Monday, 31 December 2007

Lie Back And Think Of Vesuvius

Remember this?

The two-legged dogs' attempt to turn their bathroom from a sanitary relic of the Middle Ages into something which left you vaguely cleaner after you left than before you went in?

Yet again, they've outdone themselves.

Now when I pad into the bathroom for a spot of wallowing in the beauty suds and a brisk bit of bikini-line waxing, this is what confronts me:

Something out of Pompeii circa 78AD.

I'm currently hunting e-Bay for a toga fit for a boofhead.

I've circled the Ides of March on the calendar.*

The only good news is that Castigleonfia Firuntinaro - or whatever this village is called - is relatively volcano-free.

In fact, the closest thing to Vesuvius around here is any peto of mine.


* Yeah yeah, history pedants. The original Ides of March fell about 134 years before Vesuvius blew its proverbial cork. Even boofheads are allowed dramatic licence.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Small But Perfectly Formed

Notwithstanding the crushing disappointment that was Christmas - vis-à-vis the absence of the boxed-set Lassie DVDs (see post immediately below) - I did make a fascinating discovery over the Yule season.

I have no idea what Yule means. I imagine it's a misspelling of you'll. As in, "If you're expecting the boxed-set Lassie DVDs, you'll be bitterly disappointed".

Be that as it may, I came in contact with a couple of Small But Perfectly Formed creatures.

They belonged to two very nice Australian two-legged dogs - Cathy and Chris - who were renting the same cottage in which we stayed when we first came to this place with the unpronounceable name. They were here for three months. They left today.

I can only guess that these Small But Perfectly Formed creatures are puppy versions of two-legged dogs:

That's one. Called Bella.

Here's another, smaller one:

That's Olivia.

And that's me hiding under the table.

These Small But Perfectly Formed creatures are welcome back here any time they like. Because I like their priorities in life -

Making a fuss of me!


Bah Humbug!

I have very few heroes.

Savonarola, the Mad Monk who ruled Florence in the late 15th century, is one. A cove after my own flinty heart. What he didn't know about making people's lives miserable could be written on the head of a match. A match used to light a bonfire under such fripperies as fun. And pleasure.

That he himself finished up having a bonfire lit under him himself is an irony that has always escaped me.

Scrooge is my other hero. At least until C. Dickens copped out and turned him into a namby-pamby, do-good wally. Damn wimpy writers catering to their audiences!

You'll never catch this boofheaded scribe catering to anyone bar himself.

Take Christmas.

Please! Take it away!

This is what the two-legged dogs made of Christmas:

Savonarola would've had a 15th century bonfire under that little lot quicksmart.

Scrooge would've been apoplectic. Until he turned into a milk-sop.

And noi? Which is to say, in inglese, us? Barbra and me? What did we find for ourselves under the tree amidst the SatNav devices, boxed-set Pirates of the Caribbean DVDs, books, et al?

Two each of the above.

Not two packets. Two Schmackos. Each. Gift-wrapped.

Same as last year.

And the year before.

The same - not to put too fine a point on it - as every dang year since I joined this circus they call a family.

Now I'm a boofhead with principles. Never let it be said that I'd compromise my passionate beliefs for a mere piece of frippery.

But I'm here to tell you - I'd call Savonarola for the 15th century fruit loop that he was, and Scrooge for the shining example of the possibilities of human redemption that he was -

- for a boxed-set of Lassie DVDs!

Barbra, of course, would roll over for a second-hand VHS copy of Yentl.

















Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Is There No End To The Madness?

You're not voted Best Groomed Boofhead at the local parco without effort.

It takes time. It takes care.

It takes a bathroom.

Yesterday I padded into the bathroom for a relaxing wallow in the beauty suds followed by a spot of eyelash tweaking and nose-hair extraction.

What did I find?

The two-legged dogs had destroyed the place!

They've gone mad. First it was painting, now they're ripping the place apart.

This place is rapidly going to the, um, dogs!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Boofheads And Painters Don't Mix

The two-legged dogs can't leave well enough alone. Now they've decided to get the place painted.

