Fracking down the evidence

Me, pondering the state of the world.

I’m not a natural activist.  Given the choice between a protest march and a quiet afternoon on the sofa, the sofa wins paws down.  Mind you, I could probably do quite well at a sit in.

But the Mum has been so preoccupied recently, gazing at the lake and sighing, looking up at the hills and sighing, tapping away at her computer and sighing, that even a dog could work out that there was something wrong.  I feared a world shortage of custard creams, and had one or two sleepless nights, but it turns out that the problem goes, quite literally, even deeper than that.

Have any of you canine correspondents out there heard of fracking?  One or two of you, maybe, especially the guys (I believe that’s what you call yourselves) from the other side of the Atlantic.  Well, I’m not a scientist any more than I am an activist (unless you count my scholarly invisceration of stuffed toys) but basically this seems to be the situation:

1.  Humans (at least, the sort of humans we generally encounter) depend on something called fossilfool to do all the important stuff they get up to (driving us to the vet, buying dog food, making plastic food bowls, washing our blankets, heating those comfortable corners, plus all those other activities that don’t seem to have any rational explanation at all, like wars and commuting and reality television.)

2. They’ve done so much of this that they’ve used up nearly all the fossilfool in the world.

3. In the process, they’ve made an almighty mess of the sky so that the weather keeps going wrong.  (Imagine the trouble we’d be in if we’d done that.)

4. Despite (3) the humans are desperate to find the very last bits of fossilfool and use them up so that there won’t be any more at all for their children.  (Humans are known for being very fond of their children.)

5.  One of the places they think there might be a little bit of fossilfool is in the underground rock of Fermanagh, the very beautiful county I’ve adopted as my home.  (See  earlier posts for the tragic tale of my enforced exile from my native Belfast.)

Me, and a little bit of County Fermanagh.

6. This little bit of fossilfool (actually it’s methane – yes, exactly the same as that interesting smell that comes out after we’ve had an unusually rich dinner – they’re not so thrilled about it then, are they?) is spread out in tiny little spaces across miles and miles of countryside.  The only way to get it out is by smashing through the rocks with millions of bathfuls of nasty liquid at really, really high pressures. (And when I say nasty, I don’t just mean that shampoo stuff…)  That’s what they mean by fracking.

7. As well as breaking the rocks (funny that, when they’re so proud of their underground places like the Marble Arch Caves) and muddling the weather and using up the water, and sending thousands of giant lorries driving down the little roads (it’s hard enough to cross already), it turns out that in places where they’ve had this fracking thing,  lots of dangerous stuff gets left about, on the roads and in the rivers and even in the air.  And this stuff not only makes people ill, but even poisons animals.

In case you can't quite read it, the website is

Let’s be honest, chaps, as a species, we could,without excessive generalisation, be described as curious.  If we smell an interesting new smell, we investigate it.  And the way we investigate it, not being equipped with microscopes or portable laboratories, is by licking it.  And if it tastes salty, or pungent, or generally fascinating, we’ll generally go on licking it until there isn’t any of it left.  It’s just the way we are.

So in my opinion, prone as the Mum is to making  fusses about nothing (a few crumbs on the carpet just add to the design), in this case she’s on to something.  So I urge you, my fellow canines, to transform yourselves into fractivists before it’s too late.  And if any of you have enlightened house-humans who are already involved, please tell us all about it.  And meanwhile, if it’s methane they want …





Happy New Year

Ahem.  Yes, I know; it’s been a long time.  A very long time.  In my defence, there isn’t actually, as a general rule, an awful lot to write about these days.  My life is a smooth and shimmering lake of contented tranquillity.  Well, not quite, but it is fairly dull.  I’m not a young dog anymore; my licence (yes, we still have dog licences in Northern Ireland, hence the natty little orange tag attached to my collar) claims that I am ten and a half, but you can safely add at least a year to that.

As well as being geriatric, I’m also disabled, having one leg that only intermittently functions as such.  Not that my condition cuts much ice with the house-humans who insist, in callous and brutal fashion, on taking me for walks the number and duration of which would severely tax a Labrador puppy, let alone a venerable terrier such as myself.  And, needless to say, the internal combustion engine continues to be conspicious by its absence from the Jones family drive….

But enough of this distressing and doom-laden despair.  Existence, even for a automotively-challenged chap such as myself has its occasional compensations.  One is called Christmas.  On the adjacent picture, in addition to my good self and young Aidan (yes, he has grown since last time, quite alarmingly) you may perceive a sock-shaped object suspended from a door handle.  This is my stocking.

