family into the sea. Another theory assumed that alcohol vapors expanded in the Azores heat and blew off the main hatch, prompting those aboard to fear an imminent explosion. But the boarding party found the main hatch secured and did not report smelling any fumes. Nine of the 1,701 barrels in the hold were empty, but these were made of red oak, not white oak like the others. Red oak is known to be a more porous wood and therefore more likely to leak.

Another theory has come to prominence in recent years as Joao Goncalves explains: “Seaquakes have been mentioned as a possible reason why the crew would leave the ship, but that in itself wouldn’t be enough, because you would be moved up and down violently in both the main ship and the lifeboat. It would be more dangerous in the smaller ship, so why do that? There has to have been something else, some other reason. Fire has been mentioned, but why when there was no evidence of any fire on the ship? Perhaps the alcohol from some of the barrels caused a flash fire and everyone jumped overboard expecting the ship to burn? There was no smell of alcohol when the other crew arrived. Who knows, it remains a mystery.”

Nestorian Christians to recreate the Mongol Empire (NECREME)

This is an extract from the book 40 Strange Groups which is currently on sale.

The Nestorians are followers of Nestorius (c. AD 386—451), who was Archbishop of Constantinople. Nestorianism is based on the belief put forth by Nestorius that emphasized the disunity of the human and divine natures of Christ. According to the Nestorians, the nature of Christ is divided equally between His divine nature and His human nature, but the two are distinct and separate. Some of the Mongol hordes who created the largest contiguous empire in history, the Mongol Empire, were Nestorian Christians, while others were Buddhist and some were atheists.

NECREME believes that the best way to assure world peace is to recreate the Mongol Empire and unite the disparate factions in China, Central Asia, Russia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe in one huge empire, run by a Mongolian dictator in Ulan Bator, whose word is the rule of law. This Mongol Empire would cover most of the areas in the world where there are currently wars and internal strife. The mighty horsemen of the Mongols would fight all the disparate elements taking part in these battles and defeat them all, solving all these issues and bringing peace to a greater part of the world.

As Norovyn Batbold, secretary of NECREME explains, “The Mongol ruler would be a direct descendant of The Great Khan, Genghis, and he would be advised by the leaders of Russia, China, South Korea, and India. His Mongol horseman would be provided by all the countries comprising the Mongol Empire and would number almost 2 million in number, a force that would easily outnumber any opposing forces it would meet in combat. The Mongols would be back where they belong.”

The Edward de Vere Society (EdVS)

An extract from the book 40 Strange Groups which is currently on sale.

The Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship holds that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote the plays and poems traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare. It is recognized by Oxfordians and Stratfordians alike that writing about royal courts, Italy and law required a certain prerequisite level of education.

Edward De Vere fits the bill here since he is known to have graduated from Cambridge University at age 14, becoming master of arts at age of 16. Furthermore De Vere studied law at Gray’s Inn and had an extensive library underlining his qualifications to write as knowledgeably as Shakespeare about Bohemia, Denmark, and Scotland. At court, Edward De Vere was nicknamed “Spear-shaker” due to of his ability both at tournaments and because his coat of arms featured a lion brandishing a spear.

However, some conspiracy theorists maintain Edward de Vere wrote far more than just Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. They believe he wrote Christopher Marlowe’s plays as well as the early poems of Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser, and John Milton.

William Wimpole, a member of EdVS, understands the problems these ideas raise: “The evidence for these assertions is rather thin on the ground other than an educated man wrote the poetry and that Spenser’s and De Vere’s first names both begin with ‘E’. What is known is that Edward de Vere was a very quick writer and didn’t need much sleep, giving him many hours to write those wonderful pieces of high literature. It’s extremely difficult to prove this and naysayers always show how different all these writing styles are, but what they don’t understand is that Edward de Vere was a brilliant man who was capable of astonishing changes in literary style at the drop of a hat. One day he’d be Shakespeare, the next Spenser, and then Marlowe.”

The Camel Appreciation Society (TCAS)

An extract from the book 40 Strange Groups which is currently on sale.

Most people dislike riding on camels due to the animal’s terrible attitude, bad breath, and yellow teeth. Some people overlook these obvious problems in favour of the smooth ride offered by these idiosyncratic animals in the hotter climates of the world.

