::POLITICAL RANT ALERT::
I know. I don’t do politics. Well. . . .
I am, I admit, frequently appallingly clueless about the realities of . . . reality. I know I’m a wet bleeding-heart knee-jerk la-di-dah liberal but I forget how far from the mainstream that sometimes takes me. Take gay marriage.
I do know there are still rabid homophobic enclaves out there but that’s what I expect them to be . . . enclaves.* In the modern First World at least I expect anyone my age and younger to behave in a polite and tolerant way; if they have private caveats about certain intrinsically harmless and productive subgroups of society they keep this to themselves. That government tends to be butt-heavy with old fogies is one of those sad facts of reality, but I’m rapidly approaching old-fogey status myself so the obvious stuff should be getting dealt with as there are more old fogies like me in Parliament—or Congress, or the Orwellian farmyard, or what-have-you. So we finally got civil partnerships here in the UK for gays a few years ago—so they can have insurance and inheritance and hospital-visiting rights and so on just like hets, well duh—can gay marriage be far behind?
I don’t keep track of this kind of controversy—I know, bad me—because it makes me too crazy. I don’t keep track of all the anti-women stuff still relentlessly going on out there** either, for the same reason. It makes me feel too small and too helpless and too ANGRY: human rights are human rights are human rights. There’s nothing to discuss.*** So I’ll just go on writing my stories about Girls Who Do Things—and keep my head (mostly) down out here in rough and ratbagging reality.
While I was as appalled as everyone else—everyone on the wet-liberal side anyway—about the C of E blocking women bishops again, there was enough general outrage that the church synod what-you-call-it managed to cram a fresh vote through before time, and there’s at least been progress, although there’s a bit too much havering about what they’re doing to keep the paralytic-tradition fogies from mutinying again. But I remember—as a separation-of-church-and-state American—being fascinated by the suggestion that if the C of E didn’t get its act together promptly about women bishops Parliament would make them.
So. Gay marriage. It’s legal in the UK. Finally. But the C of E is saying no, no, a thousand times no, I’d rather diiiiiie than say yes. WHAT? You can’t just look for a sympathetic priest—even wet liberals like me will acknowledge that tolerance tends to be a continuum—it’s illegal for a C of E vicar to perform a gay marriage? This is the Church. Of. England. That’s how it works over here. And Parliament isn’t going to say, ‘Do it and shut up’? WHAT?
And—and this was my personal snapping point—the frelling Archbishop of Canterbury is saying gay marriage would be ‘catastrophic’ for Christians in other parts of the world because it would leave them vulnerable to violence by anti-gay mob rule? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26894133 WHAT? Where are you drawing the line, mate? Or what line or you drawing? Being a Christian at all in certain parts of the world is still dangerous. The tradition of violence and martyrdom goes back to the beginning—um, the crucifixion, um?—and ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ has always been a crummy policy. If the early Christians hadn’t been such arrogant little twerps, insisting on going around shooting their mouths off about Jesus being the Offspring of God, they might have believed what they liked in the privacy of their own homes, as long as they didn’t do it on the street and frighten the horses or piss off the local tyrant. Not to mention that appeasement of bullies and murderers doesn’t have a great track record for success.† I hope our Most Reverend Justin is being quoted badly out of context.
It was Aloysius who pointed out to me, in a calm, holy way, that gay marriage is very, very controversial in the C of E—and at the moment the traditionalists are winning.†† And I’m a card-carrying, fee-paying member of this organisation? Aloysius—who admits to being frustrated by the ban himself—says that we’re supposed to pray for change and love those who disagree with us.
ARRRRRRRRRGH. Personally I’d rather have a flaming sword.
