Monday, 20 June 2016

A Mixed Bag of Inconsequentials

It’s really hard to come up with a worthwhile blog post when your mind is preoccupied. I may also be suffering from writer’s block, all my writing, even my diary, remains ignored for the most part. But I love reading. I can’t get enough of that; books have always been my bolt hole, from a very early age I felt the need to escape into someone else’s life when I didn’t like my own very much. I’ve just finished two books, Emma Healey’s 'Elizabeth Is Missing', a story about an old lady’s Alzheimer’s-coloured obsession with her friend’s whereabouts and buried secrets of her own past, and Kate Atkinson’s ‘A God In Ruins’ about a bomber pilot in WWII, a kind of second half to her ‘Life After Life’. Neither book is light escapism, but well written and easy to read in spite of the subject matter.

The weather has been filthy, there’s been little gardening; the picture of Paul and Beloved having a tea break was taken on an exceptional day.  I am very glad we have stopped opening for the public. The tallest and most impressive flowers are the white umbels of the pernicious ground elder, an absolutely destructive thug whose roots get into anything and are very hard to eradicate. The bane of my life, second only to the dreaded dandelion.






















Millie has recovered from her crise de nerfs; luckily we have had no further violent thunderstorms round here, although other parts of the country have been  inundated. We were invited to a birthday lunch at a very grand and very rich house, not by the owners, who were not in residence, but by their dog and house sitter, our good friend Jay, who is neither grand nor rich.
The dogs in question are pugs. a small black one and a beige-brown one, a little larger. (The picture is from the net pets-for-homes.co.uk). They were in a spacious enclosure behind a wire fence. Apparently the owners are terrified that they could escape and get run over. They are never allowed to leave the premises.

Surely pugs are among the ugliest dogs ever? I am sorry if you are the proud owner of one, I mean no offence, although, no doubt, you are offended now. When I went up to the two of them to do my usual silly impression of a dog-besotted idiot they barked at me. Well, barking is exaggerated. They wheezed and snuffled at me in a hostile manner. The small one was pathetic: every two wheezes and he had to take a laboured breath before he could squeeze the next wheezy bark out. He had no tail at all, not even a stub end. His rear end was smooth, he’d been docked until there was not even a smidgeon of tail left. Poor little blighter, no wonder he was in a bad temper. The other one was older and seemed resigned.

How can it be good for a dog to be bred until he has a completely flat face and no nose to breathe through? Give me a Millie, with a great big wet hooter and a solid tail to wag any day, even if she’s the result of an unfortunate liaison between a collie and a lab.

We took her to the pub where she found shelter from the storm after she escaped and were told that she rushed in like a bat out of hell and shook herself all over the guests sitting at the tables. Well done Millie, they’ll not forget you in a hurry.


Millie’s been to the dog groomer. I swear that girl moults more than other dogs. She hates it when I leave her there and if I should stop and chat to Tina, the groomer, and Millie is already in her pre-wash and brush up cage, she growls and whines and weeps bitter tears. ‘Mummy, how could you’, she says. Two hours later when I pick her up, she pulls like a train to get out and away. Dogs just don’t appreciate a pampering session. Not like me, I went to Helen’s for a delicious facial and I didn’t growl or whine once! Instead, I purred.

Beloved hasn’t got any worse, in fact, he’s perked up a bit. I treated him to a couple of theatre visits: the RSC’s almost all black ‘Hamlet' with the rising star Paapa Essiedu in the title role and the Globe’s 'The Merchant Of Venice' with Jonathan Pryce as Shylock. Both productions were excellent. “The seats are too hard”, Beloved said of Hamlet (his bottom is skin and bones now) and when asked about The Merchant he flatly stated that he didn’t like it. My friend Sue, who had asked, was rather taken aback. “What don’t you like, the play or the production?” "I simply don’t like plays whose entire action revolves around prejudice”, he said. Okay, Hm? Are there any plays that don’t have some form of prejudice? In fact, isn’t human frailty the whole point of Shakespeare? I agree to some extent, though, The Merchant is tragically nasty throughout.

Anyway, I have booked tickets for three more productions; I shall be going by myself.





