Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Parking goldfish in colourless driveways

Thanks to a general amnesty for blocking people's driveways offenders, I found Bessy asleep under a car parked in front of our driveway this morning. Margaret said parking in such a fashion was all the rage these days, given that private property is little respected in some quarters. I said I might give it a go, if I could get the car out.

Felix tells me that someone parking in front of your car is considered, in some parts, to be a sign of things to come. I asked if he meant as a fabled obstacle of some sort, a test of my character. He didn't respond immediately and we drank our tea. Later I asked again what he meant. He said I'd have to work out his sign before I could understand the sign of things to come. Bessy yawned and we left for the surgery.

When we arrived, George was on the roof looking out with the binoculars he has applied false eyelashes and mascara to. As a boy of four George had stalked rodents in the highlands of Ethiopia whilst singing melodies of great merit to his younger brother, Arnold, and dealing in coffee beans with local farmers. I asked if George felt blocked in some way in adulthood. He turned the binoculars on me and said that he knew how to get rid of blockages, if he needed to. I gulped.

I found Cookie with Mrs Carmichael dedicating the goldfish in the tank to a new deity they'd just that moment invented. This is what Mrs Carmichael does with her time. The deity was the god of summer things with no colour. All Mrs Carmichael's deities have no colour somewhere in their name. I asked if this blocked her to new business that demanded colour from gods. It would seem not. The goldfish had turned grey and Cookie was ecstatic.

Perhaps the person parking their car in front of our driveway feels life is getting less colourful, and wanted to change that a bit by parking the car for Bessy to wake up under. How thoughtful.

Monday, 30 July 2007

The disreputable walk on daisy stilts

I found Margaret reciting some sort of incantation in the kitchen. She doesn't believe in any Gods and neither does Bessy, but Bessy's ears do a little pirouette and she begins to walk on stilts. It makes Margaret laugh when she wakes up feeling sad, which is fine, but it took me an age to persuade Bessy to come for a walk without the stilts.

Felix tells me he balanced the needs of himself and the world last night, whilst sitting on the bench. It was clearly an exhausting exercise, since he hadn't made any tea. I asked what had brought the need to balance. It seems there are times when he feels a disproportionate equality coming on and this is what spurs it. To me that sounded like equality, just more so, but refrained from commenting because Felix was clearly past discussing it.

It was with some relief to find that George was looking equal with the world this morning. However, that relief soon dissipated. He told me my first patient was very cunning and liable to bring himself into disrepute without anyone realising it. I asked if that meant he was unduly equal as a consequence. George, with hands on hips, said the disreputable had no right to a consequence. That seemed a little dark for first thing in the morning.

Cookie's mother was, Cookie tells me, a desperate protector of the world of daises. I mentioned this to the apparently disreputable patient as I tried to work out what he was going to do that would bring him into disrepute. I didn't work it out, and I didn't see an act that would do anything other than ensure the man has my highest opinion, but Cookie told me it had happened regardless, though she didn't see anything either.

Which brings me back to stilts, and finding one's balance with the world, and celebrating the disreputable people just in case they help, or they're not disreputable.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Sharpening the unavoidable by blowing bubbles

Bessy woke us up this morning with yelps from the bathroom. She was eating soap and blowing bubbles, something she finds endlessly amusing. Margaret refuses to allow her to continue, mind, because she believes too many bubbles ruin a dog's self control.

Bessy was, however, still blowing bubbles when we wandered up to Felix on his bench. He said bubbles helped to give a dog's mind a sharpness they wouldn't otherwise have. I said I thought Bessy was sharp enough. He said that was a control freak speaking and that if I challenged him again on the matter, it would prove I was. I was rather put out by the suggestion but avoided contesting it for fear of making the situation worse.

