Great sadness can be experienced from quite an early age when small things are so important to us. The loss of a toy, the death of an animal in our lives. Most of us have buried our pets in the garden, I certainly remember burying a canary in a cocoa tin and putting flowers on its grave, soon to be not forgotten, but put to the back of our minds as a new pet takes its place.
Heartbreak (circa 2002)
Little old ladies are often stereotyped as surrounded by cats, and indeed my grandmother had many. She loved dogs too, however, and made many references to them in her writings. I present a compilation of them now, to commemorate those who could not write for themselves.
The passages are ordered by date of writing rather than by date of events described. Contextual notes are inserted where appropriate to avoid reproducing excessive prose unrelated to the topic. Occasionally I have corrected typos.
The dog was sitting all of a quiver, tail swishing slowly and tongue hanging from one side of his mouth. His eyes never left the two cats he had chased up the tree as he willed them to come down for another chase. But the cats stayed on their wide branches with eyes half closed and a smirk on their faces. They were content to stay up there all day if necessary, and would enjoy doing it.
The dog came dashing back having had great sport chasing the cat under the caravan and he took up his place under the tree. He was to have a long wait, the other cat was older and wiser and loved sitting up in the tree. He wasn’t coming down to be chased by a silly old dog – not for a long time anyway.
A Summer’s Day in the Jungle (Fiction) (17/04/2002)
I tried making the area smaller by laying the odd paving slab between the bushes but eventually had to admit defeat, and but for a small circle with a weeping willow where our first dog is buried, I gave the rest over to the couch grass.
The Garden (??/??/2003)
There’s the man who brings his very large fluffy white dog and grooms it in one of the lay-byes. There is white wool everywhere and once it blows into the trees it stays there for days. Couldn’t he bring a plastic bag with him?
The Dumpers (03/05/2003)
On Saturday once everyone had eaten, off they went well booted, scarved, hooded and gloved. Looking out of the window at the comings and goings you could well imagine you were in Eskimo land. Wherever they went they were followed by a sad looking dog with a football in its mouth longing for someone to kick it for him.
I went [shopping] via Clough Road and saw a flag flying saying Courts closing down sale. Well I couldn’t resist that and duly crossed the road and drove ‘round the back to Courts parking lot. Oh! Thinks Pauline, they must be going to have a caravan sale as there were about 20 lovely caravans set out around the car park. To my dismay there were 2 shaggy little dogs/pups with short logs shagging away in the middle of the park. Poor little strays I thought, must call into the dogs’ home as I am in Clough Road. Driving towards the main doors I parked my car, got out with a lot of difficulty only to find myself surrounded by a pack of yapping Jack Russells which should have been white but were actually a dark grey. They followed me to the main door still barking and there was a notice saying Store closed, nearest store Grimsby. To say the least I was miffed, Courts could have taken their flags down. I turned and made my way back to my car accompanied by the yapping dogs and noticed that each caravan had a kennel at the side of it and children and men were appearing on their doorsteps. That was when it dawned that I was in the middle of a gypsy camp.
Home – I was so pleased to see it as I always am. I was greeted by the dog with his football and pleading eyes, but my buckling legs hadn’t a kick left in them. Sank into my armchair, coat and all and as usual it wasn’t long before Simon arrived with a cup of tea. “Had a good day?” says he and when I told him of my day, his eyes rolled up and he remakred “Mother, only you could end up in the middle of the diddy camp surrounded by a pack of dogs. I bet you patted them all.”.
Half Term (16/02/2005)
From the docks we would drive home and dad would open his kit bag and spread the contents on the floor. Huge blocks of Cadbury’s chocolate, boxes of chocolates, boxes of lovely perfumes, and always from his cook a sweet bottle full of King prawns, and who got the first choice, why Twister of course – our dog. On his second night home, Dad was allowed to go ‘round the corner to the Fountain Villa Club, where lots of elderly ex-seamen gathered. He would take Twister with him, buy a box of chocolates and give it to the dog to bring home for us, and one again he got the first chocolate.
