Thursday, 30 December 2010

Thursday 30 December 2010

I feel sufficiently returned to my normal self after the Christmas shenanigans to recommence a spot of bloggery.  I have been a very busy Jasper indeed.  I shall describe, albeit briefly, my festivities.

My partner had a more entertaining Christmas than I.  We journeyed North, to spend the actual Christmas Day with my partner's brother, sister-in-law and their delightful children - five-year-old nephew Ewan (similar in name only to dimwit canine chum.  Somewhat ironically, human Ewan is remarkably gifted.) and two-year-old Carys.  We spent the day with them, and stayed overnight with the parents of my partner's sister-in-law - the owners of my late wife Isolde, still much mourned.

My partner's brother prepared a delicious traditional Christmas meal, in which I heartily indulged (Ewan having recently recovered from a nasty bug, his appetite had still not returned to normal.  With no thought for my own wellbeing, I happily assisted him with his dinner).  After lunch, my partner and I took some exercise in the field opposite the house.  Hereford had received far more snow than we did down South, and some eight or nine inches still lay on the ground (as opposed to none at home).  Witness my festive frolics:

This picture and the one below were taken at the home (below) of my late wife Isolde

Lovely.  And, after my stroll, there were all my presents to open (a most respectable haul this year).  Alas for his doting aunt, Ewan was given a couple of pop-guns, which fired rubber and foam projectiles, as his main gift from his parents.  In testing it out, he chose to shoot my partner in the eye.  It hurt her.  She was very good-natured about it, and pretended that it was painless.  However, when Ewan looked around for his next target and said (in a MOST sinister way) "Jasper....?", I withdrew to the other room.  Unfortunately, in that room I experienced a most unsettling urinary accident.  It was cleaned up with the minimum of fuss and the pop-guns were quietly put away.

All Christmassed-out, atop my haul o' gifts
At tea-time, we all repaired to my partner's brother's in-law's house.  I missed Isolde most cruelly.  The fireplace, before which we fell in love, stood cold and empty despite the flames that crackled there.  Sweet Carys attempted to cheer me, in her innocent pup-like way, as I sat beside her and her mother:

Bless her - the sweet little cherub

The exhaustion of the day, coupled with the grief of visiting the house for the first time since Isolde's passing, resulted in a further two bladder-based incidents in the servants' passage, which my partner cleaned up.  It was most embarrassing.  To add to my discomfort, it was decided that - in view of my unpredictable waters - I should sleep in the kitchen.

Thus it was that I spent Christmas night crying piteously - separated from my partner, in a kitchen that was unusually cool because the Aga had inexplicably gone out the previous day, lying in the basket that formerly belonged to my dead wife.  I tend to remain upbeat at most times - but I struggled to find anything particularly 'merry' in the circumstances.  Conversely, my partner usually finds Christmas something of a trial - and she enjoyed hers more than in general this year (apart from the traumas surrounding me).

I confess that, for all the gratitude I feel towards our family in Hereford for their splendid hospitality and generosity - and the enjoyment afforded to my partner - I was rather glad to return home to my own bed.  Plus, on unloading the car, I spotted Archie the Jack Russell from three doors down - who tipped me off that Angus the Rottweiler had blundered yet again in his Christmas gift to fellow-Rottweiler and 'gentleman-friend' Eddie (who lives just across the way).  I was thus able to sidestep out of Eddie's way when I saw him exiting his house on Boxing Day and thereby avoid a diatribe on everything that is wrong and inadequate about the unfortunate Angus.

Good night.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Is it me, or is it cold?

No - it's just cold.  Just as much indoors as out.  No matter how high we turn the heating, the cracks in our window-frames mean that the temperature never rises above 13º within doors.  My partner has resorted to candles to supplement the warmth for which we have already paid.  Usually between five and eight candles will suffice.  I enjoy the warmth from those, as well as my blankets (I am more delicate than she is).

And, in common with most of the rest of the country, we have received a thick blanketing of snow, just beginning to recede - though the lanes to work are still very treacherous.  Here are the obligatory "see Jasper frolic" images:

And, finally, the post-frolic "All-Purpose-Jasper-H.-Stafford-Self-Warming-Stratagem".