31 comments:

  1. Lovely write about da dogs and him, friend Friko ... and dat how da cookie crumbles ... Always, cat.

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  2. Poor pugs....all old ladies seemed to have pugs when I was a child, peering out malevolently from under the owner's furs...but they weren't so overbred.

    I am so glad that your husband has perked up a bit - and that you still enjoy your Sunday special meal. Traditions worth conserving.

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  3. I found Elizabeth is Missing heart-breaking. Excellent book though. And I must get to that Kate Atkinson. Soon.

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  4. I think pugs are kinda cute, I like boxers best of all. Good to hear you are having time to read, it is such a pleasure.

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  5. I think pugs are cute in an ugly way, but there is no reason to breed such dogs with extreme traits. I would have thought, as here, that tail docking would be illegal.

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  6. I think I've been in the same place as you for a while, Friko. Thank heavens for books.

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  7. Books make for a great escape, even when the subject matter is not light. Reading is my most effective getaway.
    Millie looks to be an honest dog, able to function well. I feel sorry for the pugs.

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  8. Both husband and dog look in fine shape. Hope all is well.

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  9. I'm not in love with pugs. Millie is lovely. I wish I could go to the theater with you, but I have a rough time without a comfortable chair. You said it's difficult for you to write, but your post is great.

    Love,
    Janie

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  10. The ugly pug is so cute when very young but as the years go by, their looks deteriorate so much that they make a hyena look good. Inside though, their hearts are just as loving as most of canines and are appreciated for their loyalty by their owners. Dogs, like many species, come in different packages, but I have to admit, I am partial to hounds.

    I hope you and your Beloved are having a good day, Friko.

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  11. Sadly, dog breeders have gone too far in perfecting the bloodline, or mixing it all up to create an unusual dog. Pug is one of those, to be sure.
    Hope good days outnumber bad days.

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  12. There is such a thing as Qualzucht, and pugs are certainly that. I know that people think pugs are "cuuuuute", but not for me - give me a real, proper dog any time! Same goes for cats. Who needs hairless cats, or Persians with their flat faces and eternally snotty noses and running eyes, unable to care properly for their own coat, poor things?

    Did you take a cushion along for Beloved to sit on at the theatre?

    "A God in Ruins" is an excellent book. I've read it last year in July and you commented on my review, I remember.

    For someone who has writer's block you managed to put together quite a lot, Friko :-)

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  13. Hi Friko - wonderful to read ... gosh I'm not a fan of pugs - give me a slobbering, healthy, wandering dog - who has some spunk, like their owners. Oh dear - well I'm glad you're taking yourself off for some Shakespearean instruction ... they sound excellent plays - and it's good to see Beloved and Paul outside enjoying the sun.

    Enjoy your reading, finding new books, gardening when you can ... and visits to the local for some health giving ale ... cheers Hilary

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  14. Summer is heavenly , isn't it ! Just being able to drink a coffee outside is so liberating .
    My nine year-old grandson wants a pug . He thinks that they're good fun , for some reason . He must have met an extraterrestrial version ...

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  15. You're sounding more relaxed and it's good to hear your social life is flourishing. I wonder if the owners of the very grand, very rich house know about the lunch party? It doesn't matter, I suppose, as your friend is doing a sterling job looking after it and the pugs.The Kennel Club has a lot to answer for with their often ridiculous breed standards.

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  16. I've been trying to remember. I don't think I've ever met a pug in real life. The closest I've come to a smooshy face is an English bulldog, but he was cute in a slightly ambiguous way, and so friendly that all was forgiven. I visited an out-of-town friend last weekend. She has a huge white Great Pyrenees who never has had any time for me at all. This trip, I was allowed to rub an ear, and he followed me around a bit. I was unaccountably pleased with myself for doing whatever I'd done to become acceptable.

    By the time I'd returned home, the heat had settled in, so work has become a bit of a chore. I need to make myself settle into the summer schedule (work early and later, with a break in the middle) and perhaps I'll make it a new habit to devote an hour to a book. I've not done nearly the reading I want to, and you've encouraged me to give it more attention.

