The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.


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Bibbity bobbity birdie boo

Last year, in lockdown, the Furlongs were entertained by Robins nesting in the garden.

I have been wondering where the birds have gone that used to visit our garden. But some nights ago, I woke with an aha thought. They’ve gone because the feeders have become exposed.

We repositioned the Tea houses ( wooden feeders) on top of a greased pole that Einstein, the clever rat, could not scale. We dug out the wretched ornimental grass that shed its leaves all over the garden, that was startled bird cover. And we completely annihilated the dreadful thorny evergreen plant that grew along the fence. The exposed wire fence is waiting for creepers to overwhelm it.

So, we have shot ourselves in the feet.

The problem of the naked, exposed feeders is being rectified. We’ve bought a new garden arch through which we have trailed the variegated ivy that was previously trailing on the ground. And on the other side of the arch is an old clematis that falls over the wall next to the garden stairs every year. It’s full of leaf buds.

And the creepers along the fence are budding too.

There are no Robins nesting around the back of the shed this year.

But

they are nesting in a shed that our upstairs tenant uses that runs down the side of this building.

I know they are because yesterday, as I walked into the ginnel that runs alongside our side wall, two Robins I recognised, Mum and Dad, were on the ground there.

We startled each other.

Boo!

And the Dad hopped up to me as he used to last year, and asked for food.

But I had nothing to give him.

Seeing how disappointing I was, they took off, but not before I got a flash of insight as to where their nest might be. Trouble is, I’m a shorty and I think this year, the nest is in a yellow bucket on a shelf in the shed, under the roof, too high up for me to look into.

Today I shall make an offering of our best dried worms.

And wait.

And see.


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Things that go bump in the night

The Furlong family have been having a discussion about Bunny, the Shepadoodle that is viral on TikTok. Bunny talks to her owner by pushing an array of specially designed buttons on the floor. Bunny asks questions, makes statement and comments that seem wondrously intelligent.

She/he has been taught all of it through conditioning over many months. That Bunny does all of it all by herself because she is thinking things through seems to me to be a cockadoodle story.

I want to tell you a better one.

I’m deaf. Severely deaf. At night, when I remove my wondrous hearing aids, I cannot hear a thing.

Bass, the dog, sleeps in his bed on the floor at the foot of my bed.

Bass is not a talker. He never barks at us. He only barks at every delivery guy that walks past the house from his seat on the bay window windowsill in our lounge, and every person who rings the doorbell. If Bass wants something from us, we get ‘the stare’.

The silent stare.

Well, its no good silently staring at someone fast asleep in bed

who is now deaf AND blind.

So, he has learned ALL BY HIMSELF, without any conditioning from me, to bump the bed leg with his body.

Bump

Bump

Bump

Oh! She’s up! And now the light is on. And now she’s paying attention!

I think that’s very, VERY clever, yes?

Thank goodness he seldom does it, but he has done it enough times now to know (scientifically) he understands exactly what he is doing.


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Truly rare

The Furlongs have owned many birds over the years. They were never caged, but lived free. Most of them were wild birds reared by hand. All of them have stories, but the one I thought about this morning was a Jackdaw I had.

I reared it. I knew nothing about Jackdaws having lived in the UK for only a few years by that time. I did not know how prized they were as caged pets, especially because they talk. I simply found a little fledgling fallen out of a nest, so I took it home and looked after it. Eventually, I discovered it was a Jackdaw.

It became my shadow.

Wherever I went he/she came too. Outdoors, he would take off and return to my shoulder. I knew, from experience, that one day he would go for ever as all my other wild birds had done when the desire to find a mate overcame them. It was to be expected and it was right. It always sadly pleased me.

At the time I had the Jackdaw, I injured my right wrist. It was bandaged for several weeks. On our walks, when the Jackdaw took off for a quickie flight, I would simply raise my right hand and he would swoop down and settle on it should I want him to come back.

As I write this, I think I might have told this story here before.

But anyway, if I entered a building, the Jackdaw simply waited outside calling for me, until I came out again, and would alight on my shoulder or upheld bandaged wrist.

One day I had to attend a meeting in a room upstairs in a building next to the church. The Jackdaw sat in a tree in the churchyard and made a right nuisance of himself at the level of the upstairs meeting room open window. I had to excuse myself. I needed to sort ‘the problem’ out.

In the churchyard was a group of tourists newly alighted from a tourist bus. I raced in, embarrassed by the whoohaa my bird was causing. I raised my right whitely bandaged hand, and the Jackdaw magically appeared from the tree and swooped down to greet me with great love and attention.

