Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sunday 30 November 2008

The volcano has erupted. And I'm not talking about my bottom.

The signs were there. I knew it was on the horizon. I mean, we all saw it coming. But I'll admit that the suddenness and vehemence of the blast took me by surprise.

But before I turn to that rather fizzy topic, I must report that my partner has experienced something of an epiphany. She has finally seen BC for the gutless turd that he is. On Friday, she had to go to his workplace, to collect something from one of his colleagues. She was looking particularly beautiful and felt particularly cheerful. He hid from her. She ACTUALLY saw him hiding. Thus, she realised what I have been trying to make her learn for the past few years: her former beloved is a spineless goon. 'Twas a difficult conclusion, but a necessary one. It cost her much heartache and some tears, but she has finally acknowledged that the higher intelligence is mine. Three years have been spent in the learning of this lesson. She is now on the look-out for a new beau. I shall keep a close eye on progress and, naturally, be swift to scupper any progress with a new lad...

But now I turn back to my headline. There have been developments in the workplace. Oh yes. I noticed that things were beginning to simmer on Wednesday. I was in the office before Fizzy and Ewan (dogs of my partner's colleague). As they entered, Ewan was coming to the end of an anecdote. Fizzy, the recipient of this gripping tale, was looking vacant and was wearing a hunted expression. Ewan was speaking as they came through the door:

"...the cheese, so we let him put his trousers back on! Hehehehehehe...!"

Fizzy looked at me and squeaked "Help me...!" in a rather pathetic voice. I winked at her and shook my head.

Then, on Friday, it happened. It had been a relatively quiet morning. After lunch, I was just returning from taking a drink in the kitchen when Fizzy came storming in from the workshop closely followed, again, by Ewan. This time, the look on Fizzy's face was dark and thunderous. If I had been Ewan, I would have noticed these ominous signs and left the lady alone. But he didn't. Settling himself down to bathe his hands, I watched as Fizzy shook with pent-up rage. Then she turned to me and exploded.

"Aaaugh! I can't stand it!" she wailed, "I can't stand another second of it!"
"Another second of what?" I asked, innocently.
"Another second of his puerile nonsense!" snapped Fizzy, jerking her head back at Ewan.
"Shhh, Fizzy!" I hissed, "He will hear you!" But I knew it was already too late. Ewan was keeping up the pretence of thoroughly licking his front paws, but I could tell from his eyes that he was listening.
"I don't care if he does!" yelped Fizzy, "Let him! Do you have any concept of what it is like to put up with him on a 24-hour basis?! He's driving me mad! If it isn't the stupid stories about f***ing cheese..."
"Oi! Watch your language!"
"Oh, shut up Jasper. If it isn't the cheese stories, it's having to explain everything over and over and over again. Even when he's asleep there's no escape, because as soon as he drops off to sleep the bl**dy humming starts. Meaningless, tuneless songs about nothing! I can't stand it! I can't stand it!"
"I know it can be challenging, Fizzy," I began, kindly, but Fizzy was having none of it.
"Why wasn't he drowned or smothered at birth?! He's worthless! He doesn't deserve to live!"
"Fizzy, that's enough!"
"No it isn't!" barked the angry dog, "I can't bear another day living with that!"
She said the word "that" as though she was spitting out a foul and bitter tablet. I glanced over at Ewan, still pretending not to hear and still determinedly licking his paws, and saw that his lip was trembling. I felt a stab of pity for him.

