Boxing Day Blues

Well, Readers, what a strange Christmas that was for so many of us. I do hope you managed to eat, drink and be merry even if you weren’t able to be with the people you wanted to see. I certainly managed to eat and drink, and made my own fun as you can see by trashing the Boxing Day game of Monopoly. Gingercat had already walked across the board and knocked the dog and car off their squares, and then he sat down by the Bank, while I lay on the board and waggled my ears and paws around to knock everything else off. It was hilarious in all honesty, and served them right for not sitting up at the table.

Young Lad won, in case you were wondering, by having houses on Park Lane and Mayfair. Lad had embarked on a strange strategy of staying in jail as long as possible so that he wasn’t landing on people’s property and thus paying rent. She was very cross and said this is against the rules but when they looked it up, it wasn’t. Well done, Lad.

But let’s go back a little. Christmas Eve is always one of my favourite days as people are busy rushing around and let down their guard on the hiding food front. Regular Readers will know that on previous Christmas Eves, I have eaten an entire large bag of McCain frozen chips, a whole pack of Tesco finest mini mince pies, and various chocolates. None of these have ever killed me. So I was looking forward to December 24th this year, to see what foodstuffs were left within my reach. Nothing was. This was very disappointing Friends, and is yet another dark legacy of coronavirus as we are in Tier 4 and nobody is allowed out, and therefore leaving- a- turkey- on -the- kitchen- worksurface -while- we- pop -to -the= neighbours- for- drinks scenarios are unlikely.

However all was not lost as I was given some wonderful dog snacks and I really did enjoy those. My dear friend Delilah the Basset Hound had also sent me some of her home-made dog biscuits which are divine. Later in the afternoon on Christmas Eve a cheeseboard and crackers was produced – again, no social niceties such as sitting at the table, but these were consumed on the sofa slumped in front of Netflix and so by making my brown eyes go extra large and appealing, I was able to successfully beg for bits of cracker. This Christmas Eve wasn’t quite up there in the food stakes with the McCain oven chips/mince pies ones, but I did get a lot of cuddles and love, so you just have to take what you can get these days.

Sadly there was a lack of Tempura prawns on Christmas Eve this year. This was because She had opened the Tempura prawns two days prior to Christmas Eve, which shows an appalling lack of self-discipline and blatant disregard for yuletide convention. By the time Christmas Eve came round, the Tempura prawns had been finished, there wasn’t much smoked salmon left and as for the tree chocolates…Readers I know this has been a year like no other, but I don’t feel such a cavalier ‘sod it’ attitude is a good example to others. Thus a late Christmas Eve afternoon dash to M&S food was needed to stock up on Tempura prawns and smoked salmon. I ask you.

Christmas Eve evening was unusual but rather lovely as we all sat together on the sofa under cuddly blankets and watched a film. Thankfully there were bowls of snacks to keep us going through this and I enjoyed myself very much. In many ways it was a wonderful evening, as due to the lack of visitors for Christmas lunch the following day, She did not need to spend the evening running round polishing cutlery, making bread sauce, wrapping presents, drinking and snapping at everyone. This was possibly the most peaceful Christmas Eve we’ve ever had. Every cloud and all that.

Oh the smells as Christmas lunch was cooked , Friends – I’m sure your homes were similarly fragrant. I’m never quite sure whether it’s the turkey, or stuffing, or roast potatoes that give off that wonderful smell – and I don’t really care. The kitchen smelled heavenly. I would happily have stayed there for the entire morning but no, of course, I was dragged out on a Long Christmas Day walk. There were hundreds of other dogs being dragged out too, – some of them had been made to wear ridiculous Santa coats – and all the Pack Leaders were very jolly and wished each other Happy Christmas. This isn’t everyone’s idea of fun and I have to agree – it bores me rigid stopping to say hello to everyone. She had every intention of taking me for a very long walk up across the fields beyond the river – however, due to some spectacular rainfall, the river had burst its banks again and we couldn’t get across the bridge. She did try, as knee-high wellington boots might just have been enough (please note, no thought whatsoever as to how I would stay above the water level), but the middle of the bridge was too deep even for this and She had to turn back. A man called out, “chicken!” at her in a jolly festive way and everyone laughed. Thankfully we then went home for Christmas Dinner – I had had quite enough of that.

