June 11, 2013
This is the story of how stroking a cat can change your world. You have been warned…
I first met Greebo the cat (indeed named after his Discworld alter-ego) on August 10th 1998. He was laid on the grass outside the house of the girl I had met two days earlier. I approached, he rolled over, I stroked his tummy…
“Is that my cat?” asked the girl stood in the door. At this moment, Greebo, who had enough of my attention, bit me. “Yup, that’s my cat,” the girl stood in the door confirmed.
I bid my farewells, with no intent of seeing girl or her cat again…
Ha! Little did I know that Greebo wasn’t nice to anybody, voluntarily offering his tummy was tantamount to a proxy proposal of marriage.
Despite living almost 300 miles apart, I saw quite a lot of that girl, Vee, (and her cat) and by November of that year, I had offered Vee a place to stay while she looked for work in London.
It would transpire that the girl and the cat came as a package deal. “Love me, love my cat,” she said. And since it turned out I loved the girl, this wheezy, allergic-to-cats, tenancy-agreement-says-no-cats-and-besides-I-don’t-do-cats fool of a man agreed to this odd two-for-one offer.
Of course, we hadn’t checked with Greebie (as he was affectionately known) if this was acceptable. Turns out, that being hand weaned from the age of 3 weeks old gives a cat a certain belief in ownership and he had no intention of sharing. He was the ultimate “jealous puss”.
Shortly after Vee and Greebie moved in I found myself in A&E, with a towel wrapped round my arm that was turning steadily red.
It was explained to the nurse that I had been attacked by a cat. The nurse was horrified and I think, suspecting some panther-like escapee from a zoo or circus, demanded to know the size of the cat. “Just a small domestic cat,” I replied sheepishly.
Pumped full of antihistamines and antibiotics the two four inch gashes on my forearm stopped swelling up, the bleeding stopped and I went home. I still have two beautiful tram-line scars as a constant reminder of that particular disagreement.
Oddly enough we got on much better after that and we moved from a flat to a house and we all had more room things improved dramatically and Greebie had pigeons to hunt and embarrassingly, on occasions, other families pets, such a couple of baby rabbits, but that’s another story for a different day.
By the summer of 1999 Vee was now my wife and by Christmas 2000 we discovered we were going to be parents (She opened a WonderBra from me, I opened a positive pregnancy test from her. Vee never did wear that bra…)
Given Greebie’s reaction to sharing Vee with me, we weren’t sure how he’d take sharing her with a baby, so, on the recommendation of a vet, we acquired another cat, Knut, to keep Greebie busy. She did, but that again, is a tale for another day.
Romilly was born in September 2001, just a few days after 9/11 and we worried about what kind of world we’d be bringing a child up in, as I guess a lot of us did at the time.
As Milly grew, Greebie became her constant companion and interactive play-thing, they were inseparable. So when Yvie came along in 2007 as the ultimate April Fool’s Day gag (two weeks early) we wondered how Greebie, now 11, would fare…
Admirably, it turned out, almost kitten like in his enthusiasm to play, he had the full attention of an almost six year old and a new baby and he loved it. As Yvie grew into a toddler he was often found being half carried, half dragged from one room to another, completely content with his new role in life.
Turns out Yvie was born with a hole in her heart (now healed) and Greebie became our early warning mechanism, refusing to leave Yvie’s side twenty-four hours before an inevitable turn for the worse and another emergency admission to hospital.
So, in early 2012 when Vee started to feel unwell and lost her voice for seven weeks and Greebie refused to be budged from her side, save to eat and for comfort breaks, we knew something was up, even if then, we didn’t know what.
The “something” would turn out to be a tumour in Vee’s Thyroid and in the weeks between diagnosis and the operation I would often wake in the middle of the night to find Greebie lying atop Vee, head tucked under her chin, purring for all he was worth. It was oddly comforting to know that he was doing his best.
Vee is still recovering from the long-term effects of her Thyroidectomy and Greebie has been a feline drill in the darkness of the night, purring away still.
Then, a week go, it was clear that Greebie himself wasn’t well, so Vee took him to the vets, expecting the usual, “it’s his age, he’s getting old. Give him two of these a day and he’ll be fine.” Alas, this was not to be. After a couple of days in the feline equivalent of Intensive Care, tests indicated that Greebie was very unwell. Kidney failure and, ironically, hyper-thyroidism, meant Greebie, Vee’s baby of 17 and a half years didn’t have very long.
