Aldous and his wife

They dropped in to deliver us their dog. Aldous came first, carrying the basket which he plunked on top of our dining-table along with a week’s supply of feed. His wife came after, nursing the animal in her arms. Are you going to look after my baby? she asked my youngest daughter who stood ready to welcome the visitors.

They hadn’t brought any aspirin for the dog after all. Aldous had found that aspirin helped with rheumatism, his wife had told me on a previous occasion. Their dog being a bit ‘rheumaticky’, she administers her the drug every other day. Only a quarter of a tablet, mind you, she said, she’s only got a small body. I was willing to keep the therapy going and had asked to be provided with a tablet cut into four. However, she had decided that the dog could go without the drug for a week.

Aldous and his wife were in their travelling clothes, ready to fly to the Continent. They were going to do a little shopping locally, Aldous explained, a few nuts and raisins, useful things to have on a journey. We understood, one never knows what will happen to one when travelling, possibly stuck for any length of time in aeroplanes or at airports… I praised his foresight. His wife was wearing a nice new skirt. I complimented her on it and she said it came from a town in Wales, one of these places which were fifty years behind. You must go there, you would love it, she said to me. Aldous added: Actually, that’s one of the nice things in this country, I believe he included the remainder of the British Isles, fifty years behind. He said it quite seriously, too. I felt like telling them, I knew people in this country who were even two hundred years behind homeopathically speaking, but refrained.

We wished them a good time. He pretended not to look forward to ‘all the work’, three different lectures to be given. Also he would have to be very ‘correct’ with all these people on the Continent, and he made a stiff little bow to the wall to indicate what he meant and how he assessed ‘them over there’. I said, no problem for you. His wife laughed as though she wasn’t sure. I added, as far as I know you, anyway. He laughed now and said they had to go. They would pick up their dog as soon as they were back. I asked them not to look out for presents for us, we didn’t want any. She said, we were ‘very good’ and he asked, didn’t we want a cuckoo clock? I said ‘no’, wondering what he’ll do about that problem.

When they had left, I put the dog’s basket under the table where she sat up for quite a while, until she relaxed and lay down. The children are keen to take her ‘walkies’. I hope the novelty won’t wear off too quickly.