An interview with Halyce the Head Eater

Your head is mine!

Your head is mine!

We recently caught up with the ‘White Lion from Zion’, author of the best-selling autobiography, “Dancing on Furry Paws: The Life of a Snow White Tosser” while on a nature walk around the Rugers’ garden. Although busy yellowing his mane on the entrails of a rodent he agreed to a quick Q n A.

Dogz: Halyce thank you for agreeing to chat to us at ‘The Roaming Dogz’

Halyce: The pleasure is all mine old boy!

Dogz: Do you mind if I call you Halyce?

Halyce: Honestly I can’t stand the name. I am usually referred to as “The Toss” immediately following actions of mine that are perceived as illogical, such as when I decide to go out in a torrential downpour, or when I stare blankly at my owners as they plead with me to come inside

Dogz: Halyce what were you luncheoning on a minute ago?

Halyce: I’m not sure, a rodent of sorts, a rat perhaps. I only eat rats and pellets. I tend to avoid bird and fish.

Dogz: I see, so your diet is really quite simple?

Halyce: Its good honest fare

Dogz: Would I be presumptuous in saying that you enjoy a good mouse from time to time?

Halyce: Oh yes, mice are excellent!

Dogz: Well, your owners would like to know why you have done nothing about the mice problem in the kitchen. And they assume it’s because you are incapable – or to quote them – “too hefty”, to jump onto the counter top where they reside.

Halyce: (looking a little embarrassed) Hefty? pffffff! Under this blanket of uncontrollable fur I am built like a race horse

Dogz: Yet you cannot rid a kitchen of a few mice. It does not bode well for your prowess as a hunter

Halyce: pffffff

Dogz: We’ll return to that in a minute, but still on the subject of food: I’ve noticed a new table outside upon which is placed your bowl of pellets –

Halyce: that bastard dog devours everything at ground zero hence the need to place my food bowl at altitude

Dogz: You are still talking in aeronautical terms, is this your time served in the Royal Air Force coming out?

Halyce: I did good service for my country as a pilot.

Dogz: Your time in the service was rather short was it not, about 2 days? I believe you were dishonourably discharged?

Halyce: I was requested to shave myself before going out on a training flight because my co-pilot was allergic to cats, a short while after take-off he started sneezing and developing rashes. I apologised, explaining that I’d woken up late and just didn’t have the time to self barber, but he wasn’t having it so he started yelling at me and throwing insults like “you got so much hair you can’t even find your penis” and “I bet your mother was a cotton ball” and “your breath smells like haddock”, and I don’t even eat fish.

Dogz: And then what happened?

Halyce: Well then I cut him

Dogz: You cut him?

Halyce: Yeah, I cut him and then I ate his head

Dogz: Much like you do with the rats?

Halyce: Yes, much the same. I ate his head and then I ejected into the Navaho desert where I was forced to survive on peyote buttons for the next 2 weeks,

Dogz: How did they find you?

Halyce: Well, the usual method of tapping on a can of lucky pet doesn’t work with me. I was actually found by a bunch of Navajo Indians. After a while I got accustomed to their way off life, I particularly enjoyed the ritual of scalping. You can imagine that after I told them about the consumption of my co-pilot’s head they were bemused to no end, and from then on they afforded me the respect and privileges of a tribal elder.

Dogz: Incredible! How do you compare your time with the Indians with your current owners?

Halyce: The Indians were great, but their incessant drumming drove me nuts, never a moment’s sleep. They sought my council in all affairs concerning fleas, ticks, rodents and general vermin eradication. I designed, patented and erected scare-cats in their cornfields which were made in my image. But, they over brushed me. At first I thought they were just being affectionate, but then I started noticing how they took a keen interest in the fur collecting on the brush, never throwing it away, always pocketing it. As time went on I started noticing how their traditional colourful garments were steadily being replaced by white ones

Dogz: So essentially they were using you for your fur?

Halyce: You could say that, eventually I cottoned on, and I became concerned about the condition of my skin which was becoming raw and my fur so sparse I started looking like Mr. Bigglesworth. But suspecting my imminent departure they imprisoned me in a small room.

Dogz: How did you escape?

Halyce: Twice daily, the groomer would come in to remove lose hairs for the blanket manufacturing operation, which by this time I’d overheard, had grown so huge they were exporting the blankets all over the world. The groomer always carried the key to the room on a locket around his neck, too tight to even pull over his head, which I tried once to do when he had fallen asleep on the job

Dogz: How did you get the key?

Halyce: I ate his head

Dogz: Of course, and did you return to the air force base after that?

Halyce: Yes, it was the only place I could feel safe

Dogz: So you ran right into the arms of the law?

Halyce: Yes, there was a trial as you can image, but they found me mentally insane. I spent 5 years in a nuthouse before escaping.

Dogz: How did you escape? Did you eat someone’s head?

Halyce: No, over the years I had befriended a mole who had been developing a tunnel system throughout the grounds for many years, said he was building the finest mole city this side of the Mississippi. I’d heard the groundskeeper threatening to bring in pest control, but seeing the advantage of having these tunnels completed, I convinced him that I could take care of the problem. So they let me outside every day to track and kill the mole. Instead, I worked by his side lengthening the tunnels.

Dogz: So you put aside your taste for rodent in order to capitalize on his mining expertise?

Halyce: Exactly!

Dogz: Very industrious Toss! And when you finally cleared the fence, you shook paws and parted ways then?

Halyce: When we finally passed that outer perimeter fence and surfaced to the smell of freedom, of a fresh start, we turned to each other and shared in the satisfaction of long arduous project seen to completion, and then I ate his head.

Dogz: Interesting! Tell me about your new home here, does it suite your outgoing personality

Halyce: I take liberties here, I sleep wherever I want which is usually out in the cold, I haven’t learned to meow yet when I want to come in so I tend to sit quietly and stare at the door. There’s always plenty of water collecting in puddles to drink from because I haven’t figured out yet what the clear liquid is in the bowl next to my food. I enjoy watching people vacuum so I tend to carry a lot of detritus inside which naturally clings to me after leaving my resting spot in the dirt. I love it here in sunny Cape Town where I can often be seen tanning my pink ears and developing cancer.

