I would have dictated this entry from my bed, from which I was struggling to rise. I am tired today.
My partner has been out to the shops, but I didn't want to accompany her, so she allowed me to remain in my bed. I decided to get up when she returned, so here I am back at the keyboard to bark to you. It turns out that I made the right choice in getting up, as my partner returned with a packet of cooked chicken roll just for me. I also ate the last of the Christmas sausages, which were a gift from my pretty neighbour Rosie. I also managed half a tin of dinner last evening, though my partner had to hand-feed it to me.
I must continue to reassue you that I am not in actual pain - but I am not deceived. I understand that I will not recover and the time remaining to me is short. But let us not paddle in those waters just now.
For almost the third day in a row I have had the gross misfortune to encounter the ghastly little scrote Peaches when I was taking the air in the grounds of my estate. After our last little affray, he did not deign to stop on seeing me, but slowed his pace considerably and mewed loudly
"Can anyone smell rotting flesh?!"
"What's that Pea?" I replied cheerfully, "Have you been testing out a new cologne?"
Peaches stalked off, muttering vile insults under his breath. I cared not.
As I was about to turn and re-enter my house through the French windows, a door opened further up the street and out bounded Edward the Rottweiler. I hadn't seen him since the summer, when he had had a furious spat with his fellow Rotti and long-term gentleman "companion" Angus and refused to appear in public - only speaking to his friends under the gap of his garden fence panelling. Angus had been on a summer holiday to Scotland with his human partners and had, apparently, had a holiday romance with a dog called Benji. Eddie had resolutely refused to entertain Angus's protestations of innocence, denials and requests to be allowed to explain the truth and had been playing the wronged holy martyr for all he was worth. Even Archie from the end of my row of houses had got fed up in the end and started ignoring Edward - and Archie is remarkably patient for a young Jack Russell Terrier.
Sighing over this sorry state of affairs, then, I watched Eddie bound towards me.
"Jazz! Darling!!" he barked.
"Alright, Ed?" I smiled, glad to see a friendly face after being confronted with the face and then the bottom of the scheming Peaches. "How's it hanging?"
"Divine, dearheart, simply divine. I had the most fabulous Christmas! Angus excelled himself with his gift this year!"
"Oh yes?" I replied dubiously, casting my mind back to the troubled history of the summer, preceded by the misunderstanding over Angus's Christmas gift from last year - an handsome designer jacket, but I shall not torment you with a repetition of that sorry saga.
"Yes! A brand-new beanbag bed!" beamed Edward, wagging his tail happily. "Bright pink, with a repeating pattern of black paw-prints. Utterly exquisite."
"That's a very thoughtful gift." I remarked, wondering what on Earth had happened to Eddie's former venom towards the beleagured Angus. "Yes," continued Eddie, utterly oblivious to my confusion. "He tells me that he dallied with a distinguished tartan print, but felt it might seem a little crass after the business over the summer."
He proceeded to laughingly relate the events since last I had barked with him. It transpires that Angus had NOT had a holiday fling with a dog called Benji, but had been taken to a demonstration of a traditional Highland Fling (a traditional Caledonian country dance) and then to a tour of the distillery where they produce Glenmorangie (a fine whisky).
I'll admit that I found it hard to smile at this, as I had long-suspected Angus's innocence and had been forced to repeatedly listen to Eddie's foul, poisonous invective against him. Nevertheless I have also long been aware of the futility of raking over old coals and, despite the fact that Eddie and Angus can often be a right pair of vicious old queens, there was a clear deep and lasting affection between them. So I sighed, grinned (as I knew I must), and limited myself to barking
"Ed, you daft old s*d, you really ought to go and get your hearing checked."
"What?! Oh no, nothing wrong there!" replied Eddie, imperiously, "And besides, I gave dear Angus a beef shin-bone to make amends. All grandy and dandy now!"
"Oh, that's alright then." I sighed, with inwardly raised eyebrows. "And did Angus enjoy the Christmas festivities too?"
"Absolutely!" wuffed Eddie, "Though I had to be very strict with him again about what he ate. Honestly, the boy is a slave to the expanding waistline."
"Well exactly." nodded Eddie sanctimoniously, "Though I fear I may have carried it a little too far this year. Dear Angus was so hungry on Boxing Day that he stole the box of crickets from atop Pickle's vivarium and scoffed the lot!" [Pickle is a salamander who lives in the same house as Eddie. He is an affable chap, though he has been reduced to frequently hiding whenever Angus visits (the reason for this? Click here: Pickle's torment)].
"A whole box of crickets?!" I spluttered.
"I know." nodded Eddie. "Well, they weren't to know that they're virtually fat-free, the poor dears."
"Look, Ed," I hesitated, "Far be it from me to suggest... but - well - why don't you let Angus have the odd pudding now and then, eh? Life is for living, my friend."
"But his hips - more pudding would..."
"I know, I know!" I grinned, "A moment on the jaws; a lifetime on the paws... But let it go Ed. Life is for living. Living. And it's over all too soon."
Edward looked up at me, almost as though seeing me anew for the first time. And then he asked the question which I knew was imminent, but was dreading nonetheless...