Day 110: 2013 and my friend Leo gives me tough love.
Apologies for the absence.
Happy New Year.
I have only just emerged from a stomach virus and, to be honest, from an all too familiar January-sinking-feeling. I didn’t want to bore you with that.
Although it is wonderful to be back in the house, with Ann of course, with the doggies naturally, with duvets and with the Queen, I can’t help but suffer from an emotional slump. A little bit of depression pokes its head out like the dried poop from the back-end of a constipated donkey. I feel shit.
Moose and Bug are back in my life.
This morning Bug had been thoughful enough to leave me a present – he’d vomited on the floor. It was someone else’s vomit that he had picked up in London Field’s last night which was in itself a curry from teh night before that – I recognised the carrots.
I guess we are all interconnected.
My compassion extended to cutting Moose’s overgrown brows. Schnauzer purists would call me cruel. I argue it’s better to let him pee on lamp-posts then bump into them.
My friend Leo gives tough love
Yesterday I met with my very good friend Leo, a long time mate and journalist for the BBC. I asked him about the blog.
‘You need to improve the blog’ he said. ‘ I liked what you wrote about India but there’s still no catch, no compelling reason to what you are doing. Following your heart and saving a few animals is NOT ENOUGH OF A STORY. I don’t want to be harsh but this blog won’t be a book if it’s like this.’
Leo writes articles that get hundreds of thousands of hits and I hate to say it but he knows his onions. And onions make me cry. ‘I normally love reading your writing, Martin, and I’m interested in you as a friend and yet much of your stuff about animals – I’m just not compelled. Why would I pick this book up in a shop? I wouldn’t’
I slumped in my chair. He may be right. It’s important to me that not only I help animals during this year but I get the message out. I’m also an egotistical bastard and I like the idea of having a book with my name on it.
‘If you want to see how many animals you help in a year then you’ve got to get extreme’ he said. ‘I want you coming back to me with a blue whale next month’.
I looked around the cafe we were in. The doors were fairly small. ‘I don’t think I can… do that’
‘Then dive under the ice and save penguins’
‘I’m too cold’
‘At least risk your life. Go research criminal dog-fighting gangs in Japan. End up dead in a ditch – that will be a story’
‘It’ll stop me eating meat’
‘VEGETARIAN IS FED TO WILD DOGS. It’s a good story ‘
‘I don’t think I want to do that. I’m not that brave’
Leo drank a sip of his mild peppermint tea. ‘Well then you got to at least go visit more people like Avis – see other people doing extreme things. You could call the book ‘EXTREME COMPASSION’ and find the craziest people out there. Like Louis Theroux. If you rescue any more snails in the UK you come across as a middle-class naval gazer. ‘
‘But …I just want to follow my heart… and see where it gets me’
‘No story, Martin, no story’
That evening as Ann and I went to bed a small fly buzzed around the room. It seemed to move in sync with my wild thoughts.
What should I do next? Buzzzz. Was leo right? Buzz buzzzz. Am I too boring? Buzzz-fucking-buzzzz
‘Can you kill it please’ asked Ann,
It landed on my hand. YES I FUCKING COULD. I lifted my other hand up to slap it and then I stopped myself ‘I can’t!’ I said ‘flies have a life too’.
Ann sighed and rolled over. ‘Well get it out of the room at least. Rescue it.’
The fly took off across the room. I picked up an empty glass and followed it, proceeding to dance around naked like a mad person trying to make music with a glass a lots of empty air. Eventually I slumped back to bed. Its just a stupid fly, no need to rescue it
The next morning, after cleaning up Bug’s christmas present I lay back in bed, turned to my side and then saw the fly on my bedside table, upside down, dead.
Shit…had it died because I hadn’t bothered to let it out? Had my lack of compassion changed the universe in an ever so tiny way? I was strangely moved in the way Leo would not have been.
I examined its black form. However small this fly was, I was still looking at DEATH in all its grandeur. Endings aren’t measured in size – they are the point at which something turns to nothing. Their importance depends only on how much emotion you care to breath into them.
I let out a long breath.
I am at a cross-roads now. I will soon finish my work with dogs and move onto other things. I don’t know what that is and on a cold rudderless January that feels confusing. I don’t want to dive under ice, get a pet blue-whale or go to meet people that are insane. I want to follow my heart.
That is the best story I can tell I’m afraid and you’ll have to bear with me.
Now I’m at a cross roads. I was due to fly out to the Phillipines to work on a rescue operation seizing dogs that had been stolen and bound for the dog-meat trade but its been pushed back a few months. I still hope to do that and if you can I want you to come with me on that journey. I don’t expect it to be easy but I expect it to be ….what can I say? Meaningful. But in the meantime I have to start looking at what comes next.
The plan has always been to divide the year into three. I want to try and help :
PART 1) Domestic animals
PART 2) Wild animals
PART 3) Farm animals
Dogs, I suppose fall under the first section, loosely, as I suppose many stray dogs exist only on the fringes of domestication. So next I want to look at wild animals.