Dogz: You’ve certainly had an interesting life Toss, do you have any inspiring words for our readers.

Halyce: Sure, I’ve had interesting time of it Dogz. I’m approaching my golden years now and I’ve been doing some serious reflecting now that I’ve had the leisure to do so. I’ve learned something very important: You get 2 types of people. Those that eat tomatoes and those that don’t. And I just don’t trust people who don’t eat tomatoes.

The Life of Ron – a little story


‘Hang on, stop!’
‘What the hell?’ Ron shrugged and enveloped the fish’s head with his dry chapped lips again, but again he heard a human voice bellowing from the deep and greedy cavern of his mouth ‘Hey!’  He slowly removed the fish and looked at it squarely on. ‘You heard me good, great. Please don’t eat me!’

Ron was starving. He had been eating titbits from a survival bag and seaweed for 33 days. Hallucinations were to be expected. Surely this was just another, but more vivid than the others.
‘Hey! You can’t eat me!’
Removing the fish again he replied, ‘And just why not? You’re not really a talking fish. My minds playing tricks on me, and the way I see it, the sooner I get some nutrients in me, the sooner I can start feeling normal again. Now shut up and let me enjoy this!’
‘Wait! We really are communicating here, I’m not sure how, but I understand you and you understand me. Besides, think about all the money you could make from a talking fish’
‘If I don’t eat you I’ll probably never see land again. There’s no guarantee I’ll even catch another fish.’
‘Hold that thought, I could help you.’                                                                                                              ‘How?’                                                                                                                                                                  ‘I could help you catch fish. It’s risky, but from where I’m swimming I don’t see another way.’      ‘How are you gonna to do that?’

‘I’m gonna swim under the boat, keep my eyes peeled and hope to attract a bigger fish for you to eat. In exchange you can set me free.’
‘Okay, but I’ll have to tie something to you so you don’t swim away before then.’
‘Fine! Take that loop of wire over there, make a snare and hang it just below the surface of the water. I will swim back and forth hoping to attract something big; I’ll keep him close on my tail, and as soon as you see me swim through the loop in the snare, you should be able to pull the snare tight around whatever is chasing me.”
‘Sounds like a plan. What kind of fish are you anyway?’
‘The most inedible kind’
‘No, I mean what species are you?’
‘I don’t know. I’m just a fish. What species are you?’
‘See, I’m just a fish and you’re just a human!’

Day 33
I caught a fish that talks. 33 days at sea and nothing worth mentioning. Thought I would save the paper for especially eventful days such as this one – a talking fish! Of course I must be losing it, but I feel well. I’m thinking straight. Hell, I nearly ate the little bugger, but because of his clever suggestion I caught a bigger fish and ate really well. I’ve saved the gut for fishing line, and bait. I tried removing the skin in its entirety to make a hat. Making more hooks from the bones. No sight of ships. Badly sunburnt. The little talking fish is in a plastic bag with sea water. Said he would stay on if I told him about the southern oceans and all about the colourful reef fish in the tropics. He’s a good little critter!

That night, his 33rd under a sky that was like a spread of an infinite number of jewels on a blanket, Ron lay with the tarpaulin down and with his head propped against the heavens.
He would do this every night and try to identify the constellations he could name until blissful dreamy sleep swept him away. Years later, he would remember how wonderful it felt to have pure silence, infinite space, the sound of the occasional splashing of the water, and the soothing light of the moon.
The morning was a sharp contrast. His neck would be stiff and when he managed to peel open his eyes a flood of bright light pushed them shut again. Mostly, he would be woken by the heat, or by some recessive fear that his eyes would be pecked out by marauding sea birds. The day would continue as a struggle with the sun. The greatest battle out there was not exposing oneself to it too long. Ron had worked out to the best of his logic, and making best use of his survival equipment, a routine that he surmised was the most conducive to promoting health and survival. In the morning, since he would already be baking in the sun (a small sacrifice for falling asleep under the stars), he would slide around the side of the boat where the tarpaulin met the topsides. Here he could sit and wash himself down with salt water to cool off without risking it getting inside.

After sitting for a moment to dry, he would go inside the raft and drink one glass of water which had been filtered through the desalinating device the evening before. The hunt for food was of greatest importance. There was no time to waste – his little 10 pound fishing line, which was only 15ft long, would hit the water and he would sit most of the day waiting for something to nibble on the end of it. The line had to be manned since he could not risk having a fish swim frantically about near the inflatable life raft with a hook in its mouth. He had already devoured all the food in his throw bag, except for the soya mince which served as good bait until it became too soggy to stay on the hook. He noticed, to his increasing fortune, that fish are shade seeking animals, and in the middle of the Atlantic a large floating object is a cool oasis.

‘Jimmy, you awake?’
‘Jimmy you awake?’
‘I certainly am now!’
‘Morning. Hey Jimmy I’m not having much luck here, could you help out?’
‘Sure Ron, with what?’
‘Fishing man! Fishing!’
‘But, we already got you an albacore yesterday.’
‘Yes, but there’s no guarantee I’ll catch another fish exactly when I need it, I’ve got to keep piling up my food stocks here. I can always dry them.’
‘You have no faith in providence Ron’
‘Faith – you mean like in god? Well, any faith I had went kamikaze when I lost my boat to the storm and had to get in a life raft. If there was any residual faith after that it evaporated when the seventh ship I have seen failed to notice me in this giant orange throat lozenge in this bright blue ocean. I’m as conspicuous as a pork chop at a bar mitzvah for fuck sakes!’

‘Only 2 days ago you were delirious with starvation and somehow, while at the very end of your tether, you caught a talking fish, yours truly. I then helped you catch another fish, which if you ration it, should sustain you for a few days more. I’d say there’s been a little divine intervention here.’

