(That’s Mr Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, CBE, infidels; you may have heard of Sting.)
I could never understand the French. Cherchez la femme, pardieu! Why on earth would one go looking for a woman when surrounded by French bread and French cheese? (On the other hand, those French women are said to talk less …)
Anyway, I did not go looking for any woman. I’m happy with my food and my indestructible orange ball. And there is a woman who, when I arrived at my current place, told me she was the only bee-arch in the house. She does feed me from time to time, though, and she also plays soccer with me. I won’t comment on her ball skills, but, yes, if the ball ends up among the roses, cherchez la femme …
Uncle David, floating on all the elements of the periodic table, joined SN&Y … no, take your Vitamin E, we’re not talking adult movies here; they were advising us that those who are on the road must have a code that they can live by. But it was a woman, as explained in my previous post, who said I had to attend socialisation classes. The educated will also remember that it was Uncle Chuck’s mama, and not his dad, who took him to grammar school and to Sunday school.
Imagine my surprise when, after an early breakfast one Monday morning, I was called over to the car, where he held open the hatch for me. I was too naïve to realise it was a French car …
A very friendly gentleman met us when we stopped somewhere in the fresh West Coast air. We walked down a passage with pens on both sides. I was allowed to enter a pen, and while I was checking it for food and hazardous material, they closed the gate. At first I thought they were showing some respect for the genius at work, but then they turned and walked away.
“Yooo!” I shouted. “Yaauuu! Remember that sign in Singapore that says, ‘Don’t forget to take your thing when you leave’!” But they ignored me; an innocent victim of a blinded alley. As, in forsaken loneliness, almost like old Willie’s cloud, I watched my reflection in the water bowl, I remembered that it was a woman who sang of those of us with ravaged faces, lacking in the social graces.
The next shock was when they raised the lid to Pandora’s box, which was camouflaged as a gate, and all things not bright and not beautiful, of questionable wisdom and certainly not wonderful, rushed into the other pens. For a moment, I hoped it was “Catch Your Own Breakfast”, but then I remembered that I had eaten already (albeit almost an hour before that). These were relatives of that funny little thing we ran into in the vlei.
The penny dropped. Janice-not-Pearl. “Lacking in the social graces”. I had to re-educate the great unwashed. These were the socialisation classes the shrink had referred to.
Before I could do a Macintyre and slipper (or tooth) them into shape, of course, La Femme arrived. I was kept in a separate pen, from where I demonstrated dognified conduct while they watched. The freaks will stick together; they’re a tight old crew, indeed. I did my Chris Heart Surgeon impersonation; teeth, teeth and more teeth. But eventually, the funnies and I shared a few sniffs through the fence, while I figured out who were goodies and who were baddies and thinking the reintroduction of cannibalism might not be such a bad idea after all. And finally, in the afternoon, someone realised that I had been left there, and I was fetched.
The next day, I did not seriously object to being left behind, although I did not go into “happily ever after” mode. Getting a human being to change after it has developed bad habits is not an easy task. The motley crew flooded the area again, but I had the impression that they were a little better behaved, and that some of the rough edges had been made a little smoother. They had made progress; the need to chew them down to size was still there, but it wasn’t as strong as before. In the afternoon, the mouth basket came out and I allowed the mob to receive me in their pen. They were on their best behaviour; it wasn’t good, but did not warrant me taking off the mouth basket and sorting them out, either.
There was no dawn surprise the next morning; relax, don’t do it, seemed to be the motto. I had to get away from those fools, and watched the fundamental things apply as time went by.
But when the lights closed their tired eyes the morning after that, I found myself on the road again (without a Willie Nelson ponytail). Same old, same old; uglies everywhere, like a bad case of mange. Face to face, out in the heat, I gave them the eye of the tiger.
And then it was time to come together: I strutted into their pen like Freddie Mercury and Mick Jagger would have liked to. I bent it like Beckham, I jammed like Jimi, I shone like a national guitar. They only had eyes for me. I brought them all things refined; galliards and lute songs served in chilling ale as I walked the lines of nature’s palm and passed the wit of ancient wisdom.
They needed education. They needed thought control. I gave it to them. Sinking these pearly whites into them didn’t seem so necessary anymore. In fact, there was a brownish lady Husky …
Viva, the socialist classes!
Now here’s a story, a little bit gory, a little bit happy, a little bit sa-ha-had … No, no, relax; we’ll stop before we get to Aunty Martha and the pipelines!
