Sunday, 30 August 2015

A Tale of Two...Paracetamol

My son is now home from hospital after major surgery and armed with painkillers. My mother, a long-retired nurse, was most interested to know what painkillers Rob was taking.  After reading the prescription labels, she banged two jumbo-sized boxes of Paracetamol on the table and asked, ‘Would you like these instead?’
            ‘Thanks, Grandma, but no.’
            ‘Oh.’  My mother looked put out.  ‘Why not?’
            ‘Because they’re Paracetamol.  I’m on something a bit stronger.’
            ‘But it says 500 mg here.  Look,’ she pointed.  ‘Right there.  A couple of those will soon sort you out.’
            Rob smiled.  ‘Thanks for the offer, but I’ll stick to what my surgeon prescribed.’
            ‘But I bought these especially for you.’
            ‘You keep them.’
            My mother frowned at the boxes.  ‘But I don’t want them.  I spent five pounds on these, my boy.  You’ve wasted good money.’
            ‘I haven’t wasted money,’ my son pointed out, ‘because I didn’t buy them.’
            I instantly made flapping motions with my hands indicating my son should hush.  Hadn’t he learnt by now that you never make comments like this to an eighty-two-year-old woman who is extremely set in her ways and clearly having “a bad day”?
            ‘Well that’s gratitude for you,’ my mother pursed her lips.
            My son copped my flapping hands and rolled his eyes at me.
            ‘It’s very thoughtful of you, Mum,’ I said soothingly.
            Two blue headlamps swivelled in my direction.
            ‘You have them, Debbie.’
            ‘Oh.  Er, thanks, but I don’t really take tablets.’
            ‘I thought you suffered period pains!’ my mother accused.
            ‘Um, yes, I did.  Once.  I’m fifty-three, Mother.’
            ‘Are you?’  My mother frowned at me.  ‘Well how old am I then?’
            ‘I can’t be,’ my mother paused to gaze at the ceiling.  ‘I’m…I’m…let me see…well I’m definitely not eight-two.’
            ‘If you say so,’ my son muttered.
            ‘Yes,’ my mother nodded emphatically.  ‘Now that we’ve sorted that out, who is going to have these boxes of Paracetamol?  When you’ve been a war baby, you don’t waste money, do you understand?’
            ‘Tell you what, Grandma,’ said Robbie, his expression one of yearning for his grandmother to stop talking about Paracetamol, ‘I’ll take one box.  I’ll pop it in my medicine cabinet for emergencies.’
            ‘Marvellous,’ my mother beamed at her grandson.  ‘As for you,’ my mother waggled a finger at me, ‘I’m no longer offering the other box to you because I know you’ll only chuck them in the bin. You chuck everything in the bin.  Everything.  Clothes.  Shoes.  Handbags.’
            ‘Recycling bins, Mum,’ I murmured.  ‘Helping third world countries.’
            ‘Did your mother tell you,’ she swung around to her grandson, ‘how she chucked out a load of furniture when she downsized house?  Absolutely criminal.’
            ‘I sold it on eBay, Mum.  I didn’t chuck anything out.’
            ‘Well you might as well have done,’ my mother retorted.  ‘You practically gave things away.  Absolutely criminal,’ she repeated.  ‘No wonder you’re always pleading poverty and never have any money.’
            I wasn’t aware I pleaded poverty, but as I was starting to get a headache the Paracetamol were gaining in appeal.  I reached out to take the remaining box.
            ‘Oh no you don’t.’  My mother snatched the offending box up and clutched it possessively to her chest.  ‘I’m going to give them to my hairdresser.  She always seems to have a headache when I come into the salon.  She’ll appreciate them.’
            ‘What, as a tip?’ Robbie quipped.
            I gave my son warning look.
            ‘Yes.  As a tip. What’s wrong with that?’
            ‘Nothing,’ said Robbie pleasantly.
            ‘Right,’ my mother nodded.  ‘I’m glad we got that sorted out.  Now then, I was going to say something. What was it?  Oh yes. Would anybody like some Paracetamol?’
