So, anyway, my partner and I returned to work yesterday after the Bank Holiday weekend. I am making a slow, yet steady, recovery. My pills are almost at an end and I await my Friday appointment.
I haven't really seen either Edward or Angus (my Rottweiler friends) over the weekend. I caught one glimpse of Eddie, through his front window. He was sitting in front of a settee with his back to his partner as she gently dabbed ointment onto the little bites on his lip and ear. Eddie struggled and squealed like a puppy while the lotion was being applied. I was almost ashamed of him. Against the far wall, I could see his erstwhile antagonist, Pickle the Salamander, blinking out from the little cave in his vivarium; a slightly malevolent and satisfied smile playing around the edges of his scaly lips. I couldn't truly blame him.
On arrival at work, I noticed that a sheep had appeared in the field opposite my partner's window. To be more precise, it was a sheep and a half. On enquiry we learned that a ewe from the farm next-door to our office went into a difficult labour during the night and was put into the small opposite field, along with another ewe to keep it company. The lamb had been successfully delivered in the early hours.
Later that morning, I ambled across the lane to have a look at the newborn (mindfully keeping a respectful distance behind the fence). After a short time I was joined by my workplace friends, Ewan and Fizzy. Fizzy is a small but exceptionally pretty Black Labrador. Her erstwhile 'husband', Ewan (who has been my friend since long before the arrival of Fizzy), is a dog of uncertain origin who is always genial and enthusiastic, but whose head is almost entirely empty. Ewan has a fixed and somewhat unsettling obsession with cheese. No-one, least of all the dog himself, can explain the reasons behind this all-consuming passion. Nothing else holds sway over Ewan like cheese - not even his belovèd football, nor even his partner. One could offer Ewan all the riches in the world and they would mean nothing to him. Toys, blankets, meats - even the nuptial delights of the exquisite Fizzy - all Ewan really wants is a platter of English cheeses. It is not, however, an educated enthusiasm. Ewan has all manner of theories as to where cheese comes from. None of them involve the separation of milk.
My two friends stood beside me, watching the little lamb practising how to walk, as its mother and her flock-mate looked fondly on. Fizzy started muttering things about 'tender lamb chops and a couple of tasty racks'. Now I like a grilled chop as much as any dog, but to mention such things in front of a newly-birthed mother and her infant is as impolitic as it is unkind. I did not deign to reply and as Ewan was likewise silent, gazing in rapt admiration at the stumbling babe, Fizzy lost interest and wandered back to the office.
"Isn't it amazing?!" breathed Ewan, after a while. I eyed him apprehensively. Could it be true that the simple Ewan understood and appreciated the intricate perplexities of mammalian reproduction?
"A wonder as beautiful and mysterious as any known to dog-kind." I replied, non-committally. Actually, that's not quite true. The most baffling enigma of all is why cats exist. But let us not traverse those stormy waters.
"Magnificent." nodded Ewan. I eyed him, suspiciously, one eyebrow quizzically raised. I strongly suspected, not for the first time, that Ewan and I were barking at crossed-purposes. I waited for the inevitable dénouement.
"I mean," he continued, "A WHOLE cottage cheese! With legs! In OUR lifetime, Jazz!!! Who could have thought that this day would ever come?!"
A-ha. There it was.
"Ewan," I sighed, knowing even then that it was pointless. "That is not a cottage cheese. It is a lamb - a baby sheep, if you prefer. I concede that it may be similar in colouring to a quantity of cottage cheese - but that is because its fleece is new and clean."
"It is too a cottage cheese!" protested Ewan. "Fizzy said that cheeses can come from sheeps!"
"Sheep." I corrected him (again - why? I can't help myself...), "She's right. Cheese from sheep-milk is extremely tasty. But you will never find a cheese capable of getting up and walking. It is a baby sheep, Ewan."
"Me-ehh-ehhh-ehh-eh!" said the "cheese", as if to confirm my comments. Ewan gasped. I steadied myself, preparing to support him, as I honestly thought he might fall over.
"A talking cheese!" whispered Ewan, almost beside himself.
Oh, for goodness' sake.
Fortunately, Fizzy had reappeared and was hovering in the background. She realised that I had had a big-enough dose of Ewan for one morning and brought over his football, for which I was profoundly grateful. It saved me from having to submit to administering the bite to Ewan, which I was sorely tempted to give. As soon as his long furry back was turned I scuttled back to my refuge under my partner's desk and pretended to be asleep for the rest of the day.
Before I sign-off this evening, I must bark a word of profound and humble thanks to all those who have wished me well in my present infirmity. I am feeling a little better again today and my partner is going to take me swimming in a bit. To Lance, Lilli, Keetha and Kathy - and other friends - bless you. I would choose your kind words over fame and wealth any day. They mean so much to me (and my partner).
The penultimate (oh yes!) instalment of "The Evolution of Jasper" next time!