Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pixie's story

A week in the life of an elderly puppy


Ahhh Monday morning, my favourite time of the week. The hustle and bustle of the weekend is behind me and now I can finally relax. It gets fair headwreckin' around here of a Saturday and Sunday let me tell you; people coming and going, sitting and chatting, walking and laughing, and most of 'em don't even have the decency to give me an oul scratch. Fuckers. Well they're all gone now and I'm in charge again, I know Daddy and Sheena still live here but I'm the boss and I think they know that.

Not sure what I'll get up to today, must check the post first anyway. Nope, nothing, nada, just bills and shite for them other eejits, all these years and I've still never gotten even so much of a postcard. Sometimes I wonder do people even know I exist. I go out in the kitchen and have a little sniff around, still some of yesterday's dinner there but it doesn't look too promising, then again what do I know sure I'm half blind! The maddening thing is I can smell a dentistix but I'm fucked if I can find it. I spend a solid half an hour looking for it and eventually give up when I hit my head off the leg of the table for the umpteenth time.

I decide to watch guard for a few hours. I'm an unbelievable guard dog, probably one of the best in Ferrybank if not the whole of Waterford. I sit at the top of the stairs and keep an eye on the door for any intruders, and if anyone comes I shout my head off till they run away in terror. Not one break-in in over fourteen years – beat that Eircom phonewatch! After a while I get bored of keeping watch, people are obviously so scared that they don't dare come near, my reputation precedes me at this point. A little nap I think.

I'm awoken from my slumber by the sound of a key in the door, “Wha! Who's that”, I run out ready for action but it's only my sister Sheena. “Hi fluff”, she says, I've never understood this; my name is Pixie but this wan insists on calling me fluff, I'm confused enough as it is without people changing my name. Anyway I follow her out to the kitchen cos she's usually good for a biccie or two, and right enough she chucks a couple in my general direction. After a brief search I locate them both and snaffle them down quicker than you can say “Is me name Pixie or Fluff?”

Wouldn't mind heading outside for a wee wee now so I shout at Sheena to let me out, “Hey, hey, hey, HEY”! She eventually gets the message and opens the front door for me and off I go. Not a sinner about today, that Sam Brown fella is probably hiding from me cos he knows I've a bone to pick with him (see what I did there, BONE? Haha I'm hilarious). Anyway he can't hide forever I'll catch up with him eventually. In the meantime I decide to walk all the way down to the Silverwood sign and shout at cars for a while. Some laugh. By the time I get back and call Sheena to leave me in I'm rather tired so I decide another nap is in order, this has been a very tiring Monday so far.

I wake up in my bed in the sitting-room; which is weird cos I could have sworn I went to sleep in the garage. Anyhoo Daddy is home so I go over and sit beside him for a while, he gives me a little rub behind me ears which is nice. I go out to see what's cooking and it looks like chicken for dinner, not my favourite but it'll do. I wait for my plate to come out.....and I wait some more....they serve up......and I wait some more........where's my plate lads? Feck sake, looks like a bout of begging is in order. I sit beside Sheena and give her my most mournful look, interjecting it with the occasional whine. Eventually my efforts are rewarded with a few titbits but its not enough and I'm forced to eat some of that Pedigree Chum shite that they put in my bowl. A bad end to the day.


I didn't sleep well at all last night, probably cos I decided I need to go out for a sniff at four in the morning. Funny thing is sometimes I ask Daddy to leave me out the back and then I forget what I wanted to go out for. Last night I woke up busting for a wee wee and woke him up to let me out. But then by the time we went downstairs I couldn't remember what I wanted to go out for! So I'm out the back in the freezing cold and I'm thinking “What the fuck did ya bring me down here for boy eh”? I did some sniffing and a bit of investigating and I was just about to head back in when I realised I needed to do a poo. So I did one. And then after all that I didn't even do me wee wee. It's mad being old!

You'd think I'd be bored at home on my own all day but I'm really not. I have a busy schedule and I like to keep to it, I'm a creature of habit really. So after checking the post and sniffing out any stray biscuits I do a few laps of the house, it's important to keep fit at my age, before I have my mid-morning nap. Then I watch guard for a while and do a bit of shouting just in case anyone is trying to sneak in unbeknownst to me. And sure before I know it the lads are home again!

