The Frog of Plush

You know you’re reading a good book when you’re constantly told to BE QUIET for falling into fits of giggles. Narrow Dog to Carcassonne is one of those great books. It’s the true story about a retired couple and their dog Jim (pronounced Sheem by the French which took me ages to realise) who sail/drive/boat their narrow boat from central England to the south of France! The style at first annoyed the hell out of me as you couldn’t work out who was talking, but I soon settled into Terry’s very poetic prose style. It’s a book anyone could love and a fantastic incentive to live life to the full. I wanted to quote just one long section from the book…

“Another thing, I said – it isn’t fair to put Jim in his kennel every night. Why Not? said Monica – he’s a dog. It’s a lovely comfortable kennel. He goes there a lot on his own. But if we give him his freedom at night, I said, he can sleep in my chair, or on the sofa, according to his whim. That dog is all whim, said Monica. The creature is ruined. He outwits you at everything. Whippets are supposed to have a gentle nature, not be following you round staring and yipping and hustling for treats and walks all day and listening for words so you have to spell things out like the country singer singing ‘D.I.V.O.R.C.E.’. He’s cunning, and passive-aggressive, and thieving and disrespectful.

But we have got this lovely boat, I said. And on a narrowboat everything must be used all the time. We must share our blessings. Why shouldn’t the poor creature sleep where he wishes? Because he’ll finish up on the bed, said Monica, and we’ll finish up in the kennel. Oh no, I said, oh no, that battle is won. He comes on the bed by invitation only and never at night. He’s accepted that. Animals are very sensitive about hierachy, and about space: about where they are allowed to lie – they never challenge the space of the alpha male. Which one is the alpha male? asked Monica. Me, I said – don’t worry about Jim, he knows how far he can go.

Jim went to his kennel in the bow towards the end of the evening and when we were going to bed he came down the boat a little and quietly occupied my chair and curled up. There you are, I said, how sweet. When I got up in the night for a pee he was a bit nearer, on the sofa, fast asleep. When I woke up in the morning he was lying on my chest, looking down my throat.”

See, you’re giggling! BE QUIET!