Just a short one from me tonight - my paws are getting parky.  But tomorrow is our last day at work before the new year:  2011 - we never thought we'd live to see it!; so expect from me, imminently, a thrilling update to my partner's geranium-propagation experiments - and the next instalment of The Evolution of Jasper.  Until then, stay warm and stay safe.

Good night.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Thursday 16 December 2010

Dear, oh dear.  I always thought that the run-up to Christmas-tide was a time for great joy and celebrations?  Not for your humble, put-upon author, it would seem.

The week started well, with a fair amount of jollity.  Two of my partner's colleagues had been kind enough to procure a decorated Christmas tree for her (and I) to enjoy:

Hmmm... "It's the thought that counts", I believe the human saying goes.  I have a thought that can count - but unfortunately it isn't one that I care to repeat on a public-facing blog...

The next item of interest is that the house adjacent to ours now stands dark and empty.  Yes:  our unsociable neighbour has left the building.  He didn't say a word to anyone (although the rumour-mill on my patch is more communicative than he was, so we knew he was probably going) and, today, he was off.  The big white van outside his house in the morning today and yesterday must have been the removers.  We even spoke to the man two days ago and he didn't say goodbye or anything.  As I departed with my partner for work this morning, I noted that Honey, the stripey-ginger cat from opposite, had secured herself a comfortable place, from which to sit and watch the proceedings.  "How nosy."  I thought to myself.  I cannot abide folk who have nothing better to do than watch and pass comment on their neighbours.

We shall not mourn the departure of this neighbour.  The first words he ever spoke to my partner on seeing her (watching, I might add, as she struggled alone to carry a heavy box from our Little Green Corsa RIP (Rust in Pieces) to the house) were "I don't like dogs."  Well, I didn't like him either - but I politely kept that sentiment to myself.  The rude git.  We certainly shall not miss his late-night electric guitar sessions, his foul-mouthed unprovoked rants at small children and pets in the street, his smoke-alarm going off every time he attempted to cook something - or the scary night-time banging and dragging sounds.  My partner says I should not rejoice too much - we may get something worse in exchange.  Time will tell.

And so - inevitably - to Ewan.  The hapless, feeble-brained, cheese-obsessed (but good-natured and relentlessly optimistic) dog.  This week has seen him go a-wooing.  Regular readers of this blog will glean enough from this seemingly innocuous statement to develop a deep sense of foreboding.  And rightly so.

Ewan, Fizzy (petite but feisty black Labrador bitch, Ewan's basket-mate) and I were enjoying a lunchtime game of football, when Fizzy suddenly left the fray during a particularly complex set-piece tackle.  Putting the ball down, Ewan and I stared after her.  She had gone to the edge of the woods and was exchanging friendly preliminaries with a larger (and, dare I bark it, younger and somewhat slimmer) black Labrador bitch.  Her name was Rosie and she was unquestionably in season.
"Look over there, Jazz!" yapped Ewan, indicating towards the bridleway behind us.  I turned and looked - there was nothing there - and when I turned back it was to see Ewan's rapidly-departing rump as he dashed after the new young lady.

Classic distractionary tactic - and I'd fallen for it!  Dammit!!!

I capered hastily after him, but stopped in my tracks at what I witnessed.  Ewan, without so much as a word to the young lady, grasped her around the neck and shoulders, clambered on, and began what can only be respectably described as "love motions".  Fizzy stamped off in disgust.

"Ewan!  No! NOOO!" cried my partner and I, in unison.  My partner apologised profusely to the bitch's owner (who, fortunately, was good-natured.  He shouldn't have been walking with an in-season bitch off the lead, anyway.  Bark about ASKING for trouble...) whilst I shoved the enamoured Ewan into the work-yard for an urgent dog-to-dog 'chat'.

