Monday 29 April 2013

The Eighteenth Blog of Augustus Lazarus Cooke (Gus)

The Eighteenth Blog of Augustus Lazarus Cooke (Gus)

Hello everyone!

I thought I’d tell you a little about our days, in particular, our walks. We usually do a lot of retrieving ‘cos after all we are working Labrador retrievers. Well, obviously, Frodo isn’t – he’s a Dalmatian, good for guarding horses and carriages, though he is quite good at retrieving biscuits from the ponds. When Mr H throws biscuits for Bill and Beatrice Crow Frodo does his impression of a crow. It’s not a very good impression ‘cos he’s big and white with black spots and he has four legs and Bill and Beatrice are small and black and have two legs and two wings – but he tries. Anyway, generally he doesn’t retrieve but walks along with Mrs H, keeping an eye on her and making sure she’s safe.

She’s always got her hands full. She carries a ball flinger in one hand and an AquaKong in the other. 
ball flinger
She used just to take the AquaKong and we all chased after it but Bertie got so quick that Jenna stopped trying. Mr and Mrs H thought she was getting a bit depressed so they decided to take the ball flinger, too, and now Jenna is happy again. I chase after the ball as well and sometimes I get it and sometimes Jenna does but we both like to try. Bertie picks up his AquaKong and also races after the ball. He always knows where it is if he’s been watching Mrs H and he reaches it first and shows Jenna and me. Sometimes he doesn’t see it flying through the air and landing and then we have to search it out with our noses. It can take lots of time but we don’t mind and we never give up. If it lands in the water and we haven’t seen it Bertie swims out to it and nudges it with his nose to show us – he can’t carry the Kong and the ball at the same time.

I’ve been limping a bit recently and some days we’ve had to miss our walks; it wouldn’t be fair to leave one of us – ME – behind. After one day and then more than one day we’ve been allowed to go out again but I still ended up limping so I went to see Phil-the –Vet. He knows all about dogs and joints and bones and things and he doesn’t think there’s anything very wrong but I’ve got some medicine and some tablets and I feel much happier. Looking back I know I had started to get quite grumpy but now the pain has gone and I’m my normal patient self again.

Anyway, now we have retrieving walks and ordinary sniffing walks. It felt strange at first not to be searching for anything but we have realised we rather enjoy sniffing walks. We can always pick up a stick to carry if we feel the need to practise our skills. The first time we had a sniffing walk Bertie was really confused and kept looking for his AquaKong.

We’ve been to see Tia and Foxy and Buster a couple of times. The first time we went we had to be introduced to the baby. She's called Isla.
She’s much smaller than Frankie. The second time we went we had to stay in the house while everyone went out apart from Dean and the baby. Frodo disgraced himself and started howling – he doesn’t know Dean very well and he wanted Mrs H to come back. He settled down when Marnie came back to look after him. Mr and Mrs H and the rest came home later and they looked happier than before they went and said they were glad ‘it’ was all over. I’m not sure what ‘it’ was.*

I’m sure you know all about the kittens. They are rather interesting and growing bigger and bolder every day. Bertie loves them and wants to play with them all the time. He likes them rubbing round him.

Jenna and Frodo and I don’t mind that but we’re not keen on them playing with our tails. Earlier this week they went to spend a day with the vets and when they came back they were wearing collars but what collars they were – huge things! 
Isambard, Herschel and Jellicoe

I had to wear one once – I didn’t like it and wouldn’t eat so my people took it off me.

Bertie is a very friendly boy but the other day when we were walking in the forest he saw something he didn’t like and started barking ferociously. Someone was hiding in the rhododendrons and he didn’t think they should be there. Mrs H explained that the man was helping to train Search and Rescue dogs and then Bertie calmed down. I know he wouldn’t have attacked the hiding man but he sounded really fierce. Jenna would just have trotted up and licked him if she’d noticed him. She’s a real softie, my sister.

Mrs H went away last week to see Bethan and Susannah then Bethan came home with her for a few days because Robert the Cat Whisperer was in the States. It was nice to see Bethan again – she really likes meJ

It’s time for us to have some food – beef heart and chicken carcase and some tripe – YUM!

Be good.

Hwyl fawr am nawr! (That’s Welsh for ‘Goodbye for now!’)

