Evening all! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas, what ever you were doing. I spent the first half of this week finishing off shopping for Christmas presents. Normally I’m still buying them on Christmas Eve but this year I’d finished by the 23rd which I was exceedingly proud of. A TK Max store arrived in Barrow this year which was a godsend – I bought most people’s presents there. The husband got a box of fancy herbal teas – I wouldn’t touch the stuff, but he likes them. I also bought him a globe which he mentioned he wanted a couple of weeks ago – he loves maps but his other two presents I bought by mistake. I went into a small independent clothes shop in Barrow and picked a T-shirt and then the assistant started offering me a discount if I bought jeans as well so I caved in and just bought them. I think she must have seen me coming…
My main present from the husband was a satnav. Not very romantic, but very practical and I’ve been moaning for ages about having to use my phone as a sat nav. The first Christmas we were together I remember he bought me a Cumbria A-Z map so I could find my way around my schools easily. And an ice-scraping kit for my car. I think one of us being practical works well. And I still have the ice scraper, ten years or so later and it came in most handy this morning when the car was frosted over.
On Tuesday we drove from Barrow to Egremont to my twin sister’s house, a four bedroom bungalow that comes as part of the new job that she has just taken up, managing an animal rescue kennel. Jody had to stay on site so she didn’t come down to Leicester to my mum and dads so she volunteered to look after my two dogs, along with the three she already has. Which sounds like a nightmare, but they all get along ok, and my dogs are quite boring really, they usually just sleep a lot.
We stayed at my sisters over night but we didn’t get much sleep – someone had bought a puppy back because it was crying at night. The puppy was staying in the room next to ours and it didn’t just cry. It whined, howled, barked and made a variety of other noises. It also had an upset stomach and at about 2.30am my sister was fetching new bedding and cleaning out the crate it slept in. I tried to clean the crate out but I couldn’t do it. My sister just got on with it – maybe she has a stronger stomach than me. Then it cried for maybe another hour before eventually falling asleep.
At lunchtime the next day we set off for Leicester but we were so tired, not just from the crying puppy, but also from work and weeks of being ill. I managed to get to the first services on the motorway near Penrith and we pulled over and got something to eat and I felt a bit more awake. I drove to the next services and had to pull over because I was so tired I felt like I was falling asleep. The husband drove the next twenty or so miles to the next service and then he had to pull over because he was falling asleep. Then I drove about fifty miles, missing out one services and stopping at the next one because I was falling asleep again. At this point we decided to admit defeat and go to sleep for an hour in the car. After that I managed to drive the rest of the way to Leicester.
Christmas has been great, although it has been weird not being with my twin sister, but it has been nice to see my two older sisters and their families and spend some time with my mum and dad, although the extent of their obsession with their border collie is slightly worrying. It even has a mat in the kitchen with its name on. And its crate is upstairs in the third bedroom, so the dog basically has its own room! I blame my twin for this, as they adopted the dog from her rescue kennel last Christmas.
Yesterday my sister was walking her three dogs and my two dogs and one of my dogs, Miles was attacked by another dog. The dog was a Patterdale Terrier and its owner had it on a lead. Apparently Miles was just walking past and the owner allowed his dog to lunge and it locked onto Miles’ throat. It took ten minutes to get the dog to let go, and the whole time, the man’s four other dogs were running around off lead and out of control and growling at my sisters dogs.
Afterwards he didn’t apologise, just walked off as quickly as he could. My sister and her husband got Miles to the vets and although there was a lot of blood, the dog had only managed to grip the skin rather than his windpipe so his injuries were fairly superficial. Poor Miles was in shock though and shaking a lot.
He seems ok now. I think he’s a bit subdued but the husband thinks I’m imagining it. I went and bought him a lovely comfy bed today to replace the old, rather thin one, and a new collar to replace the one that is now covered in blood. I can’t understand why people walk around with dogs unmuzzled that are capable of doing something like that. Maybe they get off on it, maybe they enjoy seeing their dog hurt another living creature. In a satisfying twist, the dog bit its owner when he finally managed to get it to let go of Miles. My sister says this is called redirection and is apparently quite common when splitting up a dog fight. Redirection or karma – I hope he thinks twice before letting his dog attack another dog.
