Sunday, November 30, 2008

sick as a dog

There is at least one emotional constant in my life: the ability to feel 'over the moon' or 'sick as a dog' depending on the result of a rugby match. At eleven, just after the war, I started watching 'the Reds' --Redruth-- our local team. I quickly became as passionate about it as my father, who would sometimes run up the touchline in his effort to will the Reds to score a try. When we emigrated to Australia, I followed Carlton, the Blues, playing Aussie Rules, with the same passion. Returning to England, I resumed my first loyalty. When I lived away, in Hereford, the passion faded somewhat, though I was still glad when I read that the Reds had won.

Now I live in middle-class Truro, but still go to every home game at Redruth. I sit more or less in the same place in the stand as I did with my dad, 63 years ago. We've been doing exceptionally well this season, winning all eleven games in a row. Yesterday, against Cambridge, we were leading for almost the whole game, then in the last three minutes the Cambridge fly-half struck an enormous, inhuman, brutal drop goal, from all of 60 yards (I refuse ever to say 'metres'), taking them a point in the lead. Back came Redruth, amazingly, with a run by our speedy fullback the whole length of the field; he almost scored, but instead the ref gave us a penalty, in a comfortable position. The kick would have taken us into the lead again - but it failed. The whistle blew for the end of the game. I felt 'sick as a dog' and still do, a day later.

Yet it's 'only a game'! I know that. But as an old manager of Liverpool FC once said, 'Football isn't life or death, it's more important than that.' I can feel enormous hatred for visiting supporters. Even if there are only a few of them, as yesterday, there's invariably one man who has the loudest, most booming, most irritating voice in Christendom, able to outshout the massed home supporters. Yesterday he sat two or three seats in front. A fat neck, shaven head. I loathed him.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Ross, with Tamsin
Our Cairn terrier, Tamsin, had to be put down a few weeks ago. She was almost eighteen. The home has lost a dear presence. Here's a poem I wrote about her a year or two ago...

After Christopher Smart

For I will consider my dog Tamsin,
For she appearath round the corner of the house
When we are drinking wine outside, then stops,
Forgetting why she appeareth there;
For she is 108 years old in human terms,
For she is almost blind and almost deaf,
Yet suddenly she trotteth down the garden,
For then her tail wags upon prink, in joy of living,
So that I have started to call her Baron von Trott;
For then she will slow up and plod around the house
Four or five times, defending it from marauders,
For she is small in size but mighty in spirit,
For when she stumbleth over a root, or her back legs
Won’t work, she still goeth bravely forward;
For when we put some tasty fish in her dish,
She will slowly stir from her basket
And plod to her dish; but then she pauseth
For a long time, saying her prayers to the Lord,
Calling down blessing on the food,
Before suddenly stooping her head and
Snatching the fish hungrily.
For she kicketh out her legs in her dreams,
For she loveth to run on a beach,
And dreams of it later, many times,
Though she feareth the water.
For she is a happy little dog,
And teacheth how to grow old gracefully;
For she is the handmaid of the Lord,
And hath been loved by a Master and three Mistresses.

For she knoweth no other life but with us.

well it's been ages

Well, it's been ages since I wrote anything here. I've received angry, hungry emails and phone calls from all over the world wanting their fix. Those untold thousands of my blog readers whom I've been neglecting. They want to know why.

Why, is because I suddenly plunged into writing a novel, which I didn't think I'd ever do any more. Admittedly a short novel. I'd call it a novella, in fact, except that readers and editors feel cheated by the word novella. Hell, they're paying good money for a real novel, so it better be at least 100,000 words long. Mine's just 45,000, first draft.

But that's 45,000 words in seven weeks, which ain't bad. And I do love the feel of being in a novel, creating (and living in) its own small world, with its own rules. I raced to finish that first draft, as if my life depended on it; but now, while I wait to see what needs doing to it, I feel bereft. But I can now read other writers' fiction, as I don't allow myself to do while I'm writing, and I have a very good book to indulge myself in: Three Balconies, by the American writer Bruce Jay Friedman, a collection of short stories and a novella. The short stories are real, funny, wry, observant and written with grace. It will sustain me in this sad interim.