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Professor part 8
Mon Oct 9, 2017 12:18

"Dear me" said Professor Thistle "I seem to have gone completely adrift from my original intention of explaining the way events unfolded so that you, Tolbert, could write an article that would help to clarify the purpose of my researches.

Your own contributions have quite unsettled what was once quite clear to me, I had hoped at the very least to have provided enough to soothe the ruffled feathers at the Club."

"What contributions of mine are you referring to?" I asked him "All that I'm aware of is my suggestion that another dog might prove to be a beneficial companion since you began your fascinating tale by crediting Bruce with drawing your attention to his close examination of various wild flowers and grasses."

"What a fool I am!" the Professor exclaimed "all this time I've wasted in trying to make sense of something that without my dogs assistance I should never have noticed in the first place. What I should have done was concentrate on listening for, looking for the cues that attracted his notice."

"I don't see how that would be any easier than trying to isolate the transmitter. Where the problem really lies is in locating and deciphering the signal passing between them" said Tolbert thoughtfully

"You're in the wrong line of work my boy. You should have been a detective or an intelligence investigator. This free lance reporting is a waste of your talents if you'll forgive my saying so." the Professor murmured almost as an aside whilst he continued to ponder Tolberts observations, puffing away on his pipe and absent mindedly playing with creating smoke rings.

"Not really Ronald" I replied "because to be any good, a reporter has to know what sort of questions to ask, how to evaluate the person being interviewed in order to encourage them to recall the fine details of what they are bearing witness to.

How to spot evasion and pose innocent enquiries that may reveal what they're trying to hide without their noticing that fact. Not that one is necessarly successful in ones probing but experience helps as does the knowledge that most people are prone to giving the game away by their voluble efforts at hiding it.

Any policeman will confirm that the majority of criminals talk themselves into prison because they simply cannot resist boasting about their cleverness to someone else for the satisfaction of receiving the admiration they feel is their due. Reporting often consists of putting the pieces together from several sources until like a jigsaw puzzle a picture begins to emerge from apparently disparate parts.

Well one can also reverse the process so to speak. In your example I disassembled what I heard at the lecture, what you have told me so far and my own observations to isolate what was missing. Which I would be willing to wager is your need for another dog as your companion. That didn't take a Sherlock Holmes to determine.

However, be all that as it may, let me play the part of the dog for the moment. Why don't you show me the walk that you used to take with Bruce? It's a fine day, we still have an afternoon in which to enjoy some fresh air and perhaps it will help to blow away the cobwebs. I could benefit from the exercise."

"A capital notion Tolbert!" exclaimed the Professor. "I could use the fresh air and exercise too, I have spent far too much time in smoke filled lecture halls and labouring in my workshop."

Ditchling Beacon like so many hills, is a deceptive climb because the narrow road wriggles around the grass covered chalk outcrops which gives the entirely false impression that the summit is just over the next rise which invariably proves to be a deception.

When we stopped to take a breather I was surprised at how high we had climbed. The view was magnificent across the countryside which hid the village far below only a church tower being visible above the treetops. This was probably a Bronze Age hill fort because the slopes were too steep for farming yet traces of what appeared to be terracing were visible.

At the summit we approached the Ornance Survey marker, a short concrete obelisk and the Professor pointed along the ridgeway saying "This is the highest point except for Devils Dyke over there which is only slightly higher than the Beacon. This is the place I used to take as my starting point and I'd either toss a coin to decide whether to go this way or that or let the dog decide.

"Let's go that way because it seems to slope downwards" I suggested no longer feeling quite so energetic.

"It's not as easy as it looks but yes, I agree, the downward slope does seem more attractive" the Professor concurred. "It was the route that the dog preferred for its variety of plants to examine. Of course at first I thought he was on the scent of rabbits but oddly enough one hardly ever sees any up here, they prefer the lower meadows I suppose because of the shelter that the Downs provide.

Look at these plants over here, don't they resemble aerials the way the flowering tops spread out like an inverted umbrella's spokes? Cow parsley I think they are, I was never very good at plant identification because I was more interested in their shape especially those that move to follow the sun.

In the early morning they are oriented toward the East and by late afternoon they are pointing to the West. They must reset during the night, I have often thought of watching to see if I can catch them doing it to determine how its done. Does the stalk twist and the radiating spokes maintain the same angle or do the flowering tops move and is it a rotational movement or an arc in the same plane?

The more one studies these largely unremarked details governing the plants behaviour as a mechanism, the harder it becomes to ignore the conviction that they are cogs in a machine not as such of course but in their function. In the early morning this whole area is shimmering with dew laden cobwebs which are also like nothing so much as an antenna farm, if you can imagine such a thing.

As I was saying before I got diverted from my story telling, I used to watch the dogs reaction to these details which I might otherwise have paid no attention to. His nose would hover over some utterly unremarkable patch of grass for minutes at a time and his mien was that of deep thoughtfulness, sometimes the tail would wag furiously as though delighted at the information being received.

I would sometimes say 'have the spiders just told you a good joke, old chap?' The look he gave me when I said something like that was very much like the look a human gives as he rotates a finger pointing at his temple as if to imply someones sanity is in doubt.

Dogs can have very expressive facial reactions when they choose, I have often wished there was such a thing as a small camera one could have permanently attached as part of ones face to record moments like that as evidence to support ones observations. A good artist could no doubt reproduce them easily but I haven't got that skill.

I realize that these sort of assertions are a bit hard to accept which is why dog owners generally keep mum about their pets foibles and surprising abilities. You know, Tolbert, I'm glad you suggested this walk because it's reviving some very happy memories and you were absolutely correct in your suggestion that I should have another dog. I had forgotten how much I learned from my observing his reactions.

    • Been back and forth... - Sarge, Tue Oct 10 17:52 the physio today, so a lovely read to sit down to after the annoyances of the day. Grin!
    • Re: Professor part 8 - roger, Tue Oct 10 09:32
      Maybe the dog detects the fairys, sprites and elfs. Smile a little bit. One of our children used to talk when sitting in the yard. She explained that she was talking to the little people. When I... more
      • interesting roger - mike, Tue Oct 10 11:02
        At college there was a weird bloke known as Tiny because of his 6ft 6ins height. He was a bit weird but he insisted there were fairies in his garden to whom he spoke and sometimes in class he would... more
        • Re: interesting roger - roger, Wed Oct 11 08:20
          Mike, As I have said, I read everything that goes through the basement. Sometimes I do not understand all I read.
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