Sunday, 30 August 2009

Sunday 30 August 2009

The more astute reader will notice that I am still alive.

This despite the ongoing pains in my eye. It is beginning to drive me slightly insane. My partner does not like it when I scratch and pick at my eye - and yet, she insists on applying the drops obtained from the vets, which only intensify the itching. I must admit that the situation has improved slightly - I can now open my eye by just a crack - and I am once again taking pleasure in my walks.

Just last night, my partner generously said that I could have a night off from my drops. Unfortunately, I celebrated this development with a good old fiddle while my partner was in the bathroom. Needless to say, she caught me.
"Oh, Jasper!" she said, sighing at me. I blinked back at her, trying my best to look innocent. "You mustn't pick at it. I think we'd better have drops after all."
"No, thank you." I replied.
"You've made it all red and sore again, sweetheart." She planted a soothing kiss on my forehead.
"No, I would like to have my night off from the drops."
"I'll go and get the drops."
And she did.
"I want my night off from the drops!" I repeated, as the small vial was uncapped. But before I could protest any further, the drops were in, the bottle was recapped and the bedside light was extinguished. I did get an extra goodnight kiss out of it though.

I did not sleep well, despite the extra kiss. I dreamt that my little cul-de-sac outside had been transformed into a Roman coliseum. A HUGE Rottweiler stood in the arena, waiting for me. The seats and stands were filled with cats, who were all chanting "Send out the dog! Send out the dog!" I marched bravely out, and the Rottweiler fell on me, snarling. He pinned me down and produced from his fur a case of needles - which he proceeded to push through my right eye. I squealed like a newborn pup and woke up with a start. Coming gradually to my senses, I found with much relief that I was in my darkened bedroom, on my side of the bed, with my partner sound asleep on her side. Despite my irritation at her for administering the eye-drops, I snuggled as close as I could to her side. Sleepily, she put an arm around me, and thus I prepared to spend the remainder of my last night on Earth.

This morning, I opened my eyes to a bright, fresh sunrise. Typical, I thought. That I should die on such a lovely day. My partner opened the French Windows, leading into the garden, and went to do some work in the kitchen. I thought about scampering back upstairs and hiding under the duvet. However, a moment's consideration brought the appraisal that it was probably better to get it over and done with, rather than procrastinate and then have to face it anyway. I fiddled with the catch on my garden gate, succeeded in opening it, and marched confidently out into the road.

I'll admit that the idea of the coliseum was not entirely wrong. There was an eerie stillness in the air - akin to the warm silence preceding a visit from the thundering Sky-dog. Glancing about me I saw a number of cats dotted about on walls, fences, etc., some with bells, some without, all watching keenly with an air of expectancy. I looked towards the house in which dwelt the white tomcat. The front door was open.

I was about to sit down, when the white cat strutted out from his house and sat down on his path, with a stupid smug smile on his stupid fat face. I just looked at him.

Suddenly, there was a flurry of movement from within the white tomcat's house and there - framed in the doorway, appeared Eddie.

There was a collective gasp of awe and horror from the various assembled spectators at the sheer size and might of the vast Rottweiler. I, however, knotted my brow in a frown. Something seemed oddly familiar... As Eddie exited the house and began to stride towards me, a soft breeze blew. I sniffed the air and - yes - it confirmed my original suspicion...

"Edward!" I yipped, "You smelly old b*st*rd! How the bl**dy h*ll are you, you old s*d?!"
The Rottweiler stopped in his tracks.
"That's never young Jazz?!" he barked.
"It most certainly is!" I barked back.
"My dear boy!"
"Fantastic to see you, Eddie!"

For - yes - it was my old chum, Eddie the Rottweiler. I have not mentioned him for many, many months but, if you look back at an early blog post, you will most certainly find mention of my friend, whom I used to encounter at Abbotstone of an evening.

"How are you, sweetheart? What have you done to your eye?" asked Eddie.
"I try not to grumble." I replied. "I've got an abscess. Due to a grass seed."
"Hah! Seeds. B*st*rds all." sympathised Eddie. "I had no idea you lived around here!"
"Since the beginning of March." I explained.
"A-ha." said Eddie. "I've been here for years - but I'm rarely seen. I head off with my partner's boyfriend when he goes to work early in the morning, and don't usually return until after dark. Lots of kids round here. And I know what people think about Rottweilers. I keep myself to myself."
"You're a good one, Eddie."
I glanced over his shoulder at the white tomcat. He looked distinctly unsettled at the way our conversation was proceeding. Behind me, a couple of observing cats yawned, muttered to each other, and then got up and left.

