Saturday, 22 November 2014

Saturday 22 November 2014

Well, I should like to be regaling you with information from sweet Gisèle - but when I chatted to her about her news and about what she wished to bark, when she began with "Hihihihi... I's on heat - write my 'phone number and address and tell all boy dogs to come and visit pretty Giz, hihihihiiiiiiiii...", I knew that it would not end well.

Instead, therefore, whilst our diminutive heroine "cools down", here is a piece written by my partner; composed as she visited the WWI commemorative art installation of poppies at the Tower of London.


Blood Swept Lands & Seas of Red

 

 
This was the name of the art installation in London, consisting of 888,246 ceramic poppies (one for every British military fatality), created to mark 100 years since the beginning of World War One.  I happened to be in London & went to see it two days before it was fully dismantled.  I found the experience somewhat unsettling & sat on a step to capture my thoughts in writing.  This is what I wrote:

The Tower of London, 15 November 2014, 11:52am

They are coming in waves.  Something vaguely unsettling [is] going on here. [On my] arrival here [earlier, there was] only a certain amount of good-natured jostling followed by apologies & awkward smiles.  But now tourists of all hues & accents pour down Tower Hill as the coaches & tubes disgorge their contents in droves.  A man holds a ladder above the heads of the slowly-moving morass & a pair of Police-officers keeps a vigilant watch, mounted atop powerful, patient horses, both of whom blink unflinchingly as their photographs are taken & their noses are repeatedly tapped by strangers.

The art installation is undeniably beautiful. A single poppy for every UK soldier lost in the bloody slaughter of WWI – & [in this] setting; England’s mighty fortress, which has held firm for centuries -  stronghold of our crown & resting place for executed monarchs & traitors alike.  The mere words “the Tower” once filled Londoners’ hearts with dread – & now it is almost impossible to withstand the huge tides of people rushing to its walls, marshalled by a small army of people with loudhailers trying desperately to keep the crowds in motion & avoid a devastating crush.

There is something ugly about this now.  People are pushing to get at the front, for the “best” view.  An heavily-pregnant woman has just stumbled after being shoved.  Those with high-powered cameras seem utterly oblivious to the presence of tiny children in front of them as they jostle & position in order to get the best angle.  One man barely notices that he has kicked over a toddler, so absorbed is he in focussing his lenses, & he grunts the most cursory of apologies to the tot’s parents.  Helicopters offering “aerial tours” fly & hover noisily overhead at regular intervals, & still more surges of people come.
 
What have they come to see?  The sea of red spilling from the mighty Tower & filling its moat, representing the blood of the fallen?  The art installation that is the current zeitgeist, the pièce du jour, to keep pace with fashion?  An opportunity for a “poppy selfie” to prove to their Facebook friends that they were here?
 
Or do they fix their eye on one single poppy & spare a thought for the lost life that that individual ceramic bloom commemorates?  Perhaps a 19 year-old Tommy, shot in the throat by a German sniper, fallen to the ground in abject terror; the last coherent sound he is able to fix upon as he begins to drown in the endless mud & his own blood is that of his mates being yelled at by their commanding officer: “Forget him!  Leave him! He’s gone; there’s nothing you can do! Keep going…!”
 
Perhaps some do see these poppies as the 888,246 individual lives snuffed out so brutally.  But for the most part – today, at least – more visitors seem keener to push & mutter obscenities at the back of a stranger’s head, when they deem him to have “taken too long” to capture his photograph & his memory.

I wonder what the ghosts of the Tower make of all this?  I found elements here more ghoulish than even Anne Boleyn’s reputed spectral wanderings.




 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Friday 14 November 2015

Nothing coherent from Gisele this week, though I am prepared to forgive her; my partner is - even at this moment as I bark - at BBC Broadcasting House, raising money for Children in Need.


0500 22 11 22 today - help raise some money for the human pups!

Today from 7am to 7pm it's the Children In Need Jukebox on Radio 2 - Call in on 0500 22 11 22 to make a pledge. 