George's mind is still sharp. He is a role model for me, he told me as I walked into the surgery, if I only paid attention. For example, look at his analysis of the proportion of vines with sub-optimal grape quality, that developed into full blown vintages having been mashed by size nine bare feet in the remote corner of Chateau Lacroix's northern courtyard in 1957. I agreed that this was a huge intellectual feat, and left for the safety of the surgery.

Mr Bunrose was in for some periodontal treatment. He's a very genteel man and seemed a little flustered as he entered. Apparently he'd bumped into an old school acquaintance he spent his life trying to avoid. Seeing how upset he was by his failure on this occasion, I suggested he gave up avoiding him so that he wouldn't fail in future. He said it was impossible to not try and avoid someone whose sole intention in life was to be unavoidable. Cookie said there was nothing wrong with that, as to avoid one's true self was shameless cowardice.

Which brings me on to the squirrel stealing all the food from the bird table. I wonder if he's doing a bit too much bubble-blowing and inducing a little too much unavoidability into the table.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Occupying character with traits whilst free falling

I found Margaret sitting on the kitchen table with a leg in the air. Her thoughts were crackly, she said, and she thought this might help - like it does with a radio. Bessy often wakes in the morning with her legs and tail sticking up in the air. It means she's been free falling in a dream and I've woken her before the parachute opens. I think it startles her somewhat to see my face next to hers mid-air.

Felix regularly parachutes into occupied territories, though he's stayed out of the Middle East. He tells me, though, everywhere is occupied, so his choice isn't limited. I asked if he'd ever parachuted into himself. He said that was one place that was too occupied, what with living and so on. I said that sounded like he thought I wasn't occupied sufficiently. He looked at Bessy and they both sighed.

I wonder, with George, when he's polishing his nails or texting his girlfriends, if he is sufficiently occupied. He reminds me often that it may seem like he's doing nothing but there's always the past to recall. For example, today George told me that in his youth he'd traded character traits with City Bankers and made himself a small fortune. I asked if he'd ever run out of traits. He scowled and said he had enough character to trade for eternity.

Cookie was gazing out of the window at our next patient who was sitting in the yew when I returned from my lunch. I asked her to call the patient in but Cookie said there was no need to since we could do everything from here. It's a trick of Cookie's that I play along with from time to time. I therefore gave our patient an inferior dental block and proceeded to place the filling she needed, with her seated on the yew tree and me in the surgery all the time. It's an impossible thing, but Cookie manages to get my hands to occupy two different spaces at the same time, though I've given up trying to work out how.

And so here I am now, thinking about free falling and occupying, and wondering whose space I'm falling into without knowing it.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Artistic imbalances and moral puddings

Margaret tells me there is a theoretical risk of Bessy's temper losing its balance today. I'm cautious when Margaret gives these warnings owing to their usual inaccuracy. However, even if the risk is small, I insist Bessy luffs - a word I have come to love. The imbalance, theoretical or not, is, as a consequence, yet to materialise.

Felix went to see his brother last night. Said brother, he told me, has formulated the hypothesis that war is the byproduct of making babies. Bessy looked disappointed, owing to her having delivered several dozens of puppies into the world. I told her it was only a hypothesis and she should continue with her luff-pose. Felix said his brother had another hypothesis: that war was the byproduct of trying to correct imbalances in the world. Bessy lay down and sighed.

George was part of a chain gang in his youth owing to an imbalance, apparently, in his morals. It is why he is so able to detect such imbalances in me, he says. One day, whilst affixed to a chain, he carved a beautiful pattern in the rock he was supposed to be breaking. He was freed because the governor recognised his moral imbalance was responsible for a magnificent work of art. I asked why he had given up the life as an artist. He said all life is art and, anyway, the rock thing was a doodle.

Our last patient this morning came in to have a wisdom tooth checked. He told us he is a manufacturer of horsewhips. Cookie said that was disgusting and nobody would ever find her eating fluffy puddings made from animals.