‘Perhaps, but let’s say my delirium, rather than ceasing at the arrival of my respite, yourself, actually expanded into the ridiculous and fostered a most infeasible delusion that I can
actually talk to a fish, who not only speaks English, but knows of the world far and wide, and postulates on the existence of god. It’s completely ridiculous.’
‘Well it’s pointless me trying to convince you otherwise, and it’s quite inconsequential either way. It’s obvious that my presence, whether a conjugation of that frazzled pip you like to call a brain or a concrete and very real phenomenon that for all time has managed to avoid detection by your kind, is helping you survive.

Day 34
Feeling happier, still restless, had more energy today. I’ve been eating better – no doubt about it. I have some pieces of albacore hanging to dry. Jimmy suggested collecting the oil drippings and putting it on my skin. It seems to give relief. I miss everything and everyone… I managed to put it all aside, although what does one think of out here, but everything they are without. Jimmy asked me about my family, Sandra, my wife, my kids. It’s lonely as hell, but I have him. God there’s nothing to do out here, but talk, we talk all day. He sounds so much like me sometimes, when I was younger – an idealist, an optimist with faith in things good and true. I am glad to have him.

That night a shower of green meteorites burst across the sky, and Ron lay there wondering if Sandra at that moment, after having a bath just after the sun went down as she did everyday, even in the summertime, would be leaning over the balcony in her white robe gazing upwards. He saw her now, her bum propped up in the air, not as firm as it once was, a little looser, it had lost its roundness, and although it was more pear shaped, he found it more seductive than ever. Of course he could never be so brutally honest with her, not any more, he hadn’t seen her in years. They had drifted apart after his little incident and were reduced to congenial strangers. They had separated against his wishes, meeting only to pick up or drop off their kids, Sahara and Blue. Conversation between them was restricted to the banalities of arrangements and awkward silences were filled with disinterested enquiries into his work. He tried to keep up a rapport of familiarity, jostling with her and teasing her about her obsessive cleanliness, keeping it light and playful, hoping that she would fall in love with him all over again. After seeing her he would often wonder what he was like during college. How much had he changed? Was he the same man now as the one she had fallen in love with?

There was a good coffee shop in the small town of Durnstil. The Black Bean was his favourite for two reasons. The coffee was hands down superior to the piss they served at Garmondo’s and it was conveniently placed directly across the road from Sandra’s bookshop. It was about at 9 every other morning that Ron, perched against a window on one side of the street, watched his ex-wife replacing books on the display shelf on the other.
He had convinced himself that this was only to admire her, while he enjoyed the most sensational cup the town had to offer.

She was gazelle like in her movements, and it was this gazelle like length in her arms that enabled her to reach the top shelf on the display stand where her assistant could not. Ron had come to prize this moment of her outstretched body straining against the fabric of her clothes as the highlight of his voyeur.
How odd, he chuckled to himself. His wife, the subject of his discerning fascination; a spectacle that awoke from its dark and dusty chambers the twisted beast that’s rejoices in the smug and private witnessing of inconsequential acts.
Had this become his mid morning matinée? ‘What am I doing here? Spying? Keeping tabs on the affluence of men in her life? This is ridiculous!’ Yet he continued watching.

He mused that watching her was much like remaining pasted to the couch when a soap opera follows a good show. The coffee: the main feature; his wife: presenting a snippet of predictable routine thereafter. The same performance of mundane routine, but where actors with their scandalous intent and childish meddling reveal the grotesque innards of their own weaknesses, her actions, resolved and decisive, revealed his. It was no longer an enlightened viewer watching the primitive squabbling of a benighted mediocrity, but a shameful reversal of roles where a dethroned lone audience, crippled with his own frailty of heart, watches the sure movements of a life moving forward without him.

He clung to the days when they were happy; the good old days. His fondest memories were of them living together in their first shared apartment. They were both in their final year of college.     It was his idea to move in together. He had grown so addicted to her presence, her aroma; and her laugh that he now missed most of all echoing down the hall. When it came time to knuckle down in front of his books, he found he could not stop yearning for her. Concentrating was impossible. He needed to know that she was around, in his life, always close, never more than an arm length away.

That year they struggled and both had to work part time jobs, but it didn’t matter, and if anything it strengthened their loving bond. They laughed together as they cooked the strangest meals out whatever morsels remained in the cupboard. They often dragged a futon mattress onto the balcony and sat eating off their laps and looking over the city while drinking cheap wine. She would erupt with laughter at the faces he would pull while chewing, a piercing laugh that could wake the dead and one, he chuckled to himself, the neighbours found intolerable. He loved watching her pale nimble fingers dancing about the piano, the same dainty fingers that scratched his back whenever he asked – a touch second only to a mothers’. Nothing in the world felt so sensual, so divine. They were the perfect couple, passionate lovers and close friends; comrades in life. It was perfect and nothing could ever separate them.