Calls are free from land-lines - but some networks and mobile operators may charge you for the calls

All terms and conditions can be found on the R2 website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01n9wgv

Might speak to you later!

See you anon!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Sunday 9 November 2014

I was left with no choice, dear reader.  Kind cajoling, implied threats, humble pleading - all came to naught.  And the only option remaining to me was that of the "ultimate weapon".  It has been successfully deployed on a now suitably-chastened Gisèle.  I like to think that her looks of contrition and apology were genuine... (hmmm...).

Having finally consented to fulfil her duty, I turn back to the post that had been only partially completed when 'Sèle decided that her time would be better employed in things other than the upkeep of the blog (not necessarily in order of preference nor a fully-comprehensive list: playing and gossiping with Betty; flirting with boyfriends Boris and Monty and assorted other suitors, visiting her buzzard "friends" (we'll get on to that in a bit); and maintaining her youthful beauty.  I insisted that my work of 25 August should not go to waste - and so here it is:

Monday 25 August 2014

At last, after some three or four days, Gisèle was able to look at Betty without grinning and peace reigned in our small world once again.  Not for long, alas.

Repairing for their evening exercise to one of their usual favourites, Betty and Giz were happily occupied in caperings and gossip for most of their walk.  Until, that is, little Giz spotted the most part of what had formerly been a pigeon just off the woodland path (pigeon-shooting often taking place in the woods).  Seizing it by the remaining shoulder, Giz snatched it up and dashed off with it.  I believed I could guess where she was going.  Betty followed dubiously.
"Hello, nest-babies!" squealed 'Sele, triumphantly displaying the gift she had brought them to one of the adult buzzards.  "This is only a bit manky, but I hope that you will all like it!  Bye!"  She skipped away, pleased with herself.
"I thought you promised me that you wouldn't associate with those buzzards any more?" Betty demanded angrily, as Giz pottered up to her.
"Eh?" replied a momentarily-puzzled 'Sele, "No I never, I - oh sh*t - er, uh, I mean... um... what buzzards...?"
"Pathetic, Gizzle, you invidious weasel," sighed Betty, shaking her head, "Just pathetic." She sighed deeply again. "Well, you cannot bark that you've not been warned.  I will not say that I have 'washed my paws of you', but you must accept that you are mistress of your own fate.  I urge you to rethink, before it is too late."
"Hihihi, OK!" yipped Giz, before dashing off on the scent of an incautious squirrel and leaving Betty, still shaking her head despairingly, on the path...

Betty was able to claw back a modicum of revenge later though, when

And that is where it ends.  I cannot think for the life of me what Betty's revenge ultimately turned out to be.  Giz pretended to try to remember, but Boris is staying with us at the moment and so she is at her giggly worst.  I doubt she could recall what she had for supper this evening...  If I remember, I shall tell you, but my hopes aren't high.

If truth be told, Gisèle is not really barking to my partner at the moment.  The uneasy atmosphere has persisted for almost two months.  The reason for this is that my partner has taken proactive action to get rid of the last vestiges of her debts once and for all.  Her insolvency is over (see THIS ENTRY for the beginning of that wretched affair), but the last after-effects still needed considerable 'mopping up'.  And it was for THIS, dear reader, that I tried so hard to stay alive for my partner - and why I could not leave her even after I lost my fight with the Big C.  I had vowed to myself that I would not abandon her; that I had been there at the beginning of the IVA and I would support her throughout.  Alas, that was not to be; in a physical sense at least.  I hope this helps to explain my steadfast determination not to let go.

I digress somewhat.  Rather than moping and feeling sorry for herself, my partner has gone out and secured a second job, in addition to her full-time one.  This second, part-time, job - and it mortifies me to have to bark this - is at a Vets' Surgery.

A Vets' Surgery.  Oh yes. 

