Posted by Lyra Mollington
After last week’s trials and tribulations, I was looking forward to a week of rest and reflection. Mr M suggested a short break. Unfortunately, at our age, the stress of packing and travelling cancels out any benefits of getting away from it all. In any case, ‘it all’ is a centrally-heated home with all mod cons, a reclining chair and a bed with a memory foam mattress. Holiday cottages play havoc with my sciatica.
What I really needed was a week without death. However, this is easier said than done at my age. A few weeks ago, Daisy and I sat down to watch ‘Bargain Hunt’ only to discover that this was a tribute episode, shown in loving memory of one of the experts – our favourite, David Barby. We were distraught. We had no idea that he had died.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I watch rather a lot of TV. Would it be possible to watch television AND avoid death-related topics? Forward planning was the key. I decided that the programmes I could safely watch included ‘Hairy Bikers’; ‘Grand Designs’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. I also decided that there were going to be a lot of programmes I’d have to avoid, like ‘Homeland’; ‘999: What’s Your Emergency?’ and ‘Emmerdale’.
For two days, my television diet was dull but death-free. Until I was tripped up by Mr M. We were watching ‘Dad’s Army’ because I was fairly certain no-one ever dies in that, although I was trying not to dwell on how many of the actors are no longer with us. As the credits rolled, Mr M began fiddling absent-mindedly with the remote control. We were now watching a show called ‘The X Factor’. It seemed harmless enough until one of the contestants burst into tears. Her nan had died.
On Monday evening, with the remote carefully hidden, I settled down to watch a BBC2 documentary called ‘Wonderland: Walking with Dogs’. I have a soft spot for dogs, especially my canine companion Colin. I named him after a certain good-looking and talented young actor. Farrell of course, not Firth.
As the remarkable ‘Walking with Dogs’ stories unfolded, I wondered if Colin (the dog, not the actor) and I might have had a tale worth telling. Not that we would ever have been in the running: Vanessa Engle filmed her documentary on Hampstead Heath, which isn’t our local park. This is just as well because, judging from the experiences of one set of dog-walking ladies, Colin and I have had a lucky escape. Apparently dog-walkers were often stumbling across dead bodies on the Heath. Indeed, whilst the camera crew were there, a dead body was discovered. Although to everyone’s disappointment, it turned out to be someone fast asleep in a bush.
At the mention of ‘dead bodies’ I should have changed channels but I was gripped. The most poignant story of all was about a couple whose son had died a few months previously. They referred to their pet as a ‘rescue dog’ because he had rescued them. Their advice to anyone who had suffered an unbearably painful bereavement? Get a dog. Whilst a dog can never replace the person you have lost, he or she is a wonderful distraction.
I held Colin a little tighter. It was at this point that I heard a snuffling noise. I looked across at Mr M who was dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief. After a minute or two he regained his composure and said, ‘Have you seen the remote?’