Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wednesday 31 October 2012


Ewan's excited bark echoed around the yard and the woods beyond, sending startled crows from the nearby rookery flying up in a great dark mass, all cawing indignantly at the disturbance.

"Jazz! Jazzy Jazz! Jaaaaazzzzzzzzzzz!  Is it really you?!?"

I grinned, my tail wagging madly, as my friend Ewan capered joyfully around me.

"Oh, Jazz!" he squealed, with tears pouring from his big brown eyes, "Fizzy said you had gone for always, but I KNEW you would come back again!  Where did you go?"

I was stumped.  How could I break his sweet, innocent, trusting heart?

"I searched for you for three WHOLE months." continued Ewan in a quiet, more subdued, bark.  "I know you was very ill and everything, and when Fizzy told me I had to say goodbye to you that time and mean it properly and all... But I wanted you to come back.  WHY didn't you come back?  Every day for three months I looked and waited for you, and I cried every single day.  Where was you?  I don't understand.  Don't you want me to be your friend any more?  OK, that's OK.  But I is very, very sorry for whatever I did or barked that made you go away.  Please don't stop being my friend.  Please - "

This was heartbreaking; more than I could endure.

"Oh, Ewan." I sighed, sadly.  "Please believe me, I would have done anything - anything - to stay here with you.  And Fizzy, and my partner, and my family, and my other friends like dear Lance.  I tried so hard.  But I was too ill.  And so I HAD to go away.  I am here again now - I am not completely sure why - but I am here.  And wherever, or whatever, I now am - I will ALWAYS be your friend."

"But you IS dead, isn't you."  said Ewan.  It wasn't a question.  "You is all see-through and everything, and you has no smell.  Fizzy said you was dead.  Can I really still be your friend?"

"Oh Ewan," I sighed again.  "You will ALWAYS be my friend.  No matter what.  OK?"

Ewan visibly relaxed.  He wagged his tail again.
"Phew!" he panted. "I don't mind then, if you is still here to talk to me sometimes, even if you is dead.  I don't mind ANYTHING if you are still my friend."

I grinned at him.  Ewan might well still continue to be the most simple dog of this lifetime - but you couldn't deny that he had the most loving nature of any worldly creature.

For those unacquainted with the tall, awkward, gangly-limbed dog, allow me to effect an introduction.

Ewan with his belovèd football
Ewan is a dog, older than me; a dog who is loved but who has something missing in his head.  Whether he was born this way, suffered a difficult oxygen-deprived birth, or some kind of drastic head-trauma in his youth we shall never know.  He is at once both exasperating and adorable.  And he has an extremely odd but all-consuming obsession with cheese.  Don't ask....

Some examples from this blog:

1) I attempt to explain to Ewan the mysteries of female ovulation.  It doesn't end well:;

2) Ewan believes he has a fatal tumour, oozing toxic pus.  The "lump/tumour" turns out to be his penis.  And the pus?  That's him going to the toilet:;

3) Ewan explains that 25 December, Christmas Day, is a day on which most of the world's population join together to celebrate the birth of Our Saviour, who will one day come amongst us again, riding a Holy Jacobs Cream Cracker to bring Peace on Earth - The Baby Cheesus:

There are other examples, many and varied.  All are recorded here, on this blog.  Seek them out if you dare.

Having barked all this, however, I ought also to point out that Ewan is totally inoffensive.  I have often wished to batter him to within an inch of his life when he has been wittering on for ages about his latest mad theory.  But it is impossible to dislike him.  He has the most selfless and loving heart and would readily give up his very last morsel of food in the world in order to nourish a less-fortunate and hungry creature.  He is determined to try his best in all he does, and only the most churlish of individuals would dismiss him as a mere, insubstantial, fool.

As I was musing upon all these points, Ewan suddenly piped up once more.  "Jazz!" he yipped, "It's Hallowe'en today!  Is that why you're back?  Is it?  Is it?!"
"Actually, I've been 'back' for a while and-"
"Can you see in my head, Jazz?  Can you?  Can you see what I am thinking?!  Ohhhh!!!  Can you tell what will happen to me?! Can you tell my fortune?!"


