I have been listening to the BBC “Beyond Today” six-part podcast: “The Deadliest Day”. The podcast is a series of recordings made by the survivors and the relatives of those who died, were physically wounded or otherwise suffered from 9 Platoon, 2nd Rifles that suffered the highest casualty rate on the day of the highest casualties inflicted on the British Army in Afghanistan since the Victorian period – July 10th 2009. The interviews are very frank, very enlightening and occasionally very distressing.
I believe that these experiences are common to many soldiers and their families in all the wars of history. The difference is that today the survivors – in all senses of the word – are prepared to talk about it, and that their resulting life problems are officially recognised. Not solved, but at least recognised.
Sparky says: “Today we did our usual quick walk with some Ball play, and I did a poo to please Him, so He was happy. Then I went to play with some other dogs at “Number 10” while He took My Car away. Later He came back with another Car, and I did not know who it was until He knocked the door of No.10. I knew it was someone at the door so I shouted to say “A Burglar is coming”, like I always do at home. Then I found it was Him and I was happy and We went Home and played Ball for ever so long in My Garden. Later we went for our usual walk, play Ball, have a Poo near the collect-a poo-bin (Good Dog Sparky), hook up outside the Shop, go Home thing. It was a normal boring day, except for the “play with other doggies” bit.
Just to advise any followers of this thread that following veterinary advice long walks are suspended.
I will try to find similar short walks, but they will be described from Sparky’s viewpoint and will be tagged as “Sparky Says”
Sparky has already started giving his views on our life over the last few days. If I could understand how to use the new WordPress editor I would link the posts, but so far the method has eluded me.
I will ask Sparky for help. Sparky’s a clever dog. Meanwhile you will have to search my recent posts.
“We’re home again now. We went to a reenackment (I think). A reenackment is where humans take carry-vans and other tiny houses and they all play together in a big field. It is exciting and scary and fun and boring.
He took my carry-van right to the end of the field and talked to the nice make-food ladies. Then He played with the carry-van and built a little house on the side of it. He put Sparky’s den in the little house and covered it with silver stuff. Rich Sparky!
More Humans came with their carry-vans, their dogs and their small Humans (I call them people-puppies). Then She (my other best Human) came too and we played Ball. There were lots of wopses and most of the Humans and some doggies got badly hurted. I wasn’t afraid because He is the Wopsfinder-General who kills wopses dead. But He got bitten by other nasty flying things instead and His legs went all spotty and fat.
Later, after the dark was switched on, some ‘Orses came on a lorry, but they had to get off the lorry and stand in a field of grass all night. Poor ‘Orses!
Next day all the Humans turned themselves into Soldiers. There are Good Soldiers and Bad Soldiers. The Good Soldiers ride the ‘Orses. Other Good Soldiers carry big sticks, but too big for even Sparky to fetch. Bad Soldiers have things like big doggy dinner cans that they hit with sticks, going bong, bong-a-bong bong, bong-a-bong bong – all day!
Sparky doesn’t like the bong-a-bongs, so he goes to his den or into the carry-van. Other Soldiers have sticks that go kerrrump!, then pop, pop, pop-pop. He laughs and says “Call that a vollee?” Sparky doesn’t laugh. But the Worst Soldiers have big toys on wheels that go fizzzzz-BOOOM!!!. Sparky needs to hide under the table for those.
For the first “battle” (even if it was a walkies away), Sparky hid in the Carry-Van. First I hid in the shower, but it was wet. So I hid in my bed, but then that was wet too. Then They came back so it was all right again. I had treats.
I found a new place to hide. It’s called “Damndogs-under-the-car”. It is safe. It is so safe that I shouted at Him to tell Him so when he tried to get me out. He said I could get burnted (Ouch-Sparky-Hot) if I did that sort of thing and if nobody knew. In the end I hid in my den until the noisybangs stopped.
Then everyone else went home and He went to bed in the carry-van. I looked after Him and in the morning we tidied all the toys and the little house away and took the carry-van home again. Then He had to take all His toys out again and put them in the where-we-live.”
Following the vet’s advice I am keeping Sparky’s country walks to a minimum.
I had to mail a parcel at the “local” “Post Office”. Our local Post Office has been closed because it was no longer profitable, so the nearest “local” facility is now around 20-25 minutes’ walk away. It is a convenience (i.e. 10% more expensive) store with limited postal facilities. On our return we tried a previously undiscovered path, avoiding the dangerous footpath referred to in an earlier post.
We took an early walk before the temperature got too excessive using the random card method. In the evening, around 8pm, when it began to cool down, we went to play ball locally and then home via the local shop.
With expected temperatures around 30°c today, we took a short walk before 8:am to play ball amongst the trees and return home through a local wooded footpath.
Although it is destined to get hotter here this week, this is the recent reading from the thermometer on the Shedquarters.
