Posted on December 31, 2008 in Hounds, The Home Front by Jay43 Comments »


It is with enormous sadness that I must tell you that a light has gone out of our lives.   Our beautiful Princess is no more.

She was put to sleep this afternoon when an MRI scan revealed an inoperable tumour in her neck, which had infiltrated the bone of her spine, compressing the nerve, and causing her tremendous pain.  I was so hoping that it was just the disc injury we had been treating her for, but it was not to be.  Yesterday she went downhill rapidly, screaming at the slightest movement, and an emergency appointment was requested for a neurological consultation at Davies veterinary specialists.  By the time we got there, the only thing which would control her pain was methadone.

The Princess raced under the name of Lovely Irene, and was known to her friends and family as Renie.  She had an impressive pedigree, but she embraced retirement without a backward glance.  When we took her over the fields off lead, she didn’t run much, preferring always to walk at heel, close to one of us – or better yet, between us.  She was the sweetest, gentlest, most affectionate dog I’ve known, utterly bombproof with people, though not averse to putting strange dogs in their place if they got too close to her Pirate.

As you know, she was a much-loved PAT Therapy dog, and I now have the task of ringing her clients to give them the bad news, and notifying the charity itself that she is no longer with us.   Not a task I look forward to, because my eyes are already raw from weeping, but it must be done.

My poor, poor Princess Renie.  She simply did not deserve to die like this.  Born on the thirteenth of December in Ireland in 1998, she left us on the 30th December this year, at only ten years old.

Goodbye, Princess. You lit up our lives – and the lives of many disabled people.  You were our floozy, our ‘people dog’, our lazy, soft, loving and lovable darling.

We really miss you, sweetheart.

Posted on December 28, 2008 in Johnny Depp, Oddities, The Home Front by Jay16 Comments »


Every year, our friends and relatives are kind and generous enough to shower us with gifts of various kinds for Christmas.  As a family, we have a kind of ‘spread your cash around’ policy, which means that we can get up to a dozen packages from one person – the philosophy being that it’s fun opening packages, and the more the merrier, even if it means one might contain – just for example – a vintage plastic cocktail stirrer worth about 40p, or a homemade bookmark.

So, you can see that the title of Most Bizarre Gift might be hotly contested in this house.

But each year, a box arrives from Maryland which we know will raise the bar another notch.  A box from my good friend Jeannine.  And this year was no exception.

Jeannine’s boxes are always a lot of fun to open, and we tend to save them till last, when everyone else’s gifts are lying in a sea of torn paper and we can all enjoy the experience to the full.

There were many amusing and interesting things in the box this year, including a bright green and fluffy moray eel, which The Pirate duly killed – and very efficiently too, but not until it had managed to smack him in the ear.  I’m not sure quite what kind of noise it was supposed to make, but … well … it doesn’t do it anymore.  Smacking pirates in the ear really pisses them off, you know.

There were some ‘real’ gifts too, of course.  There was a lovely ceramic Sarah Snavely pendant for me, and for OH, a gorgeous silver swordfish – and a beautiful cheeseboard, also some unique and interesting odds and ends, like the pirate design fabric stemware coasters, and the Colts and Raiders travel tissue holders.

But even taking into account gifts from everyone, including the undead skeleton finger puppets, the magnetic ‘make a pirate scene’ game for ages three and up, and the temporary pirate tattoos*, the scary nutcracker Jack Sparrow, and the book about being eaten by sharks, I think this takes the biscuit.

So thanks, Jeannine, for helping to make Christmas a lot of fun this year.  We love you!



*Yes, I will be using them.  Wanna make something of it?

Posted on December 25, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything, The Home Front by Jay19 Comments »


Over the years, I have been known as a wrapper of neat and pretty gifts.  I buy paper which I think the recipient will like, and I find nice ribbons and labels and take care with the seams and folds and only ever use clear tape so as not to detract from the effect. I take pride in it.

So this year’s crop has to be the worst-wrapped set of gifts I’ve produced since I was around six.  There are gaps.  There are torn-and-stuck-together bits.  The paper is unearthed from the spare room, dusted off, and used, along with a very strange set of labels and an assortment of left-over Christmas tape from when the kids were small and such things were considered exciting.

My packages are just awful.  But, which one is worst?

Is it the small and crumpled one with the loosely stapled-together ribbon?  Is it the  flat one, gaping along the seams, or maybe the pretty, but slightly used-looking effort in tasteful gold with the Santa and robin tape?

Or could it be this one?

Note the nibbled appearance along the bottom edge (which is, in fact, a hole), the pathetic effort to decorate the vast area of black plastic with the left-over Christmas cards from ten years ago, and the completely inadequate ribbon.

Ah, well.  It’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

Or as we say in our house this year – between turning the air blue over our various aches and pains – ‘fuck it’.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Depp Effect.

Why worry about the details?    We will have good food, cooked by my two lovely boys, we will have good company, and no doubt we will have silly games.   Badly wrapped parcels can’t spoil our day.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Posted on December 20, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything, The Home Front by Jay30 Comments »


You know how it is.  When someone has sliced you open and stitched you back together again, and you wake up hoping that the morphine shot is yet to come (it was), you can’t imagine a time when you won’t be in considerable pain.

I’m here to tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Up there, you will see a couple of the sheets of paper I was using to keep track of my various painkillers.  When you have three different kinds, all to be taken at different intervals, and two of them are opiates, you’ll find you can’t rely on memory.  Oddly enough, memory, along with concentration and coherence, take a holiday – and you may find you get a brief visit from Mr Hallucination.

Anyway – the lilac sheet on the left charts my drug use on the first few days after surgery.  The columns run from right to left for some reason, best known to my doped up self, and possibly the pharmacists among you.

The sheet on the right is from Thursday and Friday of this week.  See the difference? Remarkable, isn’t it?

OK. it’s not me that’s improved, not as such, just the dependence on pharmaceuticals and the slow advance of the healing process.

You see, on another level, I’ve deteriorated.  No iGallop, no treadmill, and precious little dog-walking, combined with comfort eating and falling asleep at the drop of a hat has meant that the pounds are piling on.

Oh, well.  I guess that’s taken care of my New Year’s resolution, huh?