The Mosquito Mystery

Do you get bitten a lot by mosquitoes, and other biting insects? I do. Do you know people who never get bitten, even when they are in the same place as you, surrounded by hordes of potential biters? I do.

For as long as I can remember, I have been plagued by insect bites. They have ruined holidays, made day trips a misery, and kept me awake at night. In the worst case, they managed to badly infect my legs, and I wanted to return home early from Crete, but couldn’t get a flight.

I have used every repellent known to man, and every after-bite treatment sold on the market too. Even if they reduce the number of bites, they never stop them completely. Yet I was once married to someone who was never bitten at all, in the ten years we were together. She could sit next to me watching them swarming around me, but as far as they were concerned, she didn’t exist.

I found this article suggesting why only some of us are selected by those flying pests. They have been doing some research, and come to various conclusions.

It won’t stop you being bitten, but it might explain why.

International Dog Day

My friend Julian from The Usual Muttwits has reminded me that today is a special day.

Because you love muttwits, why not do the following:

– Go for a long walk in a new place. Most dogs love exploring
new and interesting places with their best friend. …
– Bake a dog friendly treat. …
– Donate to your local animal shelter. …
– Tell your muttwit you love them.

Every day is dog day with Ollie, but let’s make this one even more special!

UPDATE: Royal News Blackout

Following my posts on here and on my other blog yesterday, Fraggle did some digging in the You Tube comments, and discovered that the video was filmed in 2018. Before posting yesterday, I watched numerous clips on Twitter, including one with a date/timer running on the screen. I didn’t use that one, as it was so shaky.

So it would seem likely that the date I saw was ‘inserted’, and the demonstration mentioned happened two years ago when Prince Andrew was initially implicated in the Epstein scandal.

Thanks to Fraggle for discovering this, and I wanted everyone to know.
This will be reblogged on my other blog too.

Of course, that changes nothing about Andrew’s refusal to testify, or to accept extradition to America. Or his well-documented friendship with Epstein and his visits to parties at Epstein’s house where young girls were flown in for the use of guests.

But it will explain why it was not on any news reports yesterday.

Royal News Blackout

*** UPDATE***

Please see Fraggle’s comment below. This clip is supposedly from 2018, according to the people who posted it, and not from yesterday

I am reblogging this from my other site, as I feel it is very important.


Unless you have seen it featured on Twitter, you will be unaware of a loud protest by a fair-sized crowd outside Buckingham Palace in London today.

This is a protest against Prince Andrew’s involvement in the trafficking of underage girls for sex, part of the Epstein scandal in America. The Prince has also declined to appear in court in America, where he might face charges of sex with underage girls at the Epstein mansion.

Not that Andrew is in the palace. The Queen isn’t there either, and has decided ‘not to return for some time’. I doubt anyone is in there, except the poorly-paid staff, and royal lackeys who keep the whole thing going at the taxpayer’s expense.

That in itself is disturbing enough, the fact that Royal privilege means he is exempt from being extradited to America to give evidence. He cannot be arrested by US Federal agents in…

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Things I Have Never Done

Watching some tiny children swimming in the river near Ollie last week, a lady sitting on one of the benches said to me, “Don’t you wish it was deep enough for us to swim in?” I had to admit to her that I had never learned to swim. She raised her eyebrows. “Never?” I could have pointed out that had I learned to swim at any time and then stopped, I wouldn’t have used the word ‘never’. But I went on my way with a smile.

That got me thinking about things I have never done. Things that many people have done, even some people I know well. They are not necessarily things I ever wanted to do, and didn’t get around to doing, just things I have never done, for various reasons.

I have never been mountain climbing.

I have never flown an aircraft.

I have never jumped out of an aircraft.
(With a parachute)

I have never been bungee-jumping.

I have never written a book.

I have never been on a surfboard.

I have never kissed a complete stranger.
(A real kiss, not a New Year’s Eve kiss)

I have never had to have a surgical operation.

