Like a Wrecking Ball…

There are many things people don’t tell you about the menopause – and all are perhaps typified by this incident that took place the other day as I arrived at work.

I went to get into the lift and two men barged past me hitting the button for floor 19 – completely oblivious to me.

Menopausal invisibility – that is one thing that the menopause guides don’t warn you about. Ironic when often it is a time when you are fatter than you have ever been. One day you just wake up and it’s like the world doesn’t see you anymore and all of a sudden you realise what a youth obsessed world we live in. I got wearily in behind them and pressed button 2 – I should have taken the stairs but menopausal insomnia and related menopause fatigue combined to make that an impossibility.

Then a flash of menopausal anger kicked in at being ignored – and angrily I punched every single floor number on the lift from 2-19. They saw me then!

Then just before I got out (and I know I should be embarrassed admitting this but I am really not – menopausal honesty is a real thing!!) I emitted a tiny silent but utterly deadly fart. I departed and had to hold the wall for a bit as I laughed at the thought of them chugging up 17 floors slowly stopping at every one while trying not to breathe in the acrid fumes.

The menopause tends to take away any cares you have of what people think of you.

Laughter and menopause – that’s two words you seldom see together. The menopause is a topic usually more associated with expressions such as depression; mood swings; bloating (the menopot!); excess facial hair and aging. The lack of support for the seismic change that women go through at this time is truly shocking. Stories on Menopause forums would bring you to your knees.

Women feeling they have gone mad; leaving relationships and jobs; struggling to cope with the symptoms while having the stress of being part of the ‘sandwich generation’ – often looking after aging parents and children who are staying at home way longer than they used to. The average age for female suicide in the UK is 51-54 – is it any wonder that it is the same as the average age for the menopause? I don’t think this is a co-incidence and it is appalling that there is so little support out there. However, it is great though the menopause is being talked about more

The focus is often on the inconveniences and embarrassments of the menopause. But being slap bang in the middle of it, it can be pretty dammed funny! The way you suddenly find yourself behaving can shock you – I would NEVER have behaved that way in the lift before menopause! Or perhaps the irony of it all! Sitting in front of a magnifying mirror to pluck your chin while bemoaning the sparseness of your eyebrows and the thinning of your hair.

And just when you no longer need contraception – you go off sex! Lying naked on the bed with the windows open is most definitely not an invitation to your other half for some passion! More a sign that you need some ice cream to help you cool down and ideally if they could head to the spare room and leave you in peace with Netflix that would be so much the better.

Getting to the height of your career and brain fog kicks in and you can barely remember your co-workers names. I once stood in front of a security door at work trying to open it by clicking my car key fob at it. Thankfully a kind colleague of a similar age kindly pointed out the security pass round my neck might work better!

What you used to see as punishments as a child now become life’s little pleasures as crashing fatigue kicks in. Going to bed early – result!! Grounded and banned from social events – marvellous!! FOMO (fear of missing out) is suddenly replaced with JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).

Laughing with (or let’s be honest – laughing at) other menopausal women’s predicaments can be great therapy as well as sharing your own. I giggled earlier at my friends text telling me of her mortification when a Tena lady fell out from under her shirt as she was presenting to a conference (she suffers badly from hot flushes and sticks them inside her shirt under the armpit to soak the sweat up)

And the remedies!! It’s not so long ago that Doctors felt women suffered because they no longer bled and therefore recommended the placing of leeches on women’s genitals as a cure! Thankfully there are rather more palatable options now. I met another friend for lunch a while back and as she leaned forward to hug me my pendant swung forward and stuck firmly to her crotch. We both fell about laughing as She explained she was wearing a magnet on her knickers in an effort to reduce her menopausal moodiness. She phoned me three days later in a rage as She had forgotten to remove it and didn’t realise til She heard an ominous clunk clunk from the washing machine!!

We had a menopause event at work – the following day I asked my colleagues if they had tried the free facemasks we were given. They were all a bit blank – transpired I had been spreading the free lube samples on my face!! To be honest my skin glowed and so all my colleagues decided to do the same.

