You probably know Awful Daughter Ingrid, a skinny woman who judges working breeds without smiling. She showed up today with a small book entitled 'Unbelievable Facts', which she thought would go well in the Small Library off the hall. When she drove away, I noticed a suspicious dark stain on the asphalt beneath where her car had been parked. I applied a digit and sniffed. Didn't smell like oil.
So I tasted it, and, of course, it wasn't oil at all, was it, but Terve juice.
So I repaired to the Small Library to wash out my mouth, rested my trembling body on the porcelain reading chair and opened the book which, as bad luck would have it, opened on the page about dogs. Did you know that Dobermanns [Dobermenn?] were bred by one Ludwig Dobermann, a German Tax Collector, to intimidate his clients? That Dalmatians are prone to gout, and 10% of them are born deaf? That, being the only non-human animal with a prostate, dogs contribute one million gallons of urine to London parks annually? Or that Frederick the Great had an unhealthy interest in his whippet bitches?
The one that caught my bleary eye, though, was the following:-
Now, leaving aside the fact that they have obviously ignored the widely reported lunacies of Phing, the hyperactive brain-donor Bernese Mountain retard who used to infest my house and is now laying waste to large portions of Arklow, what surveys? Done how? By whom? Why? And who paid for them?
Could it be the same people who financed W.H. Gantt's groundbreaking 1953 research into 'The Effect of Alcohol on the Sexual Reflexes of Normal and Neurotic Male Dogs'? [I kid you not. See 'Psychosomatic Medicine, 14, pp. 174-181.] Or those who commissioned C.F. Essig and R.C. Lam to study ' Convulsions and hallucinatory behaviour following alcoholic withdrawal in the dog' in 1968 [Arch. Neurol., 18, pp. 626-632], which contributed the knowledge that dogs suffer from hangovers to the scientific world.
[Mind you, it's not just dogs. R.S. Rybuck, in 1969, proved, not doubt to the astonishment of a grateful world, that goldfish fall over when drunk – see 'Quarterly……'oh to hell with it].
And anyhow, did it not occur to anyone that the Afghans in this survey, not wishing to encourage this insane endeavour, might have simply withdrawn their cooperation and played dumb? And if they did, who could blame them? And another thing, why didn't somebody do a survey on Frederick the Great's whippets?
Maybe they liked him too.
It is now afternoon, and I have had to make another visit to the Small Library. I recently expressed concerns regarding the effect of diarrhoeic puppies on fine leather upholstery, as in Volvo. Well, following this, the Dragon Lady decreed that puppies must in future be held on my knee during the short drive to the Pier to walk them. I can now speak at heartfelt length about the effect of diarrhoeic puppies on the crotch of my trousers, and how it feels to walk bandy-legged back into the house while my beloved shrieks with cruel laughter. I sometimes wonder why I live here.
They threw a surprise party for my sixtieth birthday – below is the sadistic invitation card they sent out – and I was so genuinely surprised that I became, for only the second time in my whole life, roaring drunk. At the time I didn't think I was so bad, not realising that the reason everyone I spoke to kept getting smaller was that I kept staggering gently backwards. The following day, however, my smugly smiling niece played me the video. I haven't had a good night's sleep since, starting upright every hour or so with a strangled cry of embarrassment. And no matter how much I offer, she refuses to destroy the tape.
If I had more time I could regale you with ADIs [the daughter] adventures with the building trade, touching briefly on her childlike dreams of a kitchen extension before listing the crimes and disasters of Bob the Builder from Hell, the blocked sewer that had to be empties by hand by Regrettable Husband Gerry while the next-door-neighbours hosted a First Communion garden party [“Are you coming in?” “Yes, of course, just have to finish something…….”], the Victorian gutter brackets removed by the simple expedient of hammering them through the wall into the bedroom and, of course, the sublime moment last Saturday when they were contemplating yet more raw sewage which had mysteriously found its way into the shower tray, and the ceiling fell on their heads, but I'm too worried about Frederick the Great, so goodbye.