"And how is Angus?" I asked. Anyone familiar with Eddie knew to enquire after fellow-Rottweiler and long-term gentleman-companion, Angus. Eddie frowned.
"We aren't really speaking at present."
"I'm sorry to hear that." I replied, sympathetically. "Whatever happened?"
"Hmmm. Caught him eyeing up those two Japanese Akitas that live down by the Fire Station."
"I know them."
"Vicious queens!" hissed Eddie, taking me aback somewhat. "Couple of evil sows, the pair of them. They just sit outside the pub, staring at every passing dog and then mouthing off about their fur colours and collaring arrangements. They're like a couple of whelping bitches."
This was so near a picture of what Eddie and Angus liked to do on an average afternoon that I inadvertently laughed. Fortunately, Eddie thought I was laughing at his description of the two Akitas and chuckled.
"But seriously." I said, "You and Angus were such a lovely couple. Don't throw it all away."
"Bless you, darling." smiled Eddie. "Still into the ladies, are you?"
"I can't help myself."
"Well, if you ever change your mind..."
"You stick with Angus, old lad. He's the one for you." Eddie smiled.
"What am I doing out here, anyway?"
"I believe you are supposed to be 'mashing my brain into a milkshake' and then drinking it?"

I explained about the preceding events, from the birth of the kittens, my friendship with baby Zac, and my gallant defence of Chloe, leading up to our present encounter. As I continued my tale, Eddie looked more and more irritated.
"He said I'd beat you up, did he?"
I nodded - and the sight of the white tomcat, looking utterly stricken, discreetly withdrawing from the scene and then bolting around the corner did not escape me. Eddie sighed heavily.
"I WISH he wouldn't keep throwing my name about like that." he said, shaking his head. "I am NOT his personal bodyguard. And, honestly, we Rotties get a bad enough press as it is, without him going around shooting his mouth off, saying I'll go and beat up all and sundry."
"Eddie." I said, seriously. "Everyone who knows you knows that you are naught but a gentleman." Eddie winked at me. Then, there came a female call from inside his house:
"Ed! Breakfast!"
"Oop - that's herself [his partner]. Delightful to catch up with you again, dear boy. See you around, Jasper, old love."
"Bye Eddie." I grinned. "And you make it up with Angus. Life is too short for feuds."

With a wag of his tail, Eddie trotted back into his house. As the door closed behind him, I heard a loud call:
"Keviiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!! A word. NOW!"

With an air of profound relief and satisfaction (mixed with a slight twinge of pleasure at meeting Eddie again), I pattered back into my house - before Chloe latched eyes on me....

I believe the word most appropriate to the situation is "PHEW..."

Good night.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Thursday 27 August 2009

It would be fair to say that I am not a happy chappie at present.

I have got an abscess on the surface of my left eye, which is causing much discomfort and necessitated a trip to the vet this afternoon. My partner's mother was kind enough to pay for the consultation and prescribed drops, which are already bringing some small relief. All this is in addition to my ongoing traumas originating from the house opposite, of which more in a moment.

Cancer fans will be pleased to learn that the lump in my partner's breast has returned. Basically, the lump she had surgically removed a few months ago has returned with reinforcements. It is very uncomfortable for her and she is to see a doctor tomorrow. But we do not fear. And, as you know dear reader, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. All will be well.

Back to my feline-based tribulations. The area behind the Acer tree is now resembling a plague-pit for small birds and mammals. My partner made me bury the growing collection of little corpses as the aroma by the front door was becoming intolerable. The bodies haven't been appearing quite so frequently of late; I believe my erstwhile paramour is growing weary of leaving gifts and not getting any kind of response from the recipient. In fact, I have been scrupulously avoiding all contact with the fair Chloe (the smoky-grey cat). She has been hanging around my garden quite a bit - I have been careful to hide behind the settee at the merest hint of her approach. Zac and his siblings have all been confined to the house of late, as they picked up a minor infection from a visiting moggy and have been convalescing in their basket. I have to admit, I have rather missed my little disciple and his flow of happy questions during his absence, but a spy tells me that Zac and his brother and sister are making good progress and will be out and about again very soon.

As much as I had tried to avoid all contact with the kittens' mother, Chloe, I could not help but notice the other evening when the white cat (one of the collared-with-bell ones) from across-the-road-and-up-a-bit-on-the-right casually followed Chloe through her cat-flap and into her house. This was followed some five minutes or so later by a cacophony of raised feline voices. I was intrigued. I hovered in the garden, cunningly concealed behind the recycling bin, attempting to eavesdrop on proceedings. It was difficult to comprehend the whole, as I only bark a smattering of cat. I have enough to carry on a conversation, but in trying to understand fast and angry meowing I sometimes get a little lost. The basic gist of this argument seemed to be a variety of unpleasant, disparaging remarks from the white tomcat and Chloe's anger and distress at his meows. I fiddled with the catch on the gate (my partner was cooking in the kitchen, happily unobservant of my actions) and managed to pry it open with a claw. As I was about to tiptoe across the road for a better vantage-point, the cat-flap swung open and the white tom swaggered out, closely followed by a furious Chloe - her fur bristling and her eyes flashing angrily.

"How dare you?!" she screeched, "How dare you?!" The tom turned and stood facing her.
"How can they be mine?" he growled. "There's only one white one. And it's a girl. Pathetic. How many of the toms round here have you been with?"
Chloe hissed at him and lashed out with her sharp claws. "Say what you like, girl." muttered the tom. "They're not mine. I don't want anything to do with them."