            Which reminds me.  There were three elderly sisters aged ninety-two, ninety-four and ninety-six.  One night, the ninety-six-year-old ran a bath.  She put one foot in the water and paused.  ‘Was I getting in the bath or out?’ she yelled.  The ninety-four-year-old hollered back, ‘I don’t know.  I’ll come up and see.’  She started up the staircase but then stopped.  ‘Wait…was I going up or down?’ she shouted.  The ninety-two-year-old was sitting at the kitchen table having a cup of tea and listening to her sisters. She shook her head.  ‘I sure hope I never get that forgetful,’ and she knocked on wood for good measure.  Then she yelled, ‘I’ll come up and help both of you just as soon as I see who’s at the door…’

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Microvascular Decompression - Take Two!

It’s been a bit of a stressful week.  Firstly, in a fortnight’s time I’m having a second op on my chest (yes, okay, boob), following a freak accident with a Dyson vacuum cleaner last November.  Secondly, and by far the worst, my son is having brain surgery tomorrow morning after relapsing with Trigeminal Neuralgia.  Hello hospital…again and again.
            TN is an absolutely awful condition where the trigeminal nerve kicks off (reason unknown).  The sufferer feels as though they are being stabbed in the face with a knife that’s plugged into the electric mains.  Attacks can be random, intermittent, or back-to-back.  In my son’s case, they’ve been back-to-back.  Two years ago he went under the knife at The Wellington Hospital, in the care of the magnificent Ian Sabin.  Apparently relapses aren’t unheard of; it’s more often a case of when rather than if.  It’s a pretty daunting thing being just twenty-two years old and wondering if your life will be punctuated by brain surgery.  Last week I decided that the definition of torture was watching your child in agony twenty-four-seven.
            ‘I’ve had enough of this,’ I cried.  ‘We need to find something to bring you pain relief until the operation date comes around.’
            ‘I’m on every drug you can take,’ Rob mumbled.  He couldn’t talk properly.  Just moving his mouth to speak aggravated the attacks.
            ‘There has to be something else we can do.  There has to be!’
            ‘Like what?’
            I grabbed my son’s hand.  ‘Meditation.’
            ‘Oh for goodness sake, Mum,’ my son clicked his tongue and promptly had another attack.  ‘That might have worked for you, but it’s not my thing.  And don’t suggest I talk to the Man in the Sky either.  If there is such a being, why am I suffering?’
            I get what he’s saying, but Rob doesn’t ‘get’ the reason as to why these things happen.  Especially if he won’t meditate upon the question.  I took a deep breath.  Plan B.  ‘What about seeing a hypnotherapist?’  Rob looked at me scathingly.  ‘Neuro Lingual Programming,’ I added.  Rob perked up.  He likes things that sound scientific rather than hocus-pocus. He’s a dentist after all with a medical background.
            ‘Yes, I’m up for trying that.’
            Unfortunately we couldn’t get an appointment until after the operation, which is a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.  So Plan C.
            ‘What about a healer?’ I suggested.
            ‘Are you mad?’ Rob rolled his eyes, and promptly had another attack.  ‘Okay, don’t answer that question.  I know the answer.’
            ‘Why don’t you just try it,’ I suggested.
            At that point Rob had such a bad attack he fell over.  ‘ARGH!  Yes,’ he croaked, ‘yes, yes, yes. I’ll try anything.’
            I won’t mention the healer’s name on this page, but if anybody reading this is in a desperate situation and wants to know, please do email me.
            We walked into a packed waiting room filled with the smell of burning incense.  The walls were lined with photographs of the healer at work.  There was a strange makeshift altar with every figure of worship in the world depicted in either framed photographs or model form.  The message was obvious.  God is there for everyone, no matter what religion you put yourself in.  People from all around the world were prostrating themselves on the floor in either meditation or worship.  My son’s eyes were on stalks. When the healer walked into the waiting room, everybody immediately knew who he was.  After all, it’s not every day you’re greeted by a towering man with flowing grey locks and dressed in a long frock with hairy toes sticking out of Jesus sandals.  My son blinked a few times.  It was obvious he thought his mother had totally lost the plot along with everybody else in the room.  The healer smiled.  Everybody’s eyes were upon this man. You could have heard a pin drop.  The healer looked at every single person in the room…one by one…still smiling.  It suddenly seemed very peaceful.  The healer’s eyes stopped on Robbie.
