This morning I run around the Park with Caspar, Houdini and a Stick. It is excellent, as following the rain there is Extra Mud. The Owner stands watching, as Caspar and I extract Houdini from several hedges and save a Small Human from ambush by a particularly unpleasant duck. She claps her hands together to stay warm as we race in clouds of steaming breath up and down the hill, and has conversations with Caspar’s Owner about Jeremy the Beagle, the Election and the Prime Minister’s Cake.
I do not understand why the Owner does not Join In. We would include her in All our Games.
In the afternoon, after an inordinately long spell spent staring silently at her computer, we go to the Park again. I have to tow the Owner to get her in there as she seems to feel the need to go to the coffee shop first. Once more there is mud, and running, and many happy dogs, but once again the Owner does not join in. As I leap joyfully into the lake she stands on the bank insisting it is too chilly to be wet.
I thought it would be good for her. And it would have washed the Mud off her Labour Party T shirt.
This evening it is dark and raining. The wind howls and rages against the windows. I am ready for bed. Outside the sky is black. With things in it. Some of them are rain but I believe I can hear an Evil Owl and the Faint Creak of a Zombie.
The Kitchen is Warm and Cosy and I can hear my bedtime biscuits in the cupboard. Now, unaccountably, the Owner says she is going out. Into the dark and raging weather dominated by Evil Owls and Creaking Zombies.
I say where are you going?
The Owner has wrapped herself in an Enormous Coat. She pulls the hood over her head. She looks like Scott of the Antarctic. I may be Gone for Some Time, she says.
I curl up in my bed. It is okay, I say nobly, I can Forego my Walk for now. I would not want you to Get Wet.
She says this is not a Walk, she is going to the Gym, as she needs some exercise.
Some Exercise? Is she Mad? I look at the Wild and Stormy Blackness in which Marxist Dreams are Dying. I think I hear the faint sound of Jeremy the Beagle Howling Mournfully about Socialist Values into the Unforgiving Night. The Evil Owls are clearly massing. Somewhere on the Other Side of London the Prime Minister is Hooting. You cannot Exercise in this, I say.
I will exercise in the Gym, she says. It is like the Kitchen, but without the Food.
I say I cannot see the point of a Kitchen without the Food. What do you do in a Gym? I ask.
She says she puts on neon clothes and runs on the spot.
What about the Evil Owls and Zombies? I ask.
They do not run, she says. They do not look good in neon clothes.
Are there other people in the gym? I ask.
Many, she says. Also wearing neon clothes and running.
Do they chase you? I ask.
Not usually, she says.
Do they play with sticks? I ask.
No, she says. They do not have sticks.
Do they pull each other out of hedges, I ask?
No, she says. There are no hedges.
Is there Mud, I ask?
No, she says, it is extremely clean.
Do they have Engaged Political Conversations about the Power of the Proletariat? I ask.
No, she says, they wear earphones and listen to Ed Sheeran.
Is he a Zombie? I ask.
Not noticeably, she says. At least not yet.
I suppose that is something.
Is there a Pond? I ask.
There is a kind of Pond, she says, but one in which you must swim in straight lines and in which no Dogs are allowed.
This sounds like a ridiculous sort of pond to me. I suppose there is no Fox Poo? I ask.
None at all, she says, this is one of the Many Excellent Qualities of the Gym.
I say the gym sounds like an extraordinarily sterile place, devoid of Moral Dogs, Wild Excitement and Profound Political Debate.
She says that may be why people go there just to Exercise.
How do you not Fade Away with Boredom? I ask. When you are Running on the Spot, speaking to Nobody, with No Sticks and No Hedges and No Fox Poo?
Well, she says, I imagine I am running round the Park with the Moral Dog.
I do not understand it at all.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.