I have never felt my hair touch my collar.

I have never been up in a hot-air balloon.

I have never been to America, North or South, or to Australia and New Zealand.

I have never been on a fairground ride that turns upside down.

I have never read a Harry Potter book, or watched one of the films.

I have never been religious.

I have never been on a zip wire.

I have never had a tattoo, or body piercing.

I have never been to a rave.

I have never been to Ibiza.

I have never been to a music festival.

I have never tried inline roller skates.

I have never played golf.
(Except Crazy Golf at the seaside)

I have never tried windsurfing.

I have never flown a stunt kite.

There are many more things, I’m sure. But that’s a big enough list for now.
Feel free to add your own things you have never done, in the comments.

This 101-Year-Old Tattoo Artist Is the Last of Her Kind

I should state from the outset that I am not a fan of tattoos and body piercings. In most cases, they are permanent things that cannot be undone, so should not be taken lightly. I have never had one, and never would, but I respect the fact that it is everyone’s right to choose what to do with their own body.

However, I do admire tradition, and my friend Antony sent me the link to this short film about a remarkable lady in The Philippines who is doing her best to ensure that her own ancient ways are continued on through her family.

So if you ever fancy having a coal tattoo hammered onto your body using a thorn from a plant, you now know where to go.

Guest Post: Rupa Jambholkar

Today I am featuring Indian blogger, Rupa. I am presenting a post from her own blog, a touching poem about her love for her husband.
Here is her own short bio.

“I am an engineer by degree. A home maker by choice and an artist by soul.

I live in Mumbai, India with my husband and two kids.”

Love needs no fancy flowers!

I pulled out the chair for you,
but forgot
you weren’t there.
I made your favourite chicken curry, spicy and hot, just the way you want.

I envisage, the way you relish it,
licking your fingers,
and asking for more.
You know and I know,
it’s too hot for you but you still love it.
And I wonder why?
I see the way you look at me ,
with your loving eyes.
Even though I look like a pallid soul.
And at that moment , I try to steal my glance away from you, but your eyes stay fixated on me.

And then you hum,
an old romantic song to compliment me,
but I pretend that I don’t blush nowadays
and I somehow manage to smile,
to hide the fact that, I still feel so shy.

I cannot elucidate to myself, how can you see beauty in me, especially now, when I fail to see it anymore.


Yes I did hear the doorbell, my eyes have lit up, I know it’s you.
And you know that, I was thinking about you, waiting for you, so stop smiling and give me a hug.

The curry is still warm,
so is my heart and so are your arms,
And now I see what I saw, the same love to begin with.

You can read more of Rupa’s work on her own blog, Pans & Proses.

Please try to find some time to welcome Rupa into our wonderful blogging community.

Guest Post: Shaily Agrawal

Something different from book promotion, today I bring you a guest post, a short story from my Indian blogging friend, Shaily.
Shaily Agrawal is an Instructional Designer with a love of telling stories. This is her first Science fiction.

Shaily is a fully-engaged blogger, and a real part of our community. Please take some time to read her story, and perhaps visit her blog to find out more about her and her work.

The Phlebologist

2266 AD.

This assignment was a bad idea. The signs were evident right from the beginning—not sure how I missed them all. Maybe, the gold in sight had blinded me with its glare. Now I could do nothing but freak out inside this dark place, waiting for someone to return for me.

I wish I had missed that call from Mikhael, my employer, six days back. He had called me back from my vacation for the fourth time in a row. If I could spit venom, I would have killed his hologram that grew from my watch.

“You better make it worth my time. I’m killing my vacation for you. Again.”

But he knew exactly how to pacify me. “Petra dear, the client promises to weigh you in gold.”

With those golden words, he had all my attention. Nothing motivated me better than money. Love I had too much of—being a tall, curvy blond—and stopped counting after my 25th boyfriend.