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^ The Samaritans question you-as-applicant pretty closely about your attitude toward homosexuality but I half-thought they were joking. In my wet-liberal way I can’t imagine wanting to do something like take shifts on a people-in-emotional-extremis phone line and not sympathise with gays who do have more of a struggle with society and expectations and okay and not-okay than hets do. Not wholly unlike, to my eye, women have more of a struggle with society etc than men do, or non-white people than white people do. Etc. Humanity = ratbag. Sigh.
** http://everydaysexism.com/ Everyone know this one? Read it and weep. I don’t read it very often, because of the weeping thing, and the blood-pressure headaches, and the wondering whether anything ever does get better, or whether it just goes round in endless circles. The early Christian church had women in positions of power, for example, but it didn’t last. Here’s a bit more about Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism’s founder: http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/laura-bates
She’s on Twitter too: @EverydaySexism
Go for it. I’m glad someone has the grit.
*** Anyone thinking of writing a counter-diatribe on the forum, please take note. Also, it’s my blog.
† I want to know why these people think that the presence of Christians is going to turn them homosexual?^ Is it something we put in the water? There’s a word that’s struggling to surface in my aging and forgetful mind—wait for it—EDUCATION. You know you can educate people about lots of things. Like that the existence and maintenance of heterosexuality in the Christian church is actually rather common.
^ Which is of course the worst thing that could possibly happen to you. Worse than gangrene! Worse than Sarah Palin for president!
†† Scripture! Yes, I know! But we don’t cut people’s hands off for stealing any more, or stone people to death for adultery! And if you’re asking me, which you probably aren’t, as well as welcoming gay marriage, there are a lot of abused kids out there who are let off honouring their fathers and mothers!
I’ve been accepted for training by the Samaritans. http://www.samaritans.org/
It’s a serious commitment in both time and energy: the first training module is ten half-days in six weeks and begins in about a fortnight. Then they start putting you to work. You’re expected to rack up fifty-two duty shifts in a year—so one a week: if you want to take a holiday, you have to squeeze a few more shifts in elsewhere. There’s a second training module later in the year, and a continuing-training requirement of (I think) two half-days a year for as long as you’re a volunteer.
My initial interview process was made just a trifle more interesting by nine days without a car, and as a result I got in under the wire last Friday. I received the email saying ‘you’re in, clear your diary’ on Saturday.
And here’s the official notification: I’m cutting back drastically on the blog. No, really. As of tonight it will NO LONGER BE DAILY. I’m not sure what I’m cutting back to: two days a week, maybe, plus or including KES.*
This has been coming for a while. I know I keep saying I’m cutting back, and then I don’t. There’s an ‘all change’ blog from a year ago January—and in fact I have cut back. But not enough. God** and commuting and three hellcritters take a lot of time.***
But that the blog as I have been insanely pursuing it is no longer tenable has really been written on the wall in six-foot letters of fire since the end of last year. This is really dumb but it’s also dead common: your spouse or partner or child or best friend has a stroke or a heart attack or is badly injured in a traffic accident or something and you go to pieces. Peter had the stroke. I’m knocked for six. I’m not getting on with stuff—EBON, renting Third House—that I have to get on with.† I want to do the Samaritans, and I think I can. The blog is, however, ultimately, dispensable. ††
So. It’s been real, as we used to say when turning on, tuning in and dropping out was cool.††† And the blog has been real, in its smoke and mirrors way. I’m hoping it will go on being real in a slightly streamlined, slightly reset mirrors and resignalled smoke way. ‡
We’ll find out.
Meanwhile . . . see you soon.‡‡ And thanks for all the fish.
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* I still don’t know what happens when I reach the end of Part One. I’ve been assuming I’m going to take a break, and I’m still assuming that, but I don’t know what having fewer Days in the Life to write may do to writing about Kes’.
Also please note I will be HAPPY to continue to post GUEST BLOGS.
