Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloweekend Report

It's been a very wet weekend. The rain was so heavy the down pipes from the gutters at the cabin sounded like they were pounding out a speeded-up techno beat. The weather man said we were to have "showers, heavy at times". If that was the case, Aberfoyle must have been right under the shower head. I know how that feels. I've had to have two baths this week. Nothing for ages, then, as Halloween approached and my attempts at a smell costume failed to impress. I got plopped in the bath tub and hosed down twice. Fox poo caused the early bath on Friday, then cattle splat on the Sunday resulted in bath number two. The mistress discovered it as she removed my collar. She might have noticed it first had my coat and collar not been brown. I think the second bath served two purposes given the amount of dog shampoo she lathered on. She used loads of hand cream afterwards too (on herself, as I don't have hands - do they make paw cream? Probably not. I'd end up just licking it off then wanting more. It would be a vicious circle).   

They needn't have bothered with the baths. I got completely drenched tonight on my walk, or paddle as it more closely resembled. It's been so bad the Ferguslie cricket pitch escalated from puddledom to duchy of pond. The roads were margined with rivulets which drivers took great delight in not avoiding. I'm surprised there weren't dudes out with surf boards trying to catch the waves. 

Another bad thing about the poor weather was that it was a washout for trick-or-treaters. Personally I would have liked to have answered the door to them. I like a good treat and the bags they carried smelled full of sweets. And I don't mind performing tricks either if I'm suitably rewarded. I think the kids should be praised for still wanting to share with us, as the complete lack of Halloween decoration would have deterred many from approaching. Was it really fair to let them stand outside, as their costumes degenerated into wet suits, even those that were wet suits? Maybe next year when the master is not on a diet we'll open our door and accept their generosity.

I may even get a proper costume. There's a website that sells halloween costumes for dogs called They have many different designs, from butterflies to sailors to movie characters. Two of them, though, in my opinion, are just wrong. Why dress up a dog as another dog (scooby doo), it's crazy! And putting a dog in a 'Cat in the Hat' costume, by definition, should be outlawed. I think my favourites are the dinosaur costumes. The stegosaur (above) looks completely waterproof and the tail spikes would deter unwelcome male attention at my rear and the Tricerotops (below) would just be mental. I'd wear that everyday if I could. Till next time...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Of Mice and Dogs

The thing I find relaxing about the holiday cabin is the complete absence of cats. I can step outside onto the decking and inhale the clear forest air and not get a whiff of intruding felines. 
The downside is mice. Minus the mouse's primary predator they flourish.

A family of mice decided to nest beneath our cabin. I was the only one aware of them at first, scrabbling away beneath the utility room where I sleep. It sounded like they were going to gnaw their way through the floorboards into my bed. I cried but no one listened. When the mistress did eventually investigate she only uncovered the rain ingress in the boiler cupboard and mistakenly thought that was why I was crying. She scolded me for being such a puppy. With a sigh, I gave up and prepared for the worst. I won't describe the nightmares I had that night.

The mice had been disinterred from their home by the heavy machinery widening the road and removing the fallen trees from the forest behind  the cabins. With autumn in full swing and dry oak leaves falling like cinders, they were forced to find a fresh nest in a safe environment to bring up their babies. Below the cabin, behind the wooden cladding of the base, offered protection from aerial predators like the buzzards and owls that screeched and hooted in the night. In time they would bite their way upwards into the kitchen and that would see them through the winter months. It seemed like a perfect plan to daddy mouse. 

It would have worked too if one of his sons hadn't been overenthusiastic in using central heating pipe insulation as nesting material. Chewing too deeply he gnawed a hole in the plastic pipe beneath, puncturing it, allowing the hot fluid to escape. The boiler failed as the pressure dropped to zero. The master and mistress wouldn't even have been aware of their presence if it hadn't happened. On the recommendation of the site manager, sonic deterrents were installed and efforts taken to dissuade their continued presence. Eviction notices served, the mice moved on again. 

Daddy mouse, deafened by the ultra high pitched siren, wondered if his luck would ever change. Why did his schemes always fail? He blamed that Rabbie Burns for cursing the whole of mouse-kind.  Maybe it was time to leave the country and move to the city. Get the kids into a good school. Cash-strapped councils might take longer to respond. "But what about the cats", asked mummy mouse.  "Don't worry, love. Remember, Jerry always gets the better of Tom. Why should I be any different?" Mummy mouse didn't reply. She could always find another new mate. 

