Saga of a woman old enough to know better who lets her life be governed by the ridiculous hobby of breeding and showing dogs, musing on life, the twenty first century, Cameron and his mini-me, and the occasional sheep.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Party Hat Posted by Hello


I have another patient, and another vet`s bill. The Venerable Ancient, now approaching his eighteenth birthday, took off into the fields, got stung by something, and has licked it into a big sore. He is now toddling about wearing one of those wide plastic collars my vet`s assistant calls "a party hat" and a very sour expression.

He has had a chequered career. He was an indefatigable stud dog, specialising in the "more difficult" ladies - i.e. he didn`t tmind getting bitten in the performance of his duties. He was also a mean fighting machine, and had to be kept separate from other dogs.

This vision of himself as a serial killer has only mellowed in the last few years. Only four years ago he got at my top show youngster and was found dragging him around by the throat. The youngster was terrified. He had wet himself. He was eyeballing the Grim Reaper. But what I knew, and the victim didn`t know and the old killer had conveniently forgotten, was that the Venerable Ancient no longer had any teeth. I pulled him off his prey, and he came away with a loud sucking noise. He had been trying to gum him to death, and was evidently surprised that it hadn`t worked. The victim was damp but unharmed.

The vision of himself as stud dog has not altered. Last year, aged seventeen, he mated a bitch - another old lady of thirteen - without my approval of course - he just got lucky. I mentioned this to the vet and said that I didn`t really see any need to take action in view of his age.

"I expect he`s firing blanks," I said.

"How old is he?"

I told her and she fell about laughing. "Firing blanks?" she guffawed. "I`d be amazed if he was firing anything in remotely the right direction."

He`d be appalled if he could read this. He`s out there just now, parading in his party hat, strutting his stuff, making overtures to all the old girls, convinced he`s one hell of a fellow.

He`s planning his twentieth birthday, never mind his eighteenth.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


I`m still getting over two Championship shows in one week, one in Peterborough, one in Leeds.  At least it makes a change from memorising the M6.

Peterborough was warm and pleasant as usual - how do they arrange their weather?  Leeds had a gale, most of it blowing through the sideless tent they laughingly called "wet weather protection".  Small dogs dug their claws in as their long coats became horizontal.  There was great and universal admiration for a brave Irishman showing in a kilt.  We all huddled together on our folding chairs, dreading the moment when we would have to shed a layer of outher clothing to go in with our dogs.  

A friend from Oz couldn`t believe it - "They said there would be accomodation inside if it was wet!" she cried, looking up in horror at the creaking flapping old splitting canvas and the lifting side poles.   She should try Ireland, where they think tents are unmanly and soft, and everyone does it with huge umbrellas and wellies.

I remember years ago at Windsor when it was desperately searingly hot and everyone was in summer clothes enjoying it.  I was watching an old judge in the middle of his classes when suddenly the inevitable thunderstorm struck.   Everyone ran for cover - except this old judge.  He produced an enormous tatty fishing umbrella and announced - "judging will proceed."   Exhibitors stood there, summer dresses plastered to their bodies, perms ruined, water overflowing their shoes, hardly able to breathe for water.

As usual the dogs didn`t mind.

I once judged at an equestrian centre, outside in the field.  The rain hit halfway through and I said - "Inside".

But "inside" was a shocker.  The arena was covered in tanbark which was probably last changed in the last century and had been - how shall I put it? - well used by horses during that time.  The smell was amazing . and the texture suspiciously lumpy.    As I gazed at this and tried not to breathe, the terrier judge said "Aye, we tried to use in here last time, but the dogs widnae show - they were too keen to get at all the rats in the walls....." 

We went out.  We were soaked.  Haven`t been so wet since I used to crew on a GK for Clyde Week.   I can still remember the water cascading off the chihuahua puppies` noses, my notes turning to pulp, the dye running out of the steward`s anorak......

But we finished.  We are a resolute and reckless bunch, we of the dog fancy.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004


A huge commotion of dogs at the gate last night and I was greeted by clouds of smoke - the neighbouring field of cut silage going up in flames.  The technical term for this sort of event is "school holidays".

