G is for Gnellie

“Excuse me, Murphy,” said the Girl, “but that’s not how to spell it.”

I wish she wouldn’t interrupt me before I’ve even begun.

“What’s not how to spell what?” I asked.

“Giannelli,” she said.  “It’s G-I-A-N-N-E-L-L-I.”

“Giannelli?” I wondered.  “The fruit and vegetable people with the stall at the end of the road?  Why do I need to know how to spell Giannelli?”

“You’re writing about them, aren’t you?”  It was her turn to look puzzled.  “You say it in the title of the blog post: G is for Giannelli.”

No,” I said, emphatically.  “It’s not Giannelli, it’s Gnellie that I’m writing about!  Why would I want to write about the fruit and vegetable stall?  I’m much more of a meat-eater myself, you know.”

“That’s for sure,” she conceded.  “But Murphy, there’s no such word as Gnellie.

“There is so! Gnellie is my friend!  But… maybe you’re right.  Maybe it should be Gnelli, without the “e” at the end.  That would be more Italian.”

“Gnelli?” said the Girl.  “Gnelli?  Gnelli?  Murphy?”

“I’m here,” I said, “but it’s no good calling Gnelli, she’s gone home ages ago.”

“Murphy,” said the Girl.  “Please go back to the beginning and start again.  I’m lost.”

(Of course, if people wouldn’t interrupt me before I even begin, we could have a proper beginning at the beginning, and said people would be less likely to get lost).

So I tried again, beginning thus: “Gnelli, my friend, is a golden labrador.  She li…”

“Oh, you mean Nellie!” cried the Girl.  “Nellie, the golden labrador, who liv….”

“Yes, of course that’s who I mean.  But I want to spell her name the Italian way, so I’ve decided to write Gnelli.  I think it’s much prettier like that, don’t you?”

“I, uh, ah… well, isn’t it a bit confusing?” suggested the Girl.

“Only for you,” I replied.  “I have no problem with it.”

The real name of Gnelli (or Nellie) is Nelly.  But there’s no letter “y” in Italian, so Maria (that’s Gnelli’s, or Nellie’s, or Nelly’s, Girl) decided that she would be called Nellie.  And then I decided that she would be called Gnelli.

“Stop, Murphy, stop!” pleaded the Girl.  “It’s much too complicated, this story.  Why do you say that her real name is Nelly?”

(Because it is, that’s why.  The Girl is a bit slow sometimes.  Not always the best at following the plot.)

“Because she’s called after the pony – or maybe it’s a horse – in Gone With the Wind,” I explained.  “Gnelli told me that when she, Gnelli – that’s Nelly, aka Nellie – first got Maria as her Girl, Maria was reading Gone With the Wind, and there was a pony in it called Nelly, so she – Maria – decided that would be the name of Gnelli.  Nelly.  But there’s no letter “y” in Ital…”

“Yes, yes, you already said that,” cut in the Girl.  “But really, Murphy, could you write about something else?  This is just too confusing.  No one will be able to follow it.”

(I’m sure they would, really.  Not everyone is as slow as the Girl.)

I thought for a bit.

“It has to be a G is for… post,” I said.  “So, okay, how about this: G is for Gone With the Wind.  I’ll say that in Gone With the Wind there’s a pony – or maybe it’s a horse – called Nelly, and…”

“No, Murphy, no!” cried the Girl.  “Please Murphy, write about something else altogether!  Go on, that’s a good dog!”

“Something else altogether?  Let me think. G is for…   G is for… I don’t know.  G is for… Oh, I’ve got it!  G is for Good Dog Murphy!  How about that?”

“Murphy,” groaned the Girl, “you’re unbelievable.  Look, I have to go down the street to pick up a few things at Giannelli’s, and…”

“Can I come?” I asked, hopefully.

“No, Murphy, not to the fruit and vegetable sellers.  But when I come back, we’ll go for a walk.”

“Great!” I said.  “Good Girl, Girl!”

“Good dog, Murphy,” she said.  “Good dog.”

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F is for the Four New Bins

I have a lot of new work.

