Cold, overcast and windy. There's a thin layer of frost on the car windscreen. 'The Font' is flying to London for the day. We set off to the airport early, taking the back roads. The protesting farmers are again burning tyres and blocking the motorway. To add spice to the journey the frontier guards have started working 'to rule'. The lines at the passport desks spilling all the way back into the departure hall. The joys of travel.
Angus tries to arrange a family dinner in California. He phones his favourite restaurant in the Bay Area. A lady answers. '' It says quite clearly on our website that reservations can only be made a month ahead of time. Can't you read ? ". The surliness of the response catches me off guard. I mutter something apologetic and put the phone down. It's only later that a sense of irritation sweeps over me. Perhaps passive aggressiveness has become a trait of US 'fine dining' establishments. Angus makes a booking at another restaurant.
Some poets have a way with words that brings the sunshine in. Here's a poem about dogs. Its telling of truth is nothing short of magical. It made me laugh.
If Feeling isn't in it
Dogs will also lick your face if you let them.
Their bodies will shiver with happiness.
A simple walk in the park is just about
the height of contentment for them, followed
by a bowl of food, a bowl of water,
a place to curl up and sleep. Someone
to scratch them where they can't reach
and smooth their foreheads and talk to them.
Dogs also have a natural dislike of mailmen
and other bringers of bad news and will
bite them on your behalf. Dogs can smell
fear and also love with perfect accuracy.
There is no use pretending with them.
Nor do they pretend. If a dog is happy
or sad or nervous or bored or ashamed
or sunk in contemplation, everybody knows it.
They make no secret of themselves.
You can even tell what they're dreaming about
by the way their legs jerk and try to run
on the slippery ground of sleep.
Nor are they given to pretentious self-importance.
They don't try to impress you with how serious
or sensitive they are. They just feel everything
full blast. Everything is off the charts
with them. More than once I've seen a dog
waiting for its owner outside a café
practically implode with worry. “Oh, God,
what if she doesn't come back this time?
What will I do? Who will take care of me?
I loved her so much and now she's gone
and I'm tied to a post surrounded by people
who don't look or smell or sound like her at all.”
And when she does come, what a flurry
of commotion, what a chorus of yelping
and cooing and leaps straight up into the air!
It's almost unbearable, this sudden
fullness after such total loss, to see
the world made whole again by a hand
on the shoulder and a voice like no other.