30 March 2019

Boring TV or cookery - take your pick

TV … what a bore lately. And what about all the shouting and yelling that goes on? Women especially. Even ordinary talk is loud and often unfathomable. I give each episode a chance but once the shouting starts I switch channels. Am I missing something? Is real life like this?

Joe and I sometimes fell out but I don’t recall either of us shouting, even though Joe was slightly deaf. On TV, though, ordinary talk has turned into loud and angry exchanges. It seems that every TV family is at war with the entire cast.

TV is no longer entertaining. Cookery programmes seem to be all the rage, every channel filming a well-known chef and his way of preparing meals. I long to go on TV and talk about the ready meals I get from various outlets, all full of nourishment and vitamins. Ok, I know I could cook my own but when a body is virtually housebound it pays to get someone else to do the cooking. All I have to do is freeze the meals, defreeze, heat in oven or microwave and VOILA, done and dusted, as they say.

Washing up consists of a single plate three times a day – or less – and a few mugs from which I drink peppermint tea or lemon and ginger. And people told me I was foolish to stop using a dishwasher.

23 March 2019

A MAN IN MY LIFE - (Last posted December 2015)

I have posted this many times because it once brought me fame and won me a silver cup! The challenge went out to the whole of the Women's institute, up and down the country, and I was the winner. 
The story was published in a monthly magazine and my dear husband took great delight in showing it to all the neighbours. 


(Lady Denman Cup Winner 1988)

The room is so quiet that if you stood outside the door you would suppose it to be unoccupied; but there is an abundance of sound: crackling firewood, squealing chair springs, the vibrating window when a plane takes wing, the tap of steel needles, and the expletives when I drop a stitch. You might hear these sounds if you listen hard but you would not see Jeffrey's wicked endeavours to make me lose count, my voice rising with each enumeration as I walk two fingers along the pin, determined to outwit the arm-waving comedian and cursing the misfortune of being saddled with an imbecilic brother. The mantel clock proclaims its own opinion, issuing dull thuds, which are supposed to be reverberating chimes. Two o'clock, and the rest of the day to get through. Even the fire-logs serve to emphasise the hour, a pair of charred timber chunks spilling to the hearth. I toe to safety the smithereens of charcoal and inhale the intoxicating smell of burning wood as I study the flames, remembering my youth, when Jeffrey persistently devised new ways to destroy my concentration and the strife at school when homework was inadequately completed.
The dreadful clacking of Jeffrey's dentures infiltrates the reverie, transporting me to present time like an exploding bomb. First, I am ensconced in daydreams, then, suddenly, I encounter reality head-on. Unexpectedly, my brother's grinning countenance brings a swelling to my throat. Family features: grizzled hair, bristly brows and pointed nose, except that Jeffrey now has pendulous jowls, skin dark with liver-spots, and hazel eyes mottled with age. At eighty-five he should be past indulging in puerility, but it is too late for him to change and, anyway, I am fond of his desultory ribbing. Occasionally.
While he gazes at me in his silly fashion, I set the rocking chair in motion, anxious to start the next stage of the complicated pattern yet hesitant in case Jeffrey renews the struggle for power. He looks docile enough, sitting erect like a spectator waiting for the show to begin, but I never know when he will embark on another wild prank. In two minutes, I could be despising him; in three, I could be storming to pack his bag and return him to the home from which I delivered him, beseeching the dear Lord to explain why a man in my life is so essential.
My confession might shock you. If you could witness this scene of cosy domesticity you might think I am satisfied with my life, that my days consist of snug tête-à-têtes and happy reminiscences or that the daily woman's duties give me ample time to knit and amuse my brother. But how can I expect her to clean the mess that incontinence affords, or supervise his eating, and encourage him to aim for his mouth instead of his shirt? And yet, on reflection, your assessment could be right. Beneath the grievances, you might detect a glimmer of the affection I feel, for despite intensifying bouts of wrath and irritation I love the old fool to pieces.
Pleased that Jeffrey has settled to read I resume my occupation. Pins clicking furiously, my thoughts roam the years, evoking instances of his outlandish behaviour. Though his impaired mental state drives me to distraction he can be enormously entertaining; like now, as he absorbs the printed word, contorting his lips and nose as if they are moulded from rubber.

