Tag Archives: pet animals

August 14: Inter-Galactic Explorations XXXI: Chewing it over.


who would not sit under the apricot tree?

‘Have you noticed,’ said Ajax, wolfing down a flake of haddock, ‘how Abel likes to use all his words, but Will and Mrs T, who know thousands more, can sit under the apricot tree quite happily without saying a word?’

‘Do they need to speak to tell each other they are there?’ wondered T. ‘Of course not. But maybe Abel needs to tell himself he is in the presence of a digger, a train, or two black dogs.’

‘You mean he is telling himself his own story?’ interrupted Ajax, giving Alfie time to think how to respond to T’s probing remark about the two black dogs.

‘When he was little, he was just living his story. You remember how he just loved you two. No words from his mouth but plenty of glee. And you guys were on another plane, playing with him without words – until you pretty much forced him to say “dog”. Now when he picks up his toy bus, he says “bus” and “door” and makes a brrrrm noise when he pushes it across the floor.’

‘Are you saying he was better not speaking?’ challenged Ajax.

‘Of course not!’ T replied. ‘He’s not just a bundle of nerve-endings like the Builder’s Dog.’

‘You didn’t see BD outside Peter’s Fish Factory. He had abandoned Will and was sitting actually on a student’s knee. The ladies seem to like him as much as he likes them.’

‘He’s still a bundle of nerve ends. He could ignore her completely if he was out with his mistress.’

‘Director, you are too cynical!’ Alfie countered. ‘Maybe the Ossyrian scientific diet has trimmed your nerve ends too much.’

This time it was T’s turn to conceal his thought processes. ‘Not all my nerve ends, Alfie, not all of them; but what has Earthly life done to yours?’

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July 30: Inter-galactic encounters XXIX, the wrong seats: I.

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‘Hey, T’, beamed Alfie, as the train pulled out of Canterbury, ‘Can’t you read English?’

T had just jumped off the train, said ‘Hi’ to Will Turnstone, grabbed the dogs’ travelling bag and scooped up the pseudo-chihuahuas’ leads and leapt back on board, all in 30 seconds flat. No wonder he did not notice he had trespassed into the First Class compartment.

‘Oh, Come on Alf,’ he beamed back. ‘I’ve been away for three days: what kind of a greeting is that?’

‘Just warning you, T. Here comes the guard to check tickets. Look at that little white antimacassar.’

‘What Alfie’s trying to say,’ interrupted Ajax, ‘is that we are in First Class and I bet you have a standard class ticket.’

‘Sure I do’, T was saying as the guard came by.

‘Hello again sir,’ she said. ‘And who are these fine creatures? Do they mind being petted?’

‘No, go ahead, they’ll take any amount of fuss.’ So for the rest of the ride, in between her duties of platform watching, whistle-blowing and flag-waving; ticket inspection and sales, the guard spent her time in First Class, chatting to T and stroking Alfie and Ajax.

Back home, T said, ‘Will told me how all the old ladies and teenage girls homed in on you two. A babe magnet, he said.’

‘It’s just a chihuahua thing,’ Ajax replied. ‘But you sitting in the wrong seat reminds me of something that happened.’ (to be continued)

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May 19: Inter-Galactic Discoveries: IV


Cliftonville by night … once upon a time


After the incident at the animal shelter, followed by an after dark foray into a rough part of Margate called Cliftonville where hope was discovered (in certain circumstances) to exist as a kind of moral chameleon driven before the winds of many different sorts of desires, ‘T’ reckoned that it might be a good idea to take a break. The Ossyrian mission had already uncovered a wealth of knowledge regarding the complexities of human behaviour, so much so that each newly discovered ‘fact’ seemed to raise a hundred more questions. That the species possessed what the Director, in his far away office in the diplomatic wing of the Inter-Galactic HDQ, had called vitality seemed, now, like a tame understatement. By Ossyrian standards the people of Earth, even when at rest, seemed…well…to somehow have solved the riddle of perpetual motion!

‘Let’s go up to London and see some of the sights,’ ‘T’ suggested and was met with immediate enthusiastic agreement by the pair of Chihuahuas. Hopping the fast train to St. Pancras Station, the trio happily watched the countryside roll by for an hour and a half before pulling into the busy North London transit hub. A sweaty tube ride several stops south brought them to the historic Westminster area of the city dominated by the great landmarks of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s and the Tower of London. ‘Hey, ‘T’,’ Alfie signalled, ‘can we check out Westminster Abbey? I want to see the place where the Prince and his good looking university sweetheart got married.’ ‘Sure, Alfie, no problem,’ ‘T’ replied, ‘if I’m not mistaken it’s just around that corner.’ But there was a problem; dogs, even cute, unobtrusive Chihuahuas, were not allowed into the historic place of worship. ‘I’m confused,’ an acutely disappointed Alfie grumbled, ‘Do they think that dogs don’t believe in God?’ ‘T’, as mystified as the canines, could think of no reply.

