Seize The Day

bowl Readers, we are all having to find ways to get through the long days of Staying At Home. For some of you this might be a trifle challenging but not for me.  In the last couple of days I have:

1. Chewed up a large stick that I found by the river and spat it all over the newly-mowed lawn.

2.  Snatched Young Lad’s toast.

3. Run off with the freezer ice block things when she was cleaning out the freezer.

4. Tried to escape through the back fence (twice).

5. Run off with a cereal bowl from the dishwasher.

Look, Friends, these are difficult times but we just have to be stoic and find ways of amusing ourselves.  You may notice that my behaviour hasn’t really changed from the time before Coronavirus, but the point I’m making is that there is no need to sit around watching Netflix or worrying about your hair roots.  We can all play our part and find things to do – it isn’t hard.

It has been – not through choice – a quiet weekend.  There has been some concern that Lad and Young Lad don’t have enough to do or any sense of purpose, and so a list has been put up in the kitchen.  This is divided into two sections – INSIDE and OUTSIDE so that inclement weather will not be accepted as an excuse for idleness.  The list of jobs is quite long.  Very little has been ticked off. We know that Lad had a go with the pressure washer the other day but mostly pressure washed Young Lad, and only half the patio, so progress is slow.  

Still worried that Lad and Young Lad need things to do, some interesting purchases have been made.  Firstly there was the Karcher basic cheapest model pressure washer.  Impressed with that, She fought her way to the middle at Lidl and bought a Karcher window vacuum cleaner, thinking that Lad will enjoy using this gadget too. Thirdly – yes there is more – a new rattan sofa thing for the garden was ordered – partly because clearly nobody will be going on holiday this year or indeed leaving home, so we might as well have something comfortable to sit on, and partly as a project for Lad to assemble.  And finally  – oh this made me laugh so much – Men’s Hair Clippers.  The intention is to have a Family Haircut Day with the new electric clippers, and this morning She googled how to cut men’s hair.  Alas, both Lad and Young Lad refused point blank to have a fun family afternoon of cutting each other’s hair.  That will be saved for another day.

Friends, I was in the garden when the rattan sofa thing arrived and Lad decided to put it together straight away.  It started well, although Lad has never learned the golden Ikea rule of counting out how many screws there are and sorting them into piles by size, so the whole process was a little ad hoc.  Nevertheless, I was impressed by Lad’s enthusiasm and work ethic in getting straight to it.

An hour later I was less impressed by Lad’s language.  Readers, I really really hope the neighbours weren’t in their gardens or self-isolating with their windows open as Lad was swearing like a sailor. It seems the instructions for assembling the rattan sofa thing were, er,  sub-standard (this wasn’t the word Lad used) and the POXY screws didn’t go into the STUPID holes, and nothing lined up, and some of the screw things couldn’t physically be reached.  I’m sure you can think of the words that Lad might have been using.  It was awful.  In the end She told Lad to go and calm down which annoyed him even more.

But due to the resilience in my family, after another hour of swearing and throwing the screwdriver around, the sofa was assembled.  The weather has now changed and it’s too cold to sit out there, but I will enjoy it as soon as it warms up.  It’s very nice of them to have bought that for me.

A slight concern is that we’ve since found one screw and two nuts that weren’t used in the assembly and should have been.  One can only hope they weren’t essential.

Just to add to the fun, there have been several short power cuts this afternoon.  Now, someone has a warped sense of humour if they think it amusing to cut the electricity supply during an afternoon of national Staying At Home – what on earth is every teenager going to do if the router switches off?  And we all know how long those bldyrouters take to re-set themselves when the power comes back on.  Poor Young Lad was on the Xbox, Lad was doing his weights and listening to music on his phone – oh dear.  And it wasn’t just once, Friends, no.  The power went On/Off all through the afternoon which prompted a LOT of shouting and banging things.

In an attempt at Good Home Cooking with an element of choice, Lad and Young Lad were asked to choose what they wanted for lunch today from: lasagne, spag bol, roast chicken or bangers, mash and Jamie Oliver onion gravy.  I said yes to each of these options, but Lad and Young Lad were less helpful.  Lad wanted bangers and mash, Young Lad wanted roast chicken.  In future they will not be given choices, and a hard lesson has been learned.

I’ve had some lovely walks this weekend, and I was glad to see less people at the river this afternoon, as they are taking heed of the advice to stay at home.  As I went down the road, I saw my dear friend Ebony on her doorstep – oh how I wanted to go in and play!  I barked and barked, pulling at my lead, but no – we hand to stand 2 metres away and just say hello.  What is the world coming to?