I was disgusted. I had no reason to believe that Chloe would lie about the paternity of her kittens and the tom's casual callousness sickened me. As much as I could foresee the regrettable consequences of any intervention stretching out in front of me, I knew I could not stand by. I could see that Chloe, despite her rage, was struggling desperately against the urge to cry. Taking a deep sigh, I trotted across the road and placed myself firmly between Chloe and the white tomcat.

"What seems to be the problem here?" I asked, in a measured, even tone. The tomcat eyed me warily, and poised himself for a quick getaway.
"Silly bint got herself up the duff and says they're mine." replied the tom. I turned to Chloe.
"Is this the father of your children?" She nodded mutely. I looked at the tom again, my anger at his attitude growing by the second. I had to fight to keep my hackles from rising.
"She would say that, wouldn't she?" muttered the tom. "Useless little b*st*rds."
"Moderate your language when you are in the company of a lady!" I snapped, beginning to wonder why I had not just killed the tom outright as soon as I approached him. He had already pressed all of the "Make-Jasper-Angry" buttons - and was now going back and thumping on them all again for good measure.
"She's no lady." meowed the tom. "Dirty sl*pp*r." Chloe yowled in distress. I quivered as I tried to control my temper. I felt a few rebellious hackles on my neck ping upright.
"Well then, I congratulate you sir." I said, with forced brightness, to the tom.
"Your children will grow up happy, healthy and well-adjusted. They will be fortunate enough to develop into fine cats, untainted by the malodorous hindrance of your foul, worthless presence. That is the greatest service you could ever render them."
The tom hissed at me like a captured snake.
"You piece of fu-"
Whatever his witless insult was going to be, I did not wait to hear it. I lunged at him, snarling. The cat leaped out of the way just as my mighty jaws snapped shut with a loud click. He fled as fast as he could and jumped with surprising agility (for he was something of a chunky lad) onto the 8ft-high fence which adjoined his house and screened his rear garden.
"You wait!" he called in a shaking voice from the safety of the top of his fence. "Just you wait, you d*mn*d cur! I'm going to set Eddie on you! He'll sort you out! Oh yeah - he'll mash up your stupid brain and drink it like a milkshake. You just wait, mongrel! I'm setting Eddie on you! He'll be waiting for you tomorrow! Say your prayers, dog!"

I gave a loud bark and made as if to jump at the fence. The tom shrieked and jumped down into his back garden. I heard him legging it into his house through the back door and shook my head, sighing. Turning and walking slowly back to Chloe, I saw that she looked absolutely stricken.

"Thank you." she mewed, meekly. "But - oh - I am SO sorry. SO very, very sorry."
"Why?" I asked.
"Eddie will kill you. No two ways about it. We are ALL frightened of Eddie. Even Charlie from round the corner."
Well, I had no idea who 'Charlie from round the corner' was, but Chloe was in a dreadful state.
"Who is Eddie, anyway?" I asked, utterly mystified.
"Eddie lives with Kev (the white tom). He's HUGE. No-one messes with Eddie."

I chuckled indulgently. Seeking to reassure the trembling Chloe, I ambled up and patted her shoulder.
"Hehehehe..." I laughed, "Calm yourself, my dear. I believe that I am MORE than a match for a couple of pampered and, dare I say it, somewhat corpulent house-cats."
"Oh, but, my love," interjected Chloe fearfully, "Eddie is not a cat!"
Chloe gulped, and looked me in the eye.
"Oh no." she replied. "Eddie is a Rottweiler."

Oh poo.

I fear I may be in just the tiniest bit of trouble...

Good night (for possibly the last time).

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Saturday 22 August 2009

...and that was where it all started to go horribly wrong...

I return now to the nightmarish tale of the cat and kittens from opposite. From the moment described previously, little Zac was a regular visitor to my fence whenever he saw me in my garden. He was always full of happy chatter and questions, occasionally accompanied by one or both of his siblings.

One day, whilst my partner was cleaning out our New Teal Megane, I heard the usual cry of "Yaaayyyy!" and turned to see the three kittens dash across the road towards me.
"Now, children." I barked, in a mock stern voice, "Has no-one ever taught you to cross the road properly? You will get squished if you aren't more careful. Follow me." I led them to the kerb, while they all giggled and repeated "Squished!"
"Now then," I barked, "Here's how it's done. Sit down at the kerb." I sat down, and the three kittens copied me. "Look and listen carefully for cars or bikes." I cocked my head on one side, and smiled to myself as the little ones did the same. "Then, if it is safe, walk STRAIGHT ACROSS without stopping and go quickly and carefully to the other side." We all trooped across the road in a solemn procession. "Well done, children." I yipped, "Now try it by yourselves." I watched, with the vaguest sense of pride within me, as the three little kittens practised crossing the road with the utmost care. I spotted their mother, who had come out of her house to call her brood in for their luncheon and their nap. She watched their efforts as well, with a smile on her whiskery grey face. When the babes reached her side of the road, they spotted her and, with another "Yaaaaayyy!" from them all, they scampered to her to tell her what they had learned. I smiled and shook my head.

