I was conceived

I was conceived on or about Halloween 1942, a Saturday (Do you want to know this? Do I ?). This means that, at the start of the Battle of Stalingrad, my father had a smile on his face. In dogyears I am 9.008610567571468 years old. In human terms I have been breathing for 1,988,702,691 seconds, no, wait, 1,988,702,720, hang on, make that 1,988,702,723 oh to hell with it.

This is all courtesy of www.paulsadowski.com/BirthData.asp, wherein I learn not only that I share a birthday with Jennifer Lopey but also that the candles on my next birthday cake would boil 7.31 ounces of water.

Do the words "Get a life, Mog" rise unbidden to the lips?

As I write, I'm sitting on the Cruise Ferry to Holyhead, the Swift having been cancelled due to collision with a whale (honest), so as the Dragon Lady is snoring enthusastically on the seat beside me, causing small children to point in wonder, I thought I'd check ih with zou. We are off again, this time to Leipzig, where someone has had the crazed notion to import a trio of Irish Ladies to judge a bunch of dogs. The suspects are, in addition to my beloved, Josie Foley (The Voice That Must Be Obeyed) and Colette Muldoon (nothing known. Yet) I do sometimes wish I didn't work for myself and have to give myself so much time off. On the other hand, I suppose it is important that I be at ringside with the engine running when she finishes judging in case she's made a hames of it.

But really. I mean, I'm only just back from Los Angeles, where my friend Mike and I were in collision with a car driven bz a local couple. I was actually in navigator mode when it happened i.e. staring uncomprehendingly at a map and whimpering, but I knew we were somewhere in the urban jungle by the number of wo÷lly hats and cars with cinema sound systems playing rap("yobitchmudafucapigbruda" etc. Why can't they have proper lyrics like they had when we were young e.g. "Tutti Frutti oh Rootie, Tutti Frutti oh Rootie, Tutti Frutti oh Rootie, Tutti Frutti oh Rootie, Tutti Frutti oh Rootie,AWOPBOPALOOBOPALOPBAMBOOM!)

Suddenly a crash and we came to a sudden stop. I looked over mz shoulder and observed that the other car contained a Latino youth with what I understand is called a mullet, and his girlfriend, a beautiful creature with what seemed to be a full set of metal teeth. Thinking quickly I offered to mind the car while Mick risked his life in the open. In a moment he returned, nonplussed. Neither of these native Angelinos could speak a work of English. Never fear, I said, I did Spanish in school. Smiling reassuringly, I approached the enemy.

"Hablo poco d'Espanol", I announced. The steel teeth flashed encouraginglz. The mullet waited. Mike waited. And every word of Spanish I ever knew evapourated. I began to whimper again.

"Wait", said Mike, "the cops must speak Spanish. Phone 911"

So here I am, downtown LA, Saturday afternoon, phoning the LAPD on 911. Cool or what?

Well, no.

"All our operators are busy please hold" said a robot. For eight minutes. Imagine if Iwas dealing with the rapper, instead of a laid back mullet and a tin mouth. Evewntually a brisk woman asked me what my emergency was. A traffic accident, I said. Any fatalities? No. Any injuries? No. I could tell I was disappointing her. Any damage to public propertz? No. There was a cold pause. We'll send the first available car, sir, she said with patent insincerity.

And so we waited. It's quite a delicate social situation, sitting around with the other parties after an accident but unable to communicate. The 'what can you do?' shrug and the rueful grin get old after the first ten or twelve times. so we sat silently side by side on a nearby bench checking the damage. On our car the rear fender was dragging on the ground and a tail-light was smashed. Damage to the other car was less easy to assess; it was obviously no stranger to such events. Indeed, I was unsure which major vehicular trauma had been caused by our accident and which by the 1st Armoured Division in a bad mood. There was also a hole in the windscreen. A small neat round one.

"I'll go up to the corner" I suggested, "and flag down the first patrol car I see".

So off I went, and stationed myself under a lamppost, and every time a patrol car approached (there were three of them) I jumped fatly up and down like a geriatric pogo stick waving my arms to no effect whatever. Then a huge white car full of darkness glided to a halt beside me.

"What chu doin?"

"Nothing much", I told her. White teeth flashed in the darkness.

"Mmm. Wanna hang out?"

Now I am not that au fait with life in LA. I know it's supposed to be a weird place, and for all I know there's a bald fat old man under every second lamppost, beating amorous young black women awaz with a stick. Or maybe I'm just so damned attractive.

Or maybe not. I returned to the happy group at the crash site in some haste, and we all agreed in sign language to exchange details and forget the LAPD. It had been an hour. But before we left I kicked the bench. I hope when the LAPD do show up they see the mark. It was the only public property I could find.

Meanwhile I'm writing this bit in a hunting lodge in Saxony. The dog show is tomorrow and the room is festooned with breed standards, one of which (the IKC standard for the Bolonaise) lists as a serious fault "accentuated convergence of divergence of the upper longitudinal axes".

Answers on a postcard, please.

Outside the window I can see camper vans beginning to arrive, grooming tables sprouting like weeds alongside, and the long ritual of grooming and primping begins. The phrase "a Dog's Life" comes to mind with some bitterness. Was there ever a less apt analogy?

Consider Pipistrelle Patches, who is fostered out to a lovely couple a few miles from our house. He lives a life of untroubled luxury. He is fed, sheltered and cuddled without having to expend the slightest effort beyond, occasionally, a languid wag of the pampered tail. Every so often my wife arrives and carries him off to have sex with a strange female who's gagging for it, and when he is exhausted and crosseyed with pleasure, does she beat him senseless, throw him out of the house and divorce him? Hell, no. She coos at him, tells him what a great fellow he is, and gives him nice things to eat.

A Dog's Life?

I wish.

Although I did once nearly have sex with a dolphin. It was five years ago in Florida at a fabulous theme-park called Discovery Cove. The highlight is the Swim With A Dolphin and you're all taken into the water where you become familiar with your dolphin prior to holding on to its fin while it swims along at great spead dragging zou behind.

Not that familiar, though. I was first in line.

"Now, Mog", said the Baywatch Babe in charge; put your whole weight on the dolphin".

Bz this she apparently did not mean climb astride the creature but I didn't know that.This move is apparently very romantic to dolphins, and it made a sudden lustful lunge, love quivering in every muscle - my virtue only preserved bz the Babe hauling me bodily to safety and banging my would-be lover repeatedly on the snout.

" Never" she advised sternly, " try to get up on a dolphin, lest the dolphin......" Well, you know how it goes. And in case you're wondering, I never saw the dolphin again. Not a letter. Not a phone call.

Nothing.

So now it's the morning of the show. Two pugs have just gone by straining at the lead and making a noise like a dozen angry ducks. Is this normal? Colette Muldoon arrived last night and apparently hijacked the double room assigned to the Show Manager, who had to sleep under the stairs or someplace: Josie Foley would like to help, but the hotel staff speak English, not Kilkenny, and they don't know what the hell she's saying. They've put her in a special room across the yard from the hotel in case she's dangerous.

But that's it from me. I'm off to the bar to ponder one of the great imponderables of human history:

What did the man who discovered how to milk a cow think he was doing when he discovered it, and how did he explain it to his friends ?