Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
The night before last, H.I. and me were slightly perturbed at the loud sound of what might have been someone inexpertly trying to pick a lock with a coat-hanger, down in the little lane at the back of our house (I could not be bothered to type, 'compact but adorable city apartment').
It was about 1.00 a.m. and the noise was intermittent. I leaned out of a window to listen intently the next time it happened, and came to the conclusion that it was a large animal like a dog, trying to scratch its way through a wooden door. I could not tell from which direction.
So I called the police, and they told me to call the RSPCA - this is their standard response if you ever mention animals to them, because they are scared of dogs. They know what dogs are capable of - they train them themselves to do damage to armed villains of a slightly different kind.
Eventually, the operator reluctantly agreed to try to persuade an officer to haul his fat arse out of a car and take a look, when he had a spare moment.
About half an hour later, they called me back to tell me the noise was being made by a badger, but could not say if it was trying to get in, or trying to get out. The noise stopped, so I guess they let it in/out, as appropriate. A badger, right in the middle of - admittedly, this small and semi-rural - town. Whodathoughtit?
I was once walking home late at night, down a dark alley leading to the canal where I was living. I heard a dog whining and howling from the other side of a hedge, so I called out to it. Big mistake.
In an instant, a massive, lean and muscular Doberman Pincer tore its way through the hedge and began chasing me up the dark path. I tried calmly walking toward the safety of my house about 100 yards away, knowing that I could not outrun the dog, and knowing that to try to do so would set off a primal urge in it to run me down and tear my throat out.
Once inside, I called the police and told them that there was a dangerous dog on the loose, right outside my front door. The copper's response was to tell me that if I wanted to go around interfering with other people's pets, then go ahead, but he had better things to do - like sitting in a warm station drinking tea, I expect.
So I decided to go back out and calm it down before it ripped someone else's throat out. Big mistake number two, but I had just come from the pub.
Once outside in the darkness, I could neither hear it nor see it, so I walked to a park bench by the canal-side and sat down with a cigarette. Big mistake number three, though sitting down might have been the best thing to do.
As I sat there shivering in the winter air, I heard the unmistakeable sound of an eight-stone dog clattering up behind me on the path, and - for a moment - I stopped breathing and began to take stock of my life whilst I still had the chance.
It ran up to the back of the bench and began loudly begging me to stand up and face it like a man, so it wouldn't feel so guilty about tearing the throat out of a seated human. I stayed put, refusing to make the final mistake.
Eventually it got bored with taunting me (as I hope a certain woman from Norfolk will soon) and sloped off back to its own house to continue howling and whimpering through the night. I ceased feeling sorry for it and locked myself back into the cottage - once I had mustered the courage to stand up. I think I even poured myself the 'stiff drink' of popular myth.
Not heroic, just stupid. I won't be doing that again. Not willingly, anyway.