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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Seeing George again brought back memories. Actually he was quite an entertaining and amusing colleague, provided you didn`t step on his ego or his ambition. In fact he saw it as a duty to entertain us.

One constant source of interest for the rest of us (according to George) was food. George saw himself as the Jamie Oliver of his day, and never stopped telling us of the exquiite dinner parties he threw and the exotic dishes he created for them.

Now if you really want to convince your co-workers of your skills in the kitchen, dear friends, DON`T tell them about it. Bring in samples. "Would you like to taste my lemon drizzle cake?", assuming it`s even moderately edible, will bring you much more admiration and love from a bored workforce facing vending machine coffee and Jammie Dodgers than "I must tell you about the cassoulet I made last Saturday - gosh I had so much trouble getting the goose and the just the right sort of Toulouse sausage....."

George never brought in samples. Occaionally he brought in pictures from recipe books and showed them to us. (I asked pointedly whether, if he ever committed adultery, he would take the girl to a hotel room, sit on the bed and then show her a picture of it, but it didn`t seem to change his attitude. ) And it was all SO boring!

One day a Highland girl joined the workforce. She was small and blue-eyed and had the kind of gentle lilting Skye accent that makes tourists go weak at the knees. She had also a very earthy sense of humour, which George had yet to discover.

George was in fine form. It had been a large dinner party. We sat there, bored to distratcion by the account of marinades and terrines and filo - it was very fashionable at that time to wrap everything but the cutlery and the hostess in filo pastry. Would it never end?

The little Highland girl spoke up.

"Did you do all that just yourself, Mr Anderson?"

George said proudly that he did.

"And did Mrs Anderson not do any of it at all?"

George said that he would not trust his wife with such an important culinary event. He did the real cooking.

The little Highland girl turned her baby blue eyes on him.

"And tell me, Mr Anderson - do you sit down to pee as well?"

I must say that George took the awful silence followed by the gale of laughter really well.

And after that words like souffle, ragout and julienne were strangely and totally absent from our coffee breaks.

Monday, October 24, 2005


I came out of the cinema the other day - yes, I am a Wallace and Gromit fan from way back and loved the new one, especially now Nick has gone back to his favourite 50s North Country milieu - and went into Ottakar`s for a coffee. I was busy with cappucino, iPod and the Economist when the good -looking man oppiosite leaned forward and said -

"It is you! I knew by the rings!"

Now I must confess that I have a slight thing for jewellery, and consider myself undressed if I don`t clank when I walk...still, it`s not what I would choose to be remembered for. I stared at him. And it all came back.

It was George.

I hadn`t seen him in fifteen years, when he was pushing hard for promotion and I was pushing hard to get out. We both achieved our aim. My attitude to work is well expressed by Oscar Wilde who pointed out that if work was so wonderful the rich would have kept it all for themselves, and Gus Elen who advised people never to look for work but lie in bed and let the work look for them.

George had got promotion - but not as far as expected, and was now stuck in middle management. My eyes kept straying to his head. He still had his hair. What was it.......?

And then I remembered.

I was looking for the toupee.

It had arrived quite suddenly. We had been fooling around with a camera, taking group photos, and suddenly one of the girls told George that his bald spot was shining in the overhead lights. He laughed, but went and found a cap for the pictures, and within a week the rug was in place.

It was a constant strain on all of us. There`s nothing funny about baldness - it`s just a fact of life. But trying to hide it is hilarious. And of course the hairpiece didn`t quite match the rest - in certain lights it was quite red. And it had that restless roaming tendency of all wigs called on to deal with an active lifestyle. I remember not knowing where to look as it slid rakishly sideways during a particularly animated presentation. And the colleague who rushed in to see me and said in great embarrassment:

"Omigod! I just had an argument with George and I told him to keep his hair on!"

Now as George went on enthusiastically about his job, I found myself trying to see round behind him. What was lurking these days on the top of his head?

At last he had to go - pressure of work. And as he got up and turned - wouldn`t you know it - a large lady with a stack of books pushed in front of him. In a moment he had gone.

And his secret had gone with him.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The disputed area to be paved in gold... Posted by Picasa


A famililar figure strolled down the lane the other day.

Tarmac Man.