Later that day, as I was returning from my walk, I heard the little cheer again. "Yaaaayyyy!" And the three kittens came belting across the road to greet me.
"Children, children, children." I said, frowning at them, "Have you already forgotten your road safety?!" They made various "oops!" sounds. Then, they turned and bolted back across the road. Once on the other side, they solemnly sat on the kerb, looked around them, and then walked carefully back across the road towards me. I couldn't help laughing. "That's the stuff." I grinned, and sent the kittens back home to their basket.

In the evening, as I was watching the sunset in my garden, the kittens' mother came strolling across the road. She jumped the fence into my garden and sat beside me, not speaking. I eyed her warily, the memory of the severe beating I received at her paws all-too-fresh in my mind. Eventually, she spoke.
"I do hope that Zachary isn't bothering you."
"Not at all." I replied, "He is a delightful young man and I enjoy his company." Another long silence followed.
"He can be very persistent with his questions and conversation."
"Madam," I replied, "It is a terrible thing to try and smother the curiosity of an inquisitive child. You have a fine trio of children, who do you much credit, and you should feel nothing in them but pride." Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the cat smile.
"Zac speaks very highly of you."
"He is a good boy."
"My name is Chloe."
And then, without warning, the cat planted a firm kiss on my cheek, before jumping back over the fence and trotting back to her home. I was dumbstruck, and quickly glanced around to see if Starsky had witnessed any of this interchange. Fortunately, he was nowhere to be seen.

The cat's tongue felt strange, with odd little sharp bits on it. I knew I should have been flattered, but I felt greatly disturbed by this turn of events. And it didn't stop there.

The following morning, when my partner opened our front door to put the dustbins out, I heard her give a sharp cry. I poked my head out from behind her, and saw a small dead shrew on the path in front of our house. My partner was revolted by the sight, so I moved the ex-shrew to behind the tub containing our Acer tree and thought no more of it. Until the following morning. When a dead bird, minus one wing, lay in exactly the same spot as that which the shrew had occupied. My partner and I exchanged a glance, and the bird joined the shrew behind the Acer tree.

The third morning revealed the lower portion of a dead mouse. As I went to pick it up, I spotted a flurry of smoky-grey fur disappearing around the fence of the opposite house. The clicking of a cat-flap door closing confirmed my worst suspicions.

I am in BIG trouble...

My partner travels Northwards this afternoon, as her nephew and niece, Ewan and Carys, are being christened tomorrow. She will be staying overnight in the house occupied by my wife, Isolde. I have forbidden my partner from mentioning ANYTHING of the above to my dear spouse. On pain of nipping. What cuts me to the quick is that my partner seems to find the whole episode incredibly amusing. Apart, obviously, from the regular 'gifts' on the doorstep. And the Acer tree is beginning to smell.

Good day.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Sunday 16 August 2009

Hear me now, "Bank". Yes. I am barking to YOU. You, thou grasping little Fagin, who have crippled our ability to live with your obscene and extortionate charges: I will not submit to it. We have had very little to eat, and then came the final humiliation; having our Internet cut off. Fortunately, I remembered that my partner had one kidney and a few liver cells left inside her, so I hopped onto my personal Ebay account and sold them to some nice foreign gentlemen. Things are looking up, thanks in part to my sales activities and mostly to my partner's lovely granny, who sent an unexpected £50 cash donation to our "Riotous Living Fund" (which, currently, for us means bread, cheese and electricity). So listen up, "Bank". You will not defeat me. "There is another way" say your slogans. There most certainly is. And the "other way" involves a locked room containing me, my teeth and an inordinately high amount of bottom gas. Oh yes.

On a more serious note, I am going to have to stop selling my partner's internal organs over the Internet. Already, some scientists are sniffing around, asking me if they can have a look at "the woman with 38 kidneys." There is only so much paid-for human offal that can get lost in the post...

I found it particularly ironic that my Internet access was cut off on the very day that I was poised to celebrate the birthday of this blog. Three years, since I first settled myself into a typing chair and began to tap out my thoughts to a grateful world. Pride, I know, is a sin. But I do feel rightly proud in achieving my third year of bloggery. And it's all for you, you know. If you weren't reading this, I wouldn't be writing it. So I thank you.

When last I barked online, it was to share with you the dawnings of my current state of horrific misery involving the cat queen opposite. I shall return to this wretched topic in my next entry.

For now, it gives me great pleasure to usher in the first instalment in a brand new series. I am aware that nothing will ever achieve the popularity of my first series "Around the World with Jasper" (check it out in my archives if you missed it). "Jasper's Famous Historical Characters of England" had only limited success. I am, however, confident that this will be somewhat better-received than the most recent serial, "Ewan's World of Cheese". That one was forced upon me, if you recall. I think I got away with only two episodes. There were other submissions from the dimwitted hound, Ewan, but I contrived to "lose" them. Eventually came the day when a piece on "Buffalo Mozzarella" was passed to me. It was not only delusional and foolish but also disgusting - to a level which appalled even Fizzy (Ewan's girlfriend, who amused herself by encouraging Ewan to deliver to me cheese-sermons of increasing witlessness). "Ewan's World of Cheese" was therefore allowed to die a quiet and long-overdue death. It was not mourned.

