How to Fail in Style

An odd week, then. My gentle discussion of E G Swain’s ghost stories, posted not long ago, received 40 or so hits and a few nice comments. Lurchers for Beginners, on the other hand, is now at 17,000 hits and still rising. Not quite in balance, but I can at last claim my place in history: greydogtales – the only website devoted to both occult detective stories and longdogs with equal enthusiasm. From me, anyway.

It must be obvious to all my listeners by now that the whole concept is deeply flawed. My second claim to fame will be: greydogtales – the only website to disappoint two entirely different groups of people at the same time.

And that’s why I shall be carrying on as if nothing had happened. You have to break a few eggs to make a rolling stone hit the people in glass houses, that’s what I say.

I do genuinely want to thank everyone who visited and made Lurchers for Beginners such an accidental runaway success. And I mean accidental. I didn’t think more than a handful of people would bother with it. Here are some of the recent endorsements:

I have received loads of positive responses over the week, only a few of which I’ve been able to fit in the comments section. I wish I could have quoted everyone with lurchers who said “God, our dogs are exactly like that, and brilliant with it.” Instead, I’ll hit a serious note for once, so that no-one idly skipping through this blog gets the wrong idea.

Lurchers are superb dogs, lifelong friends, marvellous with kids and full of fun. Contrary to some people’s vague understanding, in our direct experience they make terrific family dogs, and their house-training is generally impeccable. All they want is at least a couple of bursts a day, some home play time and some affection. You can and should do even better than that, of course. Start there and keep it coming, it will be rewarded.

But… if you rescue or adopt a lurcher, please find out what you’re doing first. Check the topic on the web, ask other lurcher owners, ask a local rescue centre. There are useful books as well.

Lurchers for Beginners is a reflection on how we have to get it right with these wonderful animals. They are a bit different, they do have quirky ways. If I’d been able to read my own article when my partner got our first lurcher from Battersea many years ago, I might have understood Jade, our loony Bedlington x God-knows-what, a little better. And been ready for any problem areas with my sleeves rolled up.

I exaggerate the oddities of lurchers, because I want people to know that they, the owners, have to be willing to step up to the mark. Nothing’s worse than a lurcher returned, a messed-up home and people who no longer want to adopt or foster. On the positive side, so many, many people have contacted me saying that having had a lurcher and experienced some of the things I mention, what they wanted was more lurchers. Now.

They’re the kind of dog that can do that to you.

That’s the message over. As I do have such a large, excited audience waiting for the next amusing longdog piece, I can unveil that tomorrow’s article will be about Flaxman Low, the occult detective created by a rather peculiar Englishman and his mother in the 1890s. With luck I will manage to disappoint lurcher fans and Flaxman Low fans to an equal degree. No, don’t thank me, that’s what I’m here for…

Oh, and don’t forget, the more of my short stories you download, read and/or review, the more you can influence me shamelessly into writing what you want to hear. Did I tell you that I have a very dubious moral compass?

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Lurchers for Beginners

or Dog Herding the Hard Way

We have recently discovered that some people do not know what a lurcher is. Such people are not well, and must be helped. Therefore the entire greydogtales workforce has abandoned its occult writing duties in order to produce a brief introduction to these noble dogs.


The most common question asked about lurchers is: Where has my dinner gone? The second most common question is: What is a lurcher, anyway? You cannot answer either of these, because your dog has mysteriously disappeared over the horizon.

Greydogtales is here to help. Put simply, a lurcher is a cross between:

i) a dog which runs too fast for you and chases everything (a sighthound), and
ii) a dog which runs slightly more slowly but still chases everything (a working dog).

A longdog is a cross between two sighthounds, which means you don’t have a chance. The lurcher combination produces healthy, lively dogs, and healthy, exhausted owners. The name is derived from two words:

Lurch – as in to leave someone in the lurch, ie. far behind and helpless, and
Er – as in where’s that bloody dog gone now?

heelTwo lurchers close at heel


Lurchers have two phases to their lives, the puppy and the adult. These are mostly indistinguishable, but we can note the key characteristics here:


Very fast and quite mad, except when asleep
If you exercise them too much they will fall apart
If you exercise them too little your home will fall apart


See puppies above, but stronger, faster and more determined

Lurchers are very sociable with each other, and will soon form a pack, which exacerbates every aspect of the above. On the up side, after all this running, they do sleep a lot. Their preferred sleeping arrangements are:

  • On your bed when you’re very tired and want to get in
  • On the sofa and every chair when you have guests
  • On the floor in a doorway where you will trip over them

Lurchers sleep at interesting angles. This often involves strange, contorted positions with neck twisted round, legs bent like an orthopaedic case-study etc.

Important Note. If your lurcher is completely upside down with all four legs in the air and its eyes closed, it is rarely dead. It is just comfortable.


Lurcher respond well to commands. They don’t usually obey them, but they do respond well, often with great amusement. Common commands include:

SIT is uncomfortable for a lurcher, and will be ignored.
STAY is boring and will be ignored.
DOWN will be obeyed immediately if the lurcher is tired and was already going for a sleep anyway.
HEEL will leave you tangled in three leads at once and unable to move.
COME will leave you clutching your impact injuries and unable to move.
FETCH is also boring and will be ignored, unless a squirrel is involved.
DROP is unreasonable. It’s their squirrel, after all.

