Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tuesday 29 November 2011

I return - not for the first time - with an apology for my lengthy absence.

My partner seemed to enjoy her time in London, at the BBC and elsewhere, with her friends despite my absence.

Chris Evans, Moira Stuart, Lynn Bowles, Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine, Tony Blackburn, Len Goodman, Sir Cliff Richard, Nicky from Westlife - these are just some of the "entertainment professionals" with whom my partner had least some interaction at the BBC.  Alas, worthy and decent though these good folks are, none can eclipse my own celebrity.  I did, at least, have a small presence at the Radio 2 HQ however - see if you can spot your very own Jasper Horatio Stafford in this (slightly out-of-focus) snap of my partner with Nicky-from-Westlife:

My partner failed to recognise the (admittedly passably attractive) young gentleman at first, and confessed this to him - he did not seem to mind.  In the absence of any celeb-chat therefore, and noting the charming Irish lilt of the fellow's accent, my partner instead decided to apologise on behalf of our ancestors for the appalling cruelty meted out to the Irish by English oppressors throughout the ages, including (but not limited to) their inexcusable failure to act during the truly horrific Irish Potato Famine.  She thinks he appreciated that.  As for myself - I am just wondering if there will ever come a time when my partner ceases to embarrass me in such open and public ways...  For goodness' sake...

Away with such trivialities - let us return to the true celebrity of this forum...

I have been a trifle unwell since my last post.  I continue to be in good form and am suffering no actual pain, but the tumour in my snout is now visible to the casual observer and is no insignificant irritation to me.  I wondered where the wretched thing would ultimately manifest itself and settle for the long-haul.  'Tis at the base of the right-paw side of my snout, not too far from my eye, and is approximately the size of a Robin's egg.  It occasionally impedes my regular breathing, though not often to be more than an irritation, and my liveliness, appetites and energies remain undiminished.  My partner has procured a supply of anti-inflammatory medication, which she feeds me through a dropper each morning (I am a good boy for my medicine-taking), and this helps to keep secondary swelling and infection to an absolute minimum.

Unfortunately, my return from the last vets' trip coincided with Peaches the cat's nightly amble back to his house from the allotments and the river, which takes him past my house.  The impudent fat furry fungus squinted at me in the autumn dusk, an ugly smile spreading across his foolish face, as he registered the lump on my snout.
"Bl**dy h*ll, Jasper." he sneered, "Is your tiny brain finally trying to eat its way out of your thick head?!"
I ignored him.
"I hope it makes it out of there!" continued the abominable feline, "Then you'll be nearly as clever as your meatball-for-brains friend Ewan!"

"Funny, aren't you."  I muttered, dangerously, not giving Peaches the satisfaction of provoking an angry bark, "I must look out, in case my sides should split with laughter at such wit from our greatest living comedian..."

Peaches was not so contented with this response as to hazard another cheeky insult and, on my taking a step towards him with teeth bared and a malevolent twinkle in my eye he fled, squealing (no doubt remembering our last encounter).  Satisfied that the ghastly beast would not return (at least for that evening) to further insult me or my friends, I accompanied my partner into our home for a late dinner followed by a chapter of our book (we're now on Mansfield Park Volume I, Chapter XII) and then sleep.

I recall that, in my last blog entry, I promised you, dear reader, an account of my good friend Ewan's attempts to comprehend egg-based procreation and its many limitations.  This will, again, have to be put off until next time, for I grow weary.  Medication and the sweet insensibility of sleep await me.

Until tomorrow then;

Good night.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Thursday 17 November 2011

And so it has come to pass. My partner is leaving me.

Only for a couple of nights though. I am staying with her parents, though I am still not entirely satisfied. She is off to BBC Radio 2 tomorrow to answer telephones and take donations for the very worthy Children in Need charity. If you live in the UK and telephone 0500 22 11 22 between 10am and 7pm tomorrow to request a song and donate some money to the charity, you will get to speak to my partner, one of her fabulous friends, or even a celebrity (not me, alas.  I do not enjoy barking on the 'phone - I tend towards rudeness and that is unacceptable at the BBC).  For non-UK friends, you can visit this site to find out more: BBC Radio 2 Children in Need 2011.

Please spare a couple of quid for Children in Need, if you can.  I, in the meantime, shall be devising a series of subtle yet devastating punishments for my traitorous partner.  Should there come another opportunity in the future, I shall ensure that she thinks twice before abandoning me for two days to hobnob with celebrities in London.