But one day, several years after they had graduated, even though Ron believed that no woman could rival Sandra’s beauty he fell for a foxy fair skinned redhead. He had first seen her at a yachting convention. She was a sales rep for a marine electronics company. He had approached her stand to view a new range of chart plotter GPS’s and wanted to ask her some questions about a particular model, but she was engaged in conversation with another yachtsman. Later that day, he ran into her again while ordering a shwarma at a Greek take away joint on Moonly Street. Just as he had swung round clutching his lunch a shred of lettuce flew into her handbag while she was rummaging through it on the floor. She withdrew her hand and looked up questioningly. Ron was transfixed in a befuddled stare with his shwarma extended as if in offering, and she grimaced as if trying to hide a smile. She didn’t appear to recognise him and said ‘do you want this back? He smiled ‘no, no, I think I’ll just end up throwing it at somebody else.’ Now she smiled fully, and the huge upward curvature of her mouth lifted her right breast from her blouse just enough to hint at the coming of a miniature pink sunrise over a milky hill. ‘Oh just another inch and I’ll see those pink rosebud nipples’ he pondered.
Instantly, he had her figure sketched in his mind and he starred at her half blankly while the little Da Vinci’s of his memory etched their piece for later viewing. He remained frozen just long enough to make her uncomfortable and as if to save himself further embarrassment he smiled and wandered out onto the street before she could witness his reddening ears.
On the third occasion he got lucky. He walked passed her the following day. She was staring at a shop window admiring a manikin.
He found this strange and very quickly swung on his heels and said, ‘what is it about that manikin’s outfit that you adore?’
‘Hey it’s you from the schwarma place. Well, I was admiring her figure if you must know’
‘And was I admiring yours!’
She stood there aloof to his humour, and for a moment, he wondered if he had gone a little too far.
‘Thank you.’ she said with a smile.
He was never good at this; the necessary chat up that’s leads to a date that had to contain the right amount of humour without acting like a comedian, while seeming interesting without being ostentatious.
‘You know, I saw you at the yachting convention too’
‘Oh really? I don’t remember.’
‘Are you busy? Do you want to have a coffee?’
And there it was, the question that later led to dessert at her house and a lifetime of regret. He knew where it would lead, but the delicious redhead had struck deep in the heart of his secret desires – her hair a fiery whip, that rose the temperature of his groins every time she threw it to the side, and when strand fell across strand it seemed to create a static that made him feel fuzzy and light. He wanted her and he would have her. What Sandra didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her right? According to some religions a man is not obliged to be faithful to his wife and within these customs the words ‘husband’ and ‘faithful’ seldom share a sentence. Maybe he’d even learn something to take home to his wife’s bed.

Looking up at all those tiny holes in the night sky he wished Sandra could have been more forgiving. How many couples did he know whose love had been stricken by a sudden rogue wave of temptation, strong enough to shake the vessel of love, and send the captain reeling off his helm, but righted by the sense of duty to his heart’s course and able to steer the bark back to port. Ron had righted himself, he cheated once and regretted it, but when the ship came to port it was closed to him. Sandra was a stalwart believer in true love; in the old school notion of unshakable compromise, forgiving him seemed unthinkable, a transgression of her dignity and she inexorably held to the Christian decree of a sanctimonious bond when broken is lost forever.

Ron had cried at her feet while she stood there stiff in the cold, and pounded the puddles that were forming around them. The rain and tears began as a symphony, together as one, for surely what existed between them was sanctioned by some divine order – and if all history, all life and all creation happened towards our own end, if life was a stage whereby everything possible could be experienced and where thousands of angels could muse at the ultimate conclusion of a tumultuous broth of forces and human faculties – love or another, in its most hungry consuming, needing, blending height, how then had those angels, those watchers, those attorneys that pardoned weakness and made concessions for frailty’s sake, not come to his aid, aligned as they were to his feeling? Why had they not come when he had laid himself waste at her door?

He pleaded and the heavens seemed to plead with him. Was he to blame if it was all staged. The redhead: she had been thrown in his life story, she was from nowhere; she was a vixen moulded by gods own hand to throw him off tack to test his strength. And he had failed. And she was lost. She left him that day, taking everything with her; her belongings, her smile, her scent, her dimples, her warmth.

‘Are you crying Ron?’
‘No, no of course not’
‘Coz it really looks like your crying – there are rivers that begin at your eyes, run down your cheeks and end at your chin – I’d call that crying.’
‘Yeah, yeah so I’m crying, big deal’
‘That’s good; I like a good cry now and then.’
‘How do you even know when you’re crying – you’re completely submerged in water’
‘Okay, I was bullshitting you, fish can’t cry; I was just trying to make you feel better. Feeling better?’
‘Look man, we’re okay. Right now we’re okay; we’ve got some food …’
‘It’s not that’
‘Ron turned away.’
‘The woman hey?’
‘Yup, Ron nodded and managed a smile’
‘C’mon big guy you’re torturing yourself. You don’t need those thoughts right now. We need to keep our head about us. It’s been three years Ron, you can’t do this to yourself man. You’ve got to forgive yourself, there’s no-‘

‘I didn’t plan to get to the Caribbean Jimmy! I never sold my house or my car in order to buy a boat. I woke up one morning, grabbed all the food I could find and set off for the yacht club. I’m a yacht broker. I have access to dozens of boats, and it’s my job to know them inside and out, from the thickness of the anchor chain to the make of the water pump, I know how much food is on board, how much fuel in the tanks, when last the cutlass bearing was replaced – everything! I stole a boat Jimmy.
I headed Northwest knowing I didn’t have enough stocks to last until the next landfall. St. Helena was 700 nautical miles Northwest of me when I pulled the plugs.’
‘What are you saying Ron?’
‘I came out here to die Jimmy. I never intended to make St. Helena or the Caribbean. I couldn’t handle it any more – the loss, the loss of my soul mate, I couldn’t get away.
My thoughts were always of her. I tried. I cleaned out my house; chucked away everything she had ever given me – t-shirts, shot glasses. I took up hang-gliding, went to counselling and still she was there, always staring, condemning me, she haunts me from when I wake, and does not let me sleep. She’s everywhere!’
Ron no longer seemed lucid, but distant and aloof. He stared blankly into the dark abyss before him – his eyes level with the horizon, where one vast blackness met another even vaster.
‘Even now I see her; she’s a devil, ha-ha you devil!! Look At her many eyes, burning and flaming!’

Ron shot to his feet pointing, his head heavy with blood and rage; his mouth spewing hellfire.
‘Look she comes, even here to find me! What more is there of me for you to destroy! You have taken my heart, do you want my blood also? Is there no peace! What stars have lit your way to me even out here, you callous wench! Leave me aloooooooone!
I came out here to die anyway, engulf me why not with your burning eyes. Look she comes!’

‘Ron that’s a ship! That’s a god-dam ship!’

‘Huh? What!! Hahahaha! Do not be fooled my good man-fish. Can you not see it is the unforgiving and sadistic love of my life! I’ll recognise that queer chin anywhere.’