The bins that the people from AMA (that’s the Council) gave the Girl last July are being used, at last!   They gave her four big new bins on wheels, for different kinds of rubbish, and they said they would take away the big bins on the street that everyone used up to then.

But they didn’t take them away for a long time.  So the new private, replacement bins just sat in our garden, in the corner inside the gate, unused, smelling of new plastic.  No one went near them, except for a few ants.  They weren’t very interesting, after the first day.  And also maybe the day the Girl painted the number of our house on them.

But last week AMA took away the big rubbish bins in the street, and now our rubbish goes into our own private bins!  That’s much more interesting!  Every time someone comes out of the house to put rubbish in a bin, I run over to see that they’re doing it properly.  There’s one bin for food rubbish, one for paper, one for plastic, and one for broken cups.  After they’ve put the rubbish in the bin, I have a good sniff to make sure they’ve done it right.

Every day the Girl has to put different bins out on the street for the truck to come and empty them.  It’s very complicated, but she’s getting the hang of it.  Food is Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.  Paper is Wednesday and Saturday nights.  Plastic is Tuesday and Friday nights.  Broken cups is Monday and Thursday nights.  The Girl has to put them out on the street at the right time.

Of course I go with her to protect her, in case she would be kidnapped out in the street on her own in the dark.  If I notice anyone in the street that might be a kidnapper, I bark at them and they don’t dare try anything.

The Girl has to bring the bins in too, of course, and I help her again then.  The ones that go out at night are brought in the next morning, so they have a lot of new smells on them that I have to investigate.  Last Friday the bin men didn’t empty our food bin, so that had to come back in full, and wait until Monday

It’s pretty responsible work, minding the Four New Bins, but I’m happy to be of service.

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The Girl is back!

TheGirlIsBackTheGirlIsBackTheGirlIsBack!  She was away for two weeks doing a thing called a retreat, which means doing nothing (I don’t see why you have to go away for that), and she visited some other people too.

I was sniffing around outside the back door yesterday evening when the car pulled in through the gate, and as soon as the door opened I knew she was there so IGallopedRoundTheSideOfTheHouseAtTopSpeedAndScreechedToAHaltAndJumpedUpOnHer except that I didn’t put the brakes on soon enough so I galloped into her and when I jumped my face was a bit closer to hers than she was expecting and she said “Oh Murphy, will you get down, you silly dog!”  But then she gave me a big pat and a hug, so I jumped up on her lots more, with my tail wagging really fast.  I nearly knocked over her suitcase and people told me to go to bed but I ignored them.  TheGirlIsBack! JumpAndLick! JumpAndLick!

One day while she was away I got two dinners.  The others weren’t sure whose job it was to feed me that day, so two people did it.  I ate everything, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings.  But that won’t happen now that the Girl is back.

I hope she hurries up and unpacks her suitcase – she said we can’t go for a walk until that’s done.  Humans have silly priorities.

TheGirlIsBack!  Woof!

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Value-added dog-sitting services

The Girl and I were out for our Sunday morning walk.  In a street near here we noticed a poster with a picture of a dog on it.  So we hurried over to read it, expecting that it would be about a missing canine.

But no, it was an advertisement for dog-sitting services.  If you can’t mind your dog, or your puppy, when you are at work or on holidays, let us do it for you!  We will feed, water, take for walks…. Phone us at this number, etc.

“My dear Girl!”  I exclaimed, “That’s a great idea!  You could do that!”

“I could give you to someone else to mind?” she wondered.  “Why would I do that, Murphy?”

“No, no,” I said.  “I mean you could be a dog-sitter.  You could advertise for dogs to come, and we could go for lots of walks, and I could boss them around and show them who’s king.”

“Don’t be silly, Murphy,” she said.  “That’s not the kind of work we do.  And anyway, it’s hard enough for me to manage one dog, given that it’s YOU.”

“But we could offer a different kind of service!”  I was getting enthusiastic now.  “We could teach the dogs how to use the computer and set up their own blogs, and I’d advise them on their writing!  We could You could charge a fortune for that!”

“Thanks for the suggestion, Murphy,” she said, “but I think I’ll give it a skip this time.  Now, come on, heel up!”