My duplicitous partner is their evenings and weekend receptionist.  She does her day job from 9 - 5 (like Dolly) on Mondays to Fridays, after which she dons a jaunty uniform and works 7pm - 11pm on weeknights, 2pm - 10pm on Saturdays and then 9am - 7pm on Sundays.  It seems to be tiring for her, but she has the gross temerity to claim that she "enjoys it".  The double-dealing wretch.  After starting this additional job halfway through September, it was a full month before Gisèle could bring herself to even look at my partner.  And the occasional gift of a gravy-bone from a well-meaning vet has done nothing to placate her.  Her one consolation is that it is not our vet, but an out-of-hours-only one - based, coincidentally, at Betty's vets.  Sweet 'Sèle has derived some cheap humour from this at Betty's expense, but she remains still largely unimpressed.  My partner has promised to buy Gisèle a special Christmas present, now that she is less financially-embarrassed, but I suspect it will take more than that for 'Sèle to fully accept the situation...

And so - now that I have secured Gisèle's agreement and her (not entirely convincing) mitigations; let us trust that normal service will now be resumed!  Hurrah!

And the ultimate weapon...?  Why the worst that there could ever be.

I simply took Gisèle aside and explained that I was not angry with her; I was just disappointed...  How many amongst us would not prefer the righteous irate b*ll*cking?!  Certainly not Gisèle-Stephanie, hehe...

Onwards and upwards!


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Jasper's partner here. SUCH an awful hiatus between posts, I know. Even this I am typing via iPhone... Gisele refuses to listen to Jasper's reasoning with respect to keeping his blog going - though he has yet to deploy his "ultimate weapon" which I know will not go unheeded when it IS ultimately unleashed... For now, however, these are my last moments of youth... I turn 40 in some ten minutes. Scared and alone. No Jasper to comfort me. Naught but a vain and selfish terrier. Sometimes I don't know why I bother... For the sake of what used to be, perhaps. But - dear GOD - I miss Jasper...

Good night





Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Tuesday 19 August 2014


"Mmmmmffffth...!"

The newly-arrived Betty merely stared.

"Pppffffthhtthththhhhh!"

Gisèle was shaking and biting down, hard, on a corner of a cushion as she perched on the sofa.  "Mmmmrrrffthhh!"

"Oh, for heaven's sake, just get ON with it!" snapped Betty.
"BWWWAAAAHAAAHAAAAHAAAAAAAAA!"  The little Parson Jack Russell Terrier gave herself over to the hysterical laughter which she had been trying to conceal.  She rolled over, cackling madly, falling backwards off the sofa and landing on the floor hard on her back.  Giz merely laughed on, lying on her back, all four legs and paws paddling in the air.  Betty just stared at her with pursed lips, trying to maintain her dignity.

I should explain.  Betty, as we generally know her, has tousled, attractively unkempt fur, as shown in this picture:


THIS is how she looked upon her recent return:


Giz laughed and laughed until she developed a slight cough and had to desist.  Betty simply shook her head and darkly muttered "Oh, *** off, you poisonous ginger dwarf..."

Apart from this - and the fact that it took another three days before Giz could look at Betty without grinning - their reunion was happy and joyful; the two friends delighting in each others' company.

Less jolly was Gisèle attempt to account for one of our recent unexplained phenomena.  In recent weeks, a "crop circle" has appeared in a field not far from here.  This is what it looks like (and, for the record, I don't believe that aliens are even tacitly responsible for these examples of cereal-killing):

(c) Crop Circle Connector

"IS it aliens, d'you reckon, Gizzle?" asked Betty one afternoon.
"No, of course not!" yipped Giz, "It's obvious, you can tell just from looking at it!"
"Seriously?!"
"Yes!  It must have happened when you decided to have a sit down on your fatty bum in that field!"  and before her last yip had died away, she fled.  After only a moment's hesitation, Betty tore upstairs after her, yelling.  Giz neatly diverted into the airing-cupboard and hopped up onto one of the high shelves, where her pursuer could not follow.
"Come here!" roared Betty
"No!" piped Giz cheekily.
"You come down here right now!"
"No!"
"Why not?!"
"Because you will bite on me until I am all sore!"
"You'll have to come out of there some time, if you ever want to eat, drink or go to the toilet again, and I will be waiting here, right outside the door when you do."  And, with that, she settled herself on the landing outside the airing-cupboard to wait for her tiny tormentor.