So now, to mark the third anniversary of this journal's inception, I thought you may like to read the story of how my partner and I came to be together. How the frail, silvery strands of fate entwined to unite us - and how I very nearly pulled those threads asunder with my own heedless folly. But be warned: the early days of my story are not pleasant ones. Grieve not for the helpless little pup, however. He grew up to be me. Whether or not that is a good thing, I leave to you to determine.

And so it begins.


(if you cannot read the photo captions, they say: L: N.B. This pup is not me! It is "Curtis" from R: This is me, Christmas 2008. With a bottle of "dog beer.)

I do not recall my earliest days, back at the very end of the twentieth century. I have the vaguest memory of a warm, gentle, loving dam (mother) and the sensation of suckling her nourishing milk. A dim recollection suggests a sister, similarly coloured to myself, with whom I explored and played. I know not what I was named - it certainly was not Jasper, however.
After about three months of being taught by my dam, when I was growing in size and confidence, and beginning to eat proper food, a man and a lady came to visit my dam's partner. They looked at me for a long time, picking me up and cuddling me. I liked the lady best, but they both seemed very nice. They signed lots of pieces of paper and then took me home with them. I cried piteously for my dam and for my natal basket for several days but then I began to get used to my new life. I had my own bed, which was just for me, and my own food and water bowls and my own little garden to play in. Every day, the man used to take me out to work with him. I didn't understand what he did, but we spent lots of time driving around in a big white van. I liked the big white van. We were high up and we used to go fast. In the evenings, sometimes the lady played with me and took me to a room with other puppies, where we all walked in a big circle and learned to do lots of new things, like sitting on our bottoms, lying down, and running to our partners when they said our names. I always liked those classes. The other puppies were fun to bark to and I enjoyed learning all the new things.
However, even though I was still only little, I knew that something wasn't right. The man used to shout at the lady a lot, and then he started to go out in the evenings in his big white van and not come back until late, when he would fall over sometimes and shout even more. The lady used to cry a lot and I tried to make her happy. Sometimes I could and sometimes I couldn't.
The shouting used to frighten me, and I always tried to hide when it was happening. They weren't shouting at me, just at each other, but it still made me very afraid. One evening, after a lot of shouting, the man hit the lady in the face. I was so frightened that I had an accident and wee-ed on the carpet. Fortunately, I was hiding behind the sofa at the time, so no-one found out. I was ashamed and embarrassed though. After that evening, the man used to hit the lady more. He always used to say that he was sorry, but the next evening he would shout and hit some more. After a while, I got used to this. I thought that this was just the normal way that humans behaved. I became less afraid and didn't need to hide so much.
Then there was one REALLY bad evening. The man was out, and I was sitting on the sofa with the lady, watching the television. The front door crashed open and the man staggered in. Straight away, he began shouting and using bad words. The lady stayed sitting down, but shouted back at him. He hit her really, really hard and she screamed. It made me very angry and upset and I tried to defend the lady, who had always been nice to me. As the man punched the lady's face again, I jumped up and bit his hand. Hard. He yelled, and smacked me across the face. Then, he picked me up bodily and flung me across the room. I hit the opposite wall and slid down to the floor. I was stunned, and began to whimper and cry as the man kicked the lady and then dragged her to her feet and pulled her up the stairs.
I cried until the pains in my head and my back stopped throbbing and I fell asleep. But it was my fault. I should not have bitten the man, and I promised myself that I would be a good boy in future - perhaps then he wouldn't hurt me again. This was my new life now, and I had to learn to behave myself.

To be continued...


Good night.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Friday 14 August 2009

A little post from Jasper's partner:

Jasper WAS preparing a special post for yesterday - to celebrate the third 'birthday' of his blog: he began whinging to the world, er, sorry - "sharing the benefit of his wisdom" - on 13 August 2006!

Alas, however, our internet connection has been cut off because we couldn't afford the bill. Jasper asked me to post this little news item while I'm at work.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. In the meantime, we are thinking of organising a revolution against the banking organisations that have driven us to this with their obscene charges. All volunteers with pitch-forks, flaming torches and small, portable, gallows will be welcome to join our merry band...

Be assured that we are both well, smiling and healthy and enjoying the nice evenings with long walks together. I will leave Jasper to continue his tale of horror next time...!

With love. x

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Sunday 9 August 2009

Is there anything more quintessentially English than listening to the cricket on Test Match Special on a sunny summer's Sunday?

I am under no illusions; England will lose this Test. But Broad and Swann have just provided fine entertainment with a plucky hour of runs. That is what I love about the English spirit. We stand in the face of almost certain defeat and battle on to the last man. It sometimes seems as if our finest hours come in adversity, in life and sport. Although I will not add 'and in love', as my partner has had enough adversity in that department in her life to find any pleasure or glory in it.

