Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Storm Before The Calm



Dalmatians weren't that common around here so mine got all the attention. Neurotic middle-aged loonies were everywhere so I didn't. But that was fine.
There were different constellations now it was autumn, but the sun still shone brightly for many of our walks, not marred one iota by the impending rain, but rather by those who forewarned that it was coming. Leaves were dying on every branch, but seldom did death look so radiant. It wouldn't be long now before the public footpaths, the historic rights of way, would be carpeted once again, just as they had been for hundreds of years before.
In the meteorological offices experts studied their seaweed and fir cones in order to accurately forecast the weather ready for the tabloids to exaggerate. Of course farmers had their own mystical and unfailing know-how when it came to the weather. They knew, for example, that red sky in the morning meant, 'shepherd's warning.' They knew when it was dark over Will's mother's house it was going to rain. And they knew it was going to rain too when the cows laid down in the fields. In fact, to the agricultural community it was a pretty safe bet that if almost anything happened it was going to rain.
Nada was a fair-weather dog and considered it adventurous just to stand still in a field with the wind rushing past her and pretending she was running. But that didn’t stop me from dragging her out whatever the weather.
Just as the rest of the country were filling their coal scuttles and battening down the hatches I headed up to the ridgeways. There were always going to be days it would rain, but life goes on, just a little damper that’s all. There'll be worse days than these.
From the hills the valley resembled a teacup and the storm therein would soon blow over. For now at least there would be fewer people around to ignore me in favour of my dog.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Theology for Loonies



When my previous employer returned my soul and my P45, I had no idea what to do with them. A chapter had well and truly ended. But life continued, and it hung on like grim death.

I felt the urge to take my newly restored soul along to church for a bit of a clean up job. If nothing else it would be the one place where I wouldn’t be upstaged by my Dalmatian. Ironically perhaps, the one place I would have preferred to have transferred the attention.

Dad’s ministry was respected throughout the parish, nay, diocese. But being a protégé of Reverend Sourby he didn’t quite project the optimism that salvation suggests. Often misinterpreted as reverent solemnity, he was actually as miserable as sin. The type of man, for example, who when told to, “Take up thy bed and walk,” might still complain of, “a slight twinge.”

Having thought long and hard about it, I finally filled in the application form and transferred my spiritual account from the Anglicans PLC to the Baptists.

OK, so that was my soul taken care of, now what about my P45? I needed to earn some money.


Only a few weeks ago the summer dusks saw butterflies and moths swapping places like The Changing of the Guards. But the demise the wasps finally spelled out the end of the season.

While traversing pastures old, the parched fields of summer gave way to the boggy swamps of winter. From dusty great expanses to squelchy marshland seemingly overnight. A veritable Wellington wonderland. I’d been creating memories for tomorrow, even if I never revisited them. And I’d found a time to think . . .

What would I do with my dog when I began working again? How to get a job without going through those demeaning interviews? How to avoid deluded managers with no clue about management?

The general consensus assured me that’s not how life works, you’ve just got to get on with it. No one likes their job. You’re not supposed to like your job! That’s what you get paid for.

I had stepped outside the box now and wild horses couldn't drag me back in to it again! But time lost is time lost forever and I had to do something.

I’m still roaming the pasturelands with my dog today. But these days we’re joined by an increasing number of other canine companions. And these days people pay me for the privilege.

And furthermore, my dog has dealt with my P45 for me.