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Monday, May 11, 2009

A LITTLE BIT OF ALAN BENNETT

HHnB and I recently had an email discussion about Alan Bennett, a wry, gentle author and playwright whom we both enjoy.

One (amongst many) of his bon mots comes in his play and film "The History Boys" and it puts into words something felt, but very hard to express. So perfect and sweet it is that I thought it worth sharing with those who may not know it. The teacher of English, Hector, says to a pupil:

"The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours."

Now isn't that just perfect and what would one give to be taught by such a man.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

"ONLY A DOG"

(click any picture to enlarge)


Sabre "found" us, aged two. A local German Shepherd Rescue Society directed me to him and he came untrained, ungroomed tangled coat and with the strength of a young horse. However, I have an affinity with dogs and with the help of a Halti lead and that splendid book, "The Dog Listener" he learnt that I, not he, was the Alpha Male.
Happy with this understanding he took his place in our "pack" and became a great softy who loved a romp with our 6 grandchildren - I have a happy memory of him vainly trying to shepherd them as they ran over a local field.
We caravan and he was a constant companion on all our holidays, making the load area of the estate car his own sleeping area. When we visited towns or country houses he was happy to be left guarding the car, loosely chained with the back door open.

With us he "triangulated" England. From Hadrian's Wall in the North,




where he became "mascot" to my fellow members of The Ermine Street Guard,



South-West to the Cornish coast


and, nearer to home in the South-East, walking the paths above the White Cliffs of Dover with my eldest grandson.

Reaching the age of twelve he was still happy to romp in the recent February snows.

Three days before our Australian holiday he showed signs of panic and distress - meandering around the house, pushing his head into tight corners and upsetting objects. He was due to be cared for by our son and I could not leave with him in this state, so the day before we flew I took him to the vet. She immediately diagnosed a brain tumour, to which elderly Shepherds are susceptible. Our eyes met and I knew there was only one decision to make.
A great English countryside writer is able to tell the rest far better than I:
"he died, swiftly and easily, with his head in my hands. Such is the price of love, which exacts nothing less than a part of ourselves, great or small, according as the occasion and our temperament decree. A dog is, of course, only a dog. His death is universal and not new. Two thousand years ago a Greek countryman suffered a similar bereavement, whereof the monument was discovered by archaeologists. "If," said the inscription, "you pass by this way, and happen to notice this stone, do not laugh, even though it is only a dog's grave. Tears fell for my sake, and the earth was heaped above me by a master's hand, who likewise carved these words."












Goodbye old friend.