The best thing about this Staying At Home situation is that Young Lad and Lad endlessly eat.  They start from the moment they get up of a day and don’t really stop all day long.  There are so many opportunities for me to whine, beg, grizzle and cadge and it’s not long before I snatch a crust or they cave in and give me something.  It really is marvellous. Every cloud and all that.

I do hope you are keeping well, Friends.  Stay indoors, stay safe and keep your chin up.  If all else fails, run off with a bowl from the dishwasher – it’s great fun.

See you soon,

Russell

 

 

How Vexing

me me me

You would think, wouldn’t you Readers, that with all the difficulty in the world at the moment it isn’t too much to ask that I’m given a little attention.  Just look at the situation last night – after dinner Lad went upstairs to do weights and boxing, Young Lad settled down on the sofa for an evening of telly, and She sat down…..with the laptop.  I made my feelings about this perfectly clear and climbed on top of  She, ignoring the screams of “get yourbldyclaws off my work laptop” and the such like.   I’m pleased to say that after much huffing and moaning, my ruse worked and the laptop was put down in favour of me.

This is how it should be, frankly.  In these uncertain times, evenings are for cuddling up and enduring the discomfort of a large Beagle lying across you, pinning you to the  sofa.  Many people would actually find this comforting and soothing, and not endlessly complain about my snoring and flatulence.  In these days of Stay At Home, we should be appreciating the little things.  I certainly am.  Today I appreciated Gingercat’s food bowl before he’d finished eating, a pizza carton from the recycling bag, the bathroom bin (again) and some cookie dough mixture that had dripped down the front of the washing machine while She was baking.

We’ve been told, haven’t we Friends, that we can all leave our houses for one session of exercise a day.  This is plenty for me to be honest and it’s a relief to spend the rest of the time sleeping in my armchair or stealing food.  I don’t remember Boris saying in one of his press conferences that one’s exercise should be brisk walking uphill across the fields – I’m fairly sure he said it is fine to dawdle along slowly and roll in fox poo.  So long as you are 2m away from anyone else rolling in fox poo.  So it did annoy me last night when I was dragged out for a veritable MARCH through the countryside – She was powering along in the most ridiculous way.  Suddenly I looked up across the field and saw my dear friend Pippa galloping towards me –  how my spirits soared!  I took off at top speed and we crashed into each other – then Pippa jumped on my back so I grabbed her round the shoulders and growled, and finally Pippa knocked me over and landed on my stomach.  It was such fun!  Pippa is the most enormous golden retriever you’ve ever seen  and it’s possible that she could actually kill me when she jumps on me like this, but we’re such good friends!!  Oh it was terrific.  Then we said our sad goodbyes from 2m apart and headed home.  Such is life these days.

Before Boris’s lockdown, I had a lovely walk into town at the weekend – this has become something of a new activity for me and I must say I love it!  As usual I wasn’t allowed into Tesco, but WAS allowed into Lloyds Bank (at least, nobody asked me to leave)  and it was nice in there, as there’s a carpet and sofas.  Then we went to the Card Factory, where people always make a fuss of me as it’s quite unusual to see a dog in the Card Factory, but what I love MOST about the Card Factory is that it’s next door to Greggs.  There is always the slightest, slightest chance that I might make a run for it into Greggs and that would be like dying and going to heaven.

But now – only days later Friends – I hear that Greggs has closed, like all the other shops.  I feel this is a mistake, and the difference a Vegan Sausage Roll would have made to the nation’s mental health has been seriously underestimated.  Oh dear.

Well, how are my family coping with the Coronavirus Lockdown, I hear you ask?  Young Lad seems quite happy and relaxed – though this is his default setting so who would know – and is enjoying not waking up until the time he would normally start school, having a leisurely breakfast, watching a bit of telly and then doing 2 hours of schoolwork (cough cough splutter splutter).  Lad is equally relaxed in the mornings, and it’s all very chilled here at home.  Then the text messages from She start to ping through – make sure the kitchen is tidy and anti-backed (new verb), empty the airing cupboard, check the dog has water, make sure the kitchen is tidy again… and so the mood is spoiled somewhat.     We all sigh and carry on sitting down/sleeping/relaxing.  Until She returns from work.

Take this afternoon.  Lad was told to Do Something Useful!  so he decided to put together the new pressure washer and spray Young Lad with it.  This looked tremendous fun and resembled a happy childhood from a bygone era, but of course Lad was shouted at and told to bldy get on with it.   So Lad had to spend his afternoon power washing the patio, which was interesting really as it turns out to be a completely different colour from anything we’ve seen for years.  Well done, Lad.  He stopped for a little rest at one point and was berated for this – “just finish the job and tidy up!” Honestly, what is the hurry?  It’s not like we’re going anywhere!  

