Last week I tried to write something for the very first time in my life. Well I say first time but of course I have written things before, like a letter to the bank or even a Christmas card.
What I mean is I tried to write something that is really from me that hopefully other people might actually want to read. So, inspired by the story of John Grogan, who wrote “Marley and Me” and then sold the film rights to Hollywood for an undisclosed fee, I sat down to write my first million dollar film script, and, you know what – it really is as hard as you think. And therein lies possibly a clue to writing – don’t think, just do it, which is of course true for a lot of things in life, but easier said than done, especially when there are so many distractions. The latest distraction in our lives is Molly, a fourteen-week old Tibetan Terrier, who is now waiting to be let back in by the back door. She has just been outside to do hopefully either a wee or a pooh or preferable both. I say hopefully because the more she does outside the less chance there is that she will sneak off into a corner behind the television or underneath the computer desk to leave a nasty surprise for us later on. If you have ever had a puppy then you will understand that “house-training” or “avoiding indoor eliminations” (poohing and weeing on the carpet to you and me) very quickly becomes the top priority.
On the advice of a doggy behavioural therapist (yes they do exist) I have decided to adopt the strict and consistent approach. This means locking your dog up in its crate or bench (cage to you and me) and only letting it out at hourly intervals for a toilet break and five minutes of playtime as a reward. Sounds straightforward enough but how do you resist a cute and cuddly real live bundle of joy who is gazing at you with big brown eyes and pining at full pitch to be played with? The solution proposed by the behavioural therapist is ear-plugs, and at this point I realised that people who really know about dogs just treat them like dogs and not as new family member. A dog needs to know who is the boss and exactly where it stands in the family pecking order – ie at the bottom. Molly doesn’t realise this yet and tends to treat the younger members of the family as play things, to occasionally sink her teeth into, rather than as masters. Oh well, with a human age of less than 2 she has time to learn.
Last week I took a 1000km trip by bus to the small ski resort of La Joue du Loup in France. If you’re wondering what this has got to do with Molly then please be patient, I’ll get there. On the other hand you may be wondering why on earth I chose to go by bus. At the risk of sounding as though I have just passed my “inburgerings” test with flying colours, the answer is, it was dirt cheap; 150 Euros to be exact, including transport, 2 nights accommodation and 3 days ski-pass. It sounded like a bargain and, with a “Royal Class” etiquette, I had a vision[nbsp] of travelling executive style. As it turned out, Royal Class has nothing to do with KLM Business Class, or indeed any kind of remotely comfortable mode of transport. There was nothing else for it than to prepare for a long night on the bus, armed only with a Singapore Airlines eye-patch, heavy duty industrial ear plugs and some sleeping tablets from the chemist. Of course, it is not really possible to sleep in a semi-reclining bus seat so the best available alternative is to sit back and enjoy the “in-flight “ entertainment.
I chatted with my fellow traveller about in-flight movies and we both agreed that they tend to be rather banal and designed for the lowest common appeal. We concluded that the perfect candidate for an in-flight movie would be a “rom-com” with Jennifer Aniston. Imagine our surprise (and smug looks) not five minutes later to see “Marley and Me”, come up on the screen.[nbsp] In case you missed this one at the cinema, Jennifer plays the wife of John Grogan, who wrote a memoir about being the owner of an unruly yellow Labrador named after Bob Marley. Having agreed with my fellow traveller that the film would be a hopelessly sentimental piece of Hollywood drivel, I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a forty-something male and new dog owner I am right in the middle of the target audience. It was re-assuring for me to see that, compared to Marley, who actually gets kicked out of doggy training classes, our Molly is a model of good behaviour.
There are no real surprises in this film but it’s harmless enough entertainment if you are in a bus seat with no where to go for the next 12 hours, and definitely recommended for all dog owners. We arrived bright, early and sleepless the next morning in La Joue du Loup, ready to hit the slopes. [nbsp] And what about Marley? Well, sorry for spoiling it but he dies in the end. Family pets are a lesson about life and death. My daughter was looking upset the other day so I asked her what was wrong. She said that she was sad because Molly would die one day. “That’s true “, I told her “but you’ll be well over 20 before that happens”. Not being able to imagine ever being over 20, my daughter was sufficiently re-assured.
By David Green [nbsp]