I am Very Excited to be Going to the Inn. Inside it is as Merry as Mr Fezziwigg’s party. People are clinking their glasses and exchanging Merry Greetings. There is Music and Festivity and the Scent of Plum Pudding and Chips. It is as if Everyone has learned the lesson of Scrooge.
Do not be Too Excited, says the Owner. We are merely having Dinner. The Moral Dog has Already Had His.
I know this, I said. I am well aware that the Moral Dog’s Frugal Diet is Carefully Balanced to give him All He Needs within carefully formed if Rather Uninteresting Biscuit-type Puppy Duck and Rice.
Yes, says the Owner, it is.
Other than Conviviality, I add.
What was that? Asks the Owner.
Nothing, I say. I am well aware that the Moral Dog is banished under the Table, confined to Relative Darkness and a Degree of Social Exclusion. The Moral Dog Knows His Place. But I thought we might nevertheless share a Convivial Beer and a Merry Seasonal Song.
You cannot have a Convivial Beer, says the Owner, ordering fish and chips. You are a Dog.
What, never? I say.
Never, says the Owner.
What about the Merry Seasonal Song? I ask.
Absolutely not, says the Owner. People will think the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come has Returned for Another Go.
It is Not My Fault I am Still a Soprano, I say.
No Howling, says the Owner. And No Beer.
These Rules sound rather Absolutist, I say. Richard Dawkins does not have much truck with Absolutism. He says that Moral Absolutism lies at the root of all kinds of intransigent attitudes in the World, from the annexation of Crimea to why they worship Prince Philip on the Island of Tama.
It is not Absolutist to Deny your Dog Beer, says the Owner. Absolutism holds that moral commands are true in all situations, so they do not consider Consequences. I am considering the Consequences of you having a Beer. You Would Not Like It.
Surely, I say, as an Autonomous Dog that is My Decision.
No, says the Owner. I know I am Right.
You cannot Just Know you are Right, I say. The People of the Prince Philip Cult on the Island of Tama are equally certain that Prince Philip is a God, I say, but that does not make them Right.
No, says the Owner, but it does not make them Wrong, either. If you have Beer you will Be Sick and Fall Over. That is the End of the Matter.
I put my Chin on the Owner’s Knee. I bet Prince Philip would let me have a Beer, I say.
Then it is a Good Job it is not Up To Him, says the Owner.
Excuse me Miss, says a Small Human at the Next Table, Your Dog Looks Really Sad.
He is not Sad he is Humbug, says the Owner. Completely Humbug.
Mummy, says the Small Child, that Lady says her Dog is Humbug. He is under the table with No Food and she is having Chips.
There are barely concealed Gasps from the Family.
Now look what you’ve done, says the Owner. Everyone thinks I am Scrooge.
I think we should buy him Chips, says the Man.
Please buy him Chips, says the Small Human. It is Christmas after all.
The Waiter appears Suspiciously Quickly. I hear Chips are required? He says.
I suppose it would be Better than Nothing, I say.
Could my Dog have a Small Portion of Chips? Asks the Owner. But no Beer.
Very well, I say sorrowfully, no Beer. I will gaze upon the Beer longingly and Make Do with Chips.
Good, says the Owner.
I will do my best to enjoy the Chips, I say.
The Table Next Door relaxes slightly.
Although, I say. It will not take me long to eat them. I could then do Verse One of Do They Know It’s Christmas. The part with the line about the Clanging Chimes of Doom. I am very good at That Part.
Oh Please No, says the Owner.
A Large Portion of Chips, says the Man.
I hiccup a little. I could just do the Chorus, I say.
What else do you want? The Man asks. Ketchup?
Tomato please, I say. And Ice Cream for pudding. Rum and Raisin.
The Owner crosses her eyes.
I settle down with my Chips. It is extremely Convivial. There is plenty of ketchup. I am Very Much enjoying the Inn. The Small Human seems pleased and his Family have stopped giving the Owner That Look. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come seems to have Vacated the Building.
The Owner leans over to the Man. You do know That Dog Hates Beer, Don’t You? Always has, always will.
Damn, says the Man.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.