** My applying to the Samaritans is God’s fault again, although the Samaritans, as they say on their opening page, are very much not a religious organisation, unlike, for example, the Street Pastors. The funny thing is that it’s joining the SPs that has given me the confidence to try for the Samaritans—although the Samaritans have been on my radar for years. I went through some very rough stuff when I was pretty young and spent some years in therapy, including group therapy, where you learn something of the non-judgemental listening shtick which is the Samaritans’ stock in trade—and how important having someone to talk to is. But one of the Samaritans’ requirements is that you take an all-night shift every two or three months. And I knew I couldn’t do that. Then I went down with ME and volunteering for the Samaritans became as imaginary as anything Tolkien ever came up with. Then I hit menopause and while insomnia is part of my personal package of hormonal horror . . . so is being able to get by on less sleep. Oh. Hmm.
And then I turned Christian and my dormant do-gooder came droolingly, rampantly, havoc-creatingly to life. But I gravitate to the practical side of do-gooding: handing out flipflops and cups of hot soup is practical. But so is listening. You may know that from having been in group therapy. But you find it out all over again on your first pre-interview, pre-training observation night with the Street Pastors.
It wasn’t much over a month ago an ad for the Samaritans in the local paper caught my eye. They were holding an ‘information evening’ for potential volunteers. Yo, McKinley, said the bloke in the tatty blue jeans whom I first met 12/9/12. This.
Oh, and the best thing about the Samaritans? IT HAPPENS INDOORS. YOU SIT IN A NICE WELL-APPOINTED OFFICE ON A COMFY CHAIR WITH A TEAKETTLE AT YOUR IMMEDIATE DISPOSAL. YOU’RE NOT OUT ON A STREET CORNER FREEZING YOUR BUTT OFF OR DISSOLVING IN THE FRELLING DOWNPOUR.
*** I’m also sitting here thinking about how the more I’m managing to put into my singing the more frelling shattered I am after my voice lessons. I’d gone back to Dido’s Lament^ and Nadia said she’d like to hear it. I’ve got like eighty times more voice than I did when I learnt it the first time and—I realise how deafeningly ridiculous this is—the volume I’m now capable of scares me.^^ Siiiiiiiiiiigh.
^ It’s interesting, this business about repertoire. If you’ve gorblimey worked to learn something you don’t want to lose it. You can’t keep too many things on top at once, but you can circulate. On the face of it this is obvious. In practise this is yet one more unexpected skill you have to learn.
^^ Remember, however, I’m still talking about making the walls rattle in Nadia’s mum’s small low-ceilinged dining room. Not the Royal Albert Hall.
† I think I’ve done one doodle from my bottomless backlog in the last four months. Maybe two.
†† Even if there are a lot of hours of my life I’m not going to get back that I spent writing it.
††† Which probably doesn’t actually mean ‘get stoned and stay that way forever’ although my generation in our mad youth sure thought it did.
‡ There’s another aspect to this decision: I’m generating less blog material by the choices I’m making about how I spend my time. There’s an awful [sic] lot about the God thing I don’t feel like trying to explain on a public blog, for example. And while I can at least talk about the weather on Street Pastors nights, there’s an absolute black-out confidentiality requirement with the Samaritans^. You can’t talk to anyone about what happens on a duty shift except another Samaritan.^^
^ Which, as previously observed, takes place indoors. I suppose I could blog about the night I drop the cup of tea on the computer keyboard . . . I’d rather not be given this rich, golden opportunity. . . .
^^ And, just by the way, debriefing at the end of every shift is required. They take care of their own.
‡‡ MY NEW WASHING MACHINE IS ARRIVING ON WEDNESDAY . . . I hope. Let’s say it’s scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.
