One of the joys of being (newly) self-employed is the ability to put off what you should be doing knowing that you’re only going to have to answer to yourself.
This morning saw procrastination given a fitness tinge when a friend and distant neighbour suggesting an hour of vigorous dog walking would be just the ticket. Approximately one heartbeat later I arose from my desk and went in search of car keys. Belaying my own thrust of action I remembered that the local roads were carnage due to an accident on the motorway. Imagine my joy moments later at cycling past so many hundred stranded motorists. Even the pelting rain did nothing to dampen my spirits.
With characteristic “let’s be having you” we dispense with the staying-in-and-having-a-cup-of-tea-instead-option and stride into the Wiltshire countryside. Wheezing slightly after 50minutes of strident marching and non-stop jabbering we arrive back at HQ. Two of the hounds: lean, athletic, proud and noble positively brimming with vim. The other canine – from next door – though willing and full of spirit is a bit, well, shapely. I can relate to this.
The rear of the property is easily accessed for about 300 days of the year. For the rest of the time, the ditch is filled with the river known as the Og. No, really: three villages derive they name from its mighty waters. Well, today the Og was really having quite a pop at it by flowing like a good’un. To traverse the restless torrent a bridge had been freshly minted from a brace of Travis Perkins finest scaffold planks. (Other brands are available.) I observed the zip-ties used as fixings and wondered why structures such as the Golden Gate or le Viaduc de Millau went to all that structural-engineering bother.
Chatting away I watch two lively dogs scamper across the Pont du Og and follow gingerly. (I am sporting a beard and it is quite celtic I’m afraid.) There was tremendous flex – like a Dreamliner wing, surely a deliberate design tolerance to accommodate the 100kg of Welsh lard being applied – but a reassuring resilience. As I reach safety, I turn with perfect timing to see the less spritely one lose her footing and plunge into the rushing water.
When I say the less spritely one, I mean the third dog, obviously.
At this point it’s worth considering that there are some things which are the least worst alternatives. If you have to break a child when you go on a day out, best it’s your own, rather than someone else’s in your care. Better to prang your own car than a friend’s pride and joy. In today’s case, better lose yourself, your entire family pets, belongings and life savings than someone else’s dog.
To relieve tension in this blog, I should reassure you that – as the title suggests – there’s a happy ending with no harm done. The Og being the least ferocious watercourse in existence.
Back to the river bank…
Moments later the dog bobs up from the brown depths. There’s little more pathetic a sight than a pooch forced to swim. However, the gallant creature was pawing away in a heartwarming display of self-preservation. One that was obviously no match for the rather alarming current.
I slide down the bank and thrust my hand out to grab her collar. No chance. I slip, twist and get stuck as she paddles away just out of reach. The current scoops her downstream but in the eddies she finds purchase momentarily only to be swept away again. I am now considering jumping in but am stuck in mud up to my shin. I feel foolish and powerless and concerned (in that strange order). As we exchange nervous glances, the pooch self-rescues onto the far bank. I say far, I mean less than 2 metres. But it might’s well be the Ganges in flood because I could not have reached her.
I am officially a useless excuse for a man.
Seconds later, the dog is very timidly crossing the bridge and it’s over. All we have to show for the incident is a wet Lab’ and muddy human leg.
We agree never to speak of this again, laugh nervously and go our separate ways pausing briefly to agree: “same time again next week.”