Thursday, 28 September 2023

The Cat We Said Goodbye To | Dussy. 2007(?) - 2023

This house doesn't feel the same anymore.

Sunday, September 10th*

 (*These underlined dates represent when I actually wrote portions of this post, rather than being a timeline of events. The events took place over a six day period, between September 6th and the 12th.)

I had planned a normal post like the ones before this one. However, our older cat, Dussy, who was diagnosed with kidney issues three years ago is now at end-stage kidney failure, or very close to it, as far as I can tell. I wrote about this diagnosis back in September 2020. 

Back then, the vet had said; "Well, she could last six to twelve months or she could go as long as two to three years."

Sure enough, here we are, three years later and Madame D has spent much time asleep this week and has gone off her food. We've been keeping her hydrated and have fed her small amounts here and there. She's been on a prescription diet these past few years and has never been a real fan of the stuff that she's had to eat. 
As we fear that she's nearing her end - man, it's difficult to write that line - we feel that she may as well eat a few things that she'd actually enjoy. 
 
I've been carrying her to her water bowl and placing her down in front of it. She has quite a thirst, which is a symptom of this ailment. She's much, much lighter than she used to be, and I can feel every ridge along her spine when I stroke her back.
 
Added to this condition, she has, in recent months,  also developed Feline Audiogenic Reflex Seizures, which causes her to flinch if she hears noises of a certain pitch. This can be anything from scrunching up aluminium foil to jingling of car keys.
This is a condition that cats can develop once they get to around fifteen years of age.  

My son has said that he's seen her have two seizures, where she collapsed to the floor and began to salivate for a few minutes. It happened a third time, late on Wednesday night, while my son was on the PlayStation. Once this passed, we brought her into the bedroom and she slept on the end of the bed with a blanket over her. And then it dawned on me that it was the clicking of the PlayStation controller's buttons that most likely were the cause of her three seizures, since they have only occurred when she's been in the lounge room while my son was gaming.   

We've all been feeling down since her condition deteriorated so quickly in the last four days, but my wife reminded me that this is a sixteen year-old cat, after all, and one that has led a good life since she turned up on our (neighbour's) doorstep 14 years ago. She has been well-loved and taken care of. Even our other cat, Bowie, has stepped up to help by lying down against her to keep her warm. Granted, he also gets warm as a result, but there was a time not so long ago when you could barely get these two cats within a few feet of each other, let alone sitting together. 
We have a vet appointment scheduled for both cats tomorrow evening, as they are due for some shots, but it looks like the consultation will divert to discussion regarding ensuring Dussy's comfort and, if it comes down to it, the right time to send her off if she's in too much pain or distress.  
Looking back now as I write this sentence (Friday, 15th), I realise that I wasn't truly prepared for the reality of what would come next.
 
Monday, September 11th

Once my wife and I got home from work, we got the two cats ready for the trip to the vet. Our daughter was coming with us. We soon got into my car and made our way sedately to the vet clinic twenty minutes away. 
Once we got there, the vet dealt with Bowie first, since his consultation was straightforward. He weighs 4.77 kilos, a healthy number in the range between 4.5 and five kilos. 
Attention then turned to Dussy. The vet weighed her and told us that the cat has lost 600 grams since her last visit.  She checked her eyes with a penlight. The cat's pupils did not dilate. 
Prognosis; the last seizure would appear to have caused some neurological damage and may have affected Madame's eyesight. 
The vet felt Dussy's midsection. She feels constipated, she remarked. 
Madame had not had a bowel movement for a few days. 
 
The vet said there might be a few courses of action we could try, but none of these would prolong this cat's life much longer and, more importantly, they would cause her distress.  
This cat was close to the end of it's time.
The vet went on to say that she didn't think it would be wise to wait a few more days. I was asking logical questions, making sensible statements, etc. I didn't want to leave it too late, to the point where it might be 2:00am one night and this cat is in pain or distress. 
My wife and daughter felt the same. The vet told us that she had no appointments booked for the following afternoon at 3:20pm. We made the arrangements and left. 
The ride home was sombre. I was, however, most concerned with giving this beloved pet a painless send-off.
We got the two cats home and gave Dussy a small teaspoon of vanilla ice-cream.

Tuesday, September 12th
 
I got up a little earlier that morning and went to the kitchen. I flicked on the coffee machine and then grabbed the egg carton out of the pantry and cracked one open. I transferred the yolk from one hand to the other, letting the egg-white slip through my fingers before spooning a small amount of the yolk into Dussy's bowl. 
I went and got her off our bed and brought her to her bowl. She gingerly sniffed at the egg before her tongue darted out to eat it. 
I offered her some water afterwards, and then brought her to her litter tray. After that, I put her on a cushion in the lounge, next to a window in the early morning sun.
Then I took a shower before my wife got up. 
Made an espresso, kissed my wife and Have a  good day, hon, then headed to the train station.

I left work at around 1:00pm and made my way home. The kids had kept Madame comfortable. There was her favourite blanket splayed out on the floor near the window in our bedroom and the sunlight shone through.  
I lay down next to her and stroked her head. She hasn't purred for a week now. I held one of her paws, feeling the pads underneath, hoping that she'd recognise that it was me doing this. Hoping that she remembered the sound of my voice or my scent.
It was now beginning to dawn on me. I had less than a couple of hours left with her.

My wife and I would often take a walk after dinner. It might be a short ten-minute stroll around the block or it might be a longer walk around the neighbourhood and we'd be gone about 40 minutes or so.  Dussy would follow us out the front door. We'd walk down our drive-way and Madame would be right behind us. As we'd cross the road in our street - it's a court. One way in or out - Duss would walk a little into the road and then stop. As we got to the end of the street, my wife and I would turn to look behind us and Madame would be standing there, like a sentinel. 

We would get back from the walk and the cat would be at the edge of our driveway. She'd see us and slowly slink her way towards us, out onto the road. As we walked past her, she'd turn and follow us back up the driveway. Unless my wife or I picked her up first. 

Left- March 2009 - the day she landed on our doorstep. A Chocolate-Point Burmese. Not the kind of breed that winds up as a stray. Even the vet that first checked her out was surprised. 

I opened up a can of tuna for her on that day. She became my shadow after that. My family has often commented on how she would choose my lap to sit in at any given time. We'd be sitting in the lounge room watching TV and Madame would make a bee-line for me and hop onto my thighs.

I kept patting her while she lay in the sun. I was starting to feel awful. Lost. The kids were both home and they told me that she'd spent most of the day asleep. I got her a little more vanilla ice-cream on a saucer. I knew this would most likely be her last meal. Afterwards, I carried her to her water bowl. She wasn't interested. 
I smiled and said to her; Good girl. Better to have the taste of vanilla on your palate instead of water. I brought her to her litter tray. Nothing. So, back to her blanket she went. 
My wife got home from work, we got Duss into her carry basket and headed for the veterinary clinic. I took a glance at my wife in the rear-view mirror while I drove. She was crying.  
 
We got to the clinic and were led into one of the suites. The examination table had a plush furry blanket laid across it, the ceiling lights were off and the room was illuminated by a soft glow from a wall lamp.
The vet came in and explained the procedure. She would place a catheter in Dussy's foreleg. Then, the cat would receive a large dose of anaesthetic, effectively an overdose. It would be quick, given Madam's age and frail state. That's all I hoped for, as my eyes welled up. 
Take as long as you need with her,  said the vet before leaving us in the room. We all held onto Dussy for a while. My wife asked if I wanted to hold her while it was done.  
I said 'no'. I couldn't bear that. I'd prefer to hold one of her paws, to let her know I was there. This cat has been my shadow for the last 14 years. I was the sucker who gave her some tuna when she first appeared and she seems to have preferred my lap over those of the other family members.
Okay, I'm gonna stop here for now. 

Sunday, September 17th

The vet returned to the room and asked if we were ready for Dussy to have the catheter inserted. She reminded us that we could have more time if we wanted. I was definitely not in a rush for this procedure to be underway, but I didn't want to prolong the goodbye. Can you tell how my head was in two places?
My son was holding Dussy and he gently passed her over to the vet, who took her into another room to fit the catheter.

This cat has never really had one name. When we first decided to keep her, she was called 'Latté', due to her two-tone shades of brown. Until my wife and I realised how pretentious that sounded. Then we switched her name to 'Wispy', on account of how her tail would sway and curl when she stood, like a thin plume of smoke. 
At some point after that, her name changed to 'Dussy'. This seems to be the one that stuck, more or less. My wife and daughter called her 'Bubble'. My daughter also called her 'Peanut', again probably to do with her colouring, and she also inexplicably called her 'Sticky Chicken' on a regular basis. Oh, and 'Goodjibubble'. Although, that name didn't stick, thank God.
And I sometimes called her 'Monkey' or 'Kangaroo'', to get a rise out of her. Didn't work.  
At any rate, if she had a passport, I'm sure it would list her as Madame Wispola Dusenberg. 
 
