These are the days of miracle and wonder.
Wondering what the hell we have let ourselves in for as we continue to toilet train a short dog with a long bladder.
A miracle if she will cease firing indoors.
Puppy Lily dribbles a small puddle when she’s excited about being taken outside – to pee, which kind of defeats the purpose …
We give out to her about that so she sometimes pees in fright …
And then, outside and often zilch!
Only to unload — once again — in the middle of the kitchen floor afterwards.
When we are not looking.
She just doesn’t seem to get it — but we sure do!
The first time I caught her actually unleashing, I admonished her as severely as one can a bewildered, doe-eyed puppy.
Oh, Sweet Sopping J-Cloths!
Lily Savage we have started calling our still new pup, because you have never seen a dog so obsessed with food … and snaffling it down as quickly as possible.
Hers gone in seconds, she tries to hoosh Bella out of the way and attack her bowl.
Bella has learned to gulp hers down in the same way.
These are also the routine days of dragging ourselves out to work and returning to tetchy kids overloaded on summer Fortnite and sleep-overs.
The long summer days are fast dwindling into crisp autumn, all back to school buying blitzes and last hurrahs before that first school bell sounds.
All this dozy dog and domestic dogsbody stuff came together recently in The Day From Hell.
It was a Friday. Off work and no football training or kids activities to facilitate later on.
Then I got the text. Could I come in to work? I am a freelance newspaper sub-editor, so I texted back in the affirmative.
But still, not leaving until 1pm, I’m having a lie-in, anticipating a leisurely shower, sort out food for the kids and work, and a stroll down for the bus.
Then the smoke alarm in the downstairs hall goes off.
I leap out of bed and reach first for my comfy cargo camouflage shorts — and put my foot right through the left leg, half-way down.
No time for sartorial reinvention, I’m downstairs, giving out to O and K for whatever the hell they had put on the hob that had started the alarm. And why didn’t they close the kitchen door, anyway?
The hob hadn’t been on; the alarm had just gone off, its shrill tones terrorising our ears and the dogs yelping in excitement.
K, all arms-folded indignation, has retreated behind the sitting room door with her Honey Cheerios, telling me to sort it out.
Lily is delighted to see me … ”Not now, Lily … not now … can you give her her food, O? …”
I unscrew the circular alarm from the ceiling, and press buttons and shake coloured wires … the din right in my ears now … Dringgggggggggg!
My wife A is on the phone, saying she can drive home to sort it out, knowing I have only an hour or so before I get my bus.
She has been working really hard, then dealing with the kids when she gets home — I work into late evening when in the newspaper — and the last thing I want to do is add to her fatigue.
This concern, of course, comes out in snapping at her to not even think of coming home, and does she think I can’t deal with this, or what?
… “And anyway I can’t stay on the line, I’m Googling local electricians .…”
I had tried tripping various fuse switches in the electrics box in the hall — K shouts at me through the closed door to tell me the telly has gone off.
I resist — barely — the urge to grab the wires now dangling from ceiling and alarm, and just yank.
O tells me it is raining, so a frantic barefooted hop in the pounding deluge to bring in the washing A had left outside, and back in to Alarm-ageddon.
The first few phone numbers I ring either they don’t pick up, or no longer operate, at least within 50 miles of our town.
I get one, who tells me he will be there in an hour.
How much will it cost to stop the alarm? A long spiel about how he won’t know until he finds out what the issue is, and if the alarm needs replacing …
“I just want the alarm stopped …how much will that cost?”
“Well, my call-out fee is €35”.
“Grand, I will have that for you …”
“I will be there in an hour or two …”
“You said an hour, can you hear the alarm, we need to stop it …”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks. See you in an hour.”
The alarm had actually stopped twice, but resumed. It stops a third time, and this time silence. Relief.
Naturally, I have no cash, and have to get properly dressed, and down, in the rain, to the only ATM in the village, and back.
I explain to K and O I have to go and get money and there is an electrician coming.
“Can you get me something in the shops,” K interjects … “salt and vinegar crisps … Pringles, if they have them …?
I’m back, Money on the counter, crisps proffered — “They didn’t have Pringles?” — grab a few food items, issue instructions and off to the bus stop.
Avoiding being soaked by cars as I head down the path.
My bus app tells me it is due in five minutes, nicely timed for the train station.
Then the app says 10 minutes … I’m a little anxious now.
A few yards from me a schoolboy cycling on the path shouts out “You bastard!” as a car comes too close and drenches him with a mini-tsunami of water and soggy leaves.
It’s 1.33 now and the train is in 12 minutes.
Then the big yellow 33 arrives, just in time, I reckon, for me to be too late for the train. But enough time to still hope …
We splash through the village, and I jump off at the train stop and the long green tube is pulling into the station as I splosh on down the platform, just remembering to tag on my bus/train travel card as I run.
Cost me 100 quid one time when I failed to do that.
I phone from the train, and the electrician is already there and the alarm is no more. He agrees to return on the Monday with a new smoke alarm.
Work itself is a busy blur, but the time passes quickly.
I am finished in time for the 11.20pm bus, the last one, but there is one last drama.
I have forgotten my phone charger and my phone is dead. And I haven’t topped up my travel card credit on the app.
The driver tells me my credit is in minus and my card won’t cover this trip.
We live 20 miles from the city.
I tell him my phone is dead, but the next time I top up, the card will go into positive credit, and the money owing will be deducted.
The bastard is not having it, and switches off the bus engine dramatically, announcing to me and the silent, seething passengers, he is happy to wait for the police to come and sort this out.
I am too tired to be angry or even embarrassed, and just calmly play my last card … I have €2.30 in change (the fare is €3.30) and I will go as far as this will take me …
He watches my coins disappear into the metal box, relents, and issues a ticket for the full journey.
This day is nearly over as I get off the bus, hoping for a better, dryer, tomorrow.
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