I would like to say I’m not talking about the usual type of feathers flying when two dogs have a bit of a growl and a dance around each other and show their teeth. When that happens, it sounds horrible, but both dogs walk away unscathed and I think it’s the equivalent of two humans swearing at each other or having an argument. This dog was going in for the kill and was locked on. I’m lucky – in nine years of having Miles nothing like this has ever happened to me.
So that has been on my mind quite a bit today but I know I need to stop thinking about it now. My lovely sister and husband did the best they could do in a horrible situation – it must have been really scary for them.
Today I’ve finally convinced the husband that he needs to rest after being ill for a week and not resting and he has finally agreed to do as he’s told. I decided to have a week off running over Christmas because I still didn’t feel right, but this morning I went for a run with the Walney Wind Cheetahs – it was a bit dicey because of the ice but we managed to get round 9km without anybody falling over. The rest of the day I spent food shopping, making lunch and unpacking, so a fairly chilled out day.
My next post will be, as in previous years, a round up of my year. For the past two years, I’ve done this in the first week of January, but this year I’m aiming for New Years Eve.
This weeks Sunday Poem is by Louise Karlsen, a lovely poet lady I met at Ilkley Literature Festival. Louise came to one of my workshops at the festival. I suspect this was not due to my immense fame as a poet, but more due to the lovely Rachel Davies, who bought a whole host of poets along to my workshop, one of whom was Louise.
One of my favourite poems is ‘A Curse on Heptonstall’ by Ian Duhig which I’ve featured as one of my Sunday Poems before. It’s a great poem to use in a workshop to break the ice and at Ilkley I asked everybody to write their own curse poem. We had some great curse poems in the workshop but I really liked this one because of the way Louise has taken on board Ian’s rhyme scheme but made it her own.
In Ian’s poem he repeats the ‘all’ sound at the end of each line until he reaches the punchline at the end. Louise has used the same sound for every four lines but I think the rhythm, which she controls so well, can be traced back to Ian’s poem. I think Louise’s rhymes are really clever and funny as well – they don’t seem forced. I particularly like the rhyme of nectar and spectre!
I also thought it would be great to post this poem up after Christmas. From where I’m sitting, I can see two selection boxes, a tin of Quality Street, a tin of Heroes and a tin of shortbread biscuits – all Christmas presents. How much running I’ll have to do to justify eating all of that doesn’t bear thinking about!
Louise, a retired local government art galleries and museums curator and service manager, has developed several historic public buildings and pioneered programmes of contemporary visual art and art interpretation. Collaborating with the hugely successful Bete Noire poetry readings in Hull, Louise brought together the visual arts and literature in the innovatory cross disciplinary programmes of Hull’s award winning Ferens Art Gallery throughout the 1990‘s. A notable guest then was Douglas Dunn, who was married to Louise’s predecessor as Principal Keeper of Art at the Ferens, Lesley Dunn, after whose tragic early death Douglas wrote his now famous “Elegies“.
Louise also sings blues and folk, and once sang both in choirs and semi-professionally as a soloist, but now enjoys writing both poetry and prose in several writers’ groups in the Greater Manchester area. As one of “The Seven Spelks” poetry group she has recently begun to read her work in public and looks forward to further readings with them in the near future.
I hope you enjoy Louise’s poem, and thanks to Louise for letting me host the first publication of this poem!
A Curse – Louise Karlsen
(after Ian Duhig)
A plague on biscuits, wine and cheese
and nuts and savoury things like these
that rob me of my will to slim
and make my future health look grim
Damnation on that last, fast bite
and all those designated light
that stop me in my endless fight
to lose the pounds and put me right
May all that’s fearsome come and fall
upon my cupboards, smash them all
and bury crumpets, jam and honey
trim my waist and save me money
Smash the bottles full of nectar
ferments, brews and make a spectre
of my current massive size
make me sylphlike, thin and wise
Blast these tempters and the gin
curse these foods and help me win
burn the breads and crusts delicious
sear them black and, hags, be vicious