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  • Writer's pictureJohn Hemming-Clark

The sorry tale of Dirty Dog

Apparently three weeks is how long it takes to get used to a new situation. In that time we go through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

In the current situation we should by now all be on acceptance. We've started to learn new skills, do things we've been putting off, maybe stop things we shouldn't have begun in the first place. We're engaging more with the people around us, with our home and in our garden.

The H-Cs are no different. Last weekend my son decided to learn a new skill: he was going to make granola. "It shouldn't be too difficult," I told him. "It's only burnt oats and stuff with added sugar."

Nevertheless he researched it thoroughly, worked out the quantities, how to mix it, what needed roasting and for how long. He was very thorough and keen to produce a cereal to compare favourably to the best one can buy.

Unfortunately I stumbled across his effort on the work surface sitting in a deep roasting tin. It was still warm. "I'm just waiting for it to cool down dad," he explained. I took one look at it and decided that it resembled a cat litter tray that had received less than prompt attention for several days.

In my study I had a "dirty dog." It was a fake poo. It was very realistic. It was my pride and joy and has lived with me for many years, tucked securely away in a secret drawer. It did have a proper demonstration use that I won't go into now but it mostly had another purpose: to amuse me when dropping it into the lady of the house's favourite and reassuringly expensive blue leather handbag. She was never amused. My son, on the other hand, had rarely come across it - until last Saturday. It looked so realistic, nestled amongst the steaming granola. "That will amuse him," I thought as I went out into the garden.

When I returned to the kitchen at lunchtime there was no sign of the granola or "dirty dog." Just then my son appeared. He was looking very distraught. "What's the matter?" I asked.

"I can't believe it," he said, looking close to tears. "I put so much into making that granola. I was so proud of myself but then I found that Felix had used it as his litter tray. I'm so upset. I had to throw it all away. Such a waste."

I could hardly own up; he would probably have killed me, so I said, "Oh dear," and went out and bought him all the ingredients again plus several beers.

It got to Wednesday and I was still working out how to tell my son the truth when my daughter suddenly said, "He does know, you know." "Know what?" I asked.

"About the granola and the 'dirty dog'. The granola is safely in a big glass jar in his bedroom." I was more keen on knowing where "dirty dog" was so I went and apologised - and then asked him.

"I can't believe it took you four days to own up dad," he said. "Anyway, thanks for the beers. I've been keeping 'dirty dog' safe and I'll put it in your study later.

I found it that evening sitting on my chair. It had emerged fairly unscathed from its journey into the granola and back to my study via the underside of a bed although it was looking a bit sort of dusty and had taken on a slightly burnt sugar aroma. I picked it up and caressed it lovingly. I then thought that for old time's sake I would drop it into the lady of the house's handbag just one more time. She had just arrived home and was having her dinner. I sneaked off to find her handbag; I opened it and popped "dirty dog" in.

On Thursday morning my son came into my office and asked me if I had found "dirty dog." "On the chair, yes. Thank you," I said.

"I didn't put it on the chair dad. I stuck it on the bookshelf up there, look." I couldn't look, not at first. I just glanced. But it was there. Not dusty, and with no burnt sugar aroma. I felt quite ill. And when the lady of the house came home and said that she was going to castrate the cat even though it already had been, my son said that for my own physical wellbeing I ought to go back out into the garden.

I've only just been allowed back in. I have yet to ask where "dirty dog" is. It's not on my bookshelf.

Anybody know where I can buy a reasonably priced blue leather handbag?

UPDATE: I offered to be a guinea pig for the lady of the house's DIY blond highlights, "Just in case I do it wrong and it goes green." Now I understand if you say that I deserved this but I'm sure she must have added something to the mix. May lockdown continue for a little longer yet.

More giggles with "The Very Secret Diary of Horace Horrise." Amazon:

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