*’it’ was Dorothy’s funeral

Armistice at Toad Hall

Illustration by Helen Ward

Armistice at Toad Hall (with apologies to Kenneth Grahame)

Badger and Toad and Mole and Ratty had agreed that the reprehensible antics of the miscreants in the Wild Wood must be brought to an end. The year was turning from summer to autumn and Toad would soon be hibernating. In very cold or wet periods Badger, though not hibernating, would spend several days in his underground sett away from the perils of inclement weather. Toad and Badger could not bear the thought of little Mole and Ratty being left on their own to counteract the disruptive behaviour of the wily weasels and sly stoats and concluded they must make a mammoth attempt to engineer some sort of entente cordiale.

To this end they decided to hold a party at Toad Hall and invite the stoats and weasels.  ‘Know your enemy,’ said wise Badger, quoting from the Chinese.

Toad scratched his head, ‘We do know our enemy,’ he said. ‘We know them only too well and I know what I’d like to do to them.’ He puffed himself up. Mole and Ratty, recognising the signs of impending inappropriate action in their excitable friend, laid their paws on his arm in an attempt to pacify him.

‘What Badger means,’ said Mole in his quiet voice, ‘Is that if we can befriend the Wild Wooders we can understand them and avoid confrontation in the future.’

‘And if they get to know us,’ said Ratty in a reasonable tone, ’They may find they like us and don’t want to fight us any more.’

‘Sounds like utter rot to me,’ Toad sniffed.

‘At least let us try,’ said Badger. ‘A running battle upsets everyone’s equilibrium.’

Toad allowed himself to be persuaded and in the following days immersed himself in arrangements for the party. He printed invitations and ordered succulent delicacies for the banquet.When the day of the festivities arrived he and Badger, Ratty and Mole dressed in their finest clothes – Toad had commissioned a new suit especially for the occasion - and stood at the door of Toad Hall to welcome their guests. 

The first to arrive were the stoats, swaggering in and smiling broadly, showing their wickedly sharp white teeth. They grabbed paper hats and jammed them on their heads then fell upon the food as though famished. Just as they were cramming trifle and cakes into their jaws their smaller cousins, the weasels, strutted into the dining hall. There were cries and whistles of recognition and exhortations to try this or that dish. Toad and his friends looked on in amazement. Never had they seen such a display of bad manners. There were no polite interchanges such as, ‘Could you pass the cream, please?’ or ‘Might I trouble you for the salt?’ Instead the sharp-eyed little creatures shoved and pushed, grabbed and snatched until the table and the floor beneath it was a litter of mashed and smashed food and crockery. Not once did any of the guests look at their hosts or thank them. Replete, they put their hind legs up on the table and stretched back in their chairs, burping and hiccoughing and laughing uproariously at old jokes. Gradually the hubbub ceased and was replaced by sonorous snoring.

‘Do you reckon we know them now?’ said Toad rudely to Badger.

Badger shook his great head and said, ‘We tried our best. They are not creatures with whom we can have anything in common. I think the only thing we can do now is avoid them insofar as that is possible and make sure our own premises are secured when we are away from home.’

‘But they’re already in my home,’ protested Toad. ‘It was your idea to invite them in. Now how shall I be rid of them?’

He need not have worried. When the Wild Wooders awoke they left quietly. The oldest stoat, grizzle-bearded, shook the friends’ paws and thanked them for their hospitality. ‘It’s not the end of the war,’ he warned them, ‘But it was a pleasant interlude, a temporary ceasefire.’

The four animals set about clearing up the mess left by their guests. They found a small stoat still asleep in a milk jug. He woke with a start and helped them to tidy up then skipped out of Toad Hall, saying, ‘Thanks, Mister. It was fun.’

‘There’s hope in the younger generation,’ said Badger and Ratty nodded his head as he closed and bolted the heavy oak door.

Mole giggled and said, ‘I overhead a joke they made.’

‘Do tell,’ said Toad.

‘What's the difference between a stoat and a weasel?’ said Mole.

Badger and Ratty looked mystified while Toad tried to look as though he knew the answer. 

Spluttering, Mole said, ‘A weasel is weasily wecognised and a stoat is stoatally different

Their laughter rang out into the night and the Wild Wooders, hearing it, laughed too. The armistice at Toad Hall had been a great success. Maybe there would be another one, one day.

Thanks to Tess for this prompt. Go here to read other offerings.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Conservatory Cats' Chats April 2013

Conservatory Cats’ Chats (C3) April 2013

Jellicoe: We are pleased to report that all is proceeding satisfactorily. The longer we spend with The THINKER and The MAID the more relaxed we are with them. 

Isambard: Although we refer to ourselves as the Conservatory Cats the truth is that we spend very little time in the conservatory these days. The THINKER has renamed us The ENTROPY GANG.