I gently but firmly grasped Fizzy's collar in my mouth and dragged her into the next office. "Jasper, what...?" she spluttered as I pulled her along. I stopped and released her when we were a safe distance away.
"Sit down, madam. You have said enough." I snapped, "Now it is your turn to listen." Fizzy opened her mouth to bark, but then thought better of it when she saw the look on my face. "I know that Ewan is frustrating and stupid. I know how you feel, I really do. But, Fizzy, Ewan cannot help it."
"Of course he can!" grunted back Fizzy.
"No, he cannot." I reiterated, firmly. "I don't know what happened to Ewan. Perhaps he was starved of oxygen when he was born and thus incurred brain-damage. Perhaps he was in an accident or was beaten on the head by the owner that he had before he was adopted by your partner from the rescue home. I simply don't know. But he can't help it. You have not known him as long as I have. He has made some progress since I first met him and he does as well as he can. Believe me, he used to be a lot worse than this. He tries and it is not his fault that his brain doesn't work properly."
Fizzy sighed. I knew she could see the reason in what I barked. I could, of course, have pointed out that she herself had been the runt of her litter (her small stature makes that fact strikingly obvious - she is tiny for a Black Labrador) and raised herself to better things - therefore she should give Ewan more leeway. But I chose not to.
"And, Fizzy, consider." I went on, "It could be far worse. Ewan is not vicious. He is an imbecile, true, but he is kind, playful and affectionate. He loves his friends and likes nothing more than their company. He is gentle, he always tries his best - even if sometimes he doesn't quite get there - and he would willingly and gladly give up his last biscuit in the entire world to help feed a starving kitten. Think about it. You know, deep down, that it's true."

Fizzy looked meek and utterly ashamed of herself.
"I am sorry, Jasper." she said, humbly, "I should not have got angry and said those things. But it's just so difficult sometimes. I don't know what to do."
"There are ways and means, Fizzy, to make life more bearable for yourself and to keep Ewan happy too." I said, smiling and winking gently at her. "Would you allow me to show you how?"
"Of course!" replied Fizzy, with a weak little wag of her tail, "Anything that might help...!"

We trotted back into the other office. Ewan was still licking his now-sodden paws, looking extremely morose. I pitied him.
"Ewan, "I began gently, "Fizzy is very, very sorry for the mean things she said just now."
"Yes, I'm sorry Ewan." said Fizzy, meekly.
"Ewan, would you like to play a game?" I asked. Poor Ewan wouldn't even look at me.
"No, thank you, Jasper." he replied quietly, "I think I'll just lie here for a bit."
"Oh, come on Ewan," I barked, encouragingly, "I know a game that you're REALLY good at. And you ALWAYS beat me. Oh, PLEASE play a game with me...?" A feint glimmer appeared in the dog's eye - he was starting to feel tempted... "Please, Ewan?" I repeated.
"Oh please, Ewan." said Fizzy. Ewan smiled and jumped up.
"Go on then!" he yipped, and Fizzy and I cheered as he got to his feet. "What shall we play?"
"Well, do you remember the game that I invented a few months ago? The one you are always SO good at?"
"Oh! Yes! Erm... what was it called again?"
"It's called 'Ewan Sits...'" I prompted.
"'Ewan Sits' erm... erm..."
"'Ewan Sits in the...'"
"'Ewan Sits in the...' Oooh...Erm..."
"'...the Corn..." A sudden flash of memory spread across Ewan's face and he jumped up and down while he yipped:
"'Ewan Sits in the Corner and Doesn't Annoy Jasper'!"
"Yes!" I cried, "Well done! I knew you'd get it! And you're SO good at it, Ewan. Would you like to show Fizzy how clever you are at it?"
"Yes!" he barked, excitedly, "Yes! Oh yes! Can I, Jasper, can I?" I barely had the time to nod, before Ewan was off to his favourite corner, determined to stay as quiet as possible, although he couldn't stop himself from indulging in a satisfied chuckle every so often. After about twenty minutes he was fast asleep.

"You see?" I grinned, winking at an astonished-looking Fizzy, "He's happy because he believes he's playing a game that he's good at. He won't wake up now until it's time to go home and then you can tell him he's won. He's thrilled and you've had a nice quiet afternoon: everyone's happy. Ways and means, Fizzy, ways and means."
"I don't know what to bark, Jasper." said Fizzy in tones of inexpressible relief. To my surprise, she planted a great big kiss on the side of my snout. Now, that was a prize worth winning.

