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,
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.