Being honest and open about a topic which has been taboo for so long can be difficult. One of my friends almost dropped her wine when we were out at lunch a couple of years ago and I asked her what her worst menopausal symptom was. ‘Darling – we are in a RESTAURANT’ she hissed. I tried to pursue the conversation but she wasn’t having it. ‘I am going through it and it is absolutely fine – you just make a drama out of everything’ she said closing the conversation down. Anyway – turned out her lack of periods was due to pregnancy not menopause which I found quite amusing which probably makes me sound a real bitch – but her daughter is now 2 and adores me as her number one babysitter so I can’t be all bad. My friend will be 51 when she takes her to school on her first day.

So maybe humour is the best therapy we can have while experiencing menopausal symptoms – laughing til the tears run down our legs!! This stage in our lives can be a bit crap but a privilege that is denied to many. Friends we have lost over the years would no doubt tell us to get going and make the most of every minute as we approach the next chapter in our weird and wonderful lives.

Twitter: @gallopingcatast
Insta: catastrophegalloping
Book – ‘Galloping Catastrophe: Musings of a Menopausal Woman’ available on Amazon as a paperback or an ebook

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I wanna be a Paper Back Writer…

I’m still wandering around singing PAPERBACK WRITER by the beatles the novelty of having a book for sale on amazon has not worn off….

Was it easy? Was it feck?

My first writing day was supposed to go like this:
• 7.30am – Up and breakfast
• 8.00am-12.00pm – Develop outline for book on my laptop in dining room where everything has been set up ready to goo
• 12.00pm – Lunch
• 12.00-5.00pm – Write first three chapters and a synopsis ready to send to Agents
• 5.00pm – Dinner
• 5.00pm – 8.00pm Review chapters and synopsis ready to email to agents tomorrow

It actually went like this:
• 10am Get out of bed 2 hours later than planned – struggling somewhat without pressure of HAVING to be at work
• 10.30am Decide it would be good to go and work in same café that JK Rowling wrote in as I live not far from it
• 11.00am Get to said café and it is full of tourists and there is a huge queue
• 11.30am Go to another coffee shop and have a panini while gazing at my notepad and doodling and not really knowing what to write down. Distract myself by scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, e-mails and texts on my phone
• 12.30pm Decide I need new clothes that befit an author and as am in town decide to have a look. Relish being in town on a weekday when it is so quiet. Choose some lovely brown cords and a green silk shirt. Debate over a smart blue beret but decide maybe too much. Go home and put on my new clothes and feel very author like. Try to decide what to wear at book launch. Sit at laptop. Feel panicked – not really sure where to start.
• 1.00pm Friend calls and suggests lunch. Decide I should go out for a quick bite to eat and show off my new outfit. Friend declares I look like a tree. Am a bit deflated. This was not the image I was going for
• 5.30pm Roll home a bit pissed after several Jack Daniels and half a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.
• 7.30pm Wake up after having fallen asleep on sofa. Watch Coronation Street. Play on phone and google things like ‘how to become an author’ and ‘how to write’ and ‘’writers block’
• 10.00pm Went to bed

The next day was similarly productive but without the alcohol as I was suffering hugely from a hangover.
So, I called a therapist friend who is four years younger than me (but is exactly the kind of woman I want to be when I finally grow up for some advice. The conversation went a bit like this:

• Therapist Friend: ‘How much effort do you put into your job?’
• Me: ‘Well to be honest about 60% and that is really because I would probably get sacked otherwise and then would not be able to buy a lot of shoes – though I was thinking actually I have a lot of shoes and I was going to talk to you about career changes in later life … so…’
• Therapist Friend (interrupting): ‘OK – let’s stay on point for a minute – you’ve started going to the gym – how much effort are you putting into that?’
• Me (proudly): ‘Oh about 80%’
• Therapist Friend: ‘And how much effort do you put into your friendships’
• Me: (wondering where the feck this is going): ‘Loads – 80-90%’
• Therapist: ‘And how much effort are you putting into writing the book?’
• Me: ‘Well – ummmm’

Because in honesty not very much. I mean loads in terms of the dreaming about it; the thinking about it being on sale; the booking signings; wondering how to get a slot at the Edinburgh Book Festival; the purchase of cute little notepads from Paperchase; considering who I might dedicate the book to. But the actual writing….. Not so much.

