It’s A Dog’s Life

Recently I was told a story about Tibetan terriers, which captured my imagination.  Well actually the story I heard has two different view points about same subject.  If you don’t know anything about this breed, they are furry, intelligent, individual dogs with a real zest for life.  Originally bred by Tibetan monks up in the remote mountains of Tibet, they were used by the monks to guard and herd their animals.

An owner and breeder of these dogs, would tell her friends that the monks believed if you lived a good and honourable life, you would be reincarnated as a Tibetan terrier.  In this incarnation you would enjoy the rewards of your previous life by lying in front of the fire or at your masters feet, relaxing and having your tummy scratched.  One person they told this to, didn’t believe her, so went straight to the horses mouth, so to speak.  She tracked down a Tibetan Buddhist monk, living in monastery near where she lived in the States and asked them about this story.  The monk smiled and said that the story is almost right.  They believe that if you work very hard at keeping your vows, but lapse every so often (although you are really trying your hardest), when you come back in the next life, you will come back as a Tibetan terrier.  This is so that you can finally learn to obey.

The monks realised that dogs spend their lives watching people and picking up on subtle messages that everyone gives off.  So dogs were often aware of people who needed help, before the monks were.

Personally if there is such thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as my cat and sleep for most of the day in the sunshine.

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Having just read and reviewed Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick ( ) , I heard that my best friends mother had died.  So setting off, yesterday morning on a round trip of 300 miles to attend the scattering of the ashes, I found myself thinking about one of the main themes of this book; even in death, a persons story continues, impacting on their family and friends.  You would think that after 65 years, a line could be neatly drawn under that chapter and people, especially my friend, could move on.  Yet they can’t.  Ripples continue to spread outwards, causing upset.  Life is imitating art and maybe that is why Revolver is so grippingly realistic.

As I was listening to the eulogies by her best friend and cousin, her brother and her daughter (my friend) about the woman they remembered, I finally saw the woman underneath.  The strengths and beauty that she had, the interests we had in common.  It turns out that all the things I love and admire in my oldest and closest friend were passed down from her mother and suddenly I wasn’t angry with her any more.  She was a woman who had made choices, some of them awful, but she was always larger then life and in the end, the small, important parts that made her amazing have been passed on to the next generation.  And if my friend has any say in the matter, it will pass down to the following generations.

So Marky, we might not have always seen eye to eye, but I raised a glass of wine to you last night and said a thank you for the gift of your daughter.

Amongst the Pigeons

Descending into the bowels of the pub, a black room unfolds itself before me.  Tubes of lights swirl on the walls round painted cartoon characters.  At one end of the room, opposite the bar, there is a small corner lined with books, tempting you to sit and indulge. If it wasn’t trapped behind a table of mixers, laptop and other foreign looking music equipment.  Two black speakers stand to attention at each end, their large round O’s vibrating with the music. An eerie glow from the computer screen lights a man’s face.  His hair is hidden under a large cat hat, it’s glass eyes unblinking as they stare across the dance floor.  Cat man’s hands move in slow motion, plucking sounds seemingly from the ether.  Aware of my stare, his black eyes glance up and catch mine, his smile lit by the electronic glow, before they fall back to chase and catch the music.

On the dance-floor, the people move in time, their jerky movements remind me of something that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Turning back to the bar, a small bartender just about clears the high surface. I’m the only one ordering but it still takes me some time to catch her attention.  That glass really needs cleaning.

All fades as I am consumed by her ear,  the lobe stretched round a large black O, a miniature of the centre of the speakers.  As her head jerks round, the lobe moves slowly, a pendulum on the side of her head.  The absence of flesh mesmerising.   Eventually the glass is clean and she leans towards me, eyebrow raised, chin jerks up.  Do her lips move?  On tiptoe, I lean as close as I can, the top of the bar biting into my sternum, I shout my order over the music.  She nods and quickly produces the glass, complete with straw.  After I’ve paid, I make my way back to the dancers.

Standing on the edge amongst all the black, the music pounds through the air, resonating through my body.  They are all wearing pigeon masks with black eye-holes and have co-ordinated their dance movements to mimic the distinctive bird.  Cat man is leading them, the music coos and calls to them.  Slowly they all stop and turn to stare, their heads cocked to one side.  The music changes, Cat Man talks to his pigeon army.  The edge of the masks are harder to define.  Were does the paper stop and the person start?

They advance slowly.

Turning, I move quickly, clutching my glass and straw, taking the stairs two at a time.  With each step, pigeon music fades and the jazz music upstairs grows stronger, at one point in clashing balance.  Emerging from the depths,  I’m among glaring lights, buzzing conversation and people laughing.  Below me I can hear the patter of feet and fluttering of wings?  Pulling my coat tighter round me, I abandon my drink and plunge out into the night.  The bouncer holds the door open and pulls a grey fluffy feather off my shoulder.  Examining it between his fingers, he laughs “You been playing with birds?”

“If only you knew” I mutter before hurrying away.

Drip Drip of my Conscience

The boiler drips in time to my heart,
Each drop a hammer on my conscience.
The water splashes and ripples outwards
Mirrored by the bile in my stomach.

Waiting for someone to fix it,
To remove the worry from my shoulders.
To fix me.
Wanting. Waiting.  Worrying.

I move from room to room,
Fleeing the guilty noise.
But nothing can drown out,
The beating heart under the floorboards.