… this reminds me of a hard lesson that I’ve had to learn about cats. Now, I know I said that cats are “pants” … but for my well-being, and the cats’, it’s a mistake to think that I could simply chase all the pesky critters right off the planet. Its just not possible, and actually it’s not even healthy for us dogs to declare war. Chasing them is wooftastic sport – yes, but though it pains me to say it: we do have to live together in relative harmony.
I’m reminded of a quote from that great canine philosopher, Snoopy: “Sometimes when I get up in the morning, I feel very peculiar. I feel like I’ve just got to bite a cat ! I feel like if I don’t bite a cat before sundown, I’ll go crazy ! But then I just take a deep breath and forget about it. That’s what is known as real maturity.” And to that, I’d just add: ‘real wisdom’. I always try to keep this in mind when I see one of them fekin moggies sneering down at me from the neighbour’s wall.
Anyhow, Trev’s mood changed when I put my paw on his arm. He seemed to understand what it meant. He laughed ruefully, and his voice changed: “Honestly Gizmo, anyone would think that you can really understand everything I’ve been saying.”
This was actually quite amusing for me as well. Had he only just realised: we did understand each other. Of course we did. Maybe not in the conventional human way, with words, but he certainly understood the point of my paw gesture, and I understood what he’d been telling me – from the music of his voice, the looks into my eyes, and his tears. We were communicating perfectly, with emotions, rather than words.
As I say, it’s funny really. On the one hand, humans don’t think us woofers can understand a word they’re saying, but then, on the other hand, they expect us to come running as soon as they call our names; or not to lick that tasty horse shit when they tell us what it will do to your stomachs. We can chew bones, but not their slippers, and when they explain this, they expect us to understand and obey.
Hey, Trev even used to talk to me about his problems with Sharon. “I’m in the dog house again” he’d say to me, as he took me for my morning walk. “‘Er Indoors is giving me grief again”, and he’d go on for the next fifteen minutes about it, when all I really wanted was for him to let me off the lead and throw a ball for me to chase. Right, OK then, I’m a Man’s Best Friend, so I’ll listen to his tales of woe about ‘Er Indoors, but they really should make up their minds about this, and decide whether we can understand their lingo or not.
Your average family pooch isn’t bothered about any of this. Basically he’ll just suit himself, and only really respond to commands when he feels like it, or when biscuits are involved. However, I’m a bit different. I think I’ve already mentioned that I’m a highly intelligent super-sophisto woofer. When it comes to understanding difficult stuff like this, I’m the mutt’s nuts, the dog’s danglies. So, as I’ve explained, I can communicate directly using state-of-the-art canine communications: gestures, sounds, smells and emotions.
Extract from chapter two
……..The next few days passed without incident until Monday arrived. Customs were due to deliver all the rest of our stuff, including my bowl, in the morning (yeah right, don’t hold your breath !). We waited all morning for the lorry to arrive, had lunch, and then waited some more. It finally arrived at 5pm. Trev tried to ask the delivery man what had happened ? Why hadn’t they turned up when they said they would ? Why hadn’t they phoned ? But he just shrugged and kept saying “que ?” as if it was entirely normal to be at least five hours late … which for him it was.
We were beginning to realise that things worked differently here. If something arrived some time on the day it was supposed to, then that was actually an efficient delivery service, never mind how many hours you’ve had to stay in waiting – that’s irrelevant. Some people call this the ‘manana culture’ (wadever …), but in fact it goes much deeper than that. It’s actually more like a whole alternative universe: the ‘Manana Universe’ with it’s own unique laws and principles.
For instance, built in to the way things worked in this universe was the (relative) certainty that everybody would be late for an appointment. The game was guessing by just how much (the so-called ‘Manana Uncertainty Principle’ – or ‘MUPpet’s Law’). If someone were actually to turn up on time, the delicate balance which is the ‘Manana Space-Time-Continuum’ would be thrown into complete mayhem, nothing would work, and the universe might even be sucked into a black hole created by an on-time delivery man.
