Emerging from Hibernation

Afghanistan cricket team
Yes, I know that it is summer here…a summer which has come roaring in with searing heat and high winds, drying off the pasture and presaging no good for the months to come.
Still, summer or no, I have been hibernating.
Under the weather myself before Christmas, husband since after a spectacular fall resulting in large hole in leg, ten stitches and daily dressings at the clinic.
Then my dear Alsatian died, attacked by a galloping form of cancer, followed days afterwards by his ancient friend the Costa Rican King Charles Corgi….it might have been old age, but I fancy it was more like a broken heart.

Still, visitors arrived to rouse me from my torpor and the door to the hibernation cave is sealed up. Life, changed though it is, goes on, though no tail thumps the floor waiting for the breakfast egg.

I am following Scotland’s ‘progress’ in the World Cup….the One Day Cricket World Cup, that is.
Somewhere, distantly, I hear Adullamite beating his breast and crying ‘Ichabod‘ at this example of the decline of Scots values, but follow it I do.

As always with Scotland’s teams in whatever form of sport they suffer from an excess of sportsmanship.
They like to make opposing teams feel at ease by giving them vast leads and then fail gallantly to overtake them.

I consider that this is all down to the example offered by that flower of medieval chivalry the Good Sir James Douglas, companion in arms of the Bruce in the Wars of Independence who, charged with taking the (by now dead – yes, I know, but we are speaking about Scots here) Bruce’s heart on Crusade to the Holy Land,
A…hung about a bit before doing anything about it – Scottish team captains demonstrate the same tendency…
B…went on Crusade to Spain instead….Scottish football fans know the way by heart…
C…disobeyed orders and found himself cut off at which point he hurled the heart in its container ahead of him and followed it to certain death, bellowing ‘Lead on brave heart as thou was wont to do’ – a practice followed, though with less poetic language, by Scots rugby players and with the same result. Marmelised.

Add to that disadvantage the obligation on national teams to sing that dirge ‘Flower of Scotland’: and you begin to understand the obstacles to success under which they labour.

What was wrong with ‘Scots Wa Hae’, I should like to know,

Or, come to that, ‘Blue Bonnets’ which, despite having the lyrics written by Sir Walter Scott, manages to stir up the memories of the Border reivers, whose motto was ‘nothing too hot or too heavy’…that is, nothing too hot or too heavy to steal from their English neighbours.

Now that should inspire a bit of gumption!

‘The Ball of Kirriemuire’, as will be evident to anyone rash enough to look it up on Youtube, while well in the running in the enthusiasm stakes is more suitable to a victory celebration and is thus but rarely heard.

So far in the World Cup Scotland have been defeated by New Zealand – though they can comfort themselves with the thought that there is a great deal of Scottish blood in New Zealanders, not only from historic migration but also from ears bitten in encounters on the rugby field with the All Blacks.
I suppose that the Scottish cricket team should thank their lucky stars that the match was heralded by a Maori playing a didgeridoo rather than by several All Blacks performing a haka.

It’s enough to make you want to lie down in a darkened room with a cup of tea.

Unfortunately, Scotland have also been beaten by England.
For which there is but one appropriate musical reference…the piobaireachd ‘Too Long in this Condition’…. which while you’ll need the stamina of an ox to see it through to the end, does give time to smother all the untoward language which you might – if a Scot – wish to use on such an occasion.

After these performances Scotland can look forward to meeting Sri Lanka….prepare the mourning garments and the jet jewellery: Bangladesh….whose Asian players will perform the best?…and Afghanistan.

Scotland versus Afghanistan.
Given the current disparity between the teams the result can only be a re run of ‘Carry On up the Khyber’

And I have a horrible feeling that it will not be Scotland carrying on in the competition.