I wonder if the master will blame the mice for all the missing crisps and chocolate during his recent stay.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

She's a 'Very Naughty Girl', Possibly

Dogs live in the present. The now is all we know. Our past gets recorded if we have a pedigree but for mongrels like me the family tree may as well be a stump in the garden to wee upon for all the entries it won't have on it. I don't know where I came from, who my parents were or how many brothers and sisters I have, or had. They may well all be dead or living in Bournemouth. It's not as if I can go back in time and find out.

Or so I thought.

My master was watching a drama on BBC4 called 'Holy Flying Circus' about the controversy surrounding the release of Monty Python's seminal film, 'Life of Brian', particularly focusing on the debate about it on the 70s show, 'Friday Night, Saturday Morning'. It was all very silly, a satire in the style of Python, with men taking the roles of wives and mothers and animated interludes and dream sequences splicing the drama. At about 68 mins in, they showed the rather saucy opening credits of the original program and I couldn't believe my eyes. They were staring back at me from the screen. I was in the opening credits. I was wearing a collar I didn't recognise but it was distinctly me. My eyes, my ears, my nose, my everything. But it couldn't be me. The program was made in 1979. I wasn't alive back then. 

A quick reality check. This is a drama made in 2011. It could be a visual effect.  Perhaps this scene wasn't the original one but a recreation using my image (without permission). I could sue them for royalties. I would need to check out the original program to verify my facts before I engaged the services of a lawyer.

Youtube was my next destination: the repository of every clip on TV. I found it here. But in case you don't have access to this link, here are two screencaps. 

Then I realised what this meant. At some point in my near future, given my youthful looks, I'm going to become a time traveller. I get to go back to the seventies and appear on television. I wondered where else I would end up, or when else. Would I meet my parents? Would I disrupt the present in a 'Back to the Future' style mishap and end up not existing? Would these actors become the actual Pythons? Only time would tell. It was something to look forward to... 

Except there's always the possibility that I've created a paradox and time is collapsing. By discovering that I exist in two time zones the fabric of the universe may be unravelling. What will I do then? What will I do now? How will it all end?

And with that thought, John Cleese suddenly appeared, ending this blog, commenting, "And now for something completely different.... Mice."

Saturday, 15 October 2011

It Wasn't Me!

Police interview: 15th October, 2011, 2.20pm. Saltcoats Police Station.

Good Cop (GC): "Can you confirm you're whereabouts at approx 4pm on Friday 14th October 2011?"

Bad Cop (BC): "Make it easy for yourself and just confess."

figbane: "I was in Ardrossan, at Cruella's. I was nowhere near London."

BC: "We never mentioned London. Why do you mention 'London'. Got something you want to tell us?"

figbane: "I read about the girl, with the facial injuries, the five year old."

GC: "Why do you think we would be interested in you for that?"

figbane: "I saw the dog's description: Staffie bull terrier-type dog, short tan-coloured coat, with white fur under its chin and chest."

BC: " 'With a nasty temper'. Remind you of anyone?"

figbane: "Hey, I only get grumpy sometimes, like when there's an animal near my territory or if another dog tries to mount me, or looks at me in a bad way, or..."

BC (interjecting): "Is that what happened here? Did the girl look at you in a bad way? Is that why she had to lose her face?"

figbane: "I tell you I wasn't there. You're making me very uncomfortable. My heckles are swelling. Do I need a lawyer?"

GC: "Do you feel you 'need' a lawyer? This is just an informal interview. You 'volunteered' to come in."

figbane: "In that case can I at least have a bowl of water please?"

GC looks at BC and nods, motioning towards the door. BC rises, shoves his chair away, exhaling angrily, and leaves the interview room. GC takes out a packet of gravy bones and offers me one, which I gobble down.

GC: "Perhaps if you made a statement, on the record, formally then this could be over a lot quicker. If you were to come clean now, maybe you wouldn't get the death penalty. We could put in a good word with the judge, how you cooperated."

figbane (rising from the chair, bearing teeth): "But I didn't do it."

GC (rising to stand): "Sit down!"

figbane (shaking involuntarily): "I haven't done anything wrong. Am I under caution?"

GC: "Not at this time."

figbane: "This is a colour thing, isn't it. You think brindle-coloured staffy-like dogs are all the same. 'She's a staffy' so she must be a criminal."

GC: "You're not all sweetness and light. We know who your associates are."

Puzzled, I twist my head. "Rizza?" 

GC: "Yeah, Rizza!"

figbane: "But he's a lover, not a biter. Or would be if I let him."

GC: "He's got form. Fare dodging, vagrancy, stealing a wallet."

figbane: "So that makes me guilty by association? I'm not standing for this. If you've got any evidence show me now or I walk." 