The vet boosted him up so he could come home for the weekend, so the family could love him, in the flesh one last time, so our beautiful two girls, who have never known a house without a Greebie could say goodbye. There have been many, many tears.
Today, Tuesday, 11th June, 2013, as we lay cuddled in bed dreading the alarm, Greebie heaved himself out from underneath the bed, scrabbled up the duvet and dropped himself heavily onto the arm I had round Vee. A jealous puss to the very last…
So, in a cold, wet, rainy and cliche ridden day we dressed slowly and with heavy hearts and glistening eyes took Greebie back to the vet. We held his paw and stroked his head and told him how much we loved him, how much he meant to us, how much he will always mean to us and after an injection by the vet waited for him to go to sleep. It didn’t take very long. It was awful, heart-wrenching and it was absolutely the right thing to do.
It turns out I am a cat person. I will miss Greebie in ways I did not think possible until just a few hours ago. I will cuddle my girls and remind myself constantly that if that little black and white cat hadn’t rolled over and let me stroke him 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have any of this.
Thank-you Greebie cat. I owe you everything.
RIP my little friend.
June 2, 2013
A good friend once said how much he disliked the ‘greyness’ of corporate life, how empty everyone seemed. I asked him how much of himself he took to work. He thought a moment and shrugged. Fair point, he said. This person, who was always at odds with ‘corporate’, has now moved on from a life spent running company websites to make award-winning short films. And yet, how grey was he to the co-workers he greeted each morning?
I went on a business trip recently, meeting my colleague on the train at Wolverhampton as we headed north. We’d not spent much time chatting before that (and probably won’t again – at least, not through work.) He was the techie pre-sales engineer and I was the product manager, coming together for a customer visit. We got chatting. He was into photography, and showed me his pictures. His wife had the bug too, and I saw arty night shots of trees illuminated by the two of them as they ran around shining torches in the darkness, while a slow-release shutter rendered the couple invisible. The photos were very good. But even better was the picture it painted in my mind of love and life in action.
Something got me thinking today.
About all the inspirational people. Not the ones on the big stages, but the ones who aren’t really trying to lead anything other than a normal life.
About a friend, now gone, who spent his days at home, naked and relaxed, pottering. Brilliant and very much at one with who he was and how he expressed it.
About the primary school teacher whose love of Simon & Garfunkel and the canals of England and Wales, through her methods and wonderful eccentricity, ignited in a ten-year old boy two passions that live on decades later.
And about the friend who called today, to speak to my wife, but made the happy mistake of asking how I was, whose comments have left me that little bit more certain about things, and whose remark that she’d been listening to ‘Let Her Go’ by Passenger took me to the album on Spotify. Genius.
Does corporate need to be grey? Do we need to strip the personality from our product messaging? I’ve always struggled with this, and see no reason why it needs to be this way.
And with this in mind, my penultimate shout out (in this unashamedly self-indulgent blog) goes to the copy-writer who I’ve got to know over the last year, whose battle with bland finally seems to be paying off, as the company he writes for finds a more ‘human’ voice – and in doing so, will perhaps inspire a few more people to look again at the products and services he’s writing about.
My last shout… to my wife and daughters, whose unflinching belief is a daily inspiration, adding wind to the sails as I work to justify their faith.
The list is not exhaustive, and as I’ve written just these few I’m reminded of all the people I’ve not included in this short list. Hopefully they know. I guess the point is, be open enough to notice the incidental comments and happenings from which inspiration just might spring, and be bold enough to take a little more of yourself into everything you do.
When I was at university, I learnt about a study once carried out on ‘luck’ by assessing two self-selected samples (unlucky people and lucky people). Count the number of photos in this newspaper, they were told. You’ll get money once you’re done. And the faster you’re done, the more money you’ll get. Three pages in, there was a piece of text that gave the number of photos and instructed people to stop immediately and collect their money. Lucky people saw it. Unlucky people didn’t, as they stuck to their course and counted the photos, ignoring the text.
January 8, 2013
I did write one more Christmas related 75-word paragraph and originally I wasn’t going to do anything with it other than share it with my fellow WordWatchers. I put the general feel of it down to post-Christmas blues.
