We have a noisy neighbour. His name is Geanie, and he ranks high in terms of cantankerous. He’s vociferously angry – ranting daily at everything that goes on around him in idyllic, peaceful Oberalm. He rankles at visitors, harasses cyclists, taunts neighbours, bothers butterflies and generally enjoys his nuisance.
Geanie is driving me mad while I try to work from home. And he’s not taken to me at all in my time living here. I wouldn’t mind, but I usually get along really well with all dogs. And Geanie, well, he’s handsome enough, he loves my girlfriend, and adores his owners – but whenever I pass him he starts in with the obscenities and threats and I just have to tolerate it. That is, just me. No one else in the building gets such grief from his attentions.
He even permeates my thinking. I was reading George Orwell’s biography and came across this nugget on the concept of Newspeak: “The English language becomes ugly and inaccurate because people think foolish thoughts, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to think them.”
I was meditating on that this morning, when Geanie started in on some poor passer-by school children with his daily growl like an irate old man (much to their upset it seemed). I’m not quite sure what he’s trying to tell the world, and I guess he’s using German rather than English, but it’s no less ugly or slovenly. Today it seemed he was repeatedly shouting ‘Fug-hoff! fug-hoff…!” (as far as I could discern). It took me back to hostile English high streets and the lilting vernacular of the youth, who articulate the same through mouthfuls of glutomate E621, mono and diglycerides.
There are also three large dogs next door that prowl their garden in lopping boisterous struts, so if Geanie is ever bored of haranguing the wider public, or even just a leaf cascading in the air, he’ll turn his tirade to them. They’d tear him paw from paw, for sure, but safe behind his fenced fortress he persists in moaning at these mongrels of different shapes and sizes. Something like a canine Enoch Powell, blasting and venting to a disinterested public who are forced to listen to he who barks loudest. The other dogs sniff back in bemusement, while he turns himself cerise in choking foul chastisement.
Sometimes I’ll imagine catching Geanie unawares, sunbathing drowsily on the driveway with a happy evil grin twisted into his jaw as he dreams of disrupting flocks of lambs with his cacophony of hate. I’ll creep upon his slumber, so close I can hear his weary lungs satisfyingly reconstitute after a hard days bark. And perhaps with a foghorn, or better still a bucket of cold water, I’ll dash him from his peace – as he does to me on a daily basis. Yes, in fact as I write he has started again. Howling at the nothingness, like a mad sage. I’d change his name to Nero if he was mine. A good name for a bad dog.
Just to show I’m not a complete pet-botherer (I consider dogs to be something like angels, actually) here’s some pictures from Salzburg’s International Dog Show, which is over for another year. 25,000 pooches in one place over three days, and not a single angry yelp from one of them. Blessed are the meek.