Doghouse Tails

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Doghouse Graphic by Amy the Ant

How Can a Chariot Swing Low?

The William Tell overture rudely kicks in inside the tartan pocket.

'What do you want Patrick?'

'You haven't bothered to open the shop have you? Haaaaa! Haaaaa! You won't get any customers today. Have you seen the weather?'

'Yes I've seen the weather, the weather has spent the last half hour entertaining me while I put the front out. I am in fact the weather's new best friend, we have a lot in common, we are both wet and foul.'

Why does he insist on annoying me on a Saturday morning? I have a shop full of annoyance as it is. Three Tweedles when there should only be two. A junior florist who looks like she's been up all night on E's and an owner-in-waiting rearranging the shelves and 'tutting' at my pricing with the voracity of a twenty-deep queue in the supermarket.
Saturday staff are supposed to work out the rota themselves. It really isn't that difficult, two on, two off, how complicated is that? I should have sent one of them home; I should have sent all of them home.

'You know the rugby's on don't you? No one will come out today. You won't make any money! Haaaaa! Haaaaa! And it is still your shop isn't it? Haaaaa! Haaaaa!'

'Was there anything else?'

'Well have you got a television down there? Those poor girls of yours might want to watch the match you know. Just because you don't like rugby doesn't mean you have to deprive them. Poor little things I don't know why they put up with you.'

'I take it that'll be no? In that case goodbye.'

'Hold on a minute! Don't you want to know what I'm doing today?'

Getting knocked down by a bus sounds good. I suppose a stampeding herd of wildebeest would be too much to ask for?

'Frankly no, but let me take a wild guess... you're going to watch the rugby?'


'You hate rugby. The only thing we both like about rugby is the boys' anatomy. You're not going to watch the rugby, you're going on a champagne house crawl.'

'Well that's not fair! I do too like rugby!'

'What's the name of the captain then? No I'll make it even easier name one player in either team?'

I've got him. He hasn't a clue.

'Well that's just stupid! I could say any name and you wouldn't know any difference - div!'

'Patrick I have a shop to run, albeit on a high street that currently resembles a nuclear fall out zone, but nevertheless I do have to run it. Now will you please s*d off!'

He's right though. We won't have any customers today. Even the traffic warden is conspicuous by her absence. What on earth am I going to find for the Tweedles to do? I suppose one of them could order breakfast. Let's see how many of us are there? Three Tweedles, one spaced out junior, the new owner-in-waiting and... Oh no! I thought Stan had gone home, how long does it take to cut the foliage for g*d's sake?

'Stan would you like some breakfast?'

'Oh that's very gracious of you, don't mind if I do. Bacon and egg sandwich please. I hope we stuff those b****y Aussies today don't you?'

Where did that 'I hope we stuff those b****y Aussies' come from? Stan you are sixty-eight, you have never travelled further than Brentford, no I'm wrong you have. You did your national service in Belgium and managed to pick up a healthy jingoistic loathing of all things Gaelic, but Australians? Have you ever met an Australian? And what on earth did they do to you to qualify for a b****y stuffing? Perhaps I could just ignore him? He never listens anyway. No, he definitely wants comment.

'I'm not really into rugby Stan.'

'Yes but you do want us to stuff 'em don't you? I bet they try and nobble Johnny.'

Obviously this Johnny character has something to do with our side, well I assume it's our side else why the plethora of red and white flags bedecking the village? No wonder we have wars.

'Clarissa would you order breakfast please. Stan wants a bacon and egg sandwich, I'll have a bacon, tomato, black pepper no butter, and check what everyone else would like.'

Well that's one of them organised, what on earth do I do with the rest?

*Brrrrrrrrrrr Brrrrrrrrr*

'Hello Atomic Anemones'

'It's me.'

Angela has a way with words.


I always think it's good to enter into the mood.

'I'm doing a huge lunch party and the flowers are dreadful! I've told lady M about you and she says can you come over and redo the whole house? Twelve table centres... they're eating in the ballroom, two huge vases for the sitting room, all the window sills, the hall...'

'Hold on! I do have a shop to run you know I can't just drop everything and come shooting over!'

What is the owner-in-waiting doing now? Good grief! Check lists for all the Tweedles and a white board for tasks; they'll love that. Clarissa has turned a rather fetching shade of green. Now what's she doing?

'Oh no!'

'What do you mean 'Oh no'?'

'Sorry Angela, the radio station's just been changed, we've got the rugby on... hold on... the rugby! We won't have any customers! Of course I can come! I'll bring a Tweedle with me. See you in half an hour!'


The owner-in-waiting has been busy in our absence. The shop is pristine. The office is immaculate. Where is my ashtray? Whose computer is that? Oh G*d it's mine, I never knew it was that colour. Oh look new trays and all neatly stacked with dish clothes, washing up liquid, scrubbing brushes... she's good; she'll be fine.

Some things never change.

'Hello Patrick.'

'I just haven't stopped! I've been so busy. I had to do the Acacia Avenue lot... you know the Kings and the Bishops. Then I had to meet the boys in the Queen Anne and of course all that crowd were in there and they're just so gorgeous and we had to drink lots of beer because that's what boys do.'

'Patrick I don't care. I am absolutely shattered but I have had the most delightful rugby-free day. Clarissa and I must be the only two people in the country that haven't a clue who won and we are feeling blissfully smug in our ignorance.'

'No! No! We won!'

So much for blissful ignorance.

'It was so so exciting! The score was even at full time and then it went into extra time and we won!'

Handy that. A couple of monumental cock-ups on the world stage, Bush's visit hardly a barrel of laughs, Blair trying to bring in identity cards and Surprise! Surprise! The rugby goes into extra time. Great piece of stage-managing... suddenly we're all proud to be British again.

'If you haven't bought me a bottle of wine, you're dead!'


'OK! You might just live to see tomorrow.'

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