Sunday, 31 October 2010
That same afternoon, I found myself in a long queue between Marek and Mistress. We were in a posh building with lots of smells around to keep me busy. I got a whiff of Estee Lauder from the woman ahead of us and a strong stench of varnish, which made me feel dizzy. I think it might have been Marek’s bacon sandwiches that added to the impression.
Finally I sat squat on my haunches and had to be dragged to the front of the desk when it was our turn.
“I need to refer you to the room at the end of the corridor,” said the girl behind the counter, when she heard the story about the picture from Mistress.
There was a lot of travelling in this place, I thought and I had a sudden desire for home. But I followed Mistress and Marek down the passage like a dutiful dog. I had every intention of behaving like the aristocrat I knew myself to be.
“What can I do for you?” asked a man with little glasses and a fringe. He leant over his desk and made a clucking sound. “We don’t allow dogs in the auction house,” he said.
Marek didn’t hesitate. He scooped me up and there I was, at the same level as all of them! I bared my teeth at the man.
“This only take a minute,” replied Marek. “We have come to withdraw Lot 85, which is for sale tomorrow.”
“The Victorian Picture Sale at 2pm,” Mistress said. “I am so sorry to ask at this late stage, but there are personal reasons.”
The man with the fringe stared at his computer for a long time. I watched the clock on the wall above him and the black arrow that made circles around it. I yawned. The heat didn’t suit me and my stomach kept grumbling. I would have to get some air soon.
“This is very unfortunate,” muttered the man. “The ‘Sibthorpe’ is a fine surviving example from the 1830’s. I am afraid there will be a withdrawal charge.”
“How much?” asked Marek. He was delving into his pocket and fingering some of those money notes I had seen earlier. “Whatever the price, I pay. We have to have our picture back.”
“That will be £945.52p,” the man replied smoothly. “But you will need to go to another floor for invoicing, I’m afraid and then to the ground for collection.”
I began to bark then. Marek had to put me down as all these notes came out of his pocket. I saw only stars. A large bubble wrapped package lay up against a corner of the man’s desk. I was intent on getting close.
The warning never came. Suddenly, I was sick all over the bubble wrap and it took a while to realise that a woman stood with her legs apart directly above me.
“Get that bloody dog out of here!” she shouted.
Marek was beside me, as I drew back, panting.
“Who is this woman with big bottom?” he asked, to no-one in particular.
The woman had a loud voice. “I am the director here!” she said.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
“What is this big space on the wall?” demanded Marek the morning after he came home.
I lay at his feet where the sun fell in stripes over the drawing room carpet. My stomach was full. Marek and I had already eaten two bacon sandwiches for breakfast to celebrate his return.
“Julia,” Marek said again. “Where is your Uncle Sidthop?”
“He is not my uncle,” replied Mistress. “He is an ancestor and his name is Colonel Waldo Sibthorpe.”
“You no answer my question,” Marek went on.
I gave a sigh. Marek had been away for a whole week and though Mistress had shed a few tears in his absence, they were now bickering. How could she be so stupid? Marek was a special person. He understood the pug fraternity like nobody else in our street.
“Look, Marek,” Mistress said. “I’m running an art gallery in a difficult climate and I need funds. The recession has hit us big-time.”
She wouldn’t look either Marek or me in the eye. “I’ve put the painting up for auction,” Mistress whispered. “I had to do it.”
Marek flung his arms in the air. He was full of drama. Archie had told me some time ago that Marek’s parents had come through an iron curtain. They must have been very strong people, I thought.
“You sell your family down the river, Julia!” Marek snorted. “It is disgusting. What happens to your pride …?”
Mistress sat down with a bump on the sofa. “Please, Marek, don’t make my situation worse. I have no choice.”
Marek began walking up and down as if he had a fever. “We do something, Julia, if it is not too late. We do something to save your Uncle Sibthop. When is this auction?”
Mistress looked straight ahead. “Tomorrow,” she said, but I’m not retracting.”
Marek took a wad of cash out of his pocket and threw it down on the table.
“One hundred pound notes!” Mistress cried. “Where the hell did that money come from.”
