When did it go wrong for the LibDems?

Posted 11 May 2015 by Walaa Idris

Five years ago, when everybody agreed with Nick, our nation’s economy was worse than that of Greece. Our debt piled high and we were broke. The Conservatives had the largest majority but not enough to govern with any certain stability. So the Liberal Democrats selflessly stepped up to the plate, and for the national interest formed the first UK coalition government in almost a century. For five years, both parties compromised a number of their own manifesto pledges for raison d‘état and to maintain a secure and stable government. The partnership swiftly began repairing the damaged economy and succeeded in bringing our nation from the brink of collapse.

Five years later, as we saw on Thursday the majority of voters liked what the last government did. And approved what the coalition government had achieved. So, why did one partner of the coalition succeed with a majority though a slim one, and was given the mandate to govern alone and the other was almost wiped out?
Is it because they compromised some of their manifesto pledges? But both parties did. Is it because they went into coalition with a party they regarded as an opponent? Again, both parties faced disagreement from their members and voters against the decision to go into coalition ….

So what went wrong? Why were the LibDems punished so badly for doing the right and honourable thing?

We Brits are humble, caring and loyal people. We might not always show affection, but we are very loving in our own way. It might sound like I’m going off topic here, but I have a point to make. Let’s take Ed Miliband and why he didn’t sit well with many people. He might be a little awkward, but during the campaign we saw he’s a decent fella and learnt that he’s a conviction politician, and we know there aren’t many of those around these days. By the end of the campaign, more people warmed up to him and his personal approval ratings improved. However, the one thing he could not and will never shake off is what he did to his own brother. And, although we Brits are rather private and don’t like confrontation and many won’t openly say it, but privately many feel they cannot trust someone who publicly went against his only brother in this way – because that behaviour displays a level of alarming self-love.

The Liberal Democrats did a similar thing. While they and the Conservatives are not blood brothers, they made a deal to work as one team. Everybody knew and to some extend understood for the coalition to work compromises needed to be made. That is why many were very surprised Libs leaked a number of private negotiations and behind the door conversations for the sole reason of making themselves appear as the more moderate of the two partners and the ones that cares the most.
That did not sit well with the electorate.

The sad thing in all of that is many of these conversations will sooner or later come out in biographies and make their way into historic books about that period. And, while at the start of the parliament they (LibDems) were seen as selfless patriots, by the end some of their behaviour reduced them to self-serving opportunists.

In Britain as much as we value loyalty we strongly scorn disloyalty.

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What did we learn from last night’s seven way leaders’ debate?

Posted 3 Apr 2015 by Walaa Idris

The short answer, very little new, but the long answer ….

Nicola Sturgeon is the 2015 Nick Clegg. Even though nobody agreed with her (leaders learnt from the last general election better not to agree with an opponent even if it was to take a dig at another opponent). She came across knowledgeable, principled and very confident of herself and her message. Whether you agree or disagree with her politics, she handled herself well.

Natalie Bennett thankfully did not suffer a brain freeze, but she was dreadful y forgettable.

Leanne Woods was also forgettable. In the first sentence of her opening statement, she informed the British public who don’t live in Wales to tune her out and I did.

Nick Clegg (whom I like, by the way) came across very disingenuous. After five years in collation with the Conservatives, distancing himself and his party was always going to be a tricky business. His main focus was on promoting the LibDems as “the fairer partner”. That is fine. But not when that “fairness” makes you come across as a two faced opportunist. And, sadly that’s exactly how he came across last night. David Cameron summed him beautifully when he said: “With Nick Clegg, we sat in the cabinet room together, we took difficult decisions together. Nick, I defend all of the decisions we took, and I think your sort of pick and mix approach really is not going to convince anyone.”

Nigel Farage was another disappointment. It appears that the straight talking man who ‘says it as it is’ is a one trick pony. Four questions were asked by the audiences. They covered everything from Immigration, the NHS, Education, Housing and the Economy. But for every question asked and every problem aired Farage had one response and one solution the EU and our membership within it. And, although we expected him to mention the EU and promote getting out of the union plus mention it more than once. No one expected it to be his solution to every issue. Particularly as we saw in the past five years, being members of the EU did not stop the UK fixing its economy and go on to become a leading growing economic power house in the developed world.