However, my local council decided they had no Christmas spirit and left behind all the black sacks that my neighbours put out (am I the only person who recycles?). The contents of these black sacks are now spread all over the footpath and suddenly my little paragraph seems to have captured the moment surprisingly succinctly.
Fat, bloated, filled to bursting, gulls peck into two week old rotting flesh and loudly decry the waste. Stuffed with paper and plastic bindings of toys already forgotten, broken or pushed into the back of the cupboard, these silent sentinels are dragged to the curbside to await collection. To the curbside so that they can be emptied of the reminders of our excesses. Empty, like the promises to ourselves in the form of New Year Resolutions.
Cheery I know, but cathartic nonetheless.
January 6, 2013
There was some discussion on the radio this morning that 12th night was actually last night and therefore all things Christmas related should come to an end, lest 12 months of bad luck is visited upon the perpetrator…
However, undeterred I have decided to push on, risk it and share with you my final four Christmas themed paragraphs:
Midnight Matt: Heavy snow cut Lucy’s remote farmhouse off from the rest of the world on Christmas Eve, by road and later power and her generator refused to start. Late that evening she sat with a tin of beans and some flickering candles and hummed Carols to herself. On the stroke of Midnight the driveway was filled with light and the splutter of old Land Rover. It was her Matt, clutching a takeaway, wine and present! (This one was inspired by a mis-typed Tweet by Richard who runs Paragraph Planet, who had meant to type Midnight Mass)
When they couldn’t find the brandy Grandpa brought out a dusty old bottle from the back of the larder, after sniffing the contents, he poured it onto the Christmas Pudding. As dad approached with the lit match there was a white flash and a scream as a high velocity silver sixpence hit Granny on the forehead. Scattered across the kitchen, superheated sultanas went bang. Of the pudding itself, nothing remained, save a charred sprig of holly. (This was my personal favourite of the paragraphs I submitted)
At 12:01am PST, those still awake, felt suddenly bereft. Children awoke, wailing, from their slumber. It was as if millions of Furbys cried out and were suddenly silenced. CNN quickly started to show wreckage scattered across the landscape as Governments denied involvement while simultaneously terrorists groups claimed to be responsible. However, in the wake of the incident an autopsy pointed to pilot error, induced by alcohol, given the red suited man was 10,000x over the limit. (This was published by Paragraph Planet on Boxing Day, Richard thought it safest not upset the children before the big day…)
Margaret didn’t hear the whistling noise to start with, singing along to Christmas Carols on the CD player. When she did hear it, she began a search of the kitchen, listening to the pan of boiling potatoes and the dishwasher. Then, from the oven there was a ‘thud’ and the whistle change to a scream, as foam started squeeze around the door seal. “Roger! I think your fancy recipe for the turkey has gone horribly wrong!”
Well, that’s it, I hope you enjoyed them? I certainly enjoyed writing them, some of them have even given me ideas for future longer stories (and this is one of the main reasons for doing these 75-worders to capture snippets of ideas for stories).
Comments, positive or negative are much appreciated.
January 5, 2013
Yesterday I shared the first four seventy-five word paragraphs I submitted to Paragraph Planet in response to their request for Christmas themed submissions.
Today, I share the next four with you:
When Bob returned from his work Christmas party, Margaret was rolling out the icing for their Christmas cake. His novelty tie played “Silent Night” as he crossed the kitchen and tried to steal a piece. It played “Jingle Bells” as Margaret turned, kissing her husband and, with a glint in her eye, undid his tie laid it on the work surface. As “The Snowman” started Margaret turned and battered it into silence with the rolling pin.
Jeff in the Benefits Office rubbed his throbbing temple. “Ok… Mary… if we could go through this one more time… You’ve left the name of the father of your unborn child off the form. While I understand this can be a delicate matter, it will help process the claim… So, if I could just have the name? Please don’t say ‘God’ with such with such an exasperated tone, I’m just trying to help, really I am.”
On Christmas morning Patricia watched her husband with something close to astonishment. He was being attentive to her and the children, he seemed happier, almost human, not the vile monster he had become over the last few years. “I know you said not to spend much, but I decided to go really big this year,” he said, handing her a gold envelope. She tore it open eagerly. Inside were divorce papers. “Merry Christmas,” he said quietly.
