Saturday, 24 November 2012

Saturday 24 November 2012

My partner has lately enjoyed a rare weekend in London, amusing herself amongst dear friends and BBC Radio 2 staff, as well as sundry other celebrities, for the benefit of the BBC's most worthy (human) Children in Need charity.  But I must set this aside for another time, as I return to the topic that was formerly uppermost in my mind; Gisèle and her impending motherhood.

So now, in addition to the ongoing saga of Ewan's bizarre entrepreneurial master-plan, I find myself having to mentor a pregnant young bitch.  I thought that my untimely passing might spell, at the very least, an end of these traumas.  Alas, to be sure, the signs confirmed it.

I don't know how knowledgeable you are when it comes to canine physiognomy in general, dear reader. But  I daresay your knowledge extends to the understanding that dogs have a highly-developed sense of smell.  Ofttimes, we can actually smell when a fellow-being is sickly, unhappy, or dying.  The phenomenae have been previously much-documented.  We can also smell when a female is pregnant.  And, believe me, sweet Gisèle absolutely reeked of the maternal hormone.  Even her countenance betrayed her.  Her eyes shone with sweet fulfilment.  She even seemed to glow.  As little Giz's breasts continued to swell and produce milk (dearest Steph; I thank you for your lovely comment!  Yes - Ewan's latest business ventures and the knowledge concerning Gisèle's condition have been kept VERY widely apart!)  The bloom of pregnancy brought, not that it was needed, an extra beauty to the countenance of the pretty Jack Russell Terrier.

I knew that my partner was inexperienced in such matters so, at the nearest opportunity, I sidled quietly up to Giz and asked her if she was well.
"Yes, thank you, Jasper." she grinned, looking up from her devoted grooming of her teddy-bear.
"Gisèle - Gizmo.  Sweetie, is there anything you would like to tell me?" I asked, as gently as I could.
"No..." replied Giz affably, as she carefully licked teddy's underarm and leg areas clean, "Are you OK?"

"Er... erm, yes." I muttered.  Awkwardly continuing, I said "Lovely Giz.  SUCH a good girl.  How are you getting on with Milo next door?"
"Haven't seen him for weeks..." muttered Giz, as I studied her expression closely.  No obvious clues presented themselves.  I cannot say that I was disappointed.  Despite the fact that Milo was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, similar in colouring to myself, he had a MASSIVE head and upper-body.  Giz would be, at least, spared the agonising and potentially fatal delivery of THOSE horrors.
"What about other young men?  I'll bet you are surrounded with admirers, being as good-natured and beautiful as you are...?"

No response.  So I waited.

When nothing further seemed to be forthcoming - "Gisèle, have you ever had a secret?  If you know something that is secret, you do know that you can always tell me, don't you...?"
"Yes, thank you, Jasper.  And I am grateful for that."

Another silence.  I tried again.

"Giz - has a boy-dog ever... I mean, have you ever, ur..., are you...? Oh g*d.  What I mean to say is - has a man... Umm...  Or, to put it another way, are you still a vir, oh no, I can't ask that... Oh, I hate this...  Right.  Get a grip, Jazz.  Yes.  Gisèle.  Have you, at any time recently, accepted the attentions of a man?  I mean, in the basket sense of the bark?"

My courage, dear reader, had never failed me in life - not even to the point of my death.  But it had well-and-truly deserted me now, much to my disgust and embarrassment.

Gisèle had long since abandoned her washing of her teddy-bear and was gazing up at me, in an effort to comprehend.
"Gisèle." I began again, more firmly.  "Do you understand where puppies - baby dogs - come from?"
"Oh yes!"
"Thank G*D!"

"Ewan told me."
"Oh no..."

"Oh yes.  He said that puppies live on the ends of boys' pee-sticks and they live there and then when lady-dogs want them, the boy-dogs put them on the ladies' belly-buttons and they go inside and live in the ladies' bellies until they are ready to come out."

I gaped at her for what seemed like an eternity - until I realised that my mouth was hanging open.
"That's right, isn't it, Jasper?  Isn't it?  Jasper?  Was Ewan right?"

"Erm..." I mumbled weakly, "Well, Ewan seems to have, at least, identified the correct area on the body in general - but... er...  Gisèle: Are you familiar with the story of the downfall of Troy and the Trojan Horse?"
"Oh, well, you can Google it for the main points, but-"
"Oh, hang on!  Betty told me once, at story time.  Yes, the Trojan Horse.  I hope there was a toilet inside it."
"What?! Oh, never mind.  Anyway, it gave rise to a saying which humans still use sometimes today - Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.  I'll paraphrase that now and bark Beware of Ewan bearing knowledge.  It's just as dangerous."

