I haven't had a bad year so far, but it could have been better...
Compared to last year, this year has been a cake walk. However, in many respects it has been hell.
Enigmatic to the point of contradiction; that's me.
I talk about my health a lot, or I did when I wrote this blog like 'The Diary of a Curmudgeonly Hypochondriac' and then Borderline Press came along and out went my ability to write myself into oblivion. I sometimes sit and think how did I manage to churn out two blogs a week on average?
My health is an issue again at the moment. I had a moment about a week ago when I felt as good as I did during the summer of last year. Warm sunny weather has a habit of rejuvenating me to the point of an almost bi-polar scale. I was breathing okay; I had no real aches and pains (they have, as the doctor said, contrarily dissipated as I've gotten older, plus I don't think I have any more discs I can slip - he says frantically searching for a piece of wood to touch) and a 5km walk with the dogs was a piece of piss (not for Lexy however, but we'll get to her).
I am enrolled in COPD Exercise Group. At 52, I am the youngest there by a decade and the bastards are making me work harder. It's odd; in many ways it might have contributed to my current malaise, because it's a bit like sitting in a room with 20 people who could all be my mother. The group do exercises to help prepare us to deal with our breathlessness in a better way. As the chief person running it said to me, "Ah, you're the fit one; we're going to work you harder." I'm doing it for educational reasons and to learn to breathe at the right times. It sounds stupid and it is, but I smoked for 30 odd years and for most of them without filters and with copious amounts of illegal things in them. I'm pretty sure I fucked up my brains as well as my body.
I kind of wear my COPD as a badge - not overtly, but it sits there as an excuse for many things. It isn't the (general term) illness more the I have a chronic illness - LOOK! I also use it as a hairshirt.
One of the symptoms of COPD they don't tell you about straight away is the propensity for depression. People become more vulnerable to it and I have had an unopened box of Citalopram sitting on the microwave oven for 9 months, because for the last 12 months I have been the COPD equivalent of bi-polar. Up and down like the Assyrian Empire, that's me. The reason it is unopened is because I feel as though I have it in me to beat it myself and the problem with this type of depression is it tends to be linked almost directly to how you feel on a specific day and how much the related symptoms are 'playing up'. I yawn a lot. Not because life bores me, but because I feel crappy and tired. This tends to be the trigger for me - incessant yawning. Then it goes away and I still feel ... worthless.
One of the nurses at the COPD thing chatted to me about seeing a shrink (they do with everyone there), mainly because my issue appears to be complete and utter self-loathing. I fucking hate myself for being so fucking stupid for so fucking long and fucking up what could have been a better life (for me and the wife). My mini obsession with time has come full circle and now I don't think about the way life is drifting away, but all the months I've wasted.
It has manifested itself in a variety of ways. I almost scared off my new Commercial Manager because he seemed to be on the receiving end of my ire, frustration and lack of patience. I have neglected my Borderline Press duties, especially over the last few days while I have been very low...
The other thing about me is, especially amongst those who know me personally, I rarely seem down in company. The 'life and soul' gene always manages to resurface and I can be Mr Happy at a pub quiz or out for a beer with Roger or One El. Meet me while I'm walking the dogs and you'd think I was on happy pills - but to be fair, walking the dogs is something I do enjoy and it does help enormously... Usually.
Now, the miserable and downhearted missive above, on the surface, sounds like all kinds of things. I'm not looking for sympathy - Christ, that's the last thing a self-loather wants! I'm placing you in a place where you can see that, at times, I have felt everything is a load of shit...
Yesterday, was bad. I sat in the garden with the laptop and stared at it for an hour. Young Sam from next door tried to engage me in conversation and I must have been feeling glum because I normally would have jumped at the chance of engaging the boy in some useful advice. I like mentoring people, I have a lot of success at it (not that my commercial manager would agree). But, you know, I was so wrapped up in hating myself that I didn't even want to talk. Gods, I must be ill!
It got to about 1pm and I decided that I was just making myself feel ill. I'll take the dogs somewhere nice! I thought and then tried to talk myself out of it. Oh Jesus, why, oh why, didn't I listen to my hateful self, just this once?
We went to the water skiing lake, near the Brackmills Industrial Estate; near the golf course and behind Delapre Abbey - for those in the know - it's a pretty safe place for dogs, well equipped with bins and not busy during the week, as the water skiing club tends to take over at weekends - whatever the weather. (I'd do a screen shot from Google Maps to show people who don't know the town what and where it is, but as they've fucked up Google Maps so it now looks like a fucking Super Mario game, I won't...)
I usually do a circuit of the lake; it takes about 45 minutes and there's plenty of opportunity for the four dogs to have a swim, a drink or cool down. It's a brill place on a sunny day and it was just the tonic I needed. I decided to circumnavigate the lake, something we hardly ever do, because I had an idea we might be a bit adventurous. Once upon a time, there was going to be a road between St James (Jimmy's End) and the Bedford Road, by Avon Cosmetics HQ. It was going to alleviate traffic from the town centre, but for some reason, back in the 1970s, it was halted. There is evidence of the groundwork done back then even now and until yesterday I never knew you could walk from the end of Ransome Road (the Jimmy's End bit) all the way through to Avon.