Good night.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sunday 23 November 2008

A somewhat traumatic blog entry this evening, pregnant with potential disaster. But first, dear reader, I shall lull you into a false sense of security with some good news. The very best news.

My partner's sister-in-law has been safely delivered of her pup. Ewan (adorable nephew, not numpty workplace hound) has a brand new little sister! We were somewhat surprised, as we were sure we had seen a little winkle on the foetal scan pictures - but there we go. The little girl has been named Carys, and Ewan is delighted with his new sibling. Here are a couple of pictures, to charm and delight you:

Bless 'em.

My partner's preparations for her pantomime continue apace. Alas, she has performed the usual trick of recording her many lines onto CD and listening to them constantly, leading to much confusion when I am trying to locate her about the house. It isn't fair.

But this is not the trauma to which I alluded. That occurred on Friday.

I was out on my walk with Maisie, and arrived at the park at the same time as young Harvey, my former protegée. We ambled down through the park together, chatting about the new beauty in my workplace, Fizzy. I was careful not to be too explicit, however, Harvey not being the most discreet of lads. We were just remarking on the uncharacteristic absence of Candy (my girlfriend), when a sudden scream from the bottom of the park roused us. We both trained our eyes in the scream's direction and saw several flashes of white feather, followed by more screams and the sound of splashing. It was immediately clear: Candy was being attacked by the devil-swan - the purest lump of malevolent evil that has ever been! (See my entry for Thursday 28 June 2007 for more about this foul scion of Satan).

Harvey and I wasted no time in rushing to her aid. We were just in time. Candy was in the water, under ferocious and repeated attack, while her partner attempted to save her.
"Oi!" I yelled, my fear of the swan not even thought of in the heat of my anger, "Get your wings off her!"
"Yeah!" called Harvey, always eager to back me up, but never quite sure what to say, "Erm - what he said!!"
The swan didn't even look up.

"Don't make me come in there after you...!" I snarled. The evil psycho-swan glared at me and hissed malevolently. Candy seized this opportunity to scramble away from him and clambered onto the riverbank, taking refuge behind her brave saviours. Seeing that he was faced with not one, but two angry Staffordshires, plus the rapidly-recovering Candy, our nemesis decided that discretion was indeed the better part of "valour" on this occasion. He paddled away, but not before he turned to me with an evil gleam in his eye, saying,
"There will be an answer for this, boy, you mark my words..."
"I'd welcome it." I sneered. But now was not the time for such things. Candy must be attended to.

"Oh, thank you boys," she gasped, "You saved me. Thank goodness you came when you did - I thought I was a goner." We escorted her back into the park.
"Our pleasure, Candy." said Harvey.
Candy gave me a big kiss.
"Thank you, Fizzy." I said.


"Fizzy?" said Candy. Harvey made a little "Urk!" sound and flinched, as though someone was coming at him with a big stick.

"Er, heh heh, who said Fizzy? I didn't." I spluttered, wildly attempting to extricate myself from my faux pas.
"You said it." replied Candy, looking quizzical, "Just now. Who is Fizzy?"
"Fizzy?" I replied, nervously, "Errrr..." I looked for support to Harvey. He had developed a sudden fascination with a tiny mushroom poking up through the grass and was examining it closely.

"Yes." replied Candy, searching my face with her deep brown eyes. They felt like lasers, burning through my flesh. "Come on Jasper. Who is Fizzy?"
"Err, heh heh, Harvey? Did you mention Fizzy?" I turned desperately again to Harvey, but he was still determinedly concentrating on his mushroom and would not hear me.
Candy cleared her throat. She was not going to let this one go.

"Errr... Fizzy... Fizz... Fizz... Fizzzzshe's a jolly good fellow! For she's a jolly good fellow! For she's a jolly good feh-eeh-looow! Which nobody can deny!"
"Which nobody can deny!" joined in Harvey, looking mightily relieved, his reedy little treble swelling my song. We worked our way through to the "And so say all of us!", at the end of which, Candy was delighted.

