The Cat has got a boyfriend. Winston is a paragon of boyfriendness. He comes unfailingly at about 10 am every morning to call for her, except when it’s raining. She is never at home… except when it’s raining. She refuses to go out in the rain. It makes her fur frizzy and uncontrollable. He sits for a moment, forlorn and dejected, when we tell him that she is not here, and then heads out among the rhododendrons in search of her. When he is fortunate enough to happen upon her, he sits about a metre away, and gazes at her. She treats him with utter disdain. So, of course, it must be love.


At least I like to think so. I am sure there are better and no doubt more accurate interpretations of cat behaviour but there is something so endearing about his persistence. Reality, after all, is what we make of it, which is why I love Umberto Eco’s definition of creative writing. He has other great tips on writing fiction, handily summarised by the folks from Farnam Street, for those of you with great unfinished novels floating about in the back of your mind. Take heart too from Umberto’s late blooming. I certainly do.


Day to Night and Night to Day… but no, it’s more Stargate don’t you think? Maybe if I put the “chevrons” in the right order, I’ll actually get to go somewhere this summer…

As I do from this latest example of bacterial magic. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have modified E. coli to convert plastic (polyethylene terephthalate or PET) into vanillin, the flavour compound responsible for the taste and scent of vanilla. This vanillin is, it seems, safe to eat but I have to say I’m not so sure I’d want to. It would be perfect though for soaps and candles and stuff. Who knows what other alchemy may be possible. Maybe we could modify a bacterium to clean up the plastic soup that is our oceans. Wouldn’t that be nice?


What definitely wouldn’t be nice would be a spike in the price of the food of the gods. Thankfully, they have developed a new use for cocoa waste. It’s not quite alchemy but it does mean that the folks growing cocoa have another source of income for their crop while at the same time reducing waste and keeping the lights on. How marvellous is that?


As is this, my favourite restoration of the moment, a Parisian apartment by Le Berre Vevaud or indeed anything by Le Berre Vevaud. Juli Bolaños-Durman’s whimsical glass sculptures would be right at home. And I am sure I could find a spot for one of Porky Hefer’s creations. His name is just as fabulous as his works, don’t you think?


I leave you with this. Oh, if only I’d known before I spent a small fortune colouring my hair. It seems the grey can be reversed without any intervention other than de-stressing. Now, that definitely is alchemy.


A bientôt


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The featured photograph is by my good friend Tadej Turk. Not content with an honourable mention in the Monochrome Photography Awards, he has also scooped five more awards for his photography, two of which are gold medals. Congratulations Tadej! You can see more of his wonderful work here.