Sunday, 13 June 2010
The Nathans were preparing for warfare.
“Well, we can all go back to our grand-parents for a mixed heritage,” said Lesley stiffly. “What do you think, Nathan?”
“I dunno, I dunno,” he said. Nathan pointed an unsteady finger at his wife. “Julia’s always had a complicated love life and she’s not getting any younger.”
Mistress suddenly turned red. The same colour as her hair.
“Well, I think that’s bloody nasty, Nathan!” she shouted. “Your relationship with Lesley is nothing to write home about. The dog and I can hear the pair of you shouting through two gardens in the summer.”
I looked at Archie across Nathan’s shoe. It was tapping. Nathan had a funny sense of tempo: a habit of conducting the many rows he tried to stay out of with his feet.
“Why does she bring me into it?” I whispered to Archie.
“You’re all she’s got,” he replied, with a down-turn to his mouth. That worried me. I have enough problems just living in an art gallery. An art gallery with debts, and dust that is always in my throat. Whereas Marek had become a friend. He understood me and my liking for bacon, and to be honest, he kept Mistress happy for most of the time.
Lesley finished her glass of wine.
“Before I slap you,” she said to Julia rather under her breath, “let’s turn the TV on. I want to watch that programme with the Dog Whisperer.”
Archie gave a sigh. “We are so on the wrong planet,” he said.
Lesley took hold of the remote control which was under her bottom.
“The last one we watched was very interesting,” she went on. “It was about how domestic animals can bring your heart beat down. You remember, Nathan? It’s the first time I’ve ever seen you carry Archie upstairs. Then you lay on the bed gasping. We nearly had to call the doctor.”
I looked at Archie then. His teeth were on edge.
“We will not be repeating that experience,” Archie said to me.
The TV clicked into ‘The Culture Show’. Us dogs sat up. We knew good art when we saw it. On screen was a huge sculpture of a woman and child, tucked one into the other. I don’t have deep thoughts, so Archie tells me, but I did think of my mother then and how I began.
Archie gave a bark of appreciation. “That’s Henry Moore,” he said.
Then, in a lower voice:
“Let’s go for the nuts.”
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Later, we went over to the Fullers.
Mistress and her friends dug into the nuts and were soon on their second bottle of wine. Archie and I sat each side of Nathan’s leather chair. He had a habit of throwing pistachio shells over his left shoulder. We knew the score, which was to wait a while until the adults were ‘under the influence’ - Archie’s phrase, and then we could have a good crunch behind the sofa.
Archie put a restraining paw on my nose. We had to wait.
“Marek’s an illegal immigrant, I swear it,” said Mistress. “He told me he was here for nine months on a visitor’s visa and that everything was above board.”
Lesley swung her legs sideways as if she was about to get up.
“You got carried away, Julia, that’s what happened. He’s just a Polish artist desperate to get his work shown in a London gallery. Marek decided on a major flirting incentive and you fell for it!”
Julia flung her hair back.
“I beg your pardon,” she said. “I think that’s a rotten thing for you to say. We have a lot in common as it happens, and don’t forget that my great-grand father was Polish.”
Archie yawned. “This conversation is bound to last three or four rounds,” he said. “How are the nuts collecting behind you, son?”
I turned. I could smell the salt and the powder coming off them. All the ingredients that pugs are not allowed. “We’ve got a small mountain of them,” I replied and gave my best smile.
Archie and I put our heads down again. We both understood the virtue of patience.
Will we get our snacks before the fight begins? Follow our trail until next time and find out.
Wednesday, 2 June 2010
After Mr Grieg’s visit, there was a row between Mistress and Marek in the front garden.
“How could you get tied up in something so smutty?” she asked and began to coil her hair amongst the stems of her Virginia creeper, a sure sign of stress. “I can’t believe you would source pornography on my computer. Now I find you don’t even have a legitimate visa to be here!”
I wagged my tail at Marek. He needed my support. I wasn’t going to lose my bacon sandwich titbits without a fight.
“That is rubbish,” Marek replied, “I am here with my very important work, which I thought you understood. You of all people.
“I understand,” said Mistress. “Only too well.”
From my position close to the wall, I felt that I knew Marek better than Mistress. She would never find another man like him. When he pulled the gate open and walked out, I gave a wolf’s howl. Frankly, I didn’t know I had it in me.
“COME BACK!” Mistress cried.
But Marek kept on walking.