Blow me down with an hors d’oeuvre – after Christmas lunch I was dragged out again! To be fair so were Lad and Young Lad, as they Needed Some Fresh Air, apparently, and so we walked to Lovelydor’s house down the road to say thank you for our presents. Lovelydor didn’t hear us knocking on the door, despite Young Lad giving it some welly, so Readers you can make your own mind up as to whether Lovelydor had started on the sherry a little early, or was having a nap.

Lad and Young Lad have been stuck at home for quite a while now, due to Tier 4, and it is very frustrating for everyone. They have been very good, Readers, and not moaned when forced into manual labour – Young Lad has to empty the airing cupboard and sort out the washing on a regular basis, and hoover, and do the dishwasher. I know, I feel this is unreasonable too. Poor Young Lad. Lad hasn’t done quite so much to help, but then Lad has been studying very hard and in fact only had Christmas Day and Boxing Day away from his studies. This shows great determination and work ethic. Well done, Lad. I’m sure it is not just because “there is xxxx all else to do,” as Lad muttered the other day. In fact Lad has been improving his mind by watching documentaries about the Vietnam War on Netflix, which whilst not terribly uplifting, have been informative. Young Lad has mostly stuck to Family Guy and Top Gear. She and her friends all whatsapp each other with suggestions of what to watch next on Netflix, and occasionally a subsequent message pings through saying, “not with the boys, lots of sex.” I have no idea what this is all about and just sleep soundly in my chair.

Readers, the reason I need so much sleep at the moment is the ludicrous amount of walking I am forced to do. For the past week or so there have been at least two walks a day – one into town to buy a takeaway coffee, and the other as my proper exercise in the fields. One would be ample. On the coffee walk, we usually stand and talk Loadsakids or some such friends, and they marvel at how exciting it is to go upstairs in Tesco – yes, it’s still open! – where the decidedly non-essentail items are. During these difficult days in Tier 4, it is apparently a wonderful experience to still be able to browse through highlighter pens, saucepans or scented candles.

Friends you won’t believe this, but on one of our coffee walks, we did not ‘bump into’ a friend. Thus we arrived at Costalotta and there was nowhere to tie me up outside – I could have been stolen, Readers! – and She became very agitated at not being able to go in to buy an Americano. She smiled through the glass door a lot in the hope that one of the baristas would come to the door and take our order – for goodness’ sake – but this didn’t happen. In the end I was left with a COMPLETE STRANGER while She went in to buy her coffee! Honestly, anything could have happened to me. This very Good Samaritan said they would hold my lead as they could see She was about to cry, but they could have been any Tom, Dick or Harry. I was furious!

Then yesterday, Friends, we agreed to meet our friend Madame for coffee in the Public Gardens (dogs aren’t allowed in there but She said who is going to care at the moment?) and the idea was a coffee and dog walk. TWO AND A HALF HOURS LATER, Readers, I crawled back up our road to my home. We had trekked through knee-high mud for miles and miles and miles. I had seen parts of the county that I didn’t know existed and I was EXHAUSTED. The funny thing was that the conversation between Madame and She didn’t dry up once, throughout this epic walk – I really don’t know how they do it.

Would you believe it – this morning we have met another friend for a ‘dog walk’. At least this time there was another dog to keep me company, but again it was two hours of non-stop walking and talking….there will be nothing left of me by New Year.

Well, Friends, I hope you are safe and well and have survivied Christmas. I know that many of you will be googling Monopoly rules now to see if Lad was right about being able to earn rent on his properties whilst sitting in jail – well, there isn’t much else to do I suppose.

See you soon,

Russell

Tier 4

Here is Gingercat, Readers, being very immature and climbing into a carrier bag this afternoon. This is very dangerous and extremely silly. I looked on disdainfully as Gingercat did this, and even more disdainfully when he started knocking a wind-up pigs in blanket toy around the lounge floor. Gingercat is at least 12 years old which is very elderly for a cat and he should be well past the point of such juvenile behaviour. Honestly.

