The Curious Incident of the Dogs in the Night

They barked.

That, rather than silence, was the curious incident.

Eleven-thirty of the p of the m.

I of course had been in my pit for some time by then and was awoken by their calls*. The dog from Wardle Old Hall spoke in a most authoritative way, indicating a dog of some substance, and was answered at length from the other side of the canal by the dog of Poplars Farm – and answered with similar gravitas. It seemed to me that they conversed, and the conversation was orderly and the tones measured.

*By the by, I spent last night driving around South Africa, of sorts. The imagination is a wonderful thing. My dream-life is far busier and more varied than is my “waking” life.

Bark? Bark. Bark bark woof. Woof? Woof bark. Growl-woof, bark.

Disturbed (from my slumbers, as well as in the usual clinical way), I checked the hour by the sundial in the main saloon, fed Mr Stove, and then ventured to open the side-hatch. The it of it wasn’t quite foggy, but it was much more than misty. An appropriately murky end to a foul calendar year methought. I went back to my pit, and the dogs, having said their piece, kept themselves to themselves.

At midnight I was awoken by the cannon shot of fireworks. They seemed to me to be dulled, perhaps a tad funereal in their nature – like a half-dozen gun rather reluctant salute at a State Interment. Perhaps the near-fog was muffling the sound? I didn’t bother to look out, I’ve seen fireworks before and I have imagined far better than I’ve seen.

The dogs of Poplars Farm and Wardle Old Hall did not speak again. Perhaps, having given one another instruction in re the fireworks there was no need?

I slept, uncharacteristically (by about three excess hours!) until eight.

What entangling web shall we weave for ourselves this year? How much more distant a memory will we allow our liberties to become? What disgraceful, embarrassing, base and intellect-free edicts from They Who Be shall we knuckle under to in this new calendar year? I dread to think. My analysis and views a-stemming are not popular, and this assists society in its withdrawal from my company.

A jot. A whit. A speck, iota, particle, ounce, atom, crumb, shred, morsel, trifle, fragment, grain, trace, shadow, suggestion, whisper, suspicion, scintilla, mite, tittle, smidgen, smidge or scantling – I’d better list them here, since I don’t give them elsewhere. The world can do one, Doris. Jog on. I am not fooled, I am not impressed, and it is all both tragic and silly at once. If history teaches us anything at all, then it teaches us that what those who have money and leisure enough to write down their version of events is somehow what happened.

I am not a Belieber. Not even a Daydream Believer.

It’s all a load of utter 睾丸.

The lead image Incident Alley (apologies, no play on words is too cheap for me) is a 35mm film photo of Laceby By-Pass, the road that leads from the A46, past the village of Laceby, and towards Grimsby. I took it some forty years ago, with my Petri TTL camera. The night was, as nights oft are, dark, and it was about a three-quarter mile exposure at roughly XXmph f8. The white splodge is the headlights of a pale blue Ford Escort 1.3 2-door saloon with cream doors and roof, and a plod at the wheel, trying (unsuccessfully) to get close enough to read my car’s rear number plate. The red streaks are the tail-lights of cars Doppler-effecting in the opposite direction to me, the yellow and blue-white streaks the changing overhead street-lights as we came into town and a maze of side-streets in which even Grandmother might have lost Plod, and at that on horseback.

A favourite trick, and one that she taught me well, was to pull into a gap on the forecourt of a second-hand carriage sales yard, blow out the candles in the lights of the brougham, and give the horses (well trained) the signal to hold their steaming breath until the fuzz had passed. Works a treat, and you ought to try it.

Anyway. I digress. To return to matters canine.

On this, the Oneth of January, in The Year of Our Lard, Two Thousand & Twenty-One, I wonder if those dogs in the night are at their desks in their respective studies, penning letters to firework manufacturers.

My Dear Sirs,

I regret to write in some criticism of your 2lb Crash-Bang-Walloper, some several of which I took taper to last eve during my New Year’s celebrations to one side of my kennel.

The description on the label suggested that they ought to produce some effect akin to a small nuclear air-burst, but the reality is that they reminded me of nothing more than the muffled and distant cannon salute that I heard at our late Queen Victoria’s state funeral.

I should be grateful to receive an immediate refund by return of post, in the full amount of 10/- 7d for the box of twelve. Please make the Postal Order payable to ‘Shuddup Yahnoisybastard’ and address same to The Kennel, &etc etc.

I remain your faithful servant,


Twenty-twenty-one, eh?

A fresh, blank calendar year upon which the Human species will write of its civilisation and intelligence.

I dread to think.

Perhaps best to not think.

