‘The Peace of Easter’

I put this rant on my FaceAche page just before the schools broke up for Easter.  I must admit to getting just a tad annoyed  by the cacophony outside my kitchen window every weekday morning and afternoon

. It should be pointed out that the local school is of a particular religious denomination and as a consequence many of the pupils and their parents live some distance away – hence the expensive overpowered cars.  The particularly strident parents (some of whom have threatened us for having the temerity to park in our own driveway while they are trying to get their offspring to school or back home)  sound a little bit Scally.

We have been known to take our boys to school by car but when they were small we used to park in the pub car park (with the owner’s blessing – his trade increased hugely on sunny days) and walk round the corner.  When they got bigger and went to high school we were permitted to drop them off and collect them only if we parked in a side road away from the school and didn’t play the car stereo too loud – SO embarrassing.  As the boys are n-n-n-nineteen and almost twenty-one now, those days are gone; replaced by longer and more complicated collections and droppings off.

The school-bound moronic mummies ceased to bother me when I went back to work full-time but now that I am home and not particularly gainfully self-employed, they make me a bit cross – sometimes – at other times I want to dash out there and slash their tyres but I am reluctant to blunt any of my new kitchen knives.

Rant!!!!!! We live on a blind corner. There is a very good reason for 20 mile an hour signs. My breakfast preparations have been marred yet again this morning by the sight (and sound) of screeching brakes and screeching thirty-something harpies in over-powered 4 x 4s who have narrowly avoided a head on crash outside my kitchen window. Oy! Surely it is a greater sin to kill your children, your air-headed selves and to smash up your car than to be a few minutes later for the school drop off? Get up earlier! Drive more slowly! Look where you are going! Oh Brainless Bimbo Mummies! (and Daddies but Mummies are in the majority).  Yes, you know who you are! Your parking is selfish and thoughtless but pales in comparison to your awful driving. Rant over – will eat breakfast now and shut up. The sun is shining and it is good to be alive. Let’s keep it that way eh?

Well, they really are dreadful.  When my boys were small I would often walk them to school and back – when I say walk I mean one in the buggy and the older school age one hanging off the back.  It was me that did the walking. Trying to get past the on the pavement by the school just up the road (not the one my boys went to) was almost impossible. Huge gas-guzzling cars barred my way whilst I ran the gauntlet of gossiping mothers with far bigger, better buggies than  mine, looking down their noses at me as I struggled to get past.  They only used said buggies to transport the youngest from the car  to the school gate; the wheels were spotless and only a matching designer changing bag hung from the handles whilst mine were festooned with carrier bags.

After one particularly frustrating trip which resulted in us taking a detour past the  local shop (once an old-fashioned newsagent with jars of sweets and a man who did bird impressions – now an estate agent), I phoned the council to complain and was rewarded with a set of zig zag lines outside the school.

Not that the mummies took much notice. In some cases they are parked up on the other side of the road as much as an hour beforehand leaving the latecomers to park as close to the zig zag lines  as possible and leave no room for cars to get through the middle – especially when the car doors are wide open as they take an age to lash their little ones into the car seats.

Just before the Easter holidays bestowed peace and tranquility on all our houses; I called the police to have a moan. The woman on the other end of 101 listened patiently and even gave me a crime number.

I was mollified.

Whilst sipping my Vanilla-Latte-Macchiato (no added Valium or painkillers) and idly channel-flipping, I received a call from a very nice PCSO from the local (and very nearby) police station.

She was picking up on my complaint about the speeding and parking.  She was very sympathetic (she’s a local girl) but told me a few facts that make me dread the coming term even more.

  • The 20 and 30 mile an hour signs that have blossomed on lamp posts throughout the locality are not enforceable.  They have been put there by the council as a traffic calming initiative.  This may be why the mummies don’t take any notice of them – or it might just be because the mummies are morons and paid someone else to take their driving test.
  • Similarly, zig-zag lines outside a school are not enforceable and the Highway Code suggestion that you should not park right on road junctions is merely that – a suggestion.
  • The mummies could get done for dangerous driving if caught in the act but with five primary schools and a  high school on their beat, the police are trying to solve real crime – allegedly.
  • The mummies could get busted for obstruction if their god-awful parking barred the lawful progress of an emergency vehicle – no doubt trying to speed through and attend an accident caused by other stupid mummies.
  • The police say it is the council’s responsibility to sort out the parking and speeding issues, the council says it is the school’s responsibility, the school says it is up to the police and hey presto! We are back where we began.