It’s a pity that the Girl is not open to new ideas.  But, as we dogs often say, “You can’t teach an old Person new tricks.”

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No jargon on this blog, please

“Murphy!” said the Girl, rather sharpishly, “were you in the refectory?”

Uh-oh.  I could see where this was leading.

“Excuse me,” I replied, “but I can’t answer that question.  You said that we would have no monastic jargon on this blog.  So a question which includes the word ‘refectory’ is not admissible.  Sorry.”

“Very well, Murphy,” she said.  “Let me put it another way.  Were you in the dining-room?”

“The dining-room?”  I enquired.  “The big room upstairs where you eat your meals?  The one you call the refectory?”

“Murphy….”

“Why, yes, I think I have been in the dining room!  When I was a puppy and I didn’t know my way around, I ended up in the dining-room a few times, and someone would soon come and march me back down to my puppy-quarters.  So, yes, I’ve been in the dining room.”

“Today, Murphy.  There are indications that you were in the refectory today.”

“Indications?  What kind of indications?”

“Muddy paw-prints, dear.  That kind of indication.”

I stayed silent.  She’d never believe they were some other dog’s paw-prints.  And anyway, they weren’t.

“Did you find much to eat?” she inquired, but with more sarcasm than genuine concern for my well-being.

“Nothing!” I voiced my indignation.  “Nothing at all!  The place is terribly clean and tidy!  I even put my front paws up  and gave a few of the tables a lick, but there was hardly a crumb!”

“I’m glad to hear it, Murphy,” she remarked, drily.  “But tell me – how did you get in?”

The truth is that one of the others left me in, deliberately, because of the thunder and lightning outside that I don’t like.  That person may not exactly have intended that I make my way to the refectory: I just used the occasion that presented itself.  But if I say that she left me in, there will be trouble.

“Umm… I think the door blew open in the wind,” I said.

“Wasn’t it locked?” asked the Girl.  “That door should always be locked!”

“Don’t worry!” I reassured her.  “Burglars won’t get in while I’m around!  It doesn’t matter if the door isn’t locked, I’m here to mind the place!”

“It matters significantly,” she said.  “Especially if it blows open in the wind.  I’ll have to take a look at it later.  But now I’ve got to go and wash the tables in the refectory.”

Why on earth is she washing those tables?  They’re perfectly clean, I can vouch for it.

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If cars had whiskers

If cars had whiskers, the Thing wouldn’t have happened that I’m not allowed to write about on this blog.

If cars had whiskers, the car would have known that it wouldn’t fit into that narrow space.  Or rather, that it wouldn’t squeeze into that space from that angle.

I would never have tried squeezing into a space like that.  Well, I might have tried, but I’d stop very quickly and go back, and find some other way into the place.  Even animals with only a fraction the intelligence of dogs would do as much.  We know how to judge it with our whiskers.

But not cars.  Oh no, cars keep going.  Cars think, “I’ll fit in there!” And then when they don’t, they get a big scrape all along the side the Thing happens that I’m not allowed to write about.

If cars had whiskers, the car-repair man would have a bit less money in his pocket, and the Girl would have a bit more in hers.  AND she might be in a less grouchy mood.

If cars had whiskers, the world would be a better place.

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E is for Elderly

The Girl decided to do a course.   The course is for training people to give spiritual direction.

I don’t know why she thinks she needs a course for that – she gives me directions all day long, without any training at all.  “Murphy, come here!” “Murphy, get down!”  “Murphy, heel up!”  “Murphy, mind the house while I’m out!”  I think she was born giving directions.

But for some reason, she thought she would do a course to be a spiritual director – a part-time course, here in Rome, run by the Jesuits.  So she sent in her application, and waited.

But she didn’t get a place on the course.

“Murphy!” she said, looking at the email they sent her.  “They say I’m too old!  Can you believe it!  Gah!”

“Too old?”  I was surprised.  “Do they really say that?”

“In effect, yes,” she snorted.  “They say the course is over-subscribed and they are giving priority to younger people!  Gah!”

