I am currently coming out the back end of a tempus horribilis. A drip, drip, drip of disasters whose weight has brought the dam down flooding the horizon with challenge to those around. The final drip occurred today leading me to attach myself to the family dog and be propelled around the local wood for his morning constitutional in the hope that it would calm both him and me down.
The dog did not care of my lot. I growled at him a few times as he stayed too long savouring the scent of two day old Poodle poo and various aromas which he could not place but my heavens, they were lovely. I dragged him forward with a series of jerks realising that I was taking my anger out on him after which I gave myself a good telling off.
He then applied his trump card - he rolled in fox poo.
To the uninitiated, fox poo is first choice in faeces when applied to fur. If it was Champagne, it would be Cristal, if Caviar, it would be Beluga. It marks the wearer out from those around it. It is a head turner, like a well tailored Dior cocktail dress. However, unlike this season's Dior, it causes an intense feel of nausea from those who experience it.
Bitter experience supplemented by Dr Google has highlighted a foolproof solution to cut through fox poo. Tomato Ketchup. Indeed, it works for other forms of faeces as well the juice ejected by a worried skunk.
The dog looked at me satisfied with his make-over. I looked at him frustrated by being done-over.
For one moment, I thought of joining him knowing that the day could not get much worse. And he had a point - I needed to take life less seriously. A good roll on the forest floor would address the nagging itch that had been bothering me all morning together with giving me the opportunity to emit the same array of sounds the dog makes which I am sure would bring me back to nature and what is important in life. And a catastrophic deodorant failure had let there be little difference in my aroma and that of the waste products of Mr Fox.
I realised I had no tomato ketchup owing to a rash of grilled food consumed in recent days. Racking my brains, there was in fact precious little sauce in the house - bugger-all Bolognaise, bereft of Bearnaise and Horseradish was habsent. And as for knocking up the Jamie Oliver Tomato Ketchup recipe I recalled keeping, this seemed a sauce to far. But what I did remember was that we had a small amount of Barbecue Sauce sufficient to cover a medium sized dog but not sufficient for a fully grown adult. Whilst not tomato, it was close enough. The itch would have to wait.
We returned home and I confined the dog to the back garden as I raided the fridge for the solution to my woes and pulled on a raincoat to protect me from the Prince of Darkness's pong. Feeling he was being abandoned or expecting what might happen next, he started howling.
And then we engaged.
There are few more surreal experiences than pouring Barbecue sauce on a Cocker Spaniel before rubbing it into his fur. I thought of my late father banging the bottom of a ketchup bottle to get the last dregs onto his fish and chips, a regular treat when I was at school. Here I was doing the same onto a dog. He would have been so proud.
And in that instant, my worries all went away. There was a zen calm in my mind as I worked the goo-ey goodness into the dog's coat.
It worked. The pong dissipated as what had been designed for spare ribs and half cooked burgers did its work. It was "finger lickin good" but fortunately I didn't.
The dog was so pleased, he proceeded to dry himself on the curtains, my wife's dearly departed grandmother's armchair, the elderly cushions of a collection of garden chairs, a jumper which had been carelessly disguarded on the floor and some tea towels hanging up to dry by the cooker.
It was a cathartic experience for all if us. An act of catharsis which began when Mr Fox assumed the position and started to push. And ended with me forgetting my worries and putting Barbecue sauce on the shopping list.
It's enough to make you "purse your lips and whistle" a favourite tune by the Nation's favourite seventy-somethings on their final tour.