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The Kennel Kernel

Friday Night In Mansfield

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For a weekend warm-up treat, I took my fat bitch to le Mans.

Quite right-of course that's bollocks. She's pregnant, & I'm skint, so we're hardly jetting off to la belle France. What really happened was that a short while before the Inns & Taverns of Mansfield traditionally close on a Friday night, I succumbed to the pressure of time & took my multiple expecting fat girl out to the town. My partner & I drove a vast basset hound called Dannon (named after a duck..) to the vet. This wasn’t for emergency out-of-hours weight reduction; it was pup chucking out time & her first baby was well & truly stuck. The wonderful fellow managed to skillfully twist & pull it out whilst we hung onto the poor girl who was less than happy about the whole thing & had she been left unembraced by the pair of us she would have been through their ceiling. Amazingly the pup was alive & we cleaned it & Dannon & I clambered into one of their tiled & gated pens out the back with both of them whilst they locked us all in. Unfortunately that was enough for new mum, who looked at her puppy with bleak revulsion & went straight to sleep. Which wasn’t much good for the remaining whelps. So the vet told us to bugger off for an hour whilst they caesered.

We hadn't eaten yet, & a finger-tip search through the ash tray in the car for parking money came up with a fistful of coinage, which we took to an iffy looking fish & chip shop on the outskirts of Mansfield. There was a beaten car outside & a couple of rough looking men queuing. As we walked in I belatedly consider our own appearance. I’m wearing a 15 year old & rather short pair of shorts, with white background & primary coloured kindergarten interpretations of round suns, helicopters, square houses, trees & a stick horsey, an equally ancient faded stripey T shirt with fraying holes & a bright yellow pair of plastic espadrilles. My partner is wearing her worst black shorts & shirt that have been through the wash several hundred times, & a bright blue version of same type of shoes. We’re tired, smelly & our hands & clothes are streaked with obvious blood stains & worse. It looks as if we’ve done Weeksy’s mountain bike race, traveled through the time tunnel back to 1992 & returned again with the attire of a tartrazined toddler & his emo baby sitter, pausing briefly to savagely mug a Cub Scout of his bob-a-job money. Even my feet look like they’ve given him a good shoeing. The fish shop lady doesn’t bat an eye lid when we ask if they have something we could clean our hands with before we eat-she wordlessly turns to get the roll of blue paper & hands us a wodge ran under the tap & then brightly asks ‘what would you like?’ It’s one of those fish & chip places that has burgers & kebabs, so we do the ½ pounder doggy dick ‘n’ cheese event, with salad & extra hot chilli sauce. Lots of chilli sauce-should plod saunter past I could have a vaguely credible explanation for the smears & blotches. Whilst it’s cooking I pop outside for an expectant Dad’s ciggy, passing a spikey haired teenage boy coming through the doorway. He’s left his girlfriend outside, who gives me a bright smile verging on the come-on. Astonished, I’ve sparked up the tab & wander well away from the adolescent couple before something goes badly wrong. This kind of shit always happens to me & I’ve learnt that distance is best. Pre-emptive legging it.

All comes clear as I cast a non-interceptable glance backwards. She’s leaning against the door frame, trying not to spill her tin of spesh & excitedly shouting at her boyfriend exactly what she wants in his all-in kebab. ‘Not too much mayonnaise’ she orders, ‘remember I’m on a diet.’ Oh no. Solidarity. So were we, except we’d forgotten. Supper comes, we get back in the car & speed off for a tour of suburban Mansfield, before we collect a groggy & much thinner dog & eight healthy puppies, & add to our collection of fluid stains. All in all, a better result than a cider hangover, a biffed nose & a short term goldfish in a bag from the carni at Cleethorpes.

But as ever, there’s a cost to life’s little enjoyments. Basset mums & their puppies need sitting with 24 hours a day, for the 1st 3 weeks. I’m re-introduced to the delights of daytime TV, bad overnight cable programming & I’ve developed an allergy to the puppies. Whilst my brain slowly dies I have an early & severe reminder of summer hayfever & sit opposite Dannon & her babies with itchy & scratchy eyes & streaming nose. Dannon occasionally gives me ‘you got off bloody lightly’ glare. Supper gets revenge in for her- I’ve been violently sneezing from my arse for 2 days now. Still-we’ve both lost a few pounds since Friday.

This morning I bought myself a chicken salad, bacon & mango chutney sarni into the puppy room for breakfast. I've never seen anyone abandon their babies so quickly & decisively & nearly pinch the entire lot off my lap. Looks like we're both back to normal then.

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Updated 28-04-09 at 03:03 by Editor



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