Patch is in love.
As the wintery moon shone above Happy Days guest house in Weyport, Patch waxed lyrical to express himself in the only way a doggy could do in his predicament.
followed by another ‘Hooooowwwwwlllllllllllllllllll ….’
with an extra …. ‘lllllllllllllllllllllllll’ to end with a flourish and hopefully to alert the object of his vocal endeavours.
At that moment, as Mrs Childs reluctantly ‘answered’ the front door of the guest house, four of the doors from the surrounding properties were opened by irate neighbours while another vocalised his own feelings at being awakened by such a racket at 2.20am.
‘For goodness sake Mrs Childs shut that mutt up. I’m trying to get some sleep. If you don’t then I will and I promise you’ll never hear that daft dog again!’ bellowed an irate Davy Stockhampton as he hung his head out the bedroom window and unknown to him, revealed to the delight of the whole street, his penchant for Ninja Turtle pyjamas - but that’s another story.
‘He’s ruined my beauty sleep!’ wailed Davy, before slamming the window shut and hitting his head at the same time.
‘Davy can’t have had much sleep in the past 40 years the way he looks’, thought a highly embarrassed proprietoress of the guest house, though she wisely kept it to herself.
Turning her annoyance to the ‘star’ of the night’s entertainment she looked down angrily at the little dog.
‘Go home Patch, you naughty boy, else I’m going to have to call your up Ma’ she tried to reason with the animal but the besotted Bedlington ignored her plea.
‘Will you stop that wretched howling!’ demanded Mrs Child but again Patch hit just the wrong note.
‘That’s it. I warned you, you stupid dog.’ With that Mrs Childs went back into the house and returned two minutes later.
Much to the amusement of her half awake neighbours, but not to Our Patch, she threw a bucket of cold water over the baying Bedlington who was in mid howl when the sudden deluge flattened his musical attempts that descended into a whimper - like an electric organ in full flow turned off suddenly at the mains.
Patch was not amused. ‘If that woman wasn’t a kennel mate of a certain beautiful two paw, she would have had one of my famous Bedlington bites,’ thought Weyport’s wailing wolfer.
With that Mrs Childs shouted out in exasperation. ‘Take that, you daft dog and go home before I take a stick to you.’ With that she slammed the door hoping that her actions meant an end to the matter.
But Bedlingtons don’t give up!
All the commotion brought a sleepy Larsen to the door who had to be woken up by her landlady; the Danish policewoman was eager to investigate the ‘disturbance of the peace’ and noise violation.
‘Why, it’s that strange dog again who belongs to that nice, young boy. He’s been following me around everywhere since I pulled him from the sea,’ explained Larsen to Mrs Childs.
‘What Tommy Wagstaff been stalking you!’ exclaimed a shocked Mrs Childs.
‘What is stalked?’ queried a puzzled Larsen, ‘I do not know such a word. This little dog has been following me everywhere, I don’t know why. I had to shut the door on him to get away but that was at 9 o’clock and 12 minutes. Why is he still here?’
As soon as Larsen came to the door Patch suddenly changed, sat patiently in front of his object of adoration with a strange, soppy look, his head cocked to one side with his tongue hanging out and tail a wagging. More importantly for Mrs Childs and the rest of the neighbourhood he had stopped his horrendous howling.
While the rest of the street returned indoors, Mrs Childs, Larsen and hound remained outside.
‘Didn’t you hear that daft dog’s howling all night?’ asked the incredulous Mrs Childs.
‘No,’ replied Larsen, ‘we Danes sleep like windfarm with no wind. Once we turn off for the night that is it. It is recommended in the Danish police manual that officers should get eight hours sleep at night so they are prepared properly for duty the next night, so I have trained myself to sleep from exactly 10pm to 6am every night. So no I hear nothing.’
It wasn’t the response Mrs Childs was expecting but she had already learned to expect the unexpected from one of Copenhagen’s finest.
‘This dog has been howling outside the door all night. This is the third bucket of water I’ve poured over him but he doesn’t seem to take any notice. I think Miss Larsen…’
Larsen interrupted her.
‘My name is Larsen. Not Miss Larsen,’ Larsen corrected Mrs Childs.
‘I think Larsen,’ Mrs Childs continued, determined to finish her sentence, ‘this dog has the hots for you.’
She looked down at her ‘stalker’ who still drenched from his watery greeting, was now beginning to shiver.
‘Hots?’ queried a clearly perplexed Larsen. ‘I don’t understand your English. What is hots? The dog looks colds to me.’
‘It means,’ a clearly frustrated Mrs Childs retorted, ‘he fancies you; he’s taken a liking or a shine to you; he finds you attractive. You must know what that means Larsen. Even in Denmark!’
‘Fancies me, likes me, shines me, finds me attractive,’ replied a now agitated Larsen, ‘but it’s a dog!’
‘You know it’s a dog, I know it’s a dog but does the dog know it’s a dog?’ opined the landlady to her young and clearly attractive lodger.