That is around 42°c, but if you enclose a mercury tube in a steel housing and fix it in the sun, that’s what you will get.
Possibly more accurate is the reading on my ‘phone app., which is
Still a tad warm for my next job – lawn mowing. I might need to divest myself of the jacket and maybe even the waistcoat if no ladies are present. I will of course retain the boater and naturally it would not be seemly to display my woollen undershirt, so the collar and tie must remain.
This morning I have spent an hour painting the windows of 1/300 model buildings. I only spent an hour on the job because I detest painting the windows of 1/300 model buildings. And the reason why I detest doing it is because I am no bloody good at it.
That’s why there is no accompanying photograph.
Apart from trying to fit the paintbrush within the framework without wobbling, trying to get a realistic look eludes me. Normally I use a metallic gun metal paint. Today I tried darkening with Coat d’Arms “Magic Metal”, but it’s still not right. I was sitting in the garden comparing my efforts with the windows of surrounding houses. They are a sort of reflective dark grey, lightening a little when the sun comes out.
What they are not – and I can never understand the use of this on models – is blue. I frequently see this and have bought professionally painted models with glaring blue models, so I am guessing it is a convention amongst painters.
The most outrageous example was on the timber temporary buildings used at the Waterloo 200th anniversary re-enactment, where full-sized windows were painted bright blue. Why?
But, until I can get it right, who am I to criticize?
No big doggy walk today folks. This morning was taken up with driving about trying to sort out a new key for the Memsahib’s car and taking refuse from the stable to the local council dump.
This afternoon we took Sparky back to the vet for a follow up on last week’s visit. His teeth extractions are healing OK. Looking at his leg X-rays it seems that he has calcified tendon growth around his rear left stifle joint. The vet recommended that he does not do too much jumping (so that’s the Nerf ball gun ruled out) and walks should be restricted to about half an hour at a time.
Well, that puts paid to my recent long walk programme as previously documented here. I will review the options and see what we can come up with.
It is a slight relief to me that Sparky should refrain from over-exertion in chasing and jumping for a ball, because every time I kick the thing I get a reciprocal kick from my 16 year old metal replacement hip joint that had an expected life of 10 years.
Today the dice directed us to Midgham, around four miles from home. It rained last night so I decided against the path through Midgham Marsh! Instead we walked the canal towpath from Midgham Lock (X on the map) to Woolhampton Lock (Y on the map).
As can be seen from the map, this is on the route of the old Roman London-Bath road and the later Great West Road, also known as “London Road” or “Bath Road”, depending in which end of town you happen to be. It’s also the route of the Kennet & Avon Canal (1810) and the Great Western Railway (1852). This area has seen some traffic in its day. About five miles north is the M4 motorway from London to the west and Wales.
We started the walk at the road bridge just east of Midgham lock. The road bridge over the canal here is new because the nearby rail bridge had to be extended in height to accommodate electric power lines, which came into operation this year. It has been a major task to replace almost every road bridge between London and Bristol.
The towpath here is on the south side of the canal. Horse-drawn pleasure barges still operate on the canal, but I believe not on this stretch. As we walked along the canal I was vividly reminded of the origin of the modern “steeplechase” in horse racing, which is a course involving jumping constructions resembling hedges, sometimes with ditches and water obstacles. The origin is from cross-country races between two village steeples. To my right, just visible between the trees, was the steeple of Brimpton Church (circled on the map)**
and to my left, clearly visible, Midgham Church, outlined with a square on the map.
Both churches are on the highest point in their local area. Continuing along the towpath we had to cross the canal by a manually operated swing-bridge, Cranwell Bridge.
The red sign to the left of the picture is a warning about crossing the railway, showing how close the transport links are. We continued on the north side past Heales Lock (I did not see the indicated aqueduct – allegedly the first thing the Romans did for us!) and then crossed back to the south side at Oxlease Bridge.
When we reached Woolhampton Lock there was a couple in the process of lowering their narrow boat, and in conversation they said they were not looking forward to having to halt traffic at the bridge about 100 yards further downstream. I have occasionally been caught here as a motorist, but it is not very frustrating, unless you then get held up at the railway crossing for up to four consecutive trains!
Our destination was in sight. A very friendly pub/restaurant. It appears that we missed a performance yesterday evening in the pub garden by a small theatre group that travels the canals in a narrow boat over the summer, performing at canal-side pubs for voluntary donations. They are returning to the Rowbarge on 23rd July so, weather permitting, we may catch the return performance.
Before entering the bar for refreshment I spotted this sign with the history of the canal.
After a refreshing locally-brewed rhubarb drink for me and a pint of water for Sparky we returned the way we had come. The whole walk took about an hour and three-quarters. Once again it was an exploration for us both.
** incidentally, until two years ago the land in the foreground of this picture was a gravel pit, now sympathetically restored to grassland and cut for silage this year.