James Marston: Being confronted by a hound from hell is most frightening for non-dog people

James Marston

James Marston

Now, did you all have a nice Easter? It’s strange, isn’t it, that the country comes to a halt and no-one knows what to do with themselves because of a glut of chocolate?

I managed to play the organ in the ancient church of St James in the small West Suffolk village of Icklingham ? where I grew up ? without too many mistakes, though my sister accused me of a Les Dawson moment during There Is A Green Hill, which I thought a little unfair. I just happened to slip onto an E flat at the wrong moment.

Anyway, dear readers, my Easter afternoon was terrifying. I left the safety of my small Felixstowe flat with sea views (distant) after eating a Wispa Easter Egg and a packet of Scampi Fries and was taking a promenade along, well the promenade, minding my own business when a dog bounded up to me – wet, I might add – and attempted to jump into my arms. A most frightening and unpleasant experience for non-dog people; and I am, as regular readers might remember, particularly scared of big dogs after a nasty boyhood incident with a black Labrador.

In fact I was forced to take evasive action – I pirouetted around a few times in some kind of awkward tubby ballet routine.

The lady owner – who seemed to think it was somewhat amusing – shouted “Rover, Rover, Rover!” (not its real name) in an attempt to bring it to heel, though the dog itself didn’t reply.

I curtly informed the family, who didn’t really look like Labrador people – they weren’t wearing tweeds or carrying guns – that they ought to keep their animal under control. At which point, instead of apologizing profusely for the obvious distress caused, they argued back with me that it was under control.

Anyway, I retorted that no dog that bounds across a beach and jumps up at strangers like that and can’t be stopped is under control, a comment to which they had no answer. Indeed, it wasn’t until I had an emergency ice cream that I calmed down.

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So by the time Tuesday came I was quite glad to be back at work, away from the frivolity of the bank holiday.

My plain-speaking photographer friend Lucy, who is getting married later this year, escaped the office and enjoyed a Mini Milk – a blast from the past – and the sunshine of Christchurch Park as we discussed potential venues. I sometimes wonder what we talked about before she got engaged.