BC returns with the bowl of water. figbane sniffs it and looks at BC. 

figbane: "This water is salty. Did you not think I'd notice, with a nose like mine."

BC pulls a guilty look and GC shakes his head. "You're free to go. We may want to interview you further so don't be leaving the country anytime soon."

figbane (to BC): "You do know you're diabetic? There's sugar in that bowl too." 

Cruella was waiting for me at reception. I scowled at my interogators and left.

"Don't ask," I muttered as we headed to the bus stop and she didn't.


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Shine a Light

The nights are getting darker now and the clocks haven't even changed yet. (I wonder if that's why the Swiss are so rich: everyone buying a new clock twice a year to save daylight.)  I'm having to wear my flashing collar light again for my evening walks in the park.

Tonight in Barshaw Park we had an encounter. I had picked up the trail of a fox and was chasing after it when I stumbled upon a gang of youths drinking at the red brick shelter. My master had shone his torch after me to see what I was chasing and the powerful beam attracted the yobs like moths.

The biggest one shouted over, "Gee'us a shot o' that torch, mate," while the group moved towards him. There were about eight of them in total, six males and two females, wearing shell suits and baseball caps, flashy mobile phones illuminating their faces. My master looked uncomfortable and chose to ignore them. Then another of the crew, a ginger haired boy in a red Adidas tracksuit, made a more direct request, 

"Show us your torch, deefy."

"You show me yours first!"

I couldn't believe my ears. What was my master saying? Was he nuts? I hotpawed my way over to the group, skirting the edges, distracting the less intelligent ones with my flashing light, hoping it might lessen the odds of a bloodbath.

"F*** off, a'm no showing you my d**k, you dirty perv!" the ginger one coughed back.

"That's okay. It's a torch, not a magnifying glass."

My master must have had a death wish. This was a Paisley gang. Maybe his weight loss had muddled his brain. He wasn't fit enough to outrun these guys and I wasn't about to bite any. I had a ball in my mouth and wasn't going to drop it for anyone (unless they had a treat of course).

The first lad stepped forward and muttered viciously, "Show him your torch or I'll show you my f***ing knife."

And my master handed the torch right over. His prized possession was passed around the gang as they played with it, shining it at each other, trying to blind one another with its powerful beam. They didn't even realise it had different settings. They shone it across the golf course and down by the pond and up at the trees at the top of the hill. My master just stood there, trying to get me to come over to him without drawing attention, while still keeping a wary eye on the group. 

And then they just handed it back to him.

"Cool torch mate."

"I told you I just wanted a look."

And they laughed and walked back towards to red brick shelter. I sensed a smell of brown brick coming from my master's pants, figuratively speaking. We took the long way back to the car. I bet we'll be going on street walks for a while after this. Where were the police when you really needed them?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Food Issue

I'm so hungry.

My owners are both on diets which involve eating lots of protein, so the kitchen is regularly filled with the aroma of bacon, sausages, chicken, eggs and lamb. Having previously bought all their meat from the refrigerated shelves of the local supermarket, they've discovered the delicious joys of the deli-butcher at Aberfoyle. The chicken breasts are plump and not inflated with water, the mince is pure and unbulked with fat, the sausages tender and full of flavour. Pies too have huge chunks of meat and no gristle. So why am I still hungry? Have I not been rewarded with sufficient tidbits from their plate? No! This diet means they eat every little morsel. I get my usual bowl of Burns Chicken and Brown Rice pellets, occasionally moistened with warm water if it's nearing the powdery bottom of the bag, and that's it. It's not fair. I wish I was on their diet too. I might get steak!

I'm so hungry I even ate what I thought was a long string of spaghetti yesterday. It was just on the ground behind me. It was only when I had munched it all the way along its length, in a manner not dissimilar to that scene in "Lady and the Tramp" only involving my own bottom, that I realised it was a worm, one of my worms. Even my worms are starving and want to escape.

The only amusing thing about their diet is I've noticed their clothes don't fit them anymore. The master is now on the last notch of his belt. He'll have to shop for clothes soon and he hates that. I've been whispering to him in his sleep that all he needs to do to avoid this shopping hell is to start to eat like he did before. I would help him with his guilty conscience by sharing snacks with him. It would be our little secret. Unfortunately the mistress overheard me and had to get up to tell me to shush three times in one night. 

Final thought: why do people on diets pain themselves by watching cooking programmes? Don't they realise all those ingredients will end up full screen, in their face, scrumptious and completely unobtainable. Maybe they just enjoy salivating and savouring the memories. Food Masochists!