A few minutes later, the vet brought our beloved cat back into the room and placed her gingerly onto the blanket. I saw the catheter on her right foreleg, held in place by a strip of blue bandage. I held her left paw and gave the pad a gentle rub as my heart-rate increased a little. 
This was going to happen momentarily. 
I asked my daughter to hold Madame, if she wanted to. Are you sure?, she asked me as tears welled in her eyes. 
I was sure. I knew I wouldn't be able to bear it. 
And, more importantly, I wanted my daughter to have this closeness with this cat. Remember how I said up above that this cat would always seek out my lap to sit in? Well, sometimes, she would choose my wife's lap or my son's lap. Never my daughter's lap. 
This went on for years. From 2009, when she first arrived, till sometime in 2016, when I came home from work to find my daughter, big smile on her face, sitting on the couch with her feet perched on the ottoman, and Madame curled up in her lap. This was an historic event. 
My daughter was seven years old when this cat arrived. Dussy finally sat in her lap when she was 14. 
My daughter waited half a lifetime. 

I recall one year where we were having Sunday lunch. It was my birthday and we had finished eating and I had received and unwrapped my gifts and read the birthday cards that my kids had made for me.
It was a warm Summer's day. The front door was open, with a cool breeze blowing in through the screen door. Our dining area was right near the front porch. My wife glanced at the door. Dussy was standing outside on the front door-mat.
She's got something in her mouth, said my wife as she got up from the table and headed for the door. She opened it and Madame walked in with a bird in her mouth. The cat took a few steps into the dining area and then placed the bird on the floor.
On my birthday.
It was some black bird, with a thin yellow stripe across each wing. Very exotic. I'd never seen one like it, before or since. Probably the last of its species!
Dussy hadn't wrapped it, of course, but it was the thought that counted.

My wife asked our son if he wanted to nurse Dussy one more time. He declined. She then wrapped Dussy in her favourite blanket and put her into my daughter's arms. I stroked this cat across her brow and between her ears. 
The vet once again offered us more time, but we looked at each other, making an agreement with small nods. 
It was time. Logic reminded me of this, even though my heart wanted to back out of this procedure. 
 
Monday, September 18th
 
My daughter held Dussy up a little higher, cradled in her arms like a baby. I held our cat's left paw and gently stroked the pads. The vet took hold of the other paw and attached the syringe to the catheter. I watched her thumb push down on the plunger. She then removed the syringe from the catheter. I looked at Madame's beautiful face. A few seconds later, her tongue slowly poked out from her mouth and I seemed to see the light go out in her eyes. 
I turned away as the tears began to pour out of my eyes and took a step back and sat in one of the chairs against the wall of this tiny room. The vet approached and offered me some tissues. I took the box and said a tearful Thank-you to her.
My head flooded with various thoughts; 
- This was it, there was no way to turn it all back. It was done. 
- I felt a little distraught at seeing her like that, with her pink tongue protruding from her mouth. I didn't want her to look silly or comical in her last moments. My daughter and wife told me later that the tongue retracted while I was sitting in the chair. It was a reflexive action, as Dussy's whole body let go. 
The vet held a stethoscope to Madame's chest. We were quiet. A few seconds later, she nodded. 
Madame was gone. I was grateful to the Gods that it had only taken three seconds or so. 
My daughter asked if I wanted to hold her. I nodded and she passed our cat over to me. I was nervous as I took her in my arms. I didn't want to see her head loll to the side. I wanted to pretend that she was sleeping. I wanted a little time to accept the fact that she was gone. 
I held her in the crook of my arm and stroked the side of her face. I held her paw again for a while. I stroked the top of her head. 
Her body made a sound as a held her. Air was expelled from her lungs. I worried a little right then, not wanting to think that she was in some pain or distress. The vet explained that it was a chemical reaction to the injection.
She told us to take as long as we needed to say goodbye. I have to say that she's been a wonderful vet. She'd said I'm sorry to us more times than she had to, and she shed a few tears herself.  She has dealt with this cat on numerous occasions and always had nice things to say about her. Oh, she's a grand old girl, she remarked a few times, with her lilting Irish accent. 
She has one of those Gaelic names, easy to pronounce, but impossible to spell.
She and my wife left the room for a while. My wife wanted to pay for the procedure and she wanted to make arrangements for the body. 
We had discussed this the day before. Did I want to bury her in the backyard garden?
No. We wouldn't stay at this address forever. 
The decision was made to have her cremated instead, and we would keep her ashes in an urn at home. They would be ready in a couple of weeks.
I held on to her a little while longer, stroking the side of her face. I asked the kids if they were okay. They were feeling a little better. 
I'm not sure how much longer I sat there, holding on to her. Might have been fifteen minutes. I held her paw again and noticed it was feeling colder now. 
My wife came back in and we laid Dussy out on her blanket and wrapped her in it slightly. My wife placed a small handful of freesias between Dussy's paws. She had taken them from our garden before we left the house earlier. 
My daughter took a couple of photos of Madame as she lay there. I took one as well. She looked peaceful and I was glad that her deteriorating health was at an end. It was very difficult seeing her slide so quickly over the last six days. It did indeed happen fast. 
 
I found the care label on the blanket that she was wrapped up in. It was a blanket from West Elm and the print on the care-tag had faded. I took out my pen and wrote on it; "Dussy 2007(?) - 2023. We love you". On the other side of the tag, I added; "ALIASES - WISPY - BUBBLE - PEANUT".
 
I leaned down to Dussy and whispered in her ear; "I love you. You were wonderful. Thank-you". And my eyes welled up again. I stroked her face one last time and kissed her cheek, where her whiskers were. My daughter wanted to say her goodbyes, so I didn't rush her. She spent another five minutes or so with her. I stood just outside the room, glancing back a couple of times. Feeling miserable for myself, but contented by the fact that Madame was now at rest. I didn't want to remember her the way she was in her final week. I wanted to remember her the way she looks in these photos.

We thanked the staff at the veterinary clinic. I made a mental note to write a card for the vet to thank her for her efforts. We left, got in the car and made our way home. 

Wednesday, September 27th

We didn't talk much on the way home. It was done, and I felt okay about having said my goodbyes to this cat. I pulled in to our driveway. We got out of the car and brought the now-empty cat carrier into the house. 
Day-to-day practicality returned shortly afterwards and my wife and I decided to head to our nearby ALDI to get stuff for dinner that evening. 
We soon filled the two shopping bags that we'd brought with us and we approached the ice-cream section in the frozen food aisle. We checked the freezer that usually stocks the Kapiti Nelson Boysenberry ice-creams. It was totally empty, a blank white refrigerated space. 
"Oh, it's a day of loss!", my wife exclaimed with a smile. 
"This is the worst day ever!", I replied, smiling back.
A little bit of black humour to take the pressure off the day's events. We had all been crying an hour or so earlier.

Epilogue

It's now just over two weeks since we said goodbye to this beloved cat. I wasn't firing on all cylinders at work for the rest of the week after we had Dussy put to rest on that Tuesday afternoon. Made a few out-of-character mistakes here and there, as I was still reeling from it all.

As I said at the beginning, this house doesn't feel the same anymore. I get home from work and I don't see Duss curled up on a corner of the couch, punctuating the furniture or floor-space in one room or another. 
I've sat down to watch TV and she hasn't leaped up onto my lap. 
 
We have our younger cat, Bowie, and hes also a Burmese, but he's of a different temperament to her. He walked around a little distracted for the first few days after Duss had gone. I think it's truly dawned on him that she's no longer around. We've been keeping a closer eye on him and he seems to be okay. He comes and goes as he pleases. He even sits on the couch when we're watching TV, which is something that he never did. 

Last weekend, my wife visited the vet clinic to bring in some chocolates that we'd bought, along with a note of thanks from us both to the vet who carried out the procedure. Unbeknownst to me, she was also visiting the vet clinic to collect Madame Dussy's ashes. 
She brought them home in a little cloth draw-string pouch, along with a card from the vet. The ashes themselves were contained in a small plastic Zip-Loc bag. Hardly dignified, but practical. The vet had told us that this is how the pet crematorium packages them. They call it a 'scatter-bag', as some folks like to distribute the ashes in a special or meaningful location. 
I held the plastic bag in the palm of my hand. It was smaller than a cake of soap. I put it back in the draw-string pouch and held on to it a few minutes. My wife would organise a small urn to put them in.
 
It was good to have Madame back home. And I thank the Gods for sending her to us all those years ago. I'll miss her always, but I'm glad to have had her for the time that I did.
She was a source of affection, frustration (at times), friendship, amusement, concern, and above all, love for all of us in this family. 
 

 Thanks for reading.
 
 

Saturday, 8 July 2023

Reading/Time No. 2 | March/April 2023 - The Book/s I Read, The Watches I Wore, Etc.

Okay, thrill-seekers, no time to waste. I just put up the February post and then got started on this one. Not writing about the issues with my feet. That was covered a couple of posts ago. This post - and maybe all future posts - will be a little more frivolous in nature. Not sure, just an idea I'm toying with at the moment. 

