DOG DAYS

Cute husky dog Free Photo

An entirely gratuitous picture of a cute dog

London in August, a city where the councils are tearing the tarmac off  every road and traffic is on a perpetual diversion from one street containing a very large hole to another street containing  another very large hole. The expensive parts of town are emptied of people, the poorer parts are as full as they ever were.  The centre of town throngs with tourists and Londoners, who are avoiding eye contact and too polite (or indifferent) to tell the tourists that Leicester Square is not pronounced Lye – cess – ter Square but Less – ter Square.

The football season has started. Did it always start this early? And with monotonous inevitability Arsenal has already lost to a side they should have beaten. Across the street from us even the plane trees seem fretful, peeling vast amounts of bark each night, their shed skins swept up by the road sweepers each morning. Having witnessed two spectacular rows over the weekend, it got me thinking about the effect of the seasons on mood.  Andrea Stephenson the author of the fantastic Harvesting Hecate blog also did in this beautiful blog post here:

http://www.harvestinghecate.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/unsettled/

We’re in the dog days (end of July to the beginning of August) so-called by the ancients because this time of year, when the dog star Sirius rose above the horizon, coincided with the hottest days of the year. It was also said to bring with it disease and war.

Here’s a bit of the Iliad:

“… Sirius, the star of harvest, brightest of the stars in the dark of night. Orion’s dog, men call it, glittering brightly yet boding ill, bringing fever to wretched mortals …” 

ILIAD BOOK 22

So there we are. If you’re feeling a bit of a wretched mortal, if you’re under the weather or itching for a fight, you know who to blame. The cute husky of course! The star, by the way, was supposed to be on the tip of the dog’s nose.

Finally, a nice bit of Dickens. Here’s a description of Scrooge from A Christmas Carol

“He carried his own low temperature always about him; he iced his office in the dog days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.”

A CHRISTMAS CAROL – CHARLES DICKENS

Roll on September!

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6 thoughts on “DOG DAYS

  1. I had never heard of ‘Dog Days’ – at first I thought it might be Black Dog Days, which I completely know about(!). So thank you for introducing me to those – I do love the fretful plane trees. Those Ancients knew a thing or two; I always remember in Italy that the first half of August was bakingly hot and the second half full of the most wonderful thunderstorms.

    Just a thought: Is this where ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ comes from?

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  2. Love that take on tourists pronunciation of Leicester. I’ve heard edinborrow and Glowcester. I can’t even begin to capture how people mangle the welsh name places near my home town and I don’t mean tourists from overseas, but BBC reporters who can manage some far off place in Asia or Africa but not something just 200 miles away

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    • Thanks so much for the comment. I used to work in a bookshop in the Charing Cross Road and we always had tourists coming in asking the way to Leicester Square. Welsh names… I wouldn’t know where to begin but the BBC certainly should! When I lived in Oxford you’d get people standing in the High Street saying can you tell me the way to the university but that was because they thought there was a campus somewhere and didn’t understand that all the separate colleges made up the university.

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