In the shadow of a frivolous father and two ebullient brothers, Jeffrey grew vague and bewildered before his time. As a consequence, he relied on me for support, seeing me as an island of sanity in the midst of a chaotic existence. That's why I never married. The concept of leaving my guileless brother to fend for himself was inconceivable, though lately I long to be free of obligation. Notwithstanding, the good days outweigh the bad. In fact, until the onset of true dementia, most were agreeable; funny even, if an old man's waywardness can so be called.   
As dotage accelerated, Jeffrey became quite adventurous. At seventy, equipped with his pensioner's pass, he toured the county for bargains. But his logic left much to be desired. He once travelled a distance to save twenty-pence on melon, then spent ten times that amount on chocolate. I still remember his gleeful look when he produced the melon and the box of chocolates, and my incredulity.
The fingers are flying now and the rocker's going like a swing as I call to mind the day we waited in Woolworths for our brother to end a discourse with a chum. Thirty minutes trudging round counters, failed attempts to resist Jeffrey's pestering at the photograph booth and the endless wait for obscure pictures. Secretly chuckling, I recall Jeffrey's restlessness and his entreaties for a go on the weighing machine - several times - for the sheer joy of cramming weight cards in his pockets, which on the journey home were distributed among the passengers on the bus, his laughter so infectious that the whole of the upper deck joined in.
My feeble eyes are filling up; it always happens when I reproduce the images of bygone days. A pity they couldn't stay the same.
You should see Jeffrey now, playing peek-a-boo around the Daily Mail. I pretend not to notice his buffoonery. I could curb him but he's been in enough trouble since the episode next door. Unbeknown to me, on the days when I allowed him out alone, he developed the custom of going in the neighbouring gate and walking into Miss Smedley's house demanding tea. Initially she humoured him with biscuits or a cake, but when he burst in and ordered tea and toasted soldiers, with no regard for her undressed state, she ceased to think it amusing. He's now on tight rein lest the woman carries out her threat to call the police.
The room is dimming now that the winter sun has disappeared, and the fire needs banking. The clock thumps its message home. Four o'clock, it says. Time for tea. My daydreaming has taken me to girlhood and back, through teen-years to adulthood. And Jeffrey's cardigan is almost done. If the Almighty is willing I will finish it tomorrow, that is if Jeffrey deigns to let me get on. But then I'd worry. Since silence is an alien characteristic I wouldn't know if he was behaving or indisposed. Oh, if you could see him playing his game, retreating behind the paper like a guilty schoolboy whenever he catches my eye. I cannot help sniggering at his expression, a fooled-you kind of look, the sort meted out when my counting goes completely awry. I am tempted to teach him a lesson and leave his cardigan sleeveless but I cannot succumb to spite. You see, he won't have many more birthday gifts, and I won't have the foolish fun that life with him has brought.
See his face, see the way he peers at me like the simpleton he is. My throat constricts at the sight of him. Dear God, don't take him yet. For my sake, give him a year or two more