After some twenty minutes, Betty's regular slow, heavy breathing made it clear that she had fallen asleep.  A few seconds later, the airing-cupboard door opened a crack and a tiny bright brown eye peeped out.  Seeing the sleeping Betty, Giz carefully clambered down from her shelf and quietly tip-clawed out and past Betty.  She crept downstairs, had a drink, and put herself to bed.  By the morning, Betty (though somewhat mystified as to why she had been sleeping on the landing and not in her bed) had forgotten that she was pretending to be cross with her little friend - for I have no doubt that she was never truly angry; the girls are now such firm friends as to render this impossible.

Good night.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Betty returned home shortly after the events described in the previous entry - but not before she had exhorted a solemn promise from Gisèle that she would not seek out the company of the buzzard and her chicks again.  Little 'Sèle was more than happy to accede and faithfully swore that she would not venture even close to the raptors' nest.

It goes without barking that, the instant she had returned to the location, she immediately bent her steps to the buzzards' nest and greeted her feathered "friend" heartily.  The third egg had hatched, which was the cue for more squeals of delight from Giz.  I won't insult you with a repetition of the "conversations" that ensued.

Back on safer ground, at home, Gisèle was enjoying the sun in the garden when the sound of earnest voices drew her out into the street and up to the hedge at the side of the pavement, where a group of her friends were congregated and chattering animatedly about something unseen.
"Stick your paw in it, Thunder!" miaowed Kittenjasper to his feline brother, "Go on! It'll be fun!"
"Yeah, go on Thunder!" echoed Archie, the little Jack Russell from the end house. "I dare you!"
"Honey, do YOU dare me?" mewed the hesitant Kittenjasper to the ginger cat who made up the feline trio in his house.
"I wouldn't do it," replied Honey coolly, "But you should do it, Jas!"

Her interest piqued, Gisèle took a closer glance at the focus of their attention.  This is what she saw:


Intrigued, she joined the group.
"Gizzle!" yapped Archie excitedly, "Here are brains and beauty in one lovely package!"  Archie was smitten with Gisèle the moment he'd first set eyes on her and had never given up hope of being successful in tempting her to his basket, despite her lack of encouragement.  Sweet 'Sèle almost never considered any dog smaller than a spaniel to be worthy of her attention.  "Come and get Thunder to stick his paw in this!"

She padded over.  As well as Archie, Oliver (the three-legged cat who lived with Archie) Kittenjasper, Thunder and Honey at the hedge, Peaches and his tabby friend were watching from a short distance away, grinning.  (Yes - you may well be surprised on learning this if you are a regular reader of this blog - Peaches does indeed have a friend.  The unfortunate fallout from Gisèle's ill-starred "I Love Peaches Party", described here and concluded here, seemed to have ultimately benefited everyone in the street and taught Peaches himself the value of behaving nicely.  Very cheering.  More of this development to follow...).

"Come on, Thunder!" goaded Archie again, "Stick your paw in it, just for a minute, it'll be really funny!"  The members of the little group giggled and continued to encourage Thunder.

"Don't TOUCH it Thunder!" yipped Gisèle,  "You idiots!  That is a wasps' nest!"
"No!" mewed Kittenjasper to his brother, "Honestly, stick your paw in, it'll be fun!"
"Yeah!" agreed Archie.
"You stick YOUR paw in, Arch!" miaowed Thunder.
"I'm not putting my paw in that!" barked Archie with a grin, "It's a bl**dy wasps' nest!  I'm not stupid..."

They all laughed, including Thunder, and began to disperse.  Though of quite how hearty their laughter would have been had one of the buffoons ACTUALLY shoved a paw into the wasps' nest I remain unconvinced (I do not forget the occasion when my pea-brained friend Ewan challenged the occupants of such a nest to a game of football - see here).

Shaking her little furry head, Gizzy ignored Archie's clumsy attempts to flirt further with her and returned to the house.  She had some work to do - for Betty returns on the morrow!