            ‘Young man,’ he said.  ‘I will see you when I manage to see you.’
            ‘That’s fine,’ Rob warbled. He looked a bit pink in the face.
            ‘But it wasn’t fine, was it?’ the healer persisted.  ‘There is no contract of time with God.’
            Rob later told me he’d been sitting there quietly thinking, ‘Hurry up, hurry up, I need to get out of here and back to my exam revision.’
            Eventually it was Robbie’s turn.  He was asked to lie down on a couch and relax.
            ‘What’s wrong with you, young man?’ asked the healer.
            ‘I’m suffering really bad Trigeminal Neuralgia.’
            ‘Ah.  That’s to do with the face, yes?  Then we must sort it out.’  And with that the healer pulled out Robbie’s shirt tails and pushed down on an area of the stomach just over the appendix.  Robbie howled in pain.  ‘That hurts, eh?’
            ‘Yes,’ Robbie gasped, ‘but that area is nothing to do with Trigeminal Neuralgia.’
            The healer ignored Robbie.  ‘We must operate.’  And then he began making movements over my son’s abdomen.
            ‘What the bloody hell are you doing?’ Rob screeched, his face contorted in agony.
            ‘There is nothing bloody,’ the healer calmly replied.  ‘Lie back and relax.  I’m nearly done.’
            Despite not physically touching my son, Robbie later said he felt as though somebody had sliced open his abdomen, rummaged around in it, pulled something out, and swears he felt a needle going in and out as if being sutured.  When he jumped down from the couch, he peered at his stomach and was surprised to see a scar, as if he’d had surgery.  The healer didn’t hang around.  He still had a packed waiting room.
            ‘I hope you feel better soon,’ he said.  And then he was gone leaving us to sort ourselves out.
            ‘That was weird,’ Robbie said, peering at his stomach.  ‘I don’t know what the heck he was doing but…I felt hands inside me…the whole thing weird.’
            There was no instant miracle, but by yesterday there was a distinct improvement with the back-to-back attacks reduced to intermittent and a fifty per-cent improvement on severity of pain.  That said, Robbie is still having his MVD op tomorrow.  But I like to think that by Monday evening, after my son’s op, the Trigeminal Neuralgia will have been put to rights by both conventional and unconventional methods.  Which reminds me.
            Two women were sitting in a doctor’s waiting room discussing their medical problems.
            ‘More than anything else in the world,’ said the first woman, ‘I want a baby.  However, it looks like it’s not going to be possible.’
            ‘I used to feel the same way,’ said the second woman.  ‘But then everything changed.  That’s why I’m here.  I’m having a baby in six months!’
            The first woman looked astonished. ‘Please tell me what you did.’
            ‘I went to a faith healer,’ said the second woman.
            The first woman looked disappointed.  ‘We’ve tried that.  My husband and I went to one almost every week, and it didn’t help at all.’
            The second woman smiled and whispered, ‘Next time, try going alone…’


Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Results Are In!

Earlier this week thousands of students all over the country received their exam results.  In the run up to that long awaited moment each and every student would have experienced a plethora of emotions…from nervousness, anxiety and a rush of panic to simply shrugging and remaining indifferent.  But one thing is for sure.  When the results were read, their futures were revealed.  Many will be fulfilling dreams and pursuing studies with their chosen universities, colleges and schools.  Others will opt for alternative placements.  And there will be those who have to evaluate whether to do a gap year, take a filler course, or even go to work.  Whatever it is, I applaud each and every one of you for your efforts and wish every success with whatever comes next.