The nice PCSO promised to get a colleague to pop into the school after the break and have a word. I can think of several but I am still mellowed by the uninterrupted sound of birdsong and my dog wuffing at the postman – oh, and the people across the road having a very colourful and explitive filled row – and the man on the other side of them throwing his empty whisky bottles into the blue recycling bin.

Dammit!  Back to earplugs and  ‘Homes Under the Hammer‘ on subtitles next week then.

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The heat is on ….

Hola amigos!  Wotcha mates! Or even Aiya luv!  See how proficient I am at this multilingual stuff?

I am still here after my first month and my paws are well and truly under the table – well they would be if it wasn’t for the fact that my Mum, Dad and the Boy seem to use the table as a general dumping ground rather than for eating off.    At the moment it is a mess of paperwork, gloves, hats, books, CDs, DVDs and – ooh drool – I can see Scooby snacks half-hidden by a magazine and just waiting for me to devour them (the magazine is ‘Heat’ – bought by my Mum for the ‘Weird Crush’ article – it seems that she has a weird crush on three-quarters of the weirdos therein).

Back to life   – back to reality – back to the here and now.  What a lyrical pooch I am but before the present a small recap to explain the even greater level of disorder and chaos in this house.

The boiler died.  My dogservatory became very cold at night and as a consequence I was permitted to sleep in the living room  – on the sofa – AT NIGHT and ALL NIGHT  – not just when the Boy couldn’t sleep and came down for munchies and a cuddle.

I hasten to point out that during this period I was very, very good, and didn’t eat or destroy anything.  In fact – since the one-off incident with the stale bagel I have not pinched anything at all.  I’ll say this for my family, they provide me with decent grub so that I don’t have to help myself.  Not that I would take anything that my Boy cooks anyway – he has a tendency to lace everything with lashings of Tabasco Sauce – not good for a  doggy constitution.

Whilst my main meals are stable and of high quality (they got a 10% discount at the pet shop and bought some decent food in bulk) my Mum has been browsing in the pet aisles at various supermarkets to find a variety of healthy and enticing snacks with which to encourage good (i.e. subservient) behaviour.  Anything that smells highly of bacon is good for a snuffle hound like me but cheesy stuff is appreciated too.

I digress.  Apparently my Dad has been intending to replace the boiler – and the entire heating system –  for some time and then Fate forced his hand.  It was going to take two days, there would be no heat or hot water and LOTS of disruption.  Not ideal for an old lag like me who is just getting acclimatised to my new surroundings after eighteen months in the chokie but the alternative wasn’t too palatable either.

So there were quite a few days of dust and disorganisation whilst my Mum and Dad cleared away years of detritus from in front of the radiators (there was some recycling but much of the junk has just been moved from one space to another).  On the Sunday before the work was due to begin I became so excited about the patio door being left open that during one of my mad running in and out moments I made the mistake of revealing to my Dad how easy it would be for me to jump over the six-foot wall by the gate (not that pleasant though as there is a huge Pyracanthus bush on the other side that would have seriously wrecked my lovely glossy coat and left my family picking prickles out of me for months afterwards.)

The patio door was shut firmly at that point and the Dyson brought out in an effort to keep the dust levels down and stop my Mum wheezing and sneezing.

Monday morning and the men (well – big boys) arrived.  I should state here that I now I have my own home again I am just a little protective about it – ask the postman.  I confess to a bit of huffing and growling at first, and due to the number of open doors and heavy metal radiators in the yard, I had to wear my lead and be tethered to a family member.  We spent a large amount of the day huddled together for warmth on the sofa whilst the boiler boyz whizzed from room to room whipping out the grungy old radiators and installing the shiny new ones.  There was also a fearsome and intriguing amount of noise from my Mum and Dad’s bedroom which had a lot to do with the removal of a giant copper tank, several smaller tanks and the collapse of a wooden louvred door that used to cover up the big tank.  There was much wuffing on my part but the growling ceased.