Young Lad was interrogated about the school work he had done this morning (none) and there was a Heated Discussion.  Yesterday this went much better, as Young Lad had actually done some school work and told She all about alkalis, acids and the Periodic Table.  Heavens it was boring.   Today Young Lad has done very little and has been instructed to pull his finger out tomorrow.  Also, as he hadn’t had any exercise, Young Lad was FORCED to go for a walk over the Rec with She and me.  Young Lad didn’t want to go and kicked up a fuss, and eventually a compromise was made which involved the BP garage and a bag of sweets. I don’t feel this is good parenting, Readers.

There has been lots of baking going on – there is no actual need for any baking but a Household Motto of “do more of what makes you happy” has been adopted and baking makes some people happy.  So She bakes, but then Lad or Young Lad have to take the results round to neighbours as cheering up presents.  Give me strength.

Actually that’s not true.  Lad and Young Lad are not allowed to adopt the motto as Doing More of What Makes Them Happy would be  idle, possibly illegal and a tadge worrying.  

Well, Friends, we have another hectic evening of watching Masterchef and The Blacklist ahead of us.  There is a slightly different pace of life these days  in my house – is there in yours?  I, for one, don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Keep anti-backing and stay safe, Readers.

See you soon,

Russell

Self-Isolating

sunshine Readers, it has been too long since we last spoke; nigh on 18 days since my last blog and this is unacceptable – I do apologise.  I promise you a bumper edition today, so sit down with a glass of something and get comfortable.

There are many reasons for the lack of a blog recently.  She has had a bldyheavy workload, even bldyheavier than normal it seems, and has simply not had the time to sit down and write with me.  Friends, I know for a fact that of an evening She has been chatting on Whatsapp, watching Masterchef with Young Lad and enjoying another Scandi noir subtitled thing when Young Lad isn’t here, so it’s not good enough to say there hasn’t been time.  On how many occasions over the years have we all said it?  TIME. MANAGEMENT.  But nobody listens.

The other reason that everyone has been too busy to write my blog is that the world has entered a strange phase and all sorts of things are going on. These things are, I gather from the solemnity of the newsreaders’ voices on the BBC, very Serious and Grave.  I haven’t the slightest clue what they’re all talking about but even I have sensed that things are not normal any more.  The house, for a start, has been cleaned far more often that normal – Regular Readers will know what a slovenly pigsty it usually is – and there is an endless smell of bleach and disinfectant. Door handles, light switches, you name it – constantly being wiped down with anti-bac sprays.  Frankly I’m surprised that the Zoflora Summer Meadow Super-Strong Disinfectant hasn’t been wiped all over myself, Gingercat, Lad and Young Lad.  I suspect our time may come.

Coronavirus is what they’re all talking about, and I have to say I sense an air of anxiety.  There is definitely a little tension everywhere and nobody seems to be going out or doing their normal things, all of a sudden.  Of course this is excellent news for me, as I have them here with me while I self-isolate in my armchair just like any other day of any other year, but still.  Life has changed.

From what I can pick up, this virus is spread from animals – especially poultry – to humans and is deadly.  It seems to have started in the live animal and poultry markets in other countries and due to the number of creatures squashed  into a very small space, spread quickly.   Now, I’m no expert but I would have thought cramming lots of living, breathing things together like this isn’t a great idea for so many reasons, but who am I to wax lyrical and say anything about the Human Race and how it treats everything else that lives on the planet.  There, that surprised you!!  There’s more to me than meets the eye!

Readers, I’m so sorry – I don’t know what came over me!  You all rely on me for whimsical commentaries on the minutiae of daily life – not politics! This is what happens when you’ve had to listen to Lad revising  A Level Philosophy for two years.  For all the good it’s done him……poor Lad.

Yes, indeed, schools here are now ‘closed’ for the foreseeable future to limit the spread of this virus.  Only they’re not actually closed, as some pupils and staff still go in but the media prefer to say that schools are closed as it sounds More Dramatic.  (There I go again!)  So Lad and Young Lad are now at home for weeks or months – Lad’s A Level exams have been cancelled and so all that hard work and studying is not going to be tested in a two-hour paper.  Poor Lad.  He has worked so hard, and his revision notes are lying all round the bldyhouse.  Looking on the bright side, though, he will be able to chuck them all away and tidy up a bit.  Lad and his friends were a little sad to finish school for ever on Friday, and had no choice but to drink themselves silly in the pub that evening, before the pubs were ordered to close.  Lad is also sad as he can’t go to visit his friends in a town far away for quite a while, and you know how much he enjoyed doing that.  She has told Lad to cheer up as She has a huge lists of jobs around the house and garden for him to do.  She is calling this a “project” to make it sound far more exciting than it actually is.

