24 June 2008

10 Years Younger – More Like 50 !

After weeks of rain and generally unsettled weather, the sun is now shining with a vengeance. A slight haze masks the other side of the gorge whilst the smog hangs over the coastal resorts waiting menacingly to descend on those with breathing afflictions or simply those who smoke too many Marlboro Lights. From wrapping oneself in the winter duvet and wishing we hadn’t taken off the electric blanket when the clocks went forward (an annual ritual – it goes back on when the clocks go back) we’re now in a position where the patio doors are left open overnight and it’s almost too hot to swim in the pool. It’s too warm to do any work outside, much too hot to cuddle in bed and poor Shadow just mopes about seeking the ever-moving shade. Coco and Bijou (the cats) are too uncomfortable to move and therefore the screeching magpies are coming back only a day after the killing (see yesterday’s blog). Only a week ago us ex-pats were talking about the weather as if we were in Bridlington, Scunthorpe or Oldham. ‘Oh isn’t it cold and miserable. Did you see the rain yesterday – nearly filled my pool it did’ (although they probably don’t say that too often in Oldham !). It's now so hot that Angie next door is talking seriously about installing air-conditioning or at the very least ceiling fans and this is only our fourth day of hot weather. It’ll probably change back again soon and we’ll start talking in melancholy tones about the week of hot weather we had and wasn’t it wonderful.

One of the consequences of the hot weather starting (albeit about 4-5 weeks later this year) is Shadow’s annual haircut. There are three words which strike fear into Shadow’s heart – vet, swim and haircut. Now much as I love Shadow dearly he is a bit thick – for example he lets the cats have first go at any meat left over from dinner which is put in his bowl and then wonders what happened to it. He has a stupid look on his face as he wanders knee-deep in the newly laid contcrete and then wonders why his legs are stiff and he cannot scratch himself – he’s done this for years – you’d think he’d know by now ! Anyway – whenever you mention the words Vet, Swim or Haircut…..he visibly shakes, cowers and then tries to crawl away on his stomach as if you cannot see him, so he cannot be that thick – he understands English. This morning I’ve had to block off the exit from the terrace as without doubt he’d do his impression of a retreating snake, slithering down the stairs and off into the jungle which is our ‘garden’. There he would dig up one of his ancient, maggot-ridden bones and lie in the thistles looking lovingly at it before burying it again. He would be happy. His bone had been undiscovered by the nocturnal, marauding sangliers (wild boars) and he would have escaped his haircut. What joy ! What a (dog’s) life !

No such luck. At 12 miday off we went to the Pet’s Beauty Parlour where he struck up an immediate friendship with a shaved poodle. It must’ve been the human equivalent of a hairy-arsed, sweaty, obese builder getting off with Gwyneth Paltrow. Still – there are stranger things in life. We left him with that sad look in his brown and white eyes (no – they’re not multi-coloured – he has a white eye and a brown eye) with the hair stylist asking if he had any ‘sensitive parts’. I felt like saying – ‘yes – watch out when you shave his bollocks’ but without the requisite French I just said ‘Non’. Julie and I then went to lunch (Julie’s 4th this week and it’s only Tuesday !) whereupon no sooner had we sat down than the poodle parlour called. I envisaged a rampant Shadow with the hair stylist’s arm locked between his jaws as she tried to shave his ‘sensitive parts’ or the Gwyneth Paltrow lookalike being humped by a hairy-arsed, obese builder but all it was was a wrong number – the parlour were trying to call Gwyneth’s owner to get him/her picked up.

A liesurely lunch followed and we duly picked Shadow up after the agreed interval of two hours. Well – to say it was a complete makeover would be something of an understatement. He looked at least two stones (sorry 13 kilos) lighter, smelled gorgeous and could have passed for a puppy. Now Shadow is ten years old (about 70ish in human terms) but now he looked about two years old. And although it cost a staggering 70 euros including a small tip I thought that if they could do that with Shadow what could they do with Julie ? Unfortunately I thought this aloud and received the requisite slap – such is life – a dog’s life !

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