Monday, 26 July 2010


The stink was awful, but I was an obstinate pug and determined to stick it out. However long Mr Grieg kept his head down in the green bin, my chances for the odd snack were increasing.

“You have a box of soup cartons in here, Miss Taylor,” Mr Greig said in a muffled voice. “And a load of old film reels. They look foreign to me. I trust your Polish suitor is not up to his pornographic tricks again.”

“Absolutely not” called Julia.

“Shit,” she mouthed at me, but I pretended not to notice.

There were bigger worries at stake and all I could think of at that moment was Marek’s involvement. He was already in big trouble about his visa and he had a habit of tossing things away without even looking.

Mr Greig’s head emerged from the bin. His hair stood on end. His black coat was covered in the leaves of a stale cabbage.

“I will need to do a colour coding of this operation,” he said.

“What’s that?” asked Julia.

“Exactly what I say,” replied Mr Grieg. “You will be added to our ‘Shame List’ at headquarters. It’s a Council initiative aimed at householders who are not following our regulations on waste, etcetera. We will need to talk again, Miss Taylor.”

Was my Mistress in trouble yet again? Will I have to try a pug tackle on the man and rescue her? The saga continues.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Larry has what he calls a ‘gammy’ leg. He drags himself in like Long John Silver, but without the attraction of a parrot.

“Taxi waiting,” he wheezes. “No cash ‘til Monday, I’m afraid, Julia. Be a love and lend me £20 quid. Then the driver will help me in with the pictures.”

Mistress takes two ten pound notes out of the Italian vase on the hall table. This vase is meant to take in the loans that she is constantly dealing out. It is often empty. The light catches the vase from the high window and reminds me of Pierre Bonnard and his colourful interiors. He is one of Mistress’s favourite artists. Together we like to look at illustrations of his nude wife in the bath, of which there are several.

Larry would like to paint Mistress in the bath. Instead, he has to make do with her in a tight black bodice sitting on her bed with the curtains closed.

It’s some operation, I can tell you! Larry and his gammy leg mounting the stairs, rucksack on his back and wittering on about his arthritis.

“Go on, Julia, give us a bit more flesh, will you? You weren’t born in a convent,” he says as he pulls his brushes out of his pocket. A palette follows from the depths of a dirty canvas bag. “Any chance of a small drink?” he asks.

His eyes squint towards Mistress.

“It’s 11am, Larry,” she responds. “I’ll make you a coffee in half an hour.”

Long ago, I decided that Larry is the sort of artist who will never be interested in Dogs or Nature.

“Can we get rid of your animal?” he asks, and now he is staring at me in a way that makes me feel like an intruder in my own house. Who would believe it?

I bare my teeth.

“That dog’s got halitosis, you know”, Larry says.

I want to warn Mistress that the zip on her long skirt is undone.

“Tommy’s breath is far sweeter than yours, believe you me,” Mistress retorts. She bounces around on two velvet cushions. “How long is this session going to take? I have a lot to do today.”

The artist lifts a paintbrush and points it in her direction. He looks queasy. Archie calls his complexion a bad case of Francis Bacon. I agree. Larry’s other hand feels for the counterpane. I can see that he has the ‘shakes’ and start to wonder if he will make it home when the time comes.

Larry wipes his forehead with a paint smeared handkerchief.

“We can’t hurry this,” he croaks. “Not a work for the National Society of Portrait Painters.”

“You haven’t had a picture shown with them for eight years,” Mistress answers. “And you don’t seem to have moved from my chin for the last five sessions!”

Larry is now wiping his eyes with the same handkerchief. They are turning crimson in front of us. If I could cover my ears, I would, because this kind of conversation distresses me. But their talk is broken up by the peal of the bell for the second time today.

Mistress pulls her shirt on and is off that bed in a matter of seconds. The two of us fly down the stairs, happy for the interruption.

Mistress opens the front door in bare feet.

It’s the tall man in the black coat again.

“Good morning, Miss Taylor,” says Mr Grieg.

“This is an official visit to check the quota of rubbish in your bins.”

Monday, 5 July 2010

'In the Flesh'

I feel sorry for Mistress. She has always had ideas about being an artist, but failed her Art ‘O’ level at boarding school. There are not too many people who know this fact either. Well, I do, because she whispers confidential information to me that I wouldn’t even tell Archie. Sometimes, I watch Mistress from my pitch under her desk doodling matchstick men in private. It’s pathetic really. They wouldn’t stand up at primary level.

As a matter of fact, I think she is better off being a gallery owner. Working with artists is a juggling act, let me tell you. Some of them are quite mad. Take Larry, who is due to deliver his latest works this morning.

When the bell rings with two clarion peals, I am busy with a juicy bone between my paws. Mistress groans.

“Oh, God,” she sighs. “Tommy, don’t leave me, there’s a good dog.”

Frankly, both Mistress and I are looking forward to a quieter life, the days when we will no longer be interrupted by artists.

But we’ve got one of the worst types arriving now. Larry Fielding, the well known portrait painter and he’s not only bringing some new pictures, but has come here to paint Mistress. Larry is not the fastest out of the pen. Let’s see if we can get started!

Follow my paws as I gallop upstairs and wait for the bark.