The (true) story of the sausage

Early days: I've always enjoyed a bit of sausage
Early days: I’ve always enjoyed a bit of sausage

This last few days we have each had some carefully cut coins of sausage with our jellies and mixer: a delicious treat and a very rare occurrence, it has to be noted. Yes, I know!  Sausages – even the best as are these – aren’t that nutritionally sound and moreover they have to be cooked but I think a great many dogs would readily agree that they are completely and utterly delicious. In fact they are so delicious that they have an incandescent quality about them which brings a broad grin to the face of any dog lucky enough to be getting any. Uncle Jonny particularly liked the fact that when staying away in an hotel a whole sausage would be smuggled back to the bedroom in a napkin, and doled out to him in bite-sized pieces. I too have now experienced the joy of this heavenly wait, confident that there will be enough sausage to go round the three of us. For years, Uncle Jonny’s gastric problems were addressed by ready-grilled sausages, which seemed to agree with him no end; special Tupperware containers sat in the fridge with the grilled snorkers lined up temptingly, some cut up ready for scattering over the cruckles. The sausage, moreover, has a primal function in the relationship of dog to mankind, as every dog learns as he grows up and as science has now demonstrated. I heard it from Uncle Jonny, and he from Uncle Willie who in turn learnt it from the Great Noggs himself. The story goes like this:

Once upon a time, a very very long time ago, a pack of hungry wolves clung together forlornly on a shivering hillside while the winter wind blew their fur close to their skinny sides. It was a truly terrible time, the bitterest night of the winter. For days the wolves had hunted in vain for a fat rabbit or a slow raccoon but there was nothing to be found, even after hours and hours of fruitless tracking in the snow. Seeing a glow growing brighter and thinking the sun might be rising at last, the wolves looked down on to what they soon made out to be a gathering fire, around which was huddled a group of human beings – their bitterest enemies in the battle for life. They had never edged so close to people before but the most mouth-watering smells began wafting up from the fire, so appetising and savoury that the hungriest wolf couldn’t help howling out loud, throwing his head back as the pain in his stomach gripped tighter. To the wolves’ surprise the men didn’t run away. Instead one of them threw a piece of cooked meat over in their direction, making encouraging noises. ‘If we take that food, we will for ever lose our independence,’ warned the wildest of the wolves. ‘The freedom of the plains; the right to forge our own destiny; to feast when we have plenty and the dignity of starving when we cannot find anything to eat. If you approach those people and take what they offer you, you will become their creatures, never knowing hunger but forever dependent.’ The others looked confused. This was deep stuff. However, hardly pausing for a moment more, as one they left the true wolf howling on the frozen hillside, and trotted daintily and meekly into the presence of a warm and welcoming meal, and the arms of those who had provided it.

And that, dear readers, is the story of the sausage. And the beginning of the story of the dog.

. . . and sausages for tea

IMG00290-20131016-0755First, another glorious Northumberland sunrise! Such a peaceful, windless morning – calmer waters and gentle air about our ears – deserves to be recorded after what we’ve been through lately. As a routine, the daybreak outing sets the tone for the rest of the day, hence I often feel moved to dwell on it as I gather my thoughts on other things. But both wind and rain have set in now – nothing too dramatic, just very English dreariness.  By contrast, though, our lives were brightened by a dinner time when gorgeous bits of sausage replaced the usual jellies in our bowls.  The smell is legendary and utterly scrumptious! Perhaps I should explain: jellies, I now understand, are pieces of beef heart.  Breakfast and dinner consist of them, on top of vegetables and wholemeal bisquit. Lovely!

IMG_0227Though this kind of dinner is a complete first in my little life, Uncle Jonny used to have sausages every day in his later years and I remember when I was a tiny boy smelling them browning gently in the oven –  so savoury, so tempting. One day I shall write about the legend of the sausage about which all dogs learn by instinct and which is now generally thought to explain why we joined forces with humanity thousands of years ago. Jonny’s digestive incidents were certainly legendary, but it was sausages which kept his tummy on a surprisingly even keel. Whether we will see any more of this ambrosia I cannot tell, though I noticed the jelly box had been washed out and is lying empty on the shelf. When we grow old, as Jonny did, we can eat what we like so long as it keeps us well. This lovely picture was taken after he had enjoyed a meal of two steak pies freshly made by the local butcher, washed down with a bowl of tea. That day, none of us had to worry what the consequences might be as, when he woke up on the comfy sofa, lovely Lucy was there to take the pain away for good. He saw her and was glad. Remember what he told us: ‘Do not worry. I am very happy. I will always still be here.’ And he is.