Saturday, 23 February 2008


It all began with an accidental meeting in our local churchyard. We measured one another from a distance. Tutsman and I. He looked like the old-timer he was, with grey whiskers and a mangy flee-ridden pelt, staying rigid, and tensely flicking his tail. It was I who blinked first. Pretending we were old acquaintances, and lowering myself into an amiable squat.

And that’s how we became friends.

You see, Tutsman had lost one eye - looking much like the then President of Croatia (- a sinister looking individual, after whom I’d decided to name him). But he was in truth a tramp, a feral or stray, because little trace, if any whatever, remained of his more domestic past. Try as he might, Tutsman could never live down the taint that went with this name, and his motives were always suspect. As soon as he felt a carpet or a rug under his bottom, he needed to crap, making clear the distinction between personal feelings of friendship and affairs of the stomach. So the ham was always a priority, and the smoked mackerel his main concern. But once I had his attention, he was a tomcat of the most affectionate kind. His gruff exterior belied a rough-hewn tenderness. He purred so loud, I thought the house might come down. I liked, too, the way in which he sustained such a crackpot purr. He virtually had no measure for knowing when enough was enough. It would go on for hours. His personal hygiene and salivating habits that ensued need not detain us here, but he also enjoyed head-butting me, first with one ear, and than the other, and for all the saliva, I endured it, enraptured.

Dogs - no matter how well-appointed - are simply not the same.

When I took the sun-lounger on to the lawn, Tutsman would roll over on his back, shadow-boxing the buzz-flies which tended to dive-bomb him. He brought me fortitude, humour and affection, jumping up onto my lap whenever I was dozing in the grass, pounding my thighs with his silky paws and butting me on the chin.

I never remember an exchange between us that did not suggest deep mutual affection, humour and warmth.Having regained his fighting-weight, Tutsman also decided that the time had come to redesign the laws of nature. Ignoring the odds, he would climb on to the garage roof and set out to look for love on the battlefield, holding three or four junior toms at bay whilst displaying his prowess to a lady favourite. But even in his moments of triumph he allowed himself no complacency. Fact is, he further distinguished himself by impregnating half the local’s cats, including a Persian pedigree. There were perhaps a dozen varieties of tomcats in the vicinity and representatives from every conceivable type, but Tutsman’s took the biscuit. I was impressed, not to say awed. Here he was, the leader of the gang, a one-eyed, punk-pirate fresh from the wild, with saber, shades and buccaneer-bandanna - metaphorically speaking - calling himself Number One.

When I had to go to abroad, Tutsman was to stay behind. It made me miserable, but I had no choice. So I arranged for him to be fed twice a day, and the last I saw of him, was curled up in his rubber-tire on the log-woods in my garden-shed.

Tutsman wouldn’t even acknowledge me, after I returned - pretending he’d never been introduced. Call it Tutsman’s revenge, but subsequent to being left indoors - as a conciliatory gesture, no less - he crapped on the carpet in three places, decapitated the cactus-flower, savaged the bay-leaf tree, urinated in the fire-place, and ripped the curtains off the rail. He also left his signature, in what turned out to be musk, all over the bookshelf, and then brought proceedings to a stunned and belated conclusion by getting his tail stuck in the toaster. The effect, to say the least, was stupefying. There was also a sense of expiation on my part, needless to say, and a feeling that I’d paid my due. For with that, it seems, the incident was closed and we were fast friends again.

My departure, though, represented a turning-point. The inevitable happened. Tutsman could not tolerate anything that was enclosed, confined, or took place indoors instead of in the light of the sun. So with the coming of winter, he caught a chill. He then developed pneumonia and refused all food. There was nothing even the vet could do.

That’s when I wept.

I buried Tutsman under the apple-tree, his favourite spot - where he’d boxed the flies in the dappled sunlight. And remembering those sunny summer afternoons a full decade later, my feelings are unchanged. Love is beautiful. Sometimes it is beyond words. And ours was pretty near perfect.



Richard Havers said...

We've got three dogs again. Most of last year we had two, our oldest dog having been put to sleep in the spring. I was so shite I couldn't take her to the vet for that last act - my wife had to do it. When she brought her home I carried her into the field and buried her on the hillside she loved so much. That way she could watch pheasants and rabbits for eternity in the hope that it would remind her, and us, of what a brilliant life she had had, and given to us.

Selena Dreamy said...

Thank you for that, Richard. I'm very reluctant to have another pet. Over ten years later, I still feel the heartbreak of that moment...

Anonymous said...

I think you mean Tudjman - its ironic isnt it that you got the name wrong? Still hay? You have me ....

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Local churchyard?

Helen said...

Ms. Dreamy, that was lovely.

Selena Dreamy said...

Thank you, fellow elves - I so adore good company...


Anonymous said...

That was beautifully written.

What a catastrophe for you; my soul is with you always.

I am a 90 year old Chinese Interior Designer called Min Sing Quan.

As a long-time sufferer from elephantisis and irritable bowel syndrome, (not to mention the ongoing handicap of having to type these words with prosthetic hooks) I understand the need to share one's life with animal companions.

Until recently, I owned group of male and female stick insects, yet, tragically, when I returned from the lavatory after another nasty bout of anal restraint, I found that my beloved creatures had become a pile of ash.

To my great grief,, the vet said that they had decided to have an orgyistic gyration, and in the ensuing sexual friction, my pets had all incinerated like a pile of dry sticks.

Forgive this introspection; I look forward to your future updates.