19th May, the Feast of Saint Dunstan

st dunstan

Today is the feast day of St Dunstan, and of course my donkey Rubí is quite thrilled that the feast falls upon a Tuesday this year, as Tuesday is Rubí’s thinking day. She will obviously be reflecting on the life of this celebrated tenth century Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury, who once caught the devil by the nose using blacksmith’s tongs. There are some sensible hagiographies of Saint Dunstan, but if you prefer the ludicrous version, enjoy this: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28915/28915-h/28915-h.htm#st_dunstan_and_the_devil

It is very rarely that I get through most of the month before writing a blog post, but it has been a particularly busy time as all my students are in exam classes and it is that time of year again. The busiest school week of the year for me, when I had to do final exam briefings for three classes of GCSE and A-level students, was the same week my new next door neighbour – for reasons best known to himself! – decided to open the agricultural water channel sluice gate (just out of interest to see where the water might go?) and flooded my donkey field while I was at work. He left it open, went indoors and forgot about it. Having discovered that he’d flooded the field, he just left it until I came home, later than usual after a drink with a friend after work. The neighbour has my phone number but didn’t think to phone and tell me my donkeys were standing there on a flooded field! If I had known I would have come home immediately, but instead I arrived home late to see the donks standing in a lake.

Worse still, this is half-treated water from the sewage plant in Finestrat and highly dangerous should the donkeys drink it. The work to drain the field kept me busy till after midnight, the day before doing exam briefings for two classes, so I was not exactly overjoyed with my neighbour! Not knowing whether the donkeys had drunk any of this toxic water, I also needed to consult the vet.

Next day, I had permission from school to return home during the morning to collect the medication from the pharmacy for a five day treatment for all four donkeys, and then the vet visited to check them. (Call out and injections one-hundred and fifty Euros.) However, things became more chaotic, as word got around among some students that I had gone home, so when I arrived back in school for the afternoon lesson some didn’t come to their final exam briefing in the last lesson before the exam. Aaaarrggh! Two year’s work to get the best results from my students, and my last chance to brief them before the exams ruined by a thoughtless act by a man with too much time on his hands and no commonsense!

You do your best in this life to try and keep on top of things: in my case with a full-time job and running a small donkey sanctuary single-handed. But then the Prince of Chaos finds a way to mess up your plans. Oh for Saint Dunstan’s pair of tongs to grab the Devil by the nose!

Oh well, here’s a photo of Rubí and I’ll leave her to think these matters properly through, as it is Tuesday.



About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself dividing my time mostly between looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca and preparing a legal case against the corrupt management of my monstrous last employer - the Elians group - for unfair dismissal. I like to hear the wind in the pine trees. I do not like struggling to get a duvet into a duvet cover. My musical tastes are extinct and I have mostly given up cycle racing.
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8 Responses to 19th May, the Feast of Saint Dunstan

  1. orthodoxgirl99 says:

    Oh help! Having just got shot of your previous idiots from next door…looks like you’ve got Mr Thoughtless now. You poor soul! As if you didn’t have enough going on already. Next time you see him I would mention that he owes you a couple of hundred euros worth of beers for all the expense and worry his twittish behaviour caused you. Do hope the donks are ok?

  2. Frere Rabit says:

    Donks are OK thanks. Rubí did have a poor tummy that day and there was plenty of unpleasant evidence of that on the field, but it only lasted 24 hours and cleared up after the medication. Luckily, as the vet said, the donks are very fussy about water and will not normally drink a significant quantity of bad water after tasting it. Equines have no mechanism to be sick.

  3. Maggie Kneen says:

    It wouldn’t have been the Devil’s Nose I’d have been after with those red hot tongs!!

  4. grace says:

    Rubi will find a solution for all your problems!!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Glad the donkeys are okay. Better safe than sorry!

    I’ve been wanting to ask you, how bad do the flies get in Spain? It’s biting fly season here in Maryland and they are tearing up our donkeys’ legs bad this year. What type of fly control do you use? I see Mathilde in her fly fringe in your photo.

  6. Frere Rabit says:

    Yes, Maggie, I think we get your drift… (Roodness.!) The new neighbours are originally from Droitwich, so I suppose allowances have to be made. By the way, the Design & Technology students have now produced their models of the point-of-sale display, but must take a break for the end of year 10 exam period; then they will finish the project.

    It is now nearly the end of Tuesday, Grace, and it is difficult to assess the current state of Rubí’s thinking. In fact, I think the thinking is over for this Tuesday. Rubí has returned to her action mode and is alternately running around like a loony and biting Morris.

  7. Jack Hughes says:

    Honestly …….. you can’t get the neighbours these days, reel Muppet

  8. Frere Rabit says:

    Hi Anonymous in Maryland,

    The fly situation is not too bad at present but can get quite nasty. I take it you are referring to a very old photo of Matilde because the fly fringes have not been in use ever since Morris was about six months old and started ruining everyone’s fly guards by chewing them and ripping them off. (Clearly he is a kind of antithesis to the Taliban and doesn’t like to see the ladies veiled…)

    At present I am mainly using citronella and ointments around eyes, but no leg protection yet. Rubí did get badly bitten last year on legs and I will be using old Lycra cycling sleeves on her legs as an experiment if that happens again this year. (What Morris, the anti-Taliban, will make of that is anyone’s guess.)

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