    Tell Millie that shaking a tail is as acceptable as shaking a tail-feather. :-)

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  17. Loved God and made a note of Elizabeth.
    Lovely photos. Glad to hear you are clipping along and making the best of things whatever that means. I often wish we were allowed to make the worst of things. It might help us more.
    I know. I'm weird.
    XO
    WWW

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  18. For someone who is having a writer's block this was a very interesting and rather wonderful post. I started reading "A Tale for the Time Being" and had a hard time getting into it, but now I'm thrilled that I stuck with it. A fantastically wonderful good read. I am with you about pugs; why breed a dog into a shmushed in face that can't breathe properly? Love the picture of Millie looking so happy :-)

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  19. Friko, I'm glad that you've had just a touch of good summer weather. How pleasant to have a tea break outdoors!

    Not sure if it is still true, but for a while it seemed as if pugs were very much the dogs of the moment over here. There was even a particular part of Central Park where pug owners would gather with their pups on the weekends. I truly prefer a Milly dog.

    I think that Kate Atkinson writes really well about family interactions, how early entanglements can influence us for decades...or not.

    I envy you those Shakespeare tickets. The current Shakespeare in the Park all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew seems to be a bit gimmicky from what I've read in the reviews. Janet McTeer as Petruchio. Back when Central Park was supposed to be "scary" the producer Joe Papp began doing free, repeat free, Shakespeare in the Park. All you had to do was arrive early in the day, join the queue...sit on the grass and bring a snack for the wait could be long, and then you'd get a ticket, go home and come back at showtime to take you seat in the Delacourt open air theatre. Nowadays, the plays are pricey, although a few free tix might be available.

    I will stop rambling now. Love to you and yours. xo

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  20. I cannot get used to the damp and cool weather with rain almost daily.here.
    But I am happy that you seem to be in a more positive place enjoying some outings. Millie sure did get a fright to be bolting into the pub. Poor thing.

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  21. Thank you for the news about Beloved, about Millie, and of course yourself!

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  22. Very funny about Millie in the pub . . . though I suppose I wouldn't have enjoyed being the recipient of her vigorous shaking. Good on you taking in all the RSC. We saw Henry IV 1&2 when it came here. Played too much for the comedy we, thought, but we nonetheless enjoyed a rare big city theater outing.

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  23. Millie is beautiful, and obviously quick enough to escape capitalists who think dog noses are an untapped source of high-grade rubber. Pugs were not so fortunate.

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  24. My mom has a little tempurpedic memory foam pad she takes with her everywhere to protect the bones of her very fat-free bottom. Maybe you should look into that for your hubby.

    =)

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  25. For what its worth, my first dog Patsy was a pug, dad was crazy about them. I liked my mongrel Fiesti best. I dont like the Merchent of Venice either. Love the photo. Im invaded by a type of wild Galium which produces burrs, and I wouldn't mind a thug in that area of the garden.

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  26. Not inconsequential at all. That sort of detail is the stuff of life. I like the photo of your husband and Paul. And I have gardening banes as well - mahonia and ground ivy are my current enemies.

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  27. Millie is a wonderful dog and I enjoyed your dog stories. You write a beautiful blog, it is like an interesting story in a book and I want to read more of it. You have the writing gift.

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  28. I wish I had your writer's block; you did a splendid job !

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  29. Jonathan Pryce. I'd kill to see Jonathan Pryce live. I hope that shows up on those events they show in film cinemas or on our PBS. And yes, I'd take a Millie any day over one of those squished up pugs!

    You know, sometimes it's not so bad not to have much to write about (and you did it very well!). It means you are living your life with a minimum of crisis and there is much to be said for that! And a facial doesn't hurt, either.

    I'm eagerly anticipating results on Brexit/Remain. Do you have to go far to vote, I wonder? I heard they had to move some polls because of the rain. Seems like that is a pretty important referendum to be mucking about with moving polls but wet is wet. I hope it turns out the way you want it to.

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  30. Glad you pushed past the writer's block. Thanks.

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  31. What is so bad about dandelions? I just convinced our supposedly 'green' community to stop using toxins to eradicate them in our green lawn. I have fond memories of making wraths from dandelions as a girl. I no longer think any dog ugly, but used to feel like you. The attraction to those noseless dogs was a mystery to me. Then I seen one run along on 12 miles and it was a joy to behold and my esteem for such has stayed up ever since. Now tail docking owners are a whole different matter. It must be rather wonderful to live in community that looks out for one another. So glad your Millie was safe

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