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Kreativ and Versatile


any thanks to Helen Howell and Steve Green for giving me a Kreativ Blogger and a Versatile Blogger award, respectively. These two wonderful people obviously have great taste and a near goddess-like / god-like ability to detect fine fiction. That, or I owe them both a large selection of cream cakes and a hug. You should immediately read their fiction, or your lives will be ever so slightly diminished.

Moving swiftly on, in order to promote said awards, one must reveal a number of unusual factoids one has about one’s person – which, in my case, are still lingering despite the use of a strong steroid cream – and then nominate a number of new award recipients.

So, in no particular order, I present TEN UNKNOWN THINGS ABOUT MYSELF:

  1. I once accidentally gate-crashed a coven. Going to a party in a derelict building I turned up early and discovered some red drapery, weird stuff in boxes, etc. But I’m early and no one’s around, so go catch up with some folk in the pub. Returning to the party venue, I found all that strange stuff had gone, which kind of freaked me out. It turned out I’d gone into the identical house next door. They were, I was assured, white witches.
  2. I used to collect agate and other semi-precious stones as a kid. At a burial mound in the Highlands, I found a primitive tool (probably a knife) made of chipped agate. It was in a tiny, sandy spring. I subsequently lost this pretty awesome thing in the rest of my stone collection…
  3. While diving off the coast of Malta I found three of the largest cockroaches you’ve ever seen in my diving costume, swam as the head of a shoal of saddled sea bream (not one nose was further ahead than the other) and fed the fish a couple of packs of Twisties (a bit like Nik Nak crisps, in the UK) from the deck of sunken tug boat. The boat was resting on a bed of white sand, the crisps were compacted flat with the water pressure. It was exactly like feeding pigeons. Nearby, the Virgin Mary looked on – a statue put there by fishermen.
  4. Also on that Malta trip I did a night dive on a tanker (the Um El Faroud) that’s been sunk as a natural reef. It was at the limit of non-decompression diving; the propellers were a storey high, we swam through the interior – saw the bunkhouse and corridors, and swam out through a hatch. Back on shore our guide tells us that the world’s largest great white shark was caught by local fishermen within a few hundred yards. There aren’t any sharks in the Mediterranean sea, but this one had somehow gotten in. It was a monster. I saw a photo of it hanging from a crane. It looked exactly like Jaws.
  5. I once dressed as a girl and – as part of a team – pushed a bedframe around the Edinburgh Meadows for charity. I discovered that tinned tomatoes do really nasty things to your skin as we were required to throw miscellaneous foodstuffs at other teams. Looking at photos afterwards, I was rather appalled to find I made a very credible female. Thankfully, I look a bit craggier now, sans Minnie Mouse T, mini skirt and makeup.
  6. I once fell in quicksand as a kid – not something I was expecting to encounter in Scotland. I was ‘up north’ staying at a bothy, and a reservoir had been drained. Walking on the bottom of the gorge was fine – it was all rocks – and I came to a small riverlet which looked to be about 1” deep with a sandy bottom. I took a step out and practically vanished. Luckily, having watched quite a few Tarzan movies, I knew not to struggle, thought ‘light thoughts’ and kind of tried to stay on top of the sand, making as big a surface area as possible. I managed to eek myself out. Thanks Tarzan. It was entirely serious.
  7. I once caught six or seven mice by hand. The flat I was in was overrun and the vermin were so precocious I could chase them with an empty cornflakes box, corner them and pop them in. Cereal box loaded with skritchy rodents I then wandered Edinburgh city centre looking for a place to dump them: along the way I found a sub-basement (where I was about to chuck ’em only to look up and find a bunch of office workers working late, staring at me out of the windows, paused mid photocopy); a back alley (only to find a security camera on an accountancy company zoning in on me); and at last, a flower box next to a multi-story carpark where I finally got rid of them. In the distance, a couple were wandering along hand-in-hand while the flowerbox next to me was rustling and springing away in a very excited manner. I left prior to the couple-mouse encounter. Squeee!
  8. As a student, I was once entirely fooled by a confidence trickster who – with whatever lame story – convinced me he was trapped in Edinburgh and needed some funds for bus travel. Offering his shopping (a bag of shirts) or a small silver ring he had on him as collateral, he persuaded me to draw out some cash and give it to him. This taught me lots of things, but I sure darned wished I’d taken the shirts which probably would’ve peaked him, as I bet no-one ever took those… and it did look like his actual shopping.
  9. Our cat used to bring back mice in a very much alive and slightly ticked-off state and then lose them in the house (it used to get everything, including river rats, bats and on one occasion, a mole). You’d be watching the telly and a field mouse or a vole’d run past the skirting – somewhat misplaced from traditional cornfield. One day, a mouse is dropped off by the cat – and we see it happen – and we hunt high and low for the little critter, but it’s gone. We figured the cat must’ve doubled back and eaten el-rodenti like a cocktail canapé. Maybe eighteen months later, we find the mouse as flat as paper and as wide as a tea plate under the sheepskin rug. There were four paws at each ‘corner’ and it was mummified… Ew!
  10. Hanging out with some of the Beltane folk, in Edinburgh, we went to the Hermitage for another of the Celtic festivals – I can’t remember which. It was at night in a wooded, country area on the fringes of the city. There was maybe twenty of us and there was fire, and juggling, music, acrobatics. Laughter. It was a truly awesome evening and, as I left, alone, walking down off the hill, a white barn owl flew directly towards me through mist as flat as a table top. It was flying right on the junction of mist and air, and its wing beats caused swirling vortexes in the moisture. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen: utterly mesmerising and utterly silent.
  11. BONUS FACT: I was walking down through the Edinburgh Meadows one morning when I spotted a squirrel sitting on a tree root – this wasn’t that unusual, except for the fact it was holding up a tiny advert for King Cornetto in its paws. Double take. In fact, it was the circular lid of a King Cornetto.  The writing was precisely upright and it made the perfect, squirrel-sized ice cream ad – I mean, I read the ad and then considered what was holding it. Impression registered, the squirrel started casually licking the back of the lid for the ice cream. For a moment, I thought the advertisers were losing their subtlety (or I was losing my sanity). Damn you Walls for deploying cute forest creatures in the promotion of your whipped, creamy products. Of course I had to go buy one… (le sigh)