“Can’t tell you the name for obvious reasons, but the client is a giant in the Blood Test industry. They own thousands of laboratories across Earth with the annual turnover of several billion dollars. They are looking for information about…”

“…Sangue Heder Labs,” I finished his thought. He nodded.

“Of course! The fastest-growing laboratory chain on Earth…I assume, our client is looking for the ground-breaking technology that diagnoses the complete list of diseases, including Cancer, from a single vial of blood, that too within minutes.” He nodded again.

The breakthrough was nothing short of a miracle and was all over the papers last year. By providing general health check-ups at unbelievably low rates, they had wiped out the smaller competition in a matter of months. Now, even bigger competitors were struggling to stay open.

“I’m on it. I’ll have results in a week or less. Keep that gold ready.”

Day 1

My internet search was the first sign that I should have backed out.

In a universe connected tightly through the Universe Wide Web, celebrities can’t sneeze without someone publishing it. Yet, hardly any information existed about the most successful lab chain on Earth. All I found was that the Sangue Heder Labs were owned by Marco De Rossi, the youngest member of a multi-billionaire family. In 2099, his family was one of the first to move to Proxima Centauri B, the closest habitable planet. They traveled on the legendary Spaceship Noah’s Ark, which was loaded with seeds of all kinds and pairs of all variety of animals in the cryopreserved state. Most of them survived on Proxima, unlike Earth, populating the nearly empty planet in the next 200 years and became a wildlife preserve and favored travel destination for the super-rich celebrities around the known universe. But the family declined to share any pictures publicly throughout its 500 years history on Earth and Proxima, a practice Marco De Rossi seemed to have kept alive till date.

His company was equally elusive. Sangue Heder Labs’ website stated an address on Proxima as headquarter. They mentioned using an “ancient technique” to diagnose diseases from the blood. But there accuracy was up to three decimal digits. Was it possible with anything ancient?

Next, I contacted the patent office, off the record, only to find nothing. Sangue Heder Labs hadn’t patented the “technique”. Or maybe they couldn’t, if it really was ancient. To check whether there was any ‘ancient’ technique offering diagnosis through blood, I deep searched medical sites from Earth and Proxima, but to no avail. Some Proxima health resorts offered ancient healing through local herbs, animal extracts, and solar heat but there was nothing about diagnosis through blood.

The pictures left me wondering how it would be to live on a planet where trees still grew in forests and not pots. Someday, maybe I will too.

Day 2

The next day, I moved to Plan B, looking for the employees of Sangue Heder Labs on Social Media. Employees are a treasure of information. There is always someone complaining about their job and technology challenges. But soon, I realized that they probably had some employee agreement barring them because I found no one.

With a couple of days gone, I decided to contact them personally. Everybody has a price tag: some talk for money, others for ‘love’. But the contacts from the Earth Employee Benefits organization could not dig out a single email, address or phone number since both the organization and its employees were ‘foreign’ and protected by the inter-planetary laws.

I should have stopped then but my reputation as the best Industrial Spy on Earth wasn’t for nothing.

Day 3

I decided to catch an employee during a lunch break and strike a conversation. A couple of drinks and an attentive listener can loosen a tongue easily. Usually, they begin with the rant about too much workload, bad managers and difficult clients, and, with careful steering, can easily overstep the line of discretion and divulge their technology without really knowing.

So, I donned a brunette wig and boarded my trusted faded-grey copter—both common and anonymous. Blonds and stylish rides draw a lot of attention and blending in with the crowd was imperative for my job. I flew to the biggest Sangue Heder Lab and parked in the overcrowded rooftop parking of the Food Court next door. I sat down next to the biggest window and could see the reception of the lab through the glass wall as I ‘worked’ on my palmtop.

The receptionist was a tall gorgeous man with red hair, and suddenly I wanted to visit the lab just so that I could look at him closely. I shook my head to clear it. Where did that come from? A couple of lab technicians—different races but just as breath-taking—collected blood samples. Are all Proxima natives like that? Does fresh air and unprocessed food make you look like Roman Gods?

