1. He probably wouldn’t have been the pick of the litter, but something attracted the small golden spaniel to this prospective master and the feeling was reciprocated. Perhaps it was the way he departed from his usual ponderous deportment by revolving quickly in circles of ever decreasing circumference when he was induced to excitement. Perhaps it was simply a common preference for the ‘underdog’ which was obvious in this pup that won my son’s heart. As he matured it became clear he was a plodder amongst canines, clearly no match for his bright, exuberant kennel partner for a brief time, Rosie. She ran rings abound him and was a delicate beauty. But it was her intelligence that bought her undone. Rosie was an expert escapologist and whilst the senior dog was still trying to figure it out, she was off and away. On the other hand he may also have felt that there was little point bolting for freedom. He was happy with life under my son’s generous care. Rosie was soon sent off to more secure surrounds. She was replaced by a cat and Oscar found, in his view, real friendship. Leopold, the wily tabby, probably didn’t reciprocate to the extent Oscar desired – for, after all, cats are users, dogs the givers. But our hound enjoyed what company the feline deigned to provide, as he does that of his super-sized, striking mate of more recent times – Memphis. He is far more generous to his canine house pal.
Oscar is slow, steady, sturdy and endearing. Let loose on a beach, he shoots the breeze, haring after seagulls with a joyous zest that belies his normal mien. Oscar asks for little but a full belly and the provision of an environment where he is free to give to a master complete loyalty, devotion and love. Rich has always returned those qualities in spades.
Several shifts in home Oscar took in his stride. If times became a tad tough Oscar’s affection knew no bounds. His most recent move has been the best. Oscar has his new friend, an immense sandy strand to bound on and another human person in his life. With this person my son has found a love more profound than even Oscar can give. He has travelled to Europe with that person where there the two placed a lock on a bridge across a river in the City of Love. By this act enduring fealty is promised, this being reinforced by my son going down on bended knee a few months later. And the wondrous Shan accepted, causing Oscar and a father-in-law to be extremely happy indeed.
2. Bridport charms and beguiles. It has been this scribe’s home away from home whilst on pet/house sitting duty several times in 2014, as son and fiancée travelled the island, the country and across the seas. The little town’s sunniness, its salt air, the friendliness of the natives and the expansive panoramas across Anderson Bay are major assets. Coming to Briddy sits number two, behind our abode on the southern river, as a location to while away one’s time in bliss.
3. We were laden with gifts for the pre-Christmas Christmas Day, my wonderful Leigh and I. We lifted the latch on the back gate and entered the yard. The curtains inside the rear windows of the North Hobart cottage twitched and an expectant little face peered out. There was a squeal of pent up waiting expelled and then the rear door opened. Out she charged to welcome her Nanny Nee Nee, whom she adores; as well as her Poppy, who is totally smitten by her. The smiles and the hugs that the little imp give have melted this old man’s heart. There is no better gig than being grandparent to Tessa Tiger. Her mate, LFM, calls her Tee-Tah. This little man also attacks the world at full throttle fang speed and together they continue to give joy beyond measure.
4.The Hawks gave further cause for pleasure with a sterling premiership performance but now – enough already. No more of this three-peat nonsense. For three long years I’ve had to avoid that ‘one day in September’. I want to watch a GF. So come on Port, Freo, the Cats and the Swans. Get it together and mount effective challenges in ’15. And having my favourite footballing wordsmith appointed captain of his team, the Doggies, was the icing on the cake for the past year in footy
5. ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ was proclaimed the best book in the English speaking world for 2014. Richard Flanagan’s opus is one for the ages, an amazing showcase for a Tassie writer at the peak of his powers. ‘Writing Clementine’, a charming story of coming of age in the Burnie/Wynyard homelands was also published. I am so proud of my writerly daughter.
6. What a wonderful year it has been for films. And there was so much new music that gave aural rapture.
7. Our travel experiences this year were broadened to include Adelaide. We renewed acquaintanceship with old friends and discovered a city comfortable with itself. That, in turn, ensured we were comfortable in it and will return.
8. It was another year of random meetings: an American naval engineer who is a fan of relatively obscure Australian impressionist John Russell, as am I; another American who inhabited an island (Rhode) off the coast of his continent, as do I. We shook hands on the commonality of that; then there was Cookie of Hahndorf who told us so much and I added a little more.
9. Over the past twelve months we have lost Joe C, Robin W, Philip SH, Doc N and so many more. But She up there beyond the silver lining is still looking out for Jimmy Bx2, Willie N, John P, Neil Y and Eric C, amongst other aging luminaries. Hopefully She’ll continue to see them remain ‘forever young’ throughout 2015.
10. The lead up to Christmas was blighted by the loss of a cricketing star, the senseless slaughter of children – followed, in recent days, by the loss of another aircraft. As well, the nation held its breath as a Sydney cafe siege played out to its terrible end. An obscenity devised by the addled mind of a pseudo-religious fanatic cost the lives of two precious souls. My Australian Act of the Year was the response of Manal Kassem, from Punchbowl, Western Sydney. Martin Place, near the site of the Lindt Cafe, where the saddening event occurred, became a sea of flowers as Aussies paid their respects to the victims. On what should have been her day above all others, Manal took time out to journey to the memorial in her wedding dress, veil and hijab to place her bridal bouquet at the shrine. That is what is glorious about the ethnicity of our Australia. Actions like hers give me hope as we are about to enter a brand new sparkling year.
As always and for every year, love you Leigh-Leigh