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.

Friday, December 31, 2004


I received one unwanted christmas gift - a bad chest infection. On Wednesday morning I just couldn`t breathe; I lifted the phone, spoke the magic word "asthma" and within an hour was at th health centre.

Now the practice I go to offers three alternatives.

1. Dr C. - memorably described by the nurses as "the prat with the glasses". Cheerful and basic. Tells you what your symptoms are, whether you agree or not - "I don`t have diarrhoea, doctor" - "Yes you do!"

2. Dr. H. - "Well you see, you`re old." I got very tired of this universal diagnosis and eventually told her one day that old age was indeed a curse and I sincerely hoped it would never happen to her. I think she got the message.

3. Dr. Doom. "It could be cancer." He is a nice lad and can actually cure things, but so far in the past four years I have had eleven fictitious cancer scares, not to mention one "this is bound to go necrotic" and two "you`ll never walk without an operation". He needs to get out more. He once had to refer me to a dermatologist and said sadly ,
"I wish I was a dermatologist. Their patients don`t die on them."

Anyway, this morning it turned out to be Dr C who grinned over the huge glasses and examined my chest. (He is incidentally the last doctor on earth who still asks you to say "ninety nine".)

In short order I had prescriptons for steroids and antibiotic.

I mentioned that I would like to get my hands on the idiot who gave me his cold.

"Yes," he said, "But for him it`s just a cold. You always have the chest problem."

He leaned across the desk.

"You see, your chest is your Achilles wooden leg."

I stayed rigid. Not even a snigger.

But in my mind was a Greek red figure vase, with Achilles neatly drawn in his full-head helmet with horse hair plume, in heroic pose with shield and spear - and wooden leg. And - why not? - a parrot. Probably screaming "Pieces of bronze!" and many a filthy hapax legomenon. Homer misses so much out, you know. Or maybe it`s just an example of a minor foot problem becoming just a tad exaggerated in legend over the centuries.

I smiled brightly.

"Of course," I replied.

I`m feeling much better now - so much that I`m going out to see the New Year in at yet another cousin`s hotel.

But before I go I`m just going to have another glance at my well-thumbed Homer..........

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The ancient ritual of Pudding Cremation Posted by Hello


Of course Christmas went well. The merry picture shows my excellent hosts at the beginning of the traditional ritual of Pudding Cremation. You can see from her face that his partner has absolute trust in his abilities with dangerous tools. She is not a bit disturbed by the cries of her daughter - "Remember when he burned the tree down?"

We had a great time, only minimally affected by Afghans - the "doing out" was put off till Boxing day, and only two Afghans visited the dinner table. We laughed happily as we pulled crackers - and doghairs out of the gravy - and discussed the technicalities of canine AI. (No, not Artificial Intelligence - not even Spielberg could give Afghans that.)

The next visit, to seriously non-doggy cousins on Boxing Day, was severely curtailed by the necessity to do out Afghans, pack them into a car and see himself and them off down an icy road to Stranraer to cross the Irish Sea in midwinter.

I have heard nothing since.

I know better than to ask

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Merry Christmas! Posted by Hello


That`s it - I`m off to do the big seasonal thing.

Watch this space for indepth reporting of the dark underbelly of Christmas, where turkey, sprouts and doghair are inextricably mingled.

Meanwhile - Merry Christmas!


Yesterday a car lurched down to the gate and two men got out. They wore those ill-fitting grey suits one immediately associates with sheriff`s officers, or heavies who assure you that you now owe Big Dave fifteen K plus interest of 300%, and they`ll be having your family allowance book, wedding ring and TV........

But no. They both had clipboards clutched firmly in their paws. Only one possibility then -

"We`re from the council. Rating and Valuation. We`re confirming that both these orchards have burned down."

Well my Neighbour From Hell did burn his house down some time ago, in order to declare himself homeless and facilitate planning permission. (I soon sorted that out. No permission for him, and the house remains a charred derelict.) But there stood my cottage, seasonal lights twinkling, a wisp of smoke from the chimney, manifestly unburned.

As one man they consulted their clipboards. then they looked at the house.

"No it says here they both burned down."

I assured them this one hadn`t.

Do you remember the scene from FORBIDDEN PLANET when Robbie the Robot is asked to harm a human and his circuits go into a tasteful pink overload and burn out? Or Arnie in TERMINATOR 3 when his programming is overridden and the effect is much the same burn out (only not tastefully pink and with Arnie it`s hard to tell the difference anyway - I met him in the sixties when I hung out briefly with a Native American bodybuilder, and he didn`t make much of an impression then, and it`s stayed that way)....

