It’s a good time to be around Lurgashall at the moment. The Pub is full of tourists, all having their lunch outside while watching the cricket on the village green. So while my boss (you know, the one who spends hours in front of the computer drawing all those cards…) was doing just that last Saturday, me and my mate Molly got out through the hole in the hedge and went over to the Pub.
This hole is a bit of a hoot. The back garden is a rather fine affair, with a pond, numerous flower beds, a summer house where my boss used to sit and paint before she discovered computers, a rose pergola or two, another pond and all surrounded by a hedge. A few months ago, this garden was reputedly made dog proof by the erection of a wired fence and the blocking up of all my carefully dug escape routes. Well you can’t expect any self-respecting mutt to take that on the snout and meekly obey the new regime, so we have a game, me and my boss.
Every week or so, I find a new escape route. Shortly after, my boss blocks it up...or so she thinks. I let a couple of days go by, and then dig another one. Of course things go in my favour when some human leaves the gate open. It really is quite a laugh to watch the humans searching the hedge for my latest escape route, when all they have to do is close the gate! So I’m now known as the Chairman of the Escape Committee: Molly is the only other member at the moment, but I’m hoping to recruit a few more before long.
Actually, Molly got diverted on our way to the Pub. She’s a typical Labrador (russet colour, apparently a superior version of yellow), and spends most of her life chasing balls. Well, half way to the Noah’s Ark (that’s the name of the Pub), one of the cricketers wallops the ball over the boundary, and suddenly Molly is off. She reaches the ball long before any of the perspiring fielders, and the last I saw she was haring off down the lane, gleefully, ball in mouth, hotly pursued by several even more perspiring cricketers.
While all this is going on, there’s a collection of kids who have emerged from the village shop with sweets and other goodies. They’re all sitting on the grass, so I go over and join in. I can look incredibly appealing when I want to – sit bolt upright, head just to one side, ears forward…they fall for it every time. Next thing all the kids are competing to feed me, and before you know it, I’ve had half a packet from one little boy. It eventually dawns on him that he has hardly had any of the sweets, so he rushes in to buy some more. I really think I ought to get a commission from Pam, who runs the shop, for this selfless act of sacrifice in helping her to do more business - I shall never understand why she eventually puts me on a lead and takes me home…
After a while, I head off back to the Pub. At the first table there’s a rather nice family with their two kids – such people are always good news. The elder child has been given something healthy to eat, when all he wants is pizza and chips. So I sidle up, do my usual act, and suddenly there is mutual understanding between him and me – he hates the food, so surreptitiously passes the food to yours truly. By the time anyone notices, I’ve disappeared, his plate is empty, and he gets an ice cream for eating up his lunch. I regard this as another of my public service duties.
By now, the cricketers have re-emerged, still chasing Molly who still has the ball in her mouth and thinks it is so nice to have all these people in cricket whites to play with. Whether it is this commotion, or merely the fact that it is one o’clock and therefore "time for a sharpener", Malcolm emerges from Pear Tree Cottage heading towards the Ark. Malcolm is the owner of Molly (or is it the other way round…), and strides across the green, issuing the imperious command "Molly SIT!" Molly stops, but is obviously confused, as here is someone else to join in her game, but who isn’t dressed in white.
After a split-second pondering this dilemma, Molly picks up the ball and heads off towards the next village.
Back outside the Pub, a couple of families are sitting together having lunch. One has to be a bit careful, because mine host does a rather fine curry, if you are into that sort of thing, which I most definitely am not. Anyway, some of this lot are having curry and perspiring profusely, so I give them a wide berth.
On the next table, there’s a collection of townies – out here, you can spot them a mile off. They’re obviously successful – well they must be, otherwise why else would they be telling everybody in such loud voices? Anyway, one of the ladies has a pooch sitting on her lap – pretty little thing, time was when I could quite fancy sharing a bone with her…I digress, such ladies with pooches are usually good news, so I sidle up and start the old routine all over again. I hadn’t even got to cocking my ears before the first titbit came my way. I’ve always said that townies are good for the rural economy.
Sadly this excellent sport is soon knocked on the head by the arrival of my boss for her lunchtime pint. It has taken her a couple of hours to realize that I’m missing, so I haven’t done too badly. When she does appear, it is usually with a lead, and I soon find myself inside the Pub, on the end of said lead. Still, all is not lost – here’s someone with a bag of crisps…steady now…sit still, head to one side...