Confessions of a fur-mama

 

Be warned, there’s something in here that may be genuinely distressing to anyone with even half a heart. Doubly so if you love dogs. But there’s also some funny things too, so, it’s all good. Read on.

So, we’ve had our rescue fur-baby a couple of months now. We’re still trying to untangle that mangled little mess that lives inside her head. We don’t know much about her. We know she’s an older dog. We know someone has been nice to her at some point. We also know that someone (or someones) hasn’t.

How?

Sadly, by her physical scars. And, even more sadly, by the psychological scars that little by little, she’s allowing us to see.

One example.

A training clicker.

The sound terrified her the first (and only) time we tried to use one. We were mystified. My hyper-perceptive vampiric sleuthiness (it’s a thing) was stumped. And then the penny dropped some time later. The sound is identical to a cigarette lighter. Now put that together with some of her smaller scars and…

Well…

If I ever meet the ones who did that to such a gentle, loving animal (or any animal), then my ‘no-biting-humansrule may become more of a guideline.

But in the meantime…

She’s sprawled out on her favourite (for she has many) fleecy throw, snoring and farting away to her little heart’s content. She’s still in that ‘can’t-quite-believe-it’s-real’ phase and gets really panicky if she does something wrong. Our hugs and reassurance still puzzle her.

We are now dealing with some separation anxiety issues. Which, to me, is a good thing. It means that’s she’s now attached to us. It means she trusts us (as does the sitting on my foot with her back to me). But she’s getting over them. She knows we’re definitely Team Fur-baby now.

We’ve learned this about her:

  • She hates puddles and getting wet
  • She already knows ‘high-five’, ‘shake hands’, ‘roll over’ and – bizarrely- how to cross the road safely (!)
  • She learns very quickly
  • She pulls like a train and loves her rope toys (if you have a dislocated shoulder, she could easily reset it for you. However, if there’s someone you don’t like and wish they had a dislocated shoulder, it wouldn’t work. She’d just call 999/911. She’s about bright enough to.)
  • She can be hyper focused, but also easily distracted (ha! she takes after me!)
  • She’s obsessed with food. Especially chicken (nope. Not me. Well, the chicken part.)
  • Even more than being given food, she loves finding it herself.

ME: I’m just going out, Pup, I’ll be gone ten minutes.

DOG: No! Pleeeeeease! Don’t go!

And then, when faced with a puzzle ball containing treats…

ME: I’m just going out, Pup, I’ll be gone ten minutes.

DOG: (30 minutes later) Nom-nom-nom. Did somebody say something? Nom-nom-nom.

She’s also very communicative. She lets you know in no uncertain terms what she wants. And doesn’t want!

Do parents of small human children have this problem?

DOG: I wanna go out for a walk.

ME: Okay, let’s get your harness and lead and everything on and you can go out.

DOG: Don’t wanna.

ME: Then you can’t go out for walk.

Five minutes later…

DOG: I wanna go out for a walk.

ME: Then we’re putting your lead and everything on.

DOG: Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.

ME: You know the rules.

DOG: (grumbling) Pfft. Ohhh, alright then.

Gets harness and everything on (with much muttering on her part).

DOG: Don’t wanna go now. Spoilt my fun.

ME: Oh, we are going now!

10 minutes later…

DOG: Woweeee! This is the best day ever!

And nearly an hour later, after lots of (shall we say) negotiation as to route, we get back. I’ve enjoyed the fresh air. She’s enjoyed the stretching-her-legs.  And the sniffing. There’s always lots of sniffing. Grass verges are like Facebook for dogs. “Hmm. Nice post. Just leaving a comment…” We’ve both enjoyed the exercise. She is nicely worn out.

So what does she do next?

Run around the house like a thing possessed and then charges out like a mad fool into the garden.

Surely she can’t still have some reserves of energy in that little furry body? Have I not walked her enough?

Nope.