"You are too lovely!" she exclaimed. I breathed what was possibly the longest sigh of relief of my life. A narrow escape.

"Football!" cried Harvey, "Let's play football, to cheer us all up!" Candy and I concurred. "I hate bl**dy mushrooms." I heard the little dog mutter as he bounded over to his partner to request his football.

I simply MUST remember to think before I speak. Candy is a relatively benevolent woman, but were I to utter such an indiscretion before my wife, Isolde, at Christmas, I'd be toast.

Good night.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Wednesday 12 November 2008


There has been a development pertaining to Christmas in this household, over which I don't know whether to rejoice or despair.

My partner has just informed me that we will be spending Christmas Day in Hereford, at the kind invitation of the parents of my partner's sister-in-law, Nicky. (Nicky is in pup, as you may recall, and is due to have her whelping induced in hospital tomorrow - a new baby brother or sister for Ewan (lovable tot, not brainless mutt).). This means that my Chrimble festivities this year will be spent alongside my wife, Isolde - a perky little Springer Spaniel of immense beauty and uncertain temper. I may be in trouble.

What if she finds out about my girlfriend Candy? What if Candy finds out about the new apple of my eye, Fizzy? What if Candy finds out about Isolde? What if Isolde finds out about Candy finding out about Fizzy? What will become of me?

My partner saw me muttering distractedly to myself, but she seems to show scant sympathy for my plight. All she had to say by way of comfort was:
"If you are finding yourself in hot water now, Jasper, it would do you good to remember who turned on the tap in the first place."

Eh? Why is the silly girl talking in riddles? I do NOT turn on taps - I have people to do that for me. I DO know what she means, of course, but it isn't MY fault. How can I be the one to blame? Just because the ladies love me. It simply isn't fair.

I thought about trying to die before Christmas, but I really haven't finished being alive yet. It's too much fun. And it takes a long time to drive to Hereford from where I live - I don't think they pick up our wee-mails up there. No - settle, Jasper, settle. I think it might be alright. If I can just keep quiet and not let anything stupid slip out, all might be well. Yes: that shall be my plan. Mute, submissive devotion to my dearest darling wife. Hmmm... I wonder if I can steal some of her turkey dinner when she's not looking....?

A brief entry tonight, alas. My partner is just inviting me to continue my musings on Christmas plans in another room. Apparently my bottom-breath is "unacceptable".

Good night.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Monday 10 November 2008

The rain lashes down and the wind hurls itself violently against my window-panes. But I welcome it.

For it has ushered away the fireworks which, for this year, have been somewhat excessive. I'll admit that they terrify me. The pretty colours - yes. The ear-splitting bangs - no. I am happy for what they represent - the foiling of terrorism (albeit 17th Century terrorism, but terrorism nonetheless), but the noise does trouble me. Ah well. 'Tis only once a year - though the bangs seem to continue from 5 November to 31 December. I never mind the New Year ones, however. My partner and I are often in the thick of the party at New Year's and far too merry to worry about a quick bang or two... so to speak, heh heh...

My, but what a troubling past few days we have had in this household. My partner attended a funeral on Friday and a funeral today. And, in between, a costume fitting for one of her pantomime costumes (although this took place very close to the site of some of my partner's happy memories with BC for the beleaguered young girl, which was in itself a funeral of sorts. Oh poo. I've mentioned him again, haven't I? Sorry - won't happen again). Never mind - her costume was truly lovely, and made by a lady named Sally - a seamstress of extreme talent. My partner's red dress is fabulous (think The Lion in Winter).

But enough of this. Life in the workplace has been traumatic enough even without any of the above.

