Long shadows, afternoon sun oozing down the hillside like Golden Syrup and randy cock-pheasants guarding their harems from young would-be lovers in the fields. Spring has sprung.
Larks dash skywards from the clover when Eric and I enter the field for a game of fetch on the hilltop – well, I say fetch. What I really mean is, I chuck the ball, he runs after it, finds it and runs off in the other direction chewing it. I can shout, ‘here boy” or ‘gimme the ball, damn you’ but, unless I run after him and grab the ball from his mouth, Eric is going to chew it until all that remains are a few bits of rubber dripping in drool. The larks think that’s hilarious from the sound of it. They can laugh but that dog is costing me a small fortune in rubber balls. I thought I’d get one up on him. I’m a sailor, I can make him a ball. At sea we use a large knot called a monkey’s fist as a weight when sending a messenger line (aka a ‘heaving line’) ashore for mooring up. That knot is round and, when using a decent thickness of rope, quite hard-wearing when attacked by a dog’s teeth, But will he chase that? Nah. I throw my lovingly crafted ball and he looks at it, he looks at me and then he stares off into the middle distance looking for something ‘interesting’ to run after. My sister informs me that it’s because the monkey’s fist doesn’t bounce. Talk about picky!
So, I have thought about this and when I can afford it I’m going to buy a length of bungee rope. Hah! You want bounce, Eric? I’ll give you bounce. And… when making a monkey’s fist, it’s necessary to put something in the middle of it to stop it collapsing. Years ago, it was common to put lumps of metal such as shackles or large nuts in them but that was outlawed – something about rope-men around the world suffering fractured skulls – so we used to put a rag in the knot then soak the knot in red lead (an old-fashioned paint) but that too caused injuries to the guys ashore so now we are only allowed to put un-doctored rags in them. But, I’m not using my fist on a ship, I’m using it in a West Country field to amuse my fussy Doberman. Therefore I intend to put a small rubber ball in the middle. It’s one of those super-bouncy ones that I’ve had in the bottom of my rope bag for years. Watch that sucker bounce!
Watch this space because I will let you know of my success (failure is not an option.)