Good night...

P.S.  Betty, Gisèle and I (along with my partner) are supporting Pupaid - you might want to head on over and add your voice of support: Pupaid website.  Thank you.  JHS

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Thursday 3 July 2014

Hello again.  Did you think I had abandoned the blog forever?  I have felt deeply ashamed of my neglect.  It was not entirely within the scope of my fault, however.  My partner has been busy and occasionally unwell over the past couple of months.  Gisèle has been out and about in the lighter evenings of late and, most significantly, our computer was infected with a behemoth of an evil virus.  Specialist software had to be purchased - that's a mark of how serious the problem was...  Thankfully, it was money well spent, and we are back to our regular capacity.  I regard it as highly fortunate that the mighty blog itself (now, after all, in it's EIGHTH year!) was not affected by the virus.  Wretched thing.  But away with all this.  A further regret is that we last parted on something of a cliff-hanger; the sighting by Betty of a young buzzard following little 'Sèle at the very scene of my own past entanglements with such a scourge.  Let us join them once more, as they venture forth once again for an early evening stroll...

"...and that one is a woodpecker, a green woodpecker." explained Betty, as a green bird flew, chirruping, up from the ground into a nearby tree.
"Why is it called a woodpecker?" asked Gisèle curiously, "Is it made of wood?"
"No, it just pecks wood on trees to get out the insects."
"Oh... OK."
"And, over there, you can see a nuthatch - see? That little one with the orange belly in the tree?"
"Do those ones hatch out of nuts?" queried Giz.
"No, of course not, you muppet!"
"Why are they called that then?!"
"Don't know.  Maybe because they like to eat nuts."
"Wow, Bettz, you know EVERYTHING! Are there any owls?"
"It's a bit early in the evening but, yes, there are owls around here."

Gisèle's little face lit up at once.  "Oh WOW!" she squeaked excitedly, "I want to see a big white pretty snowy owl, like Hedwig out of Harry Potter!"
"I think those ones are a bit rare," muttered Betty, "They're mostly brown owls and tawny owls around here..."
"I like Hedwig best, as well as Ginny and Dobby and Hermione. [Harry Potter characters]  And I like Sirius too."
"Is Sirius that one who was a big dog sometimes?" queried Betty, with a sideways glance at her diminutive friend.
"Hihi, yes." giggled Giz.
"I liked him too, hur hur-"
"But Hedwig is my very favourite.  I wish I could be her."

Betty was about to reply with a considered response on the ultimate fate of the brave and faithful Hedwig, when a series of unsettling sounds came from within the canopy of a tree overhead.  She gave a sharp intake of breath and pushed Gisèle hastily in another direction, causing the little Parson Jack Russell to stumble.
"Ow!" protested Giz, "What did you do that for?!"
"That's a buzzard's nest, up there!" hissed Betty, "Didn't you recognise the sounds?"
"I have never heard them before." replied Giz.
"Well, trust me, that's the sound of a buzzard with some chicks.  Stay AWAY little Giz, stay away."  But I could see that Giz had ceased paying attention at the mention of chicks...
"Ooh - babies?" she yipped, turning and trying to crane her head to look up at the nest, "I love little babies!"
"Not these ones, you won't." grunted Betty, as she firmly steered Giz away from the tree.  Fortunately, Betty's vast reserves of strength and determination were too powerful for the reluctant Giz to resist.

Relief at Betty's ability to put herself between little Giz and mortal peril unhappily began to evaporate some 40 minutes later, however, when Gisèle was to be spotted slinking back towards the tree containing the nest with Betty nowhere to be seen.  Unease was further heightened when, after a quick glance about her to check that all coasts were clear, the tiny terrier jumped up and began to clamber awkwardly up the tree...
"Oooff..." she puffed, as she tenaciously scaled branch after branch, sliding back on some, but determined not to be thwarted, "Errgh!  Oops - hngyehh! Hup! Errrkkkk! That's it - errfff!"