When Sheena lets me out today I spot Sam Brown straight away, no mean feat when you can only see outta one eye. Truth is I probably smelled the dirty yoke before I saw him. Anyway I ambles over to him, “Hey Sam ya big fleabag how's the form”, “Alright Pixie girl how are you, not seen ya in a while”? The cheek of him, he knows full well why he hasn't “seen me in a while”. I keep calm despite my growing rage, “I was under house arrest wasn't I”?, I say, waiting to see if he'll cop on. “Were ya”? The big dope says, “what did ya do have another shit on the sitting-room floor”? The fecker is laughing at me now! “No”, I reply, “I had to stay in cos I had fleas, and where dya think I got them”? “Down in Spar”? He says, the cheeky prick. At this point I just walk away, “You and me Sam, we're finished, dya hear me”? He just laughs again, he knows I'll be back, I always come back.

That evening, after tea, me and Daddy have an argument. I'm a bit bored so I decide to shout at him for a bit. “Hey, hey, hey”, cough cough cough, “Hey, hey, hey”, I says to him, “Inta bed Pixie”, he replies! It's not time for bed Daddy it's only 7.30!! He leaves me out the front then and even though I didn't really want to go out I humour him and go for a little wander. Sometimes I think he doesn't understand me at all.


Niamh is here today, not that it makes any difference to my day, bitch doesn't even talk to me anymore. So I ignore her. Problem is she doesn't even realise I'm ignoring her so it's all a bit pointless really. Not to worry I'll just scratch the shit outta her door and cough all over her face the next time she's staying over. That other fella is with her, can never remember his name. Sometimes he rubs me so he's alright, he's no Pieman though, I love that guy. Wonder when he's coming to visit again, he's brill.

I have to go to 'the man in the white coat who pokes and prods at me' in the afternoon. Apparently my cough is bad so I need to get poked and prodded, sigh, just leave me have a little sleepie and I'll be fine. Anyway Sheena brings me and we're in the waiting room with all the other animals that have coughs. There's a big freak in there the likes of which I've never seen before, I know I'm a small dog but this lad is ridiculous; all floppy jowels and gangly legs, what a sight he is! I can barely stop laughing at him but I quieten down when someone comes in with one of them weird things with the big ears that eat carrots. They scare the shit out of me! I ask Sheena can we go home but she just tells me to ssshhhh, easy for you to say you're not terrified of that pink-eyed nutter over in the corner.

When we go into 'the man in the white coat who pokes and prods at me' he's all friendly as if he's forgotten about the last time. I haven't forgotten let me tell you. Bastard almost killed me with his big needle and now he has the cheek to act as if nothing happened, “How's Pixie”, “Aww the poor mite”, fuck you boy and if you even attempt to stab me again I'll cough all over ya. Luckily he just does some poking and prodding this time and before I know it we're away out the door. On the way I do a little shout at pink-eyes, haha have that ya big eejit.


I sleep all day today, clearly exhausted from yesterday's exertions. I dream that I'm a sniffer dog for the drugs squad and I become so famous that I'm on telly with Ryan Tubridy, I'm chatting away to him and he understands every word, gwan Tubbers. Then I dream that I give up the drugs game and become a showdog instead. Me and Sheena go to Crufts and I win the whole thing in my first year, “It's unprecedented”, they say, “A remarkable achievement for a first year rookie”, “What breed is she”?, the fans cry, “I'm a Pixie”, I tell them, “a pixie.


Brilliant news. Michael is home. I'm so happy. He always minds me. Plus this means Christine will be here too, she's great. Sometimes I just sit and stare at her and think to myself “you're great”. I'll probably do that later for a while if she's here. Usually I hate Fridays cos of all the people but I'm in good form today, I even talk to Sam Brown for a while and he apologises for being a big flea ridden bastard. Kinda feel sorry for him really cos his owners obviously don't give a shit whether he's clean or not. I bathe at least once every fortnight I'll have you know.

Just when I think this day can't get any better The Pieman arrives! Wahey he's some craic, he even scratches my arse the feckin fool, rather him than me. So now I've got loads of people to annoy erm I mean chat to. We're all in the sitting-room shooting the breeze but I don't think I'm getting enough attention so I decide to shake things up a bit. I scratch at the door, yes, hello I'm here, and I'd like to go out this way please, oh I know I can go the other way but I choose to go this way, now open the door sucker, works a treat and I feel wanted again. So I do a few laps and then stare at Christine for a while, she's great. Pieman scratches my arse and asks me how am I getting on, grand thanks boy and yourself.