So, I suppose it is high time I explained the nature of my predicament with the cat opposite (the mother of the kittens). I have been putting it off and putting it off, but a problem shared is a problem halved, they say, so perhaps sharing my troubles with you, dear reader, will prove cathartic. I can only hope.

I am not going to set the scene with regard to my previous troubles concerning the young queen (I shudder at the term; yet it is the correct one for a lady-cat. How come a lady-dog is a bitch, and a lady-cat is a queen? Something is amiss there, methinks. However. I digress). The sorry tale of how a nefarious individual coerced me into attempting a kittnap in order to supply an horrific banquet has already been told in an earlier post, as has the severe pummelling I received from the enraged queen and my subsequent humiliation; if you require the details, you can go back to the earlier posts and check them out for yourself. There had been a brief respite of calm, following the departure of the rat from the arena, but a severe deterioration of my peace of mind began to develop from the area of the queen and her kittens several weeks ago.

My traumas had their genesis on an innocently peaceful afternoon, when I trotted out of the house to help my partner bring in her grocery shopping from the car. I always oversee such operations. My partner - and indeed anyone (workmen in particular) finds it difficult to carry out even the most basic of tasks without the benefit of my supervision. I was carefully observing the proceedings, when I heard noises from the garden across the road. I turned, to see the young queen in the garden with her three kittens. She was teaching them how to wash themselves properly after going to the toilet. It was mildly amusing, as the kittens kept toppling over as they bent around to clean their tiny bottoms.

As I smiled to myself, one of the kittens, the feisty tortoiseshell tom, caught my eye. With an enthusiastic squeal of "Hello!!", he bolted between the fence-posts, across the road and straight up to me. I stood, fixed to the spot, unsure of what to do. My instinct said 'chase', but my common sense said 'leave it'. I left it. The lad's mother leaped over the fence in a single bound, with a dreadful screech. The young kitten looked perfectly unconcerned and stared me straight in the face.
"My name is Zac." he announced. "You're a big, ugly cat!"
"Err..." I muttered, nervously all-too-aware of the rapid approach of my feline nemesis. "I'm not a cat. I'm a dog called Jasper."
"Wow! What's a dog?!"
"ZAC!" yelled the mother-cat, showing me her teeth, with her eyes glittering dangerously at me; defying me to attack her son. I didn't fail to notice the hint of fear behind her rage. Her two other kittens cowered behind her.
"And that's my brother, Milo, and my sister Sophie." he said, flicking an ear towards his little siblings. I gave an uneasy, watery smile.

"Zac!" cried his mother again, "Come away from him! NOW!" She was becoming hysterical.
I decided to make a tactical withdrawal and gave the little lad a wink.
"Better do as your mum says, son." I smiled, "Nice to meet you."

The queen stared at me, open-mouthed, as I walked back into my house. She was completely dumbfounded. She eventually turned and followed her capering and chattering little brood back into their garden, lost in deep confusion.

And that was where it all started to go horribly wrong. More terror to follow.

Good night.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Saturday 8 August 2009

I don't recall ever seeing quite as many butterflies about as I have today. Vast numbers of them fluttered about outside my house, visiting the hedgerows and gardens as they went about their business. It called to my mind a passage from the stunning book "Aftermath", by Joel Meyerowitz. It is an important work, documenting the recovery and cleansing at the World Trade Centre site in the hours, weeks and months after the September 11 2001 atrocities. About two months after the attacks, while fires were still burning underground, steelworkers were removing the vast, collapsed steel beams that once supported the North and South Twin Towers. A member of the NY Arson and Explosion Squad described to Meyerowitz something that the photographer had just missed when one of the beams was pulled out. He said "We were on our knees, digging in the smoke, when all of a sudden we were surrounded by Monarch butterflies - swarms of them flitting [up out of the void and] around us, tapping on our helmets in the smoke. One of the guys stood up and said "Souls."." That's how it seemed to me.

Of course, my poetic rhapsody did not last long. It was interrupted by the spectacle of the smoky-grey cat from opposite (the kittens' mother) trying to catch the butterflies as they flitted about. She stalked and pounced wildly at them. Happily, she did not succeed in catching any, so I was able to enjoy the rather comical sight. However, I withdrew indoors before she spotted me - not wishing to be seen by her, as I still am in really quite an incredible amount of trouble from that direction.

Particularly irritating, as I had been enjoying the sunshine today. My partner has been working on her computer, occasionally breaking off to chat to me, and we have been (and still are, as I type) listening to the Ashes on the radio on Test Match Special. England are doing abysmally. I am disgusted. Perhaps there will be an improvement tomorrow. I can only hope.

