Monday, 1 June 2015
On being thingless in Dulverton. And balls.
On the narrow track on the way back, we came across a middle-aged couple with a spaniel.
'Is he a male?' called the woman, gesturing at Dan.
'Er...yup,' I replied, slightly discombobulated by the question which contained its own answer.
'Is he intact?'
'Er...' I paused, thought about it, thought about what a strange phrase that is. 'Er, no.'
Poor Dan. Having his balls, or rather his ex-balls, discussed in public.
'Oh good! Only she's about ready, you know...' gesturing at the spaniel who looked about ready for anything, in the way that spaniels do.
Oh okay. TMI already.
It put me in mind of when we used to live on the Levels and there was a certain track beloved of dog walkers. You'd walk along and people would call out, imperiously: 'Dog?' to which the correct answer was not, 'Of course it's a dog, you stupid bint!' but 'Yes!' to which the person would either nod and say, 'Ditto!' or instead call, 'Bitch!' Only in England.
Anyhow, we smiled, walked on and James, Dan and I paused at the cricket ground, leaning on the fence (me and James, that is) and watched the match for a bit. It was all so calm, so peaceful, so rather delightful in that quaint bucolic traditional English way. The sun shining. The thwack of ball on bat. Oh lordy, back to balls again.
And so we were. Because something thwacked into my leg and it wasn't a ball but Dan, pursued by the not quite but almost on-heat spaniel bitch.
Wait. We'd been here before. Were we on some kind of Möbius loop?
'Er, yes... and no,' I said.
'Oh! He's mounting her!'
I shrugged. 'Well, nothing will come of it. He can't do much.' Rather wistful at how it would have been rather lovely to have some mini-Dans.
'Do you know any good dogs?' asked the woman.
'I beg your pardon?'
'Spaniels? Good spaniels. For mating her?'
What? Did I look like a dog pander?
'Er, no,' I said. 'Maybe try Woods? Paddy will know.'
'Good point. Where do you live?'
It all started to feel a bit Kafka-esque, as if I were being interviewed for some job for which I hadn't applied, of which I knew nothing. My dog breeding failure soon compounded by my lack of any kind of expertise whatsoever.
Had I watched the latest play at the town hall, she asked.
'No,' I said. 'It's not really my thing.'
'Hmm. What about the ballroom dancing? Do you do that? Is that your thing?'
'Er...No, not really.'
'Well, what is your thing?' she demanded, sounding deeply irritated at my lack of thing.
'Er...' I paused, feeling deeply pathetic.
What was my thing?
I used to have things. I used to have interests, passions even. When did I become so disinterested, so apathetic, so thing-less?
'That's it,' I said to James, when we finally escaped, wiping a sheen of sweat from my brow, with a strong suspicion I'd flunked the exam. 'I need a thing.'