"What, in the name of Cerberus, were you THINKING, mate?!"  I demanded angrily.  Ewan looked puzzled.
"What d'you mean, Jazz?" asked Ewan, in genuine (bless him) ignorance.  "That's how you do it!"
"Yes," I conceded, "But - Ewan - you need to BARK to them first.  At least make friends!  Let them know that they are pretty and special.  You know - erm - prepare the ground before you plant the parsnip... yes?"
Ewan adopted a sulky expression.
"That's not what Fizzy says." he muttered.
"When we... you know..."
"YES!!!" I interjected, hurriedly, "I get it!  Thank you, Ewan!!"
"Yeah.  She says she doesn't want me to bark ANYTHING.  Actually, she says she prefers it if I don't bark at all."
"Hmmm." I postulated, pretending to sound surprised.  "Well - generally - I would suggest that you at least strike up a conversation  BEFORE... well... you know... the Deed of Darkness."
"Oh.  Right.  Brilliant.  Yes."  The merest moment of silence.  "What should I say?"
"Errr...." I muttered, pawing at straws while Ewan looked expectantly at me.  "Um.... well.  Just be your nice, honest, self Ewan."
"Yeah, but what should I SAY, Jazz?"

Why?  Why me?  I mean - did I do something bad in a former life?  Why do these things ALWAYS fall to ME?

"OK, Ewan." I sighed. "Ladies like a bit of flattery and chat -"  My young protégée interrupted me with scornful snorts of derisive laughter.  I sighed and shook my head.  "Regrettably, it's true.  Trust me on this one, Ewan.  Experience has proved me right."
My simple friend became more serious.
"Oh."  he said, soberly.  "What should I say?  I wouldn't know how to start.  How do I talk before it?"
I thought for a moment.
"Ewan," I replied, "Just be yourself.  You are sweet and endearing enough.  But don't make things difficult for yourself.  Stick to subjects that you, yourself, are comfortable with."
"Like what?"

Oh, hell.

"Um.... well, er, like... cheese!  How about cheese, Ewan?  You're definitely on safe ground there."
"Oh yes." grinned Ewan, wagging his big mad tail.  "I like cheese.  Do you know what my favourite cheese is?"
"You might have mentioned it once or twice." I replied wryly.  "Anyway.  How about saying to a lady 'Hello.  You look pretty.  My name is Ewan.  What's your name?'  Then, after she has replied, you can say something like 'Do you like cheese?  I have a great fondness for cheese, myself.'  Then she will reply and you're away!  A nice, polite conversation, which you can take in any direction you want after that."

Ewan jumped up and down excitedly, his tail swinging from side to side.
"Genius!"  he squealed. "Genius!!!  How do you do it, Jazz?!"
"It's a complete mystery." I replied, modestly.  I then spent the rest of the day helping Ewan to practise his new opening gambit of 'Hello.  My name is Ewan.  What is yours?  I like cheese."  By going-home time, he had just about mastered it.

The following day afforded me an early opportunity for watching my pupil in action.  As we were heading back for afternoon naps following another happy game in the woods, the fair Labrador Rosie appeared once again - still svelte, bewitchingly attractive - and still on heat.  Ewan yelped with delight and flung himself at her.  In a single, rushed, breath he blurted out:
"Hello! My name is cheese! What are you? I like Ewan!" before grabbing and mounting the poor, bemused bitch once again.

With a despairing sigh, I trudged past the couple, biting down on Ewan's tail and pulling him off the unfortunate woman for the second time in as many days.

And yet he wonders why, this afternoon, Fizzy grabbed his football and smacked him across the face with it.

Dear, oh dear.

Good night.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Sunday 12 December 2010

Dear Reader -

Cast your mind back to September (if you can.  If not, here's a reminder:  Do you recall the appearance of some little semi-feral orphans in our work-yard?  Well, hold that thought.  Another FIVE little kittens, fortunately WITH mum this time, have been delivered up into the world from the premises.  I'm not sure if we are appearing in some kind of cats' "Good Maternity Clinic Guide"... It's all most odd.  Witness for yourself:

Five Alive
Uh-oh... Spotted by mother.  Better leg it...
 As you can see, they really are quite endearing little tinkers - and almost identical in colour and markings to the August/September batch.  The mother, however (as you can equally see) is a competent and experienced parent, so is too old to be a kitten from that litter.  My partner thinks that the adult above is the mother of the mother (deceased) of the last kitten-crop.  This would tally with her age and experience, so I am inclined to concur.

