There is a very expensive pet shop in Marlow which I do my best to walk past every time I'm there. It's not an easy task, I can tell you, but to date, I have managed to keep walking, preferring the cheaper independent one further down the road.
Yesterday morning, we were all sitting around the table in Baroosh, when a lifelong friend of Miss R joined us. He looked terrible, and under interrogation, finally revealed the reason for his snowy pallor and the heavy, grey bags dragging beneath his eyes. It turned out that as well as being a complete martyr to a bad back, he was also having problems with a rescue dog which had come to live with him and his mother some months ago. It turns out that the dog, Penny, has a problem with loud noises. Friday night, being the first of two when fireworks were being launched, had reached a hiatus with the diminutive Penny cowering under the dining table, shaking like a leaf and barking consistently for two hours.
I suggested to the lifelong friend that turning the television and radio up might have helped disguise the noise, but they had tried that without much success. All that happened was that the dog barked louder, and the lifelong friend and his mother had to have an early night as they both had headaches. They had also spent the two hours mouthing questions to the other over the racket, using hand signals to complement the miming, so it was no wonder that he looked a little shabby around the edges.
'Have you tried a thunder shirt?' I suggested. He looked at me as if I was talking nonsense, and thought I meant it was for him to wear. I also recommended the calming tablets and the pheromone spray which Reg has as alternatives to the aforementioned shirt.
So that is why we ended up in the very expensive pet shop. Of course, once you are in there, you don't have a hope in hell of leaving without being relieved of a vast amount of money. The lifelong friend managed to walk out of the shop with the pheromone spray and collar, while I bought chews, food and a couple of lights for the dogs for night time walks.
As we said goodbye to him at the top of the high street, I wished him luck for the second firework night.
'You know what?' he said, 'Maybe I'll wear the collar and sit next to the pheromone spray. I might sleep through the whole bloody lot'.
Now why didn't I think of that...