The tourist guide and the group looked at me with open astonished mouths. I could just hear them thinking about witches, witchcraft, ravens, and evil.

We had no garden in that residence, being in the very centre of town, but behind us there was a tiny courtyard off a ginnel used as a shortcut through to the street behind. If it was lovely and sunny, I used to pop the Jackdaw in a small cage where he would luxuriate in the warmth while I was busy inside.

One day, when I came to fetch him in, the cage and the Jackdaw had gone.

A local said “What did you expect? Everyone has envied you with such a precious thing, someone knicked it!”

I still feel sad that a free animal, must have ended its life as a caged creature.

But the most, most precious gift my Jackdaw gave me, was that I heard him sing. In his private moments, he sang! He sang in the most melodious, liquid, melifulous, glorious sounds one could ever imagine. Heavenly music. Jackdaws are songbirds. Hearing a Jackdaw sing is a profound, rare thing. Not many people will have heard it.

I have been blessed.


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Rich feeding grounds

Everyday Mr Furlong and I watch TV. There’s something tedious about the TV nowadays we’ve watched so much. Apart from the occasional interesting program, there are stories and dramas built on the template of woke. You can tick it off.

One frenetic strong female breaking the bonds of repression.

One struggling disabled person.

One black person breaking the bonds of repression, or trapped in them.

One trans person or gay person (any gender is fine) hurting from the situation or persecution thereof.

Quick guiltless copulation.

Divorce.

Violence.

Oh man, it gets boring after awhile.

So this is the deal. If you want to escape it all and be educated, informed, intriqued, inspired, excited, and escape the ‘formula’, visit YouTube. Into the search bar, type in DOCUMENTARIES ( no it doesn’t have to be capslock. caps is only to make the word stand out in this post).

But ‘DOCUMENTARIES’ isn’t enough. Type in ‘crime’ or ‘history’ or ‘engineering’ or ‘politics’ or ‘philosophy’ or ‘food’ or ‘pets’ or ‘nature’ or ‘cosmos’ or ‘spiritual’ or ‘celebrity ‘ or ‘gardens’ or ‘fashion’ or ‘culture’ or ‘education’ or, or, or. (Pick and choose)

Oh man!

You will be set free from the formula and enter the largest fishing grounds of knowledge in all of History.

Well, that’s the deal.


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Covid entertainment

Doing nothing much?

I’m not doing anything much either.

I have been entertaining myself watching THIS PLAYLIST. You might like it too if you enjoy educating yourself.

I have been learning. I have no idea the name of this lecturer but I think he is Dr. Aizaz. I like his voice, his diagrams, his “vibe” and I can actually follow the simple stuff.

Here are three of his videos I found most illuminating.

In order – March 2020, December 2020 and the last one was uploaded in January 2021

March 2020

December 2020

January 2021


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Conversation stopper

Oh, there was a question in the Primary school English exams that we dreaded and yet practiced regularly.

“Write a letter to your Aunt (friend/uncle/grandmother/grandfather etc etc) telling them about your recent holiday.”

Kids learned to write a letter and talk shit 🀐. edit (make conversation)

Nowadays, there is no art of conversation. Ive got it. And I see the art of conversation in plenty of other people, but its missing in some young people I hear. And texting is not making it better.

I should think fewer children in school have been taught to talk shit🀐. edit (make conversation). I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. The art of making conversation with another person, even if its pointless, seems to have morphed in smiley faces, hearts, and emoticons of all kinds.

Emoticons let you off the hook from talking shit.🀐 edit (make conversation)

Emoticons are nice. I like them. I use them a lot myself. They are quicker and better than any essay.

But for grandparents trying to extract a piece of information from a grandchild, sometimes the  “Dear Aunt Sally” method it better.

IMAGINATION ONLY YOU UNDERSTAND…….

Message. (On WhatsApp)

Well done Bradley!  I heard the news!  You passed! (Bells, lucky clover, clapping, smiley face etc)

Thanks

Now you have finished your exams, what are you thinking of doing? 

I dunno.

Are you having a gap year?

I might.

I see you got good marks for (history/geography/ math/whatever). That’s  great, yes?

Yes.

Where are you going now on your holiday?

I dunno.

Do you ever think of going overseas? Travel maybe? Visit another country?

No money.

How is Serena? (the girlfriend)

Ok

Are you still riding your buzzbike?

No

Why not? (explanation HAS to follow of more than one word)

It broke

Oh dear, sorry. (Sad face emoticon)

What happenned?

