Sorry about this. I feel the need to share what happened today with those whom I consider to be cyber friends.

Last night, I finished my post awarding the 14th Photographic Competition on ‘Boadicea’s Chariot‘with:-

‘Captain Lawrence Oates was a fine man, by the way. I intend to follow his example for a while.’

I thank everybody for their kind comments on that post and feel, especially after today’s events, that I should explain. My planned and temporary waygoing was nothing serious but just something that I felt that I had to do for the sake of both myself and Mrs M.

I had a superb holiday in Australia with many utterly memorable events and encounters, all of which will be churned out in future posts. On the flight home and two hours short of Hong Kong, I started to get violent chills and shaking. I knew what it was, having had it before.

The treatment for cellulitis in the lower leg is antibiotics and raising the affected area higher than your heart to reduce the swelling. None of the former on the flight and the latter is not an option when you are in economy class. In any event, I was not about to own up to my illness. I knew it was cellulitis but the Chinese authorities might not have agreed with my diagnosis and I really did not want to be responsible for the quarantining of an entire Jumbo while they established whether or not it was something infectious.

By the time we got to Heathrow 19 hours later, my right leg was three times the normal size and I was delirious. Struggled on to the Embran flight but succumbed once home and ended up in hospital three degrees over normal temperature and with a severely blistered leg. Drip fed full of antibiotics for a week and then sent home for daily leg dressing by a succession of charming practice nurses.

Taking holiday and sick leave together, a total of seven weeks off work. I only went back last week, stir crazy and determined that I was going to do something about it. The plan was to lose a bit of weight, step up my level of exercise and generally get fit for purpose in the hope of warding off future cellulitic episodes.

Which is where Alfie came into my life three weeks ago:-

Mrs M’s dog, but I was just as besotted with him as he was with her. He formed part of my Great Plan. I have a completely sedentary job and decided last week that I should spend my leisure hours taking exercise instead of spending said hours posting on the Internet. Alfie was pencilled in for the long evening walks and I had already googled to establish which pubs in the area were dog friendly in case I found myself in need of refreshment as a result of my exertions.

Alfie was a three year old rescue dog, having been picked up as a stray. A lovely nature but we were told that he was highly nervous and liable to take off if not kept on a lead at all times when we were out. We were working on this and could see real progress as he came to trust us both.

I was at work this morning when the phone rang. It was the vet and she put Mrs M on. Mrs M had been on her way out to her Festival Chorus rehearsal. She thought that Alfie was fast asleep at the other end of the flat but the front door stuck slightly and, by the time she opened it, he was through her legs and straight under the passing Land Rover.

She knelt beside him and said his name. He wagged his tail. As she picked him up, he died.

So, it’s still a temporary goodbye. I am going to get fitter even if I will not have Alfie by my side as I do it.

And goodbye to Alfie too. We only knew him for three weeks but we gave him unconditional love and he gave us it right back.


21 responses to “Goodbyes

  1. Really sorry to hear about your illness and so sad about Alfie.
    Have a good rest. Come back (here) fighting fit! xx

  2. Isobel, good evening and thank you.

    You are the last comment to which I will reply before I sign off for a while. Please stay tuned for ‘Sailing By’ and the Shipping Forecast.

    Alfie was a blow, Only three weeks with us and he had changed our lives. Mrs M has never missed the Fireworks Display which now ends the Embra International Festival, whether as a performer or as a picnicking spectator in Princes Street Gardens.

    This year, she gave away her ticket for tonight because she was worried that Alfie might find it all too much. We live within easy earshot of the display and she wanted to be with him. Which she now won’t. I’m not looking forward to 11 pm tonight when the noise kicks in.

    Whatever, Trivial compared to what you are going through. I will get better and fitter and we will get another dog. I won’t be blogging but I will be finding the time to follow your posts about your mother and, of course, Not Cat.

    Best wishes


  3. Death of a loved pet is never trivial. Nearly six months since Cat died and I am still grieving.
    I am hoping Not Cat will visit Mother in the nursing home, and that she’ll be visited regularly by dogs.
    In the meantime, xx

  4. Happy birthday, auld yin.

    Hope you are on the mend, John and those long walks are aiding your recovery. I find that following a marching band is good for the legs. The miles seem like metres while there are good tunes pleasing your ear drums.

