Now the summer is over, my boss lights the fire in the drawing room. Lying on the sofa (even if I do have to share it) in front of a log fire is the best way to while away a winter evening, allowing me to reflect on recent events, and then to nod off. Which I do ... only to be woken by some human buffoon screeching "Look everyone, Chudleigh's dreaming". Well of course I am, that is what one does when one sleeps, when one is in a quiescent state, consciousness almost entirely suspended and the vital functions inactive, thereby allowing thoughts and imaginary sense-impressions to pass through the brain – surely everyone knows that!
During our period of desertion, my boss apparently holidayed in California – all right for some, all I ever get is an occasional furtive escape with Molly to Dial Green, about a mile away as the crow flies. I must have picked up on the conversations about their holiday snaps (you know the sort – here's a picture of us going to the beach, here's a picture of us on the beach, here's a picture of us leaving the beach, here's ... oh I'm sorry it's upside down, etc, etc), because despite the wintry weather I have found myself dreaming of sunnier climes and Hollywood. Perhaps it is my frustrated ambition to become a film star, or President, or some other grand position. After all, the good people of Hartlepool did elect a monkey as their Mayor (I don't believe those stories that it was a real person inside a costume), so why shouldn't a canine mutt, one of superior intellect such as mine, aspire to higher things. Perhaps I should embark on a world tour – Elton John does it, so why not yours truly? Around the world in 80 walks, or something. Hey ho - to sleep, perchance to dream – one of my favourite passages from Hamlet.
Talking of my boss (you know, the one who sits all day in front of the computer drawing all those e-cards), she has been doing just that for some time now, particularly with the Christmas card. She suggested that I might like to "model" for the Hallowe'en card. MODEL! What a nerve. I have been acclaimed as the star of stage, screen and a million e-mails, and I am then expected to model – heaven forefend!! And in view of what happened to the cat in that particular plot, I think I was wise to decline. So I went AWOL – not too far, just out in the garden, where, on occasions such as these, the manure heap can be especially soothing. When I was called to "model", I would dutifully appear, complete with a delicate aroma about my person, which distracted my boss long enough to put any idea about "modelling" to one side. If, as happened on one occasion, she did decide to go ahead, then the pile of old grass cuttings, followed (if necessary) by a dip in the pond proved to be successful alternatives, until something else took hold, such as the telephone ringing or Bev arriving clutching a bottle of Frascati.
Now those of you with a classical education will be dismayed at my use of the word "alternatives", because you can of course only have one alternative, not several – from the Latin word "alter", meaning either (as in one of two). I pick up these titbits from Malcolm, who is a mine of useless information, mostly accumulated when he is ploughing through various dictionaries looking for the answer to a clue in the crossword. And so it was that I discovered last week that Tsar Peter the Great was six foot eight inches tall and slept in his boots. I confess I do not know how I have lived on this planet for so long without knowing this nugget of knowledge. Listening to the conversations of the humans, it is clear that they take great delight in comparing the irrelevance of their knowledge, even inventing games expressly for that purpose – "Trivial Disputes" or some such name.