Anyway, as said in recent posts, I thought I'd try doing a little more reading this year in an effort to get back into the habit. I used to read a lot, but life got busier and I got more tired. 

Okay, so...

 - What I Read In March -

British novelist Frederick Forsyth began a career in journalism in the early 1960s and wrote a book called The Biafra Story in 1969, which covered his time reporting on the Nigerian Civil War. He shot to international fame a few years later with his second book, a fictional account of a plot to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle, entitled The Day of The Jackal. 

My brother had a paperback copy of this book. It was in pristine condition, which led me to think that he most likely never read it. Once I started reading more grown-up/adult literature in the early 1980s, and after having seen the 1971 film adaptation of the book, a British-French co-production starring Edward Fox as the titular Jackal, I felt I was ready to read the book. I found it slow, but then, I was barely into my teens. 

Since then, I've read seven other books by Forsyth over the years. And I'm probably due for a re-read of Jackal.

However, I began the month of March with The Afghan, a Forsyth novel from 2006, which features a previous character of his, former SAS-man Mike Martin, a seasoned veteran of tours in the Middle East, who is recruited to impersonate a high-level al Qaeda commander who is currently being held in Guantanamo Bay. There is chatter throughout intercepted intelligence throughout the Middle East that the Taliban are plotting a major terrorist attack on Western interests. 

I wont give away any more of the plot. I'd rather comment on the writing. I once read an article that described Forsyth's writing style as clichéd. I'll have to read more of his works to see if I can pick up on that, but I will go so far as to say that his writing can be a little bland in some ways. There are no flourishes, and this makes it quite workman-like. 

However, his technical knowledge and levels of research are unsurpassed.This is where his journalistic background elevates his writing in terms of the information one learns while reading his books. 
For example, there are over 19,000 blank Belgian passports that have been stolen over the last three decades from various embassies, consulates, diplomatic satchels, etc and, to date, only a small number of them have been used, notably by Islamic State members, gun-runners, sex traffickers and drug dealers. 
The book moved at a good pace for the most part, but I felt the ending was a little rushed, something that I began to suspect when I was about fifteen or twenty pages away from finishing it.  
It almost felt like A) Forsyth was working to a tight deadline set by his publishers, a practice that has become quite common in the last couple of decades, if one recalls the amount of control that George R.R. Martin's publishers had over his Game of Thrones output, or B) Forsyth didn't have a clear idea of how to end the book.  Also in the frame is the 1982 Submariner 5513, which saw some time on the wrist early in the month. This is the watch that I've wanted since I was a kid, as some of you may recall from one of my posts back in 2015, when I finally acquired the watch.
 
However, I have found in recent years that this watch requires a little more care than a more modern equivalent. The crystal (glass) is plexi, which is a kind of acrylic and therefore more prone to scuffs and scratches, and a good knock will crack it. This alone gives me a little pause whenever I think about wearing it for any particular activity. 
Sure, if I crack the glass, I can simply get it replaced, but this would more than likely be something that I'd be doing every couple of years. That kind'a takes some of the fun out of ownership. 
That said, I've thought about replacing this one with a later model. Not sure. Need to give it a little more thought, as this watch carries a tonne of mystique and cachét, built up over the last seventy years since its inception. 
The association that this watch has with Bond, scuba diving, Cousteau and his crew, McQueen, Redford, foreign correspondents of the 1970s and '80s is something that's not to be trifled with or underestimated. This is the most famous dive watch design ever made. Both a blessing and a curse in some ways. 
 
The Longines Spirit also got a bit of time on the wrist in March.
 
This watch punches above its weight. Super comfy and super legible, probably the two main things you want from a wristwatch. Of course, 100 metre water-resistance and very accurate timekeeping also help. 
Regarding the Bombay Gin, I haven't seen this on the market here in my neck of the woods since sometime in the 1980s. So when I saw it in a nearby bottle shop (liquor store), I just had to stumble down memory lane and buy a bottle. It's a little weaker in alcohol by volume when compared to my go-to gin, Bombay Sapphire, but this was a pleasant drop nonetheless. 



- What I Read in April -

I quickly ran through another Mick Herron novella called Standing By The Wall. This is a small story centering on a pre-Christmas moment in Slough House, a forgotten division of MI6 where agency failures are sent to finish out their time with the Service or are driven to the point of resigning. I wrote a little more about this series of books in my previous post. 
Tell ya what, it must've been a cold night in April if I busted out that bottle of Laphroag Islay Single Malt. 
This book was written last year and I get the impression that some characters from Mick Herron's earlier books are no longer around. 
From what I've read and heard from Herron in interviews, his intention with this series was to have characters come and go. 
I've read his first three books and I think I'll get back into his Slough House series. I've got them all at the moment.
First, though, I thought I'd get into the latest Bond continuation novel, titled Double Or Nothing, written by Kim Sherwood. This book is, apparently, part of a proposed trilogy. The premise was intriguing. James Bond has been missing for the past 17 months. Three other Double-O operatives are searching for his whereabouts while also engaged in keeping tabs on a private military organisation and looking into the affairs of a billionaire who claims he can reverse global warming. 
I'm currently (July 5th) about half-way through this book and I have to say that it has greatly hampered the momentum that I had built up at the beginning of the year. Three full-length novels and four novellas. I was doing nicely, thanks for asking, and then I landed on this book. 
 
My gripes;
- One Double-O is named Johanna Harwood, which also happens to be the name of one of the screenwriters of the first Bond film, Dr No, back in 1962.
- Another character is named Bob Simmons, which is the name of the stunt coordinator of the Bond films in the '60s and '70s. 
- Miss Moneypenny is fairly high up in the Secret Service now, I'm not sure if she's running things or is very close to being top dog. She drives a vintage 1960s Jaguar E-Type that she had converted to an electric vehicle by Q Branch. 
- Q Branch. Nowadays, it is basically an AI, which works on all manner of things, including a hearing implant that is worn by agent 004, Joseph Dryden. When Dryden talks, every word is heard by Q Branch back at HQ. And they can also send him messages and intel via this implant.

So far, there have been no major highs or tension in the story, in my view. The completist in me wants to finish it, but man, it's a bit of a slog. 
 
Saturday, July 8th
                                   I was reading this book during my morning commute in to work a couple of days ago and there's a scene where Johanna Harwood is sitting at an outside table at a cafe in Berlin. She places her order with the waiter and shortly afterwards, 'out of the corner of her eye', she notices the waiter approaching, holding a small tray with her order on it. The 'waiter' turns out to be another character in the book and yes, he is holding the tray, but he also has a tan-coloured overcoat draped over his shoulders as he approaches.
So, you can notice an arm holding a tray out of the corner of your eye, but you fail to take in the tan overcoat? Which is not part of your standard waiter's uniform. 
I was about to start the next chapter and I saw the words 'Kina Lillet' on the page, and my heart sank a little further.*
 
The Tudor Black Bay 58 got some wear throughout April. This watch is part of my permanent collection. I've given some serious thought to my watches over the last year or two. Some more thinking to be done, as I notice some watches being worn much more than others. 
*Okay, another gripe of mine regarding this book - So here we are in Berlin with Double-O agent Johanna Harwood and another character who is mixing up a couple of Vesper Martinis, the recipe of which was created by James Bond in Casino Royale. 
If you need a refresher;
                                    
3 measures of Gordon's Gin
       1 measure of Vodka (brand unspecified)
              Half a measure of Kina Lillet vermouth
                     Pour these into a cocktail shaker with lots of ice and shake it until it's very cold
                            Strain it into a martini glass and add a twist of lemon peel.
 
Personally, I'm not a fan of this drink. Fleming had a cast-iron stomach (like everybody of past generations) and this drink is basically four shots of spirits. Which is why I always called BS on that scene in Quantum of Solace (Dir: Marc Forster, 2008) where Bond is on a plane and he's polished off SIX of these and only looks slightly punch-drunk. 
Daniel Craig or not, that's twenty-four shots of alcohol, not including 12 shots of  Lillet vermouth.
 
Now, this book is set in today's world.
Any Bond fan worth his Double-O licence would know that Kina Lillet was discontinued in 1985. It was replaced with an altered blend of ingredients and renamed Lillet Blanc. Its the little details that bug me when they are stuffed up. 
Poor research? Bad editing? I wouldn't know. All I know is that I paid $32.95AUD for a book written by somebody who was commissioned to write it by the Ian Fleming Estate Publishers.
 
Okay, I might just wrap things up here for now. I'll start on the next post sometime in the next week or two. We'll see how this book is faring by then. 
I bought the Charlie Higson Bond novella, titled On His Majesty's Secret Service,  which was released to tie in with the coronation of King Charles a couple of months ago. 
Higson wrote the very well regarded series of Young Bond teen-fic novels earlier this century, so it will be interesting to read his take on a modern Bond. 