End result?

My ordered world reduced to chaos.

Worst of all, my beloved snoozing spot has been taken from me:

Where, once, this was the order of the day:

I'm now reduced to this:

And to think that my mother and uncle were both Dulux dogs, used in advertisements to flog Dulux paint in Australia.

They're out of my will.




Thursday, 22 November 2007

1001 Uses For A Hamster

1. Use him to dust your venetian blinds:

2. And when you're bored with a hamster, turn him into a rabbit:

3. And when you feel like a bacon sandwich, turn him into a little porker:

4. And when you're in need of cheering up, turn him into Groucho Marx:

Send one brisket bone and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to yours truly for the other 997 uses.
Hamsters: The Versatile Pets

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Nella Cucina con Dermott

Yeah yeah, it's cold outside again, the heater's on inside again, the computer's free again, and this, sorry to say, is becoming a habit.

Food. Love it. Couldn't live without it. And I don't mean that in the obvious biological way. The Italians have an expression: "mangerebbe sporco". "He'd eat dirt".

That's me. I make Homer Simpson look like a picky vegan.

Except! Here I am in Italy - a country in which food is one of the great priorities - and this is what the two-legged dogs serve up to me:

While they stuff their gobs with things like this:

I'm told that's Bucatini con spinaci, pomodori, aglio, peperoncino e rosmarino.

Big fizz. It never finds its way into my oversized gob.

Or they grow these things in the backyard:

And turn them into this:

I'm told that's Insalata Caprese.

Big big fizz! I'm force-fed rock-hard pellets of dry, flavourless gunge supposedly choc-a-bloc with chicken, beef and vegetables. The truck delivering the bags of gunge to the supermarket might have run over a chicken, bounced off a bullock and ploughed through a paddock of vegetables, but that's the extent of it.

So, I'm here to tell you, I finally made a stand.

I empowered myself.

This boofheaded Old English Sheepdog stamped all four oversized paws and spat the culinary dummy.

Henceforth and hereafter, I announced, in Dogspeak with subtitles, "I'm cooking for myself".

Barbra, ever supportive, Ms Positive, sneered. "You can't even boil water".

Mmmm. She was right.

So I slipped out and bought a copy of a little-known paperback called Cooking for Dummy Old English Sheepdogs.

A couple of days and a singed beard later, I'd mastered the boiling of water.

Barbra slunk away.


Anyways, here and now, exclusively, for all you frustrated cooks who keep telling yourselves you can't even boil water, I give you the drill:

1. Put water into a pot. Took me a while to get this bit right, so don't be discouraged.

2. Find a source of heat. This stumped me for a while too. I say again, don't be discouraged.

3. Put the pot on top of the heat source.

From this point, physics takes over. Unless, of course, the gas goes out and you don't notice. In which case, you're in for a slow death. Or a quick one if you light up a smoke.

So there you have it, fellow wannabe cooks. Dermott's Culinary Masterclass #1. If a boofy Old English Sheepdog can do it, so can you.

Oh, and I also learned something else along the way to boiling water. You know what? A cliche can also be a truism:

A watched pot never boils.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

When in Castieleforintosomething, do as the Castieleforintosomethings do

By which I mean speak the language. It's called Italian.

Phenomenally intelligent boofhead that I am, I mastered the lingo in a trice. I have an ear for language. Here's one of them:


Even if I still can't get my big pink tongue around the name of this village. But I'm working on it.

Barbra? Well, let's get scientific for a moment. As well as an ear for language, I also have a nose for science. Here it is:


But back to Barbra and science. It's a known scientific fact that atmospheric pressure will crush an empty vessel. Which is to say, a vessel containing nothing. Nix. A vacuum.

Why then hasn't atmospheric pressure crushed Barbra's brain box before this?

Per esempio, she thought she'd tackle learning Italian. She started with all the best intentions.

Two seconds later:


Firmly ensconced in the Land of Nod.

I'm fast losing faith in science.

Monday, 29 October 2007

How To Win Friends and give Influenza to People

Yeah yeah. Back again. It's cold outside, it's raining, the heating's on inside, and the computer's available. This had better not become a habit.