I crashed.

Oh no! (Crying face, shocked face, worried face)

Are you all right?

Yes.

So glad you are OK. Have you any news? (Big red question mark)

No, not really.

Well, keep in touch…..(big red pulsating heart)

Bye (Waving hand emoticon…..)

People can be terrifying, laborious and exhausting conversationalists if they never learned to talk shit. (edit)🀐 (make conversation sorry, )


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Sad story, happy ending

Our neighbour’s very old dog died. Well, worse, they had to have her put to sleep in their home. She was very old and developed dementia. Did you know dogs suffer from dementia?

Continuing…

Our neighbour looked gaunt with grief. I was really worried about her. Losing a pet can be traumatic for some people and our neighbour took it very badly. Also, when you actually get the vet to kill a creature you love, it’s even more dreadful.

Our neighbour was used to walking two dogs. Now, daily, she was walking out with only one. So she offered to walk our dog too. Everyday she went out with one creamy white pretty girl dog and one handsome black and tan boy dog. She began to look less devasted with grief as the days progressed.

Meanwhile…

In another town near here, someone unknown died in their home with their little dog mourning beside them. They remained undiscovered for quite some time. No one knows how long. It must have been a long time because the dog was in a frightful condition when it was finally rescued. It needed urgent loving care.

This little dog has come to live with our neighbour to nurse. They have adopted her.

They have called the little grieving dog ‘Maisie.’

Maisie was just quivering skin and bones when I first saw her. Maisie was a wreck, no question. But Maisie is filling out. Every day she is coming alive and beginning to look like a happy dog. She is an intriguing little thing. I like her. She’s going to be a ‘character’ dog. I suspect she’s got all sorts of genes in her. But she looks like a kind of small Jack Russell with long spindly legs.

Bass is good with all dogs. He just likes dogs. He likes everyone, humans too actually! So now he now goes out daily with two creamy white girl dogs dressed in little red jackets. They make a really good looking dog team for walking with. Now that Maisie has settled in, our neighbour even lets them off their leads in safe places. They all come back when called.

It’s wonderful what love can do.


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Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick

The internet tells me that “Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick” is an Australian saying. How it got into use by the Furlong family, I have no idea. The Furlongs only ever had a vague connection with Australia.

But we used it nevertheless. Any complaint by the kids and here it would come. “Well it’s better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick”

Kids seem to understand that quickly don’t you think?

Other sayings which mean the same thing are –

“It’s better than a slap in the face with a wet fish.”

Or

“It’s better than a kick up the arse with a frozen foot.”

Or

” It’s better than a slap on the belly with a wet lettuce.”

Or

“Its better than sleeping with a dead policeman.”

Wet fishes, frozen feet, lettuces and dead policemen were not part of our children’s life experiences, but poking was something warned about regularly. Poking is dangerous. Poking happens when you run around holding a sharp thing, or you run INTO your brother or sister holding a sharp thing, or you simply jab yourself with a sharp thing.

The idea that a burnt stick might leave a crumble of ash stuck in your eye after the event is clear too. All our kids got something in the eye at one time or another. So they knew how it felt.

Everyone nowadays seems to be complaining about something or other. Covid has brought out whiners and moaners. They are everywhere. If you said to them “it’s better than getting Covid”, they would still complain.

But

If you said “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick”, they might understand. Even a kid can understand that!

Just about everything is better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick – everything.


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Oh dear, it’s your birthday Mr Furlong

Sorry it’s your birthday today Mr Furlong.

I did send you a card.

At any other time, I might have been enthusiastic. Well, I once was. But I have taken intense dislike of birthdays. What the hell are we celebrating?

We aren’t going out.

If we have a special lucheon, you cook it.

I can’t sing “Happy birthday dear Mr President” like Marilyn Monroe.

And you already saw me in my red nightie that covers me from neck to ankles, when I met you in the passage wearing your navy blue pyjamas as we raced to be the first to the loo.

So sorry you are a year older. It means our life together got shorter too.

I want you to know that living here with you retired, in our little flat that we downsized big time to fit into, has been a pleasure for me every day. Every day is like a birthday.

Eeyore said “After all, what are birthdays? Here today and gone tomorrow.” 

I think he got it wrong.

He should have said “After all, what are birthdays? Here today and here tomorrow.” 

Everyday should be a new day, a birth day, a marker that we made it for yet another day.

Happy this day, and tomorrow day and everyday Mr Furlong.

May you have many, many more!