"That's what they can do, you know!" insisted the excited dog. "They can tell your happenings in the star and the sky!!"

"No, Ewan.  NO-ONE can tell that.  When you are dead, you are dead.  No-one can read your thoughts and no-one can predict what is going to happen to you or what choices you should make based upon the movements of random dying suns billions of miles away.  Got that?"

"Yes Jasper."

I breathed a small sigh of relief.  The relief, inevitably, was short-lived.  After a brief moment of respite:
"Is there cheese in Heaven...?"

At this point the conversation took a downward - and decidedly awkward - spiral into the realms of dairy-product-based insanity.

To be revealed next time.  Even I need to go and have a lie-down now....

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tuesday 23 October 2012

My birthday today.  14.  If I had lived.  Alas, I am destined to be forever 13 - and more honestly than most who lie about their age, hehe...  A good day, on the whole.  My partner and Gisèle have brought new lampshades for the house (of which I heartily approve) as well as a new duvet - the existing one having been destroyed in a recent game of Betty and Gizmo's called "Mummy and Puppies" - of which more another time.

Good evening.  You may guess from my rather prolonged absence that I have been busy (in the non-toilet sense of the bark).  If so, you guess correctly.  I have been engaged in no less a task than the further education of little Gisèle.  Her barked English was appalling and as for her writing - I was left barkless.

Please do not mistake me; I am not, in any way, suggesting that she is simple or otherwise challenged in her intelligence.  Far from it - she is a very smart little lady with a keen eye and a ready wit, it was that she had never received encouragement in this area - indeed she was, in her previous home, discouraged from any form of self-expression.  But if she is to inherit this blog from me, then she could not remain in ignorance any longer.

I have to bark that Gisèle was an exceptionally apt and willing pupil.  Her young and eager mind quickly leapt to absorb the knowledge that I had to share with her.  Ultimately, it proved beneficial in more than one way.  I had noticed, over the weeks, that sweet Giz often became somewhat frustrated.  She would take out her irritation in chasing squirrels, but I could see her pretty brow furrowed on occasion and wondered what I could do to assuage her annoyance.  Ultimately it became clear that she was frustrated because she simply didn't have the ability to express herself and make her meanings clear.  She knew the words, but not how to arrange them in a sensible order.  Happily, with her education has come relief for her mind.  She is now able to properly indicate to my partner various things, for example, how to ask if she can go outside to go to the toilet, how to accept or decline sundry offers, how to politely make herself heard when she is in a larger group or wishes to attract attention; and I trust we shall never again have to be confronted with horrors like "When I was borned", "We is playing" or "I is hungry" or other such linguistic aberrations again.

As a matter of fact, I rather enjoyed the experience of getting better acquainted with the little Jack Russell.  I think I may have barked this before, but I have truly never encountered a canine (with the possible exception of Ewan, but he is sadly feeble-minded, and one often finds that those folks with unfortunate mental deficiencies are generally the sweetest-natured, trusting and loving of individuals) with a more pure, honest and loving nature.  She is SO easy-going, takes everything in her little stride and remains chilled-out until certain that something may prove problematic.  She makes her decisions and choices based solely upon the evidence she receives and is determined to be friendly and accepting to all.  I am sorry that our lives did not coincide; I could have learned as much from her as she has learned from me in my present state.  For example in her relations with Betty.  You may recall that the much-larger and somewhat spoiled Giant Schnauzer Betty, an occasional guest in our house, beat poor Gisèle into a bloody, ragged, sobbing pulp on several occasions when they were first acquainted.  Not content with bullying her, stealing her food, pushing her off the sofa and hiding her toys, Betty tore off a part of Gisèle's pretty face (it grew back and the fur is almost back to normal), leaving her with a permanent scar.

Betty is now Gisèle's best (canine) friend.

The two girls are happy and comfortable when together and act as a perfect united team when out chasing squirrels.  In fact, Gizmo often dashes off unexpectedly in pursuit of a fresh scent leaving the older and slower Betty standing.  When Betty feels that her little partner-in-crime has been gone for too long, she searches for her with increasing anxiety and doesn't relax until the little Parson Jack Russell terrier has returned to her side.  It is extremely touching to witness.