I hope you've been well, and thank-you for reading!

Saturday, 10 June 2023

Reading/Time No. 1 | February 2023 - The Book/s I Read, The Watches I Wore, Etc.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I figured I'd read a little more this year. It's a pastime that I used to partake of more in my younger years, when it seemed that I had more free time. Even once the kids came along, I still managed to get some reading done in bed before lights out. 
In recent years, though, I've fallen into the trap set by the little black rectangle, checking emails, Instagram and other non-urgent online crap before lights out.
So, I felt it might be time to get a little more mature with my nightly routine and get back to reading. 
Also, I wanted to tackle espionage fiction in particular, as it's always been a favourite genre of mine, and there are a slew of titles that I'd like to read. And, as a way of perhaps doing a little more blogging, I figured I'd write a little something about these books. I should mention that I won't concentrate too much on their plots. I'll most likely be talking more about the writing, pace and readability (in my humble op) of the books. I'm no critic, mind you, so it's more than likely just gonna read as an opinion piece.
 
So, time to get started.
                                                  - What I read in February - 

                                  In my previous post, I mentioned that I had read The Trinity Six, by Charles Cumming.  That was a nicely written book, with a plot that reminded me of something that John le Carré might have written in his later years. It should be noted that le Carré didn't solely write espionage. Very often, his main plot would have to do with the nefarious dealings of big business or government, with a main character not being part of the secret intelligence world. 
 
Next book that I read was a novella by a favourite modern spy author of mine, Mick Herron. He's been writing for twenty years, and his first couple of books were mysteries, but he hit his stride in 2010 with the release of Slow Horses, about a forgotten and neglected division of MI5 where agents who have messed up are sent to perform menial and unimportant administrative tasks, in the hopes that they'll become so bored and unfulfilled in this dead-end department that they'll hand in their resignations. 
 
They are stationed in a series of shabby offices in a building called Slough House, and the intelligence operatives at MI5 HQ in Regent's Park refer to these has-beens as the slow horses. 
Leading this rag-tag team is one Mr Jackson Lamb, complete with a steady supply of cigarettes, Scotch and insulting one-liners directed at his team, or 'Joes', as they are referred to in spy slang. He has a paunch, which strains the (probable) polyester fabric of his food-stained shirts, an unfiltered potty-mouth, and an unrestrained lack of decorum which sees him break wind in any given situation. 
James Bond he ain't.
What he is, however, is a wonderfully drawn character with a sharp mind, a former Cold Warrior who was stationed in Berlin when The Wall was still intact, and was captured by The Stasi at some point before coming back to Britain a different man. The details of this have only been hinted at in the three books I've read so far. 
Lamb seems to be playing two moves ahead of everyone else, including Diana Taverner, acting Head of MI5 and his former boss. 
The Slough House series has since been turned into two seasons of a mini-series for AppleTV. I won't say any more about it, except to say that they have been excellent, with a wonderful cast and great cinematography.
 
Getting back to the novella that I read, The Catch concerns John Bachelor, a not-very-successful former operative of MI5 who has been cut down to part-time status and farmed out to looking after retired assets in their twilight years. He basically just has to check up on them every few weeks or so, to ensure that their fridge has enough food in it and that they are living out their final years without selling whatever secrets they may still possess to the other side. 
Bachelor gets called in by HQ and is tasked with finding one of his charges, whom he hasn't checked up on in some time, like he is supposed to. It appears the old boy has gone AWOL and who knows who he could be talking to? 
It's a short book, but the characters, some of whom appear in other Slough House books in the series, are well-drawn, and John Bachelor, despite his numerous shortcomings, is a three-dimensional and sympathetic character. 

Wristwatch-wise, I wore the recently-arrived Longines Spirit. This model is 37mm in diameter and therefore sits nicely on my small wrist. This smaller size gives the impression that the watch might have been made in the 1950s or '60s, which is kind of the vibe I was going for. I came to the realisation about a year or two ago that I prefer certain styles of watches to be a certain size. That's a blog post on its own, for sure, and I'll get around to writing it at some point. This watch's size makes for a nicely understated piece, one that stays out of sight until needed.
 
The Catch was a short book, which I had finished by mid-February, so I was now ready for a book that I had bought about two years ago and had yet to read. I took a week's break and then started on All The Old Knives, written by Olen Steinhauer.


AMERICANO COCKTAIL - Bond's first drink*

Into a highball glass, add a decent amount of ice. Then pour in;
1 ounce (30ml) of Campari
1 ounce (30ml) of Sweet Vermouth (Cinzano Rosso, Martini Rosso, etc. Basically, red vermouth)
Top up with Soda Water of choice. Mineral water works just as nicely. 
Add a slice of orange. 

*Weaker, but cooler than a Negroni (IMHO), this is the first drink that we see Bond order in 1953's Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. You can bump up the measurements to 45ml each if 30ml doesn't provided enough kick. 
This is a great drink for a warm Summer afternoon. 

The Longines Spirit is also seen in the frame up above. All The Old Knives concerns two CIA operatives, who were once in a brief relationship, who reunite to discuss an old mission that went wrong. 
Henry Pelham is still with the CIA and he has arranged to have lunch with his former flame Celia Harrison (nee Favreau), who was stationed in Vienna at the time of a hijacking which ended in disaster. 
Pelham has been assigned to investigate whether or not a mole inside the Agency may have caused the failure of the hostage rescue mission, which resulted in the deaths of over 200 passengers and crew on board the plane. 
The story is told in 1st person present-tense, which I normally steer clear of, but Steinhauer's such an adept storyteller that I can forgive this aspect of the writing and was soon swept up by it. The chapters flit back and forth between Pelham's version of events and Celia Harrison's recollection of them and each chapter gives the reader little tidbits here and there without being led by the hand.
It's a nicely plotted book and for me personally, a second read of it would reveal more to me, as I think I was slightly distracted by my foot troubles while reading it. 
In saying that, it was a worthwhile read. Not a true spy story in the strictest sense, but very well written. 
And yes, this is another spy book that has ended up on screen recently, via Amazon Prime. I'll have to catch up with it someday.
 
This here is a circa 1963 Tudor Oyster, which I hadn't worn much in recent years because the seconds hand kept binding against the minute hand, resulting in the watch stopping while on the wrist. This is not actually something that you want a wristwatch to do. Kind'a defeats the purpose of a wristwatch.
The seconds hand would need to be re-positioned on the central post or it might've required some slight 're-forming' so that it would sit a little higher and, therefore, sweep over the minute hand without brushing against it. 
The watchmaker that I work with had a look at it and got it sorted out quickly. I wore it the next day and it performed like a champion. It was good to have it back on my wrist. 
My wife found this watch in a Thrift store about 20 years ago. She paid fifty bucks for it. It wasn't running, the crystal was all scratched up, the winding crown wouldn't screw down into the case the way it was supposed to. 
I then spent another $350.oo getting it serviced and fixed up. I could have sold it for four times that figure, at least, but this was the first (and only, to date) watch that my wife has ever bought me, so this aspect alone makes it a keeper. 
 
At an opposite end of the spectrum is the 2007 Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean. This watch doesn't see as much time on the wrist as it used to, most likely due to its 42mm diameter which, while it sits okay on my wrist, is probably just a tad larger than I'd prefer it to be. 
My tastes have shifted in recent years. I've been collecting watches long enough now to know what works on my wrist, what doesn't, and what my evolving preferences are. I can tell that I'm reaching that point where I know exactly what kind of watch I like, in terms of both style/type and sizing. Took me long enough!
Having said all that, whenever I do put this watch on, I fall in love with it all over again. 

Okay, that's maybe this post done and dusted. I might get started on the next one soon, which will cover the month of March.

I hope you've all been well and thanks for reading!

Saturday, 3 June 2023

June 2023 - Post-Op Recovery: Short Dispatch No. 7 - Taking a Little Longer Than I Thought (+ the Watches I Wore & the Books I Read)

Saturday June 3rd, 2023

                                       I actually started this post back in April, and then things got busy.

When last we spoke of this foot mishap, I was strapped into a moon-boot, which I would have to wear for approximately four to six weeks. 

See my post before-last...or if you're too lazy to scroll down, here's the link;

Feb 2023 | Post- Op Recovery: Short Despatch No. 6 - A Slight Hiccup. (And a Tetanus Shot!*)

Anyway, I wore the moon-boot for just on six weeks and then I had another round of x-rays and an Ultrasound. A couple of days after that, my podiatrist sent me a text message to say that the x-rays 'looked good' and I could take off the boot and get back into my normal shoes, but I was instructed to take it a little easy for a few weeks. 
The moon-boot came off on March 22nd and I went along my merry way, but my left foot was still hurting a little. To be expected, I thought, as I figured that it might still be a few weeks before it was fully recovered. 
Problem was, it was now a month later and I was still limping along. My foot was swollen on top near the toes and it still hurt throughout the day as I walked.