Then they all start disappearing and heading off out the door, I feel a bit lonely but I go over and lie under Daddy's feet. He's watching Tubridy and chortling away to himself, I'll be on that one day Daddy just you wait and see.

As promised I get my own back on Niamh by going to her door at six in the morning and scratching it till my paws bleed. I hear them complaining so I do some shouting and a few coughs, have that! Then just as they're about to let me in I sprint back to bed and pretend to be asleep, Pixie 1 Niamh 0.


Again I wake up in a weird place. On a pillow in Sheena's room. How on earth did I get here? Tis lovely though. Herself and The Pieman invite me up onto the bed but I don't like being on beds, well it's not so much that I don't like being on them, it's just I'm not able to get down from them. Once I was trapped on a bed for four hours, I couldn't get down and had to call for help. Scary.

I mooch downstairs and there's all sorts going on, can never remember everyone's name; Anne Glascott, Nora & Mollusc, Auntie Marlon....utter confusion. But it's also utter heaven in terms of food, time to make hay while the weather is good I say to myself as I spring into action. I swear I could win an Oscar I'm such a good actor, these eejits don't realise I'm better fed than they are as I whinge and whine my way though ham, chicken, cheese and even a cheeky bit of beef. Life is good sometimes.

Fed to the gills I retire to the garage for a snooze but I've barely shut my eyes when I hear an all too familiar sound, a sound that fills me with dread. It's the curly child, oh no. He comes in with Niamh and Shamo and immediately starts chasing after me, chasing! Me! I'm nearly ninety years old and I'm expected to leave this lunatic run around after me purely for his entertainment. Spare me. I have no choice but to play along cos God knows what would happen if he ever caught me. So I trot around for a full nine minutes before Sheena picks him up and spares my life. Well that's over for another week I say as I finally get to bed and have a lovely power-nap where I dream of Tubby and marrying Sam Brown.

When I wake up there's more food. Daddy has done the shopping which means Dentistix, I'm kinda gone off them though, they were great at first but now; meh. But wait what's this he has for me, can't is!!!! A BONE!! YEESSSSS! BONE, BONE, BONEY, BONE, BONEY BONEY BONE, BONEBONE!! And the size of it! Tis bigger than meself. Ha, if Sam Brown could see me now. I take it in my jaws and nearly fall over with the weight of it, me poor ole teeth will never get through this yoke. But first up I have to hide it. Every dog knows that the first rule of bone-keeping is to find a good hiding place for it. I decide upstairs in my bed is the best place for it. Some job bringing it up the stairs though, jaysus tis hard enough getting myself up em without carting a cow's leg with me and all!

I carefully hide it under my bed in Daddy's room and head downstairs barely able to keep from laughing. “Where's your bone Pixie”? They ask, ha as if I'm tellin' ye, oh you'd love that wouldn't ye? Pixie the big eejit tells ye where the bone is and before i know tis after being whipped. No chance. But shit, where is the bone? Oh no. NO! NOOOO! I can't remember for the life of me where I left it. Left what? What am I talking about? Feck this, I'm off for a snooze.

I go upstairs for a nap so as not to be disturbed by all them nutters and guess what I find in my bed?! A bone! A bloody massive one! Daddy must have left it there as a surprise. Brilliant. I gnaw and gnash at it for a while before I start to get paranoid. What's that noise? Is someone trying to steal my bone? Only thing for it is to hide the blasted thing. Everyone knows the first of bone-keeping is to find a good hiding place for it. I decide that downstairs in my bed in the sitting-room is the best spot imaginable but my dilemma is sneaking past them scoundrels without them seeing.

So I take this monstrosity in my gob and creep silently down the stairs. I can hear voices but they seem to be coming from the kitchen. IN the blink of an eye I'm in behind the couch and the bone is under my bed. Haha, have that I say triumphantly. Bones are great.

I spend the rest of the evening hiding and re-hiding the bone. A couple of times I forget I even had it and the buzz of discovering it for the first time is truly amazing. Being forgetful doesn't half have its benefits at times. But with great power comes great responsibility and the pressure of having this bone and ensuring no-one steals it is getting to me. I'm almost relieved when Daddy takes it and chucks it out the back. Chances are I'll find that in a couple of weeks and be dead excited all over again.


