Well, actually, to be honest they aren't exactly mine. Because of one or two minor (hardly significant, really) misdemeanours committed by me over the past twelve months (I trust I need not refer to them again), my partner felt it would be helpful if she and I sat down together and drew up a mutually-agreed list of improving resolutions. This process involved my partner compiling a list for me, whilst I pretended to listen. I believe I almost perfected a way of sleeping with my eyes open, whilst grunting at occasional intervals to delude my partner into thinking that I was paying attention and in agreement with her. Here is "my" list:
- I will temper the severity of my bottom-gas when accompanying my partner in public; particularly in enclosed spaces such as the pub.
- I will direct expulsions of bottom-gas in an appropriate direction during our hours of repose, and not send it towards my partner's face.
- I will submit to a fair share of our duvet, relative to our respective sizes, and not remove the whole from my partner's sleeping form for my own private use.
- If, when out for my daily exercise, I meet a dog of whom I am not fond, I will not use toilet-words barked at an inordinately high volume.
- I will desist from begging for food until at least ½ an hour has elapsed following my dinner.
- I will cease trying to persuade Ewan (dog) that he can suckle milk from the single "udder" of Graham (the huge and permanently annoyed bull in the field opposite our office). It is unfunny and potentially dangerous.
- The events of 1 October 2009 will never - under any circumstances - be repeated.
I hoodwinked my partner into thinking that I accepted these self-improving suggestions, all the while cackling to myself as I remembered the past glories that led to these dictates. Hehehe...
The BBC radio station has warned us that my part of the country is to expect between twelve and sixteen inches of snow tonight. As I stand some eighteen inches high, I haven't decided whether or not I should be looking forward to this. The snowfall has begun in earnest. I fear the weather forecasters may be correct.
A small crowd of shoppers had joined the group of girls, to see what they were so agitated by, and I began to grow uneasy, in addition to my pain. My man did not like people "interfering" and I was therefore under no illusions about the level of beating I would receive if he should return to find all these people gawping at me and his van. The onlookers seemed united in their distress at and condemnation of my appearance, which I struggled to comprehend. I blinked back at them, but couldn't seem to summon up the energy to wag my tail.
The sound of running footsteps parted the crowd and I looked up to see the two young girls who had fled the scene a moment or two ago returning with a tall young man in an important-looking dark blue outfit. There was a shining silver badge on his jacket and a black box affixed to his chest. I believed I may have been losing my mind, as I swear I heard voices emanating from this box. The young man wasted no time in assuming control of the situation. He checked all of the doors of the van and, when they all proved to be locked, he grasped a black stick-like item from his belt.
With one hefty strike, he smashed into the left passenger window. Glass showered onto the seat and my fur. Now I was REALLY going to be in trouble. I started to cry. I knew that I would be beaten so severely for this - and none of it had been my fault. Or had it...? Yes. It WAS my fault. I should have stayed in the back of the van and not squeezed through for the crisp. Oh, WHY had I done that? I surely deserved my punishment.
The young man who had smashed the window reached in through the hole and unlocked the passenger door. And then - to my infinite astonishment - he gently patted my head.
"It's alright now, boy." he said softly, "You're going to be alright now. Don't be afraid. I'm not going to hurt you."
I managed a feeble wag of my tail, and gave his hand an affectionate lick, to show him that I was not a threat. "OK, son." he continued quietly. He ran his hands over me, and felt me over quickly. "Bl**dy hell." I heard him mutter. He stepped away from me and picked up and spoke into the little black box attached to his chest. I was right (and thankfully not going mad) - a crackly voice spoke back to him from the box.
After the young man's conversation with the box, he began to look in the glove compartment of the van, examining papers and other bits and pieces. I was starting to feel genuinely terrified that my man would return and catch him, but I was also feeling increasingly sick and dizzy. I supposed that I didn't really care anymore.
A few moments later, a white car with bright stripes along its side pulled up next to the van. A slightly older man, dressed in the same kind of suit as the younger one, got out and put on a black and white chequered hat. There was a brief consultation between the two men and they both looked into the van again. I noted that the empty glass bottles in the passenger foot-well, as well as my bloodstains on the seats, did not escape their notice.
Following another hasty conversation between them, the younger man leaned further into the van and gently scooped me up into his arms. As tender as he tried to be, the movement was agony and I cried out. The young man spoke kindly and softly into my ear as he drew me out into the afternoon sunshine. The group of young girls crowded around, cooing at me, crying and gently patting my head. "Well done girls." said the young man "You've done exactly the right thing. You should be proud of yourselves." The girls answered with a myriad of questions - so numerous that I couldn't make them all out.
"Will he be alright?"
"Will they put him down?"
"What'll happen to the person who did this? Are you going to catch them?"
"Don't let them put him to sleep."
I had no idea what they meant. However, I couldn't think about it for long, as I was feeling increasingly ill. I coughed - and was promptly sick all over the young man's jacket.
I flinched in his arms, expecting a severe blow to the back of my head - but none came. Instead, just the kind, authoritative, reassuring voice. "Alright mate." he said, "I know it hurts. Let's get you some help, eh?"
"Wuff." I weakly managed to reply. I was carried over to the white and striped car and very, very gently laid on the passenger seat. The young man removed his jacket and wrapped it carefully around me. I was profoundly grateful for this, as I was beginning to feel terribly cold and was shivering. The young man ran around to the driver's side, got in, started the car, and slowly drove away from the van. I knew that my man would be extremely angry with me, but I honestly no longer cared. Glancing into the mirror at the side of the car, I saw the older man in the blue suit taking out a notebook and talking earnestly to the group of young girls - my discoverers.
As the car began to gather speed, the young man driving kept talking to me and telling me that I was going to be alright. Slowly, his voice began to take on a somewhat 'tinny' quality and he sounded further and further away. I felt incredibly cold, although not at all afraid.
"Come on son," I heard his voice, floating somewhere far below me, say. "Stay with me. Keep going. Stay with me, mate. Don't let go." Well, I wasn't holding on to anything - but I retained my manners. Each time he addressed me, I made an effort to open my eyes and look at him, and gave a little wag of my tail. This seemed to please him, so I kept doing it. I liked this man.
However, as much as I liked him, I began to be unable to control the floating sensation. I was aware that my breathing was becoming more and more laboured and there were small trickles of blood oozing from the corner of my mouth and one of my nostrils. "Stay with me, mate." I heard again, "Just you keep going. We're nearly there. Come on, boy...Please...Hang on..."
And then, the car stopped.
Stay safe in the snow. Good night.