Ewan, as may be expected, was more than happy to step into his former role of surrogate kitten-father.  He repeatedly crept around the side of the building to check on the babies and to offer them cheese.  His well-meaning efforts were NOT welcomed by the kittens' mother - especially as his visits often coincided with mealtimes, when the kittens were suckling their milk from their mum.  Quite how has managed to avoid being scratched thus far remains a mystery.

Right then.  The next instalment of my 'Evolution' Series - the aftermath of the peak of my destructive antics.  My belovèd Angie was kind enough to send me a private communication, in which she thoughtfully acknowledged how hard it must be for my partner and I to revisit these difficult early times.  She is right.  I LOVED to recount my days at the home with my dear friends Rex, Pebble, Ghost, Rats, and - of course - the late, great, lamented Kipper - they were happy days.  But my behaviour on coming to live with my partner was nothing short of despicable and the merest memory of it sickens me to my stomach.  When I asked my partner to proof-read the last entry for spelling mistakes, I noted that she had tears in her eyes, and she gave me a big cuddle after the entry had been posted.  But, we agreed, it was important that such dreadful times are recounted, as they help us to appreciate the love and friendship that exists between us today.  My partner says that it is a measure of my strength that we can describe the (entirely true; every word) atrocious creature that I was back then and compare it to the fine, upstanding, loyal and sturdy companion that I am today.  This is more praise than I feel I deserve.  Nevertheless - on we go:


This time, not even the young lady's affable father had a good word to say to me.  He did not express anger at me but, rather, disappointment - which was so much worse.  I was silently given my supper, which I consumed, despite feeling some difficulty in swallowing.  I had transgressed too far - and I knew it.

I didn't attempt to sit on the furniture that evening, but lay alone at the back of the room, feeling as one covered by a veritable blanket of shame.  I suppose I must have dozed-off as, when I ambled into the main body of the withdrawing-room only the father was present, watching the ten o' clock news.  I watched with him for a while, but could make neither head nor tail of it, so decided to retire upstairs to my chamber.

Wandering along the upper landing, I heard the young lady talking to her mother within the parents' bed-chamber, from which light was issuing onto the dark landing.  I stopped outside the door to listen..  They seemed to be discussing a man.  No doubt the young lady's latest "boyfriend" - a series of suitors who, quite frankly, seemed to me to be beneath her.  But that's women for you, I suppose.  I bent my ear so as to better hear the conversation.

"I just can't stand it anymore." cried the young lady.  "I mean, work isn't always that easy - but now, I never know what I'm going to come home to!  I can't bear it."
"I know." replied the girl's mother.  "I'm so sorry.  I feel like it's partly my fault.  I pressured you into having him."
"No," came the reply, "I took the decision to take him.  It's not your fault.  Oh, G*d.  What will Auntie Dot say?!"

Eh?  Miss Smart?  What had she, of all people, to do with this?  I was intrigued.

"She will understand." said the young lady's mother, kindly.
"But how can I send him away?  He's had SUCH a horrid life!  How could I live with myself?!"  The young lady dissolved into heartbreaking sobs.
"But, sweetheart, he's making you SO miserable." sympathised the kindly mother's voice.
"Oh," sobbed the young woman, "I hate him!  I HATE him!  I can't even bring myself to look at him anymore.  I've tried so ha-[sniff]-ha-ard to help him, but he doesn't want me.  I HATE him!  I don't even want him - I despise him!  I don't even like him."

There was a lengthy silence, during which I began to feel increasingly uneasy.  I had a growing sense of dread that I knew to whom they were referring - and 'twas not a human male.

"Well, you HAVE given him a fair chance." concurred the mother.  Then, with a softened voice, she asked "Are you sure it's not because he is a little boy?  The others were girls - you're not prejudiced against him just because he is a boy, are you?"
The young lady began to cry even more bitterly.  As for me - I began to feel sick.
"Well - it might be to do with that..." conceded the girl, "But I honestly don't think so.  I've tried everything, mum, and STILL he behaves the way he does.  I don't know what to do!  I HATE him.  I hate him so much."  She cried harder, beginning even to wail.  "I know its wrong of me - I know it.  But I can't cope with this anymore.  The mess, the destruction and the sheer wickedness.  I can't... I just can't..."  Her tears overcame her ability to speak.