The true test of Gisèle's exceptionally easy-going personality inevitably arrived - as I knew it ultimately must - with her introduction to the amoral, foetid open sewer that is Peaches the Cat.  For those unacquainted with the foul feline git-wizard please feel free to click HERE for his unwelcome début on this blog.  Briefly, however, Peaches is a cat with fur and paws as black as purest anthracite.  The heart that beats within his malevolent, twisted breast is just as dark.  Now then.  It matters not the smallest jot to me what an individual's fur or skin colour may be;  there is good in everyone.  But not Peaches.  Peaches is evil.  Were it merely an innate bitter nature, due to the fact that some human idiot took on a jet-black male cat and decided to christen him "Peaches", I could perhaps have forgiven him.  But he is that most unforgivable of types - an unmitigated, calculating bully.

Peaches is uniformly foul-mouthed, regardless of whether he is speaking to a man, woman or a child.  He heeds not the etiquette between species; I have seen him reduce adult cats, as well as small kittens, to tears alongside his canine victims.  My little Jack Russell chum, Archie, from the end of my row of houses had his face brutally slashed open when an infant pup by Peaches.  Only Edward the Rottweiler has been able to successfully repel the cruelty of Peaches.

Cometh the fateful evening; cometh Peaches to my garden fence.  Sweet Gisèle was playing in the garden with her belovèd teddy-bear.  The bright evening sun was tormenting my eyes, so I remained in the lounge.  My partner was upstairs, cleaning the bathroom.  Naturally, I smelled the wicked aroma of Peaches long before he showed himself.  Keeping to the pavement outside our garden, he popped out from behind our trailing Honeysuckle and fixed his beady eyes on pretty young Gizmo.
"Good evening, my dear." purred Peaches, all false smiles and deceptive charm.

"Hiya!"  yipped Gisèle brightly, leaping up and eagerly wagging her tail, happy at the prospect of meeting a brand new friend.  "My name is Gisèle - but my friends call me Gizmo, for short."

"I beg your pardon, my dear?  I didn't quite catch that..." mewed the cat.  At once, I recognised the usual tactic of the rotten Peach.  He deluded the innocent and uninitiated into thinking that he was partially deaf, friendly and well-meaning, thus causing them to move closer to his side and speak clearly into his inviting ear - at which point he would instantly turn, slash open the newcomer's cheek, ear, neck and/or lip(s) and then retreat to a concealed vantage point, to safely enjoy the suffering he had inflicted.

"Gisèle!" halloed the little terrier loudly, "MY NAME IS Gisèle."
"Good heavens!" chuckled Peaches, amenably, "Your name is almost bigger than you are!"  Sweet Giz giggled.
"My friends call me Gizmo." she smiled.

"Hello then.  Gisèle."  simpered Peaches (at which I was disgusted).  "And where did you come from?"
"I live here now!" beamed Gisèle (politely overlooking Peaches' insolence).
"I beg pardon?" queried Peaches.
"I LIVE HERE NOW!!" repeated Giz, a little louder, moving closer to Peaches' inclined ear.
"And I see you are a Jack Russell Terrier?" mewed Peaches.
"Yes!" grinned Giz, pleased to have been identified.
"Excuse me?" meowed Peaches, "Forgive me, my dear, I am a little hard of hearing today..."

As little Gisèle inched trustingly ever-closer to the ghastly Peaches I jumped up and prepared to hasten to the lady's defence.  At that precise moment, however, I was forestalled.  In one of the distant opposite fields, a bird-scarer (a fake gunshot-effect, to deter game-birds and deer from eating farmers' crops) sounded.  Gisèle's sharp eye did not fail to spot Peaches' flinching at the sudden noise.  She turned an accusatory glare at her new 'friend'.
"You heard that!" she barked indignantly.  "I don't think you are deaf at ALL!"
I sat back, confident now that my youthful protegée had the situation in paw.  Peaches, for his part, looked discomfited.  Gizmo continued: "I think that you are a very mean cat, pretending to be deaf when you are not.  Being deaf must be horrid and you ought not to make a mockery of it to suit yourself!"