Book and Watch

I decided at the beginning of the year that I was going to make an effort to read more. And I also decided that the bulk of what I read should be espionage fiction, since A) I have quite a bit of it on my bookshelves, and B) it's a genre that I like to read.
So, I started off with Charles Cumming's The Trinity Six. It concerns an English Professor of Russian Politics, Sam Gaddis, whose latest book hasn't exactly set the best-seller list on fire. His ex-wife is pressing him for more financial support and his editor is asking about his next book, suggesting that he perhaps try his hand at less academic (and more sellable) literature. 
Meanwhile, a writer friend of his tells him about an elderly gentleman who claims to know the identity of the sixth member of the Cambridge spies who caused so much damage to British security during the war and in the Cold War years which followed. 
The Cambridge Five consisted of Harold 'Kim' Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross. 
Run a Wikipedia search for 'Cambridge Five' to get a good synopsis of this famous episode in espionage history. Kim Philby is perhaps the one who has been written about the most, and a recent book by Ben Macintyre, entitled A Spy Among Friends, offers further insight into Philby's duplicity during his years in British Intelligence. 
The Trinity Six follows our hero, Sam Gaddis, as he conducts a series of clandestine interviews with this elderly gentleman in order to uncover the truth of his claims while the KGB road-blocks all avenues open to Gaddis because they don't want this sixth member of this group of double-agents uncovered. The characters are well-drawn and the book is nicely written. Author Charles Cumming takes a deserved place at the table occupied in the past by the likes of John le Carré. 
 
The watch in the photo is the early '90s Tudor Prince Oyster Date. It needs a service, and a new crystal (glass) because the existing one is a cheap after-market one and the date magnifier offers a distorted view of the date numeral. This is something that would not occur with a genuine Tudor crystal. 
The watch measures a wonderful 34mm in diameter, which is considered small by today's standards, but was a standard men's wristwatch size for over 40 years, and it suits my small wrists just fine. 
Tudor was created by Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, as a less expensive alternative to Rolex, and aimed at the working man who wanted a dependable and well-made watch. 
All parts, except for the movement, were made by Rolex. 






























Your wristwatch snobs will say that Tudor was invented for people who can't afford a Rolex. 
And your point is?
 
May 29th - OFF-TOPIC: Since there's some empty space here, I figured it's a good spot to apologise to my regular readers for the long gaps between posts. Life is a little hectic, work is hella busy and consists mainly of staring at a computer screen for most of the day. 
kiojuh - okay, my cat just walked across the keyboard and typed that word. Ha! These letters are all close to each other on your standard qwerty layout. I think I might as well leave it in.
 
 
 
Where was I? Oh, yeah, my workday consisting of  staring at a computer screen all day long. 
As such, by the time I find myself in the quieter moments of the evenings or weekends, getting back in front of a computer screen has less allure than it used to have. 
Still, I'll see if I can post a little more often. More importantly, I'll see if I can keep it interesting. 
Since I've started reading a little more this year, maybe I'll write  about the books I've gotten through. I'm no book critic, mind you.  I have some classic spy authors still to read and there are also some modern authors whom I've never read, but ought to. 
Oh, and on the wristwatch front, two watches have gone and two watches have come in, at the time of writing, but more about these in due course. 

Okay, so following on from the typecast above, I was about to make an appointment through Priority Care...



























Okay, that typecast was a month ago. So, I had the x-rays taken, and went and saw my surgeon in the first week of May. I gave him the rundown on what had happened with my feet since I last spoke to him back in December last year.
He checked my feet and was happy with the range of motion in my big toes, although he did say that the operation will have staved off any joint fusion surgery for about five years. I do have osteoarthritis in my toe joints, after all. Hell, I was hoping to avoid that type of operation. 
Still, I felt much relieved to be speaking to him about all of this rather than having to go through it all again with some other surgeon. 
Anyway, he told me running is a no-no for the time being. That's okay. I don't run. And he said no push-ups, either. Now that's a shame, but I think I can work around it by resting the in-steps of my feet on a foam roller '. I tried it one day and felt my stomach muscles ache after a minute or so. Good. Might get a stronger core. 
And it looks like I'll begin leaning a little more heavily towards a Mediterranean diet, which relies more on white meats (especially fish which contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids) and legumes which have anti-inflammatory benefits.  

Okay, enough of the serious stuff. It gets dealt with on a daily basis already. It's called 'life'. 
 
This post has run out of puff, as far as I'm concerned, so I might just wrap it up and start on the next one. 
Although, I'll add a little here about a watch that I picked up back in early January. 
A little backstory first -  Back in early February last year, I worked briefly for Longines, as a Customer Service Officer, dealing with repair enquiries on a daily basis. Prior to starting in this role, I did a couple of weeks training at one of their boutiques. I already knew enough about the brand, having sold them for over ten years at a watch boutique back in the Noughties, but it was interesting to see what the current Longines watch line-up consisted of. 
The brand had released the Spirit range of Pilot's watches back in 2020 and it had done very nicely for them. As a refresher, a Pilot's watch tends to feature a dark dial with luminous numerals all the way around. Often, they will have a slightly larger or oversized crown, to make it easier to set and wind the watch while wearing flight gloves. 
This was, obviously, aimed more at the pilots of yesteryear, but this style of wristwatch has remained popular over the decades since they first gained prominence in the cockpit. 
Anyway, Longines released this new Spirit model in 2020;
 
picture courtesy of Hodinkee.com, from this write-up;
 
It was a great watch, but it didn't really grab me because I felt it might be a little too similar to my Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic, seen below.
 
 
 
 
Both watches have numbers 1 to 12 on the dial, both have date windows, and both are 40mm in diameter. 

So, I didn't really give the Longines Spirit another thought. I thought it was a beautifully realised watch, but I didn't want a 40mm Pilot's watch. They had also released a 42mm version, and I was gonna well and truly stay away from that one.
And then, Longines released a 37mm version sometime in early/mid 2022, and I began to take notice, despite the fact that all of the marketing around this new smaller version was aimed at the ladies. 
 
Having been into watches for much of my life, and having worked in the watch industry for over 20 years, I have seen fads, designs and tastes come and go. Watches started getting larger 20 years ago, circa 2003, with the first two culprits being the 46mm IWC Big Pilot, and the 43mm Breitling Crosswind models. These two brands ushered in a mad wave of BIG watches across most of the major brands. 
Thankfully, I have seen a shift back towards more sedate sizing, albeit a slow shift back, but a shift nonetheless. I'm all for there being some choices when it comes to watch sizes, but personally, once you go beyond a certain diameter, it's no longer about watches. It's about flexing, showing off, a pissing contest. 
I too fell into the big watch craze about ten years ago when I bought a 44mm Hamilton Khaki Officers Mechanical. It was comically large for my wrist, but I was aiming for a watch that looked like a wartime spy's piece of kit. I reviewed that watch and had some fun doing so. The review is here on this blog for those of you who want to read it. I've been tempted to 'remake' that review with the newer Hamilton Khaki, but...
 
Anyway, Longines released the Spirit model in 37mm and I knew I was in trouble. 
The new models were available in black, champagne-silver or sunray blue dial. I opted for blue, in an effort to break up the 'black dial heavy' collection a little. 
This watch punches well above its weight. Here's a dial close-up;
 









The numerals are applied, which means they are attached to the dial with prongs that slot into holes drilled into the dial. Very nicely done, and they appear to 'float' on the surface of the dial.  The numerals are hollow and filled with Superluminova, the luminous compound that allows the numbers to glow in the dark.
 
The chapter ring, that outer edge of the dial with 5,10,15,20, etc, and the minute markers on it, has a little diamond-shaped cut-out at every hour marker. 
 
The red-painted seconds hand has a diamond-shaped tip which passes directly over these diamond cut-outs, obscuring them for a brief moment. 
 
The blue sunray/sunburst pattern on the dial reflects light at certain angles, and can look black in low light to a vibrant cobalt blue in bright sunshine.
 
The date window is down at six o'clock, making for better symmetry to the dial.

And that's just on the outside. Under the bonnet, this thing houses the Longines  proprietary Calibre L.888.4 movement, which offers a wonderful 72 hour power reserve AND is Chronometer Certified. The balance spring, which is most susceptible to magnetic interference in any watch and can cause excessive gains in timekeeping, is made of silicon, so that takes care of that possibility. 

There's a lot to like about this watch. The 37mm diameter sits nicely on my slender, school-girly wrist and the end-link on the bracelet has a small button on its underside which allows you to remove the bracelet from the watch without any tools. One added touch that I find cool is the LONGINES name engraved horizontally along the length of the clasp.

Man, did I say I was wrapping this post up? Sorry.

All in all, a very well-made and nicely understated watch, and  one that fills the Pilot's watch category very handsomely. This 37mm size gives off a wonderfully old-school vibe. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog would know that this is the kind of feel that I generally aim for when it comes to wristwatches. 