The field is very close to my bigger garage, so I phoned the Fire service.  Got someone in Glasgow who had no idea where I lived and had to argue and explain as the flames drew nearer.  At long last three firemen appeared on foot and began to try to stamp it out.   I enquired about water, supported by the screaming dogs.

"Oh no,"  he said.  "You can`t get an appliance down here." 

"Suppose it was my house?"

"You`re on your own". 

Yet another service I pay for and don`t get.   This time it`s my life on the line.  I will find a person in authority and raise hell.  Give him a roasting.

And I don`t feel much like supporting our noble firefighters any more.



Saturday, July 24, 2004

Dido Posted by Hello


Dido had to go to the vet today to have her bandage changed.  She broke two metacarpals chasing a strange cat and has suffered a variety of casts and dressings and the indignity of a plastic  hood after she demonstrated her expert ability to remove said dressings.
The bandage was changed.  "Such a sweet little thing" cooed the vet.  "We have a huge dog in today - a wolfhound.  He`s enormous, but quite delightful.  A real gentleman."
Home went Dido and I, and in due course she asked to get out.  When she came back in, the bandage didn`t. I cursed greatly and trailed her back to the vet.
As I opened the door the smell hit me.  It was as tangible as a wall.  A big brown wall.  "Something big had diarrhoea?" I guessed.
The vet was fuming.
"We cleaned it up, but nothing gets rid of the smell.  None of us coud face lunch.  Bloody useless wolfhound.  I really hate big dogs......."

Friday, July 23, 2004


This post is by way of an apology to anyone out there who actually reads this. It seems that the blog was set up to receive comments only from registered Blogspot Bloggers - a default setting which I hadn`t noticed.  I think I have now rectified this, so if you feel you have anything to say - say it please - I`d love to hear from you!

I wonder if computers are getting beyond me at last.  I wonder this every year, and have done so since  the sixties, when I hung out with a lot of Cambridge mathematicians, and some of them got into this great new computing thing, and I went along for the ride.

I remember one Sunday I got a call from A, who was a computer language expert with ICL.  (The new cutting edge language at that time was Fortran...)   He was one of ICL`s troubleshooters, and had just had an emergency call from a subsidiary of John Brown, which made marine engine components - the mainframe had been asked to print out test results and was spewing out garbage.  "Come on out with me," he said:  "It`ll be a laugh and all you need is a clipboard and you can punch some cards for me." 

(No, that isn`t a swinging sixties sexual euphemism - go read your history of computers.)

Well, we got there and it was emergency stations.  They didn`t actually have a flashing sign saying RED ALERT and sirens going, but the atmosphere was there.

You have to think your way back forty years.   Welcome to the Palaeolithic.  Computing`s  stone age.    No PCs.    Computers were mainframe and huge  and were being installed in big firms as the Latest Thing which would Revolutionise Production. 

This one certainly had.  Production was at a standstill.  The little manager stood there, sweating buckets.  Although it was Sunday he had called in all the staff, and they stood there in a line of misery.  The firm`s new toy, which he found terrifying and incomprehensible, had been broken on his watch.  He had the access log in his hand and it was obvious that unless Deep Thought over there started doing what it should, the last name on that log could collect his jotters.

As was usual then the mainframe occupied a glass room, airconditioned at positive pressure.  They were delicate beasts.   A repeated the last procedure in the log,and sure enough, out came yards of listingpaper covered in gibberish.  He prepared to do a diagnostic and I got the cards ready.

It all looked very serious and suddenly became too much for one of the young lads in the line.  He let fly what we used to call at school a Silent But Deadly.   The mainframe`s airconditioning obligingly circulated the odour with alarming efficiency.  When it reached the little manager he went purple.

"Who did that?  Stand forward the man who did that!  The thing`s  already broken down - and that will finish it!  It`ll never work now!"

Neither of us kept a straight face - A suddenly found he had to inspect the tape reels very closely and I found the clipboard very useful.

And no, we didn`t get it to work. 

