Tag Archives: London Poppy Day

Cat Relief

Remember I wrote about London Poppy Day last week? Lieutenant Victoria Kneale, who was in charge of our collection e-mailed us to tell us that one person had paid over £1000 for a pair of cufflinks, and someone else paid £600 for a poppy!

Remember the homeless man who came up with a bag of coins? There was about £4 in that bag, and to quote Lieutenant Kneale,

“…but the best £4 we made all day!!!!”

That makes me think of the biblical story of the Widow’s Mite. The people of London are amazing!

My girls seem to be doing ok too. After a bit of a scare because Telesto’s blood test results didn’t come back quite as expected, so the vet then checked for FIV (the virus that causes cat AIDS). I was quite worried while I awaited the outcome of those tests, but, fortunately, she doesn’t have it (that would have brought its own set of problems!), so the vet thinks it’s just an infection so she is currently on antibiotics.

I’ve never had to give Telesto any kind of tablets before, but the girl just munches on through that food, no matter what is mixed in with it. She feels very special though, when she gets wet food in the evenings as well. I fear there will be tears when this stops in a week’s time, although the others will be happy. The green eyed monster is alive and kicking in our house!


I do try to make sure that if one has something, they all have it, food-wise, but, now that it looks as though little Rhea just has an allergy to something in the wet food. Although Peter (the vet) thought she might have to go onto a hypoallergenic diet. It just so happens that I had some James Wellbeloved at home, which is a hypoallergenic cat food. Rhea loved it before she realised that was all she was getting for breakfast. I solved the jealousy problem this morning by giving her some cat treats whilst the others were necking their wet food. We may just survive this! Still, it’s been a very expensive few weeks, but the vets have sent the insurance claim off now, so hopefully I will get most of the money back.

Having spent so much time in the vets recently, I’ve learned an awful lot about pets and their allergies – one dog is allergic to being outside, another cat is allergic to all other cats… It’s quite amazing.

I did a bit of research on cats for this post, and found out that there is a protein (an allergen) in cat saliva that causes the biggest problem for human allergy sufferers (and, presumably, for that poor little cat who was allergic to other cats). This protein is called Fel D1, and what happens is, when a cat licks itself, the saliva (containing this little beasty, although that’s a wholly incorrect way of describing it) dries and becomes airborne, and we poor unsuspecting humans (and other cats) give it is nice warm home in our sinuses.

Male cats produce more of this than female cats, and entire males (hmm hmm) produce more than neutered males, and dark coloured cats more than light coloured cats. And, probably as you would expect, kittens less than adults.


There are seven breeds of cat that are less likely to cause allergic reactions in humans…these are the Balinese (very pretty, looks a bit like a long haired Siamese), Oriental Shorthair (very strange looking creatures, in my opinion, big ears), the Javanese (a bit like a Siamese with bigger ears, but quite attractive), the Devon Rex (they put me in mind of a creature from a Sci-Fi film, but I can’t for the life of me remember the name. I find them strangely cute and attractive.), the Cornish Rex (the same as the Devon Rex but with a broader West Country accent), the Sphynx (the poor little thing has no hair!) and the Siberian (hairy and rather gorgeous).

Oriental Shorthair
Oriental Shorthair

I hate to be cruel to any living animal, but I really struggle with the poor little hairless one. What is that about? Yes, I know that when you have four, like me, you need to keep on top of the vacuuming otherwise it looks like an old fashioned Western with the hair acting like Tumbleweed (Suzette, anytime you feel the need to provide a chamber maid service, please feel free) but the poor little Sphynx is not going to do too well in an English winter, is it?

Anyway, I couldn’t find any royalty free photos for most of these, except for the Oriental Shorthair, so I’ve just gone for cute images and a link to Allposters, where you can find some of them.


© Susan Shirley 2014


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Halloween, Half-Term, London Poppy Day


Yes folks, it’s that time of year again… Halloween and Half-Term, and London Poppy Collections. Halloween (today) is on a Friday night this year, which means that the little kiddiewinks can stay up later because it’s not a school night. More time for them to be out “Trick or Treating” or egging your door if you happen to be out or just not answer. Yes, call me Mrs Scrooge if you like, but I find it distinctly off-putting answering my door to something dressed up like an extra from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I don’t remember Trick-or-Treating when I was a child, and apparently it didn’t become common in the UK until the 1980s (so I only just missed it then!  ) although it dates back to the Middle Ages when people did something called “souling.” This was when the poor would go house-to-house on Hallowmas (1 November) and in return for food, would pray for the souls of the dead on All Souls Day (2 November). However, Trick-or-Treating was big business in the US and Canada as far back as the 1940s, and good old Walt Disney made a cartoon about it in 1952. (Thanks Walt, now everyone knows about it! She said through gritted teeth.)

Halloween itself, also known as All Hallows Eve or All Saints Eve is one of those Christian festivals believed to have Pagan roots. Or not, depending on which expert you choose to believe.

The Pagan bit related to the end of the harvest and beginning of winter. The Christian bit is about obligation for the souls of the departed, and even good old Will referred to it in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. (Sorry, I’m not telling you where, you will have to read it or go and see the play.)

Apparently, the souls of the dead wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day, so All Hallows’ Eve was their last chance to get vengeance on their enemies before moving onto the next world. Ah! Now I understand the weird and wonderful costumes that we see. And, apparently people wore masks to conceal their identities. (I’m not convinced that would work with ghosts, but hey, what do I know?)


Yesterday was London Poppy Day, the day when service personnel and other volunteers go to a large number of Central London underground stations and so on to try to collect as much money as possible for the Poppy Appeal.

It’s quite a fun day and you get to meet some lovely people, some really generous people, but yesterday, for me, was the most humbling day of my life. We stop collecting at 7pm and all the collectors were huddled in a corner of the station so that the person in charge could put all the money into sealable bags and we could put all the excess poppies in a safe place until they would be collected the following day.

As we were standing there, a chap came over, someone I have seen about before. He handed over a big bag of coins. I couldn’t see what they all were but I can tell you that they weren’t all 1p pieces, and it was a heavy bag.

“Excuse me, these are from the homeless. I’ve been round and collected if from them.”

I felt like crying. I know that a lot of homeless people are ex-forces, but these are people that don’t have very much, and yet they dug deep to give to our troops. I can tell you right now, I wasn’t the only one who was really touched by what this chap did.

Way to go homeless people, everyone there yesterday was saluting you too!


© Susan Shirley 2014