Bad Month for Black Dog

“…a bad month for black dogs…”

The words echo along the deserted underground tunnel as I jump from the escalator to slink behind a pillar and wait for someone, anyone, to come. It’s true, although every month is a bad month for black dogs, January is worst. How did I come to choose the underground? Let me think, it was accidental the first time, two shouting boys chased me on the street, and I just ran into the first entrance I came to. After that it was easy, slipping down moving metal stairs, between the legs and feet of commuters, I managed to get a biscuit, a chunk of pizza, some prawn crackers and once even an ear-rub from a kind woman. But soon the feet would climb onto a train and leave me alone on the platform. Even the woman who’d whispered soft, sweet words as she rubbed my ears and throat left me. I should be used to it, I know, everyone leaves.

I spent my first weeks in a dark place with many others, young and raw, like me. My mother was there at first, I think I can remember climbing over others like me to get close to her, but I can’t be sure now. There was whimpering, yelping and it was cold, always so cold. I was taken from there in a bag and into a Christmas Day. That place was new and it was not cold, there was no mother, but a lot of sweet food. I vomited and shit everywhere and was put into another bag and left outside with Merry Christmas rubbish.

You don’t want to hear all the story, do you? It’s not a happy one, though there was one happy day, when I found a safe place next to a warm pipe in a cellar. There were others, many others, living there, small creatures with sharp teeth and long tails like worms. They ran about constantly, coming and going through holes between bricks, squeaking and blinking at me, stiff whiskers twitching. Sitting up on back legs and using front feet to hold onto food and other things, I didn’t know what. I had no food, but I ate some scraps that they left on the ground. More vomit and shit came, but before long my stomach got used to the food and I stayed by the warm pipe until my body and legs grew stronger. When the pipe became too hot, I had to find somewhere colder. That was the end of the happy time.

If someone asked me now, what would you like to happen? I would say I’d like to find my mother. I’m sure she was kind, she smelled like me and had ears and eyes like mine. If I couldn’t find her, then I’d like to find somewhere warm and safe to stay, some food that didn’t make me sick and maybe someone to rub my ears when I’m drifting off to sleep. There could be kind people every day in the underground, maybe the right one will find me soon, before January is over.

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End of a Manic year…

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Is it possible that we will get to the end of 2016 without catastrophe? Retrospectives are everywhere, seemingly more so than usual, though I think that’s probably the Year of Mania effect. Russian ambassadors are being expelled from the US as a result of the alleged Clinton election hack furore. Putin is playing the moral high card of non-retaliation, for the moment. Syria still teeters on the brink, its war far from finished. Hopefully Syrian residents will be able to wake up intact in the coming days and weeks. And the rest of us, too. Yes, it could get that bad.

As if on cue, to show the state of mania in today’s world, one-time DJ Noel Edmonds has been on the radio, explaining that cats know they shouldn’t kill mice and birds, but that if we just say ‘that’s naughty and if you don’t do it you will get your reward in heaven’ our cats will understand and cease the slaughter of their little furred and feathered prey.

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Of course they will, and Donald Trump is a frisky lamb with a comb-over. But the real poser is, does Noel’s patient instruction work in the human world? Or, perhaps, why doesn’t it? Remember the immortal words of Yoda, my go-to philosopher: Patience, you must have.

Speaking of fake news, and who hasn’t been lately, I hope the brilliant press cartoonists will keep up the amazing standards they have exhibited in recent months. Don’t believe what the columnists are writing? Just look at the political cartoons and then you can work out your own, rational, response.

For the moment, mine is: A Happy and Peaceful New Year, May You Have.

Hats – and other Headgear – Off to Christmas!

Two sleeps to go… so much to do. Festive foray into the madding crowd today to pick up the pork joint and other last minute essentials, more mince pies, more sprouts, (forgot those, we’ll have spinach) and one of those special cards , you know the type, Happy Christmas to The One I Love. Can never make a decision on those and always end up, after much procrastination, buying one when there are only three left in the rack. Without correct sized envelope: will it need a trim? And either tres formal or gushing. Went for formal, managed to get a half-decent one and only 99p. What a bargain. Next year I’ll just write I Love You, Sometimes, Happy Christmas! on an Amazon carton and fill it with wine, chocs, nuts and a copy of Computer Shopper. Or maybe, if I’m feeling kind, which is not likely, a copy of Dogs Magazine. He always enjoys that sketch on Peter Kay’s Car Share, you remember the one? Ah, fond memories of nights spent in the woods, or sometimes only the car park.