‘I believe that is the faint outline of a ship’s hull.’

‘Nonsense! What lies before you is but another apparition of my own hang woman; cupid’s delinquent child, manipulating the dark forces of night, from whence she first came, and that she, through her wicked art, has ingratiated herself. Her sorcery has culminated in this careening leviathan that seeks to run us through. Ha ha ha go ahead, it’s what I want, I win devil woman! I win!’

The old Chinese gentleman had been staring directly at him without flinching since he boarded the train, although he had no idea that he was to board any train at all. He recalled standing at a hot dog stand outside a barn where his friend’s dad, a butcher, would drag pig carcasses. After being served a hot dog the cook, who also appeared Chinese, but with a long equine nose like a Vienna, scolded him “you take what you’ve been given, oh and look what you’ve been given. You go over there’
He was suddenly standing on an escalator which ran right into the belly of a World War 2 bomber aeroplane. Once inside, the scene changed to that of a train carriage and he had sat in front the Chinese gentleman who he then noticed had his hand raised palm up, and on it, a sardine. Looking around him he noticed that all the other passengers were elderly Chinese gentlemen all wearing the same duck tailed tuxedo and top hats; they too had their hands extended and were offering in unison a sardine. Glancing down at his own hand he saw in it a knife. An irate, hot tempered little Asian woman suddenly appeared in front of him rapping on his forehead with something like a spoon ‘where is ticket fool man?’
‘I …this is what he gave me… Reggie the hot dog man”
‘Oh and that’s enough now, you think you can eat it?’

The rapping grew more painful with each thump and as he looked up to identify the weapon his focus fell on a brass tube of some sort, it seemed flared at its lower end, and as it swung away from him each time, he would have a brief period in which to inspect its detail before it thumped again on his cranium. He pulled his head backwards and felt that it had become weightless, and that in fact it was on a pillow, a damp one. The brass bugle swinging from its lanyard hung from the bunk above him, and beyond it a dull yellow wall and a wash basin. And then as if answering his desire for comprehension, the room came alive with flooding memories, and the walls reflected motion pictures of riotous waves- a mural of Homer’s odyssey, but what bobbed and rose between trough and crest was not a yawing wooden frigate, but an orange throat lozenge resisting the tumult of wind and swell, a starless night above it.

He kicked the covers off him, and looked around the room once more, trying to extract something more from his surroundings that would ‘… fish, I smell fish, fish, fish. Jimmy, Jimmy!’ Leaping out of bed he reached for the cabin door, pried open the thick steel frame and wheeled down a dimly lit corridor. His weak legs and the ships slow sideways rocking had him colliding from one wall to the next until he reached a heavy closed door at the end.

He could see heads moving through the port light and noisy conversation in a language he couldn’t make out. He swung the door in and immediately a noisy ship canteen turned quiet as a library with 50 startled round faces turned to him expectantly, wide eyed and open mouthed.
At the centre of each table, like some greasy alter, was a pile of bones. Ron ran to the nearest table grabbing a plate from a frightened seaman. ‘Where’s Jimmy? Is this him?’ The Chinaman reeled backwards using the table as his spring board to propel himself away from the crazy white man. ‘Where’s Jimmy? You buggers are eating him! And you! You’re eating him too!’
Ron turned sharply, ‘I’ve got to put him together, I can put him back together again.’

The crew were stunned, and did nothing to bat his hands away from their food as he grabbed a piece of fish from one plate and took it to another to see if they would fit together ‘No that’s not it, maybe that one’. He continued from one table to another, clutching stolen fillets, and rotating and comparing sides until he had assembled a jigsaw puzzle of a partial fish layed out in the middle of an unoccupied table. ‘Now if I can just find his he—ad!’ Tears began streaming and this last word come out in a dual syllable as the foggy madness cleared from him.
‘Mister?’ From behind him came a heavily accented voice.
Again it came, and this time Ron noted the compassion and tenderness of a faceless voice that struck a harmony with similar trials of the human condition. ‘Mister, you’re safe. You seek your friend, I know. He is there. The captain pointed to a massive salad bowl and in it Jimmy swam contentedly.’
Ron walked over to it excitedly and said, ‘Hey little guy, I guess you were right, you were right about a lot of things. What happened anyway, how did we get here?’
Jimmy continued swimming back and forth and stopped as close to Ron as his habitat would allow. It could not be said whether the focus of his wide angled vision had settled on Ron, but his mouth opened and from it a bubble rose.

‘That is a very rare fish. There’s no chance we would have eaten, small as it is.’
Why’s that?
The captain looked at him with surprise
‘It’s incredibly poisonous of course’

The Moscow Diaries – The Chicken Rat Wrap Up….

Obviously the work of the local misogynist

Obviously the work of the local misogynist

My time here is coming to a close, and I feel that I have not gone far enough in challenging the misconceptions that Westerners have of Russia and its people. I could write volumes on the observations I have made about various topics here, but I will keep it to a short disquisition of each.

We’ll start with a question that I reckon the boytjies would like to have answered first: are the Russian women all that? Yes! They are hands down the most exquisite Caucasian women that walk this good earth.  They possess the hair of Medusa, skin that is flawless, beautiful oval faces with ski-sloped noses, sharp almond eyes bordered by lower lids that curve slightly upwards from the corners – evolutions answer to the blinding whiteness of the landscape.  Their upper lips are pulled back in a perpetual half kiss and they are generally tall, slim and nimble like a fox. And when they when they wear those knee high leather boots may the lord have mercy.

For their unparalleled hotness they are surprisingly amenable to average blokes like myself (South African girls could learn something from them about putting a gent down lightly). A lot of dudes I know begin shaking at the knees when they suddenly have to converse with excruciatingly hot woman. Not here, the gawk nerds are so accustomed to it that they manage to carry themselves with the cool ease of Don Juan on xanex. In fact I often marvel at the arresting disparity in looks between the male and female that constitute a couple. Take Stevie Hawkins and strip him of his fortune and genius, and put him with Jessica Alba and you’ll get an idea of just how deep these guys are swimming in a league way outside of their own. Props to them!

