Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A Woman's Best Friend

My beautiful, smelly crazy best friend is leaving me. He has lived with me for 14 and a half years and is around 16 years old.

I got George from the USPCA. I fell in love with his energy and Gabriel Byrne good looks. I had lost my last dog Oscar six months earlier at 16 and a half, and my home needed a dog. I wasn't really prepared for the kind of mayhem, or joy  that he brought. When he met Lily for the first time he ran up and down the stairs and round and round like a dervish , she was terrified.

I have no idea what his story was before he came to live with me; his habits and behaviour were bonkers, rather than bad. He raced about the park like he had never been free and occasionally charged an innocent passer by or skateboarder. I did a lot of apologising in the first few months.
He was a serial butter stealer and had probably ingested about 3lbs of Golden Cow's finest before I caught him, standing on all fours on the kitchen counter licking the dish clean. He refused to eat his food unless I was in the room with him and he still much prefers rainwater from a dirty bucket to tap water from his bowl.

His front door guarding is legendary and has only really settled as he has reached his very senior years. He has destroyed letter boxes and doors, nipped postman's fingers and generally terrified delivery people for years. In one horrendous episode he went through, yes through, a panel of a UPVC front door to get at a paperboy. Thankfully the paperboy was shaken but unhurt. George had to have  a huge gash in his front leg stitched and to wear the cone of shame for a week. I had to take time off work as he was busy trying  to get the cone off by means of throwing himself downstairs and into furniture.

I tried dog trainers. The first one I took him to said he was "untrainable" and I should have him put down, I didn't go back. The second one was better, but rather expensive and his techniques modified, but didn't fully cure George's anti-social tendencies. I took him to Belfast Dog Training Club when he was around 8 years old and at last found good people who helped me to manage my wayward boy. It is still a source of great pride that Geordie passed his test with flying colours, sitting, lying down, waiting while I walked to the far end of the hall and then coming flying at me on my call. He showed up the Chihuahuas and Great Danes with royal blood and snazzy outfits. He can sit with a treat a foot from his nose and will not eat it unless I say so, and he always comes when he is called on walks. Having said that, he is virtually unwalkable on a lead.

The call of the wild is strong in George and he will go off for a wander given the opportunity. He always comes back and does no harm, he just enjoys the adventure. The neighbour's garden two doors down is a favourite place for him , she feeds him chicken and biscuits and brings him home eventually. He has been returned to me by arsey dog wardens once or twice. George and I don't have much time for them and their rules.

No stranger to the vet in his youth; our George was regularly having bits of broken stick removed from his throat, his foot pads cleaned and salved and leaves and twigs pulled from his fur. Fortunately he has calmed down a lot but he had a cough and I took him to the vet a couple of weeks ago to be told he has a heart murmur . Since then he has slowed down a lot, food has to be coaxed into him , his breathing  is fast and shallow and he can no longer go for walks. he peed on the floor of the vets, so I won't be taking him back, this is something he never does, he was stressed and I hated putting him through that.

I'm coming to the realisation that my boy is going to die soon, he is old, and thin and frail. He stumbles when he walks and blood and oxygen aren't getting around his body to keep him vital. Last night I really thought I would be waking up to him having gone but he bounced out of bed and trotted to me wagging his tail. He still follows me upstairs and waits on the landing while I get washed and dressed. No amount of coaxing from other members of the family will budge him. He's my dog, my boy and I will miss him so much more than he knows.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

All The Single Ladies...

I'm independent, always have been . I expect it comes from being youngest of five, a Leo, daughter of an ex Royal Marine father and a true feminist mother. At least that's how I know myself.
I went to boarding school aged 10. I did a fair amount of airport traversing alone during my early teens, as well as  taking trains and automobiles up and down the country visiting other family members and friends.
This has some amazing good points, and some not so good.

I rarely look for help, with anything. I like to figure things out on my own. This means I can do stuff, some stuff, the things I want to do stuff. I will push and pull furniture around my own house on my own (this is a Smyth woman thing) sometimes causing pain and injury to myself and occasional damage to property.

Steadfastly sailing my own ship has meant I have lost out on a meaningful and loving relationship. I don't let my guard down easily, and if I am let down I take it very badly. I hate to feel needy and loathe neediness in others.

I can connect up a washing machine, dishwasher and all the TV and PC wire gadgetry required for modern life. I can wire a plug and replace a fuse, light a fire and am good at bar-b-que. I can build most IKEA furniture and I'm excellent at unblocking vacuum cleaners.I can cut grass although I most certainly do not.

I am not afraid to discipline my children (or other people's) and will always stand up for them, and myself. I have been known to get into scrapes defending friends and colleagues from unwanted advances, rudeness and injustice. I am afraid of very little (apart from potentially falling over on a slippy floor while wearing high heels). I will complain about bad service and don't let taxi drivers away with inappropriate remarks. I am happy in my own company, although I do love to be with people who interest me.

These are good things, as I see it, independence has a downside though. I don't need anyone , which can  make me come across as frosty, or snooty. those who know me , I hope, will confirm I am most categorically neither.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Why Being "Hot" Leaves Me Cold.

I've been single now for approximately 16 months. Whilst I am not desperate for some new love, nor pining for my old one, I am not dead. I would like a thoughtful , attractive man to go out with , to chat to after a tough day and of course sex can be fun..... What is on offer online falls rather short of my requirements.
Once you have waded through the married and attached, the too far away, the unfortunately featured and the non-linguistically gifted you are left with the rest. More filtering, too short, too young, too old, smokers, unemployed, those with dubious political opinions and affiliations, the shady and defensive, and those who want children. This all takes time, patience and effort.


So you filter , and filter, and make it clear in your carefully written profile that you are not looking for a one night stand and have no desire to meet anyone in a car park; you are witty and charming allowing your personality to shine out, game on.

That's when the real madness starts. You start getting messages, from men you don't know telling you you're "fit" or "hot" or asking you if "you're as horny as your photos". What?
Now I love a compliment, who doesn't? I like to be told I have a great smile , nice legs or fabulous hair, but this is something different. It's creepy, unwanted and smacks of inadequacy. They say what they would like to do to me, ask aggressively if I can take a "good pounding". I learned not to engage in conversation at all with this breed. Don't feed the trolls.

I met a guy a few months ago, we got on well. He was nice looking, employed and clean and he had a wicked sense of humour. All good. We met twice and left things open as to a 3rd date. He messaged me a few weeks later to tell me that he'd met someone he was really interested in . He felt it would take a few months to get to know her and to get to a level of intimacy with her. In the mean time , he said, would I be interested in meeting for nsa sex? No I wouldn't

Where has it all gone wrong? Did our grandmothers and mothers fight for women's rights just to fan the flame of misogyny? I respect men, why do so few respect me? Online dating is an excuse for some men to say what they really think- they hide behind a keyboard and let their real feelings flow out of their fingertips. My biggest fear is that in  over one hundred years of women fighting for our rights we haven't moved on. We have a woman hater in the world's top job. I don't want my daughters to wade through this quagmire of filth.

If you are a man, looking for dates online, be funny, be charming, be flirtatious, but don't be surprised if you tell someone  that they're "hot" they don't go immediately cold. I would.