She is simply running out to survey her kingdom. For she is… Wonder Pooch! There she stands: ears up, tail up, right paw up, in full-on protection / surveillance mode. Have there been any threats to the kingdom in her absence? Any pretenders to her throne? Any evil crows, seagulls or (heaven forbid!) cats with a wicked design to overthrow her benevolent rule? Are there any individuals (regardless of number of legs) who have dared trespass upon her property to upset those under her kindly protection?

Nope.

Okay, all good.

And she trots back into the house again.

She plonks herself in front of the fire and gets back to one of her favourite jobs – destroying her rope toy.

All’s well with the world. I have protected you another day, my beloved hoomans. Chomp chomp chomp.

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Where’ere thou art…

“Where’ere thou art, act well thy part.”

I have acted. Many people are surprised by this – that I can be on stage, watched by hundreds of people, being any one of a thousand possible characters, when offstage I find it difficult to make eye contact… It’s not so incredible, actually. I wear people like some folks hide behind make-up or loud clothes. You can go on holiday to escape home, work, family, friends, routine, but nowhere on earth will you ever escape yourself. 

That’s why I took to acting with such enthusiasm- the only way to escape yourself is to become (temporarily) someone else. 

I believe an actor has 100% to give. It is their choice how much of it they use on stage. The more you use off stage, the less you have to offer when the lights go down. I prefer to reserve my hundred percent for when I’m on stage. Although I do borrow from it from time to time to help me deal with the more awkward moments in life, like… Well, life really.

I was out the other day and heard such a wailing and caterwauling that I wasn’t sure if some disaster had happened. It turns out it was merely a local act-or out for a few moments of quiet reflection, as he hugged and ‘mwah-mwah-dahling’ed everyone within arm’s reach. And not all of them particularly wanted to be mwah-mwah’ed either.

Loudness of every kind appals me. It’s not snobbery. It hurts. Literally hurts. And when I say ‘literally’, I genuinely do mean literally. It causes me actual physical pain.

I’m sat on a train, escaping to the sea for the day to recharge the emotional batteries, when in swagger a gang of students. They swarm and mewl and raise the rafters to contain their wonderfulness. And I look at them, shutting off my ears and see their self-presumed omnipotence as nothing but a matrix of statistics: height, weight, age, IQ, EQ, life expectancy…

And each generation leapfrogs each other in outrage. One minute you’re one of the caterwaulers… The next, you’re disgruntled at the wailing and the next, you’re considering whether you should just report them to the police at 3am and finally get back to sleep. And of course, when I say ‘minute’, what I actually mean is ‘couple of decades’. That’s what time feels like to me. In a twinkling of an eye you go from the Angry Young Thing who’ll save the world with your Mixed Arts degree to being Outraged of Redhill.

Choose who you want to be. Change your choice every day if you have to. After all, you can always take holidays from yourself if need be.

And me? I’ll just keep away from Redhill for now…


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Fang you very much.

Here comes summer… There goes summer

Well, that’s about all I need to say, really.

‘Bye!

Joking.

Massive apologies for the absence. I’ve been cloud-chasing. An occupational necessity when you’re a vampire.  I’ve probably already mentioned this before, but sun doesn’t affect vampires the way you see in the movies. They don’t go ‘boof!’ into a readily cleaned up pile of dust when hit by the sun (any other vamps out there, please feel free to disagree. No, wait… you can’t…).

I’ll tell you want happens. The moment the sun hits you, you feel all your energy desert you. Ever picked a sponge up from a bucket of water and watched the water simply pour out of it? Sponge = me. Water = energy. Hand = er, not sure. Could be the sun… Okay. I’ll stop that analogy right there. And it was going so well too.

The turning into dust thing is just a very handy plot device so that Van Helsing / Buffy / Blade don’t have a landfill-worth of skewered bodies to explain to the local constabulary. Nothing more. Plus it gives the excuse for some really cool SFX.

Now, normally I’d still be gone, but I’m kind of stuck here at the moment, due to a little mishap with my travelling papers. Or, as you call them in this century, my passport. I blame the Referendum. Remember that? A couple of months back everyone in this country voted whether or not we still wanted to be part of the European Union (no, don’t worry, I don’t do politics). I think it might have been more of a bluff by one of the main politicians to prove to all his mates that the country loved him bestest and it kind of blew up in his face, and everyone ran around chewing the furniture and horribly over-reacting. Sadly, some people did get burned over the whole affair. Badly. I just don’t understand you humans sometimes.