Ed Miliband was Ed Miliband. A man in complete denial about his party’s mismanagement of the economy and the role it played in the size of the current deficit. Given half a chance he will repeat the same mistakes because to him they are not mistakes.

David Cameron showed he is the leader who took back the reigns of the economy and turned this nation’s fortunes around. He is the visionary who five years ago put country before party and went into coalition for the security of the UK. Austerity worked and the economy is on the mend with 1000 jobs created in the private sector every day, but the task is far from done. He asked the people of Britain to send him back to Number Ten for a second term so he and his team can finish the job and secure our nation’s future.

The real winner of yesterday’s Leaders’ Debate was the ITV Presenter Julie Etchingham.

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My Interview with Media Diversified

Posted 25 Mar 2015 by Walaa Idris

Here’s the link to the interview The link to the intervirw

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Conservatives respect women

Posted 12 Feb 2015 by Walaa Idris

So don’t look out for a ‘Vote Conservative’ woman to woman bus of any size or colour

Labour’s shocking pink van/mini bus was a very good idea in someone’s head. But in reality it’s patronising, self-serving and a very, very bad idea. Not because I disagree with most of what the Labour Party does and say. It is a bad idea because it insults women’s intelligence, belittles and pigeonhole’s them into a stereotype, and then back-slaps them into the dark ages.

It’s a terrible idea because it represents everything women everywhere worked hard to not be labelled as — pink, fluffy and can’t hold their own!

Women in the Twenty First century don’t want to be separated from men, dressed in pink and treated differently. Modern women don’t need a different message coming out of a Barbie bus relayed by women in pant suits who think equality is a quota, a threshold, a number and a target to be reached by a certain date.

Today’s women want equal opportunity, equal pay and don’t need special measures to get either.

Most of us know and understand that we are behind the curb in many fields, but we also understand and pride ourselves by what we have achieved and how far we have come. We don’t want special treatment when what we deserve is equal treatment. We don’t want applause if the result doesn’t warrant it. We know our worth, our value and what we are capable of achieving. It’s there for all to see in hospitals, schools, small and large businesses, in Parliament and on the history books.

In the United Kingdom, women achievements are everywhere for all to see and they don’t need a pink bus to prove it.

This bus is a mockery. It ridicules hardworking women and their abilities and makes light of what they achieved throughout the years. It is nothing but a political ploy to say to the voting public, look at the Labour Party. But is anyone surprised? Not at all, because it is coming from the party that says to women you are not equal to men, you are incapable of going it alone and can never be an individual. We don’t trust you to make it on your own, so we will put you on a ‘Women’s Only Shortlist’ when you apply to become a Member of Parliament, this way you have a better chance of getting selected. And, we will work very hard to introduce the same system in all aspects of life and every profession, just vote us in.

Labour, Harriet Harman and all those who held women back by not trusting and believing in them. Those who thought by dumbing down others’ abilities they were helping need to be ashamed of themselves.

Today women are in Space conquering new frontiers, in Politics leading nations, in the operating theater performing lifesaving surgeries, in academia preparing the best minds for the future, in the battlefield protecting the weak and defending borders.

Women are everywhere and in every field and they mostly got there on merit, hard work and the desire to be the best they can possibly be and did not need a pink van to realise any of it.

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Don’t assume because I respect your freedoms I am not offended.

Posted 14 Jan 2015 by Walaa Idris

Throughout the world today, there are more moderate Muslims than not, and we have a duty to reflect that fact.

What many people are not alluding to, considering or even talking about is how the Prophet Mohamed cartoons’ were actually very offensive to some Muslims. And, just as the cartoonists have the liberty to offend; these Muslims are equally entitled to be offended by those cartoons.

However, offending and being offended does not give anyone, regardless of the extent of that offend, the right to kill and terrorise. Not even in the name of Allah, and that’s what Islam, the religion of peace and forgiveness daily teaches its followers.

