October 99

We were motoring through the mainland again last month, and were between the West German towns of Titz and Wanken (you think that's bad? There is on the Brussels Metro a station called, I swear to you, Kunstwet), when I had occasion to use the facilities at a roadside cafe. Having completed my business, I reapplied my jacket and my poserphone fell out of the pocket and flew into several pieces on the floor. I reassembled the bits and hit the 'on' button. 'Sim card not present', said the display. The card must have flown into the neighbouring stall which I had unfortunately failed to notice had recently become occupied.

So I bent double, taking care, as one does on these occasions, not to let the knees touch the ground, and peered beneath the partition in search of the Sim, only to be confronted in a very short time by a pair of inverted German eyes clearly wondering what the hell I thought I was looking at. I am not known for my speed of movement, but I was bolt upright and whistling nervously in a tenth of a second.

An awkward pause then ensued, during which my neighbour evidently decided against completing his task and left. I nipped in next door and recovered the Sim from, wouldn't you know, a small puddle. Having washed it and my hands seven or eight times, it was time to reenter the community, where, of course, I had no idea which one he was, and he could be absolutely certain that I was the perve next door. It may not have taken an hour to cross that cafe, but it certainly felt like it.

Anyhow, one of the glories of the European experience is, as we know, the Single Market, whereby you may purchase the same goods throughout the Continent, with minor differences in price to cover shipping costs and variations in VAT. So, for example, 7.5 kg of the excellent Royal Canin Junior dog food, available in French supermarkets for IR 12.75 kilo, can be purchased in Dublin for IR 24.95. Does it occur to you that someone somewhere is trying to become very very rich?

Speaking of dogs, which Heaven forbid, the Dragon Lady recently demanded a web page, and we plunged into the arcane waters of http and ftp and pmt and all the rest of it. It was actually a bit of fun, and easier than expected, but revealed a chilling amount of dog freakery world-wide. There are little circles on the internet choked with breathless news about litters past, present and to come, darling little habits, cutesy-pie names and, occasionally, to cheer the dognostic, loathsome diseases. Anyhow, the site address is http://indigo.ie/~moggie and no fewer than 603 strange people have visited it since the end of August. The Irish Kennel Club has a handsome site of its own, carrying the results of the Golf Classic in which, I am proud to say, I feature, as a member of the team that won the Scenic Rout trophy. It surely won't be long before the results of dog-shows are posted to the IKC site as a matter of course.

The Dragon is doing a BIS next week, and the house is littered with Breed Standards. Is it not arrogant of judges to measure another creature against one of these arbitrary Standards, without ever having it done to them? As a rare gesture of sympathy towards the canine kingdom, let us select a Standard at random - the Pug Standard, for example - and a Best in Show judge - Mrs C.A. Ahern, for example - and start judging the Judge against the Standard.

General Appearance:- Decidedly square and cobby, it is 'multum in parvo' shown in compactness of form, well-knit proportions and hardness of muscle.

Well, with strong reservations on the 'parvo' bit, all right, I suppose.

Characteristics:- Great charm, dignity and intelligence.

Depends on who you talk to.

Temperament:- Even-tempered, happy, lively disposition

Ha Ha

Head and Skull:- Head large, round, not apple-headed, with no indentation of skull. Muzzle short, blunt, square, not upfaced. Wrinkles clearly defined.

Fifth amendment.

Gait/Movement:- ......................a slight roll of the hindquarters typifies gait.

This is getting dangerous