Anyway, never mind that, what I started this post for was to report on Christmas Hats. You know there is a special day for wearing Christmas jumpers? And intellectually challenged people join in and wear them? Well, today, my bus driver was wearing a full Santa outfit. And saying Ho, Ho, Ho! to passengers as they boarded. Brilliant! Usually the driver ignores your frantic waving from the bus stop and sweeps by, swooshing puddles at you if he – it’s usually a he – can manage it and then laughing his head off. Or making you get off again because there are already 156 people standing and you would just tip the balance, with your tartan shopping trolley whacking into people’s shins. Oh, the shame! But today: what a jolly chap. He even stopped at red lights, stayed within lanes on the suicide roundabout and picked passengers up at every stop. I think perhaps he was the real Santa. A bit like the real Trump in appearance but with full Santa beard and long white curls, instead of a weird straw-coloured comb-over. And better messages to the world, or at least to his surprised but thankful bus load.

And the other headgear? We’ve become used to Santa’s elves in the pub after work, with their Spock ears and red and green costumes. So yesterday. But last night two chaps and a woman came in wearing roast chickens on their heads. Honest, they had their heads in the place where the stuffing usually goes and they looked  flipping ace. I almost choked on my Balti from laughing. Wish I’d taken my camera.

Fall, food time…

Fall is almost here, or autumn, as we refer to the season in the UK. I think ‘Fall’ says it better. Leaves fall, temperatures fall, twilight falls earlier and earlier each evening.  Fall describes the misty, golden, shorter days, when you dig out your sweaters, scarves  and socks from last year and wrap up warm to go out and kick leaves like a kid.

The grocery stores are full of all kinds of apples, pumpkins and squash. Recipes leap out at me from my news feed, warm, comforting dishes: Apple Cakes with Caramel Sauce, Butternut and Barley Risotto with a whisper of Parmesan Shavings, a vegan waffle mix, with Chia Seed eggs, instead of the ones from a chicken. All worth an hour or two spent experimenting in the kitchen.

Trouble is, as usual, I’m keeping an eye on my waistline and trying to stop my little body becoming ever more roly-poly. Last evening we ate out and I chose Shangai Noodles with shavings of Rib-Eye steak. They were delicious and not too bad for my healthy eating regime. But the two generous glasses of Shiraz accompanying the meal probably, literally, tipped the scales. Still, red wine is good for the heart, so the experts are maintaining, at least they are this week.

I’m dreading the Christmas adverts, they’re only just appearing, but soon we’ll be facing a constant barrage of turkey, plum pudding and all-the-trimmings menus. By the time the big day arrives, all I want is chicken and vegetable soup, with chunky bread to dunk. I’ll have had it with the fancy finger food and ubiquitous baked hams, a million ways to stuff a turkey and brilliant brussels sprouts makeovers. Why not just give Christmas grub a miss altogether and hold off until Pancake Tuesday? My waistline would definitely feel the benefit!

Send in the Clowns?

Terror reigns on both sides of the pond!

While the presidential election sniping and hacking continues unabated in the US, a new wave of fear, imported from the States, is sweeping the UK. Even in the backwater of Norn Irn, so-called ‘killer’ clowns are appearing at random to terrify the unsuspecting populace. Schools are a particular target, which seems to me to be a particularly cowardly way for clowns to get their clowning kicks. Elderly people, too, are being singled out to frighten, though you’d think that the older generation would be so used to clowns appearing without warning over the decades they wouldn’t bat a drooping eyelid.

Several of these comically dressed and fearsomely masked or made-up clowns have gone further, standing in the path of oncoming traffic, reminiscent of the somewhat passe but once-much-loved-by-little-boys game of ‘Chicken’. Or leaping out in front of cars stopping at red lights or slowing down to manoeuvre. Sooner or later, one of these, yes, clowns, is going to get run down and killed. And that will be a shame, won’t it? I mean, it’s not even Halloween yet. And it’s hard to take an amusing selfie when you’re unconscious and bleeding all over the highway.