Gisèle blinked up at me and nodded solemnly.
"OK Jasper."

As I smiled down at her, I realised that I was a bit out of my depth here and wondered who, in the absence of Betty, would be best-placed to offer Giz sensible advice and guidance.  There was Rosie, the little Westie next-door, but she was young and a notorious giggler.  Plus, she and Giz had lately become very good friends and had been on several outings together.  I didn't want to embarrass Gisèle.  I then wondered if Honey, the ginger cat from opposite might help.  Despite the fact that she was a cat, she had always been kind and sweet-natured.  But Giz didn't know her as I had.  The idea was dismissed as quickly as it had occurred.  All of a sudden, I had a flash of inspiration.  It was so obvious!  I smiled down at little Giz, with her swollen belly and milk-laden teats.
"Gisèle, my dear," I said gently, "I have seen the recent changes in your body.  Would you like to bark to Fizzy about what is happening?"

Fizzy, Ewan's black Labrador basket-mate was not the most tolerant and patient of dogs, even with her belovèd dolt of a husband, but she WAS unfailingly kind - and she had experienced much in her pre-Ewan life.
Gizmo's eyes lit up and she nodded enthusiastically.  The following day, I managed to get Fizzy by herself and discreetly explained the situation.  As soon as Ewan was asleep, Fizzy invited Gisèle to join her for a stroll along the bridleway.

They were gone for almost an hour.  I was beginning to grow concerned when the two girls re-entered the yard - and WHAT a difference!  Gisèle was trotting confidently beside Fizzy, her head held high and her tail wagging happily.  I beamed at them both as Giz trotted past me and went off to her favourite spot for a nap.
"Thank you Fizzy." I barked, "I really do appreciate your help."
"My pleasure, Jazz." replied Fizzy, "She's a dear little creature - but so young to be a mother."
I sighed, nodding.
"You need to make sure she sees a vet - sooner rather than later." continued Fizzy.  "Her time is close now."

Hmmm....  I'd better get my partner to start saving old newspapers...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sunday 11 November 2012 (b)

Remembrance Day

So that I can write this in a FREE country, where fascism NEVER did triumph, I - we - THANK YOU.

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.

Remembrance Day

Sunday 11 November 2012 (a)

A digression from the previous unsettling subject - if you'll permit me, dear reader.

I was dozing peacefully on the bed, next to young Gisèle, in the early hours of the morning, a few days ago.  The sound of raised voices from the direction of my garden dragged me from my repose, though sweet Giz slept on, unencumbered.  The first voice which destroyed my peace was Betty's (she was staying with us again for just a few days, a short while ago).  She was employing all manner of profanities in her upper-class, educated voice.  A tell-tale whiff in the air told me that her combatant was none other than the foul feline Peaches.

" anyway," he was mewing, snidely, "What's the name of that scrawny rat that lives here now?"
"If you dare to meow ONE WORD against my friend Gizmo, I'll rip off your tail and beat you to death with the wet end!" retorted a dangerously-livid Elizabeth.
"Yeah, her." replied Peaches indifferently.  "Has she had the courage to tell anyone yet?"
"Tell anyone WHAT?"
"About her being up the duff."
"Well, it's obvious, isn't it?  For f***'s sake, open your eyes, you dozy fat bint!"
"Any other last words?" snarled Betty, "Before I tear your wretched body into ribbons?!"

Peaches laughed, malevolently, and then stalked off with his usual air of self-importance.
"Don't say I didn't warn you." he hissed, by way of a parting shot, "Oh, she IS all right..."

What was THAT all about?!?

Betty waited until the wretched Peaches had disappeared from view.  Then, she turned and raced up the stairs, bounding up several steps at a time - and even running through me (painless, but something I'd not experienced before and therefore a little unsettling), finally leaping onto the bed and shaking Gizmo awake.

"Is it true?!" demanded Betty.
"Mmmmm... what?"  mumbled the sleepy Giz.

"ARE you pregnant?!"
"Oh... I..."

But, unhappily, at that very moment the doorbell sounded and Betty had to go home.  She left with one last, desperate, look at me and frantically mouthed "Help her!" through the car window as she departed.