I was proud of her.  Peaches, however, spat in Gisèle's pretty face and began to hiss and swear at her.  I tensed, prepared to employ whatever I could to defend the lady's honour.  Again, sweet Giz was in no need of assistance.  She got to her paws delicately, stretched, and padded quietly onto some upturned empty flowerpots in the garden storage area.  "Did you know," she wuffed gently, tapping casually at one of the fence-posts with a fore-paw, "That, if I breathe in tight and push hard, I can get through the fence here...?!"

At this point I knew, for certain, that Gisèle had no need of my assistance.  But Peaches was not done yet.  Oh no.  His evil yellow eyes scanned the garden.
"I see that Jasper's Holly tree is still struggling to live.  At least it is making a braver effort for its life than HE ever did.  He gave up at the first opportunity, the lazy fat - dead - s*d, did you know that...?"

Little Gizmo's whiskers tensed, but she affected not to hear him.  Unaware of any gathering storm, the foul Peaches went blithely on.  "Every day, Gisèle Parson-Jack-Russell-Terrier, I come into this garden when you are at work and p*ss all over that little tree in the hope it will go the same way as its worthless namesake.  I p*ss on the tree as I long to p*ss on his worthless corpse."  The feline paused, waiting for the reaction he had hoped to provoke.  Sweet Gisèle merely blinked calmly back at him and padded over to the small Holly-sapling, looking upon its supple shoots with affection.

"Good," she replied to the scheming Peaches, with total unconcern, "Well - please continue.  The little tree seems to be thriving, so your wee is obviously nourishing the tree and helping it to grow stronger.  I beg you to consider this thought, and that it might comfort you in your long and - clearly - lonely evenings."
Peaches scowled darkly.  "As for Jasper," continued Giz, smiling benignly, "His body has been committed to a far, FAR better place, and his spirit has a tranquil repose, where it never ceases to do good.  I doubt the same will be said for yours..."

At this, my heart leapt.  Only the rarest of creatures could have attempted to counter Peaches with naught but patience and polite explanation.  Gisèle is truly a very rare gem to be treasured.  But the evil one sadly remained unswayed.  He suddenly lashed out at Gizmo, who had to jump back in order to avoid his sharp claws coming through a fence-post, trying to slash open and permanently maim her pretty face.

Gizmo instantly sprang back up onto the flower-pots, snarling most effectively, and jabbing at the fence posts with her strong right fore-paw.  Somewhat fortuitously (and unexpectedly), the fence post against which she was pressing shifted slightly.  Giz yipped in triumph and moved it even further aside.

Peaches couldn't fail to see this and yowled in panic, horror-struck at the notion that certain tables might be turned and that he could easily be out-run by the young and exceptionally-fit Gisèle (Peaches was always a corpulent b*gg*r, but age and gluttony have expanded his girth yet further).

As Gizmo (who had no intention of actually escaping our garden) squeezed her head and shoulders through the fence, still growling and yapping most alarmingly, the cowardly Peaches fled, squealing.  To our further amusement, he collided with a parked-car at the corner of our cul-de-sac, and wailed all the louder.  We listened as he cleared his garden fence in a single leap and smiled even more at the satisfying "click" of the cat-flap closing behind him.

Peeping out of the window, I spotted Honey, the cat from across the road, in one of her favourite spots atop her household's recycling wheelie-bin.  She affected to be asleep, but I couldn't fail to notice that a small, delighted smile was playing across her lips...

It has now been over nine months since I departed (most unwillingly) this life.  Now I understand why I needed to remain here in spirit for all this time.  I hinted to sweet Gisèle that, perhaps, it was nearly time for me to go.  This is a concept that my partner, at least, can view with some modicum of acceptance.  But Giz started to cry as soon as I broached the subject.  It would seem that she can face up to Peaches - but not the challenge of learning the remainder of her life-lessons without me.  Soon then, I told her, but not yet.

