Greyfriars Bobby. 

What is it with Hollywood and dogs? Lassie, Lady and the tramp, 101 Dalmatians, turner and hooch, Beethoven. The list is seemingly endless, there aren’t that many cat ones though, I can think of about three, tops, and I can’t remember their names off hand. I don’t own pets, I have enough bother looking after myself, and they tend to trash artwork if you don’t keep a constant eye on them , but I guess I would lean slightly to a preference for cats as they seem to hold humans in utter contempt… and quite right too! 

I always found the story of Greyfriars Bobby rather interesting though, a dog who would sit on his masters grave every night for fourteen years after his death until Bobby died himself.

I am considered by my friends to be a very loyal person  and it is a quality that I value in others. I think it’s important though not to confuse loyalty with ‘liking a bit of drama’ as there are so many bitchy, spiteful, people around who love nothing more than to wade into other people’s affairs and put the boot in at every opportunity. That isn’t loyalty, that’s a bully in search of a new victim. It can be annoying sometimes having friends who are not only loyal but are also lovely and kind and they won’t sink to the level of being horrible to anyone, no matter how much they may deserve it. They won’t like them though, they just won’t show their distain and cause a scene.

Loyalty isn’t the same as taking sides and it definitely has nothing to do with having an axe to grind. I’ve witnessed so many people over the years whose sole purpose in life seems to be to replay a past relationship or some childhood trauma that they haven’t dealt with through other people’s lives, they dive in and try and ‘help’ but all the are ever doing is reliving something that they once failed to do for themselves, not quite getting that they were probably a major factor in those original events that they are trying to fix vicariously through others. Personally, I wish that whenever someone has an axe to grind, they would do the decent thing, they would bury it in their own head.

You can be loyal and point out that someone is acting like an arse, I have friends who have to do this for me occasionally and it is important to have trust in any relationship, either friend, family or romantic. If done with tact it can be priceless. After all, how can you trust someone to tell you that you are doing something right if that has never been tested by them disagreeing with you? 

It’s important to know how to differentiate between loyalty and someone being of use. I take immense care of my sable hair watercolour brushes as they were very expensive and would cost a small fortune to replace but I have zero loyalty to them, they are tools, nothing more. Being a rather plain, podgy, balding, middle aged man of limited financial means and limited apparent usefulness, I have the dubious privilege of being able to spot the bulk of life’s professional users with ease. The parasitical and the clicky  rarely waste their limited capacity for feigning caring on anyone other than those that will either prop up their egos or provide some use to them, like a cheap film set, you only have to look from the side or get too close and you can see how fake they are. Sometimes, being neither use nor ornament is a definite advantage.

I think one of the things I find most hurtful and hard to comprehend is when it dawns on you that someone that you love and care for has been extremely disloyal. That moment when you realise that not only have they not got your back, but they are actively painting a target on it for others to stab you, providing the ammunition for their guns and merrily tying the noose for your lynching. I guess, though, that there is some sense of loyalty there, it’s just not for you. 

Betrayal is never a nice thing, it gets Judas the prime position in hell in Dante’s the divine comedies. I guess there are times that when it is understandable, I betrayed a family member many years ago to keep three young children safe, that decision still doesn’t sit well with me. When someone betrays you for petty, selfish, reasons, like a need to be liked or be popular or something as feeble as not to be caught out on a lie, it sticks with you for a very, very, long time.

I got a valuable lesson in good friendship with last year’s heart troubles. People would often pull up by me as they saw me shuffling down the street and offer me lifts anywhere. I’d get care packages and food parcels and taken out so I could get a change of scenery. I pride myself on my independence, as a lot of people  in the ‘vulnerable’ bracket do and it wasn’t easy for me to accept help, but my friends got it about right. You always notice the odd one out though, the conspicuous absense, the wonky paving stone on an otherwise sturdy pavement that sprays dirty rainwater up the back of your leg. 

It’s interesting to note that, the most disloyal of disloyal, greatest of betrayer, Judas Escariot took his own life. It takes the coldest of hearts, the shallowest of people, to walk about without a care in the world. Even the most legendary of betrayer had a conscience it seems. There are many people though who learn from their mistakes, murders who found religion and devoted their lives to helping others, criminals who have steered others from the poisoned path, ex cult members who rescue others…. But for the common or garden cowardly and disloyal, their lives are often punishment enough, they have to live with the choices that they make and the ghosts of them will haunt them in everything they do.

There is always a chance for anyone to take a good look at themselves and act with a sense of decency, as with Pandora, at the end of it all there is always hope.


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