I stood and watched her vehicle disappear around the corner.  NOW what...?!  I forced myself to be calm. 'Come along now, Jazz," I said to myself "Be calm and examine the evidence.  Draw upon your experience-based knowledge..."  I chuckled to myself, thinking how ludicrous the very IDEA of sweet Gisèle being in-pup was...

Oh SH*T.

My chuckles abruptly ceased.  I cast my mind back to the book "Know Your Dog", mentioned previously, which contained a chapter on the signs to look out for if one suspects one's bitch is pregnant.

"1. She may begin to nurture, or 'mother' a toy or other young creature, for example an orphaned kitten."
I had not seen Gisèle without her teddy-bear by her side for some while now.  The bear had also not been as clean as he now was since long before I departed this life - Giz was taking particular care in cleaning him, especially his bottom-area, his mouth and his ears.

"2. She may begin to build nests within furniture, or to dig a den in a secluded area of the garden, to create a safe and warm place in which to deliver and suckle her pups."
My partner had just recently been forced to buy a new duvet, the latter having been destroyed in "nesting activities", which I'd assumed had been part of a game betwixt Betty and Giz.  Now, I wasn't so sure...

"3. Her teats will swell and begin to produce milk, indicating that birth is imminent."
How could I not have noticed?!?  Gisèle HAD been putting on weight, to be sure, but I had viewed this as encouraging progress, given how emaciated she was on first coming to live here.  But there was no denying it - even my partner's parents had remarked upon how swollen Gizmo's mammaries had become and how large and red her little nips now looked.  Work colleagues had commented upon it also, and milk positively SHOT forth from her breasts, each time she licked to relieve them.  One spurt shot a length of six foot.

Oh SH*T indeed, then.  Gisèle is pregnant.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Monday 5 November 2012

I was utterly barkless.  I opened my mouth to bark, but no sounds came out.

Suddenly realising that I probably looked like a goldfish, opening and closing my mouth in silence, I recovered myself enough to weakly croak "Dog's milk?!"

"Yes!" yipped Ewan, almost beside himself with excitement.  "Yummy and full of goodness!  Isn't it the very stuff that made us grow strong when we was puppies?!  And there's definitely a market for it - I's done the weesearch-"
"Ewan - let me get this straight." I barked, frowning, "You are proposing to milk bitches, make cheese from this milk and sell it to humans?"  Ewan nodded enthusiastically.  "And does Fizzy [Ewan's black labrador wife/care-worker] know about this?!"

"She helped me with the weesearch.  We sniffed all the wee-posts we could find to see what other dogs was eating.  DEFINITELY no dog cheese."
"I cannot imagine why." I remarked drily.  "And what does Fizzy have to bark on the matter?"
"She says it was nice to see me happy again after you went away.  She says it is good to see that I am working on a big project and using my time properly."

A sudden thought struck me.
"Ewan - does Fizzy REALLY know what you are up to?"

"Yes..." muttered Ewan, carefully avoiding my eye.
"Ewan...?!" I growled.
"Well - OK, not exactly then.  But-"
"And what do you think she would say if she found out?  Ewan?!  How would she react?"
"Probably not all that keen..."  mumbled Ewan sulkily.
"I thought so.  Keeping that in mind, then, what are your plans?"

Ewan's eyes lit up again.
"OK!" he yapped, with renewed enthusiasm.  "I makes the cheese in my kitchen.  But first we needs the milk.  OK?!  And that's where YOU come in!"
"Go on..."
"Yes, well, you is handsome and ladies like you lots, yes?"
"I cannot deny that, during my lifeti-"
"Yes, exactly!  So what you does is this:-  you meets a pretty lady and says 'come for a walk with me, my dear' and she goes with you and then you takes her into a field and where I is waiting.  When the pretty lady is looking at you, I creeps up behind her and clobbers her on the head-"
"You clobber the lady on the head?!  EWAN..!"
"Iss, iss, I clobbers her!"  Ewan's limited linguistic skills tended to desert him in proportion to how excited he was getting.  "And then she is knocked out and when she wakes up we has hooked her up to a milking machine!"

Oh, bl**dy h*ll.