Young Lad is also at home as his school has shut for most pupils – now, the funny thing is that She is something called a Key Worker which means that Young Lad is entitled to still go to school even though it is “shut”.  However, this threat is being saved for the event that Young Lad thinks he is going to spend every day on the Xbox – Readers, he is being given set times for school work and “recreation”.  Doesn’t this sound awfully fun?  I imagine Young Lad will be given a list of jobs or ‘projects’ too.

Lad has one main worry, Readers, which is whether the coronavirus pandemic will have stopped in time for him and his friends to go on their lads’ holiday to Magaluf in the summer.  He doesn’t seem too bothered about the lack of A Level exams or how on earth one gets into university now, but Magaluf is weighing heavily on his mind.  Young Lad, on the other hand, is more concerned that the pubs have shut and there is no football being played.  Lad and Young Lad have had a Stern Talking To today, about the state of the world, and people’s suffering, and how Magaluf or Manchester City really don’t feature in the grand scheme of things.  I don’t think they were convinced and She stomped out the room and started spraying disinfectant round again.

Today is Mothering Sunday.  It’s a beautiful day with glorious sunshine, and She, Young Lad and I sat in the garden for a while.  Young Lad had brought the bean bag out to sit on, which was really kind of him and if you look at the photo REALLY carefully, you will see that I sat sort of on top of Young Lad’s head which is where the nice sunny part was, and squashed Young Lad down to the cold, shady part.  

I’ve emptied the bathroom bin this morning, and under the dining table She found some biscuit wrappers, a plastic pot that used to contain humus, and a crisp packet.  I do not think this disgusting mess is likely to be helping the global situation one little bit and they should clear up after me a lot quicker.  It was a nice job for her, on Mothers’ Day.  Young Lad made her tea and toast in bed this morning, and I climbed up as well – so did Gingercat so it was quite crowded.  Later in the morning, Readers, something funny happened.  A delivery of flowers arrived – how lovely I hear you say!  Sadly, these were the flowers that She had ordered to be sent to Nana Aged 88  – only She put our address in the delivery box, instead of Nana Aged 88’s.  How I laughed!    Our friend LovelyDor down the road now has the beautiful flowers and Nana Aged 88 will just get a photo of them.  It’s the thought that counts.

Now that Lad and Young Lad aren’t at school, I will be seeing less of my dear friends Ebony and Pippa.  This is upsetting.  I know we have to observe social distancing but I’m really hoping I might bump into them down at the river, and run across the field together with 2 metres between us.

There were a LOT of people with dogs, children and bikes at the river today.  And they were NOT all observing the 2 metre guidance, I can tell you.  On the way home I spotted the huge German Shepherd with whom I always pick a fight – before we got anywhere near him, She shouted, “Don’t start, Russell!” and pulled me away.  For goodness sake, there is no need to be so dramatic about everything.  She was also irritable with me in Top Top Field, as I kept stopping to eat rabbit droppings – there were loads, and they were really fresh.

Yesterday, Friends, strimmers and lawn mowers across the land were pulled out of sheds and put to use – these are the things people will be doing a lot while they can’t go out.  Never before will the nation’s gardens have looked so cared- for.  She strimmed (once the strimmer had been disassembled with a lot of swearing and the little blue bit of plastic thread found), and the lawn was mowed.  In all honesty the garden looked lovely in the afternoon sunshine.  I felt it lacked a little je ne sais quoi, so while everyone was busy indoors I ripped open the recycling bag and emptied it round the lawn, taking particular care to rip up a box of Shreddies into tiny pieces and spit them out like confetti.  It looked nice.

Well, Friends, I’m quite exhausted after a day with two walks, sun-bathing on top of Young Lad’s head on the bean bag, and emptying the bathroom bin. Time for a kip before Sunday tea.  Young Lad is in charge of this tonight – it being Mothers’ Day – though he failed to make a lemon drizzle cake this afternoon so his mother had to do that after all.  Look, he did the hoovering upstairs!!  

Friends – those of you overseas in America, Australia, all over the shop – and my Readers in the UK – I hope you are coping.  I will do my best to keep your spirits lifted over the next few weeks and months, and She has promised we will write a blog much more frequently again.  I will let you know how Lad copes without the gym/friends/A Level revision/certainty of a week in Magaluf  and whether he and Young Lad enjoy spending Enforced Time Together.  We know they won’t.

