Monthly Archives: June 2013


I didn’t write my blog last week, and I apologise for that.  I didn’t plan it that way, but I’d had a tough week at work, had guests staying and it just didn’t happen.  I hate missing deadlines, even self-imposed ones; I think it’s sloppy.  So I really do apologise, but onwards and upwards.

I have a friend who is Italian.  She was born in the UK, has lived here all her life, but her parents are Italian and she is fluent in both English and Italian.  (She also speaks French, which is giving me cause to hate her, quite frankly.  I can get by in French, but am by no means fluent, although it’s been on my “to-do” list for some time.)  Anyway, I digress…

My friend and I were out having a meal the other day, and we got onto the subject of languages.  Probably because we were in an Italian restaurant.  To cut a long story short, she has persuaded me that I should learn Italian.

To be fair, I didn’t need much persuading.  I think it sounds wonderful when to hear people speak Italian, and French, and I really hate being one of those English people who doesn’t speak any of the language when I go abroad.  I want to perfect my French, because I already know quite a lot, but I would like to be able to converse with my friend, and her mother, in Italian.  Besides, I think learning one of those Latin languages helps with the others.  The problem is, I didn’t want to start anything else until I had finished my writing course (which, hopefully, will be June of next year.  I have to finish it by September anyway.)  I have done this before and ended up paying for courses twice because I’ve got “hooked in” to something else.

But start I have.  Only vocabulary at the moment because I downloaded three vocabulary books when I first got my Kindle – French, Italian and Spanish – but hadn’t used them.  So, of course, as I’ve got three books, so I have to learn the same word in all three languages.  The books have all the same words, in the same order.  They start with animals, and then move onto fruit, vegetables, parts of the human body, colours and numbers.

So far, I’ve only had to learn one new French word (all that school-girl French came flooding back), I knew all the others.  I’m only learning one or two words a day, and then I’ll go back and learn some of the phrases in the books in two or three month’s time when I’ve learned all the words.  (That may prove more difficult, although the word in each chapter is the same in all three languages but the phrases are sometimes different…)

Interestingly, my friend and I both said that, when we learned English at school, we didn’t really learn all the grammar in the same way that you are taught it when you learn a foreign language; so hopefully, learning Italian and French will improve my English too.  (I think it’s pretty good, but there is always room for improvement…)

So, for the next year, it will be me reading and learning on my own, until I am ready to knuckle down properly and start in earnest.  How long will it take for me to become fluent in Italian, and French?  Absolutely no idea, so wish me luck, I’m not very patient.

Love and light


©Susan Shirley 2013


The Secret Life of Cats

The BBC is screening “The Secret Life of Cats” tonight on BBC2.  The scientists doing the research say that we know more about the big cats than we do our domestic cats, although it seems, from the trailers, that some of the cat owners don’t agree with that.  One owner says he can tell what his cat wants from the purr.

I have four cats and I think I know a bit about them, so it comes as no surprise to me to learn that they are opportunistic, manipulative, devious thieves.  And adorable.   Don’t forget adorable.  I’ve owned dogs as well as cats, and I love them both, but they are very, very different.  Cats aren’t necessarily less loving, they just don’t need the same kind of approbation that dogs do.  (But they do need love and attention, and my four are testament to that.  More jealousy than in a sophomore’s dorm.)  They are far more self-sufficient than dogs, and don’t ever want anyone to think they make a mistake.

Only today, my little Telesto was playing Mad Hatters (that’s the game when she chases some imaginary creature and then kills it), and then caught herself up in the duvet as I was trying to change the bed linen.  She ended up falling off the bed, still caught up in the duvet and scared herself half to death because she struggled to get out.  She ran and hid for hours after that little turn out.

Then, because my friend Kate had come to stay, she and her sister showed off and wouldn’t come into the house for several hours – and several treats.  Well, why not manipulate the situation a bit more?  Funny how once the food came out, they were over us like a rash.

They all have their own little characters, and their own funny little ways, but never doubt that they want love and affection because they do, and it isn’t all cupboard love.  I’m sure they do line up a second home in case they need to move out – actually, I don’t blame them for that.  I’ve done the same myself in the past.  They are special little creatures who have their own particular needs, and if we humans can’t fulfil them, they’ll go elsewhere.

I’d love to get my girls wearing those mice-cams, but I know they’d only last a couple of hours.  I might not be able to follow them everywhere, but I do know a bit about the way they live their lives, and how they know exactly which side their bread is buttered.

©Susan Shirley 2013


Turn and Face the Change…Changes

I’ve been thinking a lot about things that have changed since I was a child.  We couldn’t have grown without change.   As a child, I remember that, on a Sunday, there were only the so-called religious programmes (Christian, in those days). Daytime television was non-existent.  But, as time went by, we got daytime TV and, in the last 10 years or so, satellite TV.  Nowadays, I’ll be honest, I couldn’t live without it.

Then there is the telephone.  A novelty when I was a child, and I remember that, when we lived way out in the country, our telephone number was three digits, plus the exchange name.   Nowadays, most of us have at least one mobile telephone, as well as a landline.

And then there these modern, new-fangled things called laptops, Ultra books and tablets.  (Isn’t that something I take when I have a headache?) I am no Spring Chicken (and if you don’t understand that phrase, it will indicate clearly how much older than you I am) but I love and embrace technology.  To the extent that I have to have my Smartphone surgically removed when I go to bed.  You think I jest, but no.  I left it at work one day, in error and had to do the two hour round trip to retrieve it…  Not to mention the paroxysms of anxiety when I realise that I had “cooked” my battery and I might just be out of contact for ten minutes or so…

All of this “change” is one part of all the changes that affect me, and – probably – you.  I will come back to this topic in due course.

Love and Light xx


©Susan Shirley 2013