16 March 2019

Once upon a time... there were two dogs... THE END

                                                            THEN THERE WERE THREE

It must have been an excess of grapes that had me up in the night. I suppose it served me right for pinching them off the kitchen table. I wasn’t the only one up and about. Old Owl surveyed the scene, looking for possible captures, while in the near vicinity his mate hooted and the fox hunted, his eyes lit up by the moonlight.
As I crept back through the hole in the barn door, I heard Ginger snoring. He was galloping in his sleep like he was chasing something. I wondered what it could be; a mouse, or perhaps one of the cats had taunted him and was being chased away.
Although Ginger got on well with animals and humans he didn’t seem to relate well to cats, that is until two males were brought in to help keep the mice at bay. I suppose it was because they were now part of the farm that he made the effort to be friendly.
The cats had silly names, the lean black and white was called Stringy and the huge tabby was called Moses. Gaffer suggested Missus changed their names to something less comical but Missus said she thought it would be a bit of fun to keep what they already answered to.
The two cats were fairly friendly towards each other but occasionally squabbles broke out. If one tried to sample the others food there would be lots of hissing and chasing while a bewildered Ginger looked on. I didn’t stand any nonsense; if they started a power struggle in front of me, I put my paw down hard on one of their heads.
Apart from all the night noises everything was peaceful so I curled up on the hay and covered my eyes with my paw to shut out the moonlight that came through the window.
The whistle woke me with a start. The huge green monster that rushed through fields and over a distant viaduct first thing in the morning always issued a shrill shriek as if saying it was time to wake up. Beside me Ginger gave a low growl; without fail he complained like that whenever the train went by. Well, I thought, I suppose that’s it. I might as well get up. But strangely enough Ginger didn’t bother. Instead he stood up, turned round a couple of times as if searching for a comfortable spot, then sank down on the same section of hay he’d been lying on before.
I wandered outside to check the food bowls by the kitchen door, just in case Gaffer had thought to get up early. I wasn’t disappointed. Next to the water trough there stood two shining enamel bowls filled with food so I barked a couple of times to alert Ginger.
It was at that precise moment that the kitchen door flew open and Missus flew out, shoving me to one side as she loudly proclaimed that she was late. Late? Our breakfast meal was already loaded into the bowls so how could she be late?
Gaffer wasn’t far behind; he came out armed with a small blue case and clutching a brown wallet. I was mystified … surely he wasn’t late as well?
Ginger arrived on the scene just as Gaffer and Misses got in their old car and raced off. He looked at me, and I looked at him. Both of us gave a worried woof before heading over to the bowls of food. Whatever was going on, it was better for us to keep our bellies full. With them going off like that who knows where our next meal would come from?

It wasn’t long afterwards that Gaffer’s car squealed into the yard. Ginger and I were on our way to the stables at the time but we stopped to look. Gaffer drew up beside the kitchen door, and whistled for us to go to heel.
‘Bet you lads wondered where I’d gone,’ he said, rubbing our backs as if he’d been away for a year.
I licked his hand and looked up expectantly, hoping he would enlighten Ginger and me about what was going on.
But we weren’t told, all we knew was that Missus had gone visiting. My guess was that she went on the train since Gaffer had come straight back to the farm. This meant, of course, that we had free rein, and so did Gaffer.

Every afternoon for a week we went long walks, sometimes using the car to get to somewhere different and then running our legs off investigating and sniffing out new land. It was on one of our afternoon treats that we met Susie, a young English Setter.
We hit it off straight away. Ginger liked her as well, he was always trying to get her to join our games of chase but Susie was quite refined for a young dog, she seemed to prefer watching us. Privately I thought Ginger’s constant fidgeting put her off.
Susie wore a white collar with silver markings that gleamed in the sunshine. It really suited her silky white fur. She belonged to a young farmer named Bill and lived in a very smart wooden kennel beneath sturdy Horse Chestnut, with a long knotted rope hanging from its lowest branches. I anticipated lots of fun playing with that.
Gaffer took us there quite a lot in the next few days. Seems he had quite a business to get through with Bill. While they were seated at the kitchen table, their heads bent over lots of papers, Ginger, Susie and I played with the rope, then we’d scarper into the adjoining woods. Bill said we were quite safe because the whole lot was enclosed by fencing.

There were lots of things to excite us, woodpigeons to chase and the odd feline that skipped up the trees when we came along. Rabbits scampered in and out of burrows and I had great fun chasing a hare. It was touch and go who would win but he always seemed to have a head start. But the best of all was fishing in the pond, watched closely by Mr Kingfisher. He would dive to catch the fish I was trying to trap with my paw.
Ginger spent all his time playing with Susie and when they were near her feeding bowls she would paw some of the meat and offer it to Ginger. Pathetic, I called it. No upstanding dog would do such a scandalous thing,
Apart from that, when it was time to leave at the end of the week, I felt quite sad. Gaffer said Missus would be home the next day and he had housework to do, which meant time in Dolly’s stable for Ginger and me and no more visits to the farm.