So the next day I worked – and worked – and worked. And ate. And ate. Because eating helped me stay focussed. How all writers aren’t 40 stone is beyond me.
And I kept working at it. I screamed sometimes. I cried sometimes. I decided it wasn’t for me and I could never do a book and I was a total fuckwit for thinking I would be able to do it. I read great books and thought wtf am I thinking. And each day I said – what effort did I put into it today? And slowly that number increased.

But I kept going. And kept going. And it was a slog. The reality is to be a writer – you have to write. Then write more. Then rewrite. Then edit. Then write more. Then write more. Then edit more. That’s it….

They say everyone has a book inside them. I actually think most people have an entire library inside them.

So if you wanna be a paperback writer – go for it! It’s a roller coaster – with plunging lows – but also with exhilarating highs.

Oh – and if you want to buy the book – the e-edition has just come out and is available on Amazon

 

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Leeches on your Genitals??

This morning I watched the menopause be discussed on BBC Breakfast. I also listened to Zoe Ball chat about it on Radio 2 with Andrea Mclean. Two events that would have been unheard of for our mothers generation when the topic was so taboo!

Despite this, it can be easy to get despondent about the menopause and the lack of support there is for women as they go through this transition. The average age of female suicide in the UK is 51-55 – the same as the average age of menopause. I doubt that is a co-incidence.

But we are so much luckier than the generations who have gone before us. In their day, the menopause was known as the ‘gateway to death’. Not any more – we can often have a third, maybe even half our lives left when it is over. To be fair we will spend it fat, knackered, a bit bald, hairy faced and highly irritable! But it’s still better than the alternative.

It was Aristotle who first mentioned the menopause. And this was about 300BC. Maybe he should have spent as much time looking at this than he did teaching Alexander the Great and we may have been so much further forward in terms of treatment. But he couldn’t really be bothered so limited his work on the menopause to declaring it a time when women got ‘colder and drier’. Hmmm – Aristotle had clearly never lay in bed with a woman having a hot flush otherwise he would have been more likely to have declared something along the lines of ‘for goodness sake – you are literally melting my skin’ which is a regular declaration from my bed partner while rolling to the furthest end of the bed and dramatically fanning the covers for air. Sometimes I really do prefer my dog who doesn’t mind at all and clambers merrily onto my tummy when it happens – think she sees it as a massive hot water bed to have fun on.

But after Aristotle, no-one really bothered about the menopause much til the mid 1800’s. Possibly because not many women lived much past 40 for much of the intervening years. So if you did – it was probably like winning the lottery.
It was 1823 when a French physician coined the phrase ‘menopause’ meaning ceasing of the month. The first medications were not quite the plethora we have on offer now. In the 1800s cannabis was prescribed. This would have been a preferred option given some of the alternatives – douche of lead, morphine and chloroform anyone? What about testicular juice? Or the filtered juice of a guinea pigs ovaries. I may send these examples in to Ant and Dec for the food challenges in the next I’m a Celeb! Or what about a clitoridectomy (yes that is what you think it is) as recommended by influential surgeon Baker Brown. Or blood letting (some doctors felt it was because women no longer passing blood that triggered the symptoms – so if they took blood out regularly it would ‘fix’ them) Leeches were attached often to genitalia to assist with such treatment (in those days Doctors were nearly all men -I’ll say no more….)

In 1855 Lawson Tait, who was an influential physician, considered menopausal women to be in grave danger of mental derangement and incurable dementia. I can’t blame him – I thought the same when the symptoms started, and so did many people who know me. But his treatment which was simply to lock them up in asylums seems a little extreme. The guy also believed Jack the Ripper was a woman…so perhaps his theories should have been discounted then….
The Purity Movement Writers declared a bad experience of the menopause to be a sign of sin – and said that it showed the woman had been badly behaved when young. Yes- maybe – but I have some great memories to look back on during my sleepless nights – none of them involving working out at the gym with some tofu and sparkling water for dinner!

Moving on through the years it didn’t get much better. When first mentioned on radio in 1948, there was a massive outcry – ‘lowering of broadcasting standards’ and ‘acutely embarrassing’ were two of the many complaints.