And I ended up needing a new passport.

I went to the post office the day after and announced to the rather nervous young man behind the desk that I needed to replace my passport. The look on his face was one of “Oh $*[&! I really don’t want to get involved in this!”.  I imagine if his boss had asked him to perform a rectal exam on a diarrhetic camel and sorry, they’d run out of rubber gloves, the expression would have been pretty much the same. But I got my form, took it home and had the mandatory humiliatingly appalling photos taken (yes, I do show up in pictures and video).

I filled it in, got it checked, sent it off. A whole three weeks later (with about two to go before I needed to travel!), I got a form asking me why it needed replacing. Which begs two questions.

  1. If you knew you needed to know that, why didn’t you just put a question in the relevant section of the application form?
  2. Three weeks? Seriously? It took that long to ask? Three weeks?

All that done, I sat back and waited. And waited. Panic… Thankfully, the department that deals with such things has discovered the recent delights of text messaging, which wonderfully allayed my fears while I awaited my precious. Which turned out to be an extremely short time in the end. Bravo.

Then they delivered it. Special delivery. Oh yes.

And I wasn’t in.

Typical.

But they did leave a lovely little card.  And I can tell you, the delivery service was so fast, the card was actually dated the following day! That’s right. The card was delivered on the 4th, but dated the 5th. Now that’s speed for you. So I rearranged delivery. I was given the delightfully concise window of between 9am and 5pm on my chosen day. Because as a vampire, naturally I have nothing to do all day but stay indoors. Actually…

Anyway.

I was warned in the email that I would need to show identification. Luckily the lovely delivery guy didn’t press me for such stuff. Which was just as well, because the only possible i.d. I would have had was…

The passport.

So. To explain the young post office man’s apprehension. What did happen to my passport? I think he assumed my need was something to do with the Referendum result. It wasn’t.

Simply put, this is why I needed to replace my passport.

On the night of the Referendum, I decided to combine going to vote (yes, vampires can vote. We’re very modern like that) with a nice run. And it was raining. Even better. I love running in the rain. Having misplaced my voting card, I took my passport along as identification, should it be needed. It wasn’t. I got soaked. Soaked to the skin. Literally. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. got wet.

But that wasn’t what killed my passport. Oh no.

That happened when I got home.

And I decided to put my wringing wet running kit into the washing machine.

And switched it on.

Without checking my pockets.

If only the myths about us were true. Sometimes I think it’d actually be quite useful to turn into a bat. I bet bats don’t need passports…

 


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I mean, why not?

As good a day as any….

31st October

Well, today is Halloween. Seems like an appropriate day to start a blog, I suppose…

It all started last week, in a shop selling chintzy (do I mean ‘kitschy’?) Halloween items. A little boy was complaining to his mother (do little boys do anything else in shops?) about being a vampire “again”. He was whining about how he didn’t want to have to wear those teeth again. Why did he always have to be a vampire? Why did he have to wear ‘those‘ teeth? I was surreptitiously listening to all this of course, and wanted to go up to the little boy and say “Excuse me, but what is wrong with being a vampire? Don’t you think that’s a little bit insulting to vampires?”

But I didn’t, for a number of reasons:

a) the mum would probably flatten me for talking to her little precious (stranger danger!);

b) it was really not my business;

c) I didn’t want to give myself away;

d) actually, I don’t have anything else for this one.

This politically correct nonsense has got to stop somewhere!

So, I kept quiet. I find it easier that way.

I suppose I better introduce myself. It’ll take a while.  There’s much to tell. I won’t tell you my name, so I guess I’m not really entirely introducing myself, but never mind. Identity theft, that sort of thing. I don’t know. Modern living, eh? So please bear with me.

I am a vampire.

