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March 2005

25th March




If I feel guilty for my near-three-month neglect of the blog, I do at least have some decent excuses. For the most part I've been helping to organise the Russell Hoban Some-Poasyum, the world's first international fan convention for the author, which took place in London on 11-13 February. The convention was a great success, attended by over 50 Hoban fans from as far as New Zealand, South Africa and the US. Actually describing the experience of arranging the event, or simply being there with 50 other fans of Russ and the man himself, would take many more hours, superlatives and virtual sheets of yellow paper than I've got at the moment or probably ever will have (more details below), but suffice to say - albeit to paraphrase, atypically, Damien Hirst - the Some-Poasyum was the second-best thing I've ever been involved in creating, and I'm immensely proud of what was achieved. For details, it's best to just go to


Left to right: Russell Hoban seated in the middle of an audience of fans to watch the Punch & Judy show at Nomad Books; a group photo of the participants at the closing dinner at The Troubadour; Thoughtcat with Dave Awl, who runs the definitive Russell Hoban information portal The Head of Orpheus (click on small pix to see big pix)


In strictly chronological order of events, the other thing that's been taking up my spare time, and which is also the only reason that the Some-Poasyum has been forced into second place, is that Mrs Thoughtcat and I have just had a baby. I'll resist the temptation to refer to him as Thoughtkitten, which is a bit too twee for my liking. He's really Thoughtsquid, as I took it upon myself to confer on him the Thai nickname "Mg" (literally, Squid), mostly because of my tentacular links with the Russell Hoban newsgroup The Kraken, several of whose members I was lucky enough to meet in the flesh last month and who joined the many friends both offline and on offering their congratulations on his arrival. However, I soon found out from my wife's Thai friends that Mg is rather out of date these days: the nearest Krakonic name would probably be "Goong", or Shrimp, but although I know a very nice grown-up Goong (a woman, but many of these names aren't gender-specific), having personally gone through much of school in a vertically-challenged capacity, "shrimp" has a somewhat negative connotation for me. Discontinuing the seafood theme, my wife's family suggested "Wa-hom", or Onion. That sounded quite sweet, I thought, but why on earth...? It turns out that the aforesaid Thai word for onion literally means "beautiful head", which I think is absolutely charming both for onions and small people. I just hope there's no connection with the Catalan expression "an onion in the head", which means, basically, "a complex". The only reason I know about that is that it's mentioned in Dawn Ades's book on Salvador Dali, a constant companion when I was 16 (the book, I mean, not Dali himself).


Thoughtcat and son Beware! Extreme close-up! Post-feed Thoughtsquid over Mum's shoulder.

Left to right: Thoughtsquid on Dad's shoulder; extreme squid close-up; post-feed exhaustion on Mum's shoulder.


Something else that's happening, as indicated above this post, is that I'm moving the blog (just the blog, I hasten to add, not the whole of Thoughtcat, which remains at to the Blogger-hosted  The main reason for this is convenience: Blogger is free and easy to use, and increasingly I find that when I want to sound off about something, I want to do it quickly, briefly and without fuss from whatever computer I happen to be sitting in front of at that moment, which Blogger of course is perfect for. The way I've traditionally composed the Thoughtcat blog, by contrast, is by manually editing it at home using Frontpage or even Word (having never been much of a tech-head) and then FTPing the pages (using a package called Terrapin, which by the way is very good) to the server, all of which, together with feeling duty-bound (if not cold-irons bound) to find a new cat and (even worse) a new thought every week, has become a bit of a bind. If it hadn't been for all of that hassle, which Blogger obviates, I would probably have blogged away quite happily half a dozen times since my last post on 1st January. When trying to think of new and pithy thoughts to put in the sidebar, I was often reminded of the line from Bob Dylan's Brownsville Girl, "If there's an original thought out there I could use it right now", and as for cats, well, we all know how reliable they can be. Of course, Thoughtcat was established on the rocky foundations of the unreliability of inspiration, so what's been happening lately should surely be no surprise. Cats, I should add, are more plentiful than thoughts (good ones anyway), but even then it can be tough finding a new one in the same league as those fine felines in the archive. I guess I should really have promoted the site more on cat groups and so forth and invited people to send me their cats (not literally perhaps; I mean their cat links), since as it is I find myself, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen, crawling across the carpet in my underwear at 3am desperately Googling for "cats" and not always coming up with anything terribly interesting (I think, actually, this activity is known as "Googling at straws"). So, if you have a favourite cat link (or, OK, just a plain cat, if that's the best you can do) please email it to and as long as it's not obscene I'll put it on the new blog.


So, goodbye to all that! Today's blog is continued at



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