I was both surprised and stunned to find that tears were running down my OWN cheeks.  Why?  Wasn't this the very result I had desired from the outset?

After another silence, I heard the young lady's mother speaking briskly.
"Right." she said, firmly. "Do you want me to ring Auntie Dot in the morning?  I know she will understand.  Your father can take him back to Stokenchurch tomorrow, if it's OK with the Aunties."


Oh no.  They WERE talking about ME.

What had I done?!  What had I done?

I felt like - no.  I KNEW I was the most wretched of beasts.  I had been given everything I ever desired - and what had I done?  Thrown it away.  THAT is what I had done.

NOW I realised.  I cannot understand quite why, but it was NOW that it hit me.  Since coming to live with these new humans, not ONCE had I been beaten.  Not ONCE had I been used as an impromptu football and kicked around the garden, my agonised screams piercing the night.  And not ONCE had I been throttled or hung on a peg by my collar - to be revived at the last moment with the sound of mocking, taunting laughter ringing in my ears as I stumbled around, gasping and choking, regaining consciousness.  In fact, I had met with nothing but acceptance, kindness, patience and affection.  And I had responded with cruel scorn and destruction of anything dear to the humans that I could get my fangs on.

I felt ashamed.  Completely and UTTERLY ashamed.  All the more so when a fleeting image of the late Kipper passed before me.  Noble Kipper.  Pack leader.  Hero - and friend.  Kipper who SO longed for a family and who was, eventually, selected - only to die from an appalling heart-attack just three days before he was to achieve all he had ever really desired.  Here was I with that chance - the chance that fate had savagely snatched away from Kipper.  I felt more wretched by the second.  How could I have let myself - and Kipper - down so badly?  But now it was all, all, too late.  I would be sent back to the shelter in disgrace - never again to know the soft touch of a loving embrace from a human - and I could blame no-one but myself.

I heard the young lady sniff again, trying to stem the flow of her heartbroken tears.
"Well," she sighed, hesitantly.  "It's Thursday now, and I've got tomorrow off work.  Let's give it until Monday.  I don't want to disturb Auntie Dot's weekend."

The mother, her voice quivering with tears, then said "I'm just SO sorry, that's all."
"Why should you be sorry?!" asked the young lady.
"Well, dad and I wanted to do something nice for you, after all you've been through." came the response.  Oh, G*d, it gets worse.
"We're just sorry that he turned out like he did.  Auntie Dot recommended him SO highly."
"Oh, please don't blame Auntie Dot!" implored the young lady, "And please don't blame yourself.  You couldn't have known that he would turn out like this."
"Are you SURE you don't want to get rid of him tomorrow?  It's no trouble - honestly."
"No," replied the young lady with a sigh, "I'll give him until Monday.  Then we'll see."

"Until Monday then."

I felt a sudden pain in my chest, which I couldn't identify.  Was it self-pity?  No.  Guilt?  Probably not.  No.  I knew what it was.  It was genuine remorse.

I was sincerely, deeply sorry for what I had done.

But now it was too late.  It was all too, too late.

Good night.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Thursday 9 December 2010

Well - I HAD intended to post an interesting tale of new baby-tails, plus the next instalment of 'The Evolution of Jasper'.  No longer.

My partner and I have just returned from the house of my partner's best friend, the lovely Dolores.  My partner and I don't choose to receive television in our household (actually, it was my partner's choice.  I still miss my lovely cookery programmes), but have been sat with Dolores, glued to the BBC news coverage of the evening's sorry events in London.

It was UTTERLY disgusting.

I disagree with a lot of the government's decisions (particularly as my partner and I work for a local authority and have lately been at the mercy of spending cuts, staff redundancies, etc.) - but the way to protest against them is NOT by vandalising statues (least of all defiling that of one of our greatest-ever leaders, Sir Winston Churchill), damaging aged and important public buildings and breaking windows of shops.

Worse-still was the assaulting of the brave policemen and women, as well as the revolting spectacle of shrieking thugs beating the face of a police-horse with a stick.  I understand that some ten police-officers were injured - several very seriously.