Seeing the expression on my face, Ewan hurriedly continued.  "But it's OK, Jazz, once we had taken her milk, we lets her go!"
"Oh well, that's all right, then." I muttered sarcastically.
"Yes." nodded Ewan, entirely missing my meaning.  "Now then.  We is having three different varieties of cheese.  Betty is a very big dog with lots of milks, so Betty-cheese will be our economy-value line."
"Don't let Betty hear you saying that, for Heaven's sake."  I warned, imagining what Betty would do to the hapless Ewan if she caught him describing her milk as cheap and cheerful.
"OK.  Then, we has 'The Fizzy'.  Lots of ladies are Fizzy's size, so that is our standard range."

"Ewan, please stop saying 'we' and 'our'.  I want no share in this travesty."
"OK!  And then we has Gisèle.  Now then.  Gisèle is tiny.  Teeny-weeny.  So not much milk there, and what there is will be rich and highly-flavoured.  That is our Premium Range, for the more 'esciperian' palettes of our discerning customers."
"I assume you mean 'epicurean'?"
"Iss, that's what I said - 'episcerian', no, 'enpiricsean', er, 'epicas-', anyway, POSH cheese."
"Brilliant, eh?!"  beamed Ewan.  "Three different sorts of cheese from different sizes of ladies:  The Betty, The Fizzy and The Gizmo.  Of course, we won't always use these ladies.  But we needs to start small.  Once  we is established we moves on and then is when we do the clobbering.  What do you think Jazzy?"

I was stunned.  Of all the mad things Ewan had said, done or thought in his delusional little head, this was by far the maddest.  I don't know what was more disturbing - the idea in itself or the fact that Ewan utterly believed that this was a viable business idea.  This was madder than the time Ewan knocked on the side of a wasps' nest and asked the angry wasps within if they wanted to play football with him.

"Er, one or two initial thoughts, Ewan, if you'll indulge me..."
"Please." he grinned, "The forum is yours.  Let's hoist your views up the flagpole and see if they fly!""
"Ewan, does your new TV package include a business channel at all, by any chance?"
"Oh yes."
"Hmm.  Well, I have to bark that I might have an issue with the clobbering aspect..."
"Really?!" asked Ewan, looking slightly crestfallen, "But that's a good bit!  Sometimes, you know, Jasper, you has to put gentlemanly behaviour aside for a moment when you is a high-powered business-dog like me."
"Actually, Ewan, it's not just me being gallant.  I'm pretty much against clobbering per se."
"But they would like it!" protested Ewan.  "It's fun!"

"All right, Ewan." I sighed wearily.  "Let's just say that we have our collection of clobbered ladies, all awake again and happily gossiping together, exchanging stories about major head-trauma.  What then?"
"We milks them!"
"OK.  How?"
"Ah, well, you see - I, er... That is why I is in charge and you is just a non-executive director."

"I resign."
"You're not allowed.  You has to have the permission of the board of directors to resign."
"Who's on the board of directors?"
"Please, Mr. Chairman of the Board of Directors, may I resign?"
"Worth a try..." I muttered to myself, shaking my head.

"Right then."  I sighed.  "We milk them.  So where do we get the male dog?"
"Well, surely even you know that you need a male dog?!  I mean, you've had "the snip" and I'm dead, so-"
"Jaspey!  You silly!  You don't get milk from boy dogs!!"
"No, I know that Ewan, but-"

"Actually," mused Ewan, thoughtfully, "You can get stuff that looks like milk out of boy dogs... It's not actually milk, but sometimes it looks a bit like milk, and-"

I winced.  Of all the things on the ever-increasing list (now becoming almost Biblical in length) of subjects about which I never wished to have a conversation with Ewan this was very, VERY, near the top.

" -it's like milky but not milk, and it comes out of-"

"Ewan, can I just stop you there," I interjected hastily.
"Yes." he replied. "What?"
"Oh, no reason.  I just had to stop you there."

"OK, then.  But why woulds we need boy dogs?" he queried.
"Well," I explained delicately, "I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm mistaken - but I've yet to encounter any female of a mammalian species who produces milk in any significant quantity but who ISN'T pregnant!"
"Really." I nodded.  "Ladies in season, going through menopause or experiencing a phantom pregnancy sometimes produce small quantities of milk.  Also, if a lady adopts orphaned babes it is possible that her maternal instincts kick in and she produces sufficient milk to nourish her foundlings.  But I can guarantee that you won't get enough milk for your cheese-proposals from an infertile bitch."  Thank goodness, I concluded privately to myself.

"But - but-" spluttered Ewan, looking disconcerted, "All those cows in the fields - the ones who gives us tasty milk and cheese and that - THEY aren't all pregnant!"
"Yes!  They ARE!!"  I barked.  "A lady needs to be expecting at least one infant in order to give lots of milk!"

