I am standing on the pavement outside Guild Care, where Mr B goes for his weekly pampering session, waiting for him and his wheelchair to be decanted from the Dial-a-Ride minibus by the ever patient Malcolm. All at once
my eye is taken by Something Rather Strange.
There is nothing unusual in that. As you know, I am always on the look-out for the strange, the weird, the unusual,
the beautiful, the bizarre. How else would I manage to find subject matter for the Daily Blog, almost every day? You, my readers, have come to expect it and everyone knows one should never, ever, shatter expectations.
Here is what I see: a woman has emerged from Guild Care, carrying in her arms - a guinea pig. I mean, why?
I pose this imponderable question to granddaughter Eleanor when she contacts me via FaceTime this afternoon. Eleanor has decided that we need to talk to each other more often via the telephone or FaceTime. This, you can imagine, is a Perfectly
Splendid Idea as far as I am concerned. Eleanor doesn’t believe in just phoning out of the blue; today’s call was pre-arranged so that she and her friend Nathan could provide me with their verdicts on the film Coco, the DVD of which I loaned her
last week. (My intrepid film reviewers think the film started slowly but improved as it went on and enjoyed it a great deal. Both guessed the scenes which had brought tears to my eyes but assured me neither of them were so afflicted.) My next phone call is
to be on Friday when the two of them are walking twelve and a half miles around Bewl Reservoir. They will call half-way round when they stop for lunch - as one who is, as you well know, Always Thinking About My Stomach, I am pleased to hear they will be refreshed
by more than my conversation.
Back to the guinea-pig - you thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you? But no, on further reflection I am wondering if it might
possibly have been part of a Pets for Therapy session? I do know that dogs, for example, have been found to bring comfort to the elderly and the lonely - maybe the clients at Guild Care have been energised (terrorised?) by the scampering feet of a guinea pig
scooting about the room and tripping people up, sending several right over the top of their walking frames as they try to avoid the Furry One.
I once interviewed
a lovely young woman who took her own dog into care homes to meet the residents. It made me wonder whether Mr B would enjoy the attentions of a canine companion. Not instead of me, you understand, but in addition. It would be able to sit on his foot and drape
its furry body against his legs, like my favourite labradoodle Annie did to me when I visited her at her home some time ago. I have rarely felt so comforted. When I raise this suggestion with Mr B, however, he says something like “Over my dead body!”
from which I surmise that he probably isn’t that keen. Mr B isn’t really what might be called a Dog Man.
There was one dog which completely won his
affections. He met him while on what was called a “Ride Along” with police officers in a city in California where I was on a business exchange. The police dog, an Alsatian called Vater, sat with Mr B in the back of the police van and kept tucking
his head under Mr B’s arm affectionately. Nevertheless, when called to action, that beautiful dog was swift, brave and totally fearless. Mr B will never forget him.
We once went to the headquarters of Canine Partners, an organisation which provides amazing dogs to transform the lives of people living with disabilities. When I say “amazing” it is no exaggeration - these dogs can load washing machines,
help with supermarket shopping, tuck their “partner” up in bed and get him or her up again in the morning. Such a dog would, indeed, threaten to make me redundant.
Perhaps, after all, a guinea pig would do?