Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Sunday 19 August 2012

Beware the Dog

When I was a kid, some people would have a ‘Beware the Dog’ sign on their front gates, or back gates, or wherever they thought they needed them to keep people at bay. Oddly enough, I don’t remember seeing one recently, but I presume they still exist.

I should probably have a ‘Beware the Occupier’ sign.

It’s not that I’m not perfectly lovely, it’s just that I speak the truth, and the poor sod knocking on my door isn’t necessarily expecting that.

Take yesterday, for example.

I was busily working, as usual, when some unsuspecting person knocked on my front door; in fact, he rang the bell, but, for the purposes of storytelling, the convention of knocking seems, somehow, more interesting or appropriate, or something (these are the choices we make, as writers, after all).

You should know that it was a very hot day, yesterday, and my door was recently painted, and it had swollen up, so I wasn’t easily able to open it. Given that I was expecting my kid brother, and he’s a bruiser of a man, I shouted ‘Push’, thinking that... you know... he’d probably push. Whoever was behind the door didn’t push, but he did say something in a youngish, not terribly muscular voice that I couldn’t quite hear.

I messed about in the letter box until I’d prised it open, pushed my hand through, and, finally, after a good deal of messing about, pulled the door open. It was quite the pantomime

On the other side of the door stood a very young, curly-haired man-boy. He was string-thin and pale, and clearly far too hot in his blue, nylon tabard. He was also carrying a clipboard. Already, the poor thing was rather embarrassed.

Nothing much embarrasses me, and I explained about the door. He didn’t know what to say. He’d been ready with his spiel; he’d learned it, at best, a couple of days before, and if he didn’t get a chance to spit it our more-or-less straight away, he was going to be in trouble. 

He was canvassing on behalf of Battersea Dogs’ Home. He said I’d probably heard of them, which, of course, I have, and asked if I had any pets. 

Now, I know for a fact that some of my regular readers are already wincing. The rest of you might want to read The Mercy Dash.

Like I said at the beginning of this little tale, I have a tendency to answer questions directly, with the truth.

All I can say is poor, poor child! He really didn’t know what to say or where to put himself. He rather gave up at that point, and I had to run down the street after him to warn him not to knock on a certain door that it would have been a really, really bad idea for him to knock on. 

Grief is a tricky thing, and, if I’d had my wits about me, I would have told the poor lamb that, in the end, it doesn’t matter what you say to the bereaved, it only matters that you say something.

I do hope he has a better day today, and I’m pretty sure, in a week or two, when he’s considered a veteran, that he’ll be telling this story to the raw recruits as his very own cautionary tale.

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