In 1966, Dr Robert Wilson declared us all ‘galloping catastrophes’. It was meant in a derogatory way – I’m a feminist but have to be honest and say I love the thought of being a ‘galloping catastrophe’

The topic is no longer taboo – and we have much more information, support and choice of treatment than so many of our female ancestors. I think laughing at yourself and with others on some of the more ridiculous symptoms with a bottle or three of wine is something our grannies and probably our mothers would never have done. And were probably the worse for it.

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Hot Woman Goes Hot Yoga’ing!

I am continuing to try and do lots of things that I have never done before as I approach the Big 50!

This week it was Hot Yoga. I had to go alone as every friend I asked said things along the lines of ‘feck off – just come to the pub” and “no feckin way – it will be full of farting skinny vegans’.

Billed as burning 1200 calories in 90 minutes – I was sold!! Hell that’s a mars bar, a bag of chips, a jack daniels and coke and a glass of wine!!

I get there and it appears that people group according to their ‘tribe’. At the front the slim and the beautiful with very trendy tight shorts and crop tops for the women and sppedos for the men (yes seriously!!). At the back it is the chubby tribe with baggy t shirts and leggings. These are my people and I join them. It is roasting – like 1000 degrees roasting. Like inferno and worst hot flush ever roasting. Like spontaneous combustion roasting. JUST ROASTING. And all I have done is roll out my mat and lie on it.

We start with five mins of waggling our elbows like a chicken. Five minutes in and I am literally pouring with my sweat and I suspect the sweat of others though I am trying hard not to think about that. It is ROASTING!!!!!

It is then time for deep breathing. And I get the benefits of deep breathing – I really do. But this isn’t inhaling the fresh crisp Highland air – this is deep breathing the CO2 gases from others, body odour and what I suspect to be farty smells from the vegans who seemed to have had a lot of cauliflower soup in the last 24 hours.

I remember at primary school Davey Gibbons wrote a story about living inside a fart and was sent out of the classroom for being ‘disgusting’. But I think of his story now – identifying with it 45 years later! (how I can remember this event from 45 years ago but can’t remember what day it is today. Menopausal Brain Fog works in mysterious ways!!)

There is now not one single bit of my body that isn’t dripping in sweat. Eve my eyeballs are sweating. My bra is soaking and digging into me. I had wine the night before and seriously it is now leaking out of my pores clashing with the vegan stale kale pong. The guy in front of me has soaking wet shorts and what I hope to feck is sweat rolling down his legs. I make a mental note to never bring anyone I fancy or anyone I want to fancy me along to these classes.

The guy beside me is lying down very still. Virago or whatever the feck the teachers name was had told us not to leave the room but just to lie down if we were struggling so I am hoping that is what he is doing. But he is very still. Menopausal anxiety is kicking in – what if he has died? What if I end up a figure of hate on youtube doing my yoga while the guy beside me is dead and I just don’t care. This leads to more worrying. What if my exes me see me fat and sweaty on youtube and think ‘thank god I let that fat wobbly sweaty nasty inconsiderate woman go’? Virago is showing absolutely no concern for the maybe dead man so maybe I should just focus.

I look at the clock. We are 20 mins in. How the actual fuck can that be? I seriously doubt that I can do another 70 minutes of this bollocks. To my eternal shame if I was given a choice between a cool flannel cloth or a successful Brexit … well put it this way – Theresa would just have to soldier on!

We then have to do an eagle – which involves pretty much wrapping one leg twice round the other and sticking your arse out – I have seen eagles and they bear no resemblance to this. None. The instructor comes to try and adjust me – I have to point out that I have things called thighs – proper thighs – not little pipecleaner legs with a big space betwen them like hers and the front row tribe. So it’s not that I don’t get the concept of wrapping one leg round the other twice – it is just for me a physical impossibility .

Two girls get up and walk out – despite Viragos insistence they stay. I think one said Fuck Off but it might have been Namaste. I feel a little smug to be still there – the leavers are half my age and a quarter of my size. But I have a year of hot flushes on my side – so take that Bitches – and get used to it – coz this — THIS is your future! Actually hot yoga is a good way to practice being menopausal – the heat the sweating the exhaustion – the water running down your inside leg… wanting to tell the skinny bendy instructor to fuck off and just keep fucking off til her entire bendy body has fucked right off….

We then have to half bend and hold – it is a busy class and I may as well be the gynaecologist for the girl in front of me who has worn loose shorts and no pants.