And this is before one comes to the topic of the oiks who assailed and kicked-in the car carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.   It was shaming.   I was embarrassed to be English tonight.

I actually did manage to feel sorry for some of the students who were trying to make a legitimate, peaceful protest - they were stitched-up by the yobs as much as anyone else was by the scuffle-scum that joined the march with the avowed intention of causing mayhem.  I wonder if the rabble-rousers gave a thought to the amount of our taxpayers' money that will now have to go to pay the police's overtime salaries, for the medical treatment of the injured officers, or for the cleaning and repairs to the mess that the 'protesters' left behind them...? Probably not.

For our Winter reading this year, my partner and I have chosen the subject of the French Revolution.  We have already worked our way through some six books and have a few more left to keep us going through to the Spring.  It was hard to watch the news footage this evening and not draw a clear parallel with those horrific and bloody events across the channel which opened with the grisly scenes in Paris on 14 July 1789.  The riotous, seething mob, shrieking obscenities, daubing offensive slogans on public landmarks and buildings, lighting fires in the streets, and - most starkly similar and unsettling - were those who had armed themseves with poles pulled from railings, barriers, road-signs and dismantled placards, and were beating with them on the doors of the Treasury, the Houses of Parliament and the Royal Courts of Justice.  I am not exaggerating when I bark that, for a moment, I was genuinely frightened as to would have happened if the rabble had succeeded in hauling Prince Charles and Camilla out of their vehicle.

For goodness' sake - how did we go from peaceful rights of protest to this type of violent disorder?!  Is this the reason so many fought and died in our wars to preserve our country's freedom?

I am NOT a happy dog for what I have witnessed this evening.

Good night.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Imagine there's no heaven; it's easy if you try.  No hell below us - above us only sky.  Imagine all the people living for today...  Imagine there's no countries; it isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for and no religion too.  Imagine ALL the people living life in peace.  You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the ONLY one.  I hope someday you'll join us and the world will be as one.

Imagine no possessions - I wonder if you can?  No need for greed or hunger; a brotherhood of man.  Imagine ALL the people sharing ALL the world.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.  I hope someday you'll join us and the world will live as one.

The words of John Lennon, there.  One of those rare geniuses that the human race sometimes produces.  John Lennon was murdered in cold blood by a, sadly less-rare, nut-case Mark Chapman thirty years ago today.

I find it interesting that the current media-circus surrounding the Wikileaks website is going on at the time of this significant and sorrowful anniversary.  I may be only a Staffordshire Bull Terrier - but I firmly believe that Mr. Lennon would have supported and fought for the freedom of Wikileaks.  Both strove (and continue to strive) for a more open, honest - and a fairer - world, wherein misdeeds can be appropriately punished and genuine mistakes learned from for the future benefit of us all.

Rest in peace, wherever you are Mr. Lennon.

Good afternoon.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Friday 3 December 2010 - III

I suppose I ought to bark a 'thank-you' to those good souls who left comments on Tuesday's blog-post.   At least, I WOULD - had not most of them implied some slight upon my virile manliness...  I sought solace, instead, in my canine chum Ewan.

My nice-but-dim friend listened patiently to my plight as we trotted, side-by-side, along the bridleway which led out of the work-yard.  After I finished my tale of woe, Ewan nodding throughout the recital, he thought for a moment.
"When Fizzy came to live with me and mummy she made me have a pink blanket."  he explained.  "And a pink towel for after swimming.  I didn't mind too much because it is easier to see food that might have dropped if it is on a pink blanket.  And it is smell nicer than my old one."
"But why do you put up with it, Ewan?" I queried.  "Don't you mind?"
"Well," explained the gangly, tousle-furred, dog as he lifted high a leg and downloaded a wee-mail. "The think is that I likes Fizzy lots.  And Fizzy likes to have pink.  So I don't likes it much - but I do likes it a-cos Fizzy likes it."
"She's got you exactly where she wants you, Ewan." I sighed.  "Under the dewclaw, my friend.  Well and truly under the dewclaw."

Ewan nodded and laughed, as he darted off to find a stick for us to play with.  He was, at least, a more patient dog than I.  And irrepressibly happy too.  I begin to find that I should follow his example more often.