On Tuesday a third boiler boy joined the team and there was even more noise so my Mum and Dad took me for a nice walk in the woods.  There were bunnies but although I was on the extending lead I couldn’t quite catch them (well – when I say ‘quite’ I mean they were some distance away in reality but if they’d been cats ….. who knows?)

The boiler boyz were finished by Tuesday tea time; they cleaned up and took all the old radiators, tanks and packaging away with them so that I could have my yard back again.  My day doesn’t seem right unless it starts with me and my shivering Mum out in the yard playing hide and seek for treats – it is best in the dark but she only does this when my Dad is on a morning shift or she can’t sleep.  Once I’ve stretched my legs and consumed sufficient treats we usually curl up on the sofa together and heckle news readers on the BBC.

The house was warm again – a bit too warm until my Mum read the instructions on how to programme the new heating system.  It meant that my freedom of the living room was curtailed though and I was back in my room at night (apart from the time when the Boy didn’t shut the door properly and I sneaked out once he’d gone to bed).

So a week on and we still have dusty boxes and bags scattered around; the pressure  is off so my Mum and Dad have slowed down on their good intentions – the Boy has his own standards of tidiness regarding his room but as I still won’t do stairs they must remain a mystery – I have heard my Mum yelling at him about clearing up his pit, bringing the rubbish down and putting his dirty dishes in the dishwasher.  He only seems to do these things for reward however – and we aren’t talking Scooby snacks either.

Last Friday was a pretty wonderful day for me.  We had our longest drive over to the Wirral and went on a big sandy beach. My Mum and Dad took the extending lead and I ran.  I ran a lot.  In fact I ran so much that I pulled the lead out of my Mum’s hand and legged down the beach. Hampered by wellies, my Dad came after me but couldn’t catch me.  At that point I remembered the Scooby snacks in my Mum’s pocket, took pity on my Dad and ran back to my Mum’s relieved and ever open arms.  I do like to be beside the seaside.

The Boy was helping his friend move house all day that day and we went to collect him – another car trip.  I LOVE our car especially when I can stick my nose out of the window and drool down the glass.  I was allowed in the new house and after some persuasion and many Scooby snacks, I actually made it up the stairs.  Well, they were carpeted, unlike the clattering wooden slats we have at home.  They let me off the lead and I explored but disgraced myself a bit by christening the carpet in one of the bedrooms.  They all needed to be cleaned anyway.  A dog has to leave his mark.

We went visited again a couple of days ago and discovered that their own dog (an elegant older woman greyhound who I have already approved) and a dog belonging to another family member (a skittish little whippet girl who has NO manners at all) had followed suit and also watered the same piece of carpet.  I had to be relegated to the car on this visit because the intrusive nose of the whippet made me bad tempered, growly and I used the edge of the sofa as a lamp post substitute. Oops.

I’m afraid I am being a bit of a trial to my family at the moment.  My wuffing and growling whilst out has become a bit unpredictable and as a consequence there are now places in the neighbourhood that are no-go areas – sometimes only limited by the time of day as with the local school and the demented mothers who park all over the pavement and have yappy designer dogs that they can’t control.  There is also the road where the mad man with long grey hair lives.  He too has a yappy little dog and allows it to hurl abuse from behind a gate usually but the other day when my Mum and I were having a leisurely stroll, he let the thing out and it went for us.  I out-wuffed it but my Mum had me on a tight rein (so tight that she burnt her hands and ripped off a fingernail – I am very strong) so I couldn’t do much more than tell it what I thought of it.  The mad man grabbed his dog by the tail and tried to get it back on to the other side of the road – not back behind the gates – just to the other pavement where he let go and the dog came charging towards us again.

We turned tail and walked back the way we’d come with my Mum muttering about ‘responsible dog ownership’ and the mad man stating that it was a ‘free country’.  I expressed my feelings by having a huge poop when we got out of sight.  It made me feel better but my Mum, already struggling with the burnt hands and torn fingernail, was not impressed.  The mood lifted when we passed the bus stop and a nice old lady remarked on how handsome I was.  My Mum had to agree and doled out the Scooby snacks as I melted hearts with my big brown eyes.