I spent all of last week watching in horror as events unfolded in Paris with one question running through my head.“Why does the West want me (a moderate, peaceful and fully integrated Muslim) to say I am not offended by the Prophet Mohamed’s cartoons when I was deeply insulted by them?”

The only explanations I could come up with were, either the West truly have no idea how most Muslims feel about religion, or they want justification at any cost and safety in numbers – the more Muslims say it’s OK then it must be OK.
And for the record, Islam equally respects all Abrahamic religions, and proper Muslims are by the same token offended by any disrespect shown to any of the Holy Prophets – Abraham, Jesus, Moses, Joseph, David….

However, regardless of the insult, it is never okay, nor is it acceptable to terrorise and murder people for having an opinion. Particularly as Islam teaches Muslims to be tolerant of others’ shortcomings, and encourages them to be forbearing with those who misunderstand them.

As a Muslim who voluntarily moved to Britain, I grew to love all things British. Upon my arrival to these shores, I made it my duty to learn, experience and to assimilate myself and my family. I wanted us to fit in, and succeed. My girls, who attended Church of England schools; annually participated in Christmas nativities, Easter events, and at times even sang in the school choir. None of that took away from our values, but gave us first-hand experience into the culture of the society we willingly adopted. That is why it is my profound belief all non-Brits who freely come over, have a duty to themselves and their chosen home to embrace and understand their new environment. Learn the language, absorb the culture and become an asset not the other way round. By so doing, they will enrich themselves and their communities and coexist in harmony.

It is also imperative to remember, the same freedoms that allowed the cartoonists to offend Muslims, allow Muslims to build mosques, worship freely and openly and dress differently. To suppress the freedoms of artists, writers or broadcasters will also quell the freedoms of those who want to practice a different religion or open faith schools. Liberty is a two way street that is why my question lingered for the best part of a week.

Out of respect to those who violently lost their lives in the Paris attacks and their families, I did not write this blog until now, after the Solidarity March and the victims’ burials.

In closing, as a person I detest terrorism particularly that carried out in the name of my religion. This blogpost is dedicated to the Paris Attacks’ victims with my deepest and sincerest condolences to their families and loved ones. I pray for their souls to rest in peace, for tolerance and understanding between our diverse communities, and for learning to accept each other’s differences.

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My Greatest Experiences to date

Posted 28 Dec 2014 by Walaa Idris

Reading Iain Dale’s Greatest Experiences, made me think of my own, with the exception of the first, these experiences are in the order I remembered them not importance. However, unlike Iain I will not talk about when or where I popped my cherry – I am a lady.

1 – My first time in London – I first visited London (my favorite city in the world) with my family as a child during a school summer holidays. I loved daily going to the park, eating different foods and adored soft ice cream cones with flakes. I enjoyed the Zoo, the funfair but most of all I was enchanted by the number of green open spaces. I honestly think it was then that I permanently feel in love with London.

2 – First time in US – Ten or eleven years after my first visit to London. My dad surprised me with a ticket to the States to visit with my cousins. I arrived in Chicago (my second favorite city in the world) and took a connection to Indianapolis, Indiana. Outside the airport I got my first shock, the streets were huge, the cars were long and everybody was very happy and super friendly. We stopped to pick up a few things and I had my second shock that day, I saw my first gallon of milk and of orange juice. Surprise number three came the following day at the movies – popcorn came in a bucket and Coke in half a gallon.

3- The Grand Canyon – as much as I read about it and saw photos of the Grand Canyon nothing prepared me to its majesty, it was breath taking to see the real thing.

4 – Visiting the Pyramids in Egypt and going inside before it was banned – I still can’t get my head around how they were built that long ago.

5- Getting my firearm licence in the US and shooting my first gun – at a gun range. I can hunt, but I enjoy target shooting more. My preferred handgun is a 38 special Smith & Wesson.

6 – Becoming the first female to own a gun and apply for a gun licence in Sudan. That was in 1984 and I still hold that record by the way. However, a year later I was put under house arrest for six weeks; my charge was a woman daring to request a firearm licence.

