I was going to buy a new mattress at the weekend, but I was lazy and didn’t get around to it.
So I set off for ye olde bedde shoppe tonight full of purpose and resolve. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was, to find out that they were very well endowed in the mattress department. If they’d had a selection of three mattresses I would have been perfectly fine, but there appeared to be hundreds of them. It’s intimidating isn’t it? Because you don’t want to be seen making eyes at the budget, wouldn’t be seen dead in a prison cell or a hotel in Margate mattress, and by the same token, don’t want to pay over the odds for the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow version. So I made a token gesture of sitting on a few beds, wearing the same face I do in the supermarket when I try to look as if I really do know my avocados.
One of the assistants took pity on me after a while and came over: “Can I help you?” she said. “I’d like to buy a mattress” I replied confidently. “What size?” she asked, “Double” I said, (I really had the trick of this mattress buying malarkey). “King or Queen?”………”I’ll see you tomorrow” I said and slunk off.
So, full of mattress loss, a kind of ‘presque mattress’ I went home and took the dogs to the park.
It’s quite dark for our evening walks now, and it was later tonight so it was quite, quite dark, although in London it never goes entirely pitch even at the dead of night because the sky is suffused with a rosy glow of house and street lights. In one corner of the park there’s a pathway that cuts through, between overhanging trees, from some rather nice houses. There’s a solitary lamp at the park entrance to the pathway and at night it always reminds me of the entrance to Narnia.
Tonight another person was walking a dog in the opposite direction and it was obvious we would meet under the lamp light if we both carried on at the same pace. There’s a protocol here, if the other person hesitates or calls their dog then there’s every chance that they don’t trust their pooch or yours to behave, and it’s as well to detour or delay. But we both walked confidently on, and met under the pool of light.
Under the pool of light, I exchanged “good evenings” with a rather well to do, tweedy and expensive wellie boots looking lady who I supposed lived in one of the big houses down the path. She had an immaculately groomed King Charles spaniel with her, who sat down 6 feet behind her as soon as she stopped. “Dreadful weather isn’t it” she said. “Yes, awful” I offered, “and very dark too”. We exchanged a few more pleasantries about the weather when Toffee plonked himself down at her feet. He was right in front of her and looked up with his best winning gurn, “Oh he’s a dahling” she said and played with his ear…”we very nearly had a Springer, but decided on William instead, they’re just much better house pets, you know?”. I looked at Charlie who was weighing up the, well behaved, perfectly groomed poppet “what the f#ck have you come dressed as, and you’d better not do any weeing around here without asking me first”..
…she was saying something else, about how she hated the way that they cut back the trees at this time of year. And she looked down at Toffee again, “you are a good boy aren’t you?”
Toffee was looking back at her with his big brown solemn eyes, which had begun to cross, and when his tongue rolled out to one side I suddenly wished we were elsewhere. For a dog Toffee has quite a range of facial expressions and I’ve become used to reading most of them, the placid dopey looking expression on his face that she was observing at that moment was a certain precursor of something far more unpleasant going on at the other end.
“That’s luvvly”, “Keep playing wiv me ear missus….I’ve got a four pounder in the bomb bay and the doors are openin’”
“Ere we go, bombs away” and he shuffled forward into her hand.
She looked down and finally realised what was happing. Toffee smiled back at her from the wrong end of a foot of brown cable.
“Oh dear” she said, “oh dear, oh dear”….”William come along”
And as I fumbled around for a baggy in my pocket I almost, very nearly, apologised.
And then I thought, what the hell, he’s a dog for goodness sake, so instead I pointed at the offending turd and looked at her, and then at Toffee and said, “that’s a corker!!”