Yes, it’s easy to say that these days. Nobody gives a fig. “I am a vampire.” Nobody really cares about that sort of thing any more. It’s just more everyday tabloid fluff. The kind of statement you find in magazines in railway station newsagents when your train is 20 minutes late…  It’s up there with “aliens stole my baby”; “I travelled through time and became my own father”; “Woman of 120 looks 30 on a diet of couscous and pears!”… I guess in these days of freedom of speech, everyone is allowed a little crazy from time to time. Admit to being a creature of the night, nobody bats an eyelid; use the wrong spelling of ‘your’ on the internet and we might as well have a wake for you right now.

Let’s just say I’m glad people don’t have pitchforks and flaming torches anymore. Although I can’t imagine being chased out of the village by people waving glow sticks and Dysons.

And no, I am not 120. I am… Well, let’s just say I will never see 50 again. However, nobody believes this. They’re all horrified that I could be anything older than mid 30s.

I am an everyday kind of vampire.

 


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Just coz…

Whenever, Wear-ever

Time to rattle the odd cage, I guess. Let’s play a game of “Let’s-see-who-reads-things-properly-and-doesn’t-go-off-in-a-huff-after-one-sentence”…

Okay, so we finally got some nice weather and people are digging out their summer clothes. Now, do not expect me to bang on about what people should or shouldn’t wear. Obviously, I have to cover up from the sun but that’s my issue. So, do I choose to wear tiny shorts and spaghetti strap tops? No, I don’t, and true, for me, it is as much about modesty as it is about keeping evil sunshine off me… But does that mean I’m going to rail against anybody who does choose to wear that? No! Let me get on with my thing, I’ll let you get on with yours. End of story – no backlash required, thank you!

I don’t know why everyone gets so worked up about clothes… And by that, I mean how they are the perennial excuse for treating someone in a certain way, based on what they’re wearing in one snapshot of time when we see them. I always remember a colleague asking the circumstances of a family we both knew. Her comment was: “Well, I’d hate to think that someone was needy if they’re actually just badly dressed.”

But there is an alarming aspect about this, which is an issue (shocker!) with women, rarely with men. There is the old thing about dressing for safety. You know what I mean… ‘Oh look what she’s wearing’.

I’m afraid that defence doesn’t wash and funny how that only seemingly applies to women.

So for argument’s sake, let’s say a bloke decided to walk around wearing a T-shirt with a target on the front and on the back it said: ‘please shoot me’… I think we’ve all been brought up to know that responding to that message and acting upon it would not be a good idea.

I mean, does anybody put on a T-shirt like that thinking “Oh, I think I’ll put on my target T-shirt. I wonder if anybody will shoot me today?!”

No, they probably put it on because it’s a cute top and it’s comfy et cetera.

However, there is a dark side to this. Chances are that somewhere in the hundreds/thousands of people that person may meet/bump into today, there will be that one person who doesn’t get the joke. For them, the message is real, and they have their own interpretation. And they will act upon it.

Does that mean he can never ever wear that top again? No, of course not. But he just needs to be aware (if you need to be aware at all) that in those thousands, there might be that one sicko who’ll misinterpret the message of what he’s wearing. And act upon it.

And of course don’t forget the power of the fashion industry image: telling him that he should wear that ‘inflammatory’ top because it’s the thing to wear this month.

After all, how often have you seen someone in the middle of a heatwave wearing tiny shorts, a tiny top and them big, massive furry boots..?

Or tottering around in a tiny, tiny skirt and an even tinier top without a coat on, in the middle of December and complaining about the cold?

Or…

All the guys who wear jeans that seem to be permanently heading for the knees, and as they walk along, they’re constantly fighting with gravity? Clue, guys: gravity will always win. Sadly that also applies to girls. Eventually.

I mean, I’ve seen guys and girls wearing shirts saying “Bite  Me”. Tempting, but no thank you. Thankfully, I have the good sense to understand that they decided to wear that top because it’s cute/comfy/funny. They’re not wearing it as an open invitation to all vampires.

And I’m not going to treat it as such!

 


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Smart move.

Smoke and Mirrors part 1

Did I ever mention mirrors?

I think I did. Please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong (said no woman, ever).