            My own daughter is off to drama school this September and naturally we are thrilled she’s following her dream.  There are no Halls of Residence where Eleanor is going, so finding digs was the next point of focus.  Intense scanning of letting agents’ pages, internet trawls, and scrolling through room-to-let websites resulted in two viewing appointments.  The first was…an experience.
            ‘Hello!’ I trilled to the po-faced Landlord.  ‘We’ve come to view the upstairs flat.’
            ‘Just your daughter?  Nobody else?  It’s two bedrooms.  I want two tenants.’
            ‘It’s just me and my daughter to view, but we’re also looking on behalf of another student,’ I assured.  This was absolutely true. Eleanor had been on the drama school’s Facebook page looking for fellow students interested in sharing, and a young lady from Scotland had affirmed she was eager to buddy up.
            ‘I see,’ said the Landlord addressing my chest and frowning in disapproval.  ‘Well I suppose you’d better come in.’ Eleanor and I glanced uneasily at each other and crossed the threshold.  ‘Shoes off,’ snapped the Landlord.  ‘I keep a clean place here and I want it to stay that way.’
            ‘That’s fine,’ I quavered.  ‘We don’t wear shoes in our home either.’
            ‘I like my carpet to stay pristine.’
            The carpet was indeed pristine – unlike the upstairs apartment which sported a dirty kitchen, grotty bathroom, and two musty bedrooms.
            ‘You’re familiar with the rent?’ the Landlord asked, once again addressing my chest.  Annoyed, I slid my handbag off my shoulder and hugged it to my chest like a pillow.  There!  Look at that!  And yes, it is genuine Calvin Klein and not from the lookie-lookie man like the other four thousand handbags in my wardrobe.  The Landlord switched his gaze to my daughter’s bare legs and tiny shorts.  ‘What are you studying?’ he asked curtly.
            ‘Drama,’ my daughter beamed.  ‘I want to be an actress.’  Eleanor might as well have said, ‘I want to be a prostitute.’
            The Landlord nearly swallowed his dentures.  ‘Young lady,’ he said addressing my daughter’s thighs.  I removed Calvin’s handbag from my chest and shoved it at my daughter indicating she cover her pins.  ‘You need to understand there are very strict rules here.  No partying.  No music.  No smoking.  No drinking.  And no YOUNG MEN.’
            I wonder if Calvin Klein has ever had any of his handbags cited as a weapon of mass destruction?  Let’s just say we didn’t pursue that particular apartment.
            The second viewing couldn’t have been more different.  A lovely husband-and-wife team greeted us and showed Eleanor and me a spotless freshly-painted double bedroom with brand new furniture and a mattress still in its plastic wrapper.  The room overlooked an immaculately tended garden.  The kitchen and bathrooms (yes, there were two!) were clean and tidy and the landlord and landlady went out of their way to answer our questions and reassure us.
            ‘I love it,’ Eleanor grinned.
            ‘We’ll take it!’ I said, shaking them both by the hand.
            And, even better, two students from Eleanor’s drama school have reserved another two rooms in the same house, so there will hopefully be lots of bonding as they forge new friendships.
            Heaving a sigh of relief, we have spent this weekend shopping for bedding and pretty throws, pastel towels and lamps, and also a bit of twee stuff including a seriously girlie bit of dangly décor that proclaims Home Sweet Home.  Eleanor is over the moon, and I am ecstatic for her…even though the thought of her snuggling down to sleep under her new duvet in her new room brings a lump to my throat.  Next month my last chick will leave the nest.  It’s time to let her fly.
            Which reminds me.  A father gave his little boy a scolding, so the little boy decided to run away.  He grabbed some clothes, a teddy bear and his piggy bank and announced, ‘I’m running away from home.’  The father decided to handle the matter calmly.
            ‘What if you get hungry?’ he asked.
            ‘Then I’ll pop back home to eat.’
            ‘What if you run out of money?’
            ‘I’ll come home and get some.’
            ‘And what if your clothes get dirty?’