Not yet.  And besides, I have forgotten to tell you about Ewan.  Oh dear, dear me.  For, in my absence, it would seem that the very worst has happened.  The very, VERY worst.

Yes.  Ewan has been trying to think for himself.  No good can come of this.

Until the next time, then.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Sunday 30 September 2012

Please forgive our lengthy absence - we have been away!  Sweet Gisèle's first-ever holiday came courtesy of my partner's parents.  It has been a long and deeply unpleasant year for my partner thus far; a week on Dartmoor was offered as a gift to alleviate the general despair.

The weather was exceptionally kind and we were equally fortunate in our choice of accommodation.  We stayed here:  "Our" cottage was the one in the foreground, with the terracotta pot in front of it, and the room in which we slept has the window above the door.  The owners were lovely, delightful people with two fine spaniels, Max and Milly.  Milly was not unlike my late wife Isolde, but with intricate feather-like markings upon her back, and sweet Gisèle was very taken with the dashing Max.  The cottage was small but beautiful, with original exposed beams and an inglenook fireplace, and well-situated both for the charming town of Tavistock and lovely Dartmoor.  We even passed the pub that my partner and I had frequented during our final Dartmoor trip during my lifetime, back in 2007 - she and I had assisted there with the redecoration of the gents' lavatories there (it's a long story).  Memories for us both - vastly happy, yet bitter-sweet, with a sense of continuation with Gisèle.

Barking of fair Gisèle, our erstwhile hosts were most tolerant of an altercation she had with one of their chickens...  Suffice it to bark that the chicken lived, though denuded of its tail-feathers - leaving its poor bottom bare and exposed to the elements.
"But I only wanted to play football with the chicken!" protested Gis, when confronted with the evidence of her mischief.  Her claims and apologies were accepted and the incident thus passed without further comment or remonstration and the hapless innocent fowl made a full recovery.

There was one other notable event to disturb the general peace.  Denied the guidance of my physical presence, my partner and Gisèle got lost in the middle of a mire on the South Moor, whilst trying to complete a journey that my partner and I had once started but abandoned.  They achieved their destination: Ducks Pool.  See the evidence here:-

Alas!  Waterlogged boggy ground forced an unanticipated detour.   That which had appeared a simple back-and-forth journey was first delayed by talking to a fellow-walker who had recently been bereaved of  his canine companion and then by Gisèle's obsessive pursuit of a rabbit.  Night was falling as we struggled back to our familiar route.  We kept having to stop to answer increasingly panicked calls on our mobile 'phone from my partner's mother as to our whereabouts.

By way of a convoluted set of circumstances, we ended up being transported off the moor by Ray, a noble farmer from Sheepstor, on the very quad-bike used by Steven Spielberg in the filming of "War Horse".  I hopped, unseen, into the rear rack of the quad to perch alongside Chap, the farmer's sheepdog, and my partner's rucksack.  My partner climbed onto the quad to ride pillion behind Roy, clutching Gisèle to her for dear life.  We were saved!  And, let me assure you, never - NEVER - again.

On a happier note, it took Gisèle only three days to grasp the nettle of cognisance as to the utter no-no of harassing livestock on the moor.  I witnessed the struggle within her, as she overcame the inbuilt impulse to chase all manner of beasties,  in order to recognise the difference between that which was off-limits and illegal and the situations in which she could run and caper unimpeded.  I was minded to laugh - until I recalled that it had taken me far and away longer than Gisèle's three days to learn the same lesson.  I kept quiet.

In general, then.  Much fun was had by all.  Here are a few more pictures to enjoy:-

As I was bringing this entry to a close, I heard an odd hissing sound.  It rapidly became clearer:
"Pssst!  JASPER!!"
It was Gisèle.
"Shh!" she whispered, confidentially, into my ear, "Don't tell anyone... I said I just wanted to play with the chicken.  But actually, secretly, I wanted to EAT it!  Don't tell, will you?!"

"Of course not!" I assured her, with a smile.

Apart from posting it here on this blog, for all to read, obviously...

Until the next time, then.  Good-night.