I’m sick of my own opinions so let me tell you about the best part of my day, which is taking Sprite to the park. We can’t do this at the moment because the car is at the panel beaters, so let’s have an imaginary dog walk.
Into the car, tail wagging. Sprite’s barks grow sharper and I have to avoid her taking the wheel or indicating for me. Reach the park and she’s out before I have got one leg on the ground, and into the grass and air.
Greetings to Phillip, the bead and wire sculptor, currently at work on a monster gecko. Greetings to Gin and Tonic, the kind car guard who looks after lost dogs and children. Greetings to Valeria and the basket ladies from Swaziland, who tell me who is already in the park, don’t I want to buy my 10th laundry basket at a discounted price and will I give them a lift home afterwards? And then I obey the intense fox/wolf command of my border collie and start throwing the ball.
The park is like a clockwork village: you meet the same people at the same time at the same place.
Here’s Adam for instance, big, tall and tottering, wearing two hats, carrying a knobkerrie and hailing us. Straight away we are in his last current of conversation. Adam once studied to be a rabbi and he would have been a brilliant one, because he doesn’t judge, does listen and tells very good, evil-blasting jokes.
Like the time we were walking behind my friend and her doctor husband Karl, and were joined by a loud man who while talking about his recovery from a serious accident blurted out that he wished he was a German because Germans feel no pain. I had been concentrating on my ball throwing duties but started at that and Adam felt my start. “Let’s ask Karl” said Adam and so with perfect aim made loud mouth quiet, me laugh and nasty smell in air disappear. I like German jokes, said Adam the beatific, meet Herr Dresser.
Another time: walking with Digger the tough and wonderful Australian cattle dog and (after thought) his owner Peter. On our circuit meet a Popeye type, T-shirt sleeves rolled up to allow his biceps to expand. Popeye pulls on his dog’s lead and eyes Digger with aggression. “Your dog always goes for mine” he hisses. Adam, in mid-sentence turns, looks over his glasses and says “Must be personal then.” Popeye goes red and snorts and Adam sails on serene.
[NB All human names have been changed to protect their dogs from embarrassment]