Siamese cat Spock, a blue point

Siamese cat Dracs, a lilac point

Alexander being picked up against his will.

I don't want to be picked up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander protesting

Didn't you hear? I said......

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander promising vengeance.

Someone'll pay for this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander leaving.

I've had enough!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spock's version of chase the lady.

 

There's nothing to this stall business Dracs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Diary
So how did it all start?

Mid January 1999

Spock and Dracs arrived at Ann's and decided to keep a diary to give to Simon on his return from holiday.

Late January/Early February 1999

Ann's friends and neighbours read the diary. Spock and Dracs couldn't understand why they laughed so much; they thought it was an intellectual masterpiece. However, they forgave them when they said it should be published and suggested the boys could give the proceeds to the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), a charity which gives free veterinary treatment to pets whose owners live on means tested benefits.

February 1999

Richard, a friend of Simon's, agreed to do some illustrations. Deakin Ltd., a local printer gave us a special rate, that we could afford, for the printing.

March/Mid April 1999

Ann and her friends told local businesses and organisations about "The Diary" and asked them to sponsor it. Ann was lethal! she wouldn't have been surprised to hear shutters being closed and locks being shot whenever she was sighted in Whitley Bay. No one with whom she did business escaped. Everyone was very generous and the total amount collected actually exceeded the sum needed. This meant that we could afford better quality paper and bromides for the front and back covers.

Early May 1999

The book was published. The boys were delighted with the final result and thought Deakin Printers had done a first class job. Ann said that no one had warned her how heavy they'd be. The boxes didn't look that big and the chaps loading them into her car didn't seem to be having any trouble with them. Then she got home and tried lifting one out of the boot herself! She was heard to say that, if she ended up with arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger, she'd put the blame entirely on Spock and Dracs. Whitley Lodge Post Office, Paws for Thought (Petshop), The Park Bookshop, and the PDSA shop, all in Whitley Bay, stocked copies. W H Smith and Celebrations in Blyth also took copies.

Mid May 1999

Ann put on her shabby mac, picked up her tatty suitcase and went off to do some street trading in Newcastle city centre. Provided she asked for a minimum donation, rather than actually selling it, she was covered by the license the PDSA had been granted to do a street collection. She said she quite enjoyed her three days in the city centre. Ann from Winlaton came and helped her. The sun was shining and they were quite happy to sit in the middle of the main shopping street and watch the world go by. Her circle of acquaintance now includes a one legged street artist, a gypsy and a number of Big Issue sellers. She also sold lots of copies of "The Diary."

June 1999

Ann continued to advertise and sell copies locally. She also took a break from "The Diary" for a week and went down to London to visit some friends and to hear Vladimir Chernov sing at two concerts. She thoroughly enjoyed both performances. Spock and Dracs came to stay again. They were featured in the North Tyneside Herald and Post, a local newspaper although they got very camera shy when a press photographer came to see them. They were horrified when Ann suggested that they could help her with mail orders. She suggested they could lick the envelopes and stamps for her and even had the nerve to say it might keep them quiet for a while. Was she out of her mind they asked. They reminded her very forcibly that they were managers, not minions. They were the ones who had masterminded the whole project and they were the ones who had worked their paws to the bone getting it off the ground.

July 1999

Waterstones two branches in Newcastle upon Tyne took copies of the book. One branch even displayed it on the counter by the main tills on the ground floor so everyone would see it. Barbara, Ann's neighbour on the other side to Paul, phoned a local radio phone in and told listeners about "The Diary". Barbara was also heard to say that, living next door to Ann meant never knowing what to expect next. But life was never dull!

August/September 1999

The boys began working on their sequel. They said they'd got plenty of new material when they were staying with Ann and they didn't want to be "one book authors" if they could help it.

October 1999

The Metro system offered to help Ann by advertising "The Diary" on the local trains. Spock and Dracs were delighted. They've never used the Metro themselves. They prefer their chauffeur driven existence, but they've heard that it's a great way to advertise. All those commuters with nothing better to do than sit and read all the adverts! They warned Ann that she'd have to act quickly if she wanted to catch the Christmas shoppers. Ann designed a carriage card in no time flat and Bruce at Design Aid dropped everything to turn it into a really professional job. Deakin, the printer came up with another low price. (We all think you're great Graeme!) Waterstones helped out with the printing costs by agreeing to pay slightly more for copies of "The Diary".