But greater things have been concerning me. Just three short nights ago, the Sky Dog arrived to torment me once again. He came for me whilst I slept. The angry crashing, roaring and flashing light began at a little before 4.00am and put an end to all slumber for me and my partner that night. At one point, I also heard Starsky from next door through the wall (which I have never done before), wailing and sobbing in fear. I pitied him. "It's alright Starsky!" I called hoarsely, "My partner will save us both!" As my partner quieted my barks, I heard Starsky whimpering his thanks. At that point I stole all the pillows I could find and barricaded myself in under the duvet until dawn sent the Sky Dog away.

A day or so later, I ventured out to the park, there to meet with Candy and Harvey. They were both there already when I arrived, tapping Harvey's football around. "What happened the other night?!" I panted, having rushed up to my friends. "I thought the Sky Dog was going to kill me for sure that time!"
"What are you talking about?" yipped Harvey.
"The flashing, booming Sky Dog." I replied testily, "He roars at me and flashes his lights and rumbles his horrible intentions."
"No, no." said Harvey, "That is the Cloud Tiger. He flashes his shining teeth and roars and purrs with HUGE crashes. I was so afraid when he came the other night that I had an accident and dirtied my fur. My partner was a bit cross."
"It's the Sky Dog, not a Cloud Tiger." I said firmly, ignoring the idea of Harvey soiling himself.
"Nope. 'S a Cloud Tiger. Honestly. I've SEEN him. He rides on a MASSIVE black cloud."
"Sky Dog."
"Cloud Tiger."
"Oh, for goodness' SAKE!" barked Candy, glaring at us both, "You two are a pair of complete turnips. Jasper - I expected better of you." We just looked at her. "It's not a Sky Dog or a Cloud Tiger! It's just the weather! It is perfectly normal."

Harvey and I regarded Candy silently for a moment and then dissolved into helpless laughter. We clutched at each other as we laughed and laughed. Harvey's tail thumped the ground.
"Oh, dear me," I puffed, wiping my eyes on the grass.
"Candy," snorted Harvey, "What are you talking about?! Weather is wind and rain and sunshine."
"And snow." I put in.
"Ye-es." said Candy slowly, as if she was addressing a class of very young puppies, "And a thunderstorm is a natural build-up of atmospheric pressure and precipitation, released suddenly." This brought more snickers and snorts of derision from her two pupils.
"Precipitation!" squeaked Harvey, almost unable to bark amidst his guffaws, "That's a big word for a pretty lady." And, with that, Harvey and I collapsed into hysteria once again. Candy just looked at us both, frowning and shaking her head.
"You two need medical help." She muttered, before tapping the football with her snout and trotting off after it.

Arriving home after the walk, I crossed paths with Starsky. It was a little uneasy. Eventually, he said "Thank you for your comforting words."
"That's alright." I replied, "Thought the Sky Dog was going to get me that time."
"What?" he replied, looking puzzled, "The Lightning Dragon, surely?"
"Lightning Dragon?"
"Yes. He swoops down on his mighty wings, shooting bright electric light from his mouth and nose, and roaring that he is coming to get me. I nearly wet my fur the other night."
I opened my mouth to contradict him, but changed my mind. I wasn't having the same argument twice in one day. I knew that I was right about the Sky Dog and that the others were just making up rubbish.
"My girlfriend says that it's just the weather." I barked, instead. Starsky laughed.
"Weather?! Is she mad? Weather is sunshine and wind and rain!"
"And snow!" I added.
"And snow. Weather! Dearie me..." and he continued muttering and chuckling to himself as he went back into his own garden, up his path, and through the doggie-flap in his front door. I listened to it flutter and click closed behind him, glad that we had at last reached a mutual acceptance. Having to bark loudly at him every time he passed by or appeared in his garden was beginning to give me a headache.

The weather, indeed! Women are terribly comical when they attempt to think for themselves. (though I wouldn't dare to bark this in front of my partner. I hope she doesn't read this...).

Good night.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Monday 3 August 2009

I am in trouble again with the cat across the road (the mother of the three kittens). Although not the kind of trouble you are probably suspecting. Insightful philosophers, such as the Wise Sage of the North, the Divine Mrs. M. (, would probably say "Oh, Jasper, how do you get yourself into such scrapes?" But no. I do not get into such scrapes. Such scrapes get into me. I am a hapless bystander to life's grand parade - can I help it if scraps of the dirty and tattered bunting sometimes flutter down onto my impossibly handsome head? No.

The all will be told later. For now, I have more pressing things to impart.

The Welsh holiday, for one thing. Eight hours it took us to get there. Eight. Hours. It should have taken four. The reason for our torment lay on the M4, a busy motorway at the best of times. On this fateful evening, three lanes of Friday evening traffic had been brought to a complete halt. A HUGE lorry fire (on a vast behemoth of a truck carrying nothing but bales of hay, for goodness' sake) impeded our progress. The three lanes of voluminous traffic had to gradually filter down to one, where a plucky fireman was letting two or three cars through at a time if the smoke was blowing in the opposite direction. It took us four hours to go @ six miles. We were very annoyed. My partner had the text messages of WS (now departed from the scene, but that is another story) to sustain her spirits, but I had no such comfort. And then we got lost trying to find our little holiday cottage at 11.30pm and my partner's parents had to drive out to find us and guide us there. Not an auspicious start to our holiday.