And that brings me neatly back to unproven theories about a dog's temper. Regardless of their veracity, they help start the day with some useful exercises.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Misinterpreting the handprints on a white elephant

Bessy woke this morning with a new doctrine that she wished to foster upon our small family, if not the world. It took some time to elucidate given her disrespect for the early morning, but is, as I understnad it, that we recognise the importance of White Elephants to our way of life. Margaret said we spent enough on Bessy already and, if she wasn't careful, she'd invoke the doctrine of slaughtering White Elephants. Bessy picked up her lead and we went to see Felix.

Felix tells me he is the opposite of a White Elephant. I asked what that is. He said that it was so unique, there wasn't an idiom for it yet. I suggested a black cockroach. We drank the remainder of our tea in silence.

George was looking very severe as I walked into the surgery this morning. He has a doctrine too: that I am to be treated like a self-aggrandising vagabond of little importance on Tuesday mornings, or any other morning he feels it necessary. Today I asked him, despite the frown, what he thought about White Elephants. He said there was nothing more flattering than to be pampered and spent money on, despite knowing one's lack of self-worth. I thought that was rather sad, so went to find Cookie.

Cookie was dressing up Mr Sickinabucket ready to do handprints. Cookie is experimenting with ways for patients to express themselves while lying in the chair with their mouths incommunicado. Mr Sickinabucket is a man with a lot to express.

When I had the rubber dam isolating his lower left central incisor, ready for root-canal treatment, I asked if he had ever considered his vast expressive ability as a form of self-aggrandisement. He indicated I look at the sheet of paper, which by this time had numerous multi-coloured handprints on it. He proceeded to dip a single finger in the paint, then apply it to the paper. Cookie said that it reminded her of a young plant that has had all its leaves eaten by slugs and that the slugs were probably sleeping well at this moment with a full belly. I don't think that was Mr Sickinabucket's intention.

Which made me think that doctrines, like any other expressive form, seem doomed to misinterpretation. On the other hand, it makes life more fun, which is a doctrine I'd like to instigate - at risk of being misinterpreted as something I haven't yet thought about.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Plastered heels

Being Saturday, Bessy took to her heels and hasn't come back. Margaret asked if we might plaster the walls with our youthful dreams again. I said we weren't youthful anymore. When we're three hundred years in the ground, she said, we'd think these days were youthful. So we're going to dream and plaster the walls, which should be fun.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Apples sucking brains from white cubes

Some days Bessy just doesn't want to get out of her bed. And some days Margaret doesn't want to get out of hers. And some days both sit under the shower and discuss apples falling from trees. On these days I have a slice of toast, put my jacket on and leave them to it. Today was such a day.

Felix was uncommonly quiet and pale this morning as we sat drinking tea. After gazing at the rain from beneath our umbrellas for some time, Felix told me his favourite seagull had taken to placing scary pictures in men's loos. Seeing how much this disturbed Felix, I didn't enquire why.

I did ask George, though, on my arrival at the surgery, if the scary child called Rosy was still due to visit us today. George told me there was nothing truly scary in the world, and that it was time for me to grow up. I turned my eyeballs inside out and George shrieked. I like that.

The scary Rosy came into the surgery and climbed into the sink. She told me that if I was going to look in her mouth, she was going to open my head and suck my brain out. I know she's only joking and that she's only three so she probably couldn't manage but, just in case, I said that from where I stood, her teeth looked fine.

Cookie tells me she thinks white cubes are scary because you never know when they're the right way up, which is true, I suppose.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Waterfalls making assumptions with devil's dung

Bessy was up wagging her tale at the crack of dawn today. It seems she has heard about Asafoetida at last, from the blue tits. It's been a long time coming. Margaret wanted Bessy to have nothing to do with any devil's dung, she said, so I was prevented, against my best wishes, from introducing Bessy to said plant.

Felix doesn't believe there is a devil, because if there was one there wouldn't be waterfalls and, since there are waterfalls, there can't be a devil. I said that this bit of deductive reasoning was based on the assumption that the devil could make rivers flow uphill, and that it is questionable if the devil would do that. If that was the case, he said, he'd find another assumption which would prove there was no devil.