After hours of work, Paul finished the Web site and he and Ann officially launched it on 27th October. Everyone thought he'd done a brilliant job. Paul also started to teach Ann how to update it herself. As Spock and Dracs commented, "He's got a job on his hands there!"

November 1999

The carriage cards went on display and Spock and Dracs sent Ann off to have a look at them. She was happy to report back that, not only did they look very good, but sales had increased considerably as a result and she was fast running out of copies. She phoned Graeme at Deakin Printers to order a further print run. Paul spent more hours registering the website with all the search engines.

December 1999

Spock and Dracs issued a Press Release. Some of the local newspapers showed an interest, so Simon brought the boys over to Ann's and they held their first press conference. Had to stay awake for a whole hour while they were interviewed and had their pictures taken. They weren't very impressed and the photographers had their work cut out getting a good shot of them. In between times, Dracs found time to pull all Ann's towels off the radiators and Spock tried to make off with a small stuffed toy she keeps on a shelf in the living room. Some things never change.

Ann got back from a weeks holiday the day the Evening Chronicle printed a very flattering review of "The Wilderness Weeks". They called it "a sheer delight" and said it was "a must have". Waterstones were inundated with customers who'd read the review and wanted the booklet. In between doing the washing and catching up with everything that had happened while she was away, Ann had to rush into Newcastle with extra copies because both branches had completely sold out. As Spock and Dracs commented, "it's not as if she's got anything better to do with her time."

Sales reached 1,300

January 2000

Richard agreed to do some illustrations for the sequel. Ann's had a lot of compliments about the illustrations he did for the first book, so she was very pleased. So were Spock and Dracs. The boys fame started to spread. Ann received orders from bookshops in East Sussex and Norfolk.

The boys came to stay again. They were delighted to discover that their book was available online at Amazon and W H Smith. Ann sent more information to Amazon, who added it to their entry. Typos included! Spock and Dracs wrote to Amazon themselves, in their own inimitable style, to ask if there was any chance of some extra publicity. So far there's been a stunned silence! Paul spent a lot of time designing a new improved website with a direct link to Amazon for overseas buyers.

February 2000

Simon returned from holiday and collected Spock and Dracs. The last Ann saw of them, they were having a major sulk and Simon was their target. A week later Ann was still finding fur and cat litter in unexpected places.

Paul and Ann launched the new look website on 9th February. The compliments are already coming in. Despite being so busy with his own business, Paul always finds time to help Ann and the boys and they would like to give him a public "Thank you".

Ann tried her hand at surfing the net. She was able to find some cat related websites with whom she could swap links. She also entered her first chatroom ever. Naturally it was a cat chatroom. Spock and Dracs were still with her and would have given her very short shrift if it had been any other kind. Despite their supervision, she had a struggle to keep up conversations with 3 people simultaneously, and was panting and mopping her brow by the time she came out! Everyone was very friendly and helpful.

March 2000

No sooner had Ann removed the last of the fur and cat litter than Spock and Dracs were back again for a further few weeks. Simon's been treating himself to a lot of holidays lately. It meant they were on hand to supervise when Richard brought over the illustrations for the sequel. Everyone was impressed with Richard's work; popular opinion is, that he's made an even better job of them than before. He's a very talented guy.

Ann came across another online bookstore that stocks the Wilderness Weeks and even has free delivery for UK customers. Naturally she got in touch and now has a direct link to them. (Click on"The Book" in the Index on the left.) She was also delighted to discover that despite sales being slow now that Christmas has been and gone, 2 of the local branches of Waterstones needed more copies from her.