Weather                                                                                                                                                           It’s colder than a witch’s tit after a night spent in the Spur’s walk-in freezer. If your spit aint freezing then you’ll survive in the jean pant and long john duo with down jacket and beanie. Peering out the window and seeing the sun shining don’t mean squat. The sun is pure aesthetic relief and nothing more. It’s funny how relativity shifts the scales of gradation. 3 degrees is warm, and at 7 degrees it’s time to throw on the jock strap and pounce round the sprinkler.

Shopping                                                                                                                                                        This is one of two occasions that you might experience objectionable Russians. The other is when trying to extract information from bus drivers who look upon you as the cruel god that spun the 5 bullet-full revolver of fate and handed them their loathsome existence. Sales assistants are not partial to selling or assisting. Asking them for ‘this pair of shoes in a 43’ is like banishing them to the daily tending of a poison ivy garden on Everest. You are doing them a terrible disservice when requiring them to now do their job, because before you strolled in all gay and polite, they were having an enthralling day dream. They expect you to buy exactly what you see regardless of whether it fits, and of course this you wouldn’t know because there’s a good chance they’re not going to let you try it on. Our western policy of the customer is always right is indicative of a supplier’s understanding that without the buyer there is no business. I’m not sure that many shop owners in Russia have made this connection.

People                                                                                                                                                             I was so surprised by how different the Russians are in character to how we imagine them to be. Yes, they are a hard people, but that comes from generations of growing up in a cold climate under a system of government that doesn’t recognise individual aspiration, but one that turns capitalism on its head and opts for the opposite extreme, which is equally as hopeless at creating a socio economic homeostasis.

After suffering under the Tsarist autocracy, the Russian working class were quick to join the revolution ushered in by the communist Bolshevik party, forming workers militia and eventually the Red Guard to seal the final take-over of what was left of imperial rule – the provisional government. After centuries of serfdom in which true land ownership was impossible, the notion of shared communal property sold to the people by Lenin was obviously irresistible, but what they hadn’t bargained for was the implementation of a ruthless security organisation that swiftly quashed rebellions and punished political dissidents by sending them to labour camps or executing them. Performing arts and literature that satirised the tyranny of socialism was also heavily censured and many great writers were often on the run, only publishing great works long after their deaths, such as Mikhail Bulgakov and his classic novel ‘The Master and Margarita’.

From serfdom to soldiering to nationalist driven slavery, the Russians have a history rooted in struggle. Apparent in their dead pan demeanour and the solemnity in which they go about their day is a sort of lingering stoicism; a failsafe attitude against maintaining hopes for a better life that in the past was untenable. Yet even now they move about like soldiers in formation afraid that any idiosyncratic behaviour will be punished by a baton wielding drill sergeant.

I could be wrong, perhaps they’re just efficient commuters strapped for time. Admittedly, they do work long days, spend much time travelling, and with the long Moscow winter and the oppressive low hung sky, I guess there’s not much to be cheerful about. Publicly they are dour, but at home where they share a small living space with relatives spanning four generations, they are vivacious and deeply loving. Nowhere have I seen such wonderful togetherness. They rejoice in the solidarity of their family unit, saving throughout the day all the smiles and warmth we in the west might give to strangers, for them. They have such unerring respect for the elderly. Even punk kids give up their bus seats to the grey-heads, and it’s so much the norm that one is often not thanked for this kind gesture. While us Westerners dump our aging parents in homes with fallacious  names like ‘sunny acres’ and forget about them, they personally see to their care until they go in for the long sleep.

I made wonderful friends during my time in Moscow and was moved by the kindness shown me. A friend in Russia is a friend indeed. I have returned to Cape Town to embark on a climbing road trip with my own home grown comrade, El Swazo. Please revert to my other blog to keep abreast of my shenanigans until I instruct you otherwise. And you will obey!

Aqua Junkies: An Old Poem About My Old Friend, the Sea

I would not chance the day
with another form of play
than to paint upon on a wave’s face
in the still womb my soul encased

Here there are no names, only smiles
and we care not how late the hour
or long the miles
For all this joy is timeless
and we are frozen in the quiet
lest it were for the foaming crashing riot.

Our shimmering boards
with noses rising like dolphins from the turquoise blue
sharp and swiftly slicing the transient ocean in two
Scanning the horizon for the grinding swell
We sit there drinking the sky
So silently we pass the lull.

Few words muttered, but the sharp hoots that pierce
the bellowing roar of the ocean
Away from it we’d be as sick children
kept from our healing potion

And we converse with our comrades
with a speech that’s utter nonsense
this tribe of aqua junkies;
a covenant guarded by an emerald fence
How ridiculous and drunk we are with bliss,
laughing like drugged fools
giddy like a teen after his first kiss

To meet the beach we ride a last peak,
There’s much to share, but our lips are purple
and we cannot speak.

Its getting dark, the beach is ours
With its perfect stillness
and yellow flowers


The Moscow Diaries: Part 2 – Beer can beauty and Karpov’s flooded blanket

The underground during rush hour - a thing to be avoided!

The underground during rush hour – a thing to be avoided!

Tired of protracted courtship, the colonel decides to cut to the chase.

Tired of protracted courtship, the colonel decides to cut to the chase.

Standing squashed together like 21 smokes in a pack of 20, I look out of the open train door to see more commuters dressed to the hilt. They’ll waddle aboard like bottlenecking penguins swaying from side to side, hoping to get their handbags on board before the doors close on them. We’ll elbow each other for a while, marking a square foot of territory in which to stand and find something that warrants a good earnest stare so that making eye contact with anyone can be avoided. But, uninspired by peeling posters and metro maps eventually we’ll all begin the secret scrutiny of each other, hoping to find specimens cursed with some new strain of ugly. We’re all looking to pass the time and nothing consumes it more than the fantastical inner journey of conjecturing on the nature of someone’s sad condition.