I am far from bright, probably scraping in as what is known in professional circles as a “midwit” (Midwit Cuckoo, anyone?) – but my goodness me, I’m a bloody genius when held in comparison to the current gestalt, even though I say it myself – and I say it more to highlight the stupidth of the gestalt than to say anything about me.

Seriously, I dread.

I therefore refrain from wishing anyone anything about the forthcoming New Year.


Ian H.


  1. I’d like to think that with the advent of mass vaccine-ations we will be able to pick up at least part of our Wunder-Luster plans this year, but apart from that, the entire bloody mess will continue to unravel as it was unraveling before 2020, and I plan to have as little to do with it as sanity dictates.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have little hope of even the bare minimum levels of sanitary sanity returning – we have become too similar in nature to the Morlocks and the Eloi…

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      1. No matter how some humans try and divide them up into little bitty categories and sub-categories, or ‘reframe’ them, those are the only two ‘classes’ that remain.

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  2. With regards to your dreaming of Africa, I dreamt I was in India once. I don’t know why. The furthest I’ve ever been abroad is the Isle of Man. It looked remarkably similar to the town I was born in, to be honest, right down to the shelter on the promenade where I used to get drunk as a teenager, only more brightly painted and with a distinct smell of curry about it. Is my subconscious racist?

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    1. India, India – you just can’t beat Poonah, preferably in about ’43 or ’44. The trumpeting of the wild memsahibii, the damned attractive elephants, the heat, the cold, the flies. Couldn’t eat a Garibaldi buscuit out there without careful inspection, I can tell you. Curry for breakfast, curry for luncheon, curry for tiffin and curry on the veranda for dinner. In retrospect perhaps we ought to have insisted on plates.

      My dear fellow, making all of the assumptions that it is now illegal to make I assume you to be male, pale and whiffily stale, so of course you’re not (just) racerist. As a man you’re the scourge of the planet; you’re omni-ist.

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  3. I find wittering on about shiny new things pointless.So I just witter.

    I was tired the other day and my fingers seemed not to take instruction from my brain and I typed ‘henge’ in stead of ‘hedge.’ A small thing, but I was writing about a workman’s ability to cut and lay hedges.

    You see? Wittering.

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    1. Wittering is a much-underrated pastime, and provides benefits that far outweigh its costs – unless you find you are in dock in front a judge, of course; it’s ill-advised to witter too much then.

      Your typo puts me in mind of our loss over recent decades of all of the more interesting professions, such as hansom carriage lamp-wick trimmer, and Pig Catcher general. There must have been professions associated with the henges too – Henge Weeder, perhaps, or Henge Stone Straightener. Skills gone, gone for ever now. ;-(

      Repeat after me: I witter, therefore I am…

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  4. I have taken to repeating to myself the following phrase. “ITS GOING TO GET BETTER. ITS GOING TO GET BETTER. ITS GOING TO GET BETTER” Possibly I’m just expressing a new and delightful my mental unhealth by adding in obsessive compulsive behavior. But it is often the only hopeful thing I can do. 2021 better be better or I am giving up.

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    1. Wasn’t it the Greek philospher D-Ream who sang about Things Can Only Get Better, some time in 1993 Silly sod, obviously knew nothing! 😉

      I am a personal fan of O.C.D. – I find it difficult to leave a tin in stores the wrong way up (in case it is uncomfortable), and I have the most ridiculously comprehensive set of routines that I follow to do the most mundane things. Silly perhaps, but I find myself mid-canal without having attached the tiller bar fewer times than might otherwise be.

      I would love to share your hope for 2021, I hope that things DO improve. 🙂

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  5. We must be influenced by the same planets. I am not as it were depressed but have been unable to wish anyone anything these past few days, it just doesn’t seem appropriate somehow. Instead, I have just watched one of my favourite of films (again) and although heavily edited (which is annoying when you are script word perfect) to eliminate anything WOKEly offensive, I merely cried with the statement “I have led such a little life” and will leave it at that.

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    1. Pat me ol’ fruitbat’s willy-warmer, I reckon the trick to life is to allow yourself to be, do, avoid or feel whatever comes your way. I am rather fond of the tactic of diving into old favourites in the form of books and films – nice, safe environments where things make sense and are under control, totally the opposite of the “real” world these days. 😉

      Picture yourself as a microbe on a spinning ball of iron and mud flying through space spinning around a nuclear fire – and in that context we’re all doing a bloody brilliant job!

      Now, kindly get that next book out so that I can buy it and read it.

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    2. I too, have favourite films that I rewatch now and again 🙂 … it’s not that they ‘don’t male ’em like that anymore’, it’s just that, well, they don’t make ’em like that anymore. 🙂

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