The boys received another very good review, this time in Mensa magazine. As self appointed honorary members of Mensa, they'd written to the editor themselves. It resulted in another flurry of mail orders

Sales have topped 1,400

April 2000

Spock and Dracs extended their stay with Ann. They were very offhand with Simon when he came to visit them a week before Easter. They were torn between giving him the cold shoulder and giving him a piece of their mind. Most of the time the cold shoulder won, but every now and again it got too much for them and they told him exactly what they thought of him. He went home a subdued man.

Ann managed to create a new website page all on her own. (See Ann's Page) She was very pleased with herself, Spock and Dracs were downright amazed. Now she's got the hang of it, they're mulling over a few ideas of their own for her to try.

May 2000

Ann was delighted to be asked to contribute an article to www.ukpets.co.uk, an online magazine. Spock and Dracs thought she didn't give them nearly enough of the credit when they proof read it. As they pointed out, they'd done the whole thing entirely on their own! The article should be in the June edition.

The boys finally went home after a marathon 9 week stay. Simon had to do some mega crawling before they'd talk to him again. It took Ann about 3 days before she stopped carrying her food around with her if she was interrupted when she was eating.

Bruce at Design Aid finished the layout and Ann took the sequel, "Spock and Dracs, The Wilderness Revisited" to the printers. Graeme said it should be ready by early June.

Catsup's suddenly started to get a lot more visitors, looks like the hours spent registering it with search engines is finally starting to produce results. Ann's been intrigued to find search engines she's never even heard of listing Catsup.

June 2000

Ann collected "The Wilderness Revisited" from the printers. Once again they've done a great job.

She's also setting up a special page so people can send a free postcard to a friend. She's used some of Richard's illustrations as well as photographs of Spock, Dracs and Alexander. All suitably captioned of course. Paul helped her a bit, but Ann managed to do a lot of it on her own. (Sometimes she frightens herself.) Spock and Dracs aren't too happy with some of the comments she's put on the pictures. Mutters of "Lies, all lies" were heard. The word "Libel" even wafted through the air once or twice too. Click on the postcard button and judge for yourself whether you think they've got a case.

Ann dicovered that Freeola, with whom she registered the domain name have listed Catsup in their top ten customer sites. Naturally she couldn't wait to tell Paul. They were both delighted.

Spock and Dracs set Ann to work producing a range of cards and notelets. She's started selling them locally. Her living room is beginning to lookd more like a warehouse with every passing day and she's still folding paper in her sleep.

Sales passed 1500

July 2000

Spock and Dracs came back for another stay. No sooner had they settled in than they had Ann issuing some more press releases. The Journal, the region's biggest daily morning paper got in touch. They sent a photographer round to take some pictures of the boys with their latest book. As usual, Spock and Dracs gave him a hard time, but the following day an article appeared with a great photo of Dracs.

Sales passed 1600

The boys invited some of the people who'd helped them most to come to Ann's and watch them present their first cheque to the P'DSA. It was for £500. Marion, the senior veterinary nurse at the PDSA's Newcastle clinic came along to accept the cheque on behalf of the PDSA. Spock and Dracs had managed to persuade Ann and her friends to exchange their Sainsbury's Reward Vouchers for some bottles of champagne so they could have a real celebration although Dracs had second thoughts when he heard the noise of the champagne corks popping.

(If they can sell all the copies of their 2 books, the next cheque will be for much more.)

Ann's put the pictures that were taken on Catsup. They were originally on Ann's Page, but now they're in the Archives. Click here to see them. She and Paul are on them along with Bruce, Graeme, Ann from Winlaton and others who've helped the project along Naturally Spock and Dracs were there too and had something to say about it all.

Sales are now over 1700

August 2000

The books continued to sell steadily. One customer even offered to translate them into Portugese. Spock and Dracs were very taken with the idea and Ann's always fancied a trip to Portugal!

Yahoo! agreed to list Catsup in their directory and it's receiving noticeably more visitors as a result. Catsup was also awarded a 2000-2001 Golden Web Award (see Home Page). Ann's heard that they're one of the top awards and not easy to win so she and Paul were delighted.

September 2000

Ann heard from a website called www.care4free.co.uk. They've awarded Catsup £25 for sending them a "fundraising idea of the month". Spock and Dracs were delighted. The money has to be given to a charity or good cause of their choice. Their first choice was a few gallons of gravy, they thought that would be a very good cause indeed. They've settled for it to be put towards their project or just to be sent direct to the PDSA however.

