The rain lashes down and the wind hurls itself violently against my window-panes. But I welcome it.
For it has ushered away the fireworks which, for this year, have been somewhat excessive. I'll admit that they terrify me. The pretty colours - yes. The ear-splitting bangs - no. I am happy for what they represent - the foiling of terrorism (albeit 17th Century terrorism, but terrorism nonetheless), but the noise does trouble me. Ah well. 'Tis only once a year - though the bangs seem to continue from 5 November to 31 December. I never mind the New Year ones, however. My partner and I are often in the thick of the party at New Year's and far too merry to worry about a quick bang or two... so to speak, heh heh...
My, but what a troubling past few days we have had in this household. My partner attended a funeral on Friday and a funeral today. And, in between, a costume fitting for one of her pantomime costumes (although this took place very close to the site of some of my partner's happy memories with BC for the beleaguered young girl, which was in itself a funeral of sorts. Oh poo. I've mentioned him again, haven't I? Sorry - won't happen again). Never mind - her costume was truly lovely, and made by a lady named Sally - a seamstress of extreme talent. My partner's red dress is fabulous (think The Lion in Winter).
But enough of this. Life in the workplace has been traumatic enough even without any of the above.
A few days ago, Ewan and his new basket-mate, Fizzy, joined me in the office under a distinctly dark cloud. Ewan immediately padded softly up to me.
"Shhhhh!" he hissed. "We aren't allowed to talk to Fizzy today."
"Why not?" I asked.
"I can't remember. But she isn't allowed to go outside by herself." No matter. A quick glance and sniff at Fizzy told me the truth. She looked mutinous and was wearing an expression which distinctly said "unless you are bringing me a hot-water bottle, a blanket and a BIG bag of doggy-chocolates, DO NOT approach me." I crept up to her to ascertain the truth, by way of commiserating with her. The truth duly confirmed, I returned quietly to Ewan.
"It's alright, Ewan. It won't last long." I said, patting his paw. "Fizzy is on heat."
The perpetually cerebrally-disadvantaged Ewan squinted at Fizzy and regarded her for some time, with his head on one side.
"Are you SURE, Jasper?" he asked. "Her bottom doesn't LOOK sore."
"Well, I would expect her bottom to be burned." continued Ewan, still looking confused., "If she was sitting on some fire."
"No, Ewan." I said, patiently, "She isn't literally ON heat. I mean she's in season." I went on quickly, seeing Ewan's lips beginning to form the word "Autumn". "It is Fizzy's Period, so she has got a sore tummy and is feeling a bit cranky. She has got the decorators in." The poor mutt looked more confused. I tried again. "Surfing the crimson wave?" Nope. "On the blob?" Still nothing. One more. "Ewan, Fizzy is ovulating."
"AHHH!!! Oh yes, of course. Silly me. Right. Yes. Ovulating. Brilliant. Yes."
"Do you understand, then?"
I sighed. A deep sigh, full of meaning. How to explain female biology to one who struggles to comprehend his own bodily functions.
"Right, I've got it." I said, grasping Ewan's collar with my teeth and leading him into the next room, so as not to disturb poor Fizzy. "Ewan. Imagine you are a farmer. You want to plant some potatoes. With me so far?"
"Oh yes." replied Ewan, "I like potatoes."
"Good." I said. "Now then. You, Farmer Ewan, will want to choose a time to plant your potatoes. Naturally, you will choose a time when the soil is at its most fertile."
"But, of course." nodded Ewan.
"Exactly. Well, Fizzy is the soil. Dogs like you and me - well, before the operation of which we do not speak - dogs are the farmer with the potato. OK?"
"Good. Right, well then. Fizzy being 'on heat' means that she is very, specially, fertile at this moment. And Farmer Unsnipped-Dog will want to plant his potato-seed in her private-ladies'-place-SOIL at this time. THAT is why Fizzy has to be kept inside, away from naughty Farmer-Unsnipped Dog and his potato seed just now. And why Fizzy is sore inside and a bit irritable. Do you understand what I mean?"
Thankfully, Ewan nodded and actually LOOKED like he understood. Phew. I took him out for a game of football in the yard, to celebrate this breakthrough, and also to keep him away from Fizzy.
Some two or three hours later, I was dozing peaceably under my partner's desk. I heard a few mutterings coming from the other office, followed by a sudden snarl and growl and then a shrill yelp, which made me jump into wakefulness. Ewan came belting into the office, trying to stem the bleeding from a nasty little nip to his snout with a paw.
"Ewan, what on EARTH did you SAY to Fizzy?!" I cried.
"Nothing, Jasper." he replied, innocently.
I nodded, with a weary sense of inevitability, as Ewan replied
"I asked Fizzy if I could plant a potato in her private-ladies' place."
That'll be the last time that I tangle with Ewan and the mysteries of female ovulation. I guarantee you this.