To be fair the sight of Gingercat climbing into a plastic bag provided some light relief in a tricky weekend. Yesterday there was sharp intake of breath round here at just after 4pm, when it was announced that our area is now in Tier 4. I have no idea what this means and couldn’t care less. So long as it doesn’t affect my food supply or involve me leaving my armchair, life is tickety boo for me. Not so for everyone else, it seems. The atmosphere here moved from tense, to irritable to emotional and then back to irritable, which is where it has stayed. It appears that due to a new strain of coronavirus, nobody is allowed to leave home again, other than for essential visits to the supermarket or dentist – which is good news for Young Lad as he has a dentist appointment in a couple of days’ time. Young Lad is pleased this hasn’t been disrupted by Tier 4.

There was much huffing and sighing last night and it was all a little over-dramatic if you ask me. She immediately messaged her good friend Loadsakids so that they could wail together over Whatsapp, and of course one of their main worries was whether coffee shops were still open for takeaways. This hardly seems important in light of what’s going on but She snapped something about “our bldy mental health” and it would not have been wise to argue at this point. She and Loadsakids and thousands of other people now face being stuck indoors with their teenagers and dogs for weeks, including the whole of the Christmas period, and it seems takeaway coffee is akin to Valium in being able to survive this.

As it turned out, coffee shops are still open for takeaway only and whilst nobody is supposed to be meeting anyone else, if one happens to walk one’s dog into town and buy a takeaway coffee at the same time as one’s friend walks their dog into town and coincidentally buys a takeaway coffee from the same coffee shop, what can one do? And so it was this morning, that I was walked briskly and purposefully into town – I wasn’t allowed to stop and sniff much on the way – and blow me down with a feather! There was Loadsakids with her dog. Well I never. So Loadsakids’ dog and I sniffed each other’s backsides as this doesn’t spread coronavirus, not even the new strain, whilst She and Loadsakids stood apart outside the betting shop, drinking their coffee and saying “dear me how vexing this all is,” quite a lot. I think that’s what they said, anyway. I was bored out of my mind, to be honest, and mightily relieved when they decided to move away from the betting shop as there were a few strange people hanging around, and instead chose to go and look at the queue for Tesco as this now counts as entertainment in Tier 4.

I nearly had a Lovely Moment, actually, Readers, while She was inside the coffee shop buying her coffee – dogs aren’t allowed in so there was no choice but for Loadsakids to hold my lead outside, with her own dog. A very nice man walked up to us and asked Loadsakids if he could stroke me – I was looking particularly beguiling this morning – but Loadsakids noticed he was holding a croissant and said, “I wouldn’t if I was you.” I was annoyed by this.

Then while we were standing looking at the queue for Tesco, Loadsakids’ dog and I noticed a large golden retriever coming round the corner. However, this retriever had on some sort of harness and a high vis thing – I can tell you, I found this very alarming and sinister. We barked and growled ferociously at the dog in the harness and high vis thing, just to make it clear that we were not to be messed with, but She shouted at us and it turns out that the retriever was a guide dog, and actually belonged to someone She knew who was rather tentatively trying to walk past us while Loadsakids’ dog and I tried to kill his helpful canine friend. Apparently I am “an embarrassment.”

Then this afternoon I was dragged out on another walk, down to the river and up to the fields and lake, because it will be important for our ‘mental well-being’ to get out of the house as much as possible over the next few weeks. I don’t think my well-being is being considered at all in this. Young Lad was forced to come on this walk. Young Lad was not happy about this at all, and whined quite a bit, but She said that if he ever wanted to see the bldy Xbox again in his entire life, he would quit the whingeing and put his trainers on. I ask you. Poor Young Lad. As if this wasn’t bad enough, when we returned home he was made to empty the airing cupboard. It’s Christmas for goodness’ sake!

And what of Lad, I hear you ask? Lad has a lot of studying to do, Friends, and as usual he is working hard. Lad was not let off the chores though, Readers – oh no. Lad was told to put away the bags of Tesco shopping while we were out on our walk – this was an arduous task as there were several bags of shopping and rather a lot to fit into the fridge. Poor Lad. I wonder how Lad and Young Lad are feeling about being stuck indoors with She for the foreseeable future.

Regular Readers will remember that in my last blog, all hell had broken loose as Young Lad had lost his electric toothbrush. Nobody knew how this could have happened as electric toothbrushes are quite large and easy to spot, but there you go. Friends, you will be overwhelmed with relief to know that Young Lad’s electric toothbrush has been found!! It was in the other bathroom. Yes, there are just the two bathrooms and you would have thought somebody might have thought of looking there, but such is life in my house. Instead of this find being celebrated, Young Lad was admonished further for being so useless at looking for things.