There have been a couple of other incidents since then; I went for a large black husky-type yesterday – well – when I say went for, I mean growled and wuffed and pulled  – but my timing was a bit off.  I really shouldn’t do that sort of thing when my Dad is scooping poop.  He got a bit cross and stern.  The day continued to deteriorate with the visit from the nice man installing some equipment for the broadband upstairs.  Unfortunately, although my Mum and Dad said he was nice, he smelled very strongly of cigarettes and that set me off with the growling and wuffing again.  My Mum put me on lockdown; on the lead and sitting at her feet, banned from the sofa, stern voice and in disgrace for the rest of the afternoon.  They took me out for a walk later but it was one of those ‘we are in charge and you will walk slowly and nicely or we stand still till you do and there are no Scooby snacks’ walks.  Being an intelligent dog, I latched on quickly, did as I was asked and got lots of praise, hugs (and Scooby snacks) as a consequence.  We were all shattered when we got home though.

So – I need to accept that my family are in charge and that they don’t like me to wuff and growl excessively (four wuffs is okay in the house – that’s part of my guard dog duty).  They need to be consistent however, and harden themselves to my imploring eyes.  I think they understand now that sometime in my past a bad man smelling strongly of cigarettes, with a shaven head,and the physique of a bouncer, hit me and made me frightened.  I know they won’t let that happen to me again but I am only a dog (albeit a beautiful and intelligent dog) and such fears are deeply rooted.

On the upside (as my Mum has discovered by reading one of the many dog books that she has acquired) I am very good in the house, I was very gentle with the little girl and the baby that visited last weekend, I don’t get territorial about food, I am not destructive and I wait to be invited to sit on the sofa where I give excellent cuddles.

We are all shaping up – and considering we’ve only had one month together – not doing too badly.

When can we go to the seaside again?

 

 

No one gets hurt if they don’t act funny – aggressive dogs,chatty women,cold callers, joggers – and cats!

Ey Up (that’s Northern speak for Hola)

Week two in my new home and I’m slowly getting my humans sorted out.

I confess – we have all rather fallen for each other – my Mum because she gets up first and plays silly games with me in the garden and is actually beginning to understand what I want.  My Dad because he runs fast with me and makes me grin and I am SO pleased to see him when he comes back from this thing they call work.  My Boy because he laughs when I do funny things, he gets up in the middle of the night and hugs me when everyone else is asleep, and because he is MY BOY.

We’ve done rather a lot of stuff this past week.  After the adventures at Spike Island, my Mum and Dad took me to a local park where they knew there would be lots of dogs, geese, ducks, swans and those funny little black things – coots and moorhens – I think.  There were also some disreputable characters smoking whacky baccy under the railway bridge but we’ll draw a line under them.

We did running – me and my Dad.  My Mum was in charge of the Scooby Snacks; I get them when I sit, stay, lie down and don’t pull anyone’s arm off.  I growled a bit; only at dogs that looked a bit dodgy (and the chavs under the bridge of course). Some of the other dog walkers we encountered put their dogs back on leads when they saw me pulling a bit – very considerate.

We were all enjoying the walk when this woman  with a very wet black labrador came up to us.  The labrador was a bit lippy so I barked a bit  – back atcha Soggy Snout!  My Dad took me over to the pond and gave me a hug so that I stopped barking.  The lippy labby shook smelly canal water all over my Mum, and the woman said she recognised us from the RSPCA.

The woman said “Isn’t he socialised?  I didn’t think they were supposed to be homed until they were socialised?”

Pardon me?  All I did was growl a bit.  Your dog has been chasing the wildlife, jumping in and out of the canal, making people wet and smelly by shaking himself all over them, and actually – he growled at me first!

My Mum was trying to get away from this mad woman who had now gone on to complain about the park and how she hated bringing her dog there because he always jumped in the canal, frightened the ducks and made people wet when he shook himself.