            ‘Then I’ll come home and let Mummy wash them,’ was the reply.
            The father shook his head.  ‘Are you sure you’re running away from home and not going to university…?’

Sunday, 9 August 2015

And I Guess That’s Why They Call it the (Holiday) Blues

Coming back to the UK after holidaying abroad can be a bit of a downer, and it’s nothing to do with all the suitcases of laundry, an empty fridge or a zillion emails in your inbox.  No, it’s more to do with being transported from golden sunshine and sapphire-blue seas to instant grey skies and a weather report that states the obvious…a chance of showers.  If you peer out of an aeroplane window, you always know when Britain is coming up because there’s an army of clouds over the Channel.  It’s almost as if there is a cosmic climate sentry announcing, ‘Rubbish weather zone coming up.’
          Perversely, at the time of blogging, it’s super sunny again.  But who knows how long it will last?
  The British summer is always a fickle one.  Anyway, I digress.
          My holiday blues took place the following morning when I walked into the kitchen to put the kettle on.  It was an absolute bummer not to encounter worktops displaying umpteen types of cold meats, twenty different cheeses, several cereal options, ten types of bread, and a rainbow of fruit all accompanied by a full English.  Slotting two pieces of bread into the toaster just didn’t do it for me.  Ditto the après-breakfast scene. On holiday the only executive decision to be made is whether to head for the pool or the beach.  Once home, there is only one option and it’s non-negotiable. Get your bottom on your typing chair and try not to sigh too heavily as you log on to your computer.
          Now it might well be that you didn’t go abroad for your vacation, instead taking pot luck with the weather and opting for a British holiday delight…the Cornish coast, a cottage in the Cotswolds, or even a caravan in the Highlands.  But I’ll bet the Holiday Blues still kicked in at some point!
          My daughter’s holiday blues settled the moment her plane landed at Gatwick Airport.
          ‘Oh, Mum,’ she cried as she drooped through the front door.  ‘It was so beautiful.  The sand was white.  The sea was clear! And every day we were hot. Really hot.  Like stinking hot.’  My daughter paused, one finger hovering over the thermostat in the hall.
          ‘What are you doing?’ I asked sharply.
          ‘Switching the heating on.’
          ‘But it’s July.’
          ‘I know, and it’s freezing.’
          ‘Go and put on a pair of jeans and a sweater.  And thermal socks.’
          ‘But nobody will see my tan!’
          Ah, the tan.  That is the other joy of going abroad.  Pale limbs, often the colour of alabaster, are kissed by the sun.  In a few days we’re the colour of a lobster.  By the end of the first week we’re golden brown.  And if we’re really lucky and blessed with the right genes, into the second week we turn the colour of tarmac.  Unfortunately, in the UK, the most we can really hope for is the lobster bit.
          Sometimes we can’t afford a break.  I always remember going away with my first husband to Frensham.  Back then we were skint and the ‘holiday’ was actually a Saturday…just the one Saturday you understand.  I’d flaked out on a dusty bank by the water’s edge and, like meat on a skewer, rotated every few minutes in an effort to achieve a fortnight’s deep tan in six hours.  With the help of a bottle of tan-accelerating lotion I almost achieved it too.
          Recently my son went to Japan on a dental elective.  However, once the study bit was out of the way, he made the most of every spare second in forty degrees of heat visiting exotic places, soaking up the music, the smells, the tastes, the language, until he was giddy with culture.  Did he suffer the holiday blues?  No.  His secret?  Two days after landing at Heathrow, he got on another plane and jetted off to Crete.  This is an example of having a holiday in order to get over another holiday.  Obviously we can’t all do this, but it’s very nice if you can!