I saw this thing the other day. It was a blog telling you how to pretend to be a vampire. It was adorable! It had these really cute pictures and lots of great tips. How did I come across it? I did something that everybody does at some point: I typed my name into Google to see what would come up. Well, not my real name, just my nom d’internet, so to speak. Who hasn’t googled themselves from time to time? You can’t beat a good self-Google, I say.

Anyway, as I said, I came across this gorgeous blog. Written by an enthusiastic teenager, I imagine; given the references to ‘school mates’ and ‘classes’. It was beautifully done – that blogger has a great future ahead of them as a graphic designer. The tips were really sweet, like – always wear sunglasses… well, that’s a one-way ticket to A&E, if you ask me… And things like – never let your friends see you drink; or if you must, make sure you’re drinking tomato juice (you know my view on tomato juice!).

Oh, and of course…

don’t have any mirrors in your home

which I have to agree with. I have one mirror in my home. That’s it. That’s for necessity’s sake. Shaving. I mean, my husband and shaving. Not me! I’m a vampire, not a werewolf!

The reason I don’t have any mirrors is because I have a phobia of them. It stemmed from (as so many phobias do) an incident that happened to me as a small child. This whole thing about vampires and mirrors… you know, the whole ‘a vampire casts no reflection’ thing; although that depends on whatever twist the latest trend is using. Sometimes we have a reflection, sometimes we don’t… The consensus of opinion was always that a vampire doesn’t have a reflection because ‘it’ doesn’t have a soul. (‘it’!! Pffft!)

When you realise that this stuff dates back hundreds of years consider this: mirrors then were not like they are now. They probably weren’t made that well. Whether metal or glass, they almost certainly weren’t flat so only gave you a straight image if you stood right in front of the thing. Therefore, if you stood at an angle, you wouldn’t be seen. Possibly all that would be seen would be the other side of the room. That’s how that one could have started, quite easily! How many times have you seen that little moment in a vampire film? Someone stands in front of a mirror, brushing their hair or whatever, sees nothing but themself, then they turn around and – boom – the vampire is standing there. Cue tense music, flapping of cape and baring of fangs, with obligatory screaming.

However… the person brushing their hair or shaving can see the brush or the razor, and I’m pretty sure brushes and razors don’t have souls either! I just have this image in my head that when we die and go to heaven, we’ll be sat there on our fluffy clouds, playing the harp while surrounded by little hair care accessories with wings…

This also dates back to the days of smudging. I’m all for smudging, if you know what it is, though not for the reason you think, if you knew what smudging was… Er… Anyway… in ye olden days, what they (whoever ‘they’ were) used to do was to take a tied-up bunch of herbs, usually Rosemary or Sage and burn it (a bit like an incense stick).

You have to be careful with Rosemary – it’s very oily and will go up like a rocket if you’re not paying attention! However, accepting for the moment that you’ve got it right, and it’s smouldering away beautifully, you then wave it around doors, windows, and the fireplace – basically, any of the house’s ‘orifices’.

The idea was that smudging – as part of your spring clean – would keep out the evil spirits. How did you know if it had worked? Well, nobody got sick because as everyone knows (or, in those days, knew), sickness is caused by evil spirits. And Rosemary was this magical herb that had the power to ward off these disease-causing evil spirits.

Just goes to show how things change, doesn’t it? Fast forward a few decades/centuries, and it’s discovered that Rosemary is actually a powerful antiseptic. Of course people weren’t being sick. They were disinfecting their house against germs, rather than cheesing off any malevolent spirits with a grudge against the family! So there you go. It’s all a bit of the ‘flat earth’ technology, you know, we’re sure as sure can be of something and then new facts emerge…

What was I talking about? Oh yes, mirrors. The wretched tale of how this vampire became terrified of them….

Oops.


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You keep using that word

Consequences.

Happy New Year! Yes, I know I said that last time, and I’m saying it again – for a very good reason. All will become clear. We all blether on from time to time about consequences, usually those of staying out too late, or watching just one more episode on that DVD, or the one more doughnut that-surely-wouldn’t-hurt. But in this regard we’d probably be better off using a more appropriate word: regret. The actual word ‘consequence’ has been superseded by another, more explosive word – fallout.