Over the past year he has gradually covered all the offending muddy area round and about the house with tarmac. Actually he has been employed by Scottish Water, who own and maintain the road my lane turns in to - they paid for all the tarmac and thenI bought some of it at reduced cost - generous of SW to (unknowingly) subsidise my needs, and excellent for Tarmac Man to sell the same black stuff twice over.

And here he was again.

I was a bit puzzled. There`s only a tiny bit left, decayed and cracked concrete round the water toby. Was it worth his effort?

We solemnly measured it. Eighteen feet by nine. By previous experience that would cost about a hundred.

He looked a bit uneasy. "That concrete could take a lot of digging out. It could go quite deep."

I pointed out the bits that had come away already, proving that it was actually very shallow.

"Then there`s the cost of taking it to a tip and paying to dispose of it. Tips cost nowadays."

I pointed out a space in the top orchard where it could easily be tipped.

He looked downright distressed.

"Well it`s going to cost nine hundred pounds!" he blurted out.

My look must have said it all. I didn`t actually ask if he had a vehicle strong enough to carry the weight of gold plate he was going to use. But I made it quite clear that it wasn`t on. "I`m not made of money. Especially this close to Christmas."

And then his face changed on the word "Christmas", and I suddenly saw it all. I WAS his Christmas. He had calculated out the whole cost of the festive season and come down to extract the money from gullible Mrs Claus.

Well, it was a case of mistaken identity. He was firmly sent on his way.

And Mrs Grinch stepped carefully over the little area of cracked concrete and went indoors.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Mr Lentil relaxes after his heroic show efforts Posted by Picasa


It was really bad. Just don`t ask.

It started on the bus. As the night progressed, the impression grew somehow that the driver wan`t an expert. It could be his amazing disegard of white lines and traffic signals. It could be his little 2am adventure in the filling station, when he got in and found himself comp;letely unable to get out

He ground his gears and jerked back and forwards, getting nowhere and demolishing any parts of the building inconsiderate enough to be sticking out. The night clerk watched in awe but din`t dare come out.

And at that point you realise you saw the film. It starred Arnie, or Vin Deisel, and it`s at that hopeless moment when the huge vehicle out of control ploughs relentlessly on towards the gas station pumps and you wait for that great big orange explosion and all the accompanying FX. You also realise that a large part of your enjoyment of that scene had to do with you not being in the huge vehicle, but in a cinema seat. You fight the impulse to take the wheel - or at least the keys. Or to get out and run. Real people don`t do these things...

But somehow we lurched out on to the road and made our erratic way south to arrive, as usual, far too early. I got the dogs out and setled them in their pen. A friend did the same and as she lifted the first out of his carrying box he gave a sigh of relief and relieved himself all over her.

He had obviously saved it up for a long time. As she wrung out her steamng, dripping clothes she remarked with feeling that this was going to be one of those days.

It was.

The judging? - don`t ask. Not only were mine the wrong colour - I just have to buy them red wigs one of these days - but not big-boned enough. The least said the better. Only Mr Lentil achieved anything.

I think the highlight of the day for the dogs was the Great Escape, when they managed to open the door of their pen, and suddenly I was chasing after three liberated little men. All with different priorities.

Florian looked for me.

Mr Lentil headed straight for the nearest crowd of dogs and people and introduced himself.

Marcus made a beeline through the packed showground, with only one thing - the usual thing - on his mind. Somewhere here was the girl for him. He was deaf to me and indignant when caught.

Probably they had the right idea. We should all have baled out long ago. As we stood in the windy car park, waiting for the bus (late) in the growing dark, I phoned my friend.

Indeed she remembered this judge. "The one who used to breed those great big red cuddies? What did you expect?"

Not much, by this stage. We loaded the dogs, and chugged out on to the road north. No confidence in the driver, hard seats, a clogged toilet and a long way home.

It could be worse.

We could have a really silly hobby, like trainspotting.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


The funeral was every bit as bad as I expected. A small sad event in a cold windswept very new crematorium. A not very good piper.

We began with the mariners` hymn and I had the awful suspicion that the minister had mistaken the funeral and thought we were burying a sailor.

I wasn`t any more impressed by his condolences for the bereaved husband "who had supported her over 40 years of disability" - actually he had abandoned her for years and gone off womanizing, leaving her in a wheelchair and only returning when he finally ran out of money.

And that awful moment afterwards, outside, when everyone eyes up everyone else, wondering who`s next to go....

