Monday 12 July 2010

A tale of two dogs

15st 6lb, zero units. How quickly our little lives move from triumph to tragedy. After a truly exceptional night out, we retired to bed in our friends’ newly refurbished house in Northamptonshire, occupying the best guest room in which one of those fashionable, free-standing baths had been plonked in the middle of the room, as is the contemporary way. Naturally I could not resist teasing them over breakfast with stories of how Mrs H had wrecked the place by leaving the taps running and doing her celebrated impersonation of a sperm whale, ruining the carpet and bringing the ceiling crashing down on their grand piano in the room below. Much heartened by my own wit, though I don’t suppose for a minute that it had that effect on anyone else, I returned to the room to be greeted by … a scene of devastation. “My God!” I said to Mrs H, who naturally assumed that this was but another example of my peculiar sense of humour. But sadly it was not.

When we had gone to breakfast there had been a fine pair of those Staffordshire china dogs sitting on the window sill. Behind them was a blind, and behind that was an open window, since it had been a very hot night. All had remained happily in balance while we were in bed. But now, crucially, I had left the bedroom door open when I went to breakfast, creating enough of a through draught for the blind to flap and the dogs to come crashing to the floor. I cannot bring myself to describe the resulting damage, but the words “beyond repair” spring readily to mind.

I was utterly mortified, because (a) I actually really like Staffordshire dogs, and have always vaguely coveted a pair for myself, and these were undoubtedly particularly fine examples of the genre; (b) I live my entire life by the precautionary principle of asking “What could possibly go wrong?” and felt, with hindsight, that I really ought to have been able to see that one coming; and (c) I had spent the last hour joking about having wrought havoc. I don’t think the man of the house really believed I was being serious, either, when I summoned him to view the disaster. He was very nice about it. Nevertheless, I set out to see how we could make amends, and shall not be holding my breath for a return invitation any time soon.

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