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The Curious Incident of Next-Door’s Dog Barking in the Night…

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Koala asleep
Image via Wikipedia

One night last week I was snoozing soundly in bed, all curled up and cosy, when I heard our dog barking. My eyes flew open; he never barks during the night. Or if he does, I never hear him.

You know, by now, how my minds works: ohmygod, we’ve got burglars! There’s a fire! Somebody’s stealing my car! Or the burglar’s trapped in a fire while trying to find my keys so he can steal my car…

And then I realised something – it wasn’t our dog barking, it was next door’s. Phew! Not my problem, so I was safe to carry on snoozing.

Wrong! I heard the bounce of bed springs and the creak of floorboards creaking (I’m sure our walls were built from Cornflakes packets; you can hear everything going on next-door, and yes, I mean everything, even the noises when he’s umm… entertaining – boing, boing, bounce, bounce, squeal, bang, bash, ahhhh!)

But where was I? Oh yeah, awake. And the neighbour hadn’t just thrown a shoe at the dog or politely asked for quiet, but he’d actually got up, therefore, by my reasoning, something was wrong!

So I asked myself the question a completely neurotic person should never, ever ask herself at 4 o’clock in the morning: Should I be worried? I mean, what could possibly be wrong next-door that might affect us?

Shocked Face [1]

Image by jnyemb via Flickr

Was there a fire? Should we evacuate? A burglar? An outside prowler? A rampant sexual predator? Was he heading for us? Our home? Our Car? Our oil tank? Was there a gas leak? Were we about to explode in our beds? (Thank God I don’t sleep naked!!) Subsidence? Were our semi-detached houses slipping down a mine shaft? Was there a flood? Was somebody ill? Passed out on the floor? Should I ring an ambulance? The police? The Army? What about George, Mildred and Penny on the other side? Were they in trouble? Had the dog heard a commotion from their side? Did they need help? A blanket? A cup of tea? Was it an earthquake? A thunderstorm? Lightning? Should I unplug the computers? Were we at war? Being bombed? About to be gassed? Was it nuclear? Did I have time for a wee?

Don't Panic Badge

Image by Jim Linwood via Flickr

It was no good; I had to get up and investigate. There was no sign of natural disaster or mass destruction downstairs, but Eldest son was sitting on the sofa watching TV.

‘What you doing, Nigel? It’s like half-four in the morning!’

‘Couldn’t sleep,’ he replied. ‘It was too noisy.’

See! I knew something monumentally awful was going down. There’s nothing more rewarding for a neurotic than having her worst fears realised! Was it aliens landing their spaceship in the garden?

‘Nah, it was Youngest Brother. I can’t share a room with him anymore, Mum, he’s so bloody noisy when he farts and snores in his sleep. It’s a wonder they didn’t hear him next-door!’

The Male is such a simple creature…

Enhydra lutris asleep 3

Image via Wikipedia

Youngest son and I engaged in a lively intellectual debate over breakfast this morning.

Actually that’s a lie.

Neither of us are what you would call Happy, Shiny Morning People. No, before midday our conversations generally consist of monosyllabic grunts and a series of informative hand gestures:

‘Mmmfl’ means ‘Good morning, revered mother of mine!’
*Point* ~ ‘May I have three Weetabix or two slices of toast for breakfast, please,’ depending, of course, whether he points to the cereal cupboard or the breadbin.
*Imitation gagging* ~ ‘You’ll have to have toast; the milk’s gone off.’
‘D’you wannonit?’ ~ ‘Peanut butter, or jam on your toast, darling?’
‘Sweary word’ ~
‘I seem to have forgotten to purchase bread. How about a lovely bowl of frozen peas, instead?’
‘Uggg!’ ~ ‘I need the loo.’
‘Teeeee!’ ~ ‘I’m having a particularly bad morning. Please make me a brew, or I’ll start throwing things.’
‘Lunch?’ ~ ‘Have you already made my lunch, Mother?’ This is, of course, a rhetorical question; Mother always makes lunch, otherwise, left to his own devices, the poor boy would starve.

Well, this morning I thought I’d shake things up a bit, get some old-fashioned family  communication going.

The conversation went  something like this:
Youngest: ‘Lunch?’
Mum: ‘Yes, honey. It’s out in the kitchen, ready. And I’ve done your drink as well.’
Youngest: ‘Ugg!’
Mum: ‘Well, please make sure you open the window this time. Yesterday –  Son, what is it? What’s wrong?’
A deep look of consternation had burrowed its way across my youngest son’s face. His eyebrows crossed, the skin around his glazed eyes puckered and I swear I saw his bottom lip tremble.
Mum: ‘What’s troubling you, darling?’ I asked, reaching across to smooth the furrows in his wrinkled brow. ‘Is it school? World hunger? National debt? Are you concerned about your future? The planet? Rising university fees? The fact that we have a duplicitous coalition government that nobody trusts?’
Youngest: ‘Nah! I was just wondering what you’d put in my sandwiches.’

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