It’s a week since Jilly died and I’m beginning to be able to remember her in a softer, gentler way without so many of the sudden punches to the solar plexus of raw pain and horror. Skye and Ness, though still clingy, seem chirpier too and are beginning to reinvent the pecking order between them.


I was mowing the lawn. Yes, I did say mowing the lawn – the ground was at that perfect state of being frozen enough to hold the water and keep it firm, whilst the sun had melted the frost on the grass. If I can manage a cut around now, come the spring we can see the crocuses, fritillaries and other little bulbs as they are not smothered over their heads in grass.

While mowing I got to thinking how weird it is that the ‘footprints’ left by dead are so alive and still seem to invoke the living being. For instance, the smudges and smears left on the glass of the door by Jilly’s nose, the dip and shape her body made in the cushion of her basket, her hair in the grooming comb, even her poo on the lawn – all still there and seemingly alive. I can remember when my father died and I was helping to sort through his things, looking at his shoes and thinking that’s strange, those are my dad. Those shoes are him, totally and completely him. The same went for his watch, hair brushes, combs and various other very personal items. To me they conjured up the actual living image of the dead person.

Half way through the lawn, the phone went and there seemed to be no-one on the end. I was just about to put the receiver down when a voice started speaking…”Hello, this is from Animal Health…” and something to the effect that the final restrictions regarding foot and mouth had been lifted and I could now export my live animals as well as any meat or meat related products without a special licence. As I disagree with live export of animals and feel quite strongly about exporting various foods and then importing the same food types back in again … I put the phone down. It rang again, I picked it up, and yes, there was the same voice still going on. I repeated this several times, eventually the ringing stopped but it wouldn’t cut the connection, when I picked up the receiver the voice was still there. Clearly DEFRA were determined that I should get the full message. It eventually ended with something like “Of course all Blue Tongue restrictions are still in place and if I didn’t understand the content of the recorded message here were some telephone numbers”. The voice then rehearsed a fair section of the telephone directory.

Though I applaud DEFRA for getting their act together and contacting all farmers, livestock producers – this is the first contact I have ever had regarding FMD, BT or any other notifiable animal disease – I’m not too sure that it’s right to take full control of the phone line for approximately ten or more minutes! I had a distinct Big Brother moment. I wonder what would have happened if I just let the phone ring…. It reminded me of an arch villain superman vanquished, part of a film that I inadvertently watched on telly last night. The villain took control of the USA through hypnotising its people through the phone lines.