The doorbell rang and David, not expecting Christmas visitors, answered with a sigh. Opening the door David stared agog, awestruck, while the Angel, in stereotypical white, complete with glowing halo, explained that He needed to borrow a couple of double-As as His SatNav’s had run out. Ruefully, the Angel continued to explain that He had tried the shop, but Mr. Patel couldn’t see Him and of course it was wrong to steal, even in an emergency.
The last four will be shared tomorrow.
December 17, 2012
You know this game, but you may never have played it this way: Tag! You’re the author who’s “It” so you have to play the game by sharing your Work in Progress (WIP) or it’s straight to bed without supper for you. Alexandria Szeman tagged me, and these are the rules:
- Give credit (including the URL/link) to the person or blog that caught you when you were frantically trying to run away, slugged you on the arm, and thus made you “It”
- Play by the rules – no pinching, kicking, crying, spitting, or throwing tantrums – which includes posting the rules
- Answer ten questions about your current WIP, no matter the genre, because maybe we’d like to get to know you better (actually it’s only 9 questions as far as I can tell, since the 10th “question” is the next step)
- List five other authors or bloggers, with their hiding places (URL/links), so we can chase them down and make them “It” so the rest of us who are done playing can go in, eat our supper, and check out their other books.
1. What is the title (or working title) of your WIP book?
2. What genre(s) does your book fall under (or brush up against)?
Contemporary-gaming-geeky-love-Story (and if that isn’t a Genre – it is now).
3. Which actors would you choose to play the characters in the film version of your book? (should you ever get it optioned and actually get lucky enough to have principal photography started, the film made and distributed… well, you get the idea…)
I have no idea, there’s an awful lot of “me” in the lead character and therefore to suggest an actor to play me, might come across as slightly egotistical. The lead female, who confusingly you don’t actually meet “in person” until over halfway through the book is an amalgamation of two of my friends and a young Swedish MEP and therefore she could be played by… actually, I have no idea… I really should have thought about this shouldn’t I?
4. What is the one-sentence Pitch
for your book?
A young man hides from his complicated real-world issues inside an online world which promises a huge reward to anybody who can beat the game’s designer but when he meets a girl and finds himself falling in love it turns out the real-world and his gaming world are more intertwined than he could ever imagine. [That's a terrible sentence - far too long - it should be edited down - see - the whole novel, I fear, is like that at the beginning!]
5. Will your book be Indie published, self-published, or represented by an agency and sold to a traditional publisher?
I genuinely think the way I have written it would scare the be-jeezus out of any traditional publisher and they wouldn’t know what to do with it. I always thought it would be eBook only, again, because of the way I’ve written it.
6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Forever. Embarrassingly. It took me two years to write the first 15,000 words, another year to write the next 80,000 and then, after another year gap, only two months to write the last 50,000 words. If you do the maths you will see that I got carried away and wrote a stupidly big first novel. I also became (I think/hope) a much better writer during that year gap. So I’m dreading the mega edit this book now needs – that’s why I’m doing things like writing this blog instead…
7. What other books in this genre would you compare yours to?
See Point 2 – I don’t think there is a genre for this – if somebody can identify some other Geeky boy-equivalent-of-chic-lit let me know, I’d like to read some!
8. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
They say – write what you know – I have a past that involves various Sci-Fi and comic conventions and online gaming, some things happened, other things I heard, other things I extrapolated. In the end though, I wrote a book I wanted to read.
9. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I’ve hopefully designed the book to be read in 3 minute chunks – so you can read it between Tube stops (this might not make sense to non-UK residents). I also spent quite a lot of time designing the game which underpins, and is interwoven into, the story, because I don’t want any of the geeks out there to say “On page X you say dragons have the following abilities, but on Page Y, a dragon does this…” because those things really bug me too! (hence the need for a mega edit!)
10. Thank god, I’ve finally run fast enough to catch five other authors (and any who don’t have a blog of their own to answer these questions are welcome to do a guest post on mine):
I’m going to cheat – I want the rest of WordWatchers to stop having excuses to not write a blog and to do this one…
December 8, 2012
WordWatchers holds two short story competitions a year, nominally one in the summer and one in the winter. Generally, we pick a theme (or if there’s a competition out in the “Real World” we’ll align with that), give ourselves a month to write the story, a month to score and critique them and then we generally have a little party and announce the winners. We also have a good laugh at how bad we generally all are at guessing which of us wrote what story.
