A Poodle Named Henry

Mr. Jackson was recovering from neck surgery at a modern restorative hospital bordering the DVP and encompassing part of a former penitentiary on the east side of Toronto. His days were long, arduous and somewhat painful, actually very painful, but he did not admit more than that on most days, depending with whom he was speaking. He passed the time by writing Emails, sketching and reading. The one redeeming element was that he had a single room and did not have to share with any of those prying sorts or the needlessly talkative ones, or even ones that snored loudly in sleep or whenever and did not give a cat’s arse about anyone but themselves.

He was a cat lover and not a dog fancier. The hospital, he was told, didn’t allow cats because they were unpredictable-the very reason that he was so attached to cats and their antics. In their stead, the inmates were to be served up dogs and their irrepressible panting and tail wagging and whatever else dog fanciers preferred about the various breeds they owned and were used to and thus promoted. Dogs would be on show on this morning. It was somehow supposed to be therapeutic, which he doubted very much. Indeed. Most probably, annoying.

A bevy of dogs duly arrived and were paraded through the lobby and around to the various lounges where some expectant and some reluctant people awaited, or feared, their arrival. Few knew what to expect so mostly they just waited, yawned and distractedly looked out the windows at the city beyond. Or fell asleep. He was most assuredly not one of those!

Without a shred of encouragement, a reddish coloured poodle bounded toward Mr. Jackson, did a pirouette and, at a sharp whistle from its owner, sat down obediently at his feet. To say Mr. Jackson was taken aback would be an understatement. Weren’t poodles supposed to be white?

“Good, God, what is this?” he said aloud, preparing to be mauled, or worse.

“Allow me to introduce, Henry. He is exuberant but not fractious, and certainly not dangerous. A very good dog, indeed. Best of the breed,” said Henry’s enthusiastic owner, knowledgeable about all things poodle.

“Well, hello, Henry. What have you been up to today?”

Henry released a low but un-threatening growl. He edged a little closer for a good sniff around the pant legs. Seemingly pleased, or at least accepting, of whatever his nose had detected, Henry leapt into the lap of a very surprised Mr. Jackson.

“Henry doesn’t usually take to anyone on first dates. You must be very special,” said a rather pleased owner, Henry being an exceptional judge of character, among his many other fine attributes.

Mr. Jackson was chatting away to Henry as old mates do, giving him cuddles and pats on the head, at least that’s what he thought ought to be done. If Pugsy, his beloved cat, only knew what he was up to, she would abhorred. Pissed off and ignoring for days, more like!

And so it went for the allotted time and then it was all over, dogs were shepherded away, with promises of further visits, and the rooms were once again reduced to light murmurs and a gentle, settling, quietude bordering on depression onset.

Mr. Jackson went back to his room and sat by the window overlooking the main entrance where he witnessed Henry tugging his owner along toward an awaiting car, whereupon he was whisked off to home. He felt a twinge of sadness at seeing his new pal removed so suddenly from his presence. He checked his Email. Nothing new. He sent out a probing Email to a few friends. No quick and telling responses. He read part of a chapter of a novel and then put the book down and stared out the window for a while. He did a quick sketch of a dog, a poodle, and then let his mind drift until he was interrupted by the arrival of food under lids on a tray. And then all was revealed, a salty tomato soup, a few crackers in a packet, a cellophane wrapped lump of orange cheese, tea and something sugar coated and sweet, which must have been the dessert component of the meal. He nibbled on the cheese, drank the tea and forgot about the rest.

Therapy walks in the morning took his mind off Henry, at least temporarily, or until he returned to his empty room. And there was Henry staring back at him from the page, all generous and needy in a heartbeat.

And then came good news and bad news rolled into one sharp statement from the attending physician.

“Mr. Jackson, you are to be discharged tomorrow at 10 AM.”

 

By Robert Hughey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shades of me…

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The Common, Broadway, Worcestershire, England.

Light is a wonderful thing
But so too is the inverse.

Shades of me
Shadows, if you will?

Not reflections
But possibly reflective in nature.

A different view
A view of the darker side

But still worthy of consideration.

Shades of me
Set in time and place.