Oh for heaven’s sake woman – put him on a lead then!  Or don’t bring him to the park! And most of all don’t accuse me of not being socialised when your own dog wouldn’t win any prizes for grace or charm. I’m the one that’s been incarcerated for the past eighteen months after all.  Woof!

She went in the end and we walked on through the park, ran a bit more and then I got to stick my nose out of the car window and drool all the way home.  I love fresh air!

By comparison the next day was a bit quiet; my Dad was off shooting things with paintballs and my Boy was off shooting things with little white pellets.  There are a lot of these pellets in the garden but you can’t eat them.  I had a quiet day with my Mum, although she did take me for a walk round the block after I woofed at the United Utilities man outside.  My Mum and I were both very pleased when my Dad and my Boy came home though.  There was much excited tail wagging and grinning – on my part – my Mum doesn’t have a tail but she smiles a lot.

There have been other incidents this week; nothing terrible really but my family now know that in addition to cats, aggressive dogs and mad women, I don’t like joggers either.   Someone knocked at the front door the other evening when my Mum and I were dozing on the sofa/watching Pointless.  Oh boy did I bark!  Whoever it was had vanished by the time my Mum had calmed me down – Hah! Another cold caller bites the dust.

Oh, I have a new bed!  I still have one in the dogservatory but this one is furry and fluffy and takes up quite a lot of floor area in the living room.  I still like getting up on the sofa to have hugs but this new bed is good to crash out on and keep an eye on everyone at the same time.

I’m gradually getting introduced to my family’s favourite places too.  Yesterday we went down to another place on the river by the big bridge, no dogs but a dangerous looking jogger who got the benefit of my most menacing growl.  He passed us again but my Mum was sneaky and spotted him first; she sent me and my Dad up some steps into a lovely smelly wood and by the time we got back the jogger was just a dot in the distance.

I was a bit muddy when we got home and my Boy decided that I should have a bath.  My Mum and Dad were dubious.  Bear in mind that for the past two weeks I have been firmly told that the bathroom is out-of-bounds; it also has a clattery floor that makes my nails slip and it smells of flowers.  My Mum put a towel on the floor and with the generous dispensation of Scooby Snacks managed to get me to acquaint myself with the bath.  I got one paw in it and my snout but that was all.  I think she understood that this bath thing was a non starter so she filled a container full of warm water and we all went back into the living room where I had a fairly decent wash and brush up of the undercarriage area.  Hah! Managed to avoid the bath AND got lots of hugs into the bargain – not  to mention the Scooby Snacks.

Tonight we went up to the Monument to watch the sun set.  It was a bit chilly for the humans but I loved it.  The whole place smells of rabbits and other dogs and even more rabbits but no cats.  I had a really good sniff around, we watched some buzzards circling and a couple of planes and helicopters but the humans wimped out eventually and we went back to the car.

So I am a happy perro.  Life is full of food and snacks and sleeping and running and walking and games of hide and seek in the garden with my Mum, but best of all are the hugs.

‘”Bah, humbug!” No, that’s too strong ’cause it’s my favourite holiday. But all this year’s been a busy blur, don’t think I have the energy’

Well, the PAM has brought new meaning to ‘that’s you off my Christmas List then!’  The list has been cut by half due to circumstances beyond our control.

Not that I’m complaining – she has to sit still with this poor old foot up when she’s writing Christmas cards – and to some extent when she’s wrapping up presents – though she tends to wriggle and fidget a bit more with the latter.

The last two days have been difficult here in V-toe land.

On Friday the teen had to be taken to his Muay Thai lesson as the teacher had no transport (some weird sort of martial art if you must know).  This entailed a trip to the outer reaches but the PAM’s face lit up when she found that these reaches touched on the Trafford Centre.  Truculent teen was dropped off and PAM and the other half hit the TC – she with glee – but not he.

It wasn’t too bad to start off with but the other half had to go to collect the teen and left the PAM in a queue a million miles long.  Goods bought and paid for eventually, she lugged me off to that newsworthy coffee shop where, after some suitably comic moments, she finally managed to heave us all up onto a bar stool with an excellent people-watching advantage and a venti gingerbread latte.

The other half and the teen were supposed to meet her there, they’d go for lunch and have another little spot of retail therapy.

Ha!