The boys have extended their stay with Ann. They've spent so much time with her this year that she's almost forgotten what life without them was like. Until she has to remove what seems like half a coat of fur from her duvet before putting it in the washer that is!

Sales have passed 1800

October 2000

The boys celebrated their 14th birthday on 8th October! They got a new catnip mouse and a packet of their favourite "Catnip Crunchies" each as well as extra portions of chicken gravy for tea. They also received 3 birthday cards from Internet friends.

The new book, "Spock and Dracs the Wilderness Revisited" was featured in the October issue of Mensa magazine. Ann wrote to some cat magazines and Siamese cat clubs to see if she could obtain even more publicity.

The website grew even bigger when Spock and Dracs launched their new Awards pages.

Metro Advertising very generously said Spock and Dracs could advertise on the local trains again. The boys were really pleased because it got them a lot of extra sales last year. There's currently another race on, to get the carriage cards designed and printed in time. Ann was a bit worried because she knew that Bruce at Design Aid was up to his ears, but Graeme at Deakin Printers stepped into the breach and said if Ann told him what she wanted, he'd sort out the layout for her. (Aren't people kind?!)

Sales reached 1,900

Ann and Graeme had a chat about the cost of printing good quality glossy cards using Richard's illustrations. Looks like Catsup could be branching out. Ann signed up with CCNOW so that Catsup can sell online via a secure server.

Spock and Dracs were featured in the Mail on Sunday's Pet of the Year website. They were rather pleased until they discovered Ann had entered them in the "Wackiest Pet" category. Then the fur flew. They told her they were dignified authors. "Did Charles Dickens or William Shakespeare have to put up with being called 'Wacky'?", they asked. They thought not

November 2000

The Catsup shop went online. There was quite a bit of excitement when the very first order came in! The carriage cards went on display, so the boys are hoping that will help the Christmas sales locally.

David, the PDSA Trust Officer with whom Ann liaises, had business in the north east and stayed at Ann's for a couple of nights. He got a bit of a surprise when he saw for himself the cottage industry that's sprung up since she started the "Diary Project".

The cards arrived and look very good indeed. The PDSA are talking about test marketing them in their own shops. If they sell well, it could mean a big order.

Sales passed 2,000

December 2000

Ann began liaising with an artist who is interested in designing some prints to sell in the Catsup Shop. She also started to think about the possibility of introducing a range of ceramics. She began liaising with Falkirk Cat Register and Rescue too. They do a great job and Ann's discovered they have some original products. She likes the idea of being able to help them as well as the PDSA by stockcing some of their goods.

Ann sent packs of cards and noteletsa to the PDSA and they should be in 3 of their own shops in the New Year. Spock , Dracs and Ann are keeping fingers and paws crossed that they'll sell well.

Spock and Dracs received some Christmas cards addressed to them personally. They've also been sent some presents.

Sales passed 2,100

January 2001

Emails began flying between the UK and Brazil when Ann and Ro got together. Ro has very kindly agreed to let Catsup sell prints of her delightful illustrations of her Siamese cat Méia and is happy for the profits to be given to the PDSA. Graeme at Deakin Printers is helping Catsup to produce professional prints at affordable prices. (A link to Méia's website is on the Links and Webrings Page.)

Daryl, who owns Leo Ceramics came over and met the boys. She and Ann spent some time discussing selling her bone china mugs, trinket bozes and thimbles in the Catsup Shop.

Ann spent a lot of time working on the website as she began to build the extra pages needed.

Sales of the books passed 2.200

February 2001

Ann spent some time costing packaging if Catsup sells framed prints. She began to have a great deal of sympathy for small businesses as she discovered that items only ever seemed to come in minimum quantities of 100! As ever, she received nothing but friendly interest and, with help from everyone she approached, she was able to sort something out.

Catsup made the "ton" for the first time with over 100 visitors on 9th February.