TCAS has linked up with holiday firms across the globe to promote camel safaris in remote parts of the world such as the Empty Quarter in Oman, the Gobi Desert, and The Sahara.

Their longest trek is the 51-day crossing from Zagora in Morocco to Timbuktu in Mali, where twenty camels are needed to transport the tents and food supplies for the ten travellers on the trip. Travellers on the longer trips report that their attitude towards camels changes during their time together, which may well be the traveller’s equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome.

Madeleine Stokes of TCAS explains the attraction of camels: “Camels have a similar attitude to cats and yet people love cats, but dislike camels. I don’t understand why that is, given camels can actually help you enjoy a trip across a desert. I wouldn’t want to rely on a cat for anything.”

Hindu Reincarnation Memory Club (HRMC)

An extract from the book 40 Strange Groups which is currently on sale.

Reincarnation – known as Punarjanma – it is one of the core beliefs of Hinduism that is generally accepted by many of its practitioners. Reincarnation is the natural process of birth, death and rebirth. Hindus believe that the Jiva or Atman (soul) is intrinsically pure. The HRMC attempts to provide their clients with information about their previous lives via a series of hypnotic trance sessions, where the client speaks about their previous life experiences.

These sessions are quite intense and should last no more than half-an-hour as the emotions that come to the surface can sometimes be disturbing, especially if the client finds out they were something really ugly in a previous life such as a snake or a camel.

One client, Rohit Ganguly, spoke about his session: “I was hypnotised and then I just remember a series of flashes in my mind as my previous lives as a fly, worm, crab, tree, and fish came out – I am not sure why I was a tree, but I was – and then I became bigger and bigger fish, before becoming a fly again. This upset me at some deeply subconscious level and I awoke from the trance. I will be back next week, because I have to know why I went from a tuna to a fruit fly. I must have done something really bad when I was a tuna – what could a tuna do that was so bad? Did I attack a fisherman that was trying to catch me? ”

The Eight Wives of Henry VI society (EWH6)

An extract from the book 40 Strange Groups which is currently on sale.

This society, known familiarly as the “The Eight Wives”, is an umbrella organisation for groups who believe a number of conspiracy theories regarding English history, including the theory Henry VI had eight wives, a record that Henry VIII tried to break without success. Other theories include one where Elizabeth I was really a man called Ethelbert, which is why she/he never married as she/he didn’t want her/his secret to be revealed. Another interesting theory is that Alfred the Great was really called Alfred the Grate and was a baker who killed Alfred the Great when he burnt the cakes and assumed his identity.

Roger Evans is the co-chair of the society and believes that it provides a valuable outlet for people’s doubts about history: “We never suggest to any proponent of a new theory that it is total rubbish. We ask how this idea came about and suggest ways its case can be further improved. Alfred the Grate is an interesting one because the skeleton people are searching for will be of the impostor baker, not the real king, Alfred the Great. The descendants of the real Alfred the Great will provide DNA samples, which come from the king’s line, not the baker’s line, so how will we ever find a match with any of the skeletons found near Winchester, when one of the skeletons is of Alfred the Grate and none of the skeletons will be of Alfred the Great, because according to the theory, Alfred the Grate threw Alfred the Great into a river and drowned him – his body floated off downstream? The longer no match is found, the more the theory gains credence.”

The secretary of “The Eight Wives” Heather Randall talks about Elizabeth I and the theory about her being a man: “We believe she was a man and that’s why there were no babies and no records of her ever having intercourse with another man. The heavy white makeup covered any remaining bristles after shaving. A woman’s body was substituted in the coffin after he died, just to preserve the myth of Elizabeth. We are combing through the records trying to find proof, but people have been very careful in the past to cover the tracks. We will keep searching until we find something proving our theory.”

21st August – Book Review – The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler

The English crime novelist, Charles Latimer, is in Istanbul when he hears that the body of a famous criminal, Dimitrios, has been found in The Bosphorus. In order to garner some background information for his new book, Latimer decides to find out more about Dimitrios who has been in most parts of Europe at one time or another. As Latimer uncovers the trail of Dimtrios’s wanderings, it becomes apparent that Dimitrios is not actually dead and that Latimer’s life is in danger.