          Meanwhile I’m doing everything possible to convince my body it’s still in holiday mode.  The moment work is over, I’m off to the local hair salon which has not one, but two, sunbeds!  Oh yeah, baby – bring it on.  For six whole minutes I can close my eyes and pretend I’ve been transported somewhere in the world that’s jungle-hot.  And then there’s the food.  Shepherd’s pie for tea?  No thanks.  Last night I was in our favourite Indian restaurant where, for an hour or two, my family and I listened to unfamiliar warbly music and overdosed on the sort of spices definitely not found in my kitchen cupboard.  It’s a bit of a compromise, but good enough. So if your holiday is yet to be taken, have a good one.  But if you're back and feeling miserable, start planning the next one! Which reminds me.
          A little boy scared his family one summer by disappearing during their lakeside holiday.  A dozen relatives searched the shoreline and surrounding forest and were very relieved when little Tommy was found playing in the woods.  His mother was so thankful.
          ‘Now listen to me,’ she said as she hugged Tommy tightly.  ‘From now on when you want to go somewhere you tell Mummy first, okay?’
          Tommy thought about if for a moment and then said, ‘Okay, Disney World…’

Sunday, 2 August 2015

By Golly, it's a Molly!

All my friends know I’m a dog lover.  Over the years I’ve had several waggy tailed friends, from an ankle-nipping terrier to an unflappable German Shepherd or three.  My last pooch was a tri-coloured female beagle that regarded herself as our fourth child.  In the seven month interval since Trudy Beagle’s departure from this planet, there has not been a day I’ve silently addressed her.  Miss you. Or, If you can hear me, send me another nutty pup like you.  I’ve even privately uttered, If it’s possible, come back to me again.  This mentality (some would put emphasis on the first two syllables) has no truck with my husband.  A born-again-atheist, Mr V has no fancy notions about talking to the dead, whether they are relatives or dogs.
          A couple of weeks ago we flew to Crete for the annual summer holiday.  We were only on Day Two when there, on the beach, my gaze fell upon something so delightful my whole face lit up.  Mr V’s head swivelled three-hundred-and-sixty degrees to observe what had captivated me.
          ‘No!’ was his immediate response.
          ‘There’s no harm in saying hello,’ I countered.
          ‘No!’ he repeated.
          ‘Well I’m going over,’ I said defiantly.
          ‘Then I’m going for a walk,’ he replied, equally defiant.  And off he stomped.
          Seconds later I was couched down on the sand patting two tiny puppies.
          ‘Aren’t they gorgeous!’ beamed a woman coming over.  ‘I’ve been here every day for the last week because I can’t leave these pups alone.’
          ‘Are they yours?’ I asked.
          The woman shook her head.  ‘Not yet, but I’m working on it.  I just need to persuade the husband.’
          ‘Ah,’ I said and gave her an understanding nod.  ‘Is he not a doggy person?’
          ‘On the contrary,’ her eyes widened.  ‘He loves dogs.  But that’s the problem, see?’  I regarded her blankly.  ‘We already have four dogs, three cats, a hamster, two rabbits, and a budgie.  If I take these pups, that’s six dogs, and my husband says it’s too many.’  Privately I agreed.  ‘And they’re so cute,’ she added, ‘and I’ve always wanted a beagle.’
          ‘A beagle?’  My stomach did a flip-flop.
          ‘Yes.  These are beagles.  Well, they’re not pure-bred, but I’d say they’re as near as dammit.’
          I looked at the pups again.  She was right.  My heart rate had started to gallop.  What if…?  No!  I stared at the frolicking puppies.  One had a thin white stripe going up her tan face, just like my old pooch.  I was starting to find it hard to breath.  The other had the typical wide blaze of a beagle.  I was just about to reach for the first pup, when it spotted something of interest and evaded me.  Instead the second puppy with the big wide blaze looked up at me shyly.
          ‘I’ve named them,’ said the woman.  ‘The one that’s just charged off is Cookie.  And this one here,’ she indicated the little lady holding my gaze, ‘is Molly.’
          The moment she said the puppy’s name, something exploded in my brain.  This was it!  This was our new pup!
          ‘I have a cat,’ I laughed, ‘called Dolly.’
          ‘Reckon you ought to have this pup then,’ the woman nudged me in the ribs. ‘Molly and Dolly. Sounds like they’re made for each other.’
