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Just for Fun

I have been rummaging in the attic for some light-hearteditems to provide a little light relief from the weightier content of the website.

" A Day in the Life......." was written at a time when life was a little hectic as I not only had a large Beardie family and two Irish Wolfhounds as well but I was also sharing a home with my mother and her family of Maltese.Puzzled by the title?  In my early showing days, Beardie numbers were too small to warrant specialist shows and we relied on the various Collie Clubs, all of which included  Beardie classes at their shows. Many shows also had classes for "Any Variety Collie, Rough, Smooth or Bearded" and it was quite usual to distinguish the exhibitors by referring to them as "Rough breeders", "Smooth people" and, of course......"the Bearded ladies".

A Day in the Life of a Bearded Lady

(First published in 'The Bearded News', November 1974)

5.30am Woken by combined efforts of torrential rain on roof and merry-making puppies under window. Attempt to leap out of bed thwarted by wall-to-wall Beardies.

  5.35am Manage to insert toe between recumbent bodies and vault to door. Descent of stairs accelerated by tripping over snoring Dorcas on landing. Joyous greeting from dripping puppies - sandy wet paws not pleasant on bare legs - anxious glance at neighbours' windows. Mix milk and meal, cover kitchen floor with newspaper, back to bed.

5.50am Find four Beardies in my bed, Bluebell eating hair-brush. Squeeze in - sleep.

& 7.30am : Reawaken. Dogs unusually lethargic - realise reason ; rain still pouring down. Chivy them downstairs and outside. Dorcas pleads age, infirmity, insists she can wait. OK.

& Puppies have turned newspaper into confetti, overturned rubbish bin, scattered contents around kitchen. Ecstatic greetings.

8.30am : Give up waiting for rain to stop - out for walk.

9.30am : Return with ten sodden dogs, sodden clothes, leaky Wellies. Door bell rings - couple of unexpected overseas visitors - want to see Beardies !?*!? Best draw veil.

11.30am: 'Phone rings. Have I got a dog pup? Mopsy Boy gnaws table leg, oblivious of Damocletian sword. I hedge, mention litter due soon. No, she must have it for Saturday. Why? Wedding present for friend. Mind boggles - does friend know? Of course not, it's a surprise. Operation  put-off comes into force - no good, caller offended - hangs up.

&11.45am: Encourage pups to ford fast-flowing river now passing back door. Make way to only patch of garden still above water. Try daily persuade-myself-to-sell-another-puppy routine. Do I really need four from one litter? Reason fails. Try to visualise one of them leaving home. Unthinkable. Abandon attempt. Find tea-towel trodden into mud - so that's what happened to it.

Lunch-Time  : Try to write something for 'Bearded News'. Read through; tear up. Still raining. Cut up two pounds of ox cheek for puppies' lunch. Very tough; knife makes fingers sore. 'Phone rings. Return from 'phone to see Laura eating last of cut-up meat. Scream.

Afternoon : Set out for second walk with Beardies still wet from first. Fields under water. Great fun. Clara, Bluebell, and Bretta dive-bomb each other. Heavily-pregnant Belle careers across lake and skids into fence. Wellies leak. Specs abandoned as nothing  dry left to wipe them on. Funny how one can recognise each Beardie just by its movement - glad they don't go too far away! Old ladies try to roll themselves dry on last remaining inch of grass - let's go home.

4.30pm: Spread more newspaper on floor. Cuddle puppies. Mix up binful of meat and meal, dole it into a dozen bowls. Balancing half-a-dozen bowls, try to squeeze through kitchen door without puppies. Fail, fall over Angela, drop bowls all over two Wolfhounds waiting hopefully in hall. Back to cutting board.

6pm: Light fire in sitting room - invite in a selection of deserving dogs - settle down to try Bearded News item again.Conscience pricked by thought of dogs in other room. Fall over Maltese, let in Beardies, look for Wolfhounds. Return to find wet Barberry curled up on my writing. Start again. Investigate crunching noise behind settee. Pick bits of chewed pencil out of Bluebell's coat. Investigate rumpus in kitchen - Beardie pups playing pass-the Maltese. Laugh. Rescue Maltese.

Later.......Discover Angel and smallest Maltese shut in lavatory - patiently waiting to be let out - why do they go in there? Notice Belle has been rummaging in the bathroom again; retrieve sponge and flannels from stairs, step into water bowl on landing.

11pm : Find armchairs and settee all occupied; tear up Bearded News effort. Decide to sneak up to bed to beat the rush.

11.02pm : Too late - vault into bed.

11.03pm : Remember forgetting bedtime Vetzymes. Grope for bedside light - no good, unplugged to avoid Bluebell electrocuting herself. Feel for Vetzyme tin, wearily toss handful on floor. Goodnight Beardies.

1974

Thirty five years later I still have wall-to-wall Beardies........the kitchen at Maes yr Haul, 2009.

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( First published in the SCBCC magazine "Beardie Times" in Autumn 1984 )

The story so far: The Brambledale Beardies, with accompanying flocks and herds and attendant human, are happily established in their new home at Llwyncelyn Uchaf , where they all enjoy an idyllic existence.

Now read on.........

Monday : The peace is shattered by the arrival of four villainous carrion crows who massacre a large number of Silkies, leaving the gutted corpses spread-eagled on the yard amid drifts of downy feathers. Principles of not disturbing balance of nature etc are questioned, a plan is drawn up and neighbour with shotgun is summoned to assist.

 Tuesday : Crows lurk in trees, neighbour lurks in kitchen with gun-barrel poking through window, Beardies lurk in bathroom with fingers in ears. I feel like kidnap/siege/hostage/victim as seen on television. Crow lands on gate......BANG !! Neighbour falls over, I drop teapot, Lika falls into bath. Neighbour advises hang up dead crow, frighten away others. Everyone drinks tea.

