The Kray Twins.
Where on earth did it begin ? How on earth did I end up with such a love for Bassets ?
My family have always had dogs. We had Spaniels and black Labs all of which ( to varying degrees of success), were trained as gun dogs. In the case of Jenny (Spaniel) and Meg (black Lab) the success was at field trial champion level. They were both dogs of incredible intelligence and both lived to a ripe old age. I was brought up very much in touch with the country and worked on a farm part time during my last school years. Dogs were of course, loved in my family but were seen as working dogs who to a greater degree and were very independent and enjoyed their own company as much as human contact.
As a lad I lived in the North east of England ( no, not a 'Geordie,' I was a Wearsider also known as a "Maccum." I think this originated in the shipyards where an old saying was that Wearsiders " Maccum and Geordies Taccum," which I think was in reference to shipbuilding on the Tyne and the Wear rivers).
My parents had a long garden surrounded by other gardens one of which had relatively high hedges which meant you could not see into a number of the other gardens. I can only have been 11 or 12 when I recall one morning 'playing out in the garden.'
( If there are children of a similar age reading this blog I will explain this bizarre concept of "playing out in the garden" to you.) :~
Nintendos, Wii s, W-Boxes etc had not been invented. We did have a colour telly but it only had 4 channels, not nine hundred and seventy three and sixty seven sports channels that included footage of live snail racing in Mongolia. The youngest person in the house was the 'remote control' and the only red button was the on /off switch. ( " Kevin put BBc1 on," "Kevin turn the sound down," "Kevin adjust the colour" etc, etc). When you got up, if you were not at school you "went out in the garden." Or park, or footie pitch or in my case, often "down the woods." I never wore "high vis" jacket nor did I submit a risk assessment to me Mam and Dad. I did once tell Mam that I had borrowed her old washing line ( after the event) 'cos me and me mate Andy B were going abseiling down our local woods. We both survived to tell the tale and we both went onto even greater deeds of daring without the need for a safety net. What is it with those bloody "high vis" jackets these days ? EVERY bugger has one, even for the most inane and clearly NOT dangerous jobs. I recently saw a cleaner polishing store door handles wearing one. I was thinking of having my own High Vis jacket made up with the words "INNOCENT BYSTANDER" placed in luminous writing on the back. As usual I digress, so lets get back to the garden.
On this particular day I heard a booming "WOOF!" Followed by a gruesome "OW OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" which was I was convinced MUST be the Hound of the Baskervilles. Undeterred I replied a howl of my own:~
"Woof.......owoooooooooooooo" came the reply.
This went on for ten minutes or so. I convinced myself this MUST be some kind of MASSIVE Bloodhound, or Foxhound or something that could track a fugitive over 223 miles, then bite his arm off when it reached him. Either that or they had tamed a Wolf who was desperate to return to the wild. I had a fantastic tree in the corner of the garden that offered a panoramic view of all the gardens, this was made even more exciting by it's ability to sway in the wind. I used to convince myself it was the mast of a Royal Navy warship and I climbing to the Crows Nest. On this occasion I had to see the nature of this terrible 'beast' that was only being held back by the thick jungle foliage ( well okay, me Mam's neighbour's privet hedge). I imagined it drooling, probably toying with the skeleton of a wilder beast that it had torn limb from limb and gnawed to the bone. They probably threw it the odd whale bone to chew on, the whole garden must look like some prehistoric graveyard,scattered with bones and offal that rotted in the sun. I struggled to the top of the 'mast' and turned toward the beast. I was armed to the teeth ( Mil bro catapult with two rounds of ammunition (marbles) and penknife (complete with attachment that got Boy Scouts out of horses hooves). I was almost in Special Forces.
I winced straining to see into the wild pit. At first I saw the tip of the tail then it's back. "Oh its lying down." I thought.
It emerged into the centre of the 'pit.' There were no bones or carcases. There was an old football and a big stick and no it wasn't lying down . It was about six inches high. It had ears about nine feet long and his body was about 12 feet long. The 'beast' looked up at me and wagged his tail. Not side to side but round and round like a propeller.
He fetched his football and looked up at me in the forlorn hope that somehow I could reach him and play tug of war with his burst footie. "WOOF!" He was the funniest, daftest thing I had ever seen. I spent the next hour exchanging "WOOFS" with him encouraging him to howl. He was potty, he was the oddest looking bugger I had ever seen, but I had made my mind up that at some point in my life I WOULD have one. Somehow I could never see one retrieving a pheasant or sitting at heel so I knew that the chances of having a "Field Trial Champion Basset" were very slim ! I did however hold that thought and would continue to do so for some time............
In 2003 I met "Eugene" the Basset. He became MY basset. At that time I lived in Australia.......... To be continued.......