I think I’ve already mentioned that I’m a highly intelligent super-sophisto dog, and understand these kind of things. So I knew there was actually a whole branch of quantum physics devoted to studying how things work in the ‘Manana Universe’.
A good example of this was the washing machine in our new home. It was a kind of ‘manana washing machine’. You switched it on, and it made helpful noises for while, but then it would sort of shrug and go for a siesta, and you’d be left wondering if perhaps it would decide to finish the rest of the spin cycle some time in the indefinite future – perhaps when the sun had gone down and all the other washing machines had sprung into life for a bit of ‘electrodomesticos socialising’. The manana washing machine always knew if it was a fiesta day. There seemed to be one of those most weeks, and no-one / nothing worked. Again the game was predicting when they’d occur. MUPpet’s Law seemed to have something to do with it, because there was certainly a lot of uncertainty involved in guessing when a fiesta (or the washing machine) would spring into life.
We’d been here barely a week, and we were already finding out that things were hardly every quite as they at first seemed in this new universe. For one thing, some things could be both true and untrue at the same time, without much of a contradiction or anyone actually being accused of telling untruths. The locals had a phrase that you’d hear quite often: “mas o menos” and there were others: “temporary problem” meant “could take an unlimited number of mananas”, and “no problem” equalled “time to get really worried”.
Another source of uncertainty in the Manana Universe was that most of the time, things that could go wrong did inevitably go wrong, but sometimes they’d surprise you by working – if not perfectly, then at least a hell of a lot better than you’d ever thought they would. English-speaking humans have expressions that express the first part of this: Sod’s Law, Murphy’s Law … the French say stuff like “c’est la vie”, and as we dogs say: “Life’s a Bitch”. But the dogs around here say: “Manana’s a Bitch …preferable a hot poodle with a cute little butt !”
…We decided to leave Costa del Scorcio and explore a bit further afield. We walked along the coast for quite a way until we came to a bustling fishing village called ‘El Blowo’ (apparently this was short for: ‘El Blowo-de-Sombrero-Off”). It looked like a cool place. Fekin windy that’s for sure. Almost blew my fur off in fact, so maybe it would blow a few of those pesky fleas away.
We stopped outside a cafe on the board-walk called ‘Flashpoint’. They’d left a bowl of water outside for passing pooches. How considerate was that – wooftastic in fact. I was starting to like this place.
Some of the humans there were wearing rather strange outfits. Skin-tight black gear which smelt well weird. Actually the more we sniffed it, the more we liked it. Apparently they were called ‘wet suits’ and some humans wore them to go in the sea. Judging from the odour, these suits were also handy when they were ‘caught short’. Hmm – nice, I approve.
The real purpose of these smelly suits was to keep the humans warm while they were doing some funny stuff called ‘water sports’ (after all, the poor things didn’t have fur coats to keep them warm, like we did). Apparently El Blowo was famous for water sports like surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing because the non-stop wind made the sea very bumpy. Funny eh ? That would just make me sea-sick, but these humans-in-smelly-suits liked to use the bumps to leap into the air. They called it: “getting some air” … ironic really, cos for us dogs this means passing wind and sniffing it – far more logical (and pleasurable) really.
Water sports were certainly peculiar activities to spend your life doing. The participants had to carry all this heavy equipment across a sand-blasted beach, chuck it in the water, and jump on. Then they spent several hours charging around, getting their air, and falling off. It looked daft to me, and I’m not even sure that I’d call it a sport. I mean where was the ball ? or the stick ? or the frizbee ? Humans can be such strange creatures sometimes.
We spent quite a while in El Blowo, checking out the restaurants, and getting to know some of the local pooches. One of them was a cross-breed mutt called Stitch. She had a cool life as the official cockroach catcher for a local surf station. This Stitch dudess spent her days snoozing outside the door, and sniffing new customers as they came in to hire equipment. She only had to fulfil her cockroach catching duties on a part-time basis, and anyway it was fun work chasing those little brown buggers around. Most days the surfy customers would throw a ball for her to chase on the beach, but Stitch said she was a bit tired of that. “What do they think I am ? a performing poodle ?”. I knew what she meant, being half poodle myself.