I mean that in the “Peanuts” sense. In the same way as Charlie Brown might say, resignedly, “Good Grief.”
I am in week two of a new job. I have fought through the last two days of teaching with a stonking migraine, with half an eye on a mother who has just emerged from hospital after a grand total of five brain ops, and a sideways glance at a little nephew starting school.
I am bad at being new. I obsess, I polarise, I moan, I self reproach, I cannot keep my discomfort to myself.
I am so bad at being new that I have renamed the cat in a sweeping comfort gesture. Sod everyone else: he’s Clive. Clive Bond, allowedly, in a tribute to the family’s democratically elected name of James Bond, but Clive is his name.
So me and Clive, we’re like that. We see eye to eye: often literally and often upside down, because Clive loves nothing more than to scale my back while I’m labouring at schoolwork with tiny pointed krampons, ending his journey at my head and stooping over to regard my fringe.
Clive is discomforting our other four-legged member of the family. He has destroyed the status quo with one impudent sweep of his tiny paw. Macaulay is getting more cuddles and extra treats and fussing than he has in the rest of his life put together, but this is cutting no ice with the family dog. No: if there’s one thing the dog does with the assured alacrity of a maestro, it’s reproach.
There are times when Macaulay is very noisy indeed, and there are times when he is silent as the grave.
His noisy times are usually bound up with remonstrance. He is the local doggy police force, and it is his job to stand at the back gate barking corrections at every dog on its way to the forest.
But his quiet times: they are many. He can sit silent so that we don’t know he’s there. When he helps himself to a place on the sofa he can be almost not there at all, in fact, or when he helps a bag of ham off the table to its rightful place in his stomach.
There are advantages to being quiet: and there are disadvantages.
Thursday morning: my first day, second week. We were off on a school trip and I had woken up with surprise headache. I must get up early, look over my planning, prepare the children’s outfits, cover Maddie’s workbooks in sticky backed plastic, make packed lunches, dispatch Maddie to the train with Phil, and take Felix and the dog to my sister’s: Felix to be dropped off at school, the dog to spend a day at Al’s house.
All this, and I needed to pick up migraine medication to stem this head before it got dangerous. I should arrive at school by 8am; I texted my colleague to say I would be 15 minutes later, because I needed to stop at the early chemist.
This long, long list I almost achieved. I did all these things, arriving suitably attired in the school car park, nursing my butterflies. There was no time to spare: I must dash in to begin my school day.
And then I turned round, and looked down the long length of my estate car.
And who should be standing silently at the back, but the dog: reproach etched large on his mien.
It is fortunate that I have a kind sister who could come to collect him with all speed. But I still had to leave my keys at a bemused school office, telling them my sister would need these to collect the dog. No-one even smirked. Dead pan responses wherever I went.
And none more dead pan than the moustachio’d silent creature who waited, dourly, for collection in the back of a mercedes estate in the car park.