Almanac Life: Goodbye to a faithful friend




In the end it was quick.


As should always happen in these situations, mercy prevailed. With no witness and limited ceremony I simply nodded briefly and acted swiftly.


Appropriately, it was in the grey light of Wednesday’s unremarkable dawn.


The symptoms revealed themselves late last week: feverish temperature, ungainly sweats, internal functioning becoming increasingly laboured. I wished that a simple solution were available. Experts were consulted and their chorus was clear and, while sympathetic, it was unanimous: a terminal prognosis.


Our relationship had lasted for over a decade and, to my shame, I admit that I took far more than I gave. I offered rare gratitude but demanded constantly. I heard no complaints.


Of course, I became grief-stricken when faced with the grim inevitability of the pending loss. As the sun struggled up in the east that morning my despair hurtled towards me.


Why is it only when the final hour descends that we pause to show the kindness we’ve failed to display previously?


My beer fridge was dead.


I turned off the power. The Southwark mugs that for long years had been crisply chilled in the freezer were now thawing in the feeble June sun.








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About Mickey Randall

Now whip it into shape/ Shape it up, get straight/ Go forward, move ahead/ Try to detect it, it's not too late/ To whip it, whip it good


  1. Rulebook says

    Gold Mickey well played indeed

  2. Great build-up; even better denouement!

  3. No-one should underestimate the depth of this type of relationship

  4. Good one Mickey. I was worried for a sec. Got me thinking about Candy’s dog in Of Mice and Men.

  5. Thanks ‘Book, Ian and Smokie.

    Pards- I was only thinking about this book recently and my experiences teaching it over the years. On the surface of it Of Mice and Men probably shouldn’t work with lots of kids but it does. Yes, there’s much that’s confronting and adult but the lessons are universal and the writing is so sparse and cinematic that most find a connection to it. Like The Great Gatsby and Macbeth I looked forward to teaching and reading it every year and discovering something new in the text. This, from the opening, shows how great Steinbeck’s writing was-

    ‘The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose. Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely.’

  6. Lyrical. Poignant. Slim Dusty could have put it to music.
    In an Australian country song your wife leaves, but you get your dog and fridge back.

  7. Thanks PB. I’m about to fax a copy to the Grand Old Opry.

  8. Mark Poustie says

    Mickey very very amusing – here I was building up to the crescendo of the loss of a faithful canine, and it turns into a beer fridge. Coincidentally I have just reread Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” after what must be close on 50 years ; its on the English syllabus for one of the kids at school. I regularly reread his “Tortilla Flat” – apparently not well critically received upon release but I love its tone and underlying irony.

  9. Thanks Mark.

    ‘Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’ were required reading when I did Year 12 English and I enjoyed Steinbeck so voluntarily read ‘Tortilla Flat,’ ‘Cannery Row’ and even ‘Travels with Charley.’ But once the plot of ‘Grapes’ was established I became a little rebellious and bored and moved my attention elsewhere and didn’t finish it, instead relying on the thorough (endless) class discussions and tutorials. I found ‘Cannery Row’ intriguing and dangerous and funny. Later when I travelled through the Salinas Valley in California where Steinbeck had lived and many of his novels were set I found it compelling and stirring. It was my first time visiting a place where a celebrated writer had found inspiration. I reckon the film version of ‘Mice and Men’ with John Malkovich as Lennie is excellent.

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