I believe I am producing a little too much serotonin.
Which is a bugger.
It’s a neurotransmitter: a postman, in effect. It takes messages to the brain from that seat of the emotions, the stomach and gut. When the going gets tough, stress irritates, and the body sends that little postman into overdrive. He sends the blood vessels loopy: they constrict, they dilate, they’re all over the shop.They throw out a thing called Substance P. The nervous system swells. Literally: and a migraine is born.
At this point it usually begins to feel as if a steampunk Jules Verne boring machine is making its way through my skull.
What one needs at a time like this – and I should know – is something which can produce Substance Pee.
Preferably with four legs.
And lots of wiry hair.
I woke to day two of my resident migraine. These unwelcome visitors usually last three days, during which I am rude and miserable, cannot look at screens, insist on looking at screens, and moan incessantly.
As I peered over the edge of the bed, a large moustache appeared to be adorning it.
It belonged to the dog. He is outrageously blessed in the moustache department. He had divined that I was awake. He doesn’t understand about serotonin; he wanted some food. It had been eight long hours since he stole that sausage from the kitchen, and his stomach had long since dispatched it to the warehouse for jettisoning, if you get my drift.
And that’s another thing, intimated the dog: I could do with a potter in the garden. A constitutional: you know the sort of thing.
The moustache left its station and a polite doggie cough could be heard somewhere at the bottom of the bed.
As usual, the morning took wings and flew shortly after the dog gained access to the garden. We all showered, my daughter Maddie left with Phil at seven, my son Felix was breakfasted by 7:45 when my sister’s contingent arrived, and all was a blur of hide and seek and hot chocolate and securing fairy cakes so the dog could not get them, until I deposited everyone at the playground. Everyone except four-year old Al.
Al did not feel like walking a dog today.
“Just a short walk, Al: enough for Macaulay to stretch his legs.”
Al cried. Big, Oscar-winning tears. Merciless Auntie Kate swung him from the car, the tears evaorated and we engaged in a conversation about why Macaulay waters so many places so copiously.
‘He’s sort of signing his name, Al.” The dog provided exhibit A as an illustration. And exhibit B. And exhibit C. How could a small dog have that much inside him? He was working his way through the alphabet.
He was pleased, though. He never seems to let the short walks bother him. He’s not so much ‘seize the day’ as ‘seize the minute’. Every instant in the open air is relished for itself, without thought for the future.
My head hammered, but there was something about that blithe little spirit pottering through the woods, moustache to ground. It calmed me.
The day wore on. Shopping with my mother in law, clear worst of gunk from house before Al arrived, collect Al from nursery, give Al dinner, despatch Al to my sister.
I fell onto the bed. Lying down is not nice when one has a migraine, but sometimes standing up is not an option. A large moustache stationed itself back on the duvet: solidarity, it seemed to say. This moustache will last a lot longer than that headache.
The dog had not had a bound today. He must stretch his muscles at full pelt each day, or he goes a little odd. After 20 minutes I obliged the polite moustache. I got up, hitched Macaulay to a lead, and we headed into the forest.
Joy is infectious. Perhaps that is why a dog is a girl’s best friend. Because even when I felt as if a blacksmith was using my head as an anvil, watching the jaunty, preppy little soul navigate his happy habitat did something for me. I may even have smiled.
Collection from school later, I found myself contemplating the kitchen floor in something like despair. It should be washed, but I could only stare at it.
And then I heard the clatter of claws tapping on the floor, and in he came, a benign little shark cruising for scraps, weaving in and out of the table legs, doing what Macaulay does best: coexisting.
He is like a salve to the spirit, this little biohazard. A reminder that all is well, even when it may seem daunting. He is all things to all men, and woman, and boys, and girls.
A terrier really is a girl’s best friend.