It doesn’t matter what the word or action is, there will always be consequences; there will always be fallout. Of course, things like social media have amplified this up to the nth degree. Essentially though, putting your foot in it, or saying / doing something stupid / dangerous / ill advised ‘for a laugh’ or because you’re cheesed off with someone / something is a concept as old as feet or mouths.

Example 1: A number of years ago I was out with a friend, her husband and her small son. We were in a small market town in the south of England, which had a real butchers shop. As it was the boy’s birthday that weekend, my friend and her husband asked me to take the little boy into the butchers shop to buy some sausages while they went to buy him a birthday present. All very secret, hush-hush.

So into the shop I dutifully went with this three-year-old child hanging on my hand. The shop was crowded; there were shelves and packages everywhere. It was unusual in that it had two of those big glass display counters. In one unit was the standard array: mince, chops, chicken legs et cetera. In the other was a side of beef. And I mean an entire side of beef. It spread along the whole counter. Being at his eye level, the little boy (let’s call him Bob) was immediately drawn to the scene of carnage.

“What that?”  asked young Bob.

“Beef.” I said.

He repeated his question. I repeated my answer. He tried the question again, slightly more forcefully this time. I thought I couldn’t really unleash the truth on such a small child. However his insistence left me with no option.

“What that?” came the question again.

“It’s half a dead cow. Okay?”

At that point, I had to take him hurriedly out of the shop as he burst into tears rather loudly. I did not tell his parents exactly what had happened: only that he had gotten a little fractious in the shop. The consequences only made themselves apparent a few years later.

Fast forward four years and one sibling later. I was at the christening of their second child. Bob was now seven years old. The proud parents gave a speech about welcoming the new baby to the family. In particular, they were singing the praises of young Bob, who apparently was the ideal older brother. He was a young man of honour and conviction. For example, out of the blue, at the age of three, he had decided to become a vegetarian, and still was one…

I shrunk down in my seat and said nothing…

I have my own scary butchers shop story, which left me with Spectrophobia – you’ll hear about that next time.

Example 2 – and this is where I was leading with my initial salutation. ‘Calan Hen’ is a Welsh tradition that is celebrated on the 6th January. It’s when the Christmas decorations come down, and you have to stop telling people ‘Happy New Year’, because the New Year just ain’t that new any more.

That’s what my mother told us.

Deciding to read up on this nationwide tradition, I uncovered something quite alarming.

None of it is true.

Calan Hen is indeed a celebration of the old New Year, just not what we were all brought up with. It started back in 1752 when the British dumped the old Julian calendar in favour of the new and shiny Gregorian calendar. Consequence? 11 days got lost. The previous New Year’s Day fell on what was now January 12.

But, undaunted, January 12th continued to be celebrated (two for the price of one, if you like), with children going from house to house with apples skewered with sprigs of holly, wishing the householders Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (I’ll leave you to work that one out!!) and collecting calenning (a few coins) as a reward for their good wishes. Oh, and of course there was the football match between one village and the next, with the churches of each serving as goalposts. I think they still do it, although in these days of Health & Safety, less people end up dead or maimed.

And there was something else, too. It wasn’t a nationwide celebration at all. It is a celebration that is exclusive to my home village. Which explains a lot of weird looks I got years later from fellow Welshies that I met.

So, be careful what you say or do – it might just come back and bite you on the bum…

Talking of bums and consequences: on a lighter note, I had one thing happen to me today that (I think) had a positive consequence, if rather painful. I had gone to the market to stock up on all the ingredients I need for my A+ juice and as usual overdid it a bit. So, as I bent over to put things into my rucksack, someone whacked me sharply on the backside. Standing up, I was expecting to see one of my friends. Imagine my surprise to see a completely unknown and random female grinning at me.

“You’re a cute little minx,” she said, “you do know that, don’t you?”

Consequence? I’m gonna have a bruise tomorrow, but it still made my day!!