It was while we were getting ready to depart that Ginger and I learned that Susie was joining us in the car. Apparently, she was coming to live with us. We were delighted, of course. Ginger especially. The change in him was so noticeable … whenever Susie was near he couldn’t leave her alone. He was still my best friend but I suspect he had fallen in love with the glamorous Susie.
Missus was delighted with the new arrival. She’d bought new collars for us, a studded leather one for me, a woven chain and leather for Ginger and, would you believe, a new name tag for Susie. So, she must have known before we did that Susie was coming to live on the farm.
Susie fitted in very well. We shared and shared alike, none of us ever taking advantage over the others. I could see happy times ahead. I wasn’t jealous that Ginger was besotted with a bitch of his own kind… after all, I had Chicken Fingers as Gaffer, Ginger and Susie as best friends, and Dolly too. And now that Missus had got used to having me around, my life was settled. I just hoped the cats would remember to keep the mice at bay.

This is the end, folks, and thank you for reading.

09 March 2019

Once upon a time... there were two dogs... Chapter Six


I hadn’t really wanted to go trekking round the shops until I remembered the tit bits that came our way from the generous greengrocer. He always threw unattractive carrots and unlikely fruit to Ginger and me. Judging by the excited yapping Ginger was already on the lead and ready to go so I bounced into action, leaving the cushion of grass by the stable and promising Dolly we’d be back later. I felt sorry for the old girl, being shut up all the time, felt it my duty to keep her company when I had nothing else on.
A trip to the village shops was treat of the week. Every Thursday afternoon, without fail, Missus wrote out the various orders she wanted delivered: meat, vegetables, groceries, and phoned them through to the village suppliers. Everything else was bought separately the next day. Dog food, for instance. Missus would get the beef knuckles raw and cook them at home. I loved those days. I would sit with Ginger, drooling by the back door, forever hopeful.
This week was different. On Saturday there would be visitors to the farm when by all accounts we would have a little boy to play with. I can’t say we were thrilled by the idea. Great attention was paid to purchases for the occasion. Missus bought a lot more groceries, inspecting and directing every item, which made me think really important people were visiting the farm. She even bought candles to put on a cake. I couldn’t understand who would want to eat a candle. Once I found a white one in the lane and started chewing before Gaffer could stop me. It tasted awful so I didn’t need telling twice.
Ginger and I discussed the forthcoming visit with Dolly, the mare. We often lay by the stable for a bit of peace and quiet. Now it looked as if we might need it as a refuge from what Gaffer described as a wild child. Dolly looked worried when she heard the news. Her lips curled in a hearty neigh. I didn’t tell her that the wild child would want to ride her. Poor old girl, she wasn’t up to dealing with problems. Dolly was very old.
The ground was still wet after the heavy rain in the night, that’s why I slewed along the ground straight into a muddy patch. This of course meant I had to be bathed before the visitors arrived. I endured it much as I endured it when my first old lady made me sit under the shower while she cleaned my ears. I’m not a great lover of water, that’s why I don’t swim. Seems to me by the amount of times Missus washes Ginger that she’s got a fixation about cleanliness. Gaffer was sympathetic, though, he kept telling me what a good boy I was. Well, that goes without saying!

The visitors arrived mid-morning, just as Ginger and I were settling for a kip, this time actually inside the stable. It’s where Gaffer puts us when he wants us out of the way. I was busy inhaling warm horse smells when I heard Dolly’s quiet whinny and the rasp of lips over her teeth. She’d been standing with her head sticking out of the door when the family arrived, that’s how she came to see them first. Very slowly, discreetly I thought, she backed into the stable and strolled over to where we were lying by a pile of hay. Idly nibbling some hay, she lowered her head and then tossed it as if to say ‘they’re here.’
 Well, Ginger and I are nothing if not receptive, so we waited patiently to be let out. Gaffer came soon after, calling us as he approached, ‘Ginger, Butch, come and see who’s here.’
 We shot out of the stable the second the door opened, belted across to the kitchen door. Normally boisterous, Ginger showed a little caution when he saw the man, woman and child, a throw-back from past experiences, but I sped in, aiming for the man. I could tell he would be the one to make a fuss.