So what does a boofy Old English Sheepdog get up to in Castinforintinosomething or whatever this village is called? For starters, he has a look around:

Note the vertically-challenged Barbra having a close-up squiz at a cold, hard lump of stone. She seeks out these kindred spirits.

While she communes with a fellow traveller, I, from my lofty heights, muse on distant horizons:

Is that Arezzo in the far, far distance, I asked myself, on the horizon, in the saddle in the hills, about a third of the way across from the left in this snap I took with my trusty Kodak Bow Brownie?

There was only one way to find out. Ask the locals:


"Si, certo, Dermott!", said the locals. It was, indeed, Arezzo.

So that's how to win friends in a foreign country in a village with an unpronounceable name. Show an interest in the place.

While Barbra's contribution to international relations is to catch 'flu and give it to the locals. Hasn't she heard of a warm pair of wellies?


Obviously not.



And she wonders why she's friendless in Castinetforitenosomething.





Saturday, 27 October 2007

Victim of Anthropomorphism (II)

Yeah yeah. Back again so soon. Only I don't really consider this being back again on the basis that it's a Part II.

See this pile of my drivel for the preamble to what's to follow. I couldn't be stuffed typing it all again. Besides, I'm running short of pencils.

Back again? Goodoh. My second tag came from a two-legged dog not unfamiliar to me on the basis that, from time to time, she has been known to tickle my tummy and even, sometimes, on the odd occasion, clean up after I throw up.

This time, apparently, I'm supposed to reveal seven things no-one knows about me. Only seven?

1. I dribble. As distinct from drivel, a noun, though I'm on nodding terms with that, too. See above.

2. I'm nutless. I'm banding together with countless other equally abused dogs to mount a class action.

3. I've been known on the odd occasion from time to time fare un peto. I blame diet.

4. I would eat a horse and chase the rider for pudding.

5. I'm the world's greatest chicken-hearted coward with a yellow streak the width of Italy.

6. I'm fluent in Italian.

7. I share an abode with Barbra Streisand.

One or another of the above might be something approaching what could loosely be called a fib.

Victim of Anthropomorphism (I)

Yeah yeah. Back so soon. This isn't going to become a habit, trust me. I've got heaps better things to do than sit in front of a computer. Like eat. Sleep. Eat again. Sleep again. With the occasional peto to keep people on their toes. I'm currently practising the Italian national anthem.

Anyways, one of the downsides of doghood is anthropomorphism. Human beings not only treat you like one of them, they ascribe human characteristics. One of the upsides of doghood is that you can humor the poor saps, feigning human characteristics, watching their human faces light up in delight when they think they've made personal contact. Per esempio:

Two-legged dog: Well, Dermott, what d'you reckon about the US sub-prime mortgage imbroglio?

Me: I reckon it only underlines the utter frailty of the capitalist system vis a vis its dependence on intangibles like confidence.

The two-legged dog walks away chuffed that their pet makes Einstein look like a hairy goose who stuck his finger in a power outlet.

And I snigger up my hairy sleeve. Gotcha again, bub.

All of which brings me to the fact that I've been tagged. Tagging is, apparently, an internet blog thing. So I read online. I wouldn't really know. I'm a dog, after all.

My first tag came from Judith. Judith's a terrific person, grande cuoca, friend of the two-legged dogs. And mine. She even reads my inane utterances to be found littering this site.

Overlooking the fact that I'm just a dog, she wants me to list my five strengths as a writer.

Mmmm.

1. I have paws the size of elephants' feet. Without assistance, when I try to type - per esempio, the letter A - I get this on the screen: 2t7213uot. Two-legged dogs should try picking out the letter A on their keyboard with a clenched fist.

See what I mean?

Thus, ingenuity became my first strength as a writer. With a pencil clenched between my over-sized teeth, I learned to pick out the keys I needed. First downside - it takes me eight weeks to type a sentence. Second downside - I've developed an addiction to both pencil lead and the timber around it. I'm up to two packs of pencils a day. I'm looking into the availability of pencil lead and timber patches.