Good afternoon.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Friday 11 November 2011


I remember with pride those who have fought in wars past AND present - the dead and the living - with the courage to fight and risk all that they have so that my country and the world can remain free and safe.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
("For The Fallen" by Laurence Binyon, written in September 1914)

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Good night.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Dearest reader, I thank you from the bottom of my heart (or the heart of my bottom, if you prefer...) for all your birthday good wishes.  I appreciated them all most sincerely, as well as the gifts (all edible this year, I am delighted to report!).  Alas some of the time betwixt those celebrations and this very moment have been somewhat less jolly.

I rise from my bed of pain and misery to write to you now.  I have been suffering all manner of torments since the weekend.  Only now is my misery beginning to abate.  Perhaps you will be kind enough to indulge me whilst I explain...

Saturday morning (29 October) was turning out to be a truly exquisite day.  One of those beautifully perfect autumnal ones, with the trees at their rich, russet and gold, best - the scent of bonfires in the air and that hint of a chill, which sharpens and heightens all the scents to be sensed.  After a morning of grocery shopping, my partner took me to Chawton Woods (opposite Jane Austen's House) - one of my favourite local spots for a stroll.  I felt better and more energised than I had for several weeks!  Around and about I capered, through the fallen leaves and conkers, glorying in simply being alive on such a delightful day.  And then, I saw her.  A vision of loveliness through the trees - a young spaniel, female and precisely formed in the way that I like.  As she spotted me, I uttered a silent prayer of thanks that I was looking my most handsome best.  Autumn always sets me off to the finest advantage - if, indeed, such a thing can be barked to be true.  In fact, when the inestimable Keats wrote his ode To Autumn, I cannot fathom out why - after the line "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" - he chose to strike out the intended following line "And impossibly handsome dogs in flawlessly perfect natural lighting".  I digress.  The comely maiden bounded over to me and gave me the time-honoured sniff-over.

"Hello!"  she enthused, with fluttering eyelashes and wagging tail.  "I'm Ellie!  Who are you?!"
"Good morning, my dear!" I replied, offering up my most winning smile, "I am Jasper.  And what a pleasure it is to meet one so charming as you on this loveliest of days!"

My new acquaintance giggled coquettishly, piquing my interest (fear not, dear reader, my pretty neighbour Rosie never takes her exercise this far East.  I shall not be detected...).
"D'you want to play hide'n'sniff with me?!" she yipped, "It's my favouritest game EVER!"
"Why, what an uncanny coincidence!"  I replied (smooth at all times, Jasper, smoooooth, hehehe...), "That is my favourite game as well!  Who could have believed that two such intertwined souls should meet in one place?!"

The pretty young spaniel giggled, calling "Me first, then!" as she dashed off into the woods.  Of course, I pretended to shield my eyes - but she was young and inexperienced at the game and didn't notice that I was watching her - I saw where she had concealed herself and didn't have to use my snout at all (something of a relief, for those who know my recent snout-based history).  After a few exhilarating rounds (all of which I could have won without effort - but which I allowed the deliciously pert young beauty to win.  Didn't want to scupper my chances, after all...), we decided to play "chase-tag".  After being "tagged" (tapped on the flank) by the fair maid ('tis only fair to give the Lady first victory), I sped off in hot pursuit of her enticing rear, enjoying the chase but not forgetting to keep my eyes on "the prize", hehehehe...

Oh, reader, do not underestimate me.  I still have strength in my body as well as in my mind - and, yes, still where it matters most to a man.  Rejoicing in my ability to keep up with the pretty lass, I ran, ran, and RAN.  Alas, my eyes were focussed on the quarry and not the path.  Laughing and barking as I chased her - 

- ** - SMACK!!!! - ** - 

- I ran into a tree that wasn't there before!  It hurt.  A LOT.

I managed to make an hasty retreat whilst still retaining my dignity.  I won't lie to you - this one REALLY HURT.  I had the black eye to countenance all other black eyes throughout history and the swelling - oh, Dear Lord, the swelling.  My head looked like a football.  The right-paw snout passage and eye-surround, already tender because of previously-described tumourous activity, blew up like a balloon.  I was able to conceal it from my erstwhile new lady.  Not, alas, from my partner.  All evening, she stared at me in a most unsettling "there's something not quite right about you, but I cannot put my dewclaw on it"-type manner.

Come Sunday, it was beyond my control.  I was in agony and unable to eat or even drink beyond a few cooling sips, and my partner was in hysterics.

The very next day, my folly was revealed.  "This is an impact injury, not a tumour growth!!" bleated the traitorous surgeon.  I was despatched home, tail between legs, with medications that - even now - are proving the (female) veterinarian correct.  I am being a good boy, and am taking them without fuss.

But even my partner, I suspect, is only partially convinced of my integrity.

Be a love, dear reader, and don't enlighten her.  'T would only baffle and distress her...   I thank you.

Next time - Ewan (dog); kittens; and the mystery of fatherhood.  Oh, for goodness' sake....

Good night.