Marek put a finger to his lips.
Well, I was wondering too, from my pitch on the carpet. Marek had come into cash from somewhere. The question was, where?
Follow my trail again and let’s find out!
Friday, 15 October 2010
I didn’t have time to ponder my future. There were more sounds coming from the thicket of trees as a woman in jodhpurs came running towards us. I noticed that she had a purple mouth and that it was squawking.
“Hey!” Mistress cried, dropping her mobile into her coat pocket.
The bassets’ owner was a real lady. She wore long riding boots and a cropped jacket.
“I’m so sorry,” she said to Mistress and her purple mouth gaped open wide.
“My boys are usually so well behaved … now come along, you two …”
“Danny, here,” she coaxed. “Mitch!”
But the boys were not listening. My instincts told me they were only interested in serious combat. The bassets barged at me a second time. I looked up and saw the trees with their big beckoning arms. The world was coming closer.
Then came a loud bark and a sudden explosion of air. A long-nosed beast leapt into our midst.
“Will yer take yer filthy paws off the wee dog, you bastads! I’ll no be having fights in the forest with the likes of you.”
I could barely understand the dog’s words, but he was big enough and fierce enough to mean business. And apparently he was on my side.
“Oh my God!” yelled the woman in jodhpurs. “He’ll kill my boys!”
The dog had landed and was whipping his tail in a frenzy as he went round and round in circles. I lay flat. It was the best place to be. The bassets drew back, cowering into the bark of a fallen tree.
This chap was some kind of alsation. He had a chest I might have been proud of. “My master’s on remand,” he said to the bassets, “and he’ll have the tae of you for breakfast if you don’t stop right now!”
Danny and Mitch sat bolt upright like a pair of stone statues.
“I think they’re just having a scrap,” Mistress said hopefully.
There was a pause. I moved slowly towards the dog with the long nose.
“I’m very grateful for your help,” I yelped. “A lot of animals seem to think I have the qualities of a chocolate bar and it’s not funny.”
The dog licked his lips.
“Well, I can see what they mean,” he replied. “But I’m here to protect the weak, son.”
I put a paw on his rump. What else was a pug supposed to do?
He stood to his full height and gave the bassets a withering stare.
“Yer clear off, you two pieces of shite, do you hear me?!”
The dogs slunk away. I noticed that the light was fading.
The alsation crumpled and lay down beside me. He gave me a lop-sided grin and pressed his left ear against mine.
“Call me ‘Hen’ darlin’. And that’s for starters.”
Thursday, 7 October 2010
I am glad to be able to broadcast that my Kennel Cough has finally gone. And no one is more relieved than Mistress, who has never been much of a nurse.
“Come on, Tommy,” she said to me the following week, by way of celebration. “We’re off to the country.”
Mistress meant it. She was already packing a canvas bag with goodies. We were out of that house and into the car faster than I can wag my tail. I lay clamped in a seat belt at the back and closed my eyes. When I woke up, we were in the middle of the country.
We were also in the middle of hundreds of trees. There were tall waving branches way up above me and on the high ground, more short prickly ones. I trotted across old tracks of mud. Then the ground became sandy and soft. It was hard to see ahead, so I followed Mistress with my nose almost to her heel. What a pity, I thought, that she had to talk on her mobile everywhere we went. She missed what was going on and any moment now, we would be in the pitch black.
We were not alone for long. There were dogs around. I could hear them. Two basset hounds came out of the woods heading in our direction.
”Alright, baby face?” said the fattest, as he passed us with his owner.
I followed his tail, but it was a murky area.
“Enough of that baby face,” I growled. “Your stomach’s hitting the earth, you’ve got so much rubbish in it.”
The basset’s ears flapped in annoyance. His brother leered towards me.
“Who’s this piece of low life?” he asked.
I showed my teeth.
“You’re a pair of stinking sausages,” I said.
The two bassets drew parallel with me and barged at each side of my ribcage.
I gave a shudder. My paws were giving way under me. I was in big trouble and I needed provisions.
Was there a rescue dog somewhere close ...?