2. I suppose imagination is a strength. A very old, very experienced writer once told one of my two-legged dogs that the key to writing is to take the lid off your imagination. Sometimes I imagine Barbra as a medium-rare burger.

3. I'm a perfectionist. I can go through an extra pack of pencils getting a phrase exactly right - if not absolutely perfectly grammatically right, right in the context of the flow and rhythm, and, even more importantly, right in the choice of the appropriate word for its colour and tone. That's a lot of rights. More rights than a Formula One circuit. I'd call myself anal retentive but the peti belie that.

4. As per the immediately above, I hate prosaic. Barbra brings new meaning to prosaic.

5. Fun. I like to have fun. I like fun. The world is a sh*thouse place with not enough fun in it.

Excuse me while I open another pack of pencils.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Home Is Where The Fart Is

Yeah yeah. Tacky. Cheap pun. But now it's out in the open. So to speak. My middle name is Windy. I've been known to break seismometers with my own version of WMDs. In fact, if I'd lived in Iraq, I'd have been reason enough to invade the dang place.

So how in the name of brisket bones is this relevant? Because I'm in the mood for reflection. Speaking of which, Barbra's always in the mood for reflection. Her own. In the nearest mirror.

How many homes have I had in my medium-sized life? One. With the two-legged dogs. First, in Sydney. Now, in Italy. Two locations, one home.

Enough reflection. My boofy head hurts.

Anyways, back to the saga. It was after midnight when Barbra and I were delivered to our two-legged dogs in the wee Tuscan town with the curious name of Castiglion Fiorentino. I still can't get my big pink tongue around the name and if I can't get my big pink tongue around something there's something rotten in the state of Danimarca:

A nice guy called Joe drove us the six hours from Milan down to the big pink tongue-twisting placed called Casteloneiefeerentennnesomething. He didn't speak Dog, we didn't speak Italian. It was a quiet six hours. But Joe was nice. He bought himself some dinner on the way and shared it with us in the back of the van. On the basis that food is the number one priority in my life - nay, the only priority - I immediately knew I was going to like this place.

Barbra, for whom food isn't a great priority, mistook it for a marriage proposal.

Next morning, we made our debuts in Castileenafarineesomething:


Jet-lagged? Believe it. Idiotic bullet-head haircut? Better believe it. The cloth-eared bint in the grooming place in Sydney where we had our pre-travel wash and polish had never groomed an Old English before. She's got a great career ahead of her in some other job.

So what's the ultimate fundamental difference between Sydney and Castilleforinteensomething?

Here, my WMDs are called peti.

Ooops. Peeeeeeeeew. Head for the hills.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Bury My Broken Heart at Milan Airport

Yeah yeah, so it's been a while.

Enough of the apologies.

Where was I? On my way to Milan in the belly of a Jumbo. Stuck in a crate, with only Barbra Streisand for company. In her cat travelling box. Did I mention that they stuck her in a cat travelling box? If not, they stuck her in a cat travelling box. Pointing and sniggering at her sure passed the 26-odd hours.

Ah, Milan. What plans I had, what plans. I don't know about Barbra. I never know about Barbra.

Y'see, as is plainly obvious from the photos that decorate these pages, I'm a fashion fiend. I was voted Best Dressed Boofhead At The Local Park three years in a row.

What I didn't know about fashion you could write on the pinhead that is Barbra.

What was I going to do? I was going to schmooze. With guys like ...

... him.

Whatever his name is.

It'll come to me.

I was going to hit the fashion shows. I was going to lounge in the front row with a glass of bubbly. I was going to pick out something for Barbra. Something in which she could make her Italian debut.

Something in keeping.

On the basis that she's famous for doing her best work on her back, I was thinking along the lines of "Chic Cheap Hooker":

I could see her covering my bills for brisket bones in something like that, couldn't you?

Was I set to go? Was I ever. They unloaded us from the plane. They wheeled us into customs.

Which was where we stayed! For twelve hours!