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On the Danforth, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Don’t Feel Sorry…

Don’t feel sorry for me
When I sit alone at the bar
I’ve my beer and my thoughts

And a whole lot more.

Writers are used to reflective thinking
Isolated but no less sure of themselves
And the space they occupy.

Awaiting inspiration
And a whole lot more.

Buy me a cask ale
And you might discover
A whole lot more.

Perhaps, a Hughey’s Gold?
(Said a voice from off stage.)
With some considerable feeling.

Hughey's Gold glasscoaster

 

 

Walking in the Toronto Botanical Garden

I turn into the garden freshened by morning rain

Inhale a damp, earthy smell.
Photographer with tripod blocks the path to the right.
I go left
Discover old chap rooting out last year’s rot and freshly sprouted weeds.
Usual suspects
Dandelions. Burdock. Stink grass.
His brow beads heavily with sweat.

He grunts as he flicks a dog turd at an unsuspecting pooch.

Casts an admonishing glance at the owner. I move on.

Bees are buzzing
Hovering over intoxicating purple spring wonders
Crocuses, flowering plants of the iris family
I take the mandatory picture
Of all things purple.
For a friend, Mary(notcontrary)
Noting to send later.

I shuffle to where a crowd has gathered
Watching a painter
Capture with deft brush strokes
What they too will grab with the swift
Push of a cell phone button.

Tai Chi is in full swing too.
Quiet movements of fluidity…

A child points in the direction of the garden cafe
Screams bloody blue murder
I want ice cream. Chocolate.

Not Neopolitan! Puts his foot down hard, grinding it in the gravel.

Kicks a stone into touch but is
Ignored by his parents who
Search for a particular shade of red rose not yet bloomed.
Or perhaps a way out?

I find a quiet place to meditate
Let the next lot of garden lovers
Have the path to themselves.
Free to observe
What I may have missed.

Hughey poet

Congratulations on the poem. Words as painting. A lovely evocation of pictures in a garden.

Julian Mulock, artist and illustrator, reacts to the poem.

St. George’s Day Festivities for Charity

st-g-flag     canada-150

Please join us on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 6:30 PM for St. George’s Day festivities at the Granite Brewery Restaurant!

 

Join us for St. George’s Day festivities in support of charity on Saturday, April 22rd at 6:30 PM at the Granite Brewery and Restaurant, 245 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto.  Celebrate all things English with co-hosts Maz Brereton and Robert Hughey and guest speaker Nick Pashley. Door prizes, silent auction, plus a live auction with auctioneer Julian Mulock.

In honour of the 150th Birthday of Canada join Nick at the podium and bring your ‘England to Canada’ story, in words, song, pictures or mementos. The event features a delicious four course gourmet dinner with four matching fresh Ontario cask ales.

Please show your support for England and Canada and raise funds for Prostate Cancer Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Tickets are now on sale and you can buy them by calling 416 462 3788 or emailing robert.hughey@sympatico.ca

$70 per person (taxes and with partial tax receipt included)

This event organized by CASK! Toronto, which has helped raise over $20,000 for charity over the last few years! Sign up and buy your tickets now.

Hope to see you there!

heartpcc

My First Driving Lesson—When Seat Belts Were Not Mandatory!

I remember the family visiting the Yorkdale shopping mall in Toronto shortly after it opened in 1964 and then detouring by accident to Downsview Airforce Base, then an operational airport, on the way home. Actually, we were completely lost and managed to drive out on to a runway and stopped the car while my father, the driver, got his bearings.
“Were on the fecking runway, dad”, I shouted, or would have if my schoolyard education had been more advanced than it was. I had not yet learned the word and its various and sundry derivatives.
“Look down the runway and you will see an idling airplane,” my brother, Dave, and I said loudly in unison from the backseat.
“What do you mean, airplane?” said our father, who had been in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII, and should have known a thing or two about airplanes, and was forever in denial.
“There. Straight ahead.”
“Where?” said he, apparently with no eyes and minimal awareness of his surroundings.
“We’re on the bloody runway!”
We were sharply silenced by our father but our family of four did somehow manage to escape without incident or questioning but security in those days was not something that anyone was remotely aware of or interested in in any way.