Over the last week it has turned cold in the UK.
Well, cold for the UK, anyway. For any nation that is actually prepared for cold weather it is just “a bit chilly”. But for us, it’s cold enough that the weather once again becomes the number-one topic of conversation (knocking X-Factor into second place, which is No Bad Thing) and forcing our entire transport network to a halt. Hey ho.
Saturday morning sees me strapping the kids into the car, to take them to a hellish primary school “Christmas Fayre”. Which is seasonal-code for “we’re gonna fleece you of all your money, one 50p after another, and you will have to drive home a carload of crap that your daughter bought from the second-hand stall because it was pink and glittery”.
It is a cold morning. As I strap the kids in, I notice – out of the corner of my eye – a DEAD PUPPY CURLED UP IN THE FOOTWELL. It must have hitched a lift in the car yesterday, and died of exposure overnight. It is still, and pale, and blotchy.
On closer examination, I discover that it is stone-cold. Literally, in fact: it’s a small statue.
“What on earth is this doing here?” I ask the world in general. Favourite-son and favourite-daughter inform me that “granny gave it us, for our new garden!”. I am an animal lover, so consider it a relief that the only dead-thing around here is apparently my mother’s sense of taste. I perform a quick mental estimation, involving probable cubic-capacity of her belfry and the population of bats therein.
The statue is a disturbing, ghastly thing. Cold and lifeless features that elude to some sort of terrier, curled-up asleep. It looks like a gargoyle has pushed-out an enormous Mister-Whippy in the back of my car. Just for a moment, I am sorry that none of my friends are doing that “who can give each other the tackiest present this Christmas” competition … because I’m looking at a sure-fire winner, right here.
I leave our new family-addition on the backseat and we head on our way. Perhaps I’ll abandon it at that house with all those horrible little gnomes. They can worship it as some sort of god.
That evening I attend a get-together Christmas meal with some former work colleagues. It’s at a pub in Leamington. I find a parking spot right outside.
I leave at about 10pm. Outside there is the usual Smokers’ Union contingent – in particular, there are two women right beside my car. Though it is close to freezing outside, they are exercising their god-given right to wear clothes that would give their fathers a screaming fit.
“Excuse me, could I …” I gesture at my car with my keys.
One of them turns on me. She has apparently drunk enough to be aggressive, but not so much that her shoes are going to break her neck. “Is this your car, you fucking tosser?”
Perhaps she doesn’t like Ford as a brand. People can be funny that way. “Er, yes?”
“What are you fucking playing at, leaving a dog in there on a night like this?”
In her defence: it is a poorly lit street, and it is partially covered by a child’s coat. And that statue did catch me out this morning, so I shouldn’t really mock her too much. But I do.
“Oh, I’m sure he’s fine!” I say “He just likes coming for the ride.” I unlock the car, open the back door, then slap my thighs, and shout “Come on Scraps! Come on boy! Here boy! Here!”. Then I pause, reach in, lift out the statue (it’s bloody heavy, but it would spoil the pantomime if I let-on) and hold it out to her. I tap the statue, making sure to use my nail to emphasise the ting ting ting against the stone.
“You might be right.” I tell the RSPCA’s local delegate: “he’s frozen solid! Look, he’s hard as a rock!”
She throws her fag-end to the floor. “Dickhead” she mutters, and walks back inside.
At least her friend laughed.
If anyone takes a fancy – Scraps is having a kip on my patio. Help yourself.