The vet at Milan airport decided that my travelling crate wasn't big enough. We had a six-hour drive from Milan down to our two-legged dogs waiting for us in Castiglion Fiorentino. And no way on earth was that Italian vet going to let me travel in my crate. The crate in which I'd already travelled for 26 hours.

So we waited. Me in my too-small crate, Barbra in her cat travelling box. While someone hand-built a new, bigger crate for me.

The fashion shows? Pffft. Schmoozing with ... whatever his name is ... pffft.

A money-spinning frock for Barbra? Pffft.

Twelve hours later, we were loaded into a van.

Six hours later, we were dumped in the laps of our two-legged dogs.

Whatever their names are.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Sick in Transit Gloria

That, above, is one for the Latin freaks. You all know who you are. In your togas, mumbling about the Ides of March.

Twenty six hours in a crate in the bowels of a Thai Airlines Jumbo. I've spent better twenty-six hour slabs of my life.

So has Barbra.

So traumatised was she that she burst into a Gloria Estafan medley.

I threw up.

And there was my Kodak Box Brownie.

Next stop:


Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Fear and Loathing in the Bowels of a Thai Airlines Jumbo

Yeah yeah, I can do Hunter S. Thompson. I can outdo Hunter S. Thompson. Without chemical aids. Unless you call a brisket bone a chemical aid. I don't. I call a brisket bone breakfast. And any other meal you care to name.

So where was I? The two-legged dogs dumped io and Barbra - there's a bit of Italian for you; even though I'm not there yet (blogwise, so to speak), the two-legged dogs in the house had been prattling to me in Italian and I'm not as stupidotto as I look (there I go again) - in our usual boarding kennel.

Suck on that last paragraph, Hunter S.

Anyway, there we were at the kennel. For, we assumed, the usual couple of days.

Nuh. The usual couple of days stretched to a week.

One week later, it was two weeks.

M-hm.

Then, one day, sure enough, the kennel girls came for us with our leashes. Here we go, we thought. The two-legged dogs have indulged themselves long enough, they've had a twinge of guilt over leaving us locked up at Doggy San Quentin. We're going home.

We thought.

Nuh. We were loaded into the back of a strange van.

You should have seen the look on Barbra's face. Luckily, I had my Kodak Box Brownie with me:

Pity I didn't realise I had my oversized paw over the lens.

Be that as it may, the van took us to - of all places - the Sydney Veterinary Hospital. What the - ?

There, a vet poked and prodded us, wrote down a lot of stuff, and sent us to bed. Bed? A cage. I say again, What the - ?

Next morning, we were loaded into crates. One crate each. Barbra in hers, me in mine. I say yet again, What the - ?

We - in our crates - were loaded into another van.

Next time I opened my eyes, what did I see?

This time I remembered to get my oversized paw out of the way. I'm no dill. Even if the end result is wonky because my oversized paws were all atremble.

What were we doing at Sydney Airport?

More importantly, what in the name of brisket bones were we doing being wheeled - in our crates - towards one of these things?

If my oversized paws were all atremble before, they were all aquiver now.

Next thing we knew, we were being loaded - in our crates - into the bowels of a Thai Airlines Jumbo. I'd like to have been able to post a photograph of the inside of the bowels of a Thai Airlines Jumbo.

But I'd eaten the Kodak Box Brownie.

Fear and loathing can do that to an oversized buffoon.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Those Were The Days (IV)

Regrets? I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention.

Silly song lyrics. They never exactly apply when you need them. But at least quoting them shows off the depth and breadth of your LP collection. Yes, LPs. Call me contrary, but I reckon CDs are a passing fad. Vinyl rules!

Which is my roundabout way of introducing Buster.

Buster was my mate. He lived next door. He still does. That is, he still lives in the house next door to the house in which I lived. Only I don't live there anymore.

He came from a pet shop. His overbite was such that his top jaw came into the room ten seconds before his bottom jaw. He was a Maltese Terrier crossed with a Floor Mop. Jam a stick up his backside, dunk him in suds, and the floor would be clean in a trice. Not that I ever even contemplated it.