The female buzzard perching on the side of the nest looked down at the small dog, with an inscrutable expression in her beady eyes.  She didn't seem to comprehend what she was seeing.  I can't bark that I blame her.  Giz glanced up at the raptor. "Oh!  Hello!" she puffed, still trying to haul herself up into the higher branches, "My name is Gisèle, but my friends call me Giz!  What's your name?"
The buzzard made an uncertain noise that sounded like "Beakrip."
"That's nice!  Please can I look at your babies?"  The buzzard continued to gaze down at the tree-climbing dog, but made no further sound.  Eventually, Giz attained a level from which she could peek at the nest.  There were two fluffy chicks and one cream and brown mottled egg. "Oh, aren't they beautiful?!" she simpered.  This was not what I would have called them personally, but Giz's enthusiasm wasn't to be dampened by the sight of some of the ugliest spawn known to either man or beast. "And will that egg hatch soon?  What do you feed them?  I expect they eat a lot and leave you very tired out, don't they?!"

The buzzard continued to watch Gisèle in silence, although it didn't escape me that she had inched closer to her around the side of her nest.

"I haven't had any babies yet, but I would like to one day. But, to be honest with you, Bea, I've got my paws pretty full at the moment with Betty.  She's my best friend and is a Giant Schnauzer.  She's older than me, but sometimes she does take a lot of looking after.  She's nice to me now, but it wasn't always like that, I can tell you, oh dear me no.  She tore into my face with her teeth once, that wasn't very nice.  It's all healed up now of course - well, I say all healed, there are still some little scars although you can't see those now that the fur has grown back. But you see this mark here?" Giz inclined her head in the buzzard's direction, to show her a scar on her eyebrow, but didn't wait to see if the buzzard looked. "That was Betty as well.  Oh, I mean ages ago now, but the fur didn't grow back properly.  I don't mind that, though, because it's only really small.  I don't know where Betty is at the moment.  She went off into the woods to do some toilet, I think, but she won't be too long, I don't expect.  Then I can introduce you.  You'll like Betty.  She can be a bit grumpy and rude sometimes but actually she's really very nice, and quite funny when she gets going.  She's not very good at climbing trees though, not like me, but I've done lots of practice-"

Beakrip the buzzard simply sat there and blinked at the chattering terrier.  It didn't seem as though she could even begin to imagine what a little dog was doing, half-way up a tree, prattling utter nonsense at her.  Gisèle continued happily gossiping away until her flow was interrupted by an almighty and thunderous roar.

"GISÈLE! What are you DOING?!?  Get DOWN from there right NOW, you ludicrous tool!"
"Betty!  I'm just talking to my new friend! Come and say hello!"
"COME DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT!"
"Oh dear; she sounds a bit cross.  I'd better go."  Gisèle turned and looked down, pondering her descent strategy (never a strong point). "But, before I do, I should tell you - you see that clump of little trees over there?"  The buzzard blinked and glanced briefly in the direction Giz indicated. "Well, there is a very fresh dead rabbit behind there.  It must have just died, it doesn't even have - you know - the smell yet and there weren't any flies on it.  Me and Betty wanted to eat it, but Mistress wouldn't let us.  But YOU might like it, for your babies.  It would save you a hunting trip, wouldn't it, and I bet your babies would love all that fresh tasty meat."  Open astonishment registered in the buzzard's eyes for the first time, though she remained silent. "Bye for now then. I'll come and see you again another time.  Make sure you get that rabbit before someone else does!  Bye-bye!"  And, with that, Giz slithered clumsily down part of the tree and fell the rest of the way to the ground.  Once she was back on her feet, Betty gave her a sharp cuff around the shoulder and commenced a stern lecture on the follies of presenting one's self to carnivores who might quite like to eat one.

The buzzard silently watched the two bickering dogs as they ambled back to the car park, rejoining my partner by the gate.  Then, with a soft swish of her wings, she rose into the air and glided smoothly over to the clump of little trees...

Mark my barks, dear reader.  No good will come of this...

Good evening to you.