    As we’re now thinking of the World Cup here’s the old Alan Rough joke you
    might have forgot. One of the punters in the pub brought this one out of retirement the other night. Alfie came into my head when I heard this, I’m sure he would have liked this.

    A man and a dog go into the bar and the man bets the barman for a free pint he can get his dog to talk.
    Man: What’s the opposite of smooth?
    Dog: Rough.
    Barman: You’ll have to do better than that.
    Man: What’s the name of the long grass on a golf course?
    Dog: Rough.
    Barman: You’re wasting my time. I’ll be throwing you out.
    Man: Give me one last chance. Who was the Scotland goalie at the 1978 and 82 World Cups?
    Dog: Rough.
    The angry barman kicks the man out the pub then volleys the dog and it lands on top of its owner.
    Dog: What’s the matter, did I get it wrong? Was it Jim Leighton?

    Boom-Boom. Many happy returns.

  5. Thanks for the birthday wishes JW.

    Good joke and I never had a problem with Roughie, despite the Hibee years.

    Another Hibee custodian, is, of course, a different matter .Goram lost me at Ibrox when he turned round and gave our entire support the V sign when youse Huns knocked in the second goal .

    I used to like him because he had bowled and batted for Scotland at God’s own game.

  6. Sorry to hear about Alfie, he is in dog heaven. Joe Slavko will keep an eye on him.

  7. Sorry to hear about your illness and about Alfie, John. I hope things seem a bit brighter by now.

    • Hi Brendano. Thanks. I’m fine.

      I check in on your site regularly but struggle to feel that I have anything appropriate or relevant to say. Best wishes to you, your wife, your daughter and to all of Sean’s friends.

      Your memorials of him in your posts are, I hope, helping you to try to cope with what is still clearly an almost unbearable loss.

      I am glad to see that Madame C. is being so supportive. Please give her my best wishes.

  8. Thanks very much, John. Yes, the blog and the songs do help me (and Pauline) a lot.

    I will pass on your good wishes. You would be very welcome to chat to Cymbeline on my blog if you wished.

  9. Greetings Mr Mackie! For goddnessake that sudden illness sounds quite horrid. I do hope it’s but a distant memory now and that you haven’t been faking it to ensure the continued ministrations of the district nurses (it has been known).

    So sorry to hear about poor Alfie, Dreadful for you and Mrs M.

    Since JW has ventured a good dog joke, I’m going to inflict my favourite one on you. This has never been a success, by the way, as I’m inclined to give the game away far too early, but in text it might work….

    Fergus is stood outside his house when he spots Jock walking down the street with a strange animal by his side.

    “What’s that weird looking creature you have there?” he asks.

    “Oooohhh,” replies Jock, “This is the fiercest dog in Scotland – it’s called a long-nosed, short-legged, long-tailed Scottish lurcher.”

    “We’ll see about that! I have a Rottweiler, a Doberman and a Pit Bull Terrier in the back yard – let’s put this long-nosed, short-legged, long-tailed Scottish lurcher of yours to the test,” Fergus laughs.

    “I’ll bet you £100 that my dog can beat all three of them at the same time,” says Jock proudly.

    So they shake on the bet and go to the back yard where the Rottweiller, Doberman and Pit Bull are growling and barking.

    Fergus opens the gate and the long-nosed, short-legged, long-tailed Scottish lurcher walks in.

    After a few seconds, fur is flying and the dogs are screaming, then silence……

    They look into the yard to see the long-nosed, short-legged, long-tailed Scottish lurcher standing alone with no trace of the other three dogs apart from some blood and fur around its mouth.

    “Well, you were right, Jock,” says Fergal as he’s handing over the £100.

    “What did you say it was called again? A long-nosed, short-legged, long-tailed Scottish lurcher?”

    “Yup,” replies Jock, “but in some parts of the world they call it a crocodile.”

    • janh1

      Well met. Mortified that I had not spotted your comment before tonight. Good joke but I would be lying to you if I told you that I had not heard it before. Still a good joke and Mrs M had not heard it.

      Pretty well over the illness but probably never really going to get over Alfie. Never had a dog before and just can not believe how important he became to me in three weeks. Whatever, It’s probably a Celtic thing. We’re good at maudlin.

      Best wishes.