And now to nominations. I am somewhat conscious that I’m not entirely widely read on the blogging front, however I do know what I like. While there are a near infinitude(1) of folks who deserve a shiny new badge, I pick the following for their Versatile and Kreativ leanings, complete with a kapital ‘K’, as well as being those I’ve read somewhat more recently.

I would say if you were nominated for these hallowed halls, don’t feel under pressure to pass things on, unless you feel so inclined – feel free to bask in the glow of righteous nomination, throw up the badge (or not), or preserve this entire affair as a guilty secret between just us two and billions of squirrels whom, having navigated the complexities of marketing, are now spending their ice-cream profits to get on line and read these very blogs.  I salute you my fluffy-tailed, praline munching friends.

Nom, nom, nom, nominations:

And there you have it.

Next week, more about acorns and how to find them (2).

Stephen 🙂


(1) Dear God, I made that up and it turns out ‘infinitude’ is a real word. Well there you go. That’s what I want to see written on my next squirrel-borne placard – something that makes you think, while also delivering a ‘huh?’

(2) That Arboreal Rodent Award is tough to get – I’m starting early with the voters.

 (*) Update (04-Aug-2012). I’d originally left these two out, thinking I couldn’t return the reward to the giver, forgetting, of course, that I can give the opposite award to the other  there’s two awards here. St




1 Joan { 08.05.12 at 11:29 am }

Ah! It sounds like you have a very interesting life!

2 Stephen Hewitt { 08.11.12 at 8:35 am }

@Joan — there have been squirrels and mice and owls… Mostly I enjoy the quirk in a lot of these things — I’ve been lucky in that my humour’s been neatly entertained while I’ve fallen into this or that.

This or that including quick-sand and red, coven drapery.


3 Steve Green { 08.08.12 at 10:50 am }

Hiya Stephen, and thank you so much for The Kreativ Blogger Award, I shall place it on my wall with pride.

I really like your list, very impressive, I am always a little in awe of anyone who does scuba diving, it frightens the wits out of me. I can’t watch an underwater scene without holding my breath.

There are some very amusing facts there too. If fate had taken a slightly different turn for you, you might have gate-crashed a coven, whilst wearing a mini skirt, with a Cornetto-sponsored squirrel in tow carrying a box of mice. (Sorry, I’m just being silly now.) 🙂

Congratulations on your own awards they are all very well deserved, and thank you once again for the honour of my own. 🙂

4 Stephen Hewitt { 08.11.12 at 9:15 am }

@ Steve — you’re welcome Steve. I occasional drop of the blogosphere, but I still like your writing.

As for scuba diving, I haven’t done a lot of it, but: (1) when I first wore a regulator in a pool, I couldn’t bring myself to breathe. Even though I knew it was safe, my body refused to — every instinct I had was saying ‘don’t do it’. That was a weird moment. (2) it takes mental fortitude in only one direction: no matter what happens – you run out of air, you get trapped or tangled – DON’T PANIC. Strangely enough, that’s so important that you can do that, and nothing really bad can happen. Any of these things are surmountable as long as you act calmly.

Yeah, the coven, the mice, the squirrel advertising… I love those bits of life that are a bit bonkers. The rest of the coven night went on to be the weirdest night of my life and an amazing one. Though there was no further involvement of the occult, lol.

And thanks for the gratz. I gratz you back. St.

5 Helen { 08.09.12 at 7:25 am }

Hi Stephen, you’re most welcome and I think your nominee choices are great! ^_^

6 Stephen Hewitt { 08.11.12 at 9:17 am }

@Helen — thanks Helen. There’s some mighty talented folks out there 🙂 St.

7 Helen { 08.09.12 at 7:31 am }

Oh and I just realised you gave me the versatile award, thank you so much for the honour! ^_^ Btw I was so interested in the quick sand fact, I shall remember not to struggle if I should ever fall in. Wow so glad you were okay.

8 Stephen Hewitt { 08.11.12 at 9:26 am }

@Helen — no probs – versatility is your middle pen name. My you skritch many more dragons 🙂

When it came to the quicksand — a bit like my comment on scuba diving — cold and calm is what is required. And keep moving slow and sure. The worst part was the surprise — it was a sunny day, the river looked hardly deep enough to come over the soles of my shoes, and everywhere else was rock; and then somebody decided to whip away the horizon. This trick did not reveal a rabbit in a hat — or a box of mice — but rather a mouthful of water and sand. 🙂 St.

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