What part the fart played in its demise is a matter of conjecture.

I suppose the fact that they don`t affect my PC is a measure of how far we`ve come.......

Monday, July 19, 2004


No posts for nine days, and that`s how long the landline has been down.
But after many battles with the BT automated fault report line, yesterday a rather attractive engineer arrived.  He remarked what a lovely day it was, and how good to be out in the sun.   He asked where my line went, and I pointed into the trees.   He vanished, whistling, into the wood.
Five hours later he emerged, having made the intimate acquaintance of all the more brambly areas, and attempted all my leaning telephone poles, many bearing the dreaded  red D - DANGER, DRYROT, DO NOT ATTEMPT - take your pick.  He was heavily encrusted with samples of all the more adhesive varieties of local vegetation, punctured by nettles, and steaming with rage.
The fault was due to a botched repair made during previous routine maintenance.
His language was magnificent.
But now I`m back online.  Be afraid.   Be very afraid.

Saturday, July 10, 2004


Just back from a bum-breaking bus journey to Wales, where my three hopefuls did well in the ring, and we all managed to soak up some Welsh sun, in between sharp short downpours. One of these hit while I had Demented in a class, trying to force her by sheer willpower alone down from hyper and bouncing to just alert and happy. Normally during the examination on the table I employ a secret death-grip on the inner thigh, but on this occasion even that didn`t work.

"Perhaps she doesn`t care for men?" enquired the judge as we both wrestled with a nine inch tall tasmanian devil.

"Perhaps she`s a brat," I replied, between clenched teeth.

And then the rain hit. Torrential. The other well-behaved little girls cringed and sagged under the weight of water, while Demented grinned and wagged her soaked tail, water cascading down her nose. And she won.

During the sunny intervals I marvelled as usual at what men think is the height of elegance in summer. This year it`s the trousers that get me. Vsst baggy efforts, cut off at mid-calf - the most unflattering length possible, as any woman could tell them. And so low in the crutch that some of them look as if they were wearing nappies.

They used to have a word for pants so saggy in the crutch in Glasgow. They called them "Locarno trousers"........

The Locarno was at that time the biggest ballroom in Scotland.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Ancient cottage in a wood.... Posted by Hello


i`ve spent some time today going through ill-organised websites trying to find Dumbo Rats for my caravan friend. I`m not really a rat person, though I`ve killed a few in my time - yes you have to when you live in an ancient cottage in a wood, and even in the cities, folks, they say you are always within spitting distance of a rat

I`d hate to live permanently in a caravan. I spent every summer of my childhood caravanning, and can imagine what they`d be like in winter.

In those days caravans were made of wood. Not like gypsy ones - generally like modern ones, but design with a bit of post-war modernist flair, and lots of plywood and wooden beading that soon fell off. Usually well-buckled plywood, as I remember. I used to meet up with all my cousins as our vans were parked in some muddy field or other.

It`s the wet days that stick in the memory. The rain drumming on the roof, the merry plinking tunes played by drips falling relentlessly into many pans and tin lids and old cans. The chewing gum and (when I was very young) Plasticine called into service to fill the cracks. The gnawing unease of knowing that the toilet was at the very furthest corner of the soaking field.

On the good days there would be the walk to the beach, past the squatters camped in the disused barracks (lots of people were homeless just after the war, in the land fit for heroes) and good days in the sand, regardless of cold or rising wind - if my grandmother came to the beach she would dig in with many rugs and cushions, and only a hurricane would shift her. The word "bracing" was used a lot. (No, Easyjet flights to Lanzarotte were not even on the horizon then.....)

In the evenings there was the oil lamp glow, and the radio. This last was a venerable utility model, powered by an "accumulator" - a wet lead-acid battery. Another frequent excursion was to the garage to get this user-unfriendly item topped up. No, we hadn`t heard of Health and Safety then. Yes, I have had accidental splashes of battery acid and lived to tell the tale. KIds were different then. Expected to be tougher in many ways, especially practical ones.

Was itr fun? Yes.

Did it leave me yearnning today for the life of the open road?

What do you think?

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