The effect of the journey on dog and partner alike.

We didn't have quite as much fun as in previous years, as my partner's financial situation prevented us from joining in the group outings. We did, however, discover a lovely beach.

Me dozing, on the first day, after an initial swim in the sea and a quick browse through the 2009 Guide to Wales.


We had an enjoyable walk along part of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, ending up at an interesting Lighthouse.

Here, I delight my partner with
my antics in a mucky bog.
She wasn't impressed.




The end of our walk! (N.B. The lighthouse is far away, not very tiny...)





Alas - just a day or two after these pictures were taken, there was a decided turn for the worse. The weather had been inclement, so we had not visited the beach. Determined to take at least some exercise, my partner and I set off for the hills, following a small footpath. Along a lane we walked and then, following the right of way, into a field containing three horses. At the far end of the field, we happened upon a stile. A quick inspection revealed that there was no dog-gap for me within the stile. No problem - my partner gently scooped me up and lifted me over the stile, carefully plopping me down on the other side of the wall. Much to our chagrin, we came across a number of other stiles, each of which we traversed as before. However, ultimately, with the rain driving down harder, we decided to turn and head for home.


My partner was, by this point, struggling with the task of simultaneously lifting me and climbing the stile. I am not a fat chap, but I do consist mostly of 20kg of muscle, with brain and Little Jasper thrown in as well. In clambering atop the penultimate stile, which was the highest and scaled a stone wall, I decided to assist my partner. With a powerful thrust of my hind legs, I launched myself from the arms of my partner at the peak of the stile into the air. My partner gave a chilling scream of terror. Still airborne, my balance began to shift to the front. I did my best to correct myself, but I hit the ground with an horrific cracking sound. I landed on my chest, with my arms and shoulders bent back at a dreadful angle.

Now, I consider myself to be a brave man. However, I am not ashamed to admit to you that, as the first stabs of pain shot through me, I burst into tears and cried piteously.

My partner dropped to her knees on the wet clover beside me and added her tears to mine. She endeavoured to assist me to my paws, but each attempt was agony. My partner's gentle hands felt over my neck and shoulders. "Thank God." she breathed, "I don't think anything is broken." She burst into fresh tears. "I thought you were going to break your neck or your spine and die. Oh, why, why did you jump, Jasper?" I was too miserable to reply. My partner's fingertips explored the area around my right shoulder, which was projecting out at a most bizarre angle. I heard a sharp intake of breath from my partner. She wiped some of my tears and then looked me in the eye. "Jasper." she said, gravely. "I am so sorry. This is really, really, going to hurt. Look at those horses over there..."

I glanced over at the horses, who were watching the proceedings with amused interest. The gits. As I dwelt on what they were up to, my partner took a firm grasp of my right arm and gave it a powerful tug. There was a sudden click and I squealed in agony. I felt the shoulder bone slot back into place - a relief - yet, the pain was immense. My distraught partner fell on me, sobbing "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I had to do it. I'm sorry, Jasper, I love you so much."

I permitted her cuddles, and then tried to struggle to my paws. I fell instantly and shrieked once more. My partner encouraged me to try again. I staggered unsteadily to my paws, and my partner helped me to hobble a short distance. The pain was unutterable. I was determined to succeed in my journey home. My partner did try to lift me with the intention of carrying me home, but my pride would not permit her. We worked out a small routine whereby my partner walked on a short distance and waited. I hobbled painfully towards her, and received the reward of a cuddle whenever I reached her.

We were doing well with this method, although progress was slow and my partner was still in tears, when the situation took yet ANOTHER turn in a downward direction. The three horses in the field came dashing up to me, laughing uproariously. I froze in terror as they surrounded me. Now, I love horses. I have several equine friends and have generally found most horses to be polite, well-mannered and extremely agreeable. These three, however, guffawed and snorted cruelly.
"Kick him!" one cried.
"Look at him limping!" called another.
"Let's tip him!" added the third. And it continued:
"Yeah! Tip him over!"
"Get him!
"Tip him on his head!" And, with that, I felt a hoof tap my bottom, trying to tip me onto my head. I leaned over, with my bad arm completely flattened on the ground, and prepared for more pain and humiliation.

At that point, my partner shrieked again, and - without any thought for her own safety - she waded in amongst the trio of horses, yelled at them to stand back, picked me up and carried me all the way home.

All this took place in the late evening. Upon arrival at our cottage, my partner tucked me into bed, kissed me goodnight, and I fell fast asleep, in terrible pain and feeling utterly miserable. A swift call to the nearest vet resulted in an emergency appointment at 7am the following morning. It was confirmed. I had dislocated my right shoulder, which my partner had subsequently set back in its place. Very fortunately, I had not sustained any further damage, and was dispatched back home with maximum-strength painkillers and an anti-inflammatory injection. Happy days.

We may decide not to venture to Wales next year. I will certainly be avoiding all stiles in future.

Good day.