I waited at the cafeteria all afternoon. The Food court was busy but none of its clients were Lab employees, only the patrons nursing their pinpricks and their attendants. The closest couple was discussing the blood results they had received via email within a couple of minutes of tests. The stream of patients coming for tests never ceased, and nobody came out for lunch. The organization was probably ordering food and drinks for its employees to stop them from leaving their desk to eat. I gave up at midnight.

The facility was the biggest and busiest, so I decided to try at a smaller facility the next day.

Something wasn’t feeling right about this assignment—probably the fact that most of the clientele belonged to the low-income societies. They wouldn’t have been able to afford these tests if it wasn’t for Sangue Heder Labs. They all could have died without a diagnosis.

Conscience pricked me for a short moment.

Then it passed. I could see myself luxuriating at the Proxima resorts, looking like a Goddess, with fresh air and unprocessed food, and preferably with a boyfriend from the same planet.

Day 4

On day four, I took the Airbus to a different city and haunted the streets outside a different facility of the Sangue Heder Labs, on my uber-expensive featherweight ecobike. It was ideal for following people. When needed, I could simply fish it out of my purse, unfold it and get going at a moment’s notice. It removed the need to switch between following on foot or rush to the parking area to retrieve my coptor first.

I had planned to follow any employees out for a coffee or stroll, and meet them ‘by chance’. When the female receptionist ventured out alone late evening, I saw an opening, but as I drew closer, I had an urge to walk over and touch her skin—so flawless that it glowed in the moonlight. Considering I am straight…

By the time I had collected my wits, she was gone and returned shortly with an icebox. The opportunity to strike a conversation had passed. I was exhausted and left for the day.

Day 5

Next day, I tried another facility. While I waited for the employees to walk out to a close by cafe for a break, I searched the employees online by uploading the pictures I had taken the day before. Nothing. One of the pictures resembled one of the war prisoners from the First World War, but I wasn’t interested in ancient history right now.

No employee came out all day. At midnight, they closed the facility and all of them walked out together. I followed from a distance, hoping to catch one of them once they split-up at the Airbus station, but lost them once they turned into a dark street.

I should have given up then, considering the next move was too risky. But I was nothing, if not pig-headed.

Day 6

Now that I had tried everything else, I moved to Plan C—entering the facility. The plan was simple in theory. Get in close to closing time, hide behind something until the place closes up, and spy around after it is empty of people.

Simple…in theory.

In reality, it is too difficult to hide my 5’8” frame in a lab. Huge head offices are simpler with too many unused rooms to hide in, but labs are quite small with less number of rooms and usually no cover. I had seen it before. At that time, I had walked back out pretending I was looking for rest rooms, because Trespassing is a crime. Getting caught could earn me jail time, and my pictures in the news as an Industrial Spy could kill my anonymity and career.

So, I saved it for the most difficult and most paying cases. This one definitely qualified as both.

I had deliberately waited till Sunday, a public holiday, and chose the busiest close of the day hours to ensure that the facility was packed with people to give me the much-needed cover and more time to hunt for information, in case I didn’t get a space to hide.

Three technicians were collecting samples of fifteen patients at a time with three to four minutes between batches. With 75 patients ahead of me, I had 12-15 minutes, if I did not get a cover (which seemed like a greater probability). The hidden cameras in my earrings were already capturing footage. As soon as the technicians took samples from the people in the front, I quietly left my place.

I pretended as if I was looking for the washroom and, stealthily, slipped inside the door with the “Employees only” sign. The short lobby ended in a hall—no cover. I had a couple minutes at the most before the technician came out for more samples and discovered me. I should have turned back right then but the lure was too strong—I was a bat, blind and focused on the target alone.

