I am going to tell you a little story which does not show me up in a good light, but which I need to get off my chest.
My neighbour is a dapper octogenarian widower who, although he needs a walking stick, manages well alone. Some months ago he met a much younger widow with whom he now enjoys frequent sociable outings, mostly in his newly acquired turquoise cabriolet sporting a totally unsuitable baseball cap and fashionable sunglasses alongside his Jermyn Street shirt and trousers. He is an excellent raconteur and a gentleman and I am quite fond of him and do my best to be a good neighbour.
Anyhow, lying in bed the other night, I could not sleep for the persistent barking of his Jack Russell – and I mean persistent. Yap, yap, yap, bloody yap. This Chinese water torture went on from 11pm to 2.30am, luckily not disturbing my husband who was snoring peacefully by my side. I ended up using my shooting earplugs (not the most comfortable things to wear when lying down as you can imagine) and finally dropped off to sleep. The next morning I popped a letter of complaint through his letterbox.
Two days later, I noticed he hadn’t taken in his newspapers and he didn’t answer his phone. I rang his daughter who told me that he was in hospital and explained: “He was by the back gate calling his dog back to the house at midnight. When the dog finally trotted up to him, yapping, he took a swipe at her with his walking stick, fell over, broke his shoulder and, unable to get up, lay prostrate on the path until 7am when the refuse collectors arrived.” How guilty do I feel about that? Dreadful, because if I hadn’t bought some new soft earplugs I would have heard him moaning and rescued him from his plight. There was worse to come. “I haven’t had the heart to tell him yet” continued the daughter “but I’ve had to have the dog put down this morning – she had a stroke”.