I like Moscow. It has its own oddities and quirks that seem to flip the bird at the world that it was never apart of; light switches work backwards, which can create embarrassing moments for intruder and toilet sitter alike, if it is by the knobs position up or down that you determine the occupancy status of the bogs. You can also drink in public. Everyone does. It’s not legal, but it seems so much a part of the ambience the landscape would feel barren without it. And I couldn’t imagine a strip of earth without the beatifying effects of a dented and cheerfully coloured beer can. I recently encountered a wobble of drinkers knocking them back in a frozen park. They were in good spirits, like old drinking pals reunited, and they affirmed their jolly banter with much frenetic backslapping and bear hugging. I turned to them and explained with hand signals and the perfunctory production of unintelligible sounds that I was keeping a blog and would like to capture a snippet of Moscovian life. More smiles, followed by an eager comprehension and the unfortunate explanation that because of ‘something something police something somethin’ I would be denied a photo that would have been a nice accompaniment to this post. Funny that because as he said this a policeman was walking past. It was one of those Clark Kent/Superman moments. This man is worried about me taking a photo of him, one that he feared would land his crocked anatomy in the local press where he could be identified by a policeman and hunted down and shot for drinking in public. And yet there swaggering past, and possibly drunk himself, was a policeman who couldn’t care a less.

Moscow is bleak and grey and offers the same bleached cheerfulness of London. Looking up at the night sky you’d be forgiven for not believing in our almond-eyed spaceling friends or even stars. There’s nothing to be seen. I thought I saw the moon a few times, but they may have been distant street lights, I don’t know. Anyway, Moscow is not a place you look upwards for your pleasures. You cut open its belly and climb in, and there in the rank and hot viscera you’ll find vampirish goth clubs, subterranean coffee shops, sex freak shows, and medieval taverns packed to the walls with bar wenches. Behind nondescript corrugated doors in the back alleys of industrial flat lands, beer swilling metal heads in fading leathers rock out to Deicide keeping the beasts of metal alive. But as I stand here and ponder a sticker displaying the face of a Kazakhstani with a red line across it, no doubt left behind by a dim-witted neo Nazi, I wonder about my own belonging in Russia. Runaway vibes! Yip, I’m getting them. But would I be running from or running to? Live the life you love, love the life you live says old Bobsy. Doesn’t always seem possible does it? How am I going to spend all my time climbing rocks, riding waves, carousing with the Betties, sailing, diving, hiking and camping and make money? And then get paid to do it?

I’m on my way back from an English lesson with a 2 year old. You might be thinking: what kind of lesson can you give to a rug rat of that age? None really; I join him in smashing cars and throwing toys places no human will ever be able to retrieve them from. The most important thing is that I keep spewing a running commentary of everything that take place before us. This is harder than you might think. Imagine commentating a football game where each player impatiently stands there waiting for you to think and act for him, and as you administer to each the vagaries of a unique personality, a chain of events is thrown into motion that will rapidly escalate into violence and unprecedented explosions. Only with rabbit-out-the-hat creativity can I smoothly make this transition and make it seem quite natural that a football game would go from a pleasant day with the family to a battlefield where suddenly everyone appears to have advanced weapons training.

I’m arriving home, the day is mine to fart ass away in a soothing half naked bliss, stripped of the striped noose and school shoe rip-offs, free to amble in and out of the fridge, to switch the kettle on twice, to dabble without zeal or aim in unimportant tasks and scream out of key to System of a Down’s Toxicity. This is my space for now, you Moscow will keep your cold creeping torments at bay.

The Moscow Diaries. Part One: Roping Up The Pumper

The wind blew from all directions, rushing in ahead of each train and blowing down vents and white marbled corridors. I leaned against a pillar searching for a reflection of myself. My hair, was it still neatly configured or had it fallen into a dishevelled splay that reflected the kind of man that adventured into the hinterland of wild countries? And my eyes, did they reflect the unmitigated light of a trillion stars viewed from sea? Did I look like her sweet escape? I hoped that the wind on that day would be able to randomly produce in my hair the kind of schick beauty that through the chaotic collision of variables nature sometimes stumbles upon. Simply put, I hoped I look good.

She would be 15 minutes late. I had as much time to consider my exits and remind myself that with any amount of beer involved there is always a proportional degree of favourable anatomical restructuring (beer goggles). I could bolt now, cut my losses and call it a Friday night well spent with a few hundies down the pisser. Or drink some cement, harden the f*”k up and own the space. I could be the big lion and take down my quarry with a barrage of anecdotes, jokes, charismatic arm flinging, hip jigging, tongue lolling and rapid firing jabberwocky that could be mistaken for a quick wit.

10 minutes: I’m dry mouthed and quivering in my boots. What if she was also wearing beer goggles, but ones made from the thick green bases of old port bottles, the kind uncovered by shifting dunes on a beach. And now standing before her would she see the same stately prince or a cowering frog making a beeline for the nearest drain to hitch a ride home on a KFC burger box, soon to be sinking under the sloshing weight of his little froggy tears?

5 minutes to escape. Screw it! I’ll see this one through. 20m away I see a girl. She’s petite. The kind of girl you can carry away under your one arm. She’d be a hit with the cavemen, lucky for her though I was no gimp, I’ll use any tactics available; 007 charisma, if I can still raise a vestige of my bygone charms, but I will not resort to clubbing and sacking. Is it her? I’m not sure, my eyes are failing me. I could use those beer goggles now, but to improve my vision not to distort it.