‘You know what, guys?’ Ajax’s irrepressible thought waves always brought a smile to ‘T’s homely face.  I’ve got a hankering to ride on the London Eye and get a bird’s eye view of the city.’ ‘Birds??!’ Alfie chimed in, ‘Where?’ He loved chasing birds on the beach back at Margate. But the Eye was also closed to any and all Chihuahuas. ‘Discrimination is just plain wrong, ‘T’,’ his strident thought was laden with hurt agitation. ‘I know, Alfie, I know,’ was all ‘T’ could think of to say. In the end the situation was, however, beautifully salvaged by a leisurely walk along the pavement on the south bank of the Thames followed by burgers and more chips purchased by ‘T’ at an upscale McDonald’s tucked away in one of the many mini-malls that had been converted from Victorian Era dockyards and warehouses, and eaten under a golden afternoon sun on a grass verge overlooking the silty river.

When the relaxed group of one bespectacled middle aged man and two frisky Chihuahuas arrived back in Margate, being late Spring, the sun was still fairly high in the sky. ‘How about one last walk – maybe up to that convenience store on the Canterbury Road where they sell those amazing sesame seed coated candies?’ ‘T’ beamed. ‘YES!!!!!!’ came the instantaneous reply as the Chihuahuas never seemed to tire of walks around town where the near-infinite number of different smells deposited by other dogs on pavement, post, and plant (well, actually, on just about anything and everything) kept them up to date on all of the fascinating happenings in canine society; not part of the study, strictly speaking, but deeply interesting nevertheless.

‘What the…?!!!’ Alfie’s shocked exclamation was followed by a snort as he spit some brownish-green down from his mouth. As was often the case, the wind was blowing briskly in Margate and what had briefly blown straight into the surprised Chihuahua’s open mouth was a living ball of brownish-green down peppered by almost-black spots; something like a rotund avian version of a leopard. The downy ball, crowned with a small beak and two beady eyes, was supported by stalk-like legs with enormous webbed feet. ‘T’ quickly scooped it up and, smiling, proclaimed, ‘It’s a baby seagull…and it must have fallen out of its nest!’

‘Can we put it back?’ Ajax asked, ‘I mean the pavement next to the busy Canterbury Road can’t be a very safe place for a baby seagull.’ ‘I don’t think so,’ ‘T’ beamed, ‘For one thing, we don’t know where its nest is…and if we did its mother probably wouldn’t accept it back.’ ‘But ‘T’,’ Alfie interrupted, ‘we have to do something. We can’t just leave it to die.’ ‘I have an idea,’ ‘T’ signalled enigmatically, ‘Follow me!!’

Five minutes later the trio, with ‘T’ tenderly cupping the contented baby seagull arrived at the train station parking lot where they hailed a taxi. ‘We’re headed to the pet store at Westwood Cross,’ he said to the driver and, with a lazy fart of exhaust, they were on their way. ‘T’ knew that the enormous pet and supply store at the sprawling mall also housed veterinarian offices and was confident that the kindly vets would care for the orphaned seagull chick. When the human, two Chihuahuas, and one baby gull arrived they were indeed advised that they could safely handover the bemused chick and that all would be well.

+   +   +

Three days after the incident involving the young gull Ajax noticed that ‘T’ looked a bit pale and had been much more taciturn than was usual. When questioned, ‘T’ heaved a huge sigh and tried to explain. ‘I phoned the vets this morning to see how our orphan bird was doing…and they informed me that it had been euthanized within minutes of being handed over.’ ‘Oh, no….’ Ajax’s thought trailed off. ‘But why?’ ‘No real reason, really,’ ‘T’s clipped response hinted at confusion and more than a little anger. ‘When I asked, all that they were able to say was that the clinic had been exceptionally busy that day and, besides, Margate had lots of gulls…’ Both dogs sat, trembling, on their haunches looking up at the Director in his human disguise. ‘Sometimes hope, though resilient, can also be a fragile thing,’ he sighed again, ‘because, by its very nature, it is as ethereal as a promise…and promises are sometimes broken.’

(to be continued)


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April 27th: Peace on Earth? II


All went well with the construction of the intergalactic space modules and the training of their crews. Then the question arose as to how the Ossyrians should appear, for naturally they had very long necks, short legs, a thick waist and huge doomed heads which would tend to generate ridicule probably followed by violence from the earthlings. They pondered long and hard on the best disguise to adopt and finally settled on the idea of appearing as dogs. They had noticed that dogs seem to have very positive and generally friendly relationships with the earthlings, being allowed to enter in all the special places beloved of their masters such as in front of the fires they had in the wintertime and on their beds. So all the crews choose to be different kinds of dogs and started training to eat dog food as served up on Planet earth.