7 – The Golden Horn is the first social enterprise in Sudan and to date is my proudest achievement. My mother and I went into partnership to realise a vision of creating and running a sustained farm where farmers and workers are partners and where profits were reinvested in improving and expanding the business. We succeeded, and despite, objections and obstacles, our vision of improving the indigenous cow (via artificial insemination) and creating a family friendly work environment, were achieved. Now that vision is the blueprint for many successful farming businesses in Sudan.

8 – Getting married was wonderful; a traditionalist at heart, getting married was number three on my life goals. As a young girl I dreamt of first getting a great education, and then become my own business owner (always wanted to be my own boss) and number three was getting married.

9 – Becoming a mother, was my absolute best experience (I know most parents say that) but being a mother taught me absolute love, patience, listening, and putting someone else before me. Although my family wasn’t wealthy, I never wanted for anything, love, attention, or stuff. So to be selfless was not always second nature. Parenthood taught me instinctively to put my children first.

10- Getting divorced, even though I never thought it would ever happen to me, and most definitely was not a life goal. It nonetheless was a necessary detour on my perfectly planed journey. At times it was sad, confusing and even frightening and I consider myself to be a very independent and strong woman, however, like marriage and parenthood, divorce was full of surprises and valuable life lessons.

11 – Immigrating to the UK, I grow up in a political household. My father was a political figure and after his government was over thrown, life in Sudan became impossible, especially as it became difficult to trust even family members. I left Khartoum seven month pregnant with my youngest, and a toddler plus very little personal possessions. I did for my girls.

12 – Getting my British citizenship nine years after immigrating to the UK. That was and still remains one of my proudest moments. It was in 2000 so there was no funfair, a ceremony or a test. To celebrate my Britishness the following day I went to my local Conservative Association and became a bona fide card carrying Tory – up to then I used to just leaflet and occasionally canvass but not vote in general elections.

13 – Adopting Budweiser Sweetface Idris- Yousif (Buddy). In 2002 after a short holiday with the girls and the longest time in my live (1991 -2002) without a dog, we decided to get a dog and opted to adopt rather than getting a new puppy. Buddy is a Battersea rescue, and for 12 years he gave us lots of joy, cheek, and unconditional love. He passed away on Monday November 10, 2014 at the age of 14/15 (vets could not agree on an age).

14 – Meeting George and Barbra Bush at an official reception in Khartoum when George Bush was Vice President to Roland Reagan.

15 – Meeting King Hussein of Jordan.

16 – Meeting President Anwar Sadat of Egypt – who is also a distant relative of my mother’s.

17 – Dinner with Sir John Major, at an association dinner, I sat on his immediate left. My father was a very calm and gentle man; the only person who can beat him is Sir John Major. The former Prime Minister is also the most engaging and caring politician I had the pleasure of dinning with.

18 – Flying in a private jet from Khartoum to Geneva to see my baby sister in Lausanne for a long weekend – first class? What first class?

19 – Flying Concord to JFK – twice

20 –Diving a Mustang convertible down PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) – the sun, the gentle breeze and the sheer exhilaration of it all.

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Does Ukip know or even understand the difference between political correctness and basic manners?

Posted 20 Dec 2014 by Walaa Idris

Even though I am not a supporter or sympathizer of the UK Independent Party, I am quite impressed by their recent ascend in politics. Looking at their poll ratings, it appears they command the support of a good number of people across all political divide nationwide. Most of who are people tired of political correctness, tip toeing around sensitive issues and bored by the traditional way of doing politics. Of course there are some outcasts who couldn’t fit anywhere and made Ukip their home for now.

However, as someone who thinks political correctness (PC) is disingenuous and is actually suffocating many politicians and masking a lot of their greatness, I think recently Ukip showed they don’t quite understand the difference between being PC and basic decorum, and that is very concerning.

Up to the recent case of Kerry Smith, Ukip did what most political parties would do when a prominent member of their party caused offense to a group of people, and just sacked the offender.

