I once saw a whippet get injured during a backyard boxing match in Swan Hill. We’d been at the pub and Geoff wanted to have a tea towel bundle with me because he’d heard a rumour that my balls are bigger than his. Yes, the jury has deliberated, and some men are fucken idiots. However, watching two men with their shirts off, punching the shite out of each other in the serious moonlight, is always going to be vaguely arousing for people who have tasted the wonders of sweet transgression, and lived to tell the tale. Or maybe not, cue Clementine Ford entering the scene with a charred copy of The Taming of the Shrew in one hand and a sharpened pencil in the other. It’s good to keep your options open.
Anyway, when we got back to our mate’s place, Geoff and I wrapped tea towels around our knuckles and went out to the backyard. The circling began. Others came out to watch with their cans of VB. A fire burned behind us in a large steel drum, sending ominous silhouettes stumbling across the lawn. The scene was like something straight out of a post-feminist nightmare, where toxic masculinity has come out to play, presided over by a porn-fuelled, cyborg version of Louis CK and a Kimono clad Dennis Nielsen twiddling his thumbs on a pile of broken bathroom tiles.
Geoff threw the first punch, which connected with the left side of my jaw. I felt an errant tooth loosen and give up. Another punch came at me, so I moved to the left and landed an uppercut under Geoff’s chin. I heard part of his jaw crack and he stumbled back and fell over onto a Whippet, who was an innocent bystander and not even watching the fight. I edged forward.
Fifteen minutes later, as I sat in the vet’s waiting room with a broken whippet lying at my feet in a cardboard box, I thought about the reason for the boxing match. Testy envy. The lot of man. Not good for Whippets and humanity in general.
But now, six months later, as I watch the Whippet, who ended up being an Afghan Hound called, Nutty, sleep in the February shadows of my roof terrace, I think about fate and how it has a way of converting sceptics into mystics and makes the world seem more at ease with itself and explains some of its profane decisions.
A man was jealous of my testes and now I have a loving and loyal companion. Poetry in motion, the last fragment of the old ways, na seann dòighean.
I’m moving home to Scotland soon, and Nutty’s coming with me.
And as the sun sets on another peculiar day of industry, Nutty sighs out a massive puppy dream, while I put a book in its place and watch her roll over and bark. I will miss this place, it’s been good to me, but the time has come, and like all good actors, it’s time for me to take my final bow, and exit stage left pursued by a bear, or in this case, a debt collector with a shovel in the boot of his car.
Uisge Beatha, water of life, creator of chaos – home of the brave. Slainte Mhath.
I’m a Writer, Literary Agent, and Social Handyman, who oscillates between being elated and very angry and sometimes both at the same time. Through my research as a writer, I’ve studied many forms of masculinity, in particular, hyper and protest masculinity. My other main field of research is transgression or the rituals of transgression and the performative nature of this behaviour. Apart from researching, writing, directing and fixing, I enjoy a good pint of stout and I live in a flat, close to my favourite place, the mall from Dawn of the Dead (2004). My greatest disappointment in life is that my first memory turned out to be a lie. I didn’t lose a red wellie on a beach in Orkney and now I have no first memory, just a lot of stories about alcohol and bad decisions.