I had intended to use my latest blog entry to delight you with tales of my Welsh holiday. But instead, I climb to my keyboard to share with you a piece of tawdry gossip which I picked up today.
To the park with Maisie this afternoon I bent my steps, there to meet my friends, Candy and Harvey. Candy and I were chatting amicably, waiting for Harvey to turn up, when the little tan Staffie suddenly came bounding up to us, almost bursting with excitement.
"You will never GUESS what happened just 'round the corner from me!" he yipped, breathlessly, "You won't BELIEVE it!!"
Candy and I exchanged a glance.
"Go on, then." I said.
"I got it off Starsky - it's DEFINITELY true!"
Yes, dear reader, that Starsky. By way of a brief explanation, I discovered (some three weeks after I moved into my new home) that Harvey lives only a short distance away. Around the corner and down the road a bit, to be precise. Apparently, he and Starsky are fast friends. I have NOT told Harvey that I am his near neighbour and I do not intend to. Before you castigate me for being callous, let me remind you that Harvey has the brain of an intellectually subnormal Jammie Dodger. I have absolutely no doubt of what would ensue if he discovered my proximity to him, and the appearance every evening on my doorstep of Harvey and his football would be more than I could bear. However, I digress.
"Who's Starsky?" asked Candy.
"You know, that little white chap." yipped Harvey, impatiently.
"Oh yes." said Candy, "I don't really know him. But he always stops to sniff hello if we pass each other. He seems quite nice."
"He's a prat." I muttered.
"Shut up! Shut up!" squealed Harvey, almost beside himself, "I'm trying to tell you something."
Candy and I were silenced, and we waited for Harvey to bark his news.
"Well," he began, puffing out his chest for dramatic effect, "it happened a week or two ago, but I've only just heard. APPARENTLY, right, this dog and this rat broke into a cat's garden. Together. And the cat, well, she caught them and beat them up really badly, hehehe,"
I began to feel uneasy.
"Oh?" I said, trying to sound unconcerned.
"That's not all." said Harvey. Oh, dear G-d, what next? He continued: "THEN, right, some other cats came, and they all beat the dog and the rat some more. And then, right, they beat the rat so much he DIED. And THEN, right, they picked up the body of the rat, right, and used the body of the rat to beat the dog to death with! And THEN the rat's head fell off, so the cats cut the dog's head off too and they put both the heads on spikes and went dancing around the street waving the heads on the spikes and laughing and that."
Candy gave a little yelp.
"But that's not it." said Harvey. He leaned in closer to us and whispered confidentially. "Then, the cats cut the dog's willie off and made it into a flute, and they played music on it and sang and laughed and danced around the heads on spikes." Harvey sat back on his haunches, proud of his revelations, and nodded with a self-important smile. I didn't quite know what to bark.
"That can't be true." decided Candy. Harvey looked aggrieved for a moment and then he leaned in towards us again.
"Well, between ourselves," he whispered, "I don't think it was a flute they made from his willie. I think it was a piccolo."
"Oh, for Heaven's sake, Harvey." I sighed. "And you got this from Starsky?"
"Oh yes. But it's on all the news posts around the town. I sniffed it as well, on a bush outside my house."
"Actually, he's right." put in Candy, "I sniffed something about heads on poles on the park gates, come to think of it."
"Oh no!" I groaned.
"What?" asked Harvey.
"Oh! Er - ahem - well," I hastily replied, "Bit hard on the poor dog, er, whoever he was."
"Yeah, but what a chump!" said Harvey, snorting with laughter.
"Er, hehe, er yes..." I made a mental note to sniff out ALL of the news posts around the town that I could lift my leg on that afternoon, and download a fresh, unrelated, story over any repetitions of this bit of "news" that I could find. "Did, er, hehe, did Starsky say who the dog was?"
"Nope. He said he'd tried to warn him about the rat, but he didn't say who he was." I gave an internal sigh of relief.
"Harvey," barked Candy, who had largely been silent up to this point, "Are you sure about this? It does sound a bit far-fetched."
"Oh yes." replied Harvey, "Starsky was completely positive. For sure."
"It just, well," continued Candy, "I know I don't really know him and that, but he's really quite quiet. I just can't imagine him saying stuff like that."
"Well, he didn't exactly say all of it." replied Harvey, "Not all of it , exactly."
"Which bits DID he say?"
"Come on, Harvey." I put in, sensing some respite for my tormented mind, "Heads on spikes? Dancing and singing cats? Musical instruments made from willies?! Which bit of that is true?"
Harvey began to look somewhat crestfallen.
"HARVEY!" barked Candy sternly, suddenly losing her patience, "What did Starsky ACTUALLY tell you?!"
"Um..." mumbled Harvey, sullenly, "A rat and a dog went into a garden and a cat chased them out. But I think my version was better." And, with that, he slunk off to his partner to fetch his football. I turned to Candy.
"Candice, the boy gets worse by the day." I said, solemnly shaking my head, privately relieved that, at least, my name had not actually been associated with the sordid tale.
While Candy cheered Harvey up by playing football with him, I went down to the river and had a good, long, drink. I sensed that I would be covering up a great many spurious wee-mail posts that afternoon. I wasn't wrong.
A difficult lesson learned, I feel.