Then they were off. It took nearly six months to arrive at their destination, a place called Canterbury in a country called Britain. They had spent the journey time learning Earth Speak. But this was very difficult because unlike the Ossyrians who only had one language the earthlings had dozens, which as the Ossyrians saw right away produced lots of friction and difficulties.

However, as they were in a part of the world where the language, ‘English’ was among the most familiar to the Ossyrians, they found they could understand at least some of what was said but there was another problem, accents. Some of the people who appeared to be speaking English which the Ossyrians had learned were totally impossible to comprehend because they had peculiar intonations. They looked different and the Ossyrian explorers discovered that they were refugees escaping from wars and revolutions in their own countries, or trying to get work in Britain. Many of the British seemed to resent or even fear them but some people had the same attitude as the Ossryians who never discriminated against any groups because it would obviously lead to friction, discord and violence which would damage the whole of society.

To get accepted by the British, the Ossyrian explorers had first to pose as strays and then hope to be adopted. Gradually this happened and within a month all tRip alfie xxxxhe Osssyrians had been accepted into homes where they were well treated and in many cases ‘spoiled rotten’. This did not please them because it interrupted their examination of the earthlings whose attitudes of mind as expressed by their behaviour seemed more and more difficult to understand now that they were living amongst them.

The earthlings were in some ways quite clever and had invented a lot of technically advanced devices such as ‘cars’ .boats’, ‘aeroplanes’,’ computers’ and more obviously useful things like ‘vacuum cleaners’. However, having invented something they never seemed to spend any time on evaluating its real worth and its probable effects on society as a whole before allowing it to be produced en masse. ‘Cars’ and indeed vehicles in general created huge problems, killing large numbers of people, placing huge demands on the health services, damaging the environment by pollution, preventing more efficient types of transport from being developed and causing economic upheavals when the price of oil changed. By contrast Ossyrians did not own individual transport machines and would not want to because public transport was very efficient and cheap.

Then there was food. The Ossyrians ate only six types of food and four types of drink. All of them scientifically assessed to give the greatest benefit to their bodies and minds. Their food was all produced under artificial conditions and there was plenty for everyone. Consequently they were generally very fit and active mentally and physically and this greatly reduced demands on the health and social services. Generally most Ossyrians died at the agy of about 120 anny.


Canterbury Cathedral, ESB.

The other thing which impressed and depressed the Ossyrians was the hypocrisy of most earthlings some of whom professed belief in a benign Goddy who required them to love one another and to be charitable to each other. However, this view was more honoured in the breach than the observance as most earthlings seemed to spend a considerable part of their time in denigrating other people which was regarded as a serious ‘sinny’ and totally unacceptable to Ossyrians because it would obviously lead to friction, possibly violence and unhappiness. So it could not be tolerated because it would destroy their wholequality of life  and undermine their well balanced, happy society.

The Ossyrian observers decide to return to their own planet as they had come to the conclusion that they would not be able to help the earthlings whose noble philosophy of life was so much at variance with their actual mores. In any case communication was too difficult because of all the different tongues and accents. However, the Assyrians did leave a letter in the porch of the Cathedral explaining all this to the people of Canterbury who had been kind to their ‘doggies’. But these visiting ‘doggies’ were looking forward to having some proper food again and living in an honest, non-hypocritical society.

Unfortunately no one could understand Ossyrian English, so this note was assumed to be Chinese and thrown away.

Alfie H and Ajax by NAIB; Alfie B by Jennifer Thompson

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Jerome, Who Brought the Scriptures to Ordinary People.

30th September     Saint Jerome


We owe Jerome great gratitude for his work to ensure a reliable text of the Bible but also for establishing the principle of translating the sacred texts from the original into the language of the people – in his case the Vulgate Latin that people actually spoke to each other. If ‘vernacular’ everyday language was good enough for men and women to understand each other, it was good enough for them to understand God; and to speak to him as well.

The precedent was set on the first Pentecost when the Apostles were understood by those who heard them, wherever they came from; then in early times Thomas went to India, preaching the Good News there, Phillip to Africa; Paul, Mark, Barnabas, Mary Magdalene – and Peter himself – dispersed across the Empire.

Jerome had a reputation as a quarrelsome man, but his talent for languages was put at God’s service and was his way to salvation. For that matter, so was his argumentative side, for he was ever ready to defend the faith in writing.

Later in life Jerome became a hermit, and he is often shown in a cave with a lion. The story is that this beast came to him with a thorn in its paw, and became a faithful companion after Jerome had tweezered it out.

www.wikiart.org commons.wikimedia.org

Lazzaro Bastiani – St Jerome in the Desert – WGA1486.jpg

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