 Later : Dead crow hanging from barn eaves attracting great interest from passing horses, cows, goats; wary looks from surviving Silkies. Beardies attempt to climb barn wall for better look.

  That Evening : Dead crow apparently much-loved husband and father. Widow and orphans  now mourning loudly in yard. Attempt to assuage feelings of guilt with thoughts of corvine atrocities against innocent Silkies.

Wednesday : Inconsolable single-parent crow family wakes everyone at dawn. Remove dead crow for decent burial. 'Phone neighbour.

Later : Scene as before, gun barrel through window etc. Enter mother crow accompanied by both offspring clamouring to be fed. Close-knit trio presents fleeting opportunity for three-in-one shot before being totally eclipsed by cow trundling across yard and pausing to admire view. Lika, unable to bear fingers-in-ears suspense, has climbed out of bathroom window and now trots across yard to talk to cow. Neighbour suffers apoplexy and has to be revived with home-made- wine, which renders him incapable of driving home, let alone aiming gun.

 Thursday : Enter me, bearing fiendishly simple crow-trapping device, comprising mesh cage with lift-up flap in top. Set this up in yard with half-a-dozen eggs as bait ( crows having already demonstrated partiality to eggs by stealing several hatching clutches ). Prop open door with stick and arrange trip -wire in front of eggs. Retire to kitchen to watch. Enter Grace Beardie; strolls over to inspect cage. Grace, with a considerable number of egg-stealing convictions on her record ( she has perfected the delicate art of of removing eggs from under a hen without disturbing the sitter), quickly works out method of entry and pokes head through cage door, dislodges stick......and brings door down on head......  Bring Grace into house, reset trap, back to window........

 Enter two Silkie hens, gossiping pleasantly together as they scratch about - until they spot the eggs. HORROR, some careless bird has left her eggs out in the open! Someone must sit on them......they are still anxiously trying to solve the problem, tut-tutting over the irresponsibility of the pullets of today when Young Goat arrives on the scene. Insatiably curious, he examines trap, bounces on top of it a few times - and then spots the open door. To his caprine mind, however, the attraction is not in the eggs but in the stick which props open the door. Young Goat eats stick, door drops, I swear, and crows, no doubt, watch from wood and laugh loudly.

  Lynne Evans 1984

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I wrote the following item  in 1974 .  It wasfirst published in "The Bearded News"in November 1974 and reprinted in the same magazine in November 1990.

   Historical Notes:  Olympia was a London exhibition hall and home of Cruft's. "Tracey Witch of Ware" was a Cocker Spaniel who made history by winning Best in Show at Cruft's twice  (I think it was 1948 +1950)  .......the sixth Cruft's BIS win for her owner/breeder, Harry Lloyd. W.E.L.K.S. was the first open air show of the year, held amid lovely parkland near Cheltenham and glorious in good weather.......

Fool's Paradise Lost - Long After Milton

All winter, through Olympia's smokey haze,

We dream of W.E.L.K.S. and Windsor's balmy days;

Of summer dress, ice cream and cloudless skies

And closed-cropped turf with rings a decent size.

Yet when the summer season comes around

We find ourselves on some storm-blasted ground

'Midst flattened tents and rings knee-deep in mud

With icy gales enough to freeze the blood.

 In evil mood we squelch across the ground

 To see what crumb of comfort can be found

Within the bar, but horror! We are told

That every drop of liquor has been sold!

The wise take hip-flasks, glad of warming nips;

Instead of ice cream - queues for fish and chips!

Alas! Poor Paignton, battered by rough gales; 

Wet Brum, worse Bath, chill Blackpool, sodden Wales.

And by September we already long

For grim Olympia with its crushing throng

Of daft spectators poking at the dogs -

Tho' through it all they seem to sleep like logs....

And leave it up to us to do our best

To see that they enjoy a peaceful rest

Untroubled by the endless tramp of feet

And questions 'bout the rising price of meat........

Or shedding hair, or visits to the vet,

And "Will the Beardie make a household pet?"

"He looks so docile, lying there like that,

I'm sure he'd feel at home in my town flat."

We try to tell them that the Beardie's needs

Go far beyond his bed and daily feeds

And that he wants to run and chase and play,

Not once a week, but sev'ral times a day!

But all in vain - They're sure to find someone

With pups to sell, who wants to get them gone;

Who's not too bothered where they go, or how

They spend their days - he wants his money now.

But this is not the reason why we're here

And why we gather thus, year after year 

How will the day, for us, be made or marred?

By competition for a coloured card!

For this we work and walk and groom and train

And brave the traffic jams, the snow, the rain.

Just for today the judge's word is law,

Though maybe he's not met the breed before....

So now he scans each dog (and owner's face!)

And calls the winners out to take their place;

The rest withdraw, o'erhung with gloom and grief;

All hopes are dashed in judgement oh so brief.

Perhaps one, bolder than the rest, dares ask

The learned judge, when he has done his task, 

For an opinion on his wretched pet.........

"Too tall, too fat and lacking coat as yet.......

........ And then she has small leathers and worse feet.....

But as a pet I'm sure she's very sweet." 

And dare we tell the judge that this same bitch

Has done more winning than great Tracey Witch?

With Best in Show and Challenge Certs galore -

The breed has never seen her like before.

Philosophers are apt to smile and say

"Well, never mind, each dog must have his day."

But less control is managed by the rest -

We're each sure that our own dog is the best,

And sev'ral losers wish to make it plain;

"It's all a fix" and "We'll not come again."

"Let's take our dogs and get on out of here............ 

Goodbye for now - we'll see you all next year!"

 

Lynne Evans     1974

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