George once canoed over a waterfall whilst eating all the words he'd ever said, backwards. It was a right-of-passage ceremony at the age of fifty-three and was intended to prove that despite the large volume of words he'd produced over the years, he could stomach them as well as everyone else. At the same time he was to prove he had a head for heights. He passaged with ease, evidently, though what to, I have never discovered.

Our last patient yesterday tells me he is a water rat with a penchant for standing, Christ-like, against south-facing brick walls. Whether or not this explains the state of his gums, I don't know. I told him off (again) about his smoking habit and lack of oral hygiene, and then asked him if he believed in the devil. He said the devil lives in people who give too much advice in an authoritative manner. Cookie said that was unfair, because there was no crime in making commercials, authoritative or not. I'm not sure what she meant.

Which brings me on to the blue tits in the garden. They're not there. I'm sure there's some devilry in that.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Social deviancy and lipstick smudges leave anticipated impressions, thankfully

It was with some pleasure that I found Margaret climbing up the Wisteria again this morning. It has been some years since I saw this last. Bessy was posing on the washing line in the manner of a social deviant with ruffled hair. I have no idea what she meant by a social deviant, but seeing these things makes a morning a real joy.

Felix never combs his hair because he says somebody passing may misread the signal. I asked if not combing his hair might send another signal, for example, an intention to climb a tense rock in a socially-determined manner. He declined to discuss the issue, he said, on the basis that anyone who read a signal in that way wasn't permitted to walk past the bench.

George read a signal wrongly and ended up working with me, he tells me (and his girlfriends) when his lipstick smudges. George climbed mountains in his youth with the same friend who set up as a florist in the Kalahari Desert. En route to the top of one particular mountain they discovered the origin of the 'anticipating exhaustion' pose. I wondered aloud if this meant they would be better prepared for when exhaustion arrived. He said I was extremely naive to think that just because exhaustion was anticipated, it would actually come to pass and, besides, there was little consensus on what the exhaustion pose should be. We left it at that.

Cookie was looking at me in a most exhausted manner (dare I say, pose?) when I entered the surgery after my mid-morning cup of coffee. Mrs Splence was in for an impression. Being beautiful expressions of a person's oral character, as Cookie sees them, she had just been migrating herself into Mrs Splence's jaw, so that she might partake in the wonder that is being taken an impression of. It keeps her happy, and the patients like the communal air it gives the procedure.

And that's the wonderful thing about days like today, when all the people that populate my world leave an impression on me that I can later ponder.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Bessy playing hide-and-seek with youthful sneezes

Felix tells me the small pile of stones he's laid in front of the bench are to bring peace to this little stretch of English countryside. This surprised both Bessy and me, given Felix's trenchant opposition to ordered stones and his self-declared bias towards realism.

Bessy never walks past an obstacle without limbering herself up and curling her lips back to make an unattractive grimace. Felix told her that these stones were more than a mere play-thing for dogs. She was clearly offended, as jumping over obstacles is a daily challenge, a proof - if you will - that she is not as decrepit as me. At least, that's how I interpret it.

George is always ready for a challenge. When I arrived at the surgery he was leaping about like a manicured bunny on hot coals. He does this every year, for a whole day, on the anniversary of the death of a friend of his who hopped twenty-four hours a day in order to achieve inner harmony. Remarkably he also did it whilst playing hide-and-seek in badger sets.

My first patient this morning lost his brother whilst playing hide-and-seek when they were three years old. The brother is still out there, apparently, as my patient wouldn't sneeze if he wasn't. Cookie has a rival sibling, she says, but given that I've never heard Cookie sneeze, I can't be sure the sister is still around.

