At the End of the Day

Family Planning

It’s been a beautiful day here. I was invited for Sunday lunch to Alan and Pauline’s, and it must’ve been terrific because I came back here and slumped into the hammock. Out like a light for two hours, I awoke refreshed and took the washing out to hang it on the line beyond the far end of our house. I know you’re bored already, but stick with it: you’re only on the titles, OK? Like any good director, I’m just lulling you into a false sense of security: the real action starts soon enough.

Our smallest terrier Coco is in season at the moment. If you’re not a doggie person, this doesn’t mean she’s flowering and will then die back in the Autumn: it means she’s emitting Pheremones which, according to the text books, ‘can be detected by male dogs for miles, sending various signals’. In terms of canine behaviouralism, I’ve only ever discerned one signal myself, called ‘Yeeeeee-haarrrr’. Not only will the bitch wander off  territory if she smells a dog, every red-blooded, feckless father in the vicinity will be presenting his calling card.

The way you know your dog is in season involves only minimal awareness. While this would be way beyond the capabilities of, say, a Jeremy Hunt or your average Ed Balls, for real people the task involves noticing spots of blood everywhere on unimportant 200 year-old  family heirloom linen and freshly washed duvets. Once this stops, the by now distraught little puppy’s genitals swell to the sort of size suggesting she may have been pleasuring entire herds of elephant while you weren’t looking.

From here on, if you aren’t watching like a neurotic hawk 24/7, things can get tricky. Our summer retreat here in France is surrounded by working farms with lots of dogs. To make things worse, just across the chemin and over the hill – no more than 300 metres away – is the eclectic farm of my nearest neighbour, Monsieur Morgue. Yes, that really is his name. And yes, he really does breed gun-dogs. Thirty or more of them at any given time.

I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this, but there is no dog equivalent of books like The Joy of Sex. On the caninternet, there is no porn-spam asking frisky young Jack Russell if his todger might benefit from another inch or two. In Wufferland, the time between erection and ejaculation depends only on the distance between the dog and the bitch – and how fast the male can run. It is rarely longer than three seconds. In fact Ward’s Law states that, in hound terms, ‘The laxity of the chastity is inversely proportional to the proximity of the caninity, where the virginity is constant and the virility abundant’. Or put another way, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but new bitches catch on to old tricks at something close to the speed of light.

So it is that, for most of the last week, my poor ikkle Cocolakolino has been attached for much of the day to a very long length of sisal string, in the hope of keeping her away from a very short length of dog-lipstick thing.

(Intermission: I could try from now until Bill Clinton becomes loyal to explain why we dog-lovers keep on inventing affectionate name variations for our pack members. This – and the unbreakable habit of adopting a silly high-pitched whine when pronouncing such nicknames – is often used by anti-cananites as evidence of our madness…especially as you don’t find it anywhere other than in Anglo-Saxon culture. The reason for the whine is that dogs respond to frequency and tone, not exact content: sound for them covers a different spectrum to ours. As for the nicknames, yes – they are prima facie evidence that we are all as daft as a brush.)

Back at the plot, having tumbled out of the hammock I took pity on the mournful visage on the end of Coco’s makeshift megalead. Released from captivity, she gamboled about with pointless vivacity while I went to deal with the washing.

Anyway, there I am pegging teeshirts, knickers and oven gloves to the washing-line when our middle terrier Tiggy (Tiggywigglewinks) goes bark-ballistic….and is immediately followed by our eldest Foxie (Foxiedoodlepeeps). Still relatively new to this pack wind-up system, Coco starts barking too. The code for that kind of behaviour, by the way, goes like this:

“Others are barking so I’m barking WTF are we barking about I dunno but barking is good”.

To my horror, there at the furthest corner of the land was our other neighbours’ (the Dalteaus) Pyrenean sheepdog, creeping like some foul rapist onto our territory, sniffing determinedly as he did so. Our three plucky Norfolks (and they’re pretty small folks) were by now barking with the kind of spirit that has obviously been inspiring Britain’s Olympic athletes of late. The sheepdog’s sole response was to cock his leg, urinate at some length, and then lope in a languid – nay, insolent – manner to the other side of our boundary hedge.