"Are you SURE?!" whined Ewan.  "I's going to ask Fizzy, just to be sure."
"Well, you do that." I replied.  "But she'll want to know why you're asking..."

"Jazz."  decided Ewan.  "I shall take that risk."  And, with that, he marched off back into the office.  I decided that it would be foolish to follow him.  This decision was borne out when I heard angry snarls, followed by a couple of shrill yelps from indoors.

Ewan quickly returned, nursing a slapped cheek and a badly-bitten ear.
"How'd it go?" I asked, doubtfully.
"Actually, not that well." came the glum reply.  "This" indicating his ear "was for wanting to steal lady-milk.  And this" gesturing towards his reddening cheek "was for even thinking of the whole idea in the first place."
I can't say that I was entirely surprised.
"But don't worry Jazz," continued Ewan, "It's all right now.  I has smoothed the waters.  Everything's OK."
"Yes.  I told Fizzy that it was all your idea."
"Brilliant.  Jolly good.  Cheers for that, Ewan."

"So, then.  ON to our marketing strategy..."

Oh NO...  It just gets worse from here-on in...

Guy Fawkes' Night tonight.  Never my favourite.  Happily, Gisèle is SO chilled-out that even the fireworks don't faze her.  I wonder if, in centuries to come, the foiling of other terrorist atrocities will be celebrated with fireworks, bonfires and greasy hot-dogs?  Somehow, I doubt it...

Friday, 2 November 2012

Friday 2 November 2012

I explained to Ewan that although I, personally, had never seen any cheese in Heaven, I am sure that there was some there.  And that, if he was a good boy, one day he might get to find out for himself.

My simple friend seemed delighted to find that he might find some of his belovèd cheese in the place of eternal repose, and his tail wagged happily on.

"Actually, Jazz, I am especially glad that you came back when you did." barked Ewan.
"Oh yes?"
"Oh yes.  You see, mummy and daddy have got some new television channels in our house and one of them is all about how to make your own food and that, and so I has decided to go into business!  Oh yes!  I is going to make and sell my very own, home-made cheese!"

I know, I know... I should have left it there.  But curiosity got the better of me, I'll admit - and Ewan's enthusiasm was so infectious that I professed myself keen to know more.

"Well, I's already got a name for my product - "Charming Cheeses" - and Fizzy has helped me with a pose for the picture on the packets - "  At this point, I made the mistake of looking at my friend, and inadvertently leapt back in terror at the expression on his twisted and gurning face.  It was only when I recovered my composure that I realised that Ewan had adopted what he felt to be a winning smile.  "What d'you think?!" he continued.

"Erm..." I muttered.
"Exactly!" beamed Ewan, "I's so glad you agree! Brilliant!  Fizzy says that it's important that I looks processival on the packets."
"You mean 'professional'..."
"Yes, that's what I said.  Now then, I thinks you will agree that I have picked a product that no-one has EVER done before, and-"
"Ewan, there are LOADS of cheeses on the market.  Why, France alone has over 300 different types of cheese, and here in England-"
"But none of MY sort of cheese, Jazzy, that is the point.  Mine is new and special."
"How so?  What sort of milk are you using?  Cow's?  Sheep?  Goat's?"
Ewan denied each of these three options, getting progressively more excited with each shake of his head.
"Er... Buffalo? Camel's?  Um... OK, last guess. Yak."
"Noooooo....! Heeheeheeheeeeeeee!"

This was the moment when I began to get seriously concerned.
"Ewan," I barked, sternly, "WHAT have you been up to in my absence?!"

"None of these milks are what I's making my cheese from.  Ask yourself this, Jazz - what is the BEST and most yummy and healthy milk of ALL?!
"I bet you is thinking Cow milk!!!"
"Well, that was my first thought."
"It's not Cow milk."

"Oh no.  Not Cow milk."
"Ewan - what sort of milk are you proposing to use?!"
"The very best of all, Jazzy."
"Go on..."

"Dog milk."

Oh G-d.  Oh G-d, no.

This was worse that I had imagined.  But further horrors were yet to come.  If you thought THIS was bad enough, just wait until you hear his business strategy  (and my intended role in it)...
I knew I'd left him to his own devices for too long - but I had NEVER anticipated this...

Be afraid, my friends, for, this time, your fears are justified...

Oh dear...