67 thoughts on “Emerging from Hibernation”

  1. Hahaha. I love this – well, not reading of ill health and the passing of the twa dugs (I just lost my two dog-like cats in too similar a manner and it hurts) -but about Scotland and our ‘sporting prowess’… My Dad always says: ‘Aye, we have a skill for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’ – but your analysis seems so much more to the point. We just don’t have it in us to beat anyone on any pitch. We are plucky underdogs. Just as well we can laugh so heartily at ourselves. Yvonne x

    1. Lovely to see you here again and thank you for the sympathy…I feel it very badly still – as you’ll understand.
      Yes, Scotland’s sporting prowess! The only way we can win is by playing ourselves!

      1. I’m just getting to the end of the MSc – I’ve 15000 wds left but they’ll be backed by research (when I’ve made sense of the thoughts in my head)… anyway, I went to ground a bit on the blog-front.
        I was shocked by Stan and Jasper’s deaths – Jasp (13 but very lively) from the galloping cancer and Stan (only 9) from a mystery malaise that felled him during one of his nocturnal excursions. At least we had his wee body to bury. I still feel angry about it all – and find myself ‘seeing’ them everywhere. I have a friend who explained: if you have pets, you’ll have dead pets. He’s not unsympathetic – he has wept over his own dead ones – but strangely it helped.
        As for our sporting ability – it’s got so bad that (at least with the footie) we cannae even win playing ourselves… witness the Rangers debacle… lose-lose all round really…

        1. I’m glad that the thesis is under control…funny how there always comes a moment when all the things one has been thought so clear suddenly become a jumble and need unjumbling again. Too close to it, I suppose.
          We’ve had so many animals friends over the years, but it doesn’t get any better when they go…all you can do is take on another one if it is need.
          Only Scotland can manage a lose-lose scenario…and celebrate it!

  2. Och, you are looking on the black side (no pun intended) The lads might still surprise you.

    And I would take a bottle of Scotch into that darkened room. Tea is for sissies. (and Englishmen)

  3. Oh I am so, so sorry about your husband’s fall and stitches. Then both dogs. What a shock for you. No wonder you have been in hibernation.

    The weather here is rubbish and how I would love to be further South at the moment. Also I might be able to watch the cricket if I was elsewhere, love the sport and of course I still follow R.S.A. who do not seem to be playing very well!!

    Take care and I hope all else goes well for you both. Diane

    1. Both the dogs, and so closely was indeed a shock….I’m still looking for them, expecting them to be there and the other dogs are subdued too. The leg is healing up nicely – just as well it is as when it was new you could – if so inclined – put your finger into it and touch the bone.
      R.S.A. had a bit of a shock against India, didn’t they! What happened to their bowling attack?
      Hoping the weather cheers up for you soon….

  4. I forgot to say how sorry I am about the dogs. It’s a wrench when they leave us. Millie, who came to us at 7 and a half, is ailing again; she has a new growth, not a fat lump, which will be removed this Thursday. I am already in a tizz.

  5. I’m so sorry about the health problems you and Leo have been suffering, Helen, and send my deepest sympathy of the deaths of your beloved dogs. To lose two in such quick succession is very hard for you both.
    I could wish the Scotland’s sporting prowess would raise your spirits, but from this brilliant post it seems sadly unlikely. I did enjoy the varied music offerings that illustrated it so well.

    1. Thank you….we are getting back on our feet now, but losing the two dogs almost at the same blow has been very hard to bear. And Scotland’s cricketers have done nothing to improve the shining hour!

  6. Oh dear…Losing one’s animal friends is terrible and then having to mend from a fall and injury…I do hope things get better for you both. Sending positive thoughts…

  7. It’s good to see you on the cyber horizon. I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your two beloved fur babies. It’s never easy, especially with one so close after the other. And, I’m sorry to hear of the fall your husband had and need for stitches. Sending you a special big hug.

    p.s. I’ve had you on my mind for the last several weeks as I’ve finally tackled the Dreyfus/Zola story and am not onto the third draft rewrite. I couldn’t find much on Lucie Dreyfus so took another approach with the protagonist and included her where research gave me breaks. Thank you for your suggestions, earlier on some research ideas.