We then (thank god) do some sitting down exercises and again Virago comes to ‘adjust’ me – and again I explain that I totally get the pose in theory but having a menopausal midriff means there isn’t a feckin hope in hell that my head will touch my feckin knee. She gives up and I find I cannot bear my bra digging in anymore so in my best Irene Cara move I whip my sodding wet bra off through my t shirt sleeve and shove it under the towel. Blessed relief! Virago declares it is time for Savasana – I hope and hope it does not involve standing up again. And Hooray it doesn’t – it simply means lying down – and I am so good at that. The maybe dead guy beside me decides to sit up just as we all lie back – he looks dazed – maybe he was just asleep.

Finally it is over – I have done it. I grab my shoes and tear our into the fresh air. It is freezing but I don’t care. My nipples do though – and fly out like torpedos through my sodding wet t shirt. Fuck it – I walk home owning it – I am Kim Kardashian. I am Jordan. I am any one of the ‘here’s my tits now give me money celebrities’ – I swagger down the road refusing to look in any show windows as I know Bernard Manning is more likely to look back than Pamela Anderson. .

I weigh myself the next day

2lbs ON.

ON!!!

ON!!

how is that even feckin possible!

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Sweet Dog Gets a Promotion

Hello
 
It is Sweet Dog here again – I have appointed myself not only Guest Blogger but also ‘Manager’ as think that is a good job for me.
 
My Human ‘Galloping Catastrophe’ says I am employed on a results only basis and will be paid in biscuits and walks. I have to get 10 pledges for our fabulous illustrated humour book on our Menopausal Musings in order to get 3 biscuits and a walk to my favourite river to cool down.
 
As you can see from the picture I have been thinking deeply how to do this. And I think I have some great ideas
 
First – I called the publisher and they gave me a discount code – GALLOPING10 – it lasts til Wednesday and will give you a 10% discount off the book.
 
Secondly – for anyone who pledges before Wednesday and likes shares and puts a comment below this post – you will all be entered into a draw and the winner will get a fabulous ‘Galloping Catastrophe’ mug and mousemat
 
I am very impressed with my manager skills. And very much hoping to hit the target.
 
Want to help me? Click on the link below – click on Pledge – and choose what you’d like to pledge for. Don’t forget to put GALLOPING10 at the checkout for your discount.
 
 
Thanks and lots of lovely licks and wuffs
 
Sweet Dog
x

The Menopausal Fuckit Buckit

I’ve been watching the excellent ‘After Life’ with Ricky Gervais.

I am loving it for a number of reasons – but in particular for his behaviour now he is all out of fucks.

As a menopausal woman I can relate to that. My fucks are disappearing in direct correlation to the disappearance of my memory, eggs, eyebrows, waist and wrinkle free skin.

But the loss of fucks I find something to celebrate. I gave so many fucks when I was younger. Far too many fucks – but now they are flying into my metaphorical Fuck Bucket – which is fit to overflow now. I look back fondly sometimes at those fucks but in the same way as I look fondly back at my pink legwarmers and sequinned boob tubes. With no desire to resurrect them but with an understanding that I was young and daft then.

The Fucks I used to give if people didn’t like me – gone! As I now realise that people will like me or not like me – and most of the time it will be nothing at all to do with me.

Fucks about giving my opinion. Gone. I’d rather be hated for being me than liked for pretending to be someone else. I spent years worrying what people thought of me – then I stopped worrying about it. Now I realise no-one was really thinking about me as much as I was thinking they did!

No fucks about buying the latest most expensive cosmetics Coz no-one no one is looking at my eyes and thinking ‘maybe that mascara is Sisley or maybe it’s Maybelline’

Zero fucks about getting ‘bikini body ready’ and zero fucks about the fashion stylists saying a one piece is more flattering for the ‘older’ woman. Fuck that – my pink bikini goes on and voila – there is my bikini body ready to go! I give zero fucks about magazines that aim to bring women down and treat them like second class citizens unless they portray what they believe a woman should look like (I mean wtf with these eyebrows that start at the tear duct and end at the lug!)

