Remember, Remember the month of September...

Will September 2008 go down in history as the start of the great 21st Century Financial Apocalypse? I don't know and nor, I suspect, does anyone else, least of all Gordon Brown and Co but it's certainly proving a timely wake up call. We used to know someone in Houston who worked for Lehman Brothers but only as a means to an end; after just one year he took his bonus and moved to Austin to become a full-time singer/songwriter - not seen as the most prudent course at the time, especially by his parents, but hey, we live in interesting times. As the number of free-standing banking institutions dwindles by the week and those members of the public who still understand the concept of saving for rainy days just such as these struggle to find a secure resting place for their surplus cash, the home safe manufacturing industry would my top tip for the Stock Exchange. While he is (reasonably) happy to acknowledge my fortuitous and hitherto unexplained prescience regarding the parlous state of the housing market, Brian, in imitation of the financial markets, is reluctant to allow me any credit as far as recent developments are concerned. He said I didn't specifically mention the demise of half the USA/UK finance houses but then nor did anyone else although I wouldn't mind betting that Vince Cable has a couple of sacks safely stowed under the mattress.

This month has also been momentous for many islands of the Caribbean and the Gulf coast of the US. Thankfully, although passing a frightening 24 hours, none of our friends in the north of Houston were imperilled and suffered nothing worse than the odd fallen tree and a prolonged power outage. Galveston, however, is another matter. Brian and I made many magical trips there, alone or with friends and family. Some of out best times were spent at the Victorian Inn on the north side, a charming B&B run by former Bunny Girl together with her Doberman, Baby, and wild ginger cat, The Terrorist. We do hope they and it survived without much damage as the property did in the Great Storm of 1900. I guess there will be no Dickens on the Strand this year and maybe no gigs at Wrecks Bell's (in)famous Old Quarter Café while natives battle architectural devastation, inundation, water pollution, the breakdown of the sewerage system and the worst plague of mosquitoes in 100 years. Oh and good luck to the tiger to whom unexpected liberation from his illegal back yard prison was delivered courtesy of Hurricane Ike and who now, reputedly, stalks the Bolivar Peninsula!

Last Friday we had a little taste of Ike ourselves in the form of about an hour's worth of monsoon-like precipitation. Brian and I were planning to visit friends in Milton Keynes that evening and stay over until next morning, leaving Sir W safely locked in at home overnight. "You'll have the bed to yourself tonight", I absent-mindedly revealed. "At least it's better than going to the cattery." On this occasion, my acolyte was apparently not hanging on my every word and only registered mention of the dreaded "C" word. Shortly afterward, having ingested a hearty lunch, he was spotted disappearing over the back fence, presumably in search of another monochrome feline who had had the temerity the previous evening to sit on our front lawn and attempt to impersonate the rightful incumbent. When the rain began I assumed the avenger would soon come home but as the downpour increased and there was still no sign, I donned a cagoul and wellies and ventured round to the next street where I discovered the impusster sheltering under the family car but still no sighting of Sir W. About 30 minutes later, by which time the back lawn was a pond, a hideous apparition appeared tottering along the northern boundary. At first sight it appeared to be a black cat of Persian origin that had suffered dreadful neglect. On closer inspection it proved to be Sir William so comprehensively soaked that everything drooped from ear to rear. His usually impressive backward swivel down the clematis trellis morphed into an ignominious slide ending in a log flume type splash in the gravel pit. For once, he was not averse to being enveloped in a nice warm towel, even co-operating in the drying of his toes after which he repaired to his beanbag where he appeared to remain until our return at 11 am next morning.

So here we are, disillusioned, disorientated and dishevelled. And what of the future? Well, all the girls are working - in "proper jobs" and I am lurking. The official line is "contemplating my next move" which doesn't mean houses as I can see us sitting tight in our "rental" until well into next year which is fine, especially as the desire for private garden will not resurface until about next April. We have a trip to Houston and Grand Cayman (whoo hoo) planned for December and friends to stay in the meantime. Weight loss has stalled at 22lbs, some 8lbs short of target but inches have melted and clothes not seen for some 3 or more years are enjoying a revival although I will NEED a whole new winter wardrobe having not spent a UK winter at my current size since 2002 - Brian please note. Either that or he can going on buying tubs of totally irresistible Tate and Lyle syrup sponge ice cream and I will be back into last year's tweed tents, I mean skirts, before you can say "I'm just having one last spoonful"!

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