(I couldn’t fail to mention The Royal Wedding in this post, as I’ve been watching it pretty much all day – and it’s all still on the tele’ now. It was fun, wasn’t it?! I quite like the idea of being a ‘Duchess’ myself but I couldn’t cope with all that lack of privacy and being chased by the paparazzi and having to ‘do the right thing’ all the time! I like my freedom too much!).
If you still haven’t had enough of it, you might want to read Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘official’ royal wedding poem ‘Rings’ here which manages, rather cleverly, not to mention William or Catherine at all!
But anyway, enough of that. Dogs – and specifically golden Labradors – have been on my mind recently.
A few months back I won a competition in Wiltshire Life magazine to name a guide dog puppy and my prize – which I’ve yet to take – is a visit to the Guide Dog Centre in Leamington. Ooh, I can’t wait. I called the puppy ‘Pilot’ because it seemed appropriate and also because I like the name (and those of you who know ‘Jane Eyre’ will recall that it’s also the name of Mr Rochester’s dog, so there’s a literary connection too, which appealed to me).
The main reason it was chosen as the winner, though, was that Wiltshire has strong connections with the RAF (something of which I was not aware – that was just a happy coincidence!).
The other golden Labrador I’ve been thinking about was a lovely old lady called Amber, who belonged to Mike, a member of my tennis club. One Sunday morning about three years ago, when he brought her up to the club, I was inspired to write a poem about her. It takes quite a lot to inspire me into ‘verse’, so there must have been something rather special about her. I think I was just charmed by her dogged determination (!) to keep fetching that ball, even though it was nearly killing her.
I didn’t show the poem to Mike but at Christmas he lost his wife and I overheard him recently in the bar talking to someone about Amber, who died a couple of years ago. So I have just given him a copy of the poem (I told him not to read it in front of me in case we were both embarrassed!). Hopefully he’ll like it and here it is:
Amber At the Tennis Club
I let you off the lead
and you shuffle into bushes.
Like a golden pig tracking truffles,
you snort and throw up leaves until
three green balls are lined up on the path.
They are the puppies we did not let you have.
You gift me one and I toss it – not too far –
over the grass and you retrieve (it’s in your blood)
ambling stiffly back – a wide-mouthed frog –
to drop it at my feet.
The men in white laugh and refuse to play,
not wanting to be ‘the one who finishes her off’.
They pat your greying coat, pitying your panting.
Someone brings a bowl of water
but you won’t drop the ball
I’ll have to carry you home again.
And when you’re gone and I’m as old as you are now
in dog years,
I will remember today:
Your tail, like the constant pendulum of a clock,
your rheumy seal-eyes
and your absolute grip on