And that's where the pile of rocks Felix built is so interesting to me. If you build something like that, how can you be sure the thing you're building it for isn't hiding behind it? Perhaps he's seeking, and peace is hiding, and always will be. Or maybe Bessy will knock the stones over and realise she's no fresher than me.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Plays raining from existential clouds that smile

I dreamt last night that Bessy had written a spectacular play when unconscious. I checked with Felix that it had only been a dream, when I drank tea with him at the bench. Felix said there were two ways of telling if a dog has written a play when unconscious or not: firstly, by asking the dog if it remembers writing it and secondly, by performing the play and seeing if the dog goes into an existential crisis when it sees it.

Cookie, when not otherwise engaged with the yew tree or her pop idols, likes to write fictional treatment plans for patients. Thus, Mr Warner arrived this morning expecting, according to his notes, to have implanted in his mouth Clouds-that-rain-sparkly-things-to-make-everyone-smile. I knew this was one of Cookie's fictions because the curmudgeonly Mr Warner wouldn't wish anyone a smile. There may be a sensible and self-preserving reason for this.

Margaret fell off a cloud once, when trying to reach for a tin of beans. We don't eat tinned beans anymore. George tells me there is a great tradition amongst his ancient clan of deliberately falling from clouds in order to improve the experience of eating tinned beans. He was sure I had missed a great opportunity by giving them up.

Talking of which, I am taking this opportunity between patients to recall Bessy's unconscious play from my dream, given the reviews it received. I have an idea I might have George perform it in the waiting room. From what I can recall, there were no clouds in the sky on the day the play took place. And there were no beans either, which is a shame. I trust Bessy will outlive the shock.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Chasing fairies in a Victorian Manner

When Bessy was a mere puppy she had a fetish for being attached in some manner to the roofs of black cabs. I mention this because, as I left to see Felix at the bench this morning, I noticed a hedgehog caught in a tree by its suspenders reading a work of non-fiction in Hindi. I've come across a fellow blogger who may have an opinion on this.

Felix grew attached to his bench approximately fifteen years ago when I was just starting out at my new dental practice. He tells me he was the first person to sit on the bench when it was erected in memory of a Mr Billious Hensham. Mr Hensham, it turns out, was a vegetarian who drove a black cab. He never came to see me, either when he was alive or dead, which I put down to Bessy.

George was with his Victorian Manners book again when I arrived at the surgery. He tells me Victorian Manners were the inevitable response to the liberal mayhem that came before the Victorian era. Cookie said she has a friend who sews the edges of skirts at any time of the year - not just in Spring - and that in her opinion there's no reason why said edge should be liberal.

Which reminds me of the artist who pops in every month to show us paintings of spring chickens dressed as bankers in pin-striped suits. They also ride in black cabs. I asked him today if spring chickens during the Victorian era were considered dangerously liberal or fashionably conservative. He looked at me as if I had said something untoward.

The interesting thing about Cookie is that she provides me with ample opportunity to escape George's Victorian censure in a way that I find most eerie. I suspect there was a similar phenomenon at work when the fairy that cab-attached-Bessy was chasing, got away.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Understanding cheese graters with impressionable personalities

When Cookie called me into the surgery this morning I was surprised to see Vivian - the lace maker - painting a cheese grater with waterlilies. This is the thing one does, according to Vivian, to make a statement to one's dentist about one's personality.

This reminded me that in the district adjoining the one George stayed in last summer in Paris, there was a woman who painted waterlilies on teeth for a small fee. This amused George no end and he rolled up each morning for a new set of lily-painted teeth. Felix detests any sort of lily because they remind him of men conniving in darkened rooms to bring about Armageddon.

What Vivian was after, it seems, was some attention to a wisdom tooth that was causing trouble as it erupted. Cookie detests the word erupt because it reminds her of her adolescence. Instead we talk of teeth glimpsing the world in its multivariant ways and coming to an understanding with it in due course. It keeps her happy.

Margaret wasn't very happy this morning because Bessy, instead of going out to relieve herself, had in fact built a barbecue from the loose bricks at the bottom of the garden. Margaret has an aversion to barbecues because they remind her of a misunderstanding she had with herself when she was three days old.