 

Okay, all for now. I'll get started on my next post soon. 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 23 February 2023

My Most-Worn Wristwatches of 2022

Well, last year had its fair share of ups and downs and I wore a watch throughout them all. Some watches saw more time on my wrist than others, and I was a little surprised by the results.
 
This yearly compilation has been a good exercise in helping me see which watches I wore the most, as this often allows me to determine just how attached (or not) I might be to a particular watch. A couple of watches here and there barely got a look-in. This is more to do with the watch requiring a service than anything else. For example, my Sinn 103 St Sa Chronograph began playing up back in April, so it hasn't been worn since then. Purchased in 2009, it is definitely overdue for some attention.

For this year's post, I think I'll list the watches in reverse order, just to mix it up a little. 
 
Also, I've included both the year of production, as well as the year in which I acquired each watch. If you just see just one year enclosed in brackets, that means I got the watch while it was still in production.
 
I took a bunch of photos, the majority of which I wasn't too thrilled with, but here they are anyway.

No. 10 - CASIO MRW-200-H 43mm (2022)

Picked this one up in April off eBay for $38.ooAUD. Brand new. Cheap and cheerful, with a lot going for it. 
Super-light all plastic 43mm case and strap construction with a non-ratcheted rotating bezel. Day and date function, flat mineral crystal, 100m water-resistance for a pleasant day at the beach or laps in a pool, luminous hour markers and hand-set, which doesn't last through the night, but this is okay for a watch costing less than fifty bucks. This would make a decent travel watch. If you lost it or it got stolen, you wouldn't worry too much. And for the price, you could buy two or three of them. Also available with a steel case on a metal bracelet, but I just wanted to try one out, so I opted for the most basic version. This is the watch that I took to hospital. The set-and-forget nature of battery-operated watches is a major plus. I wore this watch through 12 days in 2022. Doesn't sound like a lot, but it was enough to get into the Top Ten and the watch served me well. 
 
And, an added bonus;  There's an early scene in Bullet Train (Dir: David Leitch, 2022) where the assassin, Ladybug (Brad Pitt), goes to the train station locker to get his fake passport and other items he might require for this seemingly easy and straight-forward mission. He forgoes the pistol, having reached a point of enlightenment recently where he has sworn off carrying a gun and, in the locker next to the pistol, we see a Casio MRW-200H. Ladybug is already wearing a Breitling AVI 765 Re-Edition chronograph (Pitt is a Breitling ambassador), so he doesn't grab the Casio.

Also in the frame - 
A compilation (Volume 4) of Greg Rucka's excellent MI6 espionage graphic novels Queen & Country. This Casio watch feels like the kind a low-level field operative would wear in a safe-house, or maybe that's just my imagination at work. 
I had eight or ten of the single-issue Queen & Country comics at one stage before figuring that I should just get the collected editions. I have Volumes 1, 3 and two copies of Volume 4. Purchased the second copy, forgetting that I had already bought it. Volume 2 has been on its way from eBay since November 28th, but appears to have gone missing in transit. I contacted the seller and they said they'd send me another copy and they asked that I let them know if the first copy ever arrives. Will do. I'll also offer to send it back to them, on my dime.

No. 9 - SEIKO Seikomatic Weekdater 37mm Ref: 6218-8971 (December 1965. Purchased 2022)
 
I wore this one over 13 days of 2022, which was surprising. It's a great watch. The case is 37mm in diameter, which is a little large for the era in which it was made. Most watch case sizing - for your basic time-and-date piece - sat between 34mm and 36mm throughout the 1950s and '60s, with the odd 38mm 'jumbo' case appearing across a few brands. 
The Serial Number on the case-back starts with '5D', which corresponds to December 1965. Seiko had a simple serial number system up until a few years ago. 
The first digit of the serial number corresponds to the year of manufacture. The second digit corresponds to the month up to September (9). After that, Seiko switches to a lettering system for the last three months of the year, because they are double-digit months and this would get confusing. So, October would show as an upper-case 'O', not to be confused with a zero, November and December would be 'N' and 'D'.
Now, it helps if you have an idea of the decade in which your Seiko watch was made. This Weekdater model positively screams '1960s'.  These models were produced for about five years or so (don't quote me on that). Looking at another Seiko watch that I have, the Seiko 5 DX, the serial number shows as '8D1337', which would make it December 1968. 
Simple, yet effective. 

Anyway, back to this watch. It has a nice clean silver dial with applied hour markers. I'm usually a sucker for a dress watch dial that has applied rather than painted markers. It shows that some effort was made in its manufacture. This model has a nifty day window positioned at the six o'clock edge of the dial, which makes for a nice point of difference to the slew of watches which have day and date display sitting alongside each other. The dial and hands have no luminous material on them. In pitch black conditions, you won't see a thing. However, the hands are slightly faceted, so in low light, they will bounce off a bit of reflection, making it possible to read the time. 
The winding crown is recessed into the case at the 4 o'clock edge, something that Seiko has done with a tonne of their watches over the last fifty or sixty years. 
The case itself is quite slim, which is cool considering this is an automatic watch with a rotor under the bonnet. Usually, a slim watch like this will be manually wound, allowing the manufacturer to produce a thinner case than an auto. Kudos to Seiko. 
This watch appealed to me mainly due to the day/date configuration. The slightly larger case sizing also helped to set this watch apart from my Swiss-made vintage pieces. 

Also in the frame - 
A vintage National Panasonic transistor radio, a 1968 Nikon F photomic 35mm SLR, and a pair of folding sports glasses that were made in Japan. 
The radio doesn't pick up stations very well anymore. I think the tuning knob no longer works as smoothly as it used to. 
The camera really needs some use. I'll get around to it soon, once I've finished with a couple of other cameras that I have on the go at the moment. I love this Nikon. It weighs a tonne, but I recall it taking some nice shots the last time I ran some film through it. Might get a new strap for it as well. Actually, I may have one lying around somewhere.
The sports glasses are clever. The case is spring-loaded and folds up when the glasses are not in use. The lenses only magnify things to x2.5. I think these were meant for things like the opera or horse races. I might run some Vaseline along the tracks so that it opens and closes a little easier. 

No. 8 - TUDOR Ranger 34mm -  Ref: 9050/0 (1970. Purchased 2020)
 
I've had this watch for just over two years and it's a beauty. It belonged to a fellow who worked as a crane operator, ambulance driver, radio operator, among other ''Real Guy" occupations. This man didn't wear a white collar, that's for sure, and he certainly took away eight of this watch's nine lives.
The bracelet on this piece is an after-market one. The original Oyster bracelet was killed long ago, and this guy just put some no-name steel bracelet on it. I wound up getting a straight-edge Oyster-style bracelet for it, for $20 bucks off eBay, before spending a few dollars more on a Geckota Berwick Vintage bracelet. 
I'm hoping to get a Rolex Explorer some time this year and I'm not sure if I'll keep this watch if that happens. In saying that, though, this watch has some old-school charm to it and these Tudor Ranger models do tend to be a little thin on the ground. For now, I'll look at getting it serviced at some point and I'll see if I can find a genuine Tudor rotor for it. This watch was serviced ONCE(!) in its lifetime and the watchmaker replaced the Tudor-signed rotor with a ETA one. 
I wore this watch throughout 15 days of 2022.
 
Also in the frame- I was aiming for a 'Truck stop' vibe with this photo. The Marlboro Reds pack has been empty since the '90s, the Ronson Varaflame lighter is in great condition for its age. The Wilson bottle opener was from the Sunday Market in Trastevere in Rome. Cost me five Euros. 
The sunglasses were two bucks and they live on a bookshelf near the front door. 
For when I need to look a little cooler walking from the porch to the letterbox to check the mail on a sunny day.
 
No. 7 - HAMILTON Khaki Field Automatic 40mm - Ref: H70595593 (2018)
 
This watch got some use throughout the year. Wore on 17 days, when I either had some yard work or handyman duties to deal with, and also on some other days where I just felt like wearing this piece. Despite the fact that I wore it when I expected it to get knocked around a little, I've still yet to put any significant scratches or marks on it. This watch just may be tougher than I thought. 
Under the bonnet sits a ETA H-10 Calibre movement inside it which features a pleasant 80-hour power reserve. I'm beginning to like watches that have a three-day power reserve. It means you can take it off on a Friday evening and it'll still be purring along on a Monday morning. Or, you can wear it every few days without having to re-set the time and date. If you ever consider having a tight little collection of three or four watches, definitely have a think about a watch with a long power reserve. There are quite a few relatively inexpensive mechanical watches in the Swatch Group stable that contain these H-10 Calibres inside them. Tissot, Mido, and Certina would be three brands to look at besides Hamilton. Either way, across these four brands, you'd be bound to find something that you like, in either a sports or dress watch. 
 
Also in the frame - Aside from a small selection of tools that I've purchased over the years, that scratched up red oil can was from my Dad's tool cabinet. He wasn't too much of a handyman and didn't own a vast array of tools, but the items that he did own were well made.
 