However, this winter what was clear was that we were in great danger of not having a short story competition! Unthinkable, but true. So, it was decided that we would have a very very short story competition instead, based on the format found on the Paragraph Planet website. We decided we could cope with that because even if everybody entered there would only be 750 words to read.
We were also very fortunate to persuade Richard Hearn who runs Paragraph Planet to act as an external judge. This wouldn’t affect our own “internal” scoring but it would be interesting to get the input from somebody who has to pick a new paragraph every day. Richard also wrote us a very nice little blurb (which is included verbatim within this post) about the competition and, to our delight, he also offered to run his favourite three on the Paragraph Planet site.
What Richard had to say was:
Thank you to WordWatchers for inviting me to judge their annual writing competition, and I’m touched that the competition has been inspired by Paragraph Planet. (The word count means I’m also very much in my comfort zone!)
I’ve been impressed by the strength of your entries and have genuinely struggled to whittle the entries down to a top 3. It’s always going to be a subjective decision, especially when all the authors have really got to grips with the demands of the format. I myself keep changing my mind, and I am sure others will have their own, different, favourites. However, a judge cannot reserve judgement forever.
Before announcing the winners, I thought I’d reflect on what makes a good piece of flash fiction. What do I look for?
I look for 75 words that work. They somehow need to be working together, towards the same goal. That goal is different for each submission – it might be a mood piece, a mini story, a comedic moment, or, probably the most popular when done right, a twist-in-the-tale – but somehow it’s about all the words working together consistently to achieve their own aim. (Scratch that. ‘Consistently’ sounds too dull. It’s often the jarring word that makes the paragraph. Let‘s just say, the paragraph has to work as a whole in a specific, original, and unexpected way.)
I think all the entries from WordWatchers members were successful, but these final three are the ones that I felt stayed with me just that little bit more after reading. It was a close run thing but my top three will go on – in reverse order – on Sunday 2nd, Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th December.”
So on Sunday 2nd, Richard published Abbie Todd’s entry:
On Monday 3rd, Richard published Debbie Smith’s entry:
And on Tuesday 4th, Richard published his winner, the story by Julian Dobbins:
What’s interesting is that this is quite different from WordWatchers own results announced at our Christmas Party last night (7th).
Our own results were as follows:
Joint 3rd: Julian Dobbins and John Hoggard
2nd: Abbie Todd
1st: Mel Gerdes
As you have seen Abbie and Julian’s stories already, John and Mel’s stories are reproduced below.
John Hoggard’s story:
“Poor old Douglas flinched as the squawking voice of his ancient mother, upstairs in her bed, penetrated his thoughts. He poured the boiling water into the teapot and arranged the buttered toast neatly on the plate. He then laid out her vast array of pills, once again swapping her heart tablets for the identical looking ones prescribed to her festering cat. He didn’t know if the exchange was having an effect, but he hoped so.”
And Mel’s winning (as far as WordWatchers is concerned) entry:
“It wouldn’t have happened if he’d made that one call home. We had an agreement you see, he’d call to let me know he’d arrived safely. But he got drunk and forgot so I spent the night awake, fearing the worst. When he finally walked through the door I lost it – grabbed the nearest pan and walloped him. The trouble was it was Le Creuset. Out stone cold. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to buy quality…”
It will certainly be interesting to discuss with Richard why we had such differing results (although it could be argued that two stories both featured in the top 3 of both decisions).
WordWatchers would once again like to thank Richard at Paragraph Planet for his time and expertise.
October 10, 2012
This is the third seventy-five word paragraph I wrote for Paragraph Planet (they published my second entry, which came as a shock, but set the bar very high – a 50% success rate!). It was inspired, in part, by my eldest daughter who is very dyslexic, but takes after her parents and has developed a love of science and got a school report which certainly indicated she was doing very well in this particular area.
It’s certainly interesting to see how she copes with her dyslexia, memorising stuff seems to be her weapon of choice at the moment. When she was very young and we thought she was reading just fine, it was because she had memorised all the books we had read to her and she just regurgitated as she turned the pages. It fooled us, it fooled some of her teachers too.