You’ll also be pleased to know, Regular Readers, that She finally found the time to read Lad’s essay on which he’d worked so hard. She left a note outside Lad’s bedroom door before going to work which read, ” v good, well done, changed grammar a bit, love you.” Really – would it have been too much trouble to write a full sentence?

I was taken to the Evil Vet on Friday night, Friends. I wasn’t happy about this but as usual nobody consulted me. I have had itchy ears for a while and everyone was fed up with me shaking my head and scratching, so off we went. Due to coronavirus, we weren’t allowed in but had to stand out in the rain, until the Evil Vet was ready for me. The the Evil Vet took me inside and looked down my ears – of course, he’d been warned he would need to muzzle me, which wasn’t difficult as he gave me a biscuit before producing the muzzle. My ears need to have drops applied twice a day and so far I have tried to chew off the hand of anyone who comes near me with the bottle. It hasn’t gone well. I will not be treated like this.

Lad is trying to tell She all about an idea he has for a business enterprise he has thought of, with the benefit of studying degree-level Psychology. She is nodding and saying “mmm” quite a lot but I can tell She isn’t really listening. This is so rude. Poor Lad.

I suspect She is thinking about the clink of ice and the swoosh of the tonic water, as the afternoon has been spent trying to hang up the bldy Christmas cards. These will have all fallen down by tomorrow morning and we go through the same pantomime every single year. I know for a fact a drawing pin dropped on the wooden floor in the hall and hasn’t been found, so I imagine someone will step on that soon, too.

Readers, I am rather worried about how often I’m going to be dragged out for walks over the next week or two in Tier 4. I will be fading away to nothing if they are not careful. It’s all very well She being happy to find that one friend can still be visited as they count as a support bubble, but Readers I have no support bubble. I, too would be overjoyed if this was the case, but alas, there is no support bubble in any tier whatsoever for me. I will have no choice but to carry on ripping up the recycling and dragging it round the garden over the next few days as this is the only fun I have.

Stay safe, Readers, wash those hands and if you’re in Tier 4 like us, get yourself a takeaway coffee now and again.

See you soon,

Russell

Michael Bauble

Well, Friends, as you can see the Michael Buble CD finally made it out of storage and the Christmas decorations were put up. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there was a festive atmosphere here but at least there are some twinkly lights and the odd angel around in my house now. It was a nice Christmas tree this year – a much better shape than the one from Lidl last year – and lessons have been learned about false economy. The fact that it was a nicer, more expensive tree however meant nothing to me and I pulled it over, as you can see, as soon as I was able to.

It wasn’t my fault. Lad is back from university – more of that later – and it was Lad’s fault entirely for leaving the lounge door open when he went to the gym. She had hung Cadbury’s chocolate tree decorations on the tree only the previous night – I had watched carefully to see where they had been put – and of course they were all up quite high so I had to pull the entire tree down to get at them. I ate all the chocolate tree decorations (there were 12 in the packet originally but She had eaten 3 before they even made it onto the tree due to STRESS) so in all that was 9 chocolate tree decorations, including their foil wrappers and gold string. Still hungry, though, I wandered round the lounge and dining room to see what else was around and as luck would have it, just managed to reach Young Lad’s Lindt chocolate advent calendar that was pushed not quite far back enough on the table. So I had that, too. It was December 8th, so you do the Maths and work out how many days left of Lindt chocolate there were.