The child was called Jimmy. He was very young. He hadn’t yet learned that a dog’s ears are not for pulling. In the afternoon, wherever Ginger or I went Jimmy followed, trying all the time to hug us or pull our tails. Ginger was more tolerant than me, rolling over to let Jimmy tickle his tummy, but after a warning from Gaffer I kept my distance.
It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Jimmy but past experience at the old lady’s house had made me very wary. She had a wild child grandson who would pretend to be friendly then stick pins in my belly after he got me in prone position with him kneeling on top. Every time he came, he thought up something new and even more painful to try. You can be sure I struck back, biting with my sharp teeth until he cried out, loud enough to attract the old lady’s attention. She took her grandson’s side.  These incidents, coming on top of me scoffing her supper, made her decide that the best place for me was the dog’s home.
I’m a lot older now and definitely wiser. Only the other day I heard Missus telling Gaffer about a child who was attacked by a dog. I wondered at the time what the child had done to make the dog so angry.

Gaffer took Jimmy to see Dolly and immediately the two were friends. It was lovely to watch. Gaffer didn’t bother to saddle the old mare; he simply brought her out of the stable, sat Jimmy on her back and held him there while they ambled towards the field. Wild child squealed with joy and even though he reached for Dolly’s ears a few times Gaffer held him in place on her back. It looked so cool I almost  wished I was up there as well.
Seeing how Dolly responded to the situation, lifting his legs in a light-hearted manner instead of the usual clunk and thump, head held high as if trying to reach the sky, it struck me that he was enjoying himself. He probably felt useful for the first time in years.
Jimmy quickly got the hang of bare back riding, his knees automatically gripping Dolly’s back. Gaffer’s hand was never far away though, just in case the boy slipped. I found myself hoping the wild child would pop in again, for Dolly’s sake.

At tea time everyone gathered round the table in the parlour while Ginger and I looked on from our positions by the hearth. It was one of those times when I questioned the mentality of humans. After a main course of salmon and greens, there was trifle with cream (we slobbered as we watched)  and then the cake was produced. It bore six candles, all different colours, displayed in a circle on the top.

We couldn’t believe what happened next. While everyone sang a song called Happy Birthday, Gaffer produced a box of matches and began to set fire to the candles. Ginger and I were horrified. It’s true what they say, dogs don’t like fire. I made a run for the door, outdoing Ginger by several seconds, but the door was closed.
Try the front, I barked, already racing through the house. I could hear wild child giggling which didn’t help my frame of mind. Didn’t he realise the danger of fire? Ginger sprinted by which proves that too much thinking slows me down.
Anyway, finding the door closed as well, we scuttled back into the parlour where I was grabbed by Gaffer while Missus threw herself at Ginger. Literally! Of course, they both fell over, which made Jimmy laugh even more. I couldn’t blame him; I had an ear to ear grin on my face too as I watched them trying to disentangle arms and legs. From the confines of Gaffer’s arms I surveyed the room, wondering what happened to the fire. There wasn’t even a flicker of a flame on the cake. Perhaps Gaffer had doused it with water?

When the visit was over, Gaffer walked me to the Rose and Crown. I liked these occasions, just him and me. It was still warm. I could smell that weedy stench that comes from the duck pond but it didn’t spoil the evening air. Gaffer’s step seemed sprightlier and I was really happy when he said 'You and Ginger really made Jimmy’s day.’ With that he patted my head and leaned down to give me a hug. As we walked through the pub door I thought, not for the first time, how lucky I was to have been chosen by this great big man. 