    1. Thank you…you know how it feels.
      Husband on the move again thanks to the super nurses at the local clinic who have told him firmly that he is not to venture out unaccompanied again….we’ll see how long that one lasts!

      I’m glad you made progress with the ~Zola/Dreyfus story…it’s a fascinating one but it’s surprising how large some of the gaps are!

      1. Yes, I know all too well. My heart is with you.

        So much of the Dreyfus Affair was suppressed, starting with the first court-martial, which is now most likely destroyed. I did find the transcript to Zola’s libel trail, and of course the full J’Accuse. I’m assuming you’ve read the latter. If not, it may perk you up.

  8. I am sorry to hear that you’ve been going through these wretched problems. The trouble is, as I know very well myself, that when you have these different things happening within a short period of time, it’s hard to maintain that detached and enlightened perspective that would be so wonderful. Regarding sports, I think I am perhaps the only American who follows this site and most certainly the only one who is a fan of our version of football. I am a huge fan of the New England Patriots, so was overjoyed when my team won the Super Bowl in the last minutes of the game in a big reversal (okay, if you want to know the details, which you probably don’t, it was an interception at the goal line with only a minute to play). People say, “What’s the point in watching grown-up men running around with a ball?” Point is, it’s actually one of the few instances when we have human beings in a true contest of physical skill and mental attitude. I find this tremendously encouraging in my life.

    1. Detachment and an enlightened perspective frequently escape me, I fear! You’ll find compatriots on here, but I don’t know if any of them are sports fans….what you say about the contest of physical skill and mental attitude sums up why I enjoy cricket and rugby; it’s not just brawn and bash!

  9. I’m not a cricket fan (at 5 or 6 years old, I learned the rudiments because I was sweet on one of the boys and wanted to be included in games!), but have to admit I did a funny wee dance when Ireland, IRELAND!!!!, won a match.I didn’t even know they played the game!
    I am sorry about the dogs. Whatever the animal, they do have a firm leash on our hearts.

    1. Giving your heart to a dog to tear….all too true.

      I was hoping that Ireland would repeat their giant killing progress in the last world cup….it was such a boost to see them, full of enthusiasm, walloping the pros!

  10. I am so sorry to hear about the Alsatian and the CRKC Corgi. We’ve made so many jokes about them and their adventures and behaviors that I felt I knew them. It leaves such a vacant spot when beloved pets pass. As Agnes Turnbull said, ““Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.”

    Still, the news that your husband’s injury is on the heal is indeed positive. Infection is always the big risk in warm climes like ours and that wound sounded nasty.

    Don’t know anything about soccer so I can’t comment except to say I do like a good haka.

    And if you are still hibernating we’ll,uh, bear with that. snorf, snorf.

    1. I’ve often found myself wishing that certain people had the short life span of dogs….though I have been lucky enough to have had two long lived ones in my time…19 and 22 years. Thanks for your kind words…much appreciated.

      He’s healing well….I have a theory that the prettiness of the nurses helps in that he doesn’t grumble about going to the clinic…

      Soccer! Soccer! I’ll have you know my good man that it’s RUGBY they’re playing when they’ve finished threatening their opponents with unspeakable things in Maori…….

      Hibernation’s over….I couldn’t bear any more of it….

      Hope you’re back to wine rather than grape juice by now…

    1. Husband on the men, thank you….and no doubt at some point another dog will come nosing round the dustbins and make its way into the house and our hearts.
      I miss the daft pair more than I can say, though.

  11. So sorry to hear you have lost your dear dogs but glad to hear Leo is on the mend. I would have gone into hibernation for much longer if I had lost two dogs so close together.

  12. Hello Helen,

    First, how very sad that both of your dogs have died. The house and your heart must feel empty without them. Pets are such wonderful companions, nothing quite takes the place of the unconditional love which they give so freely.

