With my partner at this time, I go to an animal rescue centre and we return home having taken possession of a flying dog. It has ginger fur and in some ways resembles a corgi, but it is also bat-like. It has very large, furry ginger wings that make a ‘swish’ sound when it flies. Take-offs and landings can sometimes be a bit dodgy, but up in the air it moves with grace and elegance.
It seems to take to living in our home, and although it is perfectly capable of flying out of our sight and covering considerable distances, the dog always returns to us. In fact, usually on return, it is pleased to see us. There is tail wagging, eye contact and a clear desire to be stroked and made a fuss of. It has a strong healthy appetite and we feed it on a 50:50 mixture of dog and bird food – on which it thrives.
We train the dog to carry messages to family and friends. At first we encourage it to carry the messages by mouth, but they tend to arrive somewhat chewed and saliva sodden. So we devise a pouch which we attach to its collar, and after dealing with one or two aerodynamic issues, we find this works very well. We send messages only to those who will treat our dog kindly, and feed it or give it treats before it makes the return journey.
Whenever it departs, bearing a message, we stand outside our house – which is high on a hillside – and watch it swish and soar away over woodland below us until it is out of sight. Back inside our house there is a sense of absence. We look forward to the day and hour when it will reappear, barking to announce its arrival if we are not outside awaiting it. Often it will have brought back an answer to one of our messages. Somehow this always seems the best way to keep in contact with our friends and family members.
In our living room we have a large cushion filled basket where our dog sleeps. Like many a dog, it likes to circle round and round in its basket as if making some kind of considered choice, before settling to lie down and sleep. The last thing it does before closing its eyes is to lazily open its wings, stretching them up, then relaxing them so that they drape over the sides of the basket, their tips touching the carpeted floor.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Temporarily alone, I notice that one of the drain covers I’m trying to lay is not a good fit, and I start shifting and re-arranging the paving slabs around it so that I can improve on this. People are passing me by on the street while I work, and after moving slabs for a while I look up and notice that the people I am seeing are distressed. It turns out that – unnoticed by me – there has been a small earthquake. Apparently, the cause of this earthquake is me, moving paving slabs. Beyond the part where I have been working, the scene looks disastrous. Parts of the paving have collapsed completely into huge, open potholes, others totter precariously. People are trying to keep their balance, and/or jumping and running towards more secure surfaces elsewhere.
I turn from this scene to look down at the place where I have been working. I notice that, as in an archaeological dig, I have exposed older layers of paving from decades ago – some with thick glass slabs inserted amongst the stones, others with just tarmac. I find this interesting, but mainly I’m feeling guilty on account of being the cause of the recent earthquake.
But at this point my supervisor and fellow worker returns. He tells me not to worry, it’s not my fault, it’s the Council’s. All I’ve done is to expose an underlying fault in the way the upper layer of slabs was laid, and it will be the Council’s responsibility to come and fix it. I’m not so sure he’s right. I feel I ought to do something about it, but I’ve no idea what and all of a sudden the idea of moving paving slabs at all seems impossibly difficult. So I accept what he says, and we leave.
A little further on we see a group of people milling around parked cars on the roadside. Unsure what they might be doing, I ask my worldly-wise companion. He tells me they are checking to ensure that none of the cars are parked too closely together.