02 March 2019

Once upon a time... there were two dogs... Chapter Five


The sun shone directly on the pond, making it glisten like the sparkling water that comes from the outside tap. Ginger was pawing at the thick clump of weeds near the water while I lay there dreaming of dinner. Liver was on the menu for our boss and his Missus; I could smell the bloody meat as soon as the butcher delivered the week’s rations but you can bet we wouldn’t get a look in.
Feeling something brush past me I twisted my head to see what it was. A tiny field mouse darted away. I didn’t mind, the farm’s big enough for all of us. Ginger saw it, too,  but he was too busy to give chase. The new household addition, Marmalade the cat, was dozing on the branch of a nearby Beech tree, oblivious to what went on around him.
Chicken Fingers was stacking wood chunks on the wheelbarrow beside the door. He was always doing something in readiness for winter months. I once heard him explain the situation over a glass of beer at the Rose and Crown. ‘Always be prepared’ he told his drinking mate. There’s no set date for winter lately.’ I didn’t take much notice at the time but I remember the need to curl up in front of a blazing fire when it turned cold.

The kitchen door opened wide and Missus came out to inspect the Boss’s progress, hands on hips, dominant style. He wouldn’t like that. He was Boss after all. I saw his chest heave in a deep sigh. That must be why he abandoned the job and decided to do something different. Bending to pick up a couple of twigs from behind the old milk churn, he headed towards the pond. Hopefully eyeing the stick, I waited. Although it was hot, I didn’t mind a few chases in the field.

Ginger was still pawing the rag which had now fallen in the water. I despair of him sometimes; he seems so anti-playtime. I’m surprised the water rats didn’t tell him to buzz off. Chicken Fingers surprised me by going to investigate instead of coming straight to me with the sticks. I could see a bit of prompting was necessary. Hurriedly I left the soft ferns and went over to nudge his leg.

‘Okay, Butch, I know you’re there! Race you to the field.
Well, that was a joke. He couldn’t run fast enough to beat me, but I stayed back. It was no good running off to the field and then having to run back again. I knew his tricks. He would call me to him and then throw the stick, which meant I was doing twice the run when one would do. Well, three times if you count having to take it back for him to throw again. I decided to hang fire until he was ready. But Chicken Fingers didn’t wait until he reached the field. Throwing the first stick as hard as he could, he said, ‘All right Butch, fetch that one.’

I sped off in the direction of the flying stick, saw it coming down near the Hawthorn hedge. I raced, even in that heat I could run as fast as a bird. Skidding to a halt on the grass, started to search.
Agitatedly, I hunted again, beneath branches and beyond in the clusters of prickly gorse.
I lay down in frustration, not once moving my sights off the hedge. That is, until I heard a sort of chewing sound coming from the other side. Belly close to the ground, I tracked the noise around the bush, across a narrow-beaten track. Beneath the wide Oak lay Jack, the sheepdog from the next farm, and he was gnawing at my stick. I snarled, and was about to stick up for my rights when there was sudden pandemonium coming from the house. By the amount of screams I felt sure the hens had been let loose in there. Ginger must have thought the same. He abandoned his task, yapped a few times, and broke into a lolloping run.
It was like one of those comic films Chicken Fingers watches on television. He was running towards the house, while Ginger darted excitedly in and around and between his legs. Chicken Fingers fell to the ground, Missus shot out of the kitchen door as if she’d been fired from a canon, while I desperately tried to keep up.
Red in the face and shaking, Missus screeched into the boss’s arms. It was scary. I’d never seen her touch him before let alone smash her chest against his. Ginger took one look, then turned tail and ran round the back of the house, but I felt a bit braver and anyway I was worried for the boss’s safety.
Chicken Fingers told me later that the upset was caused by a mouse in the house and that the no-good Marmalade cat had been missing from duty. Well, Ginger and I knew where he was: up in the Beech tree, out of harm’s way.
I twitched my nose, foreseeing trouble.

