Tuesday 6 April 2010

Titz to Mr Parrot Face

15st 6lb, 4.2 units. Driving The Dog to the vet’s this morning, I nearly swerved off the road when the Radio 3 Breakfast “host” announced a piece by a hitherto unknown (to me) classical composer called Titz. Anton Ferdinand Titz, to be precise. He runs to a three-line entry in Wikipedia, the last of which is “He suffered from mental illness towards the end of his life.” I wonder what could have brought that on?

Ah, what a gift this small piece of knowledge could have been to me in the music lessons of my schooldays. But, as usual, I have discovered it approximately 40 years too late.

It wasn’t just the Titz, either. Even better than that, his composition was played by the Hofmeister Quartet, presumably named after the weak-as-piss lager desperately marketed in the 1980s with the aid of a swaggering bear wearing a pork pie hat. I hope they had the presence of mind to call their album “Follow The Bear Titz (Geddit?).”

Please God, I thought to myself, let the next revelation be a hitherto unknown (to me) female composer called Fany, ideally with the first name of Ophelia. But no such luck, so I had to revert to wondering why Radio 3 programmes are now presented by blokes who sound like East End Jewish pub bores, when once they were all fronted by chaps who made Brian Sewell sound rather on the common side.

I got to the vet’s bang on time, and signed the consent form for the battery of tests they had recommended to explore the reasons for The Dog’s recent insomnia. Then I made the schoolboy error of giving an honest answer to the receptionist’s question “Have you noticed any recent changes in his behaviour?”

“Oh yes,” I replied, “We’ve just been up to Northumberland for a few days and he was on our bed all night, sleeping like a log, just like old times.”

So I found myself detained for a consultation with the vet who told me the bleeding obvious conclusion, namely that The Dog clearly has a psychological problem rather than a physical one, and that the tests were therefore most unlikely to reveal anything useful. I somehow restrained myself from saying “Yes, but how about he has them anyway so that I can drop him off here and carry on to the office, rather than having to run the f*cker all the way home again.”

Instead we had a semi-serious discussion about what could be upsetting The Dog (I qualify “serious” only because the vet always strikes me as bearing an uncanny resemblance to 1960s Opportunity Knocks sensation Freddie “Mr Parrot Face” Davies, and I keep expecting him to whip out a black bowler hat, pull it down over his ears and announce that he is “Thick, thick, thick, thick, thick, thick, thick up to here.”) The vet reckoned that these problems were almost always down to stress, but the only new stress I could identify in The Dog’s life is that The Baby is now old enough to crawl, significantly increasing the danger of having his tail pulled. However, since he can still move about 20 times faster than The Baby, if he chooses to do so, this seemed hardly enough to throw him completely off balance.

Alternatively, he could just be fed up to the back teeth with the bed we brought from Mrs H’s house in Chester, which appears to have been designed for The Giant’s House in a production of Jack and the Beanstalk and stands about four feet off the floor, making it impossible for a Border terrier to jump on or off it without risk of serious injury. The vet made the excellent point that it must surely constitute a serious Elfin Safety hazard for The Baby, too, since it can only be a matter of time before he falls off it. Clearly the answer is for me to take a saw to each of its legs. The thought cheered me up immensely. In the meantime, I forked out for a Dog Appeasing Pheromone collar to cheer The Dog up and drove the f*cker back home again, managing to smile to myself from time to time even though there wasn’t so much as a whiff of Fany on the wireless.

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