I look back on my life and realise it was the fucks I didn’t give that enhanced my life. The fucks I didn’t give about packing my job in and travelling.. the fucks I didn’t give about toxic people I eliminated from my life.. I could go on and on. But in conclusion – freedom truly is another word for very few fucks left to give. I’m through with self doubt and ‘playing nice’.

And I do have a few fucks left – but I spend them wisely now. And the power of a Fuck consciously directed by a menopausal women should not be underestimated. The Charity that continually harassed my elderly neighbour when his wife died with phone calls and letters asking for more and more money which he, feeling vulnerable, was giving although he was living on a tiny pension (this harassment apparently due to the fact he’d done a collection for them in her memory at the funeral!). I gave a huge fuck about that. I mean a MASSIVE fuck. That fuck is probably still reverberating round that charities office now.

One benefit of getting older is that you realise that freedom is just another word for very few fucks left to give. And we find ourselves unfuckwithable due their disappearance!

Anyone else chucking more and more fucks into the fuck bucket?

Ps I do give a bit of a fuck about getting my Menopausal Musings published .. I am crowdfunding with unbound to get it released .. thanks to the 120 of you who already pledged to support it .. I need about another 250 .. u will get the great book and the satisfaction of knowing your fuck helped to get it out there in the shops .. click here if you would like to give that fuck … xx Thanku … https://unbound.com/books/galloping-catastrophe/

xx

Twitter: @gallopingcatast

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The ‘Dogopaws’!

Hiya – Sweet Dog again – after the success of my last post I have decided to come along and be a guest contributer again. I did well last time and my human was annoyed coz I got more likes that her. Ha Ha. Might start my own doggyblog!

Well I don’t know if I mentioned earlier but I am seven and a half years old. This means I am 52.5 in human years. And I suspect I might be going through the dogopaws (see what I did there…).

I am definitely getting middle aged spread. Got weighed at the vets the other week and he was horrible and said I was overweight and that my human should feed me less. I was raging – it is hormonal. My human has cut my food almost in half and thinks I don’t notice. Well I do – and I note she is still troughing through the hobnobs and swigging the Jack Daniels despite her midriff expanding way more than mine!

I am grumpier too. I shocked myself the other day when I growled at a dog that tried to steal my ball. I am normally a very sweet dog. But my buttons were being pushed. I also had a hairy canary the other night and ripped my toy parrot apart and scattered the insides all over the kitchen floor.
And when not grumpy I am tearful. I can no longer watch ‘for the love of dogs’ with the lovely Paul O’Grady (who I wish would adopt me coz I just know he wouldn’t cut my biscuits quota in half). It is just all too much.

I am very tired too – the other day I missed who won Crufts as I fell asleep just before the final. Dogopawsal brainfog means I can’t remember how to use catch up!

I was sure I was having hot flushes but then I ended up at the Dog Groomers and remembered that I hadn’t had a haircut for ages. Once my hair was all cut off I started not getting them. But my goodness – the hair. I have so much hair in places I never used to have hair before. I mean is that just me? In between my toes on my paws. Under my tummy.

So I asked my human to take me to the vet and get HRT – a doggy version like my humans. I actually ended up having some of hers as her patch fell off her and it somehow ended up on my tail and then I got it off and ate it. But it didn’t affect me. It is a big thing for me to go to the vets. Because I hate the vet. My human pretends we are going on a walk when we go but I am not stupid I can tell when we are going to the vet and refuse to get out of the car so she has to carry me in. I sometimes ham it up a bit as it can mean extra biscuits. But anyway – do you know what my human says (the one with HRT patches coming out her feckin ears) – she said ‘feck right off – £600 last time to get your inoculations, a tooth out and your medicine. We aren’t going back’. Which I think is really harsh – I mean I didn’t ask to be born did I? She chose to have me! And I know she spent £750 on a wedding outfit even though she told my other human that it was £180. If only I could bloody talk! I would not be averse to blackmail.

I am hoping that fame will change my fortunes. My human and I wrote a book and we want it published. But to do that we need to get 300 people to buy it upfront. This is a big ask – but if you would like to support me and maybe see me on a book tour where I can sign your book with a loving paw – just click in here and pledge to buy our lovely book… Thank you all who have pledged so far.

unbound.com/books/galloping-catastrophe/

Wuff Wuff and lots of doggy love

Twitter: @gallopingcatast

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