I peeped in the hall. It looked like all offices. The room was bustling with activity and sounds of chit-chat. Several employees sat on comfortable chairs with the latest Palmtops. Some of them used huge Wall screens with virtual keypad holograms floating close to their fingers. Small racks of labeled blood vials sat atop a drinks table in the middle. There was no microscope in the sight to test the blood. The gray-haired man closest to me had just finished filling a blood report form on his Wall screen and sent it to the patient’s email.

I focused on him as he picked a vial, excited to finally know the trade secret of Sangue Heder Labs.

He took a long swig of the blood, swirled it in his mouth and started filling the blood report form.

I let out a tiny gasp.

Suddenly, all the eyes in the room zeroed on me. The gray-haired man I had been concentrating on was suddenly behind me and had blocked my retreat. His canines grew. I think I fainted.

I remember hearing a voice from afar. “Set her aside for dinner, Luke. We are trying to concentrate on work here.”

Now I lay inside my coffin, probably six feet underground, complete with fangs and all. Having tried unsuccessfully to claw my way out for a couple of hours, now I wait for them to come back for me. I hope they might give me a job too as a Phlebologist.


I am aware that language has to change. Even in my own lifetime I have seen many new words become common parlance. Then there are the words derived from advances in technology, like ‘Texting’, ‘Online’, and many more. Young people have invented abbreviations like ‘LOL’, and ‘LMAO’, and they have also started to become acceptable to many people, even outside of text messaging.

Some of those new words have come from America. A ‘Diner’ was once unknown here outside of old films, but it is no longer unusual to see a roadside eating establishment with that name. There are many similar examples, but you don’t need me to list all of them here.

There is one word that I wished had not changed though. It is a very old word, and one with a serious meaning. Here is a dictionary definition of that word.

a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.
“they gazed in awe at the small mountain of diamonds”

The most common way this is seen to be expressed now is in the use of the word, ‘Awesome’.

Notice the additon at the end of the definition, under INFORMAL.


extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring awe.
“the awesome power of the atomic bomb”

extremely good; excellent.
“the band is truly awesome!”

A word once used to descibe the power of imaginary gods, or witnessing the unbelievable sight of an atomic bomb exploding, is now in everyday use, especially in America. Used to describe everything from an ice cream or a nice new T-shirt, to a pop group. It also turns up in casual conversations, like this example.

“Hey, can you pick me up around four?”
“Yeah, no problem”.

We are going to need a new word.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday


Wearing masks in shops, banks, and enclosed public spaces became compulsory here on Friday.

I had a lot of experience with the disposable surgical-style masks when I was an EMT, and I doubt their effectiveness after wearing them for even a few minutes. It should also be remembered that they are worn to protect others, not the wearer.

But that’s not the point.

The government here dragged its heels on ordering the wearing of masks, resulting in many people questioning the point of issuing the instruction now that infection rates are low. This escalated into a smattering of ‘Anti-Mask’ movements springing up here.

And that’s not the point either.

Then some of the largest supermarkets, cafe chains, and retail chains announced that they would not be ‘policing’ the wearing of masks in their establishments. With the real police unlikely to consider it serious enough to intervene, and being too busy anyway, it seems to be a toothless law that is unlikey to ever see any of the £100 fines being imposed or collected.

That’s still not the point.

The point is, why not? Why not just wear one? It doesn’t hurt for the short time you are in a shop, and if nothing else, it reassures the others around you. I just bought a packet of five well-made washable masks from Amazon for not much more than £1 each, so price is not an issue. Some shops are even offering to provide free disposable masks for customers attempting to enter the shop without one.

In one supermarket I visited on Friday afternoon, every single customer was wearing one. Yes, mine made my glasses steam up a bit, but so what? I could still see. I didn’t stand at the bread counter thinking my civil liberties had been abandoned, and I was able to converse with the checkout lady who sat safe behind her perspex screen.

It may solve nothing, and may not even stop me getting the virus. But it might help stop a second wave, or at least reduce the effect of one. It might just work, so has to be worth trying. So if you are still undecided about wearing a mask when you go shopping, then stop overthinking it.

Just wear one.