I sat beside her and gave her my paw, to console her.  (And because I felt it might lead to a dog-biscuit).

“You poor thing,” I said.  “You’re not old at all.  In dog years, you’re only… let me see… multiply by seven… you’re almost four hundred…?  No, that can’t be right…”

“Don’t be silly, Murphy,” she said.  “You must divide, not multiply.  And it comes to… well, never mind what it comes to.”

(I always mix up multiplication and division.)

“Well, whatever it is,” I said, “you’re not old.  Maybe, just, a bit elderly.  That’s how I’d put it.”

“Murphy,” she said, brushing away my paw without a hint of a dog-biscuit, “you will NOT put it like that. Not if you know what’s good for you.”

Didn’t I tell you that she doesn’t need a course in giving directions?

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Harley Davidson 110

“Murphy,” said the Girl – at least, I think that’s what she said.  I couldn’t actually hear her, because right at that moment yet another six motorbikes roared by.

“… wish they’d go home!”  she continued.

“You wish who’d go home?” I asked.

“Those motorcyclists!” she whinged.  “Roaring around on their Harley Davidsons!  I can’t get a minute’s peace!”

“Well, they’re having their 110th anniversary Harley Davidson celebration in Rome this weekend, so of course they’re around,” I said.  Ever the voice of reason, I am.

“I know that’s why they’re here, Murphy,” she said, crossly.  “But why do so many of them have to stay in the hostel right next door to us?  And make so much noise going in and out all the time?”

“I suppose they’re staying there because there’s lots of room to park their motorbikes,” I said.  “And isn’t it interesting, seeing all the different ones?”

“It’s not a bit interesting,” she grumbled.

“Can we get a motorbike?” I suggested.  “That would be great!  You could drive it, and I’ll run along beside you!  I bet I could run as fast as a motorbike, I bet I could!  Woof!  Woof!”

“Don’t be silly, Murphy,” she said.  “It would be unsp….”  – but just then another nine or ten bikes zoomed down our street, all noise and colour and speed, and her words were lost in the glorious roar of it all.

“And you’d look great in black leather,” I cajoled.

“Murphy,” said the Girl.  “You’re gone to the dogs altogether.”  And she went in to the house.

I’ve taken up a position near the gate, where I can see all the motorbikes going by.

I think this Harley Davidson convention in Rome is GREAT.

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Spring (a poem), by Me [Murphy]

Spring has come at last -
in fact, it’s flying past.
Sun is stronger,
days are longer,
Spring has come at last.

Spring is really here,
The Girl is full of cheer.
“See that blossom?
Isn’t it awesome?”
Spring is really here.

Murphy’s full of zest,
doing what he does best:
sniffing, digging, guarding, watching,
helping, minding, blathering, snoozing,
eating, jumping, going a-walking,
And all the rest.

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D is for Decisions

“Murphy,” said the Girl with a big sigh, “I don’t know what to do.”

“You poor thing,” I commiserated. “What’s your problem now?”

“Well,” she said, “today I’m picking up someone at the airport who has been away in Nigeria for several weeks, where it is the hot season. And tomorrow I’m picking up someone else who has been in England for several weeks, where they have been under snow. How am I going to heat the house to a temperature to suit both of them? I can’t win.”

“It’s a dog’s life,” I agreed, and gave her hand a lick.

Then I had an idea.

“When I’m in a situation like that,” I offered, “I find it a great help to go out for a walk! The fresh air will give you a better perspective on things – and I’ll come with you!”

“I think I’d prefer a cup of tea,” she replied.

Humans and their cups of tea. I don’t get it.

“They’re not mutually exclusive,” I suggested. “We could do both.”

“I suppose we could, Murphy,” she said, sounding a bit more cheerful. “Both-and, not either-or. It’s a good Catholic principle.”

“Right,” I said. “Except I might skip the cup of tea.”

“Anyway,” she said, “under Italian law the central heating can’t be used after March 31st, which is Sunday, so I’ll only have to put up with their grumbles until then.”

“And in the meantime,” I said, “just heat the house to suit yourself. There now, that’s an easy decision!”

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