Before you all start worrying about chocolate being poisonous for dogs, you know very well that I have eaten many, many bad things over the years and suffered no lasting ill effects. The triple-layer 10- inch chocolate birthday cake with lashings of rich chocolate buttercream that had been lovingly made for Lad’s 16th birthday was probably the most poisonous of them all, but even that only ended with a lot of unpleasant comfort breaks in the garden that were difficult to clear up. And a lot of wind. Then there was the infamous Christmas Eve two years ago when I ate a packet of mini mince pies (Tesco Finest with Courvoisier brandy) while my family were next door at the neighbour’s house, which resulted in the late night visit to the emergency vet to make me sick it all up again. The fun I always have at Christmas! So don’t worry Friends, the chocolates from the tree and advent calendar have passed through and so has the foil and gold string. She had such a nice time in the wet garden this morning clearing everything up. “Living the bldy dream,” She said.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, considering we’ve only just come out of another Lockdown and nobody can do anything much. Lad came home from university last weekend and I was SO pleased to see him – I have been trying to sleep on his bed for a while now, as it had all been made up nicely with a brushed cotton duvet set for the Prodigal Son’s return but I was constantly being pulled off and shouted at for crumpling the bed covers. For heavens’ sake! As if Lad would care!! He’s a student. Anyway, it’s great having Lad back (not least because he leaves the lounge door open) and within what seemed like minutes the bathroom floor was covered in wet towels, there were mugs and plates everywhere and an interesting line up of beer bottles on the windowsill by the Xbox. Lad has made our home look just like his student accommodation which must be very comforting for him – well done, Lad.

She of course has moaned non-stop and told him to clear up.

Lad has been working very hard, Readers, with online lectures and lots of essays to write. Lad has asked She to read his essays this weekend to check them for him, and to be honest it’s disappointing that this was met with a sigh and less than enthusiastic “oh all right then.” Most parents would be delighted to read their offspring’s essays about Milgram’s psychology experiments. Yes, it’s a busy time of year but what’s more important? The Christmas Amazon order or improving one’s mind and supporting one’s son? I shake my head in disbelief at times, Friends.

Poor Lad has a lot of work to do, and barely has time to drink beer or go on the Xbox. Young Lad, on the other hand, seems to have lots of spare time – even more now, as Young Lad’s school have lots of positive Covid cases again and have sent Year 10, 11 and 13 home. Yes, Readers, AGAIN. This is Young Lad’s third lot of being sent home from school in a few weeks, but in all fairness he had just completed one week of being in the school building before the doors shut again. There was a lot of swearing and stomping around when She received the text message to say that Year 10 were not required in school yet again, and don’t need to go back until January. So this coming week, Readers, I have both Lad and Young Lad at home with me while She goes to work. We’ll have such a nice time!

However, as Lad is very busy with his online lectures and essays, it would be very unfair to expect him to take me for walks as well and so I have been out with dear, dear Pippa and dear, dear Ebony this week. One morning, whilst out with Pippa, I rolled in loads of fox cack and Pippa’s Pack Leader Male had to bathe me when we got home. He was much more gentle than my own Pack Leader is when bathing me.

As it is only two weeks until Christmas, and due to Covid and not knowing which Tier we will be in by this time next week, there is a certain amount of tension and bad mood round here. There is A Lot To Do apparently, and yet because we don’t really know what we’re doing when, it’s Difficult To Plan. This causes Stress. Give me strength. Due to the Stress, there is a lot less tolerance when things go wrong – for example, Young Lad lost his electric toothbrush this week and you would have thought the world had ended. Young Lad had his electric toothbrush on Monday, but then it disappeared. How one can lose a large electric toothbrush is a puzzle, but there was no need to shout and accuse Lad of taking it, or pulling everything out of the laundry basket to see if it had fallen in, or empty the box of Action Men in the bathroom in case they had taken it. Poor Young Lad has been moaned at non-stop for managing to lose his electric toothbrush somewhere in the house. Young Lad doesn’t seem all that bothered.

Then this afternoon, She thought it would be a nice festive family thing to go shopping together. It wasn’t. Neither Lad nor Young Lad really wanted to go but knew better than to protest, and had been promised a trip to Costalotta, so they set off. It was raining and dull, and there were queues everywhere. In the end they just went to Tesco but even this was traumatic as half way round She realised the shopping bags weren’t on the trolley. Young Lad and Lad were asked crossly what they had done with the shopping bags, and neither of them had the faintest idea, so everyone had to re-trace their steps round Tesco in search of shopping bags lying on the floor. There weren’t any. What there was, however, was the original trolley with the shopping bags on it back at the beginning, so it seems Lad and Young Lad had been pushing the wrong trolley round after all. They were chastised for this.

Readers it is barely 6pm and I can hear a clink of ice and the hiss from the tonic bottle – this does seem to get earlier and earlier every week.

I hope you are all staying safe and I’m sure you are waiting on tenterhooks just like us to find out which Tier we are in from next week, and therefore be able to Plan Christmas properly at long last. Or not, as the case may be.

Take care,

Russell