No. 6 - ROLEX Submariner 40mm  - Ref: 5513/0 (1982. Purchased 2015)
 
This one was a surprise. As in, I thought I wore it more than the 19 days that I actually wore it. Regular readers of this blog may recall that I had wanted one of these watches ever since I was a kid back in the mid-Seventies, after seeing a James Bond double-bill at the cinemas with my Dad and brother. 
I finally got it in early 2015 and it has been a great watch. However, a couple of things happened over the years which may have cooled my enthusiasm for this watch a little. Firstly, I had a minor mishap with the watch where I knocked it against a door frame and the bezel and crystal dislodged from the case. This was an easy fix for the watchmaker that I was working with at the time, but it still made me question the resilience of this watch. 
And secondly, I bought a Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight in December 2020 and began to get a lot more wear out of that watch. For me, the Tudor BB58 represents everything that the Rolex 5513 does, but in a more modern, and therefore robust, package. The Tudor is the kind of watch that Rolex used to make.


Still, the absolute legendary status of the Submariner reaches far and wide. If nothing else, it is a very photogenic watch. It is also one of the cleanest watch designs ever made. Having graced the wrists of Steve McQueen, Jeff Bridges, Lee Marvin, four out of six 007s, Castro, probably half of Cousteau's crew aboard the Calypso, and countless foreign correspondents and National Geographic photographers over the past seven decades, it's reputation is assured.
Although, I appear to be approaching a crossroads with this watch. I'd like to keep it, but a part of me wants to move it along and replace it with a more modern version. Something from fifteen or twenty years ago, which may be more water-resistant and definitely a little hardier.
We'll see. For now, it's going nowhere.

No. 5 (equal place) - OMEGA Speedmaster Professional  42mm- Ref: 3570.50.00 (2007)

I wore two Omega watches throughout 21 days each last year. One of them was this classic chronograph. It fits me well enough when it's on its bracelet, but I switched it over to a leather strap and it sits on my wrist much better. Similar to the Rolex Submariner in that it has a lot of history and level of  mystique to it that only a small selection of watches can attest to. Its design and overall aesthetic has changed little since the mid-Sixties, which is merely further proof of the classic nature and staying power of this watch. Cynics would say that its moon-landing/NASA association is the only thing that's given this watch so much cred, but I couldn't care less about that. To me, it's simply a beautiful example of mid-Sixties chronograph design. 
I used to think about selling this watch, but I came to my senses. 
The Omega Speedmaster Professional may have gone to the moon, but this Omega Speedmaster Professional ain't going anywhere. 
 
Also in the frame - My keys, with a vintage brass French hotel room key number tag, a pair of cheap motorcycle goggles - which I used in my review of the Longines Heritage model years ago - and a couple of packets of (stale by now!) Big Red cinnamon flavoured chewing gum. All draped across a 2010 Melway street directory, which is what we used before satnavs and Google Maps.

No. 5 (equal place) - OMEGA Railmaster  36.2mm - Ref: 2504.52.00 (2009. Purchased 2012.)

With a diameter of 36.2mm, this watch suits my wrist perfectly. It was worn through 21 days of 2022 before I picked it up one day, set the time on it, wound it about a dozen times and... nothing happened. It wouldn't start. It was now well overdue for servicing. 
Back in 2009, during my watch selling days, I sold this watch to a fellow who took good care of it. Then, in 2012, he decided to sell a couple of watches and he offered me first dibs on this one. 
 
This watch has gotten a lot of wear and has appeared in every one of these 'Most Worn Watches' posts of mine over the years. It offers superb legibility and more than enough water-resistance for day-to-day activities. My one major gripe with this watch has to do with the design of the bracelet's clasp. It is perhaps the weakest part of the watch. As such, I have been passively searching for a clasp that will fit the existing bracelet, or a bracelet that will fit to the case without any issues. So far, no luck. 
Either way, sometime this year, I'll be sending it off to Omega for servicing. At the time of writing, they are taking between six to eight months to service a mechanical watch here in Australia. It is what it is. Most service centres are extremely busy these days. 
 
Here's the link to my review of this watch, from back in, my God, was it 2013?!
 
Also in the frame - The Fujifilm X30 digital camera that I got for my wife for her birthday one year. She hasn't used it all that much, to be honest. I thought she might find it handy for family/holiday snaps and what-not, but as I have always tended to bring a camera along on holidays, it has always felt a little redundant to have two cameras to worry about. Besides, once she got an iPhone a few years ago, she told me that that was enough camera for her. 
A Fisher AG-7 ballpoint pen. Writes nicely enough, but I've always felt that a pen is only as good as its refill. This one has some nice weight to it, though. 
Field Notes pocket notebook, because I always carry pen and paper. 

No. 4 - OMEGA Seamaster 300 42mm (WatchCo) - Ref: 165.0324 (Purchased 2009) 

Twenty-three days in 2022 saw this watch on my wrist. I've said this more than once. Omega should have kept this watch in uninterrupted production. It would have given the Rolex Submariner a run for its money. I got this watch serviced a couple of years ago and it's running just fine. I could probably wear it more often than I do, but I'd really hate to knock it around too much. I still baby this one a little. 
 
If I could change one thing about this watch, I'd make it a millimetre or two smaller in diameter, but its çurrent size is not a deal-breaker. Put on this period-correct mesh bracelet and the watch 'breathes' a little more on the wrist, making for a very comfy fit. 

Also in the frame - A pair of Randolph Aviator sunglasses that I bought about seventeen years ago.
A paperback copy of Forsyth's The Day of The Jackal. I had this version of the book already, but it was in slightly tatty condition. When I saw this very good copy at a thrift store, I snapped it up. 
 
I have two other copies of this book. One is a Franklin Mystery Press hardcover edition, which features a break-down drawing of The Jackal's custom-made rifle and a map of Paris outlining President De Gaulle's itinerary on a particular day.
The other is a small hardcover edition printed by Collector's Library, with gilt-edged pages. I bought it in Paris from Shakespeare & Co back in 2016. I was on holiday and we visited the store because I thought I'd try searching for Richard Polt's The Typewriter Revolution.  
Part of me thought it was a long-shot, but I had a niggling feeling that this famous bookstore was the kind of place that would stock this obscure book about typewriters and, sure enough, they had a copy on their shelves. I grabbed it. While doing some more browsing, I spotted this Forsyth novel, in its dainty little hardback form. I was in Paris, so I thought it made perfect sense to snag a famous thriller that's set in Paris from a famous bookstore in Paris!
 
The drink in the photo is a Cuba Libre;
               - Grab a highball glass.
               - Half-fill it with ice.
              - Add a measure of white rum. Maybe another half-measure for that extra kick. I used Havana Club, for that pre-Castro kind of vibe. 
                - Top it up with that nectar of capitalism, Coca-Cola.
                - Add a slice of lime. Maybe even squeeze the juice out of a small wedge of it too. 
- Give it a light and gentle stir.
 And Viva Fidel!

I was out of limes, so I opted for lemon. Turned out just as nice. Gotta get to Cuba one day.

No. 3 (Equal place) - OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean 42mm- Ref: 2201.50.00 (2007) 

This Omega dive watch shared equal billing with another watch in the collection. Worn through 25 days of last year, this piece certainly has some presence on the wrist. 
If you look at the photos of  the Railmaster and the Seamaster 300, you will see a blend of their DNA in this watch. 
The sapphire crystal has anti-reflective coating, which makes for a very clear view of the dial. The hands have some decent lume on them, so reading the time in the dark is a snap. The case has some weight to it, so you always know you've got it on. 
This was the watch that adorned Daniel Craig's wrist in his second Bond flick Quantum of Solace. It didn't get any close-ups, it wasn't mentioned by name, but Omega did run some print advertising showing DC wearing a dinner jacket with this watch on his wrist prior to the release of the film back in 2008. 

Also in the frame- The first of Royal Doulton's ceramic 'Jack' bulldogs, this one was released in conjunction with Skyfall in 2012, when London was hosting the Olympic Games and Queen Elizabeth II was celebrating her Diamond Jubilee. When we first see this figurine in the film, it is sitting on M's desk at the new, temporary MI6 headquarters. There are cracks across its face, implying that it has been glued back together at some point following the attack on MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross. 

The photo of Daniel Craig is out of the hardcover book Bond On Set: Filming 'Quantum of Solace', which features photos taken by Greg Williams during production of the film. The sharp-eyed among you will notice he's wearing a Planet Ocean. I got this watch about a year before the film was released. Basically, Bond copied me! 
For once. 

No. 3 (Equal place) - ORIS Divers SixtyFive 40mm- Ref: 733 7707 4035 (2018) 
 
The other watch that was also worn throughout 25 days of last year was also a dive watch, but to a lesser extent than the Omega. 
I wrote a review of this watch not long after I got it, as I was very impressed with this piece. 