But, not this time. In the case of Kerry Smith, their former parliamentary candidate in Basildon South, the Ukip leader took to the airwaves to defend him. He told LBC radio listeners; “I’m a bit sad, because Kerry Smith is a rough diamond. He’s a council house boy from the East End of London, left school early and talks and speaks in a way that a lot of people from that background do.” Then added – “I feel a bit sorry for Kerry Smith, because I think he’s a genuine fellow.” As if that wasn’t shocking enough he went on to criticise what he called the metropolitan snobbery against people from outside the capital using “colloquial” language.

Besides alienating the gay community, women, most of the black and ethnic community, not to mention anyone who was not born on these shores, now Ukip insulted the Chinese community. We all know there are people who use unsavoury disrespectful language in private and amongst friends, but to come on national radio and defend someone whom you just sacked from representing your party (because they are unfit to represent you) is pure madness.

In this whole episode, what I find dangerously alarming is the lack of understanding, by a party leader, and the man positioning himself to become the next Kingmaker, of the difference between political correctness and basic civility.

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Breastfeeding is healthy, both nutritionally and psychologically, and Nigel Farage is right.

Posted 6 Dec 2014 by Walaa Idris

We know breastfeeding is best for babies. As a mother I nursed both my daughters for six months each. I did it out of belief and conviction that it was the best thing for them heath wise. Breastfeeding boosts babies’ immunity system and strengthens the bond between them and their mothers, plus it’s safe, hygienic and easy.

A natural thing; breastfeeding requires little work and comes easy to most mothers. But it is a private affair, or so it should be. I understand many women have little issues with showing flesh in public, and with the likes of page three and women of all ages walking around half naked, many might be desensitised to exposed breasts. But still some people feel uneasy and nursing still remains and should be a private time between mother and child.

Here is where Farage is right. Nursing mothers should be allowed to feed their babies publicly but it should be done tastefully, discreetly and by agreement.

Most people have no problem knowing if a mother is nursing her chid, but they don’t want to see it happening — just as those mothers who want to nurse publicly ‘have the right to do so’ those who don’t want an exposed breast with a baby suckling on it forced on them, also have the right to not have to see it. Public establishment also have rights, they have the right to decide how to run their business and the freedom to allow mothers to nurse publicly or not.

Rights and freedoms work both ways.

And no, it is not a case of avert your eyes if you don’t want to see, it’s more a matter of respect. Respect for ones’ own self and respect to others and their feelings. Surely that’s a good thing?

Listening to Farage’s LBC radio clip that was exactly what he meant before the media hijacked his comment and turned it into something else.

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Sayeeda Warsi's ill-timed remark will hinder and not help the Palestinian cause.

Posted 19 Nov 2014 by Walaa Idris

Brutally murdering people, particularly while they are praying can never ever be justified no matter what the reasoning for it. What happened yesterday to the worshippers’ of the Jerusalem synagogue is appalling and can never be condoned.

So when Baroness Warsi, the former Foreign Office minister, made a parallel, on reactions and media coverage, between the synagogue killing and the protestors at the holly Al-Aqsa Mosque (one of the holiest sites in Islam) I sensed trouble brewing. And though I wasn’t surprised by her comment, as I understood her comparison and what she was alluding to. But sadly her timing was wrong. As a Muslim who lives in the west, and someone who does not condone aggression, I believe the Palestinian issue can never be resolved by violence and that’s why her comment was ill-timed and tasteless.

Yes, what happened to the Al-Aqsa protestors for days was quietly ignored by western media and commentators. And yes the west is very prejudiced when it comes to all things Israel. But, nonetheless there is a time and a place for everything, and yesterday’s event was neither.

Furthermore, if a few months ago, we criticised Israel for their disproportionate response in Gaza, we can’t possibly think murdering innocent people in a worshipping place is ‘proportionate’ to not receiving enough media coverage or even being frustrated by the amount of attention and interest the issue derives!

As a sympathiser to the Palestinian cause, I see, feel and hear these injustices daily, but rather than agitate opinions, I prefer to slowly change them — as they did during the Gaza bombing a few month ago. Also this way those looking for a reason to paint Palestinian supporters as terror sympathisers don’t get their wish. The West, Israel and their allies are stronger, better financed and more established. Exposing and helping others to see the injustices inflicted on occupied Palestine is a slow and long process and needs both time and patience to achieve it.