Herschel: We thought that sounded rather complimentary and quite superior until The MAID told us the definition of ENTROPY.

Jellicoe: We were surprised to learn that it means ‘a state of disorder; a lack of pattern or organisation.’

Isambard: Then we didn’t know whether we should be flattered or insulted.

Herschel: We decided it was a tribute to our presence. After all, it is better to be noticed than ignored.

Jellicoe: It is certainly true that we have made an impact. When we are engaged in what The MAID calls our ‘‘Wall of Death’ moments we have noticed that objects are displaced and fall to the floor.

Isambard: At such times, usually once or twice a day, we are invited to spend time on the STAIRS. We can hurtle up and down those to our hearts’ content without fear of harm or injury to ourselves or others.

Herschel: We have been fully integrated with the DOGS since we last blogged. It happened very quickly in the end.

Jellicoe: First we met the one the Servants call JENNA. She is black and the smallest of the DOGS.

Isambard: Then the spotted DOG was introduced to us. He is called FRODO.

Herschel: Finally the two youngest DOGS were allowed to greet us nose to nose. GUS is big and black and BERTIE is big and golden.
Bertie with Herschel
Jellicoe: Isambard, who admits he is the most timid of the three of us, is very confident around the DOGS and seeks them out to play. He particularly likes BERTIE.
Bertie with Herschel and Jellicoe
 Isambard: Yes, he is a little rough at times and does not understand CATetiquette (CATS do not sniff bottoms) but I understand he is still quite immature. It seems that DOGS take a long time to grow up. He will learn.

Herschel: We are intrigued by OUTDOORS. The DOGS go in and out several times a day. Unlike us they do not use litter trays. We are keen to explore OUTDOORS too, but we are not allowed out.

Jellicoe:  The Servants have indicated that we shall be able to go into the OUTDOORS which they call the GARDEN in the SUMMER when a special fence will have been erected.

 Isambard: We rush to the patio door when the DOGS ask to go out but the Servants prevent our egress. They have started organising the GARDEN so that we can join them OUTDOORS though they say we shall not be permitted to explore without them in attendance except in our small enclosure which will have a roof.

Herschel: It is because of the RED KITE which could snatch us up and carry us away. There is a SPARROWHAWK, too, but we think that is less of a threat to us. SPARROWHAWKS usually only eat small birds.

Jellicoe: We could eat small birds, too. We like watching the birds and we would love to catch them.

Isambard:  The Servants like watching the birds, too. The MAID puts food out for them. Perhaps she is fattening them up for us.
The very small servant is called ISLA
Herschel: What else has changed? Another very small Servant has been born. We haven’t seen her yet but our Servants went to visit her the other day and took lots of photos. Oh, yes, we no longer sleep in our pen. Instead, when the Servants and the DOGS go to bed we almost join them.

Jellicoe: That’s to say we go up the STAIRS but we don’t go into their bedroom. We sleep in our radiator beds – that’s when we’re not playing.

Isambard: We call out to them when we hear them waking up in the morning. Sometimes The Maid has to let one or two of the DOGS out 
in the middle of the night. She never looks very happy about that.

Herschel: We’re always quite sleepy so we don’t bother to chase her down the STAIRS and play the ‘Let’s see if we can go OUTDOORS’ game.

Jellicoe: I’m sure she appreciates our consideration. After all she really needs her beauty sleep – and as much of it as she can get.

Isambard: I think my favourite Servant is The THINKER.  I like to cuddle up to him though The MAID will do if he’s not around.

Herschel: Jellicoe and I don’t mind who we sit on, just so long as we’re stroked and told how beautiful we are.

Jellicoe: We all purr as soon as anyone looks at us. I still have the loudest voice of all, though Herschel is quite noisy, too.

Isambard: I remain the quietest brother. I had to go and see Nadia-the-Vet the other day because my eye was sore. It’s all right now – nothing to worry about. She thinks I probably knocked it when my brothers and I were playing. The MAID says we’re all going to the vet soon and we’ll have to stay there for a whole day. I don’t mind if we’re all going together but I’d rather not go, really.

Herschel:  There’s one thing I do to The MAID that she doesn’t seem to like. I bite her hands. She knows I’m only being affectionate but it hurts and makes her hands sore. She says it reminds her of another cat long ago – Angus. I wish I had known him – he sounds quite a character.

Well, it’s time for us to have another snooze. I’ll say goodbye from all of us.