The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.


The green frog

I wrote a blog post about a green plastic frog that used to disappear and reappear randomly all around our garden. It was a mystery. Until Bass the dog came bounding into our lounge with the green plastic frog in his mouth. He became so so obsessed with the plastic frog we had to take it away and I hid it in the shed.

But the other day I found it again and I thought it’s been years since Bass was smitten with the green plastic frog, he will have forgotten. So I put it carefully in the garden positioned artistically under a bush.

Well, guess what? The green plastic frog has disappeared again.

It has disappeared so very well to be unfindable. I know because I have had two sets of small grandchildren searching for it everywhere.

I know who has taken it, but he isn’t telling anyone where he has put it this time.


Rescue dogs and dreams

One day, in Africa at the till in a big hardware shop, I saw a woman carrying a back pack. Suddenly a little white furry dog face popped up from it. I had never seen such a dog before and was it case of love at first sight. It was a West Highland White.

A few years later we came back to the UK. I saw my dream dog everywhere. We needed a dog. We went to the local dog shelter and by chance the vet there said he knew of a dog that needed a home because the owner was afflicted with Lupus. He had the dog at his home just looking after it and we could go and see it whenever we wanted. So we went.

Well, guess what, I thought my Angels were shining on me. It was a beautiful pure bred West Highland White! We called her Grace. But at two, she developed a genetic skin condition which never lifted and was incurable. I paid my debt to the lords of Karma by nursing her devotedly for seven years. Somehow because she was ill, I loved her even more. I could never find the breeder to point out that breeding genetically malformed dogs was a crime. But the Kennel Club constantly got my opinion. Not long after that, a new law was passed in the UK that every breeder has to chip their dogs so ill-breeding can be tracked. I hope I had something to do with that.

We had Gracie put down on my lap on her favourite couch in our lounge in December 2008. Oh the grief!

After two lonely years, we properly adopted another rescue dog, a standard Yorkshire Terrier. We loved him but he was not without fault. I never completely trusted him with small children; he had a fixation with water and would disappear down river or out to sea unless on a long harness and leash. And he fought every dog he sniffed noses with. Life was jumpy with Bobby. He constantly needed bathing and clipping. Bobby lived to an old age and died shockingly quickly from a massive internal bleed that just happened after chasing balls (his favourite occupation) down the passage in our flat here.

After a lonely while, we got another rescue dog that looks like a Lancaster Heeler but isn’t. Bass is the name his previous owner’s gave him. Bass is the dog we have now. He is the best dog we have ever had. Apart from jumping on visitor’s laps when they sit on ‘his’ couch in our lounge, he loves every living thing. He came from a divorce. God knows what happened in his previous home. He gets frightened at angry voices, women screaming on TV, us packing suitcases or retrieving things from cupboards and sudden loud slapping sounds.

This morning Mr Furlong who is doing some woodwork in his shed, came into the kitchen and slapped a wooden block on the kitchen table unaware that that slapping sound triggered panic in the dog.

I don’t think Bass was ever hit, but I think he witnessed some really nasty violence.

How lucky we are that we all live in a home where none of that stuff happens.


The new couple on the block

In our garden we have a section I call the ‘wild place’.

We don’t actually go there. Other creatures do.

‘Wild place’ has a thick cover of trees and bushes over a floor of fallen leaves, dropped branches, thick compost stuff.

Hedgehogs come to stay there sometimes. Well, no, actually they are just passing through. Our Hedge Mice live there in the bumblebee nest that I built some years ago.’Wild place’ has a wonderful forestry fragrance. It is where the Robins nested and brought up their family in 2020.

This year, it seems there are less birds here. We have those crows, jackdaws and rooks that terrorise our neighborhood.

But we do have a new couple on the block. Mr and Mrs Blackbird. I’m sure they have taken a condo in the ‘wild place’.

I watch them every morning from my window as I sit in bed in my ‘office’ here.

Blackbirds are ground feeders (evidently), but not ours. They hang and eat from the feeders like the Sparrows and Tits. I reckon they are the new generation of educated bird.

Mrs Blackbird is nuts. She is spending hours pecking about in a big blue pot prepared to take pansies soon. God knows what she is doing.

But I realised she was really weird when I saw her taking a good long water bath in the bird drinking water container, splashing water all over and getting herself really wet on a bitter cold day,

at six o’clock in the morning before the sun was up.

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The building the Furlongs’ live in was built in 1952. It is solid. It consists of four flats. Each flat has four large rooms, consisting of two bedrooms, a Lounge (here in the UK people call that a ‘living room’) and a kitchen and bathroom. Kitchen and bathroom would be the fourth large room. These flats are more spacious than the little bungalows around here. We are happy here.