She smiles, game on. The rest is history. The night was a hit. I danced with the wily devil of love and I won, for now. And If I don’t hear from my little elastic lady again I’ll know that my ability to correctly interpret the behavioural responses of women is under siege by a little Kantian character who, after having fought his way to the helm of my analytical frontal lobe, is swimming in a pile of pages torn from Kant’s critique of pure reason, and defending his poor sense of objectivity with the belief that the world in itself, free of the conformations the mind perverts it with, cannot be known anyway – simple things from a rose petal to a bobbejaan spanner – so how then are we to avoid redrawing the lines that separate the characterisation of one thing from another, and color the world with something other than the crayons of our own choosing. And how, by the nostrils of Morgan Freeman, could we possibly claim to understand the actions of a woman. I certainly don’t, but does that make me a dingbat, and if I am not aware of any lingering prescriptions to an obsolete version of the lady language dictionary, then may I not be absolved of these embarrassing delusions of suavity?

Too Much Scratching, Too Little Howling and the Midnight Mangled Moon

Who are the dogz? Myself, plus the friends in my head make many! They do most of the barking and I do most of midnight marauding. I’ve been called the dogz for several reasons, most of which would probably only come to light upon meeting a certain friend of mine, who I believe coined the phrase. I never asked him why, but I don’t have to. Another reason that I will share with you, is that my Chinese sign is a dog, and my ex-girlfriends will be the first to tell you that I love a good scratch. Funny, I never liked dogs that much. I’m more of a cat man. But I’m coming to realise that cats don’t really give a rats’ ass about anything. They carry themselves with an incredulous air of regal superiority, where the only desire they exhibit that falls within the circumference of their awareness of the human freak, is to judge our actions as primitive, and then grade them according to the relationship they have with meeting their own ends.

By then classifying our activities according to their order of appearance along a timeline that ends in being fed, they are able to make themselves scarce for most of the day, leaving precious little presents about, such as hairballs and puke piles, just to remind you that there’ll be more of that to come if upon their return you don’t have at hand, pound for pound, the most expensive food – cat or otherwise – that pick n pay has to offer. Their buttoned up expressionlessness drives me nuts. Even the most exaggerated theatrics performed in front of them, elicits the same flat incuriousness of  a princess bored with the stale routine of her court jester; an expression that seems to admonish you for being an idiot who deserves to be thrown in the mote.

Thank you ancient Egypt for turning what should be an appreciative pet into a despotic Lord Muck! Have they not noticed that the sun has not shone out of their balloon knots for thousands of years? And that awakening in the human leg lies a twitching irritation – of having your assholes rubbed in our faces while we are trying to eat- poised and ready to deliver a dropkick aimed at the house next door. A flight that since you were usurped from your Egyptian throne, I imagine you have experienced many times; and one you have evolved to survive by always landing on your feet. Nowadays, you probably enjoy being footed into the neighbour’s garden to land neatly next to the dinner plate of your nemesis (You know, the one that inevitable seeks out its revenge in the wee hours of the night. I lie awake hoping you will finish each other off in a flash of claw and fang so I can finally get some sleep).

This blog has nothing to do with cats or dogs – just saying! It’s mostly about my travels and tribulations in foreign lands; some not pretty or cheerful I might add, and it’s about how I perceive this sometimes hopelessly tragic, sometimes beautiful world. I am in Moscow now. It’s not anything like the dogz’ usual stomping grounds. I’m a smiley fellow and like to skip and frolic about with a fiendish grin upon my face, but if you do that kind of stuff here people will think you’re funny in the head. I once read a book (Not to say that I have only read a book once) by Paul Theroux about a train journey he took through China. While aboard, he met a long-time expat who after several years of questioning his way of thinking versus that of the Chinese, summed up my feelings as follows: ‘You think to yourself,  ‘’how can 1 billion people be wrong’’,  but damn it,  it IS them! Trust me they’re all crazy!’

Westerners have many misconceptions about the Russians, and they are the same sort of untruths you might formulate about the guy peering at you from across the room. Is he scowling at me? No, he has a nervous disorder and facial muscles that are not in the jurisdiction of his control. But, the bastard is clearly frowning repugnantly at me!  Nay, it is purely the architecture of his Neanderthal face frozen in animal attack mode.    Russia has never managed to marry with the west. They’re like step brothers suddenly forced to share a bedroom, who before discovering they have interests in common, become complacent in their distrust of each other, sharing only the effort employed in constructing a wall of Lego across the centre of the room, but not forgetting to leave a few blank spaces to peer through and keep abreast of the shenanigans taking place on the other side.  Contrary to belief, the Russians are not unfriendly. Well, they are until you approach them and exchange a few words, and once they discover you’re from elsewhere, they’re all hugs and inviting you home to sleep with their wife (unfortunately this last bit is a gross exaggeration). In a city of 14 million it’s no surprise they aren’t walking around shaking everyone’s hand, but if you single them out they’ll feel honoured to be chosen for a quick tete-a-tete. So that’s where I’m at now – trying to come to terms with having my face just inches from a strangers’ while inhaling his dandruff, and remaining calm while some dude’s front side is pressed against my backside on a train during rush hour. Coming from the Fiji Islands to Moscow is a contrast, that without having been to any of these places, anyone can imagine the polarity of. The fact that one place speaks of islands and the other doesn’t says a lot already. Here I feel outlandish if I wear something bright, or carry a smile or do anything that would not be included in the programming of a robot designed to walk from A to B as efficiently as possible. Perhaps I’m misreading the situation. Maybe I just have a funny face. But I’ve seem funnier, and those bearing these misfortunate mugs don’t seem to attract the kind of attention I do. Presently, I am wearing a bright blue ski jacket (1st Ascent Avalanche – sick jacket! Do I hear sponsorship?), and its attracting a few glances. I think I look like a blue flower erupting out of a grey desert. Yes, that sounds nice!

This is meant to be an introduction so ill cut it short there. I will be keeping a commentary of my experiences in Moscow in ‘The Moscow Diaries’. Stick around for that, or if you’d rather watch something more enthralling such as a dude mainlining wasabi on youtube, or ogle at the latest addition to the facebook baby factory then so long sucker! At the end of November dogz will be returning to South Africa to embark on a climbing road trip throughout his native country of South Africa with his close comrad, ‘El Swazo’. It’s gonna be heavy days!