Now she’s keen on drama and theatre and is finding learning lines is hard work, but if they’re read to her, she remembers them, so she may yet crack that particular nut and wanting to read (anything) when you’re dyslexic seems to be half the battle won.
So, here it is, my daughter inspired 3rd 75-worder:
‘“Just as well lungs work autonomously Pike, because I doubt you’d have the brain power to breath otherwise,” noted my Comprehensive school Physics Teacher Mr. Jenkins. Fortunately it turned out I was dyslexic not stupid, but my rage against this man here,’ he said gesturing to the old man sat in the front row, ‘focused me to this! A Nobel Prize for Physics! Thank-you Mr. Jenkins!’ From the back of the auditorium somebody started to clap.
October 5, 2012
A few months ago I discovered via Twitter a wonderful Website, with a wonderfully simple premise: tell a story in exactly 75 words. The name of this website is Paragraph Planet and it can be found here.
I use this site to practice the art of editing because it’s a serious head scratching moment when you’ve written a story only to find it’s not 75 words long but, for example, 83. Trying to edit ten percent of the content out of a story that short is challenging to say the least and makes every word earn its keep. I am hoping that this honing of my editorial skills will come in useful when I return, in anger, to editing Endless Possibilities.
To date, I have submitted 12 seventy-five word paragraphs to the site and have been lucky enough to have three paragraphs accepted. They’re on display for a single day before they’re replaced by another snippet of story-telling concentrate.
I’m going to keep submitting stories to Paragraph Planet, but I’ve decided I like those little nuggets that Paragraph Planet have passed over and I’m going to share them here – one at a time.
So here’s the first:
He whimpered like a kicked puppy, the gag in his mouth prevented him from actually speaking, to whisper his soft lies. He tugged against the cuffs that he had used on her only a few hours earlier. She looked along the barrel of his gun. It was sticky with her blood. Her cheek smashed open while she had been handcuffed. Her fingers reached up and touched the gash. Never again. She pulled the trigger and relaxed.
Not sure where this story came from, but the imagery was so strong in my mind as I typed it up that it took less than a minute to create and another minute to tweak to 75 words.
May 1, 2012
At the last Wordwatchers’ meeting, in April, I shared my efforts of a rewritten first chapter. ’Being mauled with velvet claws’ is what we’ve called it in the past; the wonderful act of sharing your work and then sitting back and listening to a group of people you respect, and trust to be honest, share their opinions.
On this occasion, it wasn’t pretty.
Last year, the opening chapters of my novel got an airing with a small number of literary agents, generating some very positive comments (along with the rejections). The main issue, it seemed, came from it being something of a cross-genre story – and therefore doomed from the start. One agent did actually ask to read the whole manuscript, which suggested it might not be as big an issue as I first thought, but when they too couldn’t commit, I knew I had to do something.
So, I set about reworking it more into the crime genre – after all, the book has always started with my main character being asked to find someone, in something of a classic ‘film noir’ style. And this was the new first chapter that the group was reviewing.
Many of them had read the earlier version, and all had previously responded very well to the main character. This time, however, they didn’t; they felt he lacked sufficient drive to engage the reader – and there was less to like about him. The newer members of the group, who’d not met my character before, tended to be more positive, liking my take on a classic detective story, and the overall pace of it.
It was then that the penny dropped.
I didn’t want to write a crime novel. Yes, there’s a crime in it, but I realised that in order to give it the pace required to sustain that aspect of the story, I had stripped out much of my character’s depth and in doing so rendered him a lot less effective, and a lot less likeable.
But it starts with him getting the case, I thought. It always has. And people have always liked that. How can it start anywhere else? But although the readers were liking where the story was starting, I knew it was setting the wrong expectation for what was to follow.
My book needed a different opening.
So, I’ve spent the last few weeks writing it. A new opening chapter arrived literally within two days of my velvet mauling, and has since been followed by five more chapters. And it’s feeling so much better – I’ve learned a lot over the last year about the book I want to write, and realising that is probably the most useful thing I could have done. Maybe that seems a bit obvious. But letting go of established truths has never been an easy thing to do, and that’s what I was asking myself to do – it’s what I needed to do, if this rewrite was going to do anything other than tweak a book that people already seemed to like… but somehow just not enough.