Instantly notable at this point was Coco’s loss of interest in barking, and bum-jumpingly powerful fascination with Pyrenean dog wee-wee. Very few men of my age have legged it quite so quickly over a hundred metres as I did shortly afterwards. But even in the record-breaking time it took for me to cover the distance, Coco had shot towards the by now obsessively circling sheepdog.

I could of course present myself as the ultimately population-responsible pet owner re this one, but the truth is my 8.77 secs sprint was largely motivated by fear: with Mrs Slog the dog expert absent, the last thing I needed was an unwanted pregnancy on my watch. As every bloke will understand only too well, I would be cast into outer darkness until the end of Time as we know it.

Well, what can I say? I’m sure the sight of me zig-zagging unpredictably across recently-cropped wheat stalks (while waving a hastily acquired stick and screaming like a banshee) would’ve been very funny with a live audience. Suffice to say that my neighbours’ wannabe CSA* fugitive took the hint and ran away. But from this evening, it’s war. Notices will be appearing around our land: they will assert, ‘be alert at all times’, ‘careless talks costs lives’, and ‘put that light out’. Tiggy is our ARP sentinel in the pillbox, watching for the invader. Foxie is our veteran in charge of the Home Guard. We shall fight them in the hedges, and this shall be Our Finest Hour.

Do not mock. Imagine what havoc could be caused by a new breed, the Pyrenean Sheepworrying Norfolk Rogue-Terrier. Imagine poor Coco’s birth pangs. Imagine there’s no lipstick/It’s easy if you try.

* For non-Brit Sloggers, the CSA stood for Child Support Agency. It was a UK State-funded attempt by the John Major Government to undo Cool Britannia’s self-inflicted mess of single-parent misery. Throughout its mercifully brief life, for every £1.85 that got through to the children resulting from applying canine sexual mores to Homo sapiens, the CSA spend £1 on administration. During its truly unwanted childhood, CSA child-contribution arrears rose to just under £3.8bn – a staggering statistic.

22 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. “For non Brit sloggers, the CSA stood for Child Support Agency. It was a UK State-funded attempt by the John Major Government to undo Cool Britannia’s self-inflicted mess of single-parent misery. During its mercifully brief life, for every £1.85 that got through to the children resulting from applying canine sexual mores to Homo sapiens, the CSA spend £1 on administration. During its truly unwanted childhood, CAS child-contribution arrears rose to just under £3.8bn – a staggering statistic.”

    As one of those who worked for the CSA, the basic premise was sound, some father were paying as little as £0.05p per annum for their kids, with the remainder picked up by various state benefits…

    Lets not mention our ethnic friends with multilple wives/girlfriends/partners, etc, and their ‘supersize’ families all on benefits…

    What did for the CSA was an insanely complicated mathematical formula designed to be ‘Fair’ , a new and expensive (and malfunctioning computer system) and taking on ‘Private cases’ , involving company accounts, with staff who were newly trained, predictably it was a disaster..

    Despite JW’s strictures, no succeding government has had the balls to tackle the problem head on, despite the many cases of benefit fraud that were uncovered by the CSA.

    Yes it was not a perfect system, but JW as with so many others, does not mention, what should take it’s place.

    As it is so much easier to carp from a distance.

    For once Mrs T had it right, having children is not a lifestyle choice, and they have to be supported and looked after..

    To paraphrase the RSPCA ‘A child is for life, not just for christmas’

    “* For non-Brit Sloggers, the RSPCA, is the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals”..


  2. ABC, it stands for: Actions, Beliefs, Consequences. For the more technical amongst you it is exactly the same as W=IxV, where W = watts, I = the current and V = the voltage. You only need two to determine the third.
    Why is it so difficult for folks to grasp the fundamental ‘ABC’ of life, where altering either an ‘A’, or a ‘B’ effects ‘C’?
    Oh, I know, there is no consequence to anybody’s actions these days….silly me. Merkel’s up in the morning.