And that is why I am growing so concerned about the allegedly humble cheesegrater making its appearance in the dental surgery. What if, having expressed one's personality to one's dentist via a painting on said object, one comes to a misunderstanding with that personality? I'm not sure I know how I would cope.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Somersaulting over the hot water tap

I spent the night exploring the pipework, Bessy in tow, and surprised Margaret this morning by appearing from the hot tap instead of the cold. Bessy and I had a little chuckle and Margaret did a somersault. Which was a curious thing.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Drowning ancestors from walls of rhetoric

When there were men standing on walls purveying their rhetoric for a crowd's soul, one of my ancestors wrote poetry in the depths of a coal mine. Margaret has an ancestor who used to give advice to sheep on how best to secure themselves booty from shipwrecks on the South Wales coast. George's Great Grandfather canoed to India without a paddle. Cookie, meanwhile, insists she has no ancestors at all. Which is an intriguing thought.

As we drank tea in the sunshine this morning, Felix reminded me of the poet in my past, by alluding to Percy Bysshe Shelley and his drowning under rather disputed circumstances in 1822. From his vantage point overlooking the sea, Felix says he's seen several drownings in his time, including that of his ancestor, Tifanny, who was born in 1734.

In the surgery, Mr Bronson was sitting with a poetic swelling under his left eye. Mr Bronson tells me that suffering with pain is a goal worth striving for, that it brings about an elevation of the soul. Given his self-contentment I was rather ashamed to suggest that I might truncate this spiritual uplifting by removing the remnant of a tooth that was its cause.

I wondered if Mr Bronson might have felt the need to proclaim the merits of pain and suffering to the world from the top of walls. He said he proclaimed many things to the world, but only when he was alone on a sailing boat in the middle of the sea where nobody could hear him.

Which brings me back to my ancestor who wrote his poems on the mine wall, and then cut the wall for coal.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Conspiring to make dentures from a yew tree

Felix tells me he was considering visiting some co-conspirators in the Pacific Ocean. I asked what he was conspiring in. He said it wouldn't be a conspiracy if he told me. If I really wanted to know I would have to become a co-conspirator as well. But that wouldn't work because I'm not in the Pacific.

The yew tree outside my surgery window was helping Cookie with something emotional when I entered this morning. This surgery was built on an ancient burial site and the tree conveys to Cookie everything the deceased knew via its hollow interior. That's what she tells me, anyway.

George was listening to Frank Matcher who is a parliamentary lobbyist and happens to know an awful lot about ancient beauty-enhancing artefacts. As they were discussing the dying days of the cobweb facial bar, Mr Brinderbutt entered.

Mr Brinderbutt wears his dentures much as if they were artefact, ancient or otherwise. This is incidental, however, to his uncommon ability to enter hotel lobbies and then never to leave them. Today, though, he also visited us in the surgery. I asked if he thought his dentures enhanced his beauty. He said he never carries his beauty with him because it made his stay in hotel lobbies unbearable, which rather put an end to the discussion.

Cookie tells me that the yew tree is an artefact because dead people conspired to create it using their own remains. I asked if the people buried beneath were Pacific people. She said that was a ridiculous thing to think because everybody in those days thought fighting was a good thing.

I let Bessy have a long run along the cliffs this lunchtime. I wondered what she might say to Cookie if I buried her (once she's dead) beneath our yew tree. I also wondered if she'd take to being a co-conspirator with a bunch of violent hoodlums. I hope nobody thinks of burying me there.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Diamonds filling spaces left by shaded elephants

There is in this world a preponderance towards producing the fictional, that seems at times to be at odds with the preponderance to wanting fact. I have a feeling Bessy shares my concerns, though I am certain that her belief in herself is fictional, much like mine.