 
This watch gave off a Cold War vibe to me. Whether it was real or imagined is another matter. 
My theory is that not every field operative in the 1960s would have or could have purchased a Rolex Submariner for themselves after seeing Connery up on the silver screen as OO7. So, for them, the next best thing would have been to purchase something along the same lines as Bond's watch, i.e., a dive watch of some kind, by a less expensive brand. I hate using the word 'cheap' when I'm talking about watches. 
This has been a favourite watch of mine. Different enough to my other dive watches, with its kooky numeral font, and its forty millimetre diameter sits nicely on my slender/girly 6.5 inch wrist. I don't get offended if somebody says I have a girl's wrists. It's what God gave me, and no amount of working out will make your actual wrist larger. Forearms, yes. Wrists, no. Simple as that. 
There are vastly more expensive watches on the market, which offer better timekeeping and deeper water-resistance, etc, etc, but you could score yourself an Oris Divers SixtyFive and it would serve you very well indeed. 
This dial configuration was discontinued a year or two ago, but the D-65 range continues to produce 40mm models. Something like my watch or the all-black dial version can still be found on the second-hand market. When this watch was first released in 2015, it was the belle of the ball at the BaselWorld Watch Fair in Switzerland, garnering a lot of positive buzz among watch nerds and watch blogs. 

FULL DISCLOSURE - I was the After-Sales Coordinator for Oris in Australia for almost six years. I can't say I was a fan of everything the brand produced, but 80 to 90% of the time, when they got it right, they got it very right.

Also in the frame - This is a busy photo! I was aiming for a stake-out-in-a-West-Berlin-safe-house kind of mood.
A pair of Japanese-made binoculars.
A cheap deck of playing cards, printed on cheap card-stock, made in the PRC.
A smoked-glass ashtray.
A virtually empty pack of Camel no-filters, with one very stale cigarette left in it. Probably from around 2005, if not 1995!
An IMCO lighter. 
A vintage pair of glasses, with lenses that give me a headache if I put them on. 
A 1st edition hardback copy of Ian Fleming's last two published Bond short stories.

No. 2 - SEIKO Ref: SKX009K 42mm (2019. Purchased 2021)

The equal third place Oris and Omega watches were both worn throughout 25 days of last year. This figure pales into insignificance compared to this classic Seiko, which I wore during 69 days of 2022!
This watch has no name. It is simply known by its Reference Number - SKX009. Its more famous sibling is the SKX007, which features a black dial and black bezel. I decided that I wanted a point of difference with this watch, so I opted for the blue-dialed 009 model with the blue and red bezel insert. 
I got this watch in September of 2021. It had been discontinued about 18 months earlier and, aside from price hikes on remaining models, they were also beginning to get quite scarce. This is one of those watches that had been around so long that I thought I had plenty of time to snag one. 
I used to have a pre-owned Seiko 7002 model from 1993 and I got rid of it a few years ago. Kicked myself slightly about a year after I sold it, because I've always thought there was something very cool about a Seiko dive watch. 
This was the kind of watch that I'd see on the wrists of guys who would come into some of the cafés that I worked in over the years back in my hospitality days. These men were usually a few years either side of 40, unmarried (sometimes divorced), with a middle-age spread and Jaggeresque hairstyle (sometimes a little sun-bleached from too much time on the beach or in the surf on their boards), and they sometimes drove a cool car that had seen better days. Like that one guy I knew who had a late Sixties Mustang with the faded and peeling canary yellow paint-job rusting along the lower sills and the rough idling when he was stopped at a red light. 
Beach bums one and all. But likeable nevertheless. 
Anyway, I wanted another Seiko dive watch and these SKX00 models were getting harder to find, so I snapped one up off eBay. My one has the 'K' designation to the model number, signifying that it was assembled at Seiko's Malaysian subsidiary. If you want one that's built in Japan, look for the 'J' designation on the model number. At a glance, another way to tell the difference is the dial. The Made In Japan models have the phrase '17 Jewels' printed underneath the 'DIVER'S 200m' lettering just above the six o'clock marker. And, of course, just below the six o'clock marker, in very small font, you'll find the words 'MADE IN JAPAN' printed on the outermost edge of the dial. 
I wore this one a lot throughout 2022. I liked the heft of it, I liked the easy legibility, I liked the day and date function, which came in handier than I thought, in a year that was a little topsy-turvy at times. 

Also in the frame - Bullet Train paperback by Kotaro Isaka. I saw the movie and liked it. I'm sure the book will be vastly different. The Hollywood spin tends to take some artistic licence with the source material. The book is told in present tense, which tends to bug me a little, but we'll see how it reads when the time comes. 
A little plastic resin box that my wife got many years ago, most likely before I even met her.
A monochrome bandanna that I got from some bar back in the late Eighties. They were doing a Midori liqueur promotion. 
An empty pack of Mild Seven. They were a nice cigarette. The box of matches was found in a box of assorted book-matches that my wife bought from a thrift store for five bucks. That was about seven years ago and we're still going through the matches. 

No. 1 - TUDOR Black Bay Fifty-Eight 39mm Ref: 79030N (2020)    

73 days of 2022 saw this watch on my wrist. This is a near-perfect* watch for me. I'll explain that asterisk a little later. 
To me, the Black Bay 58 represents everything that the Rolex Submariner  used to be. This Tudor is a very well-made wristwatch that is both accurate and robust. Yes, it is expensive, but it's expensive in the same way that a well-made pair of leather boots are expensive. A great amount of thought and care have been taken in their design and manufacture and this is what justifies the price. 
I wore this watch a lot. I wore the Rolex Submariner less. This is something that I suspected might happen when I first got the Tudor. Also, as I've stated more than once on various platforms on the web,  owning a vintage Rolex Submariner is like owning a vintage sports car. A little more care is required when using it, and a little more servicing and maintenance are required during ownership. 
Now, I'm careful enough with my watches, but I really don't want to wrap them up in cotton wool. Therefore, I find myself thinking more and more about upgrading the Submariner to a more modern version, say, something from around 2005 to 2010. This would be one of the last models produced before Rolex made some major changes to the Submariner's case design. The models from ten or fifteen years ago would have a sapphire crystal and better water-resistance. Reason enough to upgrade right there. 
For now, I'm still in the thinking stages, but it would seem that that's the direction I'm heading in.
The heart says keep the one I have. The head says replace it with a sturdier version. 
Let's see who wins.

*Now, about that asterisk; The bracelet, or rather, the clasp, may be this watch's one small flaw. For my wrist, that is. The length of the clasp bridge is quite long and it doesn't follow the curvature of my wrist. This leads to a slight gap between the inside of the bracelet and my wrist, and more importantly, doesn't provide me with a 100% perfect fit. Here's a picture that I prepped a couple of years ago for a previous post;

See that gap where the black arrow is pointing? Yeah, that's the problem that I have with this bracelet's clasp. 
Luckily, a few independent bracelet manufacturing companies have created a half-link for the bracelet of this watch. I will be investing in one of these links soon, to see if it will solve this issue. You never know, and for thirty USD, I'm willing to chance it. 
 
Aside from that, I can't fault this watch. It has modern technology and reliability, all packaged in a vintage aesthetic that harks back to mid-century sports wristwatch design. In a perfect 39mm case diameter, with a super legible dial. 
 

Also in the frame - My passport, which just might expire before I take another trip anywhere. 

A couple of travel guides that we bought before our big trip to Paris and Rome back in 2016. I wrote about the Paris leg of the trip here;

The Teeritz Agenda | The Teeritz Clan's European Trip, Part 1 - Paris: "Effing Hell, All The Cliches Are True!"  

I never did get around to writing about the Rome and Abruzzo parts of the trip. Maybe one day, but I'll have to check the notes that I wrote (not many) and more than likely, I'll have to ask my wife about some of the sites we saw and the things that we did because she has a cast-iron memory. Actually, I do remember most of the things that we did, but the days began to blur a little. Especially because we stayed in two fantastic European cities close to rivers, the Seine and the Tiber. 
Gotta get back to these cities one day. 
While in Paris, I snagged a pair of Persol 649S sunglasses. I was aiming for a '70s style Interpol agent vibe. Of course, they weren't using Euros in Paris back in the Seventies. 
And from the photo just above, the coin was a souvenir from the Notre Dame Cathedral. 
 
And there you have it. These yearly lists have been a good way for me to see which pieces get worn more than others, whether my tastes have changed, if I show a preference for one type of wristwatch over another. 

One thing, though. I think there's gonna be a little bit of a shake-up. Yes, yes, I've been saying that for years, I know. Although, the more time that passes, the more I begin to realise that I have done nothing about it. 
So, methinks 2023 will be the year. I spent last year dealing with health issues and job changes. I think this year will involve some tidying up and consolidating. Maybe I won't make any leaps and bounds, but I'll definitely aim for a little more streamlining of my collections.
Seriously, Ted. ;-)
 
At the time of writing (Feb 23rd), I have another watch that arrived a month or so ago, but more about that at a later stage. 
For now, it's about moving some things along, across all of my collections.
 
We shall see what happens.

Thanks for reading!