Well, in some things, at any rate.  His cheese-theories will always remain his own.


Oh dear.  I suppose I can put it off no longer.  It has been weighing heavily on my conscience for many, MANY, months now.  The next instalment of "The Evolution of Jasper".  The one that will, quite rightly and in all probability, make you despise me - if not forever, then at least for a mere moment.

Procrastination, they say, is the thief of time.  Well..., I have pilfered enough.  It is thus with a heavy heart that I present to you the following.  Judge me with kindness - if you can.


The route of initial forays into my dirty protest having been well and truly de-railed, I decided that it was time to step things up a claw.  Denied access to the kitchen, and therefore also the bin, I went a-hunting for a new mine of mischief.

The first prize upon which my beady eye alighted was a roll of clear adhesive tape.  Within the twitch of a whisker it had been stolen and chewed-up, bringing satisfying results.  The young lady and her parents were excessively irritated.  But irritation was not enough to quench my appetite.  I wanted to inflict upon the young lady nothing short of misery and despair - a punishment, I felt, which befitted the crime of tearing me from all I had thus far learned to cherish in my pitiable, misery-tainted life.

Further exploration of the location which had yielded the clear adhesive tape bore further fruit.  A roll of thicker, wider, white tape.  Now, this wasn't so easy to chew.  In fact, no sooner had I pierced its flesh than the wretched thing became well and truly stuck on one of my main fangs.  I stumbled angrily around the room, knocking over bags as I went, before careering blindly into one of the legs of the coffee-table in the centre of the room.  And here came a most interesting development. 

As I bashed the tape-roll against the table leg, there came a sudden resistance and a cracking sound.  I wondered if I'd broken the table - but no.  A pause in my bashing and a closer examination revealed that a part of the tape had adhered itself to the table-leg.  I moved cautiously backwards.  The end of the tape stayed stuck to the leg and the roll moved in my mouth as a length of tape unwound itself.  The roll popped easily off my fang and dropped onto the floor.  I looked at the wide bit of white tape hanging from the table-leg to the roll on the floor and my way was instantly clear.  Bending down, I carefully took up the roll in my mouth once more and walked fully around the rectangular table, the tape unwinding as I went and sticking to each of the other three table-legs.  Intrigued and amused, I walked around the table again.  The same result.  The third time I ran.  Around I went, again and again, the tape sealing itself around the table.  A few times I dropped the tape, but I stuck to my work (much as the tape stuck to the table, hehehe...) until the roll was completely unwound.

Dropping the cardboard inner-roll, I stood back and admired my work with pride.  The lower half of the expensive-looking rosewood coffee-table was entirely cocooned with the sticky white tape.  I then turned to examine the bags I had overturned in my initial efforts to get the roll of tape off my fang.  One, in particular, caught my attention.  A plastic carrier-bag with two metal sticks protruding from the top.  On further investigation, after pulling the sticks from the bag, it seemed that a small woollen blanket was growing from the sticks, and was being fed by a ball of yellow wool.  The rest of the carrier-bag was full of larger balls of similarly-coloured wool.  I wasted no time in tearing the blanket from the sticks and unravelling as much of the yellow wool as I could.

My energy - and the wool - thus spent, I fell asleep.

I woke to the sound of a guttural scream.  The young lady stood in the rear doorway, wordlessly surveying the scene that met her.  Her mouth opened and closed but no sound came out.  She looked like a fish.

I watched, amused, as she tried but failed to unravel the white tape from the coffee-table.  She went into the kitchen and fetched some scissors and then proceeded to snip and pick at the tape until it lay in pieces on the floor.  She gathered and disposed of the bits - and then she noticed the wool.

My bottom was spanked.  I cared not.  Without a word, I was taken to the garden and the door closed upon me.  This I cared about.  I could bear almost everything - except being ignored.  The young woman's parents returned and I used the opportunity to scamper back into the house, concealing myself behind the settle.  I noted that the girl had attempted - and failed - to put the blanket back onto the metal sticks.  Her voice was fraught with tension as she explained to her mother what I had done.