It could have been a dark and stormy night, but it wasn’t. She came to me one morning, one sunny Thursday morning, her long hair flowing in the late summer wind (aah ha aah ah-ha aaah ah-ha aah). I was happily bouncing my ball on the floor, waiting for breakfast, but being a gentleman, I went up to say “Hi” to the girl in the Animal Behaviourist vehicle … and she ignored me.
Of course, I knew she was just playing hard to get, so I waited for them to be seated before I resumed bouncing the ball. I have to admire their self-restraint; they must have been dying to join me in playing with the ball, but they kept on talking. I’m not sure why they discussed other dogs, but I did pick up bits like “unacceptable behaviour” and so on. I even heard her say something about “obsessed with his ball”. Such a girl!
I continued demonstrating my ball skills, allowing these soulful hazelnut peepers to work their magic, and it wasn’t too long before resistance crumbled and she invited me over. There was that delightful rustling sound; then she produced a whole bag of snacks. An angel! A goddess! I even gave up my ball for her. (And I decided not to mention the “blame the poor rescue dog” moment …)
She had me eating through a type of basket at first, which made me wonder which of one us really needed the shrink, but I still hadn’t had breakfast, so I humoured her.
Even in paradise and at mealtime, which are more or less synonymous, the serpent is working … the next thing I knew, the basket was fastened over my face. After some fumbling, they managed to get my halter onto my body – kept their hands to themselves, though – and we went dancing in the street. (Of course, she wanted to know if we were going to put on shoes … such a girl!)
The basket seemed to scare the two uglies; Ratface and Whitey went ballistic and then ran to their backyard, where they continued taking on the world from behind the safety of their Vibracrete wall. I was doing my p-mails when her tongue wagged again, “He doesn’t have to pee all over the place, you know.” He doesn’t? Such a girl! And you should have seen her when I stopped for a download …
There were a few anti-social mutts in the second park, but I was not allowed to eat them, even although I had not had breakfast. So I was turned back and we went to the vlei, where we ran into the weirdest little creature.
She looked like a dog, but bounced like a ball and ran like a cat and I really tried to eat her – I had still not had breakfast, after all – but the basket kept me from sinking my pearly whites into her.
And then there was another “such a girl” moment. “You see, he doesn’t know how to play.” For Dogmor’s sake, how could she have missed my ball skills? So I wrestled this other creature to the ground and pinned it, but instead of counting, they yanked me off her and said things like, “You see? He wants to play, but he doesn’t know what to do.” So, I gave up and tried to breathe in the weirdo instead.
Back home, they talked some more, making it clear that I was going to have socialisation training, and I’m going to get a new diet (have I mentioned that I had not had breakfast at that stage yet?). I understood that I’m going to get (three barks!) my own mouth basket, too. And then she left. I didn’t even bother to greet her, and watched dignified and from a distance as she pulled out of the driveway (and her vehicle stalled … such a girl!).
Now, let me ask you: Having read this, how does it make you feel?
Elvis has left the building, but The Boss visited these shores recently. So, instead of making the trip to Heartbreak Hotel, let me tell you something about my new hometown.
Thabo was an African. Me, I’m Africanis. So I need land, lots of land, and a home where the buffalo roam, but, as Uncles Keith and Mick put it, where I live is compromise solution. I had to settle for suburbia.
So, in the late afternoon or early evening, we reclaim the streets of the area. I check that three parks are safe, although I have been prevented thus far from really cleaning up; the Maltese poodles are still around.
The parks have some of these self-help kiosks that are to die for. You won’t believe the quality and variety of interesting items they stock. Alas, however, I’m not allowed to make use of the facilities. On the one hand, I’m worried that lack of support may drive the kiosks away; on the other, it won’t make any difference to me.
Two noisy, fat Labradors live at the entrance to the second park. They often yell at me from the balcony. I take great pleasure in ignoring them while I mark the shrubs in their front yard.
This wall protects innocent eyes from the ugliest mongrels in the hemisphere. The rat-faced one is somewhere between black and brindle. On second thoughts, calling it “rat-faced” is being unfair. No rat could ever be as ugly. The other one is white. Enough said. Other than bull terriers, no dog should be seen in white. White is for toilet paper and Maltese poodles. These two characters have been very generous with their comments since we walked past their place the first time. They’ve called me a son-of-a-she-dog once too often, though. One of these days, they’re going to have the opportunity to check which of my bark and my bite is worse. Until then, they’ll just have to live with watching me write my name on the tree next to their driveway.
A Cape dikkop (Burhina capensis) couple breeds in the garden just opposite the mongrels. They’re not too anti-social during the day, but come dusk, the male has a lot to say. I suppose he is banking on us being aware that no bird tastes worse than dikkop. He probably hasn’t noticed that my left eye is there for decorative purposes only, so I often don’t even see the spotted bugger.