It has a problem that really annoys me. You can’t hear in it. The whole building is soundproof because it has been properly built.

Mr Furlong will be at his computer in the kitchen catching up on World Affairs. I am in my bed aka “my office” catching up on World Affairs directly opposite the kitchen. He will call out “Did you see blah blah blah?”

I can’t hear. So one of us (usually him) has to get up and stand in the doorway to repeat what “blah blah blah” was all about.

I call out “Did you see blah blah blah?” and he can’t hear unless one of us is standing in the doorway. You can’t have spontaneous chatting from room to room.

Likewise, you cannot sit in the so called living room and expect anyone (anyone being Mr Furlong) to hear your request for a cup of coffee or your notification to them that the movie is starting.

In the six years we have lived here, we’ve had two or three massive shouting rows. It worried me that the neighbours heard. But on consideration, they probably didn’t.

This brings up the fact that should I need to scream ,”Help, Help” for some reason, it would be pretty useless. No-one would hear me.

I would have to go and stand in the street and yell. And the slowness of my sciatic walking, (hobbling actually), would mean that might take some time. Or maybe, better, I could stick my head out of a window and clang on a saucepan whilst screaming.

That might do it.

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Mini Smart phone

The Furlongs have a box of old phones dating back years. We keep on forgetting to take them in for recycling now that Covid restrictions are lifted.

The phones are there because they are mechanically outdated, have been dropped or the operating system is Android ancient. We are not Apple people.

Mr Furlong brought a new Android 11 phone because some apps he uses only work on Android 8 and higher. I also bought a new phone for fun. It’s the new TT Smart fone. It has a tiny brain in a tiny body, but it does EVERYTHING you need. I put in an SD card to cope with the tiny brain and learned to speak into it rather than type. I even wrote/spoke a blog post or two on it. I’ve had great fun.

Yesterday early morning everything went pear shaped. The little brain was chokkas and the phone had saved nothing to the SD even though I’d set it up. As a last gasp, it did back up to my Google Account.

Realising it’s limitations. I ordered a new phone.

I did a factory reset so that we could add it to the box of old phones.

By the late afternoon I thought I’d try a reinstall. It reinstalled perfectly. Except for WhatsApp which always seems to forget a few days – and once, whole months!

To my surprise a notification appeared asking me if I wanted to move files to my SD card. Of course I said yes.

And it did.

What a pest. I now have a phone working perfectly and a new unknown one arriving today.

I LOVE my tiny phone dispite it’s shortcomings of short battery life and mini screen. And now that it is actually saving to the SD card, we might have had a future! I have to face the fact that I shall have to be unfaithful.

Size matters.


Putin’s face

We watch University Challenge. God knows why because we never know the answers to any questions. But it’s nice to see clever people in action. I like the host. But some time ago, I became concerned about Jeremy Paxman’s face. I told Mr Furlong my medical diagnosis. Paxman had Parkinson’s.

And he has.

There is something seriously wrong with Putin’s face.

It is becoming mask like. So there are three ideas flaoting around on the internet.

He is botoxed.

He’s on heavy steroids. (after his cancer op last year)


He has Parkinson’s.

It might be all three?

In any event, he is facing his own mortality.

That makes people do very strange things….

Maybe Ukraine is on his bucket list.

Not only does his face look odd but his behaviour does too. If he is immunocompromised he is keeping himself safe from picking up other people’s bugs….

Discussion with Macron very recently on Ukraine. (Reuters)

Decay and death sometimes works in humanity’s favour.

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Seriously horrible

I wish to salute the millions of human beings who have undergone dreadful sufferings just in my lifetime……these are episodes that I have been aware of that affected others more than me as I proceeded in living my own life. I’m sure there are many more World Events unknown to me. Life is seriously horrible in bad times and places. Life for many is seriously horrible almost all of the time. Mankind is a terrifying species and also magnificent in it’s spirit to endure and survive.


World War Two

Nagasaki and Heroshima

Chinese Civil War

Berlin Blockade

The Partition of India

Scarlet Fever, Polio, TB , Dyptheria epidemics

Korean War

Suez Crisis

Vietnam War

Cold War

Asian Flu and Hong Kong flu

Cuban Crises

Kennedy assassination


Hutu/Tutsi Ruwanda genocide

Rhodesian War

Six Day War

Gulf War

Kosovan War

Nine Eleven

Iraq and Iran

War in Afghanistan

Gadaffi and the “Arab Spring”



The take over of Hong Kong


Putin’s War on Ukraine