One might be mistaken in assuming that someone who loves tying together arcane bits of history and geography and science into wordy, involved pieces is a quiet, calm measured sort of person.
On occasion, comments on this blog have intimated that I must be a quiet, bookish sort. Softly spoken. Always smiley.
Well: this post is for those people.
I am a car beater. A toe stubber. When telephone directories were huge and paper-based, I was a directory shredder. In the car I spend my time fuming and berating. If I arrive at the wrong checkout my body language is shouting, “Well? Get one with it, then…”
I am, occasionally, Basil Fawlty. But female. But Basil Fawlty.
My daughter came on a dog walk with me this afternoon. We were on a schedule. Dentist’s in half an hour.
And the forest was lush and green and the sun warm, and the summer lazy. And the dog sniffed here and there, investigating canine calling cards, leaving his own, you know the sort of thing.
And we were on the last-but-one stretch of path, three minutes from the finish line, when the mutt dsappeared.
The section near the road is his favourite because it is where the deer lurk. No-one will look near the road for them and so they just sit there quietly and make musk, and provide dung, and on a summer day when decomposition is working overtime, it’s a siren call for a terrier such as mine.
So I waited for a few minutes. He’ll come back, I told Maddie with all the assurance of a BBC weather forecaster.
We waited. Deer droppings held him in their heady thrall.
So, in my best Julie Andrews alp-traversing voice I trilled: “Macaulay!”
Cavernous silence, filled with unsavoury intent.
Maddie called him. With ostentatious theatre I hushed her. “No, Maddie.” I advised sagely, “Do not call him. If you call him, he will know you’re nearby and he will just think, Oh, that’s ok; and he will stay where he is.
“We want him to wonder suddenly: ‘Where is my owner? I must find her, immediately!’ ”
We were theatrically silent for about three minutes.
And time was ticking on. And it was getting awful late for the dentist’s. My pulse began to quicken.
After three minutes I did my ‘coom-bai’ sheepdog-trial hailing call. “This – WAY”, I hollered, demonstrating my firm control over my working dog.
Which is clearly a wispy figment of my own imagination, because the silence continued and, if such a thing is possible, became even more frenzied and industrious. I could almost hear my dog not coming back.
And the clocked ticked on.
Oh, this was just perfect. The dog wouldn’t come back, and we would have to cancel the appointment which took months to make and wait for. We wouldn’t get another till October.
Somewhere inside, the red steam was building up.
Reader, I harried him.
In a voice which was a combination of Greek harpy, Mussolini and one of Dracula’s brides, I shrieked: “Macaulay the dog, you little sod, you come back NOW!”
If you were a dog and you recieved that invitation, would you?
It is fortunate that I live with Snow White. My daughter took control. In a tinkling, melodious voice, she called to the vile mutt, target of all my ire. And something moved in the undergrowth, and he came back, slunk low to avoid hughly-strung maternal activity, and headed straight for the sweet voice which beckoned him.
“You know, Maddie confided as we walked back, dog on lead, “sometimes, you’re just like Basil Fawlty, Mum.”
I should learn from this episode. But I probably won’t.
Because I am a car beater. A teeth gritter. A queue fumer and a pavement stamper.