Sometimes we take a different route, just to annoy the two asthmatic Rottweilers or the hyperactive Huskies. And when these city boys with their Bob Martin’s coats and Hill’s diets hurl their educated insults at me, I have to grin in smug superiority. My vocabulary comes from the Cape Flats, gents, and my teeth were cut on township bones … “have some sympathy, and some taste, use all your well-learned politesse, or I’ll lay your soul to waste …”
I’m taking the view here that, “maybe somewhere down the road aways, you’ll think of me and wonder where I am these days …”
In terms of upheaval, I now have a better understanding of how people must have felt during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. And if Obelix thought the Romans were crazy, his mind would have boggled at the Safricans.
There was a time (ah, fooled you; you thought I was going to quote Mr Cohen!) when humans were self-cleaning. They’d work hard enough for their own sweat to rinse them while they were working. But then marriage became popular, and a mother-in-law somewhere invented soap for the mouths of those who did not speak ill enough of the sons- or daughters-in-law. And the bad habit spread throughout mankind.
At some stage, Right Guard, Prep and OId Spice were all a man needed. But that was long ago; definitely before the sons of Charles Truscott Wilbury, Sr, deemed it safe to intimate that it was all right riding around in the breeze, if you lived the life you please. So, mankind had to invent other olfactory remedies.
I was at peace with the world, minding my own Vetshop-produced biscuits, when the car stopped and a massive bowl was hauled out of it. I was trying to figure out whether it would be better to use it for dry food or for bones when the garden hose was put inside it. Not ideal, but I’m not averse to taking a drink now and again, and again, so I could still live with it. I did not understand why a bucket, which had clearly been filled from the hot water tap, also came into play. In mitigation, I can only offer the naivety of the truly innocent.
Because I was picked up bodily and dumped heartlessly into what I was to learn was not a container for biscuits, chunks or bones, but “my bath”. And when I use the b-word, don’t think Victorian, porcelain, curved legs, exotic maidens or the even more exotic fragrance of roast chicken; think common black plastic on the front lawn, in plain sight of all passers-by and old ladies with binoculars hiding behind lace curtains. Think F10 medicated shampoo … OK, so there was an issue of mange, but let’s not change the topic.
Afterwards, adding injustice to insult and injury, I had my entire, and I mean, e-n-t-i-r-e, body rubbed down with ancient Dutch yuck that had been designed to make the devil’s heart shrivel up. Again, let’s not change the focus to mange here. Because, and I can provide visual proof, my sensitive complexion had to endure other witches’ brews as well.
But … or perhaps I should say “butt”… the half-brothers Wilbury (Otis, specifically, if I remember correctly) cautioned that every day is judgement day. And, in my judgement, the very best place to rub an itchy, mangy, lotion-covered butt is a wall that had just been painted.
The greatest Briton ever (but he lived before Keith Richards picked up a guitar and before Liz Hurley showed up in that dress) apparently said that history is written by the victors. While we’re figuring out who the victors are, here at the southern tip of the Dark Continent, let me remind you that South Africa’s history used to start on 6 April 1652. Then it changed, and our history started before that, but our international sports records started some 340 years later. And we’re having general elections again later this year. Ex Africa, as the old Roman said …
I therefore claim poetic and driving license in hammering the stake of my existence into the ground on 3 December 2013. As Uncle Bob had it, ” ‘Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood …’ ”
A politician rescued me from a group of children who were trying to kill me. The story was covered in the local media. Thank you, JP Smith. The newspaper turned me into a celebrity. When I take him who answers to She Who Must Be Obeyed for a walk, people say, “Oh, you’ve got a new dog.” “Yes; it was rescued from a group of kids …” “Hang on; is this the dog that was in the newspaper?”
Cicely Bloomberg of Adopt-a-Pet found me a home while Christine Leonard and the others at Animal Welfare treated me like royalty; to quote the Nasal Prophet again, “I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form; ‘Come in,’ she said, ‘I’ll give you shelter from the storm …”
They gave me more than shelter; the top three items on the list were food, food and glorious food. I even had a psychologist. (What a shock when the receptionist at a private vet subsequently recorded me as “indigenous”! I mean, indigenous is the wild dagga against which I cock my leg in the garden …)
Then, on 14 December, I was collected by what was referred to as “a gentleman” in Table View. Some said the term was used in the polite, generic sense. He does have his moments, though; especially when he takes that brown plastic bowl into the garage, where that interesting red and yellow bag is kept.
This is what I looked like on 3 Dec 2013.