Letter 14

Coos, who does the excellent work on this site, has reminded me in the past that I always start the diary entry with: “Well,…” Well, it’s tricky not to! But here goes without a starting ‘well’…

I’ve had such good times and some very bad times since I last wrote. I’ve been traveling a bit with my dogs which was really lovely; I went to France with a friend and the two greyhounds Kitty and Lily who have now opened a french branch to their fan club. It seems that although whippets are fairly well-known there, greyhounds are a real rarity. Maybe that’s somewhere to target for re-homing. If there are any french people reading this that would like to know more about these lovely creatures then just email me! France really feels like a second home and I have such fun attempting to speak french – the poor people who are so kind when I’m tying myself up in knots over complicated (to me) grammar have to be commended for their mastery of the straight face as I say un-meant embarrassing things or just mangle their lovely language.

Sadly, I was turned down by the local council for my kennels – with the rather strange reason that I was both too close and too far away from people. Although the animal welfare officer wanted me to fight my case I didn’t feel they would budge in the end so I retired until next time. It was sad cos I was going to be able to take the really difficult cases – those dogs that had physical and mental problems from years of neglect. However, now it’s just my two with me for the foreseeable future. Kitty has been getting better and better and she is almost back to her normal ditzy self. She is the daftest dog I have ever met and does dog jokes which are not terribly funny, but like kids’ jokes that aren’t funny they become very, very funny. They have a new stamping ground as I have moved house – I miss my old house terribly though and dream of it on many a long night. I hope I have not gone mad in doing this! I’m still in the countryside though, but near Exeter in Devon and my friend Nicola (Hitchcock) lives fairly near and we can meet up now for lunch or coffee there – it’s almost like being grown-ups!

I’ve been writing more songs which is the best buzz for me. If anyone feels that they’d like to but that they can’t write a song – try it – it’s much easier than you’d think. I used to believe that people who wrote music were akin to alchemists; taking a something from out of nothing, but it’s a little like magic – once you’ve done it yourself you have a very different view, although there are people who I still regard as musical alchemists but they are fewer now! If you want to write then just try, just do it; the first song I wrote wasn’t that long ago and I didn’t have any money and borrowed a little four-track and used a dustpan and brush as the drums and the plucked strings of the cello slowed down for a bass – the amazing thing was that it worked and it has a little charm of its own. If I can find any tapes of the very early stuff (and if they’re not totally embarrassing) I may put some up on the website for a little while.

I was given a telescope for Christmas – how fantastic! I ‘discovered’ the splendours of the universe about 20 years ago when my flatmates and I were watching ‘The Sky at Night’ (with the fabulous music) and Patrick Moore was talking about the Andromeda Galaxy which is a kind of sister galaxy – and a big sister at that – to ours which is two million light years away, but on a moonless night is easily seen as a smudge in the sky above the sticky up bit of Andromeda to the left of Pegasus. Well, that night we all decided we wanted to look two million years back in time, so we went to Regents Park (I was living in London at the time) and jumped the railings and went to the darkest centre where the wolves live in the zoo – not terribly dark as it had London to contend with – and THERE IT WAS!!! I moved to the country about a month after that because I wanted to see the stars, not just an orange murk. So, the other night I and some young friends of mine were out getting excited in plumbing the depths of the universe – watching the star nursery in the Pleiades and seeing where men had landed on the moon. I’m planning lots of new space conquests – but I’m a bit thwarted at the moment cos I live in Devon and it’s very often cloudy. Well, you can’t have everything – just almost…

The bad thing or terrible thing, rather, was that my father became suddenly ill with lung cancer and died just before Christmas. It was such a shock because he had a full-time job and didn’t seem ‘old’. He was always full of joie de vivre and was very well-loved by so many people. My sister Diana is a nurse and she specialises in the care of older people and was just brilliant and caring with him. She attended to many of his needs in his short illness and sorted out pain-relief too for which I am very grateful. She wanted a good funeral for him and is very into horses, and as Dad took a great interest in her horses (some of them rescued) she organised black horses to pull a glass hearse to the lovely old 13th century church. Hundreds of people attended and I was so moved by so many of their words of affection for him. He must have been doing something very right.

With all best wishes to you for 2006 – may you have the most wondrous and happy year yet,

– Caroline Lavelle

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