Lurchers have excellent recall. They remember perfectly well that you want to them to come back, and will do so when they have finished what they are doing. Which is usually running in the other direction, or round and round in circles.


These dogs have very specific dietary requirements. The lurcher diet consists of four main food groups:

  • The nice meal you spent two hours preparing.
  • Every cushion, soft toy and stuffed item in your house.
  • The squirrel sixty foot up in that oak tree.
  • Everything left out on the kitchen counter.

If none of these are available, they will eat what is in the dog bowl, but this is a last resort.

chickenA chicken in its natural habitat

We at greydogtales do not insist on any specific diet. Commercial dog food is convenient and adequate, and supports the rice and ash growing industries, but is not much fun. The raw diet is well suited to those who like bloodstains on the carpets and a lot of bones to shift. It works particularly well if you are able to blackmail your local butcher on a regular basis. It is popular with the dogs, but not so popular with the chickens.


Lurchers make excellent family members, and are quite easy-going animals. Detailed planning is required, however, as you may not be able to afford both children and lurchers (see also below). Many people these days worry about aggressiveness in dogs. In general, you are more likely to bite your lurcher than it is to bite you.

The only notable exception to this is when they “play” together. This is why many lurcher owners have massive vet bills because their dogs have “had fun” by leaping ten feet in the air at each other, charging each other with teeth bared, and “amusingly” bitten each other’s noses/lips/ears during “fun” hour. The lurchers wonder what all the fuss is about. The owners wonder if they can take out a second mortgage.


You cannot afford to keep a lurcher, and you are not fit enough. Your home will be wrecked and you will have nowhere to sleep. You will have no food left. On the other hand…

Next time: Probably something nasty, ghostly or scary again (but not dogs).

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What Kind of Cthulhu Are You?

For H P Lovecraft, bless his little cotton socks…

Hey, when you lie dreaming in sunken R’lyeh, asleep within the insane cyclopean architecture of your palace, do you ever wonder if you’re really the Cthulhu you wanted to be, all those eons ago?

Well, don’t worry, here’s how to find out through this week’s test…

octopus-769372_6401. The vibrations of a human submersible are detected close to R’lyeh, intruding on your realm. Do you:

a) Use unspeakable protoplasmic servants to investigate and update you on the level of technology that the humans have achieved, making careful notes on their propulsion and weaponry?
b) Rise in majesty from the depths to tear the thin shell of the submersible asunder?
c) Turn over on your hideously carved obsidian couch and let it go?

2. The fungoid hordes of the Mi-Go have gathered in the void beyond Earth, threatening to come to the planet in large numbers. Do you:

a) Tell the Deep Ones and any other followers of Mother Hydra and Father Dagon that the Mi-Go are delicious, especially fried lightly in butter?
b) Thrash your tendrils violently and threaten the Mi-Go with immediate obliteration if they proceed?
c) Write it off as another boring alien experiment with humanity and brain cases?

3. Some Massachusetts academics complain that your vile emanations are causing their more artistic students to descend into madness. Do you:

a) Suggest that their students apply for Arts Council grants and call their work ‘installations’?
b) Obliterate the entire east coast of America with vast tidal waves?
c) Sink back into slumber and try to emanate less?

4. Human writers are publishing an increasing number of stories about your malign and eldritch reality. Do you:

a) Encourage these amusing fictions in order to disguise your true purpose on Earth?
b) Destroy their puny minds and leave them hollowed-out shells whose eyes reflect only the abyss?
c) Read a couple of their stories and doze off halfway through?

5. Hastur rides the storm above your Dread House at R’lyeh, complaining that he is the true heir of Yog-Sothoth. Do you:

a) Calm him down by pointing out that he has Carcosa to himself, and at least his place isn’t under water and leaking badly?
b) Invoke Azathoth, who blasphemes and bubbles at the centre of infinity, in order that Hastur be rended into vaporous nothing?
c) Write it off as another of Hastur’s tantrums and go back to sleep?

Mostly a)s. You are an imaginative thinker with a good sense of delegation. Well done. You are a CREATIVE CTHULHU.
Mostly b)s. You have spawning issues, and need to look into anger management therapy, as well as counting to ten before you act. You are a DESTRUCTIVE CTHULHU.
Mostly c)s. You may have narcolepsy, vitamin deficiencies or a number of under-active thyroid glands, and should seek medical help. Or, you are just a LAZY CTHULHU.

Longdogs, writing etc. will return next time, honest!

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One Last Sarabande

And it’s here, the next Tales of the Last Edwardian short story.

More of a ghostly tale this time, and still free to download as a taster of larger works to come.  The fourth will probably be a novella this autumn, unless I do finally find the missing chapters from the middle of A House of Clay, my Abigail and Henry full length occult detective novel! If they’re in the garage, the rats will have had them anyway. I must set Django loose in there.

If you like the story, please review it or make a comment – feedback is always welcome. If you don’t like it, then hide. I’m coming for you…


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Literature, lurchers and life