Felix is most certainly a fact and his insights into worlds I didn't realise existed, a remarkable phenomenon. This morning Felix told me he had just seen an elephant making cocktail umbrellas on the moon. The moon was still bright at 5am so I squinted hard to see. Felix told me the elephant had moved into the shade for a snooze until Happy Hour.

Cookie was busy talking to Mr Sunningdale about his wonderful interest in dental technicians. It seems that he is in the habit of observing said beings in the belief that one of them, one day, will turn into an avocado. Much intrigued, I asked if he was aware of a precedent for this. Cookie looked at me with a scathing eye and said that only countries had precedents, thank God, or there would be all sorts of problems in the world.

I had a friend at school who used to make scathing attacks on the way farmers were allowing their livestock to sing Christmas carols in the middle of summer. He was certain this affected their sense of season and, thus, their dietary habits. The friend devised a programme of summery music that he would sing in person to the afflicted beasts on sunny days. I believe it worked.

This brings me quite neatly to George, who is currently sorting his lunchbox as he rehearses his ancient Amazonian folk melody. It seems there aren't any elephants or other livestock mentioned in the song, though cocktails are. George tells me the story, which involves snakes sipping sexy drinks on beaches they've never seen, is entirely factual. Being that I have never been to the Amazon, I am hardly in a position to challenge this.

It seems that people have beliefs in all sorts of phenomena. In which case, with as little evidence of us being fact as there is regarding the elephant, the avocado or the serpents, I can hardly see why Bessy and I shouldn't believe in ourselves too.

Monday, 2 July 2007

On choreographing an award-winning awakening

The window was open and the bed unmade. I was sitting on top of the bookshelf dangling my legs aimlessly below. Margaret gave me a nudge from the TV set with her telescopic prod and told me to stop snoring. This woke me. Bessy was hanging by her tail from the curtain rail whistling a sweet nothing to her dreamy self. Thus our day as a family began.

It was no wonder everyone else looked so sleepy on my way to work. I had not even left our driveway when the postman - also named George but not the same person as my receptionist - blinked reddened eyes at me and handed me the mail. Somewhat alarmed at his distressed state, I asked if he'd slept awkwardly last night. He said he hadn't. I suggested that was why he looked so awful. He was still staring at me as I made my way past him and out through the gate.

Not having any mail of his own, I allowed Felix to open mine. He said I had been wasting electricity again. I asked how he knew. He said I had a bill. I blamed it all on Bessy who has taken to using a hairdryer, and she presently absconded, thus delaying my departure from the bench by an hour. I found her eventually up a tree discussing Magritte with a snail.

In the surgery George was proudly polishing a trophy. I am convinced it showed a biplane in the middle of some complicated aerial manoeuvre. I asked George if he'd returned to flying, knowing that in his past he flew from the North to South Pole in an open cockpit without any socks on.

It appears the trophy did not depict a biplane at all. Though George would not tell me what it showed, he was offended that I had not detected, as Cookie apparently had, that it was in fact the trophy for England's annual competition in the propagation of mysterious fates. I considered the trophy for some time and decided I was probably best just to nod.

I was unsure if Mr Brown was propagating his own mysterious fate when he entered the surgery asking me to fill the diastema between his upper central incisors. In order to mollify George I asked him for an expert opinion. He took one very cursory glance at Mr Brown and declared he was defining his own dento-facial fate, and that this was totally un-mysterious. I felt a little dissapointed on Mr Brown's behalf, though he seemed little concerned.

I suspect that propagating mysterious fates must be rather uncommon, though apart from this one occurrence with the unfortunate Mr Brown, I have no other evidence one way or the other. Perhaps, then, it is more common than I think, in which case, if George has won a trophy, he must be well-accomplished in yet another discipline I hadn't previously been aware of.

Sometimes I find it hard to keep up with George. Indeed, I find myself somewhat envious of his dynamism. Which has got me to wondering, this lunchtime, if there isn't an award available for the best choreographed morning awakening.