On reflection, perhaps I should rephrase that.  I wouldn’t like you think that in my senescence I had descended into any variety of kink.  I’ve  never bothered much about that sort of thing, and I’m not planning to start now.  No, by ‘my stocking’ I mean the receptacle, purchased by The Mum from one of the excellent PDSA emporia, designed for the transportation and concealment of Christmas presents for yours truly.

Christmas presents!!!!

Sorry – got a bit carried away there – not really appropriate to my venerable age.  All the same, Christmas presents!!!  This is the boys getting very excited about one of theirs – I can’t say much about it myself, as Wii controllers and paws seem to have been designed for different paradigms of reality but I’m sure it’s all terribly fascinating.  Not as fascinating, however, as my two Christmas-themed soft toys, packet of mini-bones, biscuits, posh M&S dinner and tennis balls.  Oh, and there was a bag of what were described as ‘doggie choc drops’, though if they had any more than an Internet-dating relationship with a cocoa bean, then I’m an Abyssinian guinea-pig.

Never mind.  The really good thing about Christmas, apart from having the Gawain and the Sue here with us (last year they were prevented by the extreme cold and the year before by the trivial matter of being in the Antipodes), was that the Mum cooked, in addition to some ridiculous vegetarian concoction featuring cabbage and chestnuts, an actual turkey, and since most of them are now practically entirely vegetarian, there were only really the Gawain and me to dispose of it.  I just finished off the last bones this afternoon.

Talking of which, and to return to the principal purport of my post – a very happy New Year to you all!  Floreat lupus familiaris!

Happy returns

On August 31st it was my birthday.  My official birthday, that is – like other august personages, I have two.  Unfortunately, owing to the slightly mystifying nature of my origins, no one knows when the biological one is.  I therefore have to make do with celebrating on the day that I came to live with this particular tribe of house-humans.  Sometimes I wonder whether ‘celebrate’ is exactly the word (hint, car, hint, hint) but I seem to be stuck here now, and might as well make the best of it.  And this was certainly the best.  Yes, those are sausages on the table, real sausages, M&S outdoor bred genuine pork, though I’m not sure exactly what the green stuff in the bowl is.  I wasn’t going to risk it anyway, not at my age.

My age – that’s what I was going to tell you about.  Dear me.  Yes, I’ve been with the Dad etc for three years now, and was estimated to be seven when I arrived, which brings me to the satisfyingly round figure of ten.  And it is. (My figure, satisfyingly round – I’ve recovered my appetite after the various feline upheavals of recent months.)  What’s more, if one takes the conventional ratio of one dog year to seven human ones, that makes me, if my arithmetic does not err, the equivalent of seventy.

And seventy, I am reliably informed, is officially Venerable. (Wasn’t there a bean of that name, or is my hearing crumbling as well?)  So I am anticipating more than a modicum of respect from the house-humans and young Marco.  Not much sign of it yet, but perhaps this entry will remind them.  By the way, I hear that the Mum’s father became Venerable on the same day. We have much in common, particularly our distinguished grey beards, technological expertise and lively interest in geology.  (You didn’t know I was interested in geology?  I’m sorry, but the idle blog rambler really can’t be expected to become privy to every intimate detail of my life.  And surely you’ve seen me sniffing a stone or two?)  Anyway, I hope that the Grandad has more luck than me in inspiring respect and deference.

In particular, I hope that his friends-and-relations show a more sympathetic understanding of the inevitable waning of his memory skills as the years roll by.  It’s really quite unreasonable to expect me to remember back as far as June and to recall that there’s a place called School where the boys are obliged to spend large chunks of the daytime.  The Aidan went back to it a couple of days after my birthday and sadly neglected to explain this to me, so that I spent nearly all day at the front of the house anxiously scanning the horizon for his return.

The Mum and the Dad did try to explain to me, but you know how it is; I can’t always decipher their weird English dialects.  Anyway, he came back eventually, much to my relief.  Really, you’d think they’d be more careful with an old dog’s blood pressure…


They tell me that I need to get updated, go with the flow, embrace new technology, get down in cyberspace.  Humph, is what I say.  The old Terrier Diary worked perfectly well, with the odd little glitch to keep the Dad’s grey cells fizzing.  But no, all the others have migrated – is that the word they use; I thought it was something to do with swallows? – to these new-fangled WordPress operations, so apparently I have to do the same.  Mindless conformity.  And that blasted new assistant of mine, Marco il gatto, is no help whatsoever, unless one has a peculiar yearning for half-dead frogs and mice and games of snail football across the dining room floor.  (Actually snail football is quite fun, but don’t tell him I said so.)