          ‘You’re absolutely right.’  I was grinning so widely my lips were almost meeting at the back of my head.
          Mr V chose that precise moment to return but didn’t stop, instead marching straight past me.
          ‘You’ll never guess what her name is!’ I called after him.  ‘Molly!’
          Only one word floated back.  ‘No!’
          ‘Where is their mother?’ I asked Danai, the young lady manning the water sports beach hut.  At night the puppies slept there.
          ‘Dead,’ she replied.
          It transpired the mother had given birth to nine puppies, buried three alive who subsequently suffocated, and was just attempting to bury Molly when rescue came in the form of the lovely Danai.  The mother then keeled over leaving six orphaned puppies.  Undaunted, Danai took them into the beach hut.  There, she juggled hand-rearing tiny pups with the day job. In due course local families took four of the puppies, but the last two remained unwanted.
          As the days rolled seamlessly into one another, going to the beach became a twice-daily ritual.  I was happy to keep my husband company on a two mile walk through shifting sand and foaming waves, but make no mistake about it – the real attraction of Lyttos Beach was a five-week-old puppy called Molly.
          ‘Give her a little stroke,’ I encouraged my husband.
          ‘No!’ came the reply.
          ‘What harm does a small pat on the head do?’ I demanded. ‘Where’s your compassion?’
          ‘No!’ was the familiar answer.
          By this point I’d told my family, friends, everybody on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all about Molly.  The response was unanimous:  Get that puppy home!
          Please can we keep Molly?’ I begged my husband.
          ‘But why?’
          ‘Because it’s not the right time.’
          ‘Why isn’t it the right time?’
          ‘It just isn’t.’
          ‘But why?’
          ‘There are thousands of dogs in the UK that need rescuing.’
          ‘But I want this one.’
          My husband turned to me in exasperation.  ‘Why Molly?’
          ‘Because she’s Trudy,’ I blurted.
          My husband regarded me silently.  ‘She’s not Trudy,’ he said softly.
          ‘Well if she’s not Trudy, then surely Trudy found her.  It’s just too coincidental – a little beagle that’s had a terrible start to life.  I can’t leave her in Crete.’
          By the end of the first week my husband was resigned to me disappearing down to the beach hut.  Behind his back I furtively put out feelers for assistance in getting Molly home.
          ‘I’m worried about your husband’s reaction,’ said Danai.  She didn’t know whether to applaud my rebellion or wring her hands in despair.  ‘He won’t be happy.’
          It’s not often I go head-to-head with Mr V, but inevitably the moment arrived.  I waited until he had three gin and tonics in him to soften the blow.
          ‘I’m telling you now,’ I said thrusting my jaw out, ‘that Molly is coming back to the UK.’
          And this time my husband changed the spelling of his usual response to know and preceded the word with I.
          I stared at him incredulously.  ‘Pardon?’
          ‘I know,’ Mr V repeated.
          I was just about to fling my arms around his neck when he warned that riding rough-shod over his wishes meant he would be making some plans too.  ‘I’ll be getting a season ticket to Old Trafford.’
          ‘Do what you like!’ I crowed happily.
          So while Mr V is charging up the M1 to Manchester, I shall be taking long walks with Molly Beagle.  And just to conclude, this story has a double happy ending.  A lovely German couple stepped forward and took Cookie home with them.  I’ve since raised my eyes heavenwards to thank Trudy
Beagle, who I feel sure has had a hand…or a paw…in all of this.  Roll on September when Molly Beagle comes to England.  Which reminds me.
Creation, According to the Beagle
          On the first day of creation, God created the beagle.
          On the second day, God created man to serve the beagle.
          On the third day, God created the refrigerator to serve as potential food for the beagle.
          On the fourth day, God created the dustbin for the beagle to raid.
          On the fifth day, God created the tennis ball so that the beagle might or might not retrieve it.
          On the sixth day, God created furniture for the beagle to loll all over.
          On the seventh day, God tried to rest, but He had to walk the beagle…