Another week done and dusted. I spend most of the morning chilling in the sitting-room with The Pieman, sometimes he talks to me as if I can talk back, bit thick this fella. There's a decent dinner on the go and hopes are high that my yellow plate will be brought out of the press. I get under everyone's feet and make a general nuisance of myself so they won't forget about me. “Yellow plate, yellow plate, yellow plate”, I whine in anticipation and for a while it looks like I'm all out of luck. Daddy takes out loads of plates, white ones, blue ones, red ones, but yellow one? Nada.

I've resigned myself to another session of begging when yes there it is, the yellow plate! Before I know it it's filled up with all manner of goodness and the highlight of my week is here. The Sunday roast, ya can't beat it! I munch and chew and slurp my way through the whole thing in a record time of 42 seconds before heading to the dining-room for a bit of a begging. Hey ya can't blame a dog for trying? Michael remains true to form and looks after me like I knew he would, Pieman is a hopeless cause as he's too busy stuffing his own fat face to even take any notice of mine. But eventually I get something from almost everyone and I head to the garage to bask in the stench of my own farts.

I wake up and hear familiar voices, Jimmy and Josephine by the sound of things. They're nice. Ah look Nora and Mollusc are here too. A right ole crowd. They're eating human biscuits, no not biscuits made out of humans, biscuits which humans eat! I salvage a few of them before deciding to get my bone. But what dya know?! It's been stolen! I knew this would happen. I turn my back for five minutes and the bastards have robbed it. Bet ya it was this Shamo fella, I could see him looking at it all morning. The thieving fucker, I'll cough all over him the next time I see him.

Ah sure look there'll be other bones, no point in getting cross. I shout at Jimmy and Josephine for a while, scratch at the door to let em know I exist and do a few laps of the sitting-room just for a laugh. And with that I'm off to bed for some dreams of Tubby and how to gain revenge on that feckin bone-stealing prick.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Memoirs of a misspent childhood

Part 5: Neither man nor boy

It's the day that every mother dreads, the day she hoped would never come. That angelic ray of sunshine, her one and only, becomes something altogether different: no more sunshine, only storm clouds: and plenty of them. That little boy who answered “My mammy” when asked who he was going to marry when he got older is no more. Now he doesn't even want to be seen in public with you. He doesn't hate you, far from it, so don't feel bad. But that beautiful, innocent friendship you once had? It's over, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Ironically enough it's another mother who is to blame for this sorry state of affairs, Mother Nature. She has seen fit to whisk away that doe-eyed little cherub and plonk down an insolent ball of grease-ridden fury in his stead. She has injected him with an intoxicating amount of testosterone and the poor little mite hasn't a fuckin clue what's going on. He was happy enough to hang with his mammy all day believe me. But for reasons he doesn't understand he's heading off on a terrifying journey full of intrigue and wonder - and mammy just isn't invited.

I've always hated the word puberty. It's so clinical, so officious. “Yeah I've just begun puberty, started last week, not bad so far but obviously I've got a while to go yet”. How can you sum up the most distressingly magnificent time of your life in just one word. You can't really. Other terms like adolescence, juvenility and teenage years don't really do it justice either. I like to think of it as a life-defining era, your coming of age, you enter it a snot-nosed bundle of high-pitched hysteria and come out the other end all cool and world-weary. Well that's the idea anyway.

The physical changes are distressing enough; unexpected protuberances, excessive perspiration, a voice capable of going from baritone to falsetto in the same sentence - but that's small fare compared to the emotional trauma. I can look back on my own coming of age with a degree of fondness now but I wouldn't want to experience it again. I don't know what it's like for the kids of today but being a teenager in the 1990s was a bit shit. No internet, no mobile phones and a dearth of readily available alcohol meant that we had to work for our thrills. And when you factor in my location, a dismal backwater in South Kilkenny, is it any wonder that I'd rather forget my pubescent years?

But perhaps I was better off living in such secluded environs, because the defining characteristic of my boyhood was a crippling, almost debilitating, shyness. We all had our afflictions; that kid whose voice hadn't broken by fifth year, the luckless bastard who watched in horror as World War III broke out on his face, the fella even poorer than you who never had any school books, but for me it was the ole 'go bright red any time someone outside of your close circle of friends even glances in your direction'. Lovely. I could attempt to psycho-analyse my younger self and pinpoint the reason for this timidity but where's the entertainment in that? Far better to recount painful childhood memories for your delectation.