Ann and Jen went to Falkirk to visit the Cat Register and Rescue. (See their Department in the Catsup Shop for more information.) Spock and Dracs have never heard the last of it. One minute Ann's telling them she hopes they appreciate how lucky they are, the next she's asking them how they'd like to move to a nice new home in Falkirk! (She's only joking!)

March 2001

The "new" Catsup Shop opened for business. It was also accepted into the "Which Webtrader Scheme" which made everyone very proud.

Ann bought a digital camera. The boys have had a hunted look on their faces ever since and the postcard page is expanding rapidly!

Catsup had its best month ever, with nearly 2,000 visitors and 5,000 page views.

April 2001

Sales of the books passed 2,300

May 2001

Ann was invited to the PDSA's Sunderland clinic. John Mills, one of the vets there had offered to show her the equipment and explain to her what it was all for and how it all worked. She found it all extremely interesting although she hadn't expected to be introduced to John when he was still doing an operation! She surprised herself by staying upright.

June 2001

All's quiet at the moment with everything ticking over nicely, so updates to this page are going on hold for the time being.

July 2001

Spock and Dracs celebrated a full year of living with Ann. (Ann spent the anniversary in a darkened room with a cold compress and a stiff drink!)

August 2001

The boys couldn't understand how they'd been overlooked by the Nobel Prize Committee for Literature. The word "Fix" was heard being muttered at regular intervals.

October 2001

The boys celebrated their 15th birthdays on 8th October.

November 2001

Channel 4 Teletext is to have a new section about volunteering It will highlight the different ways people can volunteer and their experiences. Ann has had confirmation that Catsup and the boys will be featured.

To celebrate "The Year of the Volunteer", a book about volunteering is being published in North Tyneside. Earlier in the year volunteers were invited to send in articles, poems and pictures about their experiences. The boys sent in a piece, written with their very own paws. It is to be included with a picture of them.

Decenber 2001

Spock and Dracs sent Ann and Jen up to Edinburgh where they attended their first cat show. The boys couldn't attend themselves as they had some urgent appointments with a duvet lined up, but they'd booked a stall there so Ann and Jen could sell Catsup's goods. Everyone was very pleased with the money raised. It also gave Ann and Jen a chance to see their friends at the Cat Register and Rescue in Falkirk again.

January 2002

The New Year started well when a big order from the Siamese Internet Cat Club came in. They're going to start selling the boys books in their own online shop. Their profits will go to US Siamese Rescue, so all the copies they sell will be helping 2 charities, one in the UK and one in America..01.

February 2002

Sales are well over 2,600

May 2002

Ann went to PDSA's Head Office at Telford for a Training Day. While she was there, she presented PDSA's Director General, Marilyn Rydström with a cheque for £1,000. To see a picture of the presentation, click HERE .

After their success in Edinburgh, Ann and Jen ran a stall at the Durham Cat Club's Annual Cat Show at Washington. They've also booked a stall at the Teesside Cat Show in Spennymoor at the end of August.

June - November 2002

Ann continued to run stalls, helped by her friend Jen. They even have their own "uniform " now. As well as going to cat shows, they've been doing Craft Fairs as well. Along the way they've met some interesting and generous people. A special thank you goes to the stall holder who gave Ann a lot of fabric out of which she made catnip toys. At the last count she'd sold over 100 of them. Also, another stall who gave her two large bags of lavender. (She sells her lavender bags locally although you can see some of them on the Charity Shop Message Board. Spock and Dracs are very relieved that Ann hasn't so far thought about taking them along to the Cat Shows with her. Having celebrated their 16th birthdays on 8th October they feel that kind of thing is more suited to younger cats.

March 2004

Ann and some of the friends who've helped her visited PDSA's Newcastle PetAid Hospital and presented them with a cheque for £1000. Ann also took pictures of the plaque that PDSA had put on the wall in the reception area, thanking The Boys for their fundraising efforts. To have a mini tour of the hospital and see the plaque, click here .

August 2004

This page is no longer being updated regularly because we have reached our original target of £3,000. The fundraising still continues however through both the website and local initiatives.

 

Copyright Ann Dickinson 2000-2010