Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recession bites

Almost exactly one year ago, I gave up the fight and succumbed to having another dog in my life. Beautiful Bella had been a princess in every sense of the word and was loved every day of her long and wonderful life. A very short time later, Mossie arrived. Old, battered and scared, he only lived for another 15 months and I swore that I wouldn't have another old dog. After three months of absolute misery without a dog to come home to, I gave in and, would you believe it ... this one was older, blind and had been been brought from an Irish rescue where he had been attacked by the other dogs.

This was Spot, almost a year ago. His back was a mess and look at those troubled ears. It may be the scary bint hugging him that was making his ears lie back, of course.

He still sometimes gets troubled by odd things but his back is completely healed and he is a happy family boy who gives such a lot of love.

And to my point. He came from a rescue that works in collaboration with Rescue Remedies. They take on the un-cute dogs. The difficult to home dogs. Have another look at Spot and you'll see what I mean. Even in the good times it's hard to raise funds and now ...

So, if you've got a quid or so to spare, they would be very grateful. I know that there are so many good causes, human as well as animal, but even one pound would help support them.

Rescue Remedies Donation Page

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Fab Four and Me

It all started in 1962. "Love me do" came out round about my tenth birthday. It was occasionally played on the Light Programme. That was what we called Radio 2 in the olden days. If you twiddled the knobs on the valve radio in the kitchen you could get Radio Luxembourg on 208m medium wave but only in the evenings. Wall to wall popular music even if it did fade in and out a bit.

I was listening to Radio Luxembourg on November 22nd 1963 when the news broke that JFK had been killed.

They must have got fed up of me sitting with my head flat against the speaker case because for Christmas 1963, they bought me one of those new fangled transistor radios. My mother didn't really approve and thought that I wouldn't look after it. It's just had its 47th birthday and it's still going strong. No FM tuner obviously. They no longer make batteries to fit so the new sized batteries are wedged in place with a bit of Lego.

I screamed my way through 1963 and 64, expanding my knowledge of the whereabouts of the Beatles through Radio Caroline and my purchase of the Beatles Monthly Magazine. I knew all the lyrics to every song. I had all the lingo. "Fab", "Groovy", "Gear". I can tell you this for certain because I wrote them down in my diary and used every opportunity to use them to the complete bafflement of my parents.

The Royal Variety Performance of 1963
was the best thing ever broadcast on the BBC. And I was prepared to put anyone straight who dared contradict me. Lennon's remark on how the royals could rattle their jewellry in time to the music was devastatingly witty. And so daring. Go on, I was only eleven.

The radio was great but the thing to have was a Dansette record player. That way you could spend all your pocket money on records and play them till they wore thin.

I was desperate for one. My birthday had come and gone without one appearing. But my Christmas stocking in 1964 was a bit thin: a nice soap, a tube of smarties, some tangerines and nuts. Because, there was my record player. Pale blue, with a stacking spindle so you could play up to six records and a latch on the turntable so you could secure it to transport the whole thing like a small suitcase. And records. They had agonised over music. Dad wanted me to have a selection of good music and "none of that rubbish". So there were some classical albums, a selection of the number 1s from the autumn, the current number 1 "I feel fine" and my very first Beatles album. Mono, thick plastic with a heavy rim that the pickup arm hopped onto with a hiss and a scratch.

In November 1964, they played in Cardiff. I sent my postal order in for tickets. Bitterly disappointed, my money was returned. They were overwhelmed by hopefuls.

Each month I bought my copy of Beatles Monthly and in 1965, I entered a competition run by the magazine to win a ticket to one of the venues in their 1965 tour. The December 12th 1965 performance was in Cardiff at the Capitol Theatre, which mainly showed films. Dad didn't want me to go but after many tears they were persuaded that I would be chaperoned by someone from the magazine.

There were several support acts but really I couldn't have cared less. I watched spellbound as their short set flashed by. "Nowhere Man" has been my favourite song ever since. At the end we were ushered out to wave at the Fab Four as they were escorted to their limousine and then they left. That was their last proper UK gig.

I can remember exactly where I was when I heard that John had been shot. Thirty years, this December. I know he became bit strange and developed some bonkers ideas and offended a lot of people. Poor George. A sad end but with a wife who loved him and even defended him against a dangerous intruder with a fireplace poker. Go, Olivia. Ringo. Yes. Well I forgive him for Thomas the Tank engine because it kept my children quiet for many hours. Paul. Marrying Heather was perhaps not his brightest decision and he should give up on the hair colour. But, what fabulous music they've left us with. I'm hoping to see Macca this summer, back in Cardiff again.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A wound that never heals

Love is the sweetest thing
What else on earth could ever bring
Such happiness to ev'rything
As Love's old story.

Love is the strangest thing
No song of birds upon the wing
Shall in our hearts more sweetly sing
Than Love's old story.

Whatever heart may desire
Whatever fate may send
This is the tale that never will tire.
This is the song without end.

Love is the greatest thing
The oldest yet, the latest thing
I only hope that fate may bring
Love's story to you.

This last week I've had the chance to reflect on love. I've had an alliterative weekend visitng friends with alarmingly similar names.

C&C Somerset met in later life and are blissfully happy. They live in a wonderful dog-filled home with a garden that keeps them busy most days. They visibly cherish the privilege of love.

C&C Cornwall look forward to their silver wedding this year. Retirement beckons with a home looking out over the Atlantic in a village that has become home. Half a lifetime and three daughters have brought them a familiarity but never losing respect. Tender moments pass between them like little private starbursts.

C&C Devon have been married for over thirty-five years. Life has dealt them a cruel blow. With three sons just grown up, they looked forward to a retirement of dog-walking and National Trusting with the occasional treat for big birthdays. Last Autumn, she was taken desperately ill suddenly and continues to have brutal treatment to keep the illness at bay. Suddenly, they are conscious of the need to blend practicality with loving moments. The freezer is well stocked and they have made sure that the words are not left unsaid.

My path is single with a dog to keep me company. My footprints, his pawprints. But still love.

Here is a wound that never will heal, I know,
Being wrought not of a dearness and a death,
But of a love turned ashes and the breath
Gone out of beauty; never again will grow
The grass on that scarred acre, though I sow
Young seed there yearly and the sky bequeath
Its friendly weathers down, far Underneath
Shall be such bitterness of an old woe.
That April should be shattered by a gust,
That August should be levelled by a rain,
I can endure, and that the lifted dust
Of man should settle to the earth again;
But that a dream can die, will be a thrust
Between my ribs forever of hot pain.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gardening for collies

You just lie there in the sunshine and wait for the woman to get on with it, evidently!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Trumpet of a prophecy

If Winter comes ...

... can Spring be far behind?

Monday, March 1, 2010