We all hurried back to her brother`s hotel and became instantly and resolutely cheerful over salad sandwiches and coffee.

Some older people make a hobby out of attending funerals.

Not me. I`ve buried too many people.

And the mariners` hymn? Turns out it was her favourite from childhood.

Well it`s over. And now I`m packing for yet another show. Here we go again.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Not much news. Nights drawing in, getting colder, leaves dropping everywhere, my cholesterol is up (but my overall risk factor is not enough to warrant any medical attention I`m told), seems like I have nothing but funerals on the social horizon, little news beyond the awful situation in Pakistan........feeling old.

Except - looks like Tamara is pregnant. Here we go again!

Maybe I`ll survive the winter after all.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Decibelle triumphant - "I sorted him!" Posted by Picasa
Red Sonja Posted by Picasa


In a week when the world is recovering from two more natural disasters, and I have to face two funerals, I could do with a little light relief.

Marcus and Red Sonja did their best to provide it this afternoon.

I had decided that he would be Red Sonja`s last husband. Her final fling. She was in emphatic agreement about this. (Well, perhaps not about the "final" part.) She made it clear that she thought he was gorgeous. He made it clear that he was up for it.

"Up for it" is a good description. You see, Red Sonja, aka Red Sofa, is a rather....... large lady. In every direction. I have been known to describe her as "the Hindenburg with fur". As a human, she would make an excellent Wagnerian soprano.

Marcus is a little lad. Small, finely made and utterly determined. Sonja`s romantic overtures kept sending him flying - she would give him a playful nudge, and he would go rolling over, pick himself up, and gamely start again. When I had stopped laughing, I bent down and lent a hand.

Rather more than a hand was required. Marcus resolutely assaulted the target area, looking like a small mountaineer on the north face of the Eiger who had started out with a map, but unfortunately without ropes or pitons. The summit was a long way up. You could see him thinking about it, wondering if others had perished in the attempt, and muttering "because it`s there"...

I made him a platform out of old decking tiles and we tried again. And again. What we really needed was a small Papillon-sized trampoline.

At last in desperation he made a sort of salmon leap - and suddenly he was there, with all four feet well off the ground, clinging on like a limpet, no doubt thinking that the world looked really small from up there. Sonja was delighted.

No, of course I don`t have a picture. This is not a doggy porn blog.

Instead here`s one of Decibelle, triiumphant, having trampled her enemy in the dust.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

We`re celebrating........ Posted by Picasa
....Florian did it at last! Posted by Picasa


He did it! At last Florian managed it! He mated the long-suffering Kallista this morning, and is now strutting his stuff in front of all the others.

Julian and Marcus are quite disgusted by this turn of events.

It`s been a long struggle. I thought I had a lifelong virgin on my hands.

But now we`re celebrating!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Husky judging in progress Posted by Picasa
Down through Glencoe..... Posted by Picasa
.....and along Loch Lomond Posted by Picasa


A lovely jaunt to the Highlands to judge Toys at a little show at the foot of Ben Nevis - no I didn`t even see it. It rained. Evidently it always rains there. I arrived in the evening, and strolled through the wet town briefly, lookng for a restaurant and finding challenging-looking chip shops and tourist traps offering haggis and neeps for fifteen pounds. I ended up in Macdonalds, looking out at the rain and eating packaged indigestion.

But it was a lovely show next day, and the hospitality was excellent. I enjoyed the dogs, even the Peke bitch who made several attempts to have me, and the little black Pom who took one look at me and tucked his tail between his legs and kept it there.

Show dogs can be sensitive. I watched the main judge dealing with a class of Malamutes. One large furry macho male, capable of hauling a load in excess of a ton over ice, roached his back and wailed softly as she put a hand under to check if he was entire.

"One of those little intimate moments," she remarked nonchalantly to the surprised owner.

She was very entertaining, and quite pregnant ("Due 3 weeks before Crufts - an ideal age for a first visit") and subsequently saved me from the joys of the train home (one train a day which stops, like an old dog, at every blade of grass as it meanders through the Highland scenery.) I was grateful for the lift, and we barrrelled on down through Glencoe and along Loch Lomond, enjoying the spectacular views and talking down and dirty dog politics.

Home early - a good end to a good day.

And meanwhile, at another show, in a galaxy far, far away (well, Wales), Allegra on her first outing had qualified for Crufts.

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