Now obviously one of the main components of a teenager's life is fraternising with the opposite sex. It should be all about speculative fumbling and phony braggadocio, but when you flush scarlet any time you get within five yards of the fairer sex it makes things far more complicated. At one point I considered explaining it away as part of my mating ritual, a baboon's arse goes red when it wishes to mate, well so do I. But that simply wouldn't do, and besides I was far too self-aware and bereft of confidence to believe that any of those fair maidens would allow me to tamper with their undergarments. Oh if I could have five minutes with that younger me, things might have been so, so different.

Don't get me wrong I wasn't a complete no-mark. Despite my shyness I did manage some ham-fisted attempts at unhooking and unzipping some elaborately fastened items, but a large part of my formative years seemed to be spent wistfully fantasising about various unattainable damsels, that girl from the year above, Jet from Gladiators, you get the idea. And when I wasn't cursing my inability to converse with the opposite sex I was to be found quietly questioning the meaning of life and wondering what was the point of it all. I may have had raging hormones just like the rest of you but a sense of embittered melancholy prevailed above all. I'd say I was great craic altogether.

But those were just my quiet moments, those times when I escaped to a better world and lived the life I believed was justly mine. Whether it was engaging in mindless, wanton destruction, acting the maggot with your mates or discovering the joys of alcohol there was plenty of lolz to be had and I like to think I had my fair share. Never cool enough to be considered part of the 'in-crowd' nor hapless enough to be grouped with those who smelled weird, looked weird or just were weird, me and my mates ploughed our own furrow with little or no interference from others – inbetweeners if you will.

Cast adrift from society as we were there wasn't a whole lot to do of an evening. So our nightly ritual involved what could politely be described as 'blackguarding'. Nowadays when I walk past a flowerbed liberated of its flowers I find myself quietly tutting and muttering something about 'lack of respect' under my breath. Oh what a short memory I have. I'm not sure what it is about teenage boys but they just love to decimate and destroy. This activity can take any form; from the harmless 'toilet-papering of trees' to the more sinister acts involving rocks, public amenities and satisfying noises. Maybe we wouldn't have had so much pent up frustration if there'd been more girls willing to let us have an oul fumble.

And when we weren't roaming the countryside looking for things to break we were concocting plans to plunder some golden nectar. These little bastards today have it so easy, there was hardly even any off-licenses back then never mind alco-pops! My poor mother in her infinite wisdom tried to delicately introduce me to the world of booze by buying me a couple of cans in her weekly shopping. And for a while that worked. Pissed out of my head I'd stagger through the village hugging strangers and shouting at cows but even at that age I began to build up a tolerance. Thanks for the efforts mother but those tins of Smithwicks just aren't doing the job anymore, I need something with a bit more kick.

But with no local off-license what the fuck were we to do? The answer was simple; save up our pennies and buy bottles of champagne-cider from the wine section at the local supermarket. Easy-peasy. The fact that I looked about six years old even when in my mid-teens didn't really help matters, but thanks to a lanky stature and a hitherto unseen bravery I regularly drowned my young liver in some of the finest piss to ever come out of Belgium. And in truth it could have been much worse, I don't think I sampled a drop of spirits until I was almost old enough to buy the stuff legally. No I was happy enough with my bottles of Vervier, even at that age I enjoyed the finer things in life and often combined my drinking with some deep and meaningful conversation, before disappearing behind the bushes to puke my ring up.

It's easy to understand why drink and the procurement of it plays such a big part in a teenager's life. It's a quick-fix, a one-way getaway from all of those hang-ups and issues which stalk your every waking minute. Too shy to speak to girls? Get hammered and stumble in their direction while they recoil in disgust. Problem solved. But for me it was a mere footnote, a means to an end. What kidulthood meant was a growing sense of freedom, the realisation that you were an individual in your own right and the your parents weren't the savants they made themselves out to be, and that you, yes you, could shape and mould your existence in any way you saw fit.

But given the choice would I do things differently? Probably yeah, but although those humiliating bouts of face-reddening trauma were torturous at the time they may have in some way shaped the person I am today. And when you read about children, because that's what they are, taking their own lives due to social-media bullying you realise that a little rosacea is a small price to pay for what is unquestionably the most difficult period of any person's life. I'm just glad I got through it in one piece, and managed a few innocent gropes along the way.