Friday, 16 November 2007

The house is very quiet

Sad news, the house is very quiet. China, a retired racing greyhound, friend and companion of the last five years, had been losing condition since June but continued to enjoy life to the full till Monday evening. By eleven o'clock on Tuesday morning she was very weak and had lost all interest in life. The vet came and while I held her he gave her a lethal injection. We could not prove it without a post mortem but everything pointed to a tumour in the upper gut.
China was our third greyhound, Freya was our first -

Epitaph for Freya - 1988

Shall I forget –
Forget your silhouette
In the broken shade beneath the towering beech?
Shall I forget your cold wet nose
Your trusting gaze depending on mankind
To set you free
I know not where.

I loved you and I laid you down
Curling you nose to tail the way you used to lie,
Your joyful speed now a cold stillness
Under two spits of earth.
I must pick up my burdens and walk on
But, maybe as the evening shadows lengthen I shall see
Beside my own upon the wayside grass
Another shadow thin and elegant
No longer old and weary
Following me home.

The House is very Quiet
13 November 20007

Where has love gone
Now she that I loved is dead?
I heard a voice reply
'Love does not die,
When all the tears are shed
Love will be found
Among the living
Not the dead.

We are already looking for another long dog, probably not a pure bred greyhound this time, but a lurcher; not a replacement but a new friend.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Hang on to your dreams.

It has been a busy month but today I had to admit I had done all I could to 'Phoenix House', put it, comb bound, in a padded envelope and posted it off to seek its fortune. It seems a good moment to tell you why 'Hang on to your dreams' has been so important to me - at times it is all that has kept me going.

It was a cold grey November evening almost forty years ago. A strong wind was blowing across Kensington Gardens, dusk was falling and banks of clouds had built up over Bayswater Road. It was definitely time to go home to tea and crumpets. A tall elderly man was pushing a wheel chair across the grass, the young passenger was getting a rough ride.
‘D’you really want to fly it now? Can’t it wait for another day?’
The youth shook his head vigorously. ‘There may not be another day like this,’ he replied and held up the kite. ‘The wind has to be just right.’
His face was very pale, the skin stretched tightly across his cheek bones. The rug across his knees did nothing to hide his skeletal form.
‘Toss it for me Dad, I’m not much good at throwing these days.’
His father took the kite, swung his arm back and threw it upwards. The wind caught it and immediately it began to climb. The lad clutched the string and paid it out hand over hand as the kite, swinging and pulling, soared high above the heads of families heading for home. The wind was gaining strength; the kite was tugging to get free.
‘Let me help – you’re likely to lose it.’
‘No – it’s mine – I’ve always wanted to fly. This is the nearest I’ll get to it.’
I watched the young face, in imagination so clearly with the kite in its tethered freedom, a freedom he would never know in this life.
The kite, now above the Bayswater Road, gave one last tug and the string broke. Earth-bound the young owner watched the kite soaring higher and higher into the clouds until it disappeared. He looked up at his father and smiled.
‘Sometimes you have to let go to hang on to your dreams.’