Hat and I take advantage of the first sunshine in days and tow the dog through the village for a walk. Walking the dog in England amuses the children. But it terrifies me. I worry ceaselessly that she’ll do a poo (which would naturally be my problem and not my kids’, hence their mirth and my anxiety) and I’ll have come out without a plastic bag to poop scoop it into and then I’ll have to use a handful of leaves to scrape it up and toss it over the nearest garden wall. Except that this is the sort of village where the Neighbourhood Watch sign means what it says and I’ll be copped by a curtain twitcher who’ll know precisely who I am (‘Mrs Stephen’s daughter from Africa’) and precisely who my mother is – because she has lived in the village for 22 years (‘Mrs Stephen who moved here from Africa 22 years ago’) and I’ll land Mum in it. The poo.
So we tow the dog – fast – so that she doesn’t have time to squat. If she manages a wee, it’s done on the move, making a jagged line along the kerb.
Today we towed the dog through the village cemetary. The children – and especially Hat – have a fascination for the headstones. They like to read who lived and died here and exclaim at the youth of some of those who have passed on. And – especially – the hundreds of years that have elapsed since they did. Hat is mindful not to tread too close to headstones. I like to think her care is out of respect. But if could be because she has been told as I was at the same age by peers: that if you trod on a grave you got a cow’s lick so that your fringe never lay flat and stood perpetually on end, looking silly.
We get home and Hat – because the sun’s still shining and it’s nearly seven and because she still can’t get used to long light evenings coming from Africa and wants to make the most of it – opts to take the dog for a bit more of a walk around the garden.
Where the poor animal is finally allowed to do what she’s been dying to do for the past 37 minutes.