What first struck me about Anette’s post is how surprisingly similar to mine where her garden is in the march into spring. The small skinny trough at the foot of the stairs to the cottage front door, which I recently posted a photo of full of crocuses, is now blindingly yellow with eager, enthusiastic little Tete a tete daffs.* I have primroses everywhere.** I have all those Little Blue Things I can’t keep straight. I have several varieties of lungwort, the pink, the blue, the pink and blue, and the white, with variously interestingly spotted and mottled leaves. My crocuses and snowdrops are mostly going over and my early iris aren’t out yet at the cottage although they are at Third House. And I certainly have the little wild violets which while I don’t want to be without them ARE A TOTAL THUG and I get a little hysterical when I find them colonising another of my pots where if radical action is not taken immediately they’ll have crushed whatever I planted in that pot into a victimised corner with its hands over its face crying for mercy.
Spring. Yes. Spring.
And then last night we had what Nadia’s mum today told me jovially was the coldest night this winter—except that it’s supposed to be spring—and while yes, this is the south of England, and we’re only talking a few degrees of frost, we’re talking a few degrees of frost when everything has been rioting out in relatively warm sunshine for the last fortnight or so ARRRRRRGH. And I have a Winter Table full of potted up dahlias and begonia tubers. ARRRRRRRRGH.
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* They smell good too, although there are other daffs with more scent: Cheerfulness, for example, or Erlicheer, which are probably my two favourites for fragrance, but they don’t keep on and on the way that trough of Tete a tete does. Maybe the cursed mice are getting them. I can’t keep bulbs going at all in the back garden because of the sodblasted mice: I net a few pots every year and am getting better about remembering to take the gorblimey netting off before it strangles the bulbs trying to come up through it^ and that’s nearly it for spring bulbs. The local field mice, frustrated of their once rich banquets of tulips, may be indulging their grievance by eating daffs instead, although they’re not supposed to—daffs are one of the bulbs you’re supposed to plant if you have a mouse problem. Ha ha. But my garden ought to be jammed full of daffs and it’s not. The one bulb the local vermin seem pretty reliably not to like is hyacinths and I do keep a few pots of crocuses going by storing the pots in relatively inaccessible areas the mice can’t be bothered to hire a helicopter and a rope ladder to attack. Mostly I resign myself to replanting crocuses. Or netting them. They’re tiny enough they can usually scramble through the netting even if I forget to take it off. Ahem.
I keep the plastic half barrel by the kitchen door that I use as a waterbutt covered so nothing is tempted to drown itself. But the pink bucket also by the kitchen door which is my kitchen-waste compost bucket, in the weather we’ve had this winter fills up with rain because since it’s been always raining I haven’t often felt like going outside to empty it into the compost bag that the city council carts away every fortnight and turns into, you know, compost.^^ As a result I have twice found a drowned mouse floating among the apple cores. I do not mourn—if they stay out of the house I’m grudgingly more or less willing to take a ‘it’s their planet too’ attitude, but they’re still evil bulb-eating marauders—but, yo, dufflebrain, why? You’ve got an entire garden full of fresh tasty plant life and you’re diving for apple cores and slimy vegetable peelings? Unfortunately the hellterror discovered the second cadaver at the same moment I did NOOOOOOOOOO —providentially I nailed her before anything irretrievable happened but she now carefully examines that frelling bucket every time she goes into the back garden.
^ It can take hours to cut a lot of half-grown shoots out of heavy plastic small-gauge mouse-proof netting. You don’t have to ask me how I know this, do you?
^^ I’m more than happy to buy it back as realio-trulio plant-stuff-in-it compost for the privilege of not having to take up the space in my handkerchief-garden for my own compost heap or heaps,+ since to do it right you have to have more than one. But I do get broody about a wormery occasionally. You can get quite little ones and, you know, it’s critters.
+ I have THREE compost heaps at Third House. Which must be appropriate.
** With reference to a conversation about nomenclature on the forum I haven’t a clue about what’s correct. I think of what I grow as primroses—both the double ones I think I’ve posted photos of^ and the little wild-type ones like in Anette’s photos which also lurk in corners of my garden.^^ The fancy ‘laced’ and all the other exotic-looking ones are, to me, primulas.