    Selfishly, we are delighted to see this post heralding your emergence from hibernation. It is an iconic Venomous Bead post, full to the brim of the waspish, intelligent humour and keen observation that we have come to know and enjoy. A lament from a Scottish bagpipe does not seem to us to be anything of a match for the spine chilling chants of the black clad New Zealanders, perhaps the Scots need to find something more rousing to lift their spirits, not to mention their performance, before they take to the field of play?

    But, then, we have never understood or, indeed, taken part in sport. It all seems so pointless running round after balls or batting them into oblivion. No, far better to settle down with a good book and, yes, a cup of tea. Hot weather or cold, there is nothing like a cup of tea……

    We do so hope that you are both now on the mend. This winter has laid everyone low that we know of but the warmth does help one to relax and we trust that this is exactly what you are doing. You never know…….victory may come wearing a tartan skirt!

    1. Thank you….the house is very quiet as the other dogs aren’t scampering about as they used to do…though a new pecking order seems to be establishing itself….with us on the lower rungs thereof. We know our place.

      I’ve enjoyed cricket from the time my grandfather took me to The Oval….the battle of wits is as interesting as the odd flurry of runs is exciting and the same goes for rugby. Other sport leaves me fairly cold, but Scotland always gets my support as I watch their teams’ efforts through the fingers of the hands clamped over my eyes, knowing that whatever they do no good will come of it…

      The warmth has contributed greatly to recovery…..though were it not so warm perhaps Leo would not have ventured out to the tilapia tanks and had his spectacular fall, …in a colder clime he would have sent me!

  13. . . what a jolly read! I fear, though, that you do those damned, obstinate, bothersome Scots a disservice re: the cricket – Mike Denness, an undoubted Scot, captained my county of Kent (of Black and Tans fame) to the county championship. He then went on to captain England! How do you explain that? Especially when it has to be asked, ‘When was the last day that Scotland had sunny afternoon for for a one-day match, let alone the five required for a test?
    As for Afghanistan, I predict they will be the stars of the future having learnt their craft during the years of exile in the dusty refugee camps of Pakistan. Any group that can learn the rules of cricket (and get in the practice) under such difficult circumstances are to be feared. Mind you, the same could be said of the Scots!

    1. Mike Denness always struck me as a thoroughly nice man and a good, thinking captain….probably too nice to be appointed these days….
      Quite agree on Afghanistan….they’ve had some superb performances and have really talented players – gave Sri Lanka a shock! I wonder if we’ll see any of them on country contracts inthe next few years…
      Scotland need a pace attack…their batting is good way down the order, their fielding is fine…but they need someone to trouble the batsman with a turn of speed.

    1. Yes, I think so too…he and the Alsatian always went around together, sat together, ate together – with much growling – and, very old as he was, I think he just gave up.
      It seems so odd to be without them…

    1. Aha! So you do not devote all of your spare time to football!

      We have one here that makes a noise like an old fashioned dentist’s drill….for hours at a time. If i could catch the beast i might be tempted to experiment with a little insect cookery…

      1. You lost to Afghanistan?
        A people more used to handling Kalashnikovs?
        Maybe that nice Mr Rifkind should have used his diplomatic contacts….?

        1. Mr. Rifkind is too expensive…..and you didn’t need to be the Brahan seer to predict Scotland losing to the Afghanis.
          And what’s this ‘you’?
          You may well hie from the east but as far as I know Edinburgh has not declared UDI….

  14. Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear about your dogs. The place must seem strange without them. I hope you and Leo are doing better now despite Scottish teams doing dismally.

  15. I am not surprised you felt like hibernating after losing both dogs. I hope that the gaps close up soon and I am glad you are back.
    I like Bonnie Dundee, and was hoping you’d have it, but perhaps I will just sing it myself.

    1. Having witnessed a folk club session where Bonnie Dundee gave rise to aspersions being cast on the religious persuasions and practices of those present followed by what might be called muscular un Christianity…never again!