Palestine must continue to exist and grow side by side with Israel. Her people must be given back their occupied land. But all of that can only be realized by peacefully exposing the injustices of the occupier, not by offering them and their propaganda masters a way out.

What Sayeeda did is counterproductive. Because now instead of talking about significant issues, such as condemning the Israeli government for their recent heavy handed senseless punishment of demolishing the homes of suspects, she will spent the next coming days explaining what she said and didn’t mean. Thus wasting valuable opportune time to question how is demolishing a flat on the third floor of an apartment complex not pure hateful madness?

Baroness Warsi might not hold a government office but whatever she says still holds weight, even if was negative.

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Budweiser Sweetface Idris-Yousif, April 22nd 2002 – November 10th 2014

Posted 18 Nov 2014 by Walaa Idris

I miss you and our non-verbal conversations. Things like ‘I want to go walkies now’ when you do a downward facing dog stretch and give me that ‘we go!?’ look. Or when you see I’m going shopping (the shopping bags usually give me away) and you give me that ‘can I come and stay in the car’ head tilt, or when you know I am going to be out for longer than an hour and you jump in my bed for a snuggle and a long nap, before I even close the front door.

For twelve years Buddy was a big part of our lives and I desperately miss him.
In April 2002, my eldest, who just became a teenager, announced she wants a dog. My whole family are animal lovers and growing up we always had a pet — actually I don’t remember a time when we didn’t have a house pet. So naturally I did the same with my girls. By that time, but not at the same time, my daughters had fish, a couple of birds, a pair of Albino rats (who within weeks became 18 then 28 — which I have to say was a very practical lesson in sex education) and of course Rachel Karen Green the mad hamster.

So when my eldest ‘dramatically’ told me her life is incomplete without a dog, I knew it was time to graduate the girls to a bigger animal and more responsibilities. To be honest (even though I had cats before) I was relieved she said dog and not cat — the idea of a litterbox in a flat with heating in the winter was not exciting at all.

It didn’t take much to convince them it’s better to give a home to a homeless dog rather than buy a new puppy. We did our research and settled on a Jack Russell for a breed; both the size and temperaments suited our family. So we went to Battersea Dogs and Cats home.

At the home, after the initial interview and filling the necessary adoption papers, we were shown Mia, a black bitch who was very timid, not eager to engage and spent the whole assessment time under the table shaking. Sadly we had to say no to her, as she clearly was traumatised and I wasn’t sure the girls were ready for that. Next we met Buddy who attempted to escape the room by jumping at the door handle. From the second he walked in he won our hearts. He was cheeky, flirty and happy, and we all instantly fell in love with him. He was just a lovely, lovely dog. So delightful, I kept thinking to myself how is he homeless?

On the journey home, we went over duties and the ground rules one more time — just to make sure we’re all on the same page – and agreed on the following:
1) The girls arethe main carers and I will help with everything particularly major stuff such as vet visits.
2) Buddy will only sleep in his bed and will not be allowed in any of our beds.
3) He will not be given peoples’ food, especially when we are at the table.
4) His basket will stay in the living room and that will become ‘his main room’ but of course he is free to go everywhere in the house.
5) And finally, he will be rewarded ONLY with dog treats.

Ten minutes later we were home, I opened the front door and Buddy charged right in, investigating each room in the house, he stopped at my room, went in and jumped in the bed. Then looked at us as if to say ‘come on jump in, there is room for everyone’!

That was the first rule break and the rest quickly followed.

It didn’t take long for my bed to become his daytime nap corner. And even though he never slept with me in it, he was always in my bed. He took all his naps and stayed in my bed more than in his until very recently, when it became too difficult for him to jump on it.

That wasn’t all. On the same day the first rule was broken, Buddy broke a second rule. That evening, at the dinner table he begged and begged and begged until we gave in to him, some did it out of pity and the rest did it just to shut him up.

Hate to admit it, but in a little under two weeks all the rules were broken.