Cowslips come out a little later—I have a fabulous rust-red one just beginning to unfurl now. I have no idea where it came from, and I don’t think I knew they existed in any colour but the basic species yellow. It’s in a pot which I clearly planted, so I must have rescued it from somewhere, recognising the leaves as primrose/cowslip and therefore worthy of rescue—is it a volunteer? I don’t know. Gibble. But when I said that cowslips, theoretically endangered in the wild, are weeds in my garden, and someone told me loftily that weeds are only plants in the wrong place—yes, I know that one, thanks—I was referring to the way they grew, not that I didn’t like them. I think they’re darling. I’ve been known to hoick out a few of my surplus, put them and a trowel in a plastic bag, and take some hellcritters for a stroll over suitable countryside and whack them in in a bank somewhere—since they’re endangered in the wild. This is probably illegal or something and since I know it’s desperately illegal to pluck wildflowers or to dig them up I live in fear of someone catching me at my guerrilla gardening and jumping to the wrong conclusion. But if I didn’t, um, weed them, I’d have a garden with nothing but cowslips in it.
^ If not I will.
I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR
I HAVE A CAR
I. HAVE. A. CAR.
I HAVE A CAR
I! HAVE! A! CAR!
. . . Erm. Wolfgang’s home. It’s been a long nine days.* And, as I write this, it is sheeting out there. I mean, yes, again, but while ground water levels will take months to settle down and there’s still serious water on the road in a few places around here**, we’d not had rain in over a week and I was reduced to watering plant pots yesterday. It rained a little last night, tactfully between the time of the last hurtle and when we had to roll out for the walk*** home, but at the moment we’re back to the End of Days.
Oh yes and Feebledweeb made a third attempt this morning. They will stop now, right?
* * *
* And I’m running out of underwear. Tomorrow I am bringing a lot of dirty laundry to Peter’s about-to-be-very-tired washing machine. I was not looking forward to ferrying dirty or clean but damp laundry back and forth by gigantic knapsack.
Meanwhile I will have a full car going back to the cottage tonight with the nine hundred and eleven apples from this week’s organic grocery delivery yesterday—I get through a lot of apples, and the hellterror is not averse to offering modest assistance—the fifty-six knitting magazines I’m keeping from this month’s haul—I am a knitting magazine junkie, and I read a lot of them on the sofa at the mews—the several additional knapsacks, sweaters, pairs of gloves and socks that have accumulated down here for some reason, and the hundred and twelve books that did not make the Book Rec cut and need to go into the Oxfam Box by the door at the cottage.
** Including one stretch that is incredibly badly semi-marked and on a dark corner, and why no one has taken out the invisible barrier like Grond at the gates of Gondor for simply not being able to see it and possibly for the character flaw of not being local and therefore being unaware of neighbourhood booby traps, I cannot imagine. Fortunately it’s only a little back road—although it’s one of those little back roads that is your only plausible choice from point A to point B—so wild veering into the centre of the road and into the path of oncoming traffic . . . can mostly be accomplished in the absence of oncoming traffic. Even so. I think I tweeted a county headline that the latest guesstimate about repairing Hampshire’s roads after the floods is that the price tag is going to hit £36K. I believe it too: not only are there potholes the size of Zeppelins but a lot of roads are simply narrower than they used to be, aside from invisible barriers protecting deep water, because the shoulders have disintegrated. And what’s left of the road surface is like driving on stucco. I bet tyre- and shocks-manufacturer shareholders are holding champagne parties. I hope the list of urgently-needed mending is comprehensive.
*** Between the frelling thirty-pound knapsack and the fact that there are three of them it is a walk, although the hellterror does a fair amount of hurtling on her own recognizance. Which brings me to a moral dilemma. The hellterror adores the late-night strolls back to the cottage, and is, for her, surprisingly well-mannered.^ The hellhounds slouch along doing passive-aggressive sulking^^ but it’s been a year and a half, guys, get over yourselves. And late at night is the only time it’s worth the risk taking all three out together. I wonder if . . . it’s a pity Wolfgang can’t get himself home and the thirty-pound knapsack, and let the rest of us amble after.