But I digress.

There they stood. Frozen by the irreconcilable conflict between the absolute Council truth on their clipboards and the evidence of their own eyes.

I didn`t fancy them as permanent gatepost ornaments.

"You`d better be going - everything`s fine here."

"It`s really not burned, then?"

I was momentarily tempted to assure them that it had, and free myself from Council Tax for ever. It`s not often you get a genuine blank slate to write on, and they didn`t come much blanker than these.

I was honest. "The house is still standing. I think you should change what you have written there."

Appalled at this levity, they turned to go - possibly the last two men on earth to have their faith in the local council suddenly destroyed.

"Do we have to reverse all the way back?"

Damn right.

Sunday, December 19, 2004


Back online after various computer failures.......including XP on the laptop announcing that it would be going into hibernation now, and bidding me goodbye for some time.

This was new to me. I pondered on it. Would it be dormant until spring? Would it then awake and, following the example of bears, present me with a new baby laptop? (No, I`m not that silly. I knew that wouldn`t happen. It hadn`t been anywhere near a male laptop.)

I would love to hibernate. I hate winter. I detest heading out into the frozen morning darkness to chip away at frozen coal and encourage the dogs to get moving. The only good thing about winter is Christmas.

I confess it. I love it. The whole thing. I even love sprouts.

Mind you, Christmas for me involves just a bit of freeloading. I spend it visiting my cousins. One doggy lot for Christmas, an Italian family for Boxing day (and a ten course meal, mixed traditional and Italian), another cousin`s hotel for Hogmanay, when the chef tries and fails to be creative with haggis (although I remember affectionately his "Crocodile Dundee" - crocodile tail steaks with marmalade sauce - geddit? ), and back to the long suffering doggy ones on New Year`s day.

I have already had my invitations. My doggy cousin phoned last week. "We hope you can come early - we`re going to a BoxingDay show in Ireland and you`ll have to help do out the Afghans."

"Doing out" an Afghan for show takes about four hours. For the uninitiated, imagine taking up an entire eighties style shag pile carpet from a small bedroom, washing it in the bath and drying it with a hairdryer and hairbrush.

"Before or after the turkey?" I enquired.

There was a pause.

"Oh yes, the turkey," she said. "I`m still working on fitting that in......."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Decibelle the birthday girl Posted by Hello

Yes, it really is what you think it is...... Posted by Hello


Demented. aka Decibelle, was two on Sunday. But really, inside, she`s still a puppy. She is unquestioningly devoted to pork pies (preferably Melton Mowbray, so celebrating the event was easy.

She is registered as Decibelle, not without reason. She is without question the loudest little person ever. The day she was born she began to screech, and has never stopped. I still remember when she was about six hours old, having to take her mother, Dido, out of the nest for a cuddle while the tiny puppy circled the nest endlessly, squealing. Dido gave me a look that voiced the age-old plaint of the young mother - "I`ve fed her and washed her and put her down and she still won`t settle - what do I do now?" Alas, this was only the beginning.

We have all come to know the voice well. She sleeps on my bed, partly out of sentiment, but mostly to stop her greeting the dawn with a voice made out of rusty razor blades.

Recently she was ill, and refused to eat. Being small (9 inches at the shoulder), she lost weight and condition quickly and ended up at the vet. "We`ll keep her in and put her on a drip and try to get the appetite up".....

Two hours later I had a call. In the background was a sound I knew well, leading an enthusiastic doggy chorus.

"Come and take her home! She has taken a litttle food, and I`ll give you a nutrition mix and you must come right now! ....... Is it coincidence that she`s called Decibelle?"

I admitted that it was not, and collected her.

She loves life, and especially shows, where she wins on pure impudence. She poses cheekily on the table and sizes up the judge out of lowered lids......she knows instantly when she has a chance of making a fool of the poor soul and is ready to put on an all-singing all-dancing performance. It doesn`t seem to count against her.

Her birthday coincided with the Club show. She went, and had a whale of a time, swaggering, screeching, annoying all my other dogs, leading the judge a merry dance........a wonderful day.

And she ended up Reserve Best Bitch.

Home with a waggy tail to a cuddle and a pork pie.

LIfe`s not bad if you`re Decibelle

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