  16. So sorry to hear about your health problems and Leo’s injury Helen. I hope you are both on the mend. I know all about hibernation at the moment wıth the dreadful winter we’re having. I am so sad about the two dogs. It really never gets any easier and they do leave a very big gap in our lives.

    Lots of love xxx

    1. Thanks, Ayak…I think I’ll still be boiling two eggs too many for the dogs’ breakfast for a time yet.
      The hit I took before Christmas has really slowed me down…for no apparent reason…but Leo is well on the mend now after a few fears of a nasty infection setting in, so things can only get better, says she, crossing fingers.

  17. Helen, we know just how it feels to lose a beloved pet and, like your alsatian, to cancer too. To lose two pets in quick succession is devastating. We know only too well those voids they leave in daily life that are just unfillable. Life goes on though and there will be many other dogs in dire need of your good home. They don’t replace the ones you’ve lost but they do help make the loss more bearable.
    Neither of us being people who follow sport of any kind – we’re considered to be a pair of freaks in that respect – your comments on Scotland’s progress rather go over our heads. Sorry about that! We do tend to glaze over when friends bang on about a World Cup of any description, or tennis, or the Olympics and, er…darts! Yes, we have one female friend here who is an ardent darts fan! Each to his own! We send you our best wishes for better health. We’re caught in the throes of the ‘flu here that is reaching epidemic proportions. Came back from la pharmacie yesterday with a bag full of stuff including nasal sprays! There’s a first. Yours between sneezes.

    1. Thanks for your kind words about the loss of the dogs…I see that you too fill a gap with another dog in need of kindness…

      No, I can’t go so far as to watch darts….but each to their own!

      That ‘flu seems to be cutting a swathe through France. Friends who have had/are having it tell me that it is an absolute beast, a real flattener, so good luck with your pantechnicon full of stuff from the pharmacy!

  18. I’m so sorry to hear about the dogs Helen, and hope that you and Leo’s health and fitness is improving now. You have made my day with the Dick Gaughan clip. I adore the man, although I have to say, he is looking somewhat older and much much bigger than in this clip. I also think he has worn the same cardigan every time I’ve seen him in the last 15 years. Every year he ends his UK “tour” with a Hebden Bridge gig, just before Christmas. Last year, as I was queuing to get in (its always a sell out) I realised he was behind me in the queue. I told him I didn’t think he had to pay to get in….he grinned and said in an accent that had me weak at the knees ,”Too right, I wouldna pay to see this fucking shite ! “. I melted.
    Your post also rang true to me, as for several years, my “partner” was a Glaswegian….who tried valiantly to support the Scottish football team……and , well you know exactly how he felt, and you describe it so well….the hope, the pride……and then, the aftermath. Great post Helen, hope the end of hibernation brings joy. Jx

    1. Someone else who likes Dick Gaughan! How super that you met him and received his words of wisdom!

      I suspect that the Scots level of addiction to drink may have something to do with the prowess – or lack of it – of their national teams…..which is why I am not following Friko’s suggestion of taking a drop of the creature into a darkened room…….

  19. Oh Helen, I am so sorry about your dogs. And to lose the two of them so close together. I’m sure you’re right about the Corgi dying from a broken heart. Do you have any thoughts of getting a puppy? A bouncy, roly poly bundle of fur might be just the thing to make sure you don’t feel the need to go back into hibernation.

    I have nothing to say about the cricket. I know absolutely nothing about the game other than the fact bats are swung and the players uniforms are a very impractical colour. It must be a nightmare getting them clean after a game.

    1. Thank you…I’m not going out looking for a dog at the moment…but no doubt one will turn up in due course!
      You will be delighted to know that in the one day format of the game the players wear hideously brightly coloured sort of pyjamas…not at all alluring but no doubt easier to wash!