Now, most people know Avon Cosmetics - they make smellies - and when we got to a little footbridge over a very stagnant looking brook, we got hit with a waft of stink that I attributed to either the stagnation or possibly an open sewer. It was not the kind of smell you associate with Avon. Two cyclists went past and we exchanged hellos and I commented that that horrid smell wasn't the dogs; they laughed, we all laughed...
We turned around because there was no where else to go without venturing into town and walked back down this path I never knew existed. All the time I could smell this vile stench of human effluence - or at least that's what it smelled like. We even saw a couple walking their dog and one of them commented that the sewers must be chucking up. And we all chortled. We walked all the way to the back end of the Abbey and then, as it was hot, we walked back to the lake, to let the dogs have one more paddle before going home. It was now 2.45 and we'd been walking for nearly 90 minutes.
The dogs had another splash and we headed back to the car; all the time this stink was permeating the air. I even said to a grandmother and her charges that the smell wasn't the dogs.
Now, when you associate my dogs with rolling in unwanted things; Marley is pretty much the main culprit. At least four times a year, this disgusting canine will find a dead bird, fox, pile of shit to roll in and leaving us with the job of hosing her down in the garden.
Ness prefers extremely vile things - she'll roll in vomit if she finds it; she's not too keen on shit, for obvious reasons. we refer to her as 'pig pen' because of her resemblance to the Peanuts character at times. Ness has rolled in stuff about 5 times in 7 years.
Murray is far too highly strung, snobbish and above being a dog to ever consider rolling in anything. He did it once, when he was about 15 weeks old, hated it and has never done it again.
Lexy ... Oh my strange orange dog, who every week gets more and more like Gifford, not just in looks but also in habits. Lexy's shit rolling escapades are few and far between. She rolled in fox shit five days after we got her, I bellowed at her, she's never done it again. Until yesterday...
We got back to the car and at times the smell disappeared. Marley had skulked off somewhere and when she came back she looked like all the world's guilt in medium sized dog form and she jumped straight into the car like she knew she was in trouble. The others got in, Lexy, as usual, at the rear. They had their biscuits and a drink; I shut the car up, got in and couldn't smell anything. It must have been something around the lake. We drove away, I opened the windows to let some air in and suddenly there was the smell again - almost confirming it was outside and not inside. The route home for a third of the journey takes you passed where we had just been, so the smell remaining still didn't register, until we started to get closer to home and there was still this horrid smell.
Marley. It was Marley. I was convinced it was Marley and when we pulled up, I grabbed her, put her on her lead, dragged her out the back, growling at her and calling her all the miserable shitbags... and got the hose ready. I reluctantly checked to see where she'd smeared the shit all over herself and couldn't find anything. She smelled of ponds.
Ness, police dog, was hassling Marley (because she was in trouble and Ness likes to bully) and I got a waft of it from her. Grabbed her, put her on the lead and found her neck had something unpleasant on it. Under the hose she went and I cleaned it all off. There wasn't much, and you know when you get that horrible feeling rising? I looked at Murray; he was as clean as he had been when we went out. He'd got his legs wet and that was about it. he can be so boring sometimes...
That left only one other option.
Now, one of Gifford's weirdest traits (and trust me he had a lot) was when he went for a swim, he'd get all twitchy and crazy afterwards; rubbing his paws on the carpet, rubbing his face against the bottom of the sofa, running around shaking. Oh and Gifford, never, ever, rolled in anything. Not once in 16 years did he have another mammal's faeces smeared on his face, in his ears or up his fucking nose...
My day, that had started so badly, had descended into me feeling as bad as I have done for a long time, was now getting worse 10 fold. God (if any of them exist) has a fucking funny sense of humour...
Shit. There was shit everywhere. The house stunk of it and there was Lexy, sprawled on the sofa, looking all smug and happy, having wiped her face all over everything! Now all that was going through my mind was Oh Christ, the wife is going to kill me!
There was so much shit on Lexy, she needed two baths and because it was a nice piquant brown colour, pretty much the same colour as the fucking dog, I wouldn't have seen it during the walk - perfect camouflage shit!
The sofa was stripped of its covers; cushion covers removed; it was on the carpet, skirting boards - for fuck's sake the house has been fumigated and I can still smell it! I was on my hands and knees with disinfected hot water scrubbing shit off of everything I could find. The wife got home and after the initial 20 minutes of abject horror and disgust mixed with a seething hatred for her 'favourite' dog, we started to talk about the walk and how I was telling everyone that the horrible smell wasn't my dogs when, of course, all the time it was.
Ness had got it on her because in the car, she always stands next to Lexy - it's a dominance thing. We imagined the snob - Murray - saying 'Oh boy, you are in so much trouble' and Marley desperate to engage with Lexy so she could get some of that lovely smell on her, but Ness was in the way, so that was never going to happen and by 7pm last night, we were laughing like drains. The fucking dogs...
This morning we were still laughing about it and I have to take the shitbags out again today and only last week we sat and watched a woman defecate in the bushes near where we walk sometimes. The wife is convinced the shit was human. If it was then whoever crapped it out must have been on a fox shit diet, because I think it was far too pungent to be human. Whatever it was, it was shit and if you could have been a fly on the wall watching me cleaning Lexy in the yard, you would have been highly amused.
I'm not even phased by England's departure from the World Cup. I have dogs and shit to keep me entertained!