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Wednesday, 28 September 2011


“Muffin was SO bad,” said Mrs Lovely, hyperventilating at the memory raw from the weekend, “just refusing to give up the sock … and growling … so bad that I said, ‘Robert! Get me a glass of water.’”
Mr Lovely duly obliged and the pair of them had hovered behind the glass of water, scarcely breathing, just cooing, “Muh-fffinnnn, drop darling,” until the snarling and lip curling and sock savaging increased to such a pitch that the Lovelys’ faint bleatings were suffocated by all the noise. So Mrs Lovely breathed deep breaths, swung her arm and threw the water over him.

“It was awful!” she said.
I chuckled.
“Just awful. Pooooooor Muffin! He cowered! He dropped the sock and scuttled; he ran to behind the sofa. Soaking.”
“Only thing you could have done,” said Mrs Brisk. “You can’t have a dog growling at you.”

“We felt terrible. Robert said he felt worse, far worse than when he’s had to wallop the girls.”
We glanced at Muffin who was dry humping a footstool of a dog which lags behind whenever it can to sprawl, a butterfly beneath Muffin’s pin, as it were.
“Muffin!” shrieked Mrs Lovely.

The pain had cast a shadow until Mr Lovely said, maybe ten minutes later, “Do you think we should give him a treat. I hate it when he doesn’t like us.”
“No,” Mrs Lovely had said bravely, perhaps mindful of reportage fall-out with us lot, “No. We can’t reward bad behaviour.”
Mr Lovely trudged upstairs, his heart knocking about somewhere on the floor, and Muffin tiptoed from the back of the sofa and laid his face, damp and mournful, on Mrs Lovely’s knee. Mrs Lovely shed a tear and stroked his nose and kissed his head and smiled a happy smile.
Mr Lovely walked back in. “WHAT!?!” he had shouted, “So you’re allowed to make friends with him and I’m not!

During this episode of emotional trauma, I had been out walking in the woods with my friend Rachel. She, too, would rescue her dog in a fire before her husband or children. “Oh look at her!” she will say stopping to stare at Belle busily plunged face-first in a mound of piss-soaked grass. “Sweet!”
Any story I’d been relating feels foolish to return to now, so my patience with such scenes is limited.
“I really can’t bear dogs,” I might say.
“Not even mine?” she will say, wide-eyed. “Not even Belle?” There really is no answer to that beyond the bleeding obvious.

The Lovelies, meanwhile, the ménage reunited and loved up, went for a walk, and on their walk they saw that the old railway line was operating. A couple had stopped with their tiny children to wave at steam trains and the Lovelys stopped too, then shuffled on a bit.
“Well, we didn’t want to be taken for paedos,” she said, “with the children and everything. And then! Thomas came chuffing by. With his big blue face? Smiling. And I found that I was crying, I was sobbing.

“Ohhh!!” we said. “Noooo! How saaadddd!”

“Hmm,” she said. “Not Robert’s reaction at all. No, he tried to edge away from me, but was trapped between going too close to the little ones and looking like a paedo – ”
“He wouldn’t have looked like a paedo!” we said.
“‘You’re looking mad!’ he said to me, ‘Stop it, it’s only Thomas!’ but that just set me off more and whether it was because of being mean to Muffin or because the girls will never have that look of joyous innocence again – I don’t know: they only talk to us for £20 for Top Shop – but I was sobbing so hard that I gave myself a headache. Robert had to drive us home.”

I had been looking at old photos of the children on my phone, I knew what sad was. And I certainly knew what Thomas was. It seemed those days would never end. And then they did; a boxful of expensive Brio trains sits in the loft awaiting grandchildren.

Over in the woods, Lolly had done the splendid undreamable. She had gone missing. My step quickened. Rachel’s hand was to her mouth, her blonde curls bounced unhappily, “Look,” she said, “it’s sheer down there, it’s like a cliff?”
“Is that where she was?” I said hopefully peering down the precipice: glorious steep, craggy. Rocks.
“Yes! She was trying to follow Belle.” So irritating, my dog the follower, and inept at that (‘was trying’). “But of course couldn’t keep up.” Of course.
“What’s beyond there?”
“A road.”
I hardly dared believe my luck.
“And while Belle might be able to leap over the wall at the bottom, there’s no way Lolly could.”
I smarted.
“Lolly might look like an old bag of fur, but she could take that wall. Like a donkey winning the National, but she could do it.”
Rachel dared favour me with a pitying look.

“We might as well head on back,” I said in the manner of one preparing to do a runner, gathering myself for a hearty gallop away from the scene.
“But … you’re so calm,” said Rachel, “I’d be sobbing.”
“There’s not really any point, is there,” I said.
I felt like the heartless boy in the village who, on being told his cat was dead, had thought, shrugged, and said, “I reckon I’ll have got over it in two weeks so I’ll just go straight to that stage now. What’s for tea?”
We had all thought this the sign of most terrible moral turpitude.

“She’s got a nametag, I said, the grim truth settling, “and she’s chipped.” My pace slowed. Always some blot on the landscape, trouble in paradise.
“Belle doesn’t like wearing a nametag,” said Rachel, “and isn’t the chipping cruel?”

We walked down through the woods enjoying the path doing its requisite meandering, strolling through the dutiful shafts of sunlight. All was good although the thought of the chip hung heavy, and then there was an untidy noise, as of a donkey manhandling the jumps at the National and it was Lolly, bustling near. Belle jumped up and they bounced on their hind legs, knitting their front paws together. I must confess it was quite nice to see the drunk old fur coat again.
“Oooh, look,” said Rachel. “Belle! Isn’t she sweet. Such a kind-hearted dog. She’s pleased to see her, look.”


Sallys Chateau said...

Love it, go on admit it, your wonderful caustic wit is getting better... keep at it !!

Expat mum said...

You love that dog really don't you?

Exmoorjane said...

I can't comment...just laughing too much...

Frances said...

Milla, I've read this example of your your wondrous way with words at the end of a very trying day. How can I thank you, and that naughty muse Lolly, enough for raising my spirits when raising was truly called for.


Shiny said...

Fantastic writing, as always x

Fennie said...

Most excellent! Wherever would you be without Lolly? More comfortable perhaps but your writing would take a hit and we would all be the losers. Give her a dog biscuit from me!

Tattie Weasle said...

Ah yes Chips and nametags a bit like leaving your adress on a bit of flytip,thats the problem with being too pragmatic about dog ownership... go on you do love her reaaallllly!

Fred said...

Too funny, and recognisable, for words. However, come the day you do lose your canine companion, you will be distraught.

Tried to click on the Cosmo Blog Awards button and it says you don't exist....can this be true?...the blogosphere would be so much the poorer sans Milla.

Kerri @ Baby Monitors Online said...

I love your sense of humour... I'm sure you love that dog to bits ;)

angelsandurchinsblog said...

You need to start writing a comic strip with these hilarious characters. Nice cheery end to Friday morning, thank you!

Wally B said...

Behind with my reading, but I'm glad I didn't miss this one.

elizabethm said...

HOw did I miss this? Truly wonderful. I am looking after daughter's dog again this week. I think my role model may be Mrs Brisk.