I am six years younger than my next sister and therefore was almost like an only child until I was 5 and started school at St. Mary’s, and spent my time with Twister our wire-haired terrier, and Billy our large black Persian cat. I must have been a pain in the neck to them as they were my only companions most of the time and I spent my time dressing them in baby clothes, sitting them on chairs to play schools and taking them for walks in my large dolls pram. That bit they quite enjoyed.
Early Childhood (29/09/2005)
I had Patch in my car who thought it was great but the heat was unbearable. There was plenty of shade for him under the trees and everyone took him for walks.
A young boy on the next stall decided to play with his football and Patch was there in a flash. Then the lad realised that if he threw the ball at Patch instead of past him, he would throw it back, they played for ages and gathered quite an audience. All I could think of was either patch would end up without his front teeth or with a flat nose like a peke.
Vintage Weekend (??/06/2006)
[Seals] still appear quite regularly and at the moment are regular visitors. There’s usually just the one who loves to tease the dog*. Patch swims out to him and when they are face to face the seal dives under him and comes up again behind his back. Patch gets tired long before the seal and has to give up and I really don’t think he has any ill intentions, he just wants to play with it as he does with all the dogs who come for their walkies. Most of the dogs’ owners soon get to know Patch and quite happily take him for a walk with them. Young Paull came in at the weekend and said “Grandma, you should have been up the end. There are two seals in the Creek and they are sitting playing on a piece of wood which looks like a tree trunk. They keep pushing each other off and as the log floats towards the mouth of the creek they push it back in again and start all over again.” Patch has been sitting on the edge all of a quiver but didn’t go in further than his knees. Probably thought two were too much for him.
Simon and Paull can’t resist buying ancient machinery… [the truck] was navy blue with a large RN and Royal Navy on its side, only does about 10 miles (or they are just telling ME that) an hour and the dog is delighted as he now has a vehicle he can ride on instead of being scrunched between Paull’s legs on the grass cutter.
Wildlife at Stone Creek (24/10/2006)
The fire brigade were here for 5 days slowly pumping water from the drains into the Creek. Simon, Paull and Monty joined them, taking cups of tea etc. and Monty left home completely, after all he lived on Battenburg cake with the firemen and not dog-biscuits.
Summer 2007 (27/09/2007)
I remember last year’s winter… there are bags of compost all over the place unused, one sack and loads of packets of seeds and bulbs lying around that never did get planted. Monty had a wonderful time as the plants in pots got dryer and he could just pull and the whole plant and bag of soil came out of its pot, and if they didn’t it didn’t matter, he just ate the pot as well.
Looking back at 2007 (17/01/2008)
A few days before Betty and Stan’s wedding, I was cuddled up in a big bed with Betty and another sister Dolly. Stan crept up the stairs and threw a little bundle on our bed and shot off before Mum caught him. That little bundle was Twister, a tiny wire haired terrier pup for Betty. He never did leave us as by the time the wedding and honeymoon had taken place when they tried to take him to their flat he cried so much that they had to bring him back.
I decided it was time to let [a beaver lamb] go as it was getting a bit rough down the front edges. My new neighbour begged it and was seen later that day parading down the street with her fur coat in hot sun and her pet Peke on a lead. It was obvious she felt the bees’ knees.
Last but not least is the beauty of the lot. My sister Ethel’s brown mink which was given to me when she died… The family came home for our first Christmas together in the UK and whilst we were busy getting the house we rented in Hornsea dried out, Peter, my eldest arrived with Sandra, his girlfriend, to give us a hand. Out of the blue Ethel arrived wearing the said mink coat and sitting on her knee was her beloved little brow spaniel. Sandra in all her innocence asked me who is that lady with the dog that matches her coat, you can’t see where the dog ends and the coat starts. Forever more to Sandra Aunty Ethel was the lady with the dog that matches her coat.
Coats in the Attic (24/01/2008)
*This particular seal is presumably the inspiration for Sammy.