Missus dislikes cats but she hates mice even more, consequently Ginger and I have to put up with the rather wild looking feline. He’s one of the laziest animals you ever saw until a rodent comes near, then he’s up and away as fast a lightening strike. Yes. He can certainly move when he wants to. Heard a whisper round the farm that he didn’t like mice either. Well, hard Iuck if he thinks we’re taking over mouse hunting duties he’s very much mistaken.
I think it was Ginger and me staring at Marmalade up the Beech tree that alerted Missus’ suspicions. Holding her apron close, she belted up to the tree, tilting her head to look up. Her fists came up as well, clenched, like they were ready to pummel the daylights out of the cat if she could get at him. Rustling leaves told me that Marmalade had shifted a bit higher. It was the first inkling I had that there was a degree of good sense in that furry head.
Missus isn’t a cruel woman; it’s just that she doesn’t understand animals. She thinks we’re all there to do certain jobs. Only Ginger has it worked out; his handsome features absolutely melt her heart. My job is to help Chicken Fingers, otherwise known as Gaffer. His fat fingers tasted of chicken when I first made licking contact at the dogs’ home, that’s why I called him Chicken Fingers and it sort of stuck. Now there’s Marmalade, the recent addition to the farm, whose job is or should be to remove all sign of mice from the vicinity. If he has any brains, right now he’ll keep out of the way.
Gaffer managed to calm his wife and led her back to the house, having established that the mouse was well and truly out of the way. I tagged on behind to check out the territory but stayed outside on instruction. I spotted straight away that Ginger was missing.

It wasn’t too long before Gaffer decided a walk was on the cards. He came out with my lead and collar and I sat still while he put them on. I knew I wouldn’t be on the lead for long, just as soon as we were away from the lanes he would give me free rein. We were at the woods that embraced the pond before I gained some freedom and then, of course, I ran amok. While Gaffer lowered his great bulk onto a fallen tree, I ran off to chase pigeons, rabbits and squirrels for the sheer pleasure of it.
Without realising I edged nearer to the water but Gaffer’s shrill whistle made me slow down, an order I almost decided to ignore. Somewhat breathlessly I turned to check Gaffers direction and saw him hurrying towards the duck pond. I ran to catch up.
Ginger was lying down and writhing in agony. I couldn’t imagine why but Gaffer was on to it. By the time I got there he was removing an ugly looking mousetrap from Ginger’s paw. I snapped at the paw, trying to help, but was ordered to keep away.
Gaffer told me to go and fetch the Missus, so I ran over to the farmhouse as quick as I could. Something told me that it was urgent.

Missus was standing at the oven, stirring something that smelled very appetising. After a few investigative sniffs round the cooker I tugged her apron strings, hung on until she paid attention. Only then did I let go and run towards the door.
‘Soppy Dog,’ she said as she turned back to the cooker.
I tried again, this time grabbing a mouthful of skirt and tugging for all I was worth.
‘Get off, you stupid dog.’
I whined and headed for the door, then stopped and looked back. Missus stood there looking mystified so I barked a couple of times and pretended to go out of the door. Obviously, she had more wisdom that I give credit for because she followed me. I kept up the stopping and barking routine until we got within sight of the pond. That’s when she saw her beloved Ginger lying on the ground, his paw mercifully freed from the trap. Gaffers hands were on him, soothing, telling him everything was going to be all right. I sincerely hoped so, I just couldn’t imagine Ginger not being all right.

Well the upshot of this was that Missus and Gaffer carried Ginger back to the house, where the vet was summoned. He examined the injured paw and declared that nothing was broken. I didn’t know you could break a paw; it made me check that mine were okay. They were, so I went across to Ginger and lay by his side, leaning into him to show how much I cared about his welfare.
Gaffer had a go at Missus. Seems it was her hatred of mice that caused her to leave traps. Gaffer made her fetch all the others, ten in total, scattered around the farm. Missus looked upset to have been found out, but I reckon it was more because she’d brought harm to her beloved Ginger.
My buddy was soon up and running and he and I had the pleasure of bossing it over the newcomers to the farm: two moggies, a lean black and white and a huge tabby. Dear old Marmalade was now forced to pay more attention to duty instead of ducking out the minute he saw a mouse.