^ I am really really really hoping it’s not all the frelling false pregnancy. Which I keep hoping isn’t happening but—moan—her breasts are slightly swollen, yesterday and today, so it probably is. Only someone who spends a lot of time rubbing her tummy would notice, but I do and I have. She hasn’t started shredding newspapers and hiding under the sofa—she doesn’t really fit under the sofa any more—so maybe she can have the imaginary puppies imaginarily and get on with life?? But it’s been pleasant having an only semi-manic imp of the perverse about the place. I’ve been thinking I need to take her training slightly more seriously . . . no, no, not the walking quietly on heel and the perfect recall: the paw-offering and the playing dead. The useful stuff. The stuff, it must be admitted, that happens on the kitchen floor at the cottage last thing before closing her down for the night and I go upstairs for a nice hot bath and a dropping of reading material in it. This is not, I realise, optimum training timing, but it has two things going for it: (a) it happens at all and (b) I get a good laugh at the end of the day and on bad days this is very welcome.
^^ I am very, very, very tired of sibling rivalry, or whatever the doodah it is. Chaos would rather be friends but Darkness is convinced she’s the antichrist and Chaos, for all his buffoonery and in-your-faceness, when in doubt, defers to Darkness. Night before last Chaos forgot himself so far as to play tug of war with Pav and the stick she was prancing around flourishing. There was much mock-growling and tail-wagging and I was thrilled . . . till Darkness, who had been lagging behind at the very end of his extending lead, suddenly leaped into full sprint and went past me like a cheetah after a gazelle. I realised a third of a second before he bloody well had me over that he wasn’t going to stop, which gave me just enough instinctive time to yell and hit the end of the lead going the other way. You colossal little ratbag. Arrrrrgh.
Let me see, where were we? Well, where was I . . .
I still have a dead car. I rang up the garage this afternoon and most of the parts have arrived . . . but not all of them. Of course. This is how it goes. The flusterdamitter is still en route from Enceladus* and won’t be here till Wednesday. Or Thursday. Whimper.
The hellpack and I stream** up and down main street on foot, pitter patter pitter patter, to and from the mews.*** I am poised to try to rent a car if Peter wants me to . . . but I’m not going to unless he does. The worst of the week is over: I’ve already missed my singing lesson.
And I have a definitively dead washing machine. The repairman’s wife, who is also his secretary and office manager, rang back today to say that the necessary part is obsolete. Sigh. Meanwhile I had had a look on line for washing machines and there aren’t any that say HAS EXTRA-STRENGTH FILTER.† CAN STAND UP TO THREE HAIRY DOGS. I have asked Mrs Repairman to ask her husband if he can recommend one. Meanwhile when I contemplate the likelihood of my carrying large knapsacks of dirty/clean laundry up and down main street in the near future the idea of a rental car starts to look pretty good.
* * *
* They relocated the factory because those cold water jets make cooling all that molten steel^ a snap. Also native labour is cheap.
^ As if they made cars out of steel any more. HAhahahahahahahahaha. But Enceladus’ surface contains substantial deposits of rmmfglorple, which makes really great Car Plastic.
** New Arcadia is mostly not streaming any more, but down by the river there are great chunks of the path missing where the water has undermined it till it collapsed. There’s at least one spot where you have to leap, and for some reason you don’t see as many pushchairs^ on that path as you used to. The river is still really high all along its length and at the most exciting point it’s broken up through actual paving slabs, where an overstressed tributary is joining the main flow and it’s gushing out across the path and torrenting down the little hill built over the confluence. It’s strong enough to wash away small children and unwary dogs, and the hellterror, who is a bit of a delicate flower for a bullie, doesn’t like it much. You might have thought legs that short couldn’t do a decent passage^^, but you’d be wrong. But the look I get nearly burns through denim.
