Thankfully, the weather has cooled significantly and I can resume my usual routine in comfort.
My partner and I have had a most enjoyable Bank Holiday. We visited the garden centre and bought some Lavender plants (two different types; two of each type - Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula stoechas), which we planted in place of the Rose of Sharon that mysteriously disappeared. We also expended much effort in removing the stem of a small elder tree that was in the way and which has annoyed us for the best part of a year. I had no idea that roots were so hardy. The effort just about finished off my partner. Even I retired after the task seemed to have been proved impossible. I underestimated the tenacity of my partner, however. She would not be defeated and high glee abounded as the wretched shrub was, at last, unearthed. Her arm and wrist are sore now - but these are small sacrifices in light of our triumph.
At work, too, I am relieved to welcome the cooler temperatures. For the heat had driven Ewan (the cerebrally-challenged mutt) to levels of inanity that were positively dangerous.
A few days ago, two canine guests were welcomed to the workplace. A young black spaniel bitch named Bramble and a black labrador fellow called Boggis. They were companions of another of my partner's colleagues and had to come to work because another member of their pack was on heat and was being more irritable than usual. Bramble was terribly shy, and preferred to remain in her basket in the shade, where it was cooler. I got on famously with Boggis, however. He was around the same age as me (though with far fewer grey furs - the git), and affably chatty. We were conversing quietly in the yard, when up bounded Ewan, toy in mouth.
"Jasper!" he yipped. I greeted him in turn and introduced Boggis. Fizzy, a young black labrador and Ewan's long-suffering companion, was sniffing around at the far end of the yard. They had both been away on holiday for a while and I was absolutely astounded to see how much weight Fizzy had put on. She had grown quite chubby. Ewan wasted no time in highlighting this. "Have you SEEN how fat Fizzy is?!" he cried, his tail wagging wildly.
"Ewan..." I growled, warningly. "We don't talk about ladies like that, do we?"
"But Jasper," he continued unheedingly. "It's true." He leaned confidentially in to me and whispered "Too much cheese, I think." Then he laughed and said "She's turning into a right old porker. It's mad when she runs. She looks like a jelly or a wobbly cheese." And he snorted with laughter.
"Ewan!" I barked sternly. "Not in front of our guest..."
"What?" asked the simple Ewan. "Who's that then?"
"Oh right, yes. Brilliant." nodded Ewan. "Which one is Boggis?"
"He's the one standing here that isn't either you or me."
"What, this lad here?"
"Oh right, yes. Brilliant."
Poor Boggis looked at me with a bewildered air.
"Trust me, Boggis." I sighed. "This is nothing. Nothing. He means well, though."
Boggis nodded, his eyebrows raised in mildly surprised amusement. The three of us looked over to the far corner of the yard, where Fizzy was laying her morning's dog-eggs. Ewan began to laugh and snort again. He gestured towards the unfortunate Fizzy with one of his forepaws.
"Look at Fizzy's bum!" he giggled. "Look how big it is! It's like two badgers fighting in a sack! Hee-hee-hee-heeee!"
Any temptation I may have felt to laugh at Ewan's illustrative description of Fizzy's somewhat ample derrière was swiftly negated when I caught sight of the thunderous expression on the fair maid's face, which indicated that she had heard every word of what Ewan had barked. As soon as she had completed her toilette, she began to stride purposefully in our direction.
"Boggis, old bean," I said hastily, "Would you join me in a swift tour of the neighbouring woodlands?" I had already started to sidle towards the gate. Boggis began to follow.
"Leg it!" he muttered, as Fizzy broke into a swift trot. We both fled out of the yard and hid on the bridleway behind the big trunk of a long-fallen tree. Ewan was too busy chuckling to himself and had no conception of the danger he was in.
My new friend and I peeped around the trunk into the yard and watched as an irate Fizzy pinned Ewan to the ground and gave his ear a sharp nip, which made him yelp. She then confiscated Ewan's toy and stalked off with it to her basket. Once she was safely out of the way, Boggis and I crept back to the yard.
"Jasper," said Ewan, "What does 'emasculate' mean?"
"Ooof..." gasped Boggis, wincing.
"Well, Ewan," I replied. "Emasculation can mean many things, both literally and figuratively. However, in this case specifically, I would imagine it means that if you should ever laugh at Fizzy or her bottom again, then she will tear off your little love-truncheon with her bare fangs."
"Oh right, yes." said Ewan, quietly. "Brilliant."
Boggis and I helped Ewan to compose a flowery and grovelling apology which, after many rehearsals, he managed to deliver to Fizzy with only a few mistakes. The apology was graciously accepted, but Ewan still wasn't allowed to have his toy back until the end of the day.
This dose of Ewan had proved more than enough for Boggis, who spent the rest of the day sleeping alongside his companion Bramble, in the shade.
Bramble and Boggis have not been back to the workplace since. I can't bark that I blame them.
Two badgers fighting in a sack, indeed. For goodness' sake.
Sweet reader - I really DO do my level best to help Ewan. But, sometimes, he just doesn't help himself...