  3. I sometimes wonder if JW’s ‘dogs’ are not a metaphor for his three daughters at various stages of nubility, with all that entails for the concerned and caring father……….today’s post seems to head again in that direction.

    In which case, Lynn Atkinson’s recommendation may seem just a tad drastic.


  4. You’re right, Stuart. Rather like the Community Charge, the CSA was the right idea, abysmally implemented.

    * For non-Brit Sloggers, the Community Charge was a form of local property taxation based on the number of adults occupying a residence and where everyone was expected to make at least some small level of payment, regardless of their wealth – turned out to be somewhat unpopular with the larger family-type. Replaced by a crazy tax based on an imaginary value of the property in 1991 (still applying), which many succeed in not paying at all. That’s progress, apparently.


  5. Pity Coco’s suitors are not Dachsunds. There are few sights more guaranteed to raise a laugh than an aroused Dachsund male attempting to run upstairs to where the females are safely ensconced …

    I’ll get me coat ..


  6. I don’t have three daughters, I have two. And the absence of any sense of humour after an obviously humorous piece I find depressing.


  7. My neighbour inherited a dog. He said it was a Jack Russell. Judging by the height of him (dog not neighbour) I would have said his pa was a Great Dane. He was clearly a Jacked-up Russell…..


  8. “Imagine what havoc could be caused by a new breed, the Pyrenean Sheepworrying Norfolk Rogue-Terrier.”

    I’m having enough trouble imagining the event that gave rise to it.


  9. JW. I really appreciate your “Eurocrisis” writings and am always in stitches at your “end of the day” humour. Great stuff. I am still not sure how the former will turn out. I’ll be hiking a Camino for all of September in Spain and will completely ignore the internet for the full month. It will be interesting to see where things stand come October.


  10. Well from my perspective sitting here at 0430, it has been a cracking good read and brought a smile to the surface, not that easily accomplished when engaged on the morning doom and gloom search.

    Been there, done that, but hadn’t entirely realised ( though had suspected ) how ridiculous I must have seemed at the time. Dogs, you’ve just got to love ’em.


  11. The morning afte pill was designed for bitches.Seriously that was its function as a post coital drug to produce spontaneous abortions in female dogs,then human decided this was a good idea.


  12. Ha-Ha-Ha – that made me laugh John! I know only too well of what you write. God have I been there or what???!!!


  13. Some of us (who have never had an issue with supporting our children) found that the CSA was not quite as you (via the state propaganda machine) paint it. I was paying just over £400 per month MORE than I should have been paying – the 15% 20% 25% calculation is not that hard to do (?) (even after having a court settlement which involved me giving up the ownership of my house – bought before meeting the oppo concerned) which had over £100K profit in it (and more as time went on) – and ongoing payments – being ridden roughshod over by the CSA. It took many years and eventually 3 years of my MP on their backs to get the payment right. Not a single penny have I ever received back for the over payments (I was PAYE so no way of hiding anything) ! Oh – and the oppo prevented me seeing my child from the time we split up until she (daughter) contacted me at age 18 (we get on very well now) even after having court orders granting me ‘contact’ – very costly – which was ignored by the oppo ! (Long story and many court visits to no avail).

    The CSA was/is just a big hammer to hit men with, who were trying to stay in contact with their children – money taken with the force of state violence in return for nothing short of injustice.

    As far as I am concerned – anyone who had anything to do with this incidious organisation needs a morality infusion. Oh – and they are not completely dead and buried………… they keep on writing and phoning to telling me I owe ‘them’ £240 odd quid (I don’t) and I tell them to go fook themselves (take it out of what they owe me !) but they just don’t let go – the terrier link in this comment !


  14. I so know where you are coming from and enjoyed the read. We had 2 bitches, border collies, one of which was not interested in male dogs unless really right at the height, and the other which could not get enough of it! (She had pups after the first escape)

    I miss them now they are gone and for the first time in my life I have been without canine friends for over a year.


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