The dog-encounter stories just keep on however, and we’re trapped in town at present. Saw what is possibly the nastiest of our local dogs again a few days ago—off lead of course—this thing is totally known to be dog aggressive. I was out with Pav, fortunately, not the hellhounds, saw dog and murder-worthy owner. No-jury-would-convict-me owner looked at us, glanced around for his vicious off lead brute . . . and then kept on coming! ARRRRRRRRRRGH! —Pav and I crossed the road.
My most recent meltdown, however, was a day or two before that. I’m not the only near relation with dogs at the mews. We’ve had mostly minor encounters with the worst offenders but one of these is a border collie type—it’s either a crossbred or a very badly bred border collie—who is the kind of aggressive-manic that gives border collies a bad name^^^. It’s frequently loose, of course. Arrrrrrgh. The other day Pav and I were coming back from our afternoon hurtle, came through the gate, and there was that criminally idiot owner surrounded by her three dogs, one harmless Lab, one semi-harmless Lab . . . and this border collie. To give her what little credit she’s due, she saw us and did put them all on lead, and they trailed her across the drive and into the big garden that belongs to her father/mother/uncle/halfsister/secondcousintwiceremoved . . . and then she deliberately dropped the leads.
And as Pav and I walked past the wide, entirely open mouth of that garden, the border collie just went for us—trailing its useless lead. I had time to pick Pav up—just. The no-jury-would-convict-me-for-this-one-either is screaming her head off and the dog is, of course, ignoring her. It’s growling and snapping and making little leaps at Pav, who is comfortably folded up chest-high in my arms~ and even allowing for the situation this is a mean looking dog. It ran away as its owner came after it—she didn’t say a word to me of course—and have I mentioned that a lot of what used to be the parkland around the Big Pink Blot has sheep on it?
But we were even more of a draw than the sheep. Once it had lost its owner it came after us again. It was not willing, fortunately, to attack a human, so we strolled the rest of the way back to Peter’s—I’m not quite up to walking briskly clutching thirty pounds of hellterror awkwardly to my chest~~ —with it circling and snarling. . . .
And there’s not a thing I can do about it, not really. The police don’t care. The dog warden has most of southern England to patrol. And the family the idiot is visiting . . . well, let’s simplify the politics of cooperative ownership and say they have seniority. Which I assume is why no one else has ever complained . . . about the dog crap that loose unsupervised dogs tend to leave about the place, for example.
::is beyond words:: ~~~
^^^ I know that Cocker spaniels are supposed to be the top of the bitey dogs list, but I and several generations of my dogs have been nipped by far more border collies. It’s not frelling all herding instinct.
~ There are advantages to the little short legs. She weighs nearly twice what Hazel did, but Hazel was a whippet with legs that went on and on. Upon similar occasions it would have been better if I could have hung her around my neck, but there was never quite time.
~~ The funny thing, if I’d been in a mood to appreciate it, is how laid back Pav was about the whole thing. Maybe because she was already out of reach by the time the marauder arrived? But she peered down with interest and no alarm whatsoever. At least having her relaxed made her easier to hang onto. She can be quite challenging in this regard when she’s in LEMME AT ’EM mode.
~~~ Which is a bad thing in a professional writer.
*** During the day we go down to the mews in shifts—I was bringing Pav down at lunchtime when we met Mr Notorious Evil Ratbag—but we do all go home collectively after midnight. Speaking of challenging, trying to pick up crap when you have not merely three leads to deal with but a heavy knapsack throwing your blasted balance off . . . and last night Pav’s extending-lead spring failed. I’m a little amazed we all got home in one piece. There may have been language.
† Preferably one that does not exist suspended in a reservoir of dirty water two inches from the floor which you have to bail out spoonful by spoonful because you can’t get a container of any size under the frelling hatch.