"Never mind.  I can soon fix that." was the mother's response, backed up swiftly by the father - who went so far as to chide his daughter for punishing me.  I felt angry and impotent, never more so than when the father gave me a rich, meaty dinner.  The daughter still could not bear to even look at me.

Well, this wasn't good enough.  I wanted the wench, at the very least, to be reduced to frenzied swearing at the mere sight of me.

Further tactics were attempted, growing daily worse and worse.  The young woman viewed me with increasing contempt and disgust - but, each time, I was forgiven.  As my deeds grew worse, so the living room grew emptier.  Objects prone to easy destruction were placed frustratingly out of my reach.

One day, I was scratching around for a new source of mischievous amusement.  Perched atop a small occasional table, which stood next to the young lady's chair, I discovered a brightly-coloured stitched workbag with pretty wooden handles.  It contained wool, which the young woman employed in making tapestry pictures for cushions (the canvases were the first things to be removed from my nipping-range).  I joyfully grasped the bag 'twixt my mighty jaws and carried my prize to the floor, where I delighted in crunching up the handles, unpicking the bag's elaborate stitching and throwing about the woollen skeins contained within like so much wedding confetti.  My appetite for destruction thus sated, I dozed off, using the remnants of the workbag as a most agreeable pillow.

A wail, more terrible than any I had previously heard, wrenched me from my slumber.  I slunk away from the immediate vicinity of my crime, preparing, as ever, to laugh at and enjoy the rewards of my efforts from the sidelines.  But I was unprepared for what happened next.

Instead of shouting at me and banishing me to the garden whilst she attempted to tidy up my mess prior to her parents' return, the young lady burst into tears and dropped to her knees in front of the wreckage of the workbag.  Her chest and her voice rose and fell with great, heaving, sobs as she picked up what remained of the wooden handles and held them close to her.  I began to feel a twinge of guilt as I watched her weeping uncontrollably.

Well  -  how was I to know that the bag had been hand-made in 1938 by the young woman's great-aunt?!  Or that the same great-aunt had given the bag to the young woman by way of a letter, discovered in the great-aunt's house, addressed to the young woman by this great-aunt, who had died some two years previously - the first close relative of the young lady's to die, thus teaching her the true nature of grief?  How could I have known that?!

It wasn't MY fault.

Good night.

Friday 3 December 2010 - II

No pictures of me frolicking in the snow from yesterday, alas. My partner did plenty of shopping in our little town and couldn't manage the camera, me, and the shopping-bags all at once. One of the three had to go - I advised ditching the shopping - who needs food when there are pictures of me to be committed to posterity? My partner, however, insisted on having the final bark and the camera was left at home.

Today, I popped out to download a wee-mail and was immediately struck by the cold;

-4º !!!! 

I immediately put my paw down against venturing any further than the boundaries of my estate.  That barked, I am no prophet, but I suspect that the snow will still be around tomorrow, providing us with another chance for artistic excellence.

Back to finishing-off the next "Evolution" instalment.  It might be ready this evening, but I cannot promise anything.  I am NOT enjoying myself.

Good evening.

Friday 3 December 2010 - I

No pictures of me frolicking in the snow from yesterday, alas. My partner did plenty of shopping in our little town and couldn't manage the camera, me, and the shopping-bags all at once. One of the three had to go - I advised ditching the shopping - who needs food when there are pictures of me to be committed to posterity? My partner, however, insisted on having the final bark and the camera was left at home. The snow is around today, however (replete with crispy ice), providing us with another chance for artistic excellence.

Hopefully more later!

Good day.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Thursday 2 December 2010

Eight inches (20.32cm).  A decent length for ANY man; surely?  Not so for my belovèd partner.

She is apprehensive about the depth.  Of the snow.  "Chance of light snow" was the forecast.  I beg pardon?  Excuse me?!?  "Chance of light snow?!" - Why, my friends?  Why did they lie to me?

Witness for yourself:

J.H. Stafford measures depth of snowfall with partner's "Mr. Men" ruler.

Somewhere under all this powder lies my estate.

Proper blog-entry and Part Thirty-Two of "The Evolution of Jasper (Fear the worst.  Oh yes.)"  later today...  Until then - please stay safe and warm.

Good morning.