15 October 2012

Jack DeeOK, we’re back after a wonderfully enjoyable weekend with friends on the south coast – sorry for the interruption to your normal service. We drove down on Friday afternoon for a performance at the Brighton Comedy Festival by Jack Dee. (I was going to include a link to a YouTube video to give those of you who don’t know of him a feel for his comedy. After searching for several minutes, however, I was unable to find a clip which didn’t include, at some stage, a torrent of four-letter language of which I know my mother would not approve. So, for those of you who don’t know his act, you’ll have to search for yourself). Wikipedia describes his comedy as “sarcastic, witty and deadpan” which is a pretty good description. I would add “acerbic” as well, partly because it’s such a great-sounding word but also because it describes his humour fairly well.

And, the show was great.

Saturday we visited Wakehurst Place in West Sussex, a beautiful National Trust property which happens to be the “country estate” of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and the home of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership where they have, thus far, banked 10% of the world’s wild plant species. It’s a lovely spot and, although the weather wasn’t at its finest, we spent a lovely afternoon wandering amongst the gardens and woodland.

Just for reference, those handsome folk in the group photo are: Yours truly, Stuart Brown and Sue Kelly, Sue Walton, Penelope Playchute and Dave Walton. The young girl sheltering from the rain amongst the Japanese Acer was just too good a shot to miss.

I included a few cartoons in yesterday’s stop gap edition – I’ve one more to share with you this week – Decoding Dogs from Adrian Raeside’s The Other Coast.

Decoding Dogs

This is an extremely informative piece and tells us much about the conversational characteristics of our Molly. None of the other dogs we’ve had have been excessively vocal, at least in terms of barking (they’ve all had this ability to communicate with a low, gravelly grumble but none has been what you might call a “barker”). Rosie (I think it was Rosie) would always bark whenever the doorbell rang to ensure we had heard it and were aware that there were guests or strangers awaiting our response at the front door but other than that they’ve all been relatively quiet in their interactions with other adults and canines.

Molly, however, as I have mentioned before, barks at everything and everyone but always with her tail wagging as rapidly and vigorously as possible. The “trouble” is that most people don’t know what she’s saying and tend to imagine that she is aggressively warning them that “Everything here is mine! Stay away!” Strangers who have never encountered her previously tend to regard her with some caution – small children positively quake and generally run away in hysterics at her apparent aggressiveness when, in fact, she wouldn’t harm a flea. (Remember, this is the “vicious” dog that whines, whimpers and wanders in the opposite direction whenever she encounters any of the neighbourhood cats). Still, whenever we’re out she will bark at any approaching dog or human and, in spite of our requests not to be so vocal, she cannot help herself.

Bark, bark, bark. Bark, bark, bark. Bark, bark, bark.

Also, she doesn’t see too well anymore and this, taken together with her urge to vocalise all her thoughts, can lead to some amusing incidents. Occasionally, she will see another “dog” in the distance and start barking and bounding towards it, only to discover her error when she gets close enough to see that she has been barking at a rubbish bin or a mailbox or an abandoned crisp packet. The other morning she started barking and bounding off toward . . . nothing – vast acres of emptiness in the middle of the football pitch at the recreation ground.

I’ve always interpreted her vocalisation as an attempt to communicate, as the cartoon suggests, the everyday aspects of her life. Much like the loud drunk in the bar, she cannot help announcing her arrival – “Hey! I’m here! How’s it going? Haven’t seen you around here in a couple of days – hope you’ve not been under the weather. How’s the wife? Kids still giving you grief? Hey! How about those Yankees?” etc., etc., etc. If only she would do so a little bit more quietly!

No rants this week, just a piece by David Mitchell explaining that burgers and chips are the real reason behind our national incompetence. It must be true.

Love to you all,


One thought on “15 October 2012”

  1. Dear Greg and Penny,
    Love the pictures of your outing last week! Somehow, I didn’t realize England had so much Fall color. I know the Japanese Acer (Maple). We grew one in our garden in Madison, Wisconsin, but I’ve never seen one so hugh.
    Loved the observations and guess about the meaning of Molly’s barking. My last mut (Binti) was supposed to be a water loving Lab. mix. She seldom barked except at the Lake edge, where she would race back and forth on the beach barking at the waves. she would do this for half an hour or more. I think she had herding instincts, and figured she was keeping the “sheep” in line. But, she would NOT put her feet in the water.
    One mut we had arrived at the Lake for the first time, tore out of the car, directly to the lake and jumped in and swam out to the buoy and back. Had never been exposed to lake or ocean before. Dogs have real personalities, but I never became a “dog wisperer”, so I often couldn’t tell what they wanted.
    Recovering from a cold, and got my flu shot today. Had to miss some fun activities these past four days. All well now. Love, Bunny W.

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