Here's Buster:

That's him on the left. That's Barbra poking her coiffed bonce through in the middle. Never one to miss a photo call, Barbra. "Evergreen" is never far from her lips.

Buster's favourite game was to put his head in my mouth. Maybe, in an earlier life, he was a dentist.

Sadly, there are no existing photographs of Buster with his head in my mouth. The two-legged dogs in the house were too busy pointing and laughing. Fools.

Buster used to come for sleepovers.

I miss Buster.

And I'm still not sure exactly how it all happened.

One minute, I was working on my ventriloquism act:

The next, the two-legged dogs in the house were suddenly talking to me in Italian.

One minute, I was in the usual queue to use the only tree in the local park:

The next, I saw the house being packed up around me.

One minute, Barbra was taking up my dare to cock her leg like real blokes do:

The next, Barbra and I were being bundled off to the boarding kennels where the two-legged dogs always left us, abandoned us, deserted us, whenever they went on holidays.

Little did we know what was in store!

Friday, 27 July 2007

Those Were The Days (III)

Now where was I? Before I was so rudely interrupted? By this little piece of defamatory flummery titled The Dog Sat On The Tuckerbox.

See you in court, Missy!

So where was I? I was happily ensconced in Sydney, Australia, but trapped in a house with Barbra Streisand. Barbra aside, life wasn't bad.
Best of all, I slept a lot:

At least when people weren't poking cameras in my hairy little face.

Now, without getting too personal, and at the risk of proffering too much information, little dogs growing into big dogs have little bladders growing into big bladders. Not to mention the long, winding, sausage-shaped thing inside you that leads from your tummy to your botty.

In short, what goes in must come out. And the challenge for a young chap is to master exactly when and where.

I admit it. I struggled.

The two-legged dogs in the house would run around hysterically with bundles of toilet paper and sponges -

- while I refuelled:

I mean, what did they expect? They had a big white porcelain thingy in a special room for their needs. Actually, as I got older, I discovered the big white porcelain thingy came in handy for a quick cooling drink on a hot day. But that's a story for another day.

To cut a long post short, the two-legged dogs in the house, fed up with galloping around after me like demented sanitary workers, took drastic action:

The horror, the horror. Caged, with a blue plastic sheet under me.

Any wonder I still wake up screaming in the night.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

How I Trumped Perry Mason

Woof again. Woof is Dogspeak for hullo.

Woof, in Dogspeak, also happens to mean goodbye. And what's for dinner? Not to mention Iraq's looking like a dog's breakfast, hey? And, frankly, everything else in the human vocabulary. Dogspeak is a very easy language to learn. No gender agreement between nouns and adjectives, no subjunctive, no dangling participles. Not even a clause. Or an adjective. Or even a noun.

I highly recommend Dogspeak as a second language. It's international. Get off a plane in Paris, walk up to the nearest poodle and say Woof. He - or, indeed, she - will immediately agree with you that the country has taken a hard right turn.

Email me for details of my exclusive one-on-one classes in Dogspeak. All for the price of a brisket bone.

But I digress.

Over the past month or so, something should have dawned on keen followers of this blog. Which is to say, I haven't been troubling the ether with many posts. Equally keen disciples of the Comments section of this blog will be aware that the little white rat initiated legal action against me - in the form of an injunction preventing me from posting - on the basis that I had defamed her by comparing her with Barbra Streisand.

Off to court we went. I represented myself, adopting the traditional - if you're English, as I am - barrister's head apparel in the form of a wig:

Shame I washed it the night before.

And Barbra? She didn't even turn up. She forgot to set the alarm:

I've always said she does her best work on her back.

Cupping my oversized paw to my oversized ear, do I hear another defamation action trotting up the garden path?

Be that as it may, I am delighted to report here that I triumphed in court.

Barbra had engaged Perry Mason to argue her case. I immediately jumped to my hind legs and objected on the obvious grounds that Mr Mason is a fictional character. Of course the Judge agreed with me.

Hence here I am posting again.

Woof.

That's Dogspeak for I think it's aperitivo-o'clock.