Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The Adventures of Zetdogg. 1: Exile in Glasgow




I quite like Glasgow, which is in western Scotland. And as I am currently quartered in the bohemian west end of said city, I feel, as an intellectual athlete, not to mention aesthete of a dog, reasonably comfortable speaking to the relatively educated canines I meet. Of subjects such as Proust, Kerouac, castration complexes, balls, the early Beethoven movies, balls, and why Turner and Hooch is an absolute travesty. 

A dog of a film is how I’ve heard it described, but that seems something of a vile calumny upon the canine community. What was Tom Hanks thinking?

I, Zetdogg (two 'g's; you may call me Zet. Or Dogg) am in, but not of Glasgow. My Human Companion, Tom (not Hanks), is currently residing in a second floor flat surrounded almost entirely by hundreds of other similar homes, all piled on top of one another. Oh, and coffee emporia. This is  while he carries out repairs and improvements to a nearby apartment owned by his son, who wishes to move nearer to his workplace in even more bohemian Edinburgh. And so must sell his current abode. 

Why he doesn’t wish to move back to his native Shetland Islands  I have no idea. There may be some kind of exclusion order in place of the sort currently affecting 'travel bloggers' and so-called 'influencers; software engineers may also be banned from island residence. There is coffee available in Shetland, which is obviously crucial to any sort of digital activity. The HC assures me that lattes and capuccinos (not to mention cortados, espressos, macchiatos and even Nescafe Gold Blend) are available in Lerwick, Hillswick and even in the furthest-flung reaches of Unst, or Nuke Target Spaceport Unst as we must now call it. 

Of course, Glasgow's Queen Margaret Drive has its so-called Coffee Strip, which does offer a bewildering range of grinds and roasts, but it should be pointed out that it is now illegal for any new business to open in Lerwick, capital of All Shetland, which is not a bistro, cafe, cake shop, restaurant (preferably that new concept, 'Meaty vegan local seafood joint') or bar. And the great evil which is craft beer has spread there too. Cry for Tennents and McEwen's if you will! The pipeline carrying peach-and-Marmite pale ale stout with roasted duck feathers is already in place.

One thing which Zetlandic providers of caffeine and indeed bearded alcohol could imitate is the dog-accessibility of Glaswegian establishments. Water is provided, often small snacks, or indeed, full meals including steak, chips and an assortment of sauces, though I am not convinced this is entirely deliberate. The two greyhounds, Cooper and Sophie, with whom I occasionally - I believe the word is ‘hang’ - devoured said dish using their height and then their speed to escape what seemed very like anger emanating from an admittedly overweight human at the next table. though it was tricky discerning the meaning of his gutteral imprecations.
But in general, I miss Shetland and am longing to return. These days, the overnight journey by ferry from Aberdeen (undertaken in the back of my HC’s car, in considerable comfort, once the dog guard has been chewed into flexibility) is painless and once at home I can avail myself of that great and indeed unavoidable  Shetlandic advantage, proximity to the ocean. Not just to cool down in pristine salty cleanliness during these unpleasantly hot months (the River Kelvin, my only alternative to the sea hereabouts, has an aroma I have only smelt in Shetland during an unfortunate encounter with an open septic tank in Mid-Yell, mixed with the delicate whiff of the Bressay gut factory in full belch) but to bark at seals and chase otters into. I have been robustly informed that chasing otters is unwise and that catching them by the tail even less advised (one Labrador of my acquaintance lost part of his nose by doing just that; how does he smell, you ask? Terrible!). But I’m drawn that way. It’s a gene thing. After all, who could like otters? Awful creatures, prone to activities too disgusting to mention herein.

There is also the question of The Poo Bag. I do understand that these are essential if one’s Personal Solid Waste (PSW, as I refer to it) is deposited in public spaces such as the glorious Knab (where I recently met a 16-year-old sheepdog, still trying to round up golfers) or the steps of the Town Hall (I was sternly advised by a councillor I had previously doubted the existence of  that leaving a PSW could not be considered a Political Statement, or a complaint against the planning department). In such circumstances it behoves one’s HC to uplift and dispose of the faeces. It's knotting the bag which causes me difficuoties. Oh for an opposable thumb! 

But the truly liberating al fresco pleasures of performing one’s ablutions at the water’s edge on an incoming tide are not be, ah, sniffed at. Although I have seen my HC desperately trying to bag a PSW on Bain’s Beach during filming of Perez, More Cases of  Rashes Caused By Itchy Gansies, that excellent TV series. Alas, the waves carried it inexorably out towards a boat full of highly-paid local extras, including our very own drug-detecting pooch Thor (aka Castleside Eclipse, but what kind of name is that, really? Who can shout, “sniff that suitcase, Castleside Eclipse!” with a proper sense of urgency?). Who was ‘acting’ as...you’ll be shocked...a drug detecting pooch! Typecasting if you ask me. Anyway, Thor looked absolutely horrified. “Cut!” shouted a man in a quilted anorak. We beat a hasty retreat, just as the boat capsized. Oh well. Everyone was fine, once the Lifeboat and coastguard had been called and proper resuscitation procedures followed, and it made for a great scene in the TV show.

Enough of this dreaming of long Shetland nights, runs along the West Ayre and growling at Bonxies! I must now go to place called the North Kelvin Meadow to converse with two Newfoundlands, 15 Lhasa Apsos (they're popular in west end tenement flats, as they do not moult, and are Buddhist) and a number of pugs. And a sheepdog called Molly who keeps trying to round me up. She is a bit confused, I think. I am Zetdogg. I know these things. 



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