On His Hairiness’s Service

What? Oh, is it my turn now? What’s this thing with the light on it? Does it move if I push it? Oh yes! What? Oooh, look! Sorry, Robbie – Your Hairiness, I mean. Yes, of course I want to be your confidential secretary and transmit your deathless thoughts to all your global followers on the World Wide Web. Ooh, a web. Does it have flies in it? I like chasing flies. When I’m a bigger cat I’ll be allowed to go outside and chase birds, too. What? Oh, all right. His Hairiness says that the house-humans like birds, and they like them best alive. Okay. I’m happy to be corrected. After all, I’m only six months old, and I’ve only lived in His Hairiness’s household for six days – I’m sure I’ve got plenty to learn.

Eh? Oh yes. My name is Marco, after Signor Polo, the great explorer. My greatest exploration so far has been halfway up the smaller chimney but then the Mum blocked it up with cardboard. His Hairiness says she’s often like that.

I used to live with a different set of house-humans but I was too irritating to the senior cat. His Hairness says he can understand that. They’re not all spoil-sports, though, these house-humans. The Aidan is my particular friend and protector – he lets me into his personal territory to eat and sleep and even do the unmentionable litter tray business. Oh, sorry. His Hairiness says that sort of language isn’t appropriate in his refined journal. As I said, I’ve got a lot to learn. Oh look, another key to jump on! What happens if I do thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

Updating at last

Apparently the Gawain has been muttering about the fact that I haven’t updated this diary for so long.  I suppose it has been a while, but after all, he’s the one living in Newsy Land.

Actually there is something to report: I’ve been abandoned once again.  Oh, not by the house-humans – as my regular readers will know, I’ve been trying for years to trade them in for a properly motorized family.  No, it’s Ellie who’s left me this time (well, left them and not taken me with her, which amounts to the same thing). Never trust a cat. She slipped out in her usual unobstrusive way one evening in early March, and hasn’t been back since.  I utilized all my keen terrier senses on the roads, paths and woods over half the town, but to no avail.  The Mum thinks she might have seen her early one Sunday morning, living it up with a feline companion round the back of the funeral director’s, but she can’t be quite sure.  Anyway, good luck Ellie, wherever you are – hope you have a good proportion of your nine lives left….

On a more cheerful note, I understand that I’m being called upon to appoint the next government.  I can fully appreciate that I’m the dog for the job; am only sorry that my sleeping commitments make me unable to take the appointment in person.  The three front-lollopers for the Pry Mini-Stir (is that a type of inquisitive Pot Noodle?) position paraded before me last night via a convenient video-link to my sofa.  I was quite attracted by Mr Cameron’s promise that he would put steaks in people’s houses (though knowing my lot, they’d probably request the vegetarian option) but in the end I was won over by Mr Clegg who declared that he was going to set up a dedicated Border Police Force.  The Dad was a bit worried that it would be too energetic for me, all that running around after criminals, but the Mum pointed out that I would make an admirable desk sergeant, as my snoozing skills are really second to none.

Speaking of which, it’s probably time for a quick mid-morning nap before my pre-prandial zzzzzzzzzzz

Where has she gone

Can’t seem to find TJ – I remember walking to town with her but can’t recall her coming back.
Strange today with the wrong one doing the cooking – still, seemed to result in more leftovers.

Bark the herald…

Another Christmas.  I’m old and sensible now, and don’t get so carried away as I did in my youth, so no humiliating encounters with waste bins or cheese.  Santa Paws did his customary stocking stuff, very acceptable – several bones, a pig’s ear and a soft festive puppy to be ripped to shreds.  And there was lots of that snowy stuff that sets my fur off to such good effect.  The Aidan took this picture – I’m thinking of making him my official paparazzo.

A martyr’s got to do…

Sometimes one has to make a point. When one’s resident feline spends half the morning eating a bird and consequently disgraces herself on the carpet, one has to point out in no uncertain terms that there is one animal in the house whose virtue shines with effulgent light. And if that requires squeezing into a cardboard box and shivering histrionically until the Mum notices and brings a blanket, then that’s simply what has to be done.

Once the point is made, of course, there’s no reason not to move, blanket and all, into the luxury padded bed that was available all along. After all, you don’t have to be a saint to be a martyr.


The Gawain and the Sue have at last turned up again after their long travels in Newsy Land and Us Trail Ya. I’m making sure that it will be remarkably difficult for them to leave again…

… except when I’m busy trying out Ellie’s box-with-a-cushion-in-it. Some uncharitable persons have been making remarks about ugly sisters and slippers but I don’t pick up on all these human references.