I recently played at a very individual pub called the The Cidershed, or the Shed for short. A wonderful venue with none of that 'straight from the catalogue' theme-pub nonsense. There is a fair amount of railway memorabilia, including full sized buffers and signalling gear, as well as the biggest collection of hand-cranked sausage mincers I've ever seen clamped to the rafters. The selection of real ales on offer was well-chosen to provide variety of strength and flavour.
It was a Friday evening at the end of a rather stressful week and this was the second gig of the night. The beer that most captured my mood was called Bitter and Twisted. The landlord's generous offer of free beer to for the band did little to cheer me up as it was my turn to drive and I knew a pint at most of something low-strength was all I should imbibe. But the charm of my host and his hostelry worked its magic and I was steered in the direction of something called Summer Gold. My mood lightened considerably.
But it is fun to caustic on occasion and this latest celebration of a disappearing sound is just that. It has a sonic dimension, although I admit feeling a little mischievous when I apply a 'disappearing sounds' tag.
Although he lives in an upstairs flat, is out at work all day and shares a small garden with me (and my children), my neighbour decided to buy a puppy last year. Don't get me wrong. I have no quarrel with dogs in general, or even this dog in particular who is friendly and who can’t be expected to clean up after itself. And it can hardly be blamed for being so severely inbred that it struggles to climb stairs, run about, cock its leg or do other things a dog usually does. As a national symbol it seems perfectly appropriate for a post-colonial power searching for its soul in Britain's Got Talent.
OK, so now you know I'm bitter and twisted about this dog. And just because my kids can no longer play on the grass and visiting woodwind students have to watch their step. But why is a bulldog a disappearing sound? Well for one, the Kennel Club has bowed to pressure to change the rules regarding the breed in order to ensure healthier animals in the future. This means the gravelly wheezing of sleeping bulldogs, as they try to get air through narrow nostrils in deformed faces, will become a thing of the past. The dog in question, Arthur by name, sleeps on my neighbour's kitchen floor and at night this sound reverberates through my part of the house at night. I have tried to capture it but I fear the volume level may be only subjectively loud because of the relative peace elsewhere.
And a second reason for the great British Bulldog being a disappearing sound affects me only. It's more a case of a disappearing audience. Yes, I'm moving out; and I will leave the sound of Arthur's claws on my neighbour's floor (my ceiling) behind. And as another neighbour has just installed his new baby in the room next to my bedroom the timing could not be better. Detached house here I come!