The world descended on the TC at lunchtime.

The other half and the teen had a falling-out which resulted in both of them phoning the PAM separately to complain about the other. I sat smugly tucked up under the bar stool (I was wearing one of my little black WWs with sparkly black trim and a white ribbon bow – so cute).

It was a race to see who was the most cross and therefore walked the fastest.  The teen won but in his haste completely overshot the coffee-house and had to be texted to bring him back.

The PAM and I were captive; all the effort that it took to get us up on the stool was sapped by the animosity being expressed to each other by her menfolk ( the rest of the toes and I NEVER fall out with each other – although there have been occasions where we’ve been more than a little squashed and tetchy).

The other half helped her down and the consensus was to get the flock out of there; the TC is no place to be with an over-sensitive toe, grumpy husband and deeply morose son.

Usually the car is a safe haven but not on that day.  It is a large car but not with two miserable men in it.  Food was essential to restore the equilibrium and after a long and winding route back into civilisation, sustenance was obtained from the other fast food place with a drive-thru (not the chicken-y one).

After the morning’s traumas, I thought the PAM would be kind and tuck me up on her cushion whilst she tackled the ominous essay.  No such luck.   Some of the other half’s temper was caused by an achy-breaky back but luckily the physio with the magical fingers had a five o’clock slot and so we were off out into the rain again in the rush hour.  Plenty of over the top Christmas decorations to be appalled at on the way though.

The other half  had his back cracked and was more cheerful but still no chance of going home.  They have run out of food again and a trip to the supermarket is the only solution.

I’m getting used to the cold – changes in temperature will cause the stinging stuff and occasional jab of white-hot pain – but RAIN!  The holy boot I wear is no protection against rain and on the way back from the car, hands full of shopping, the PAM went straight through the water feature that gathers on the paving stones outside the kitchen door.

Cold!  Wet! Pain!  My chic little WW was soaked as was my boot.  Thank heaven for radiators (although not for drying wet clothes on  – you get that horrible rank false-dry odour that often wafts past you in the office, or supermarket, or TC).

Everyone was talking to each other again and the evening was spent in cushion cuddling bliss for me – essay-agitation for the PAM.  Don’t know why – she should be an expert on corporate harm and negligence by now – ooh – controversial!

Up with the lark on Saturday to collect the other one from Uni. Various issues conspired to make us all late – as usual; my outfit for today was the giant Christmas WW which allows me to peek cheekily out of the boot in scarlet splendour and has apparently caused male envy due to it’s size (the one that accommodates me AND the the other four toes).

It was a long drive North but the heat was ON – and I was content.  The PAM and the other half were singing along to 80’s hits and all was reasonably well with the world – especially when it stopped raining.

The other one is in a shared house now but  there was no frantic cleaning of the communal kitchen or washing up flamingo-style this year  – his housemates are tidy ladies and he meets their exacting standards.  There was a huge pile of recycling to take, but the other half likes doing this and the PAM and I merely sat in the still-warm car and made silly comments.

What looked like several weeks worth of washing and ironing, together with enough equipment to supply a small independent office, was packed into the car and we stopped en route for home to have a late but extremely civilised lunch.  We all avoided alcohol – well nearly – the PAM was seduced by a coffee laced with Tia Maria and was therefore a tad merry when clambering back into the car – hey  – it is Christmas nearly!

Homeward bound and the roads weren’t too bad considering.  A slight detour to buy more fast food for the teen – who had been left home in bed with strict instructions to clean up his mess – instructions that were ignored of course.

Getting his priorities right – the other one unpacked his computer gear first and ensured that he had Internet access before he touched  anything else.

I’d like to say that we all had a peaceful night – I’d like to – but the teen was playing with the other kids in America and the yattering went on all night so that it was almost a relief to get up with the other half who was heading off to work at some ungodly hour.  It should be mentioned that his bad back was caused by a combination of crouching ready to pounce at paintball and spending most of Thursday sitting in the jump seat of an Airbus 317 whilst it went to Madrid and back via Valencia.

The PAM was suitably sympathetic and the other half had a nice time despite his back.

Oooooh, time for Christmas wrapping – but not the waitress sort.