Everything had changed . . .
It had been coming for a while – about three months, in fact. That being the date we ‘ordered’ our new Collie pup. It had been a longstanding promise to my long-suffering wife, Bernie that when we were finally settled in our Lakeland home; had demolished and rebuilt it; and decided that we were staying put, that we would have a dog . . .
Eleven days ago, the romantic idea had become the reality. A new four-footed young life, constantly in search of stimulation – usually oral exploration of the world – and needing so many trips to the garden and the adjacent country fields for toilet runs that we lost count. Each day we crawled into bed, quite exhausted, knowing that the little darling, good as she is, would need to be out of her basket by about six in the morning for the whole cycle to start again.
There is something fresh and wonderful about the world seen at that time of the morning. Others have written about it, too. The company of a small and warm-blooded animal is a fine way to see in the new day, even when the Lakeland weather is living up to its reputation. “That’s why there are lakes, here,” Don Pedro had said to me one day, when we were huddling beneath a storm under an ancient and vast golf umbrella, walking his dog, Pedro.
But the changes weren’t just to our domestic life, and, now I had to face one of the consequences. With a heavy heart, I picked up the phone and rang George Dixter’s number. Of the three of my companions, he was the only one with a landline.
“What can I do for you?” his cultured voice responded with a friendly greeting.
“I have a small problem,” I said, sadly.
“How small?” It was a typical Dixter response – fun, but challenging.
“About three and a quarter kilos . . .” I replied in the same ironic tone.
“Too big for a new baby then,” He was laughing into the phone. “Let me guess, it’s a dog!”
I should have guessed that any one of them would get it quickly. Besides, the knowledge of the new arrival would be in ‘air’ of our mutual presence – a phrase Don Pedro used often.
“Have you ever had a dog?’ I asked, suspecting I knew the answer.
“Living on a farm? You’re kidding . . . we’ve had several. Getting any sleep?”
“A lot less than we had planned.”
He chuckled. There was something very ‘easy’ about Dixter. He could give you the sort of emotional space that made it easy to say what was really on your mind, regardless of how you started your sentiment.
“So, you can’t join us today because you’ve just discovered that new Collie pups are, (a) exhausting; and (b) don’t travel well?”
I held the silence, wondering if that was the full story. “Well, yes . . .”
The mental picture of me arriving in Grange, then extracting Tess from her ‘crate’ in the back of the car, then spending ten minutes cleaning off the doggy drool and sick with an old towel and copious wipes before trudging up the hill and while she tried to dart off in every direction before arriving . . . came to mind.
“Messy!’ he said, full of good-natured understanding. “It happens . . . what will you do, instead?”
“She’s okay on very short journeys, so I’ll take her to the local coffee shop on the edge of Kendal, where we can watch the river. “She’s never seen a river.”
My wife attends adult college once a week so this would limit what could be done. Whatever I did that day, it would have to be me and Tess, alone.
“Good idea.” he said, and then cut me off with, “Got to dash, talk later . . .”
An hour later, and feeling quite bereft of my regular contact with them, I sat under the winter parasol on the outside (no more warm interiors, I thought miserably) of the Costa Coffee at the edge of Kendal town centre. It was so cold and wet that Tess’ excitement had turned to quiet despond and I had to pick her off the wet pavement and sit her damp and shivering body on my knee to warm her up. I had bought a large coffee before I came to rejoin her at the table; so now, at least, we could spend a few minutes looking at the river, and socialising with passing fellow dog owners. It is amazing how many people you meet when you have a dog!
A short time later, I had just drained the take-away cup when the large hand descended on my shoulder and the unmistakable gruff voice said, “Ten pounds – we pay petrol, you buy coffee!”
I turned to see Don Pedro grinning at me. Beside him George Dixter was looking at the river Kent in full flood and smiling, as though this were the most natural thing in the world.
I took out my wallet, speechless. “I, I . . .”
“Latté, then . . .” He took the offered ten pound note, and with that the bulk of our spiritual leader disappeared into the coffee shop. Dixter took a seat opposite me, under the sodden parasol and proceeded to read his paper, still silent and occasionally looking up at Tess, now warming up a little on my muddy lap. At length, Don Pedro returned, carrying the three coffees.
“Going to get expensive for you, meeting like this!” he laughed.
“Yes,” I joined in with the humour. “Sorry about that. We didn’t really foresee what an effect it would have . . .”
George Dixter looked up from his paper and took a sip of coffee, looking intently at Don Pedro, who returned his gaze.
“Still trying change what is . . . he’ll never learn!” they both chortled.
Coffee with Don Pedro is usually published on Thursdays. The previous episodes, some of which are labelled ‘The Beast in the Cafe’ are in the blogs. You can follow the enigmatic trail by clicking on this link.
All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.
Contact details and an outline description are on the other pages of this blog and via the website at www.thesilenteye.co.uk