A few days ago, Ewan and his new basket-mate, Fizzy, joined me in the office under a distinctly dark cloud. Ewan immediately padded softly up to me.
"Shhhhh!" he hissed. "We aren't allowed to talk to Fizzy today."
"Why not?" I asked.
"I can't remember. But she isn't allowed to go outside by herself." No matter. A quick glance and sniff at Fizzy told me the truth. She looked mutinous and was wearing an expression which distinctly said "unless you are bringing me a hot-water bottle, a blanket and a BIG bag of doggy-chocolates, DO NOT approach me." I crept up to her to ascertain the truth, by way of commiserating with her. The truth duly confirmed, I returned quietly to Ewan.
"It's alright, Ewan. It won't last long." I said, patting his paw. "Fizzy is on heat."
The perpetually cerebrally-disadvantaged Ewan squinted at Fizzy and regarded her for some time, with his head on one side.
"Are you SURE, Jasper?" he asked. "Her bottom doesn't LOOK sore."


"Well, I would expect her bottom to be burned." continued Ewan, still looking confused., "If she was sitting on some fire."

Oh G-d.

"No, Ewan." I said, patiently, "She isn't literally ON heat. I mean she's in season." I went on quickly, seeing Ewan's lips beginning to form the word "Autumn". "It is Fizzy's Period, so she has got a sore tummy and is feeling a bit cranky. She has got the decorators in." The poor mutt looked more confused. I tried again. "Surfing the crimson wave?" Nope. "On the blob?" Still nothing. One more. "Ewan, Fizzy is ovulating."
"AHHH!!! Oh yes, of course. Silly me. Right. Yes. Ovulating. Brilliant. Yes."
"Do you understand, then?"

I sighed. A deep sigh, full of meaning. How to explain female biology to one who struggles to comprehend his own bodily functions.

"Right, I've got it." I said, grasping Ewan's collar with my teeth and leading him into the next room, so as not to disturb poor Fizzy. "Ewan. Imagine you are a farmer. You want to plant some potatoes. With me so far?"
"Oh yes." replied Ewan, "I like potatoes."
"Good." I said. "Now then. You, Farmer Ewan, will want to choose a time to plant your potatoes. Naturally, you will choose a time when the soil is at its most fertile."
"But, of course." nodded Ewan.
"Exactly. Well, Fizzy is the soil. Dogs like you and me - well, before the operation of which we do not speak - dogs are the farmer with the potato. OK?"
"Good. Right, well then. Fizzy being 'on heat' means that she is very, specially, fertile at this moment. And Farmer Unsnipped-Dog will want to plant his potato-seed in her private-ladies'-place-SOIL at this time. THAT is why Fizzy has to be kept inside, away from naughty Farmer-Unsnipped Dog and his potato seed just now. And why Fizzy is sore inside and a bit irritable. Do you understand what I mean?"
Thankfully, Ewan nodded and actually LOOKED like he understood. Phew. I took him out for a game of football in the yard, to celebrate this breakthrough, and also to keep him away from Fizzy.

Some two or three hours later, I was dozing peaceably under my partner's desk. I heard a few mutterings coming from the other office, followed by a sudden snarl and growl and then a shrill yelp, which made me jump into wakefulness. Ewan came belting into the office, trying to stem the bleeding from a nasty little nip to his snout with a paw.
"Ewan, what on EARTH did you SAY to Fizzy?!" I cried.
"Nothing, Jasper." he replied, innocently.

I nodded, with a weary sense of inevitability, as Ewan replied
"I asked Fizzy if I could plant a potato in her private-ladies' place."

That'll be the last time that I tangle with Ewan and the mysteries of female ovulation. I guarantee you this.

Good night.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Monday 3 November 2008

Do you see this, AOL? Do you? Do you? Eh? I cannot be silenced! Oh, yes, your universal cr*pitude may try to suppress me but, phoenix-like, I rise again. I refuse to be crushed!