      JM (and Mrs M)

  10. Best wishes to you too, on your search for the perfect doggo. I will keep checking here for news.

    Ah so you heard that one before…

    If Capt Sensible and I are out to dinner and jokes are being traded across the table, after a couple of glasses of very good red, I might entreat him in a stage whisper “Hey..go on, tell them my favourite joke. You tell it so well…you know…. the one about the short-legged crocodile!”

    Whereupon he groans. 😀

    • janh1, good evening.

      News to follow. Definitely spanielish and possibly arriving in the New Year.

      I hope to meet Captain Sensible one day so that he and I can discuss you and Mrs M. Our respective distaff sides appear to have a lot in common, in my opinion. Mrs M has often managed to tongue-tie me by volunteering me for glory.

      Dinner party with two of her old school friends. She was nice and he was known to me as somebody who had won the Lothian Champion of Champions at golf three times in the past five years. Scratch golfer. My lowest ever handicap was 12. So, the subject was not going to come up, if I could help it.

      It came up, courtesy of Mrs M, when she suggested that we might like to have a game some day. Credit to the boy. He was the one that made the excuse.

      For the avoidance of doubt, if it had been chess, I would have massacred him, by the way.

  11. Greetings Admiral Mackie,

    Very interesting. You know, I play a mean game of chess myself. Would you like to bore the natives in Boadicealand by throwing a board up? The other authors could suggest moves that we may or may not choose to use. If anything, it might stimulate the old place up a bit.
    “I’m a New York city girl. It’s a little too quiet around here for me.” Dale Arden from Flash Gordon (1980) soundtrack by you know who.
    Of course, I know you’re still hurting from your Battleships 2 loss…

    Talking of Stepek, I have an old story concerning my mum as a dissatisfied customer with them. Hell hath no fury as an irate weegie woman. One of these days I’ll share.

    And where are my manners. Hello to Brendano and Jan.


    • Hi JW

      Not a bad idea. I’m still trying hard to cut down on the blogging and step up on the exercising. Nonetheless, I could probably persuade Mrs M that chess was mental exercise.

      Are you going to run it past our Charioteer chums or will I? Personally, I’m looking forward to a game. As a possible clue to my chess, despite being a Presbyterian agnostic, I am a bit of a fan of bishops.

  12. Hello John,

    Speaking as a member of the Church of Scotland and a believer in the one true faith, we call the bishops Elders in our parish and on our chess boards.

    I play correspondence chess on a few websites. Some games have a time limit of, Janus would love this, ten days. I try not to consult chess databases when making my moves and prefer to play “off the cuff”; some you win, some you lose. I trust you haven’t a Deep Blue computer program lurking in your hard drive. It doesn’t matter anyway as it’s all about the chat and not the game.
    It pains me to say this but you are a more erudite and respected blogger on the Chariot, I’m sure they’ll listen to you. I’m trying to think of things that could make it more interesting to the other authors. Any ideas?

    That’s a cracking tie you’ve got in the Scottish. Pity you aren’t away to Auchinleck. There would have been good potential for a shock result.

  13. Addendum- (Great word. Learned it from you)
    Para 2, line 2- Should be read as… ten days a move.

  14. Ooooh John!! Spaniel-ish news in the New Year?? I am on tenterhooks and they aren’t at all comfortable, I can assure you. Sounds like you have lined up your new companion and I’m unfeasibly pleased for you and Mrs M.

    Capt Sensible plays chess as you may know. And I have beaten him on at least three occasions but only by accident. My play is unexpected and erratic. The last win was with a giant chess set on the beach in St Lucia but there were tanned ladies in bikinis and I don’t think I had his full concentration.

    Greetings JW. Hope you are well. May the Muse be upon you. 🙂

    • Hi janh1

      You should be the first. Definitely a spaniel of the cocker variety and probably going to be called Dougal (‘dark stranger’ in Gaelic).

      I’m picking him up on my own on the 19th December, weather permitting, as Mrs M. is singing (yet again), it being Christmas.

      Dougal is the one on the left.

  15. On the theme of death and recollection I attended the memorial for Joe Slavko and posted some items at

    • Hi Shangers

      I picked up your post on MyT and went to your site. Thanks for taking the time to share. It looked like a good day and a fitting tribute to the boy.

      Were the Westies Joe’s dogs? I remember him posting pictures of similar hounds.

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