  20. Time for tiffin, methinks. Sorry to hear about your dogs – heavy blows both, by the sound of it. I hope your husband makes a good recovery too – any kind of injury is debilitating but one that puts a hole in your leg sounds very worrying indeed. Tell him to be more careful with the old claymore in future!

  21. Condolences on your dogs, it never gets any easier. All we can say is we gave them a home when they needed one. And no doubt you will again. I totally feel for Leo. Mobility is top of my freak list these days after the broken ankle. I hope he is skipping about faster than me. Well, not that I’m skipping yet. Current self-prescribed exercise is a few runs on the spot grabbing hold of something so I don’t fall over.

    The only thing I know about sport is that England beat Wales recently much to Partner’s chagrin. I’d say take care, but the stable door was open …

    1. You have had a real nasty following that fall….at least Leo has been mobile following his – the main problem being a persistent infection which has now been isolated and zapped but which left him very low.

      The house does not seem the same and I’m not rushing out to find another dog – one will doubtless turn up in the fullness of time.

      And, as Tynecastle has gleefully noted, Afghanistan beat Scotland – at least you can rely on Scotland’;s teams to depress you…

  22. Oh, my dear,Helen. No wonder you were away for a while. I remember how immensely consoled I felt reading the messages after my Berkley died, and yet I sit here wondering what on earth can I say to YOU to help ease the pain. I remember you quoted Kipling to me, “giving your heart to a dog to tear” and whatever comfort that poem gave me, I send a thousandfold back to you on your double loss. So sorry to hear about Leo but I’m happy he is on the mend. Sheesh, when it rains, it pours.

    And you weren’t expecting any observations on cricket from me, to my immense relief. XXX

    1. Thank you….Kipl!ng often has the words and sympathy does indeed help to ease the pain. I’m still boiling two more eggs than dogs for breakfast, though I suppose that will wear off in time..

      Still, the arrival of visitors meant the adoption of something like normality and there’s nothing like having to get on with things for making you get on with things.

      Cricket…you don’t know what you’ve been missing…the wit and wisdom of Geoffrey Boycott…internecine struggles for share of T.V. income…and, occasionally, a cricket match!.

      1. Berkley liked to lie at my feet while I was ironing. He slept right at my side of the bed causing me to have to hobble over him in the middle of the night. He was always just right there and it’s taken a long time not to feel his absence. Of course it gets easier but I found myself just the other day telling somebody we had two Westies. I forgot, I guess.

        1. Oh yes, getting up in the morning to find no long form stretched out on the sofa…no silky coated beast waiting to come in from the porch…no one to trip over when at the stove…no heavy head on my knee at meal times…you know just what it’s like.

  23. Oh so sorry about the dogs. It really never gets any easier does it. We lost one of our cats, Traveller to a galloping lymphoma which had spread. He was only 4. Shadow, his brother is happily in the pink and now 10. Katinka took Traveller’s place 4 yrs ago now — not sure Shads feels it is an improvement. We planted roses for each pet that died; but hurt it does.

    Glad Leo is making a good recovery.

    Niall has gone into mourning re the cricket — a loss to Afghanistan and the rugby — a loss to Italy at Murrayfield — can it get any worse?? The only thing that cheers him is Hearts’ football results.

  24. Just catching up Helen and awfully sad to read about your dogs – what a terrible time for you both. Don’t get my started on Scottish teams – the cricket is almost forgivable, but to lose to Italy in the 6 nations? And as for Flower of Scotland – dreary doesn’t come close to covering it. Glad to have found you again.

    1. I’m still feeling miserable….I threw out the Alsatian’s sofa in the end and rearranged the room which helped somewhat, but the place seems very empty without the two of them.

      I suppose all we can say about Scottish teams are that the results will be predictable…pity the bookies give such rotten odds.

      I hope that your mother is making a good recovery from her surgery. Mine had her hip done when she was 95 and a knee done at 96 – but there were no falls involved so no lack of confidence.

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