I must say that I have strongly felt frustration at the hiatus that ensued whilst my partner was scrambling to salvage my works before AOL banished them to Internet Purgatory. I made her work as fast as possible, but she only just made it before 31 October. She then came down with a nasty bug (from which she is just recovering), brought on, no doubt, by the strain of the important conservation work she was undertaking. As a consequence, there was no Jasp O'Lantern for Jasperwe'en this year (she was too ill to even carve a pumpkin. Hmmm. Lazy, more like). Next year, she says that I can have a special turnip one to make up for this year's disappointment. I'll bet you never knew that the Hallowe'en lanterns were originally made from turnips as opposed to pumpkins, did you? See - it's a lifetime of learning with ol' Jasper. Not just spurious stuff either - these facts are important.

In actual fact, we are (in a roundabout way) grateful to AOL, for we LOVE our new home here on Blogger. It's much easier for a dog to use and infinitely preferable. If AOL is a plasticky supermarket's-own-brand disgusting dog "treat", then Blogger is a huge meaty bone fresh from the butcher's shop, dripping with blood and oozing with marrow-bone goodness. We love Blogger.

But enough of this. For I am enraptured.

Utterly enslaved by her quirky beauty.

Her name is Fizzy. She is a black Labrador of small stature; a sleek, ebony beauty. Actually, her full name is Fizz-Bang (she was born on Guy Fawkes' Night), but she prefers Fizzy. She is a true delight. But there is a thorn (actually more of a thick plank) in the ointment here - Fizzy is the new companion of EWAN. Yes. Do not imagine that he has disappeared off the thicko-meter. He and I still share our office space and Ewan is still happily baffled by life and the many mysteries it holds for him. The basic facts are these - Ewan and his partner were looking after Fizz-Bang while her partners went on holiday. On their return, they mentioned that they were having to find a different home for the poor lass. Ewan's owner instantly said that she'd keep her and thus it was that Ewan proudly (and a bit smugly, in my view) introduced me to Fizzy one Monday morning.

I think that Ewan's partner is hoping that some of Fizzy's intelligence might waft over to the unfortunate mutt. Hmmm. Let us not forget that he recently tormented himself with thoughts of a cancerous lump, which ultimately turned out to be his willie. My hopes aren't high.

After a few polite conversations, I took the first opportunity (while Ewan was outside trying to remember how to go to the toilet) of speaking alone to the enchanting Fizzy. "How are you getting on with him?" I asked.

"Don't even ask." replied the sweet maid, "What's the matter with him? He went on forever about that bl**dy lump of his, and how he was only saved when you operated on him at the last minute."


She continued. "It's constant. Every cough is T.B. Every splutter, a stroke or heart attack. He woke up last night thinking he was choking to death. He was burbling something about having something stuck in his mouth and throat, which he couldn't spit out,"

"Don't tell me." I put in, "His tongue?" Fizzy nodded wearily.
"It took me nearly half an hour to talk him down from that one. And don't even get me started on the cheese."

Ah, yes. Cheese. I have only briefly alluded once in the past to Ewan's obsessive predilection with cheese in all its forms and his bizarre theories thereof. To be blunt, I find them disturbing and try to blot them from my mind. One of Ewan's chief comforts in life lies with cheese. He believes it to be a precious mineral - used by humans as currency and mined from the earth. I had tried on a number of occasions, as, I'm sure, had Fizzy by this point, to disabuse Ewan of this bizarre theory and the dairy-based cheese-making process. All to no avail - each time, he would nod his head, wag his tail, claim to understand and simply revert back to his own strange notions. In the end, I washed my paws of the matter and let him believe what he wants.

"Still on the cheese then, is he?" I said, with a sympathetic smile at the poor beleaguered Labrador.
"Oh, G*d." replied sweet Fizzy, becoming more and more agitated. "The bl**dy cheese. What is it with the cheese? Our partner has a barbecue the other evening and, afterwards, Ewan found some cubes of Red Leicester on the grass where the table had been. He thought they had fallen out of the stones in the rockery. He kept them under his blanket for five days, until our partner worked out where the smell was coming from." I politely concealed a laugh behind a cough. It was clear that Fizzy was not in the least bit amused with her new basket-fellow, and it is clear that she is not a woman with which to trifle.

I smell trouble. And it isn't the broccoli I had for my tea.

Good night.