From the start he preferred walking with me and that quickly became the norm, two weeks after adopting him the girls announced they can’t balance their Buddy duties with school and after school activities – and they had a point. So within a fortnight from adopting him, Buddy became my full responsibility and I became his sole carer.

When we picked Buddy, we had no idea how old he really was, nor were we clear on how he became homeless. Battersea was vague on both, but it was expected. Most animals at the home were abandoned by their owners. So we decided to make our own history and had twelve incredible years of love, fun and making beautiful memories.

First we officially renamed him Budweiser Sweetface Idris-Yousif. Budweiser because he was a very wise buddy and Sweetface, speaks for itself – - look at that sweet lovely face! The vet estimated (looking at his teeth) that he was about 2 years old and not as advertised 6 to 18 months old. I honestly didn’t care what age he was, and was just delighted he was healthy and all of us were adjusting well to each other.

Like most healthy energetic dogs, he was inquisitive, said hello to every dog specially the smaller breeds, enjoyed meeting people and lapped up all the attention they give him. He immensely loved his walks and his daily routine. In time we became almost inseparable. He was extremely sensitive and hated being left on his own for long periods, anything over two hours and he would cry. With the exception of my eldest daughter, he would cry even if there was someone else with him in the house –– so it’s a good thing I mostly work from home.

But unlike most dogs, Buddy hardly barked, did not like dogs’ paraphernalia and playing with dog toys, and he hated dog treats. He would not fetch a ball (he might catch a stick but don’t hold your breath), will never ever drink from a puddle or a creek only from his bowl and loved all human food – as long as it’s not spicy and he adored all things chicken. The smell and presence of chicken drove him insane with joy. He was a beggar of the worst kind, relentless and stubborn and never gave up. He hated dog chews and looked at them with disgust but loved raw carrots and Granny Smith apples – the cruncher the better. He was a very private dog. When out, he would cock his leg and do a number one anywhere but always looked for a tucked away semi-private place to do a number two. He loved hugs and cuddles and was mad for belly rubs. Throughout his live he was not a sickly dog and was never ill until eighteen months ago when we discovered he was born with a defective heart and though the years that damaged his liver.

No one will believe this but Buddy loved EastEnders and knew when it was on. At first we thought as a dog he was just a creature of habit and since the show aired more or less around the same time he liked hanging out with us at that time. After getting Sky+ we began recording and watching the show at different times and he would come when he hears the theme tune, how bizarre!

I know everyone thinks their kid is cleverer than other kids, the same with dog owners we all think our dog is the best and cleverest, but Buddy was very clever. He always knew when not to ask to come with me, knew when I had a bad day or something was the matter. The first time he went to my parents’ house after my dad passed away, he spent the whole visit looking for him in every room, and when he was convinced dad wasn’t there he sat watching the front door waiting for him and did not want to leave before he came – he did that for two month. My dad was the person who looked after him whenever I travelled or was out of town – and they developed their own special bond.

Buddy was a singer and enjoyed howling (though I never quite worked out if it was singing or crying). But I am glad we have many videos of him singing his heart out. His singing wasn’t too shabby either and won him second place in the borough dogs’ talent show – he was beat to second place by the late Baroness Ritchie’s singing dog.

When we used to walk in Kensington Park, we gave each path its name, The Albert Memorial path (you can guess where that is), Bike Road, Tourists Way, Ducks Road by the pond and Buddy’s favourite trail Squirrel Lane where the Jack Russell in him comes to life. He would chase the poor creatures and in occasions he would even catch one.

I can fill pages and pages with his antics and cheek. Those of you who meet him understand why he left such a big gap in my life. Many advised me to get another dog and give them my love and attention. But I won’t for some time. People think I rescued Buddy from homelessness but what they don’t know is he saved form depression, disperse and who knows what else. Walking and talking (yes I did talk to him) was what helped me get though losing my home, a business, my father, and helped me endure many personal pains that could have had a bigger negative impact on my life. Walking with him daily is what kept me sane when all around me was pure madness – he helped me be a better mother to my girls and a stronger daughter and sister when my dad passed away.

Who knows in a few years I might be ready for another dog but for now I will mourn, remember and give Buddy the respect he deserves.

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