Stay safe, and well.

See you soon,

Russell

Drizzle

298-lemon-drizzle-tray-bake-920x726 Tonight’s title, Readers, could well be referring to the inclement weather we have had to suffer for weeks – with Storms Ciara, Dennis and then Jorge – but it does in fact refer to one of my better recent moments.  At the weekend (storm Jorge in full force) some baking was undertaken to cheer everyone up and a lovely pile of lemon drizzle bars were made.  During the evening, Young Lad was given a plate on which sat a lemon drizzle bar and sensibly Young Lad ate it straight away.  Lad, on the other hand, was not so wise.  Lad left his plate on the table next to the sofa while he went to get a drink.  In one of my most agile and frankly graceful leaps ever across the lounge, I exited my chair, grabbed the lemon drizzle bar and ran under the table with it.  It was a seemless manoeuvre, absolute poetry in motion.   There was some screeching and shouting but this was far too late, and I thoroughly enjoyed my lemon drizzle bar.  

Then last night, once everyone was home from school and work, I wandered upstairs to have a look around.  Lad suddenly shouted “PORRIDGE!” but don’t worry, he hasn’t developed some sort of breakfast food Tourettes.  No, Readers, Lad suddenly remembered that his bedroom door wasn’t closed and there were numerous cups, glasses and a bowl on the floor.  In the bowl was the porridge that he hadn’t eaten early in the morning.  Lad was far too late in his exclamation and by the time he had run up the stairs, I had grabbed the china bowl and passed him on the stairs as I ran back down with it in my mouth.  Again I retired to under the table, where I cleared up all the porridge (it was a bit dried on if I’m honest).  This was last night, Readers.  Twenty four hours later the bowl is still under the table on the carpet.  The level of sloppiness in this house never fails to amaze me.

What else have I been up to?  I’ve stolen Gingercat’s food several times but to be fair, Gingercat has put on a lot of weight and could do with cutting down.  I’ve also been given a bone which was something of a treat.  This was because they were all going to be out ALL AFTERNOON on Saturday  – Lad was going to Wet Sham with his friend and because  trains are always CRAP  at the weekend, (Lad’s words not mine)  She offered to drive them up to the end of the Central Line.  And so it was that She, Lad and Young Lad all drove off at lunchtime on Saturday and didn’t return until tea time. This was a dreadfully long time to leave me on my own.

It’s all very well saying that I’d had an HOUR’S  power walk up the fields in the morning and should have slept all afternoon but that’s hardly the point.  Leaving me alone all that time, even with a knuckle bone, was never going to be a good idea.  Indeed She thought better of it late in the afternoon and sent a panicky text  message to Ebony’s Pack Leader asking if she could let me out in the garden and feed me.  Hmm. Friends, too little too late.  When Ebony’s Pack Leader arrived, I had opened lots of cupboards and in want of anything better to do, I had found a new packet of toilet rolls and chucked those around.  Look there was nothing else to do! 

Tonight has been as bldybusy as ever, what with it being Wednesday.  Lad and I have had a nice quiet evening at home while Young Lad and She went to indoor cricket nets.  There was some concern about the shortbldywindow of time between She getting home from work and needing to go straight back out to cricket, collecting one of Young Lad’s associates on the way, so a short snappy text message was sent to Lad at 4pm which read: COOK DINNER!  I felt this was abrupt and dictatorial and that Lad is taken advantage of.  Lad did indeed cook dinner which was Young’s cod in batter with chips.  Then, Readers, poor Lad received another short snappy text message while Young Lad was at cricket!  This one read: I’M KNACKERED PLS TIDY UP.  For goodness’ sake!  Lad is trying to study for his A Levels and should not be treated like some sort of hired help.

She and Young Lad were looking forward to relaxing on the sofa for an hour once they returned from cricket tonight, but I found the tail end of my knuckle bone and decided to chew it.  This makes a pleasing grating noise as my teeth scrape against it and this seems to annoy everyone.  In fact I’ve just been told to LEAVE IT!  The other problem with chewing a knuckle bone is that you take in an awful lot of air through your mouth as you gnaw, and what goes in must come out.  The likelihood is that I will let off foul smells all night long and whoever’s bedroom I sleep in will smell like a sulphur factory in the morning.

Tomorrow I’m at dear , dear Ebony’s house for daycare, having been at dear,dear Pippa’s for the last couple of days.  Nobody there will shout at me for taking bowls of porridge, lemon drizzle cake or having unfortunate flatulence.

Golly I’m tired.

See you soon,

Russell