First of all I should like to thank all those readers who kindly inquired after my health following the recent rearguard action detailed in our last encounter. I am happy to assure both of you that I am restored to rude health, without a stain on my – well, you know what I mean. The barium meal was, as feared, merely a euphemism for yet another vile drink, almost as disgusting as Prep Klean, only, instead of exploding afterwards, you get to pose in a number of attractive positions and the ubiquitous backless gown while they take photos of you. Then, a week later they tell you that everything is normal.

Including the blasted Vitamin B 12, whose supposed deficiency, you will recall, prompted the whole ghastly episode. How can this be? Is it possible that it was an elaborate plot by Madame Editor to furnish me with something to write about?

Investigations are continuing.

They say that if middle age is when the broadness of the mind and the narrowness of the waist change places, old age is when everything either dries up or leaks and your hair migrates from your head to your nostrils. The other morning I tied my shoes and then had to take them off again because I had forgotten to put my trousers on first. Can this mean I'm getting middle-aged? I'm certainly getting forgetful. For instance, I can't remember any of the stuff I meant to write about this time. We had our annual Papillon Club Show, which appeared to be a great success with those who like such things, but for the true dognostic there were too many dogs about to permit much amusement. There was one socially delicate moment when I was chatting to a married couple and the wife told me with a laugh that Trevor came out of the closet last week. I searched for the correct response to such unusual frankness until it became clear that Trevor was the dog, not the husband, and was grateful that I hadn't actually found it. A slow brain has its advantages.

On the subject of aging, I recently came across the following very moving story.

  An elderly couple walked hand in hand slowly into McDonalds one cold winter evening. They looked out of place amid the young  families and young couples eating there that night. Some of the customers looked admiringly at them. You could tell what the admirers were thinking. "Look, there is a couple who has been through a lot together, probably for 70 years or  more!" The little old man walked right up to the cash register,  placed his order  with no hesitation and then paid for their meal. The couple took a table near the back wall and started taking  food off of the tray. There was one hamburger, one order of French fries and one drink. The little old man unwrapped the plain hamburger and carefully cut  it in half. He placed one half in front of his wife. Then he  carefully counted out the French fries, divided them in two piles and neatly placed one pile in front of his wife. He took a sip of the drink, his  wife took a sip and then set the cup down between them.  As the man began to eat his few bites of hamburger the crowd  began  to get  restless. Again you could tell what they were thinking. "That  poor  old couple. All they can afford is one meal for the two of them." As the man began to eat his French fries one young man stood and  came over to the old couples' table. He politely offered to buy another meal  for the  old couple to eat. The old man replied that they were just fine. They were used to sharing everything. Then people noticed that the little old lady hadn't eaten a bite. She just  sat there watching her husband eat and occasionally taking turns sipping the drink. Again the young man came over and begged them to let  him buy  them something to eat. This time the lady explained that no, they were used to sharing everything  together. As the little old man finished eating, his wife helped  to wipe  his face neatly with a napkin. The young man could  stand it no longer. Again he came over to their table and offered to buy  some food. After being politely refused again he finally asked a question of  the little old lady. "Ma'am, why aren't you eating? You said that you share everything. What is  it that you are waiting for?" She answered... .…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… "The teeth."  

Of course, maybe it's not old age that's addling the brain. Not that I'm a heavy drinker [well, at fifteen stone, maybe I am], and I know Dean Martin said that you're not really drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.

Finally, a joke.

Man:- “I'm going to the pub. Get your coat on”

Wife:- [Overjoyed at being included] “Does this mean you're taking me with you, darling?”

Man:- “No, I'm turning the fire off”.

P.S. Dogs? No dogs again this month? Look, this is Dognostics Corner. You want dogs, they're all around us. This is a calm oasis of sanity in a magazine gone mad.