They both looked down at Patch who sat patiently, with a stupid look on his face and still shaking a little, whether from the cold night air or the excitement of being in front of such beauty – Larsen that is, not Mrs Childs.
‘Well if you ask me it doesn’t surprise me. Typical male behaviour’ declared Mrs Childs, ‘Doesn’t matter if it’s a man or dog, they’re both the same, the randy beasts, particularly this time of the year. I should know, Mr Childs was just the like that canine,’ a comment which recalled some fond memories for the landlady, as a smile came to her face and she patted the back of her hair as she reminisced about her late husband. It was why her lodgings was called ‘Happy Days’, she recalled.
‘Men and dogs are all the same. Just wolves in sheep’s clothing,’ continued Mrs Childs.
‘Wolf in sheep’s clothing. I don’t understand,’ said the Dane. ‘You English are very strange, just like your language and your animals!’
It didn’t help when Larsen glanced at Patch who whilst definitely a dog in appearance, as the Bedlington’s fur dried started to take the shape of a sheep. It was all very confusing for the stunning Scandinavian stranger to the shores of Weyport.
‘Well we can’t stay out here all night in the freezing cold, we’ll all catch a death of cold,’ decided Mrs Childs. ‘I’m not having that mutt and his smelly fur in my clean guest house. No wonder it’s been howling all night it’s probably full of fleas. We will just have to take it home to Ma Wagstaff despite it being nearly three o’clock in the morning.’
‘Ya,’ replied Larsen. ‘It would be wrong to leave the little dog in the street. The owners are probably wondering where they’re pet is. Let us put our coats and shoes on Mrs Childs. . I will go with you.
‘I have an old rope somewhere for a lead,’ piped up the landlady but at this suggestion Patch let out a low growl.
‘I don’t think that will be necessary,’ said Larsen as she bent down to rub Patch’s tuft and immediately the growling stopped and at her touch the dog’s daft, soppy expression returned.
‘No,’ replied a bemused Mrs Childs, ‘I don’t think we need one, it will follow you anywhere I reckon!’
It was true. Patch never wandered away from the heels of the fragrant Larsen and within five minutes the trio were outside the Wagstaff residence.
‘Boy does she smell nice,’ thought Patch, following the delicious scent of ‘Little Mermaid on The Rocks’.
Mrs Childs knocked on the door until a light went on.
Ma came down to answer, she was not happy. Behind her was Da and shortly after Tommy, Emma, Victor and Edward who had come down the stairs – all rather groggily from this disturbance to their night’s sleep.
‘Your dog, I’m afraid to say, has been howling outside my house all night and he just won’t budge. I’ve seen it happen with dogs in pursued of bitches on heat but I haven’t even got a dog!’ exclaimed Mrs Childs, not without some enjoyment of the situation, now that she was wide awake.
‘I think your Patch has taken a shine to Miss Larsen here….’ added the landlady ….’
‘Larsen, I am called Larsen,’ interrupted Larsen.’
‘I beg your pardon “Larsen”, Larsen,’ continued Mrs Childs. ‘I’ve had to throw three buckets of water over him but nothing can pale his ardour. He’s had the whole street awake all night.’
Ma was not happy. She looked down at the ‘guilty as charged’ Patch and his hang dog expression was not enough to elicit any pity from his mistress (Mistress Ma that is, not the mistress of his romantic dreams!).
With that Ma pointed inside the house and gave her dreaded ‘Mistress Ma’ look to the now whimpering Patch, who desperately was trying to find some sympathy from fellow pack members but found none, although the children and Da found the whole episode secretly amusing.
Patch was despatched to his basket and the metaphorical doghouse.
‘I’m so, so sorry Mrs Childs, Miss …. I mean Larsen. ‘We’ve didn’t even know he was out of the house. I really must apologise to you and your neighbours having their sleep disturbed. I can assure you that it won’t happen again – even if it means taking Our Patch to the vets!
Even from his basket the Bedlington heard his Mistress’s remark and knew what that meant and a shiver ran through his whole body.
‘You’re right Mistress. It won’t be happening again,’ thought Patch, who after hearing the threat didn’t have any sleep himself the rest of the night at the thought of such a barbaric prospect.
Ma offered a weak smile and apologised yet again to the unexpected visitors to the door before they disappeared into the night.
The Wagstaff family assembled in the kitchen to discuss their pet’s latest misdemeanour.
‘Ow did e get out?’ asked an incredulous Emma. ‘All the doors and windows are shut.’
‘I can answer that,’ reasoned Victor, ‘e must have sneaked out last thing when Da was checkin’ on his pigeons. Yer knows what Our Patch is like. E’s like Houdini when e wants to go out.’
Da scratched his head.
‘Aye lad yer reet. I never even thought about it. Didn’t notice ‘im gone and went straight to bed after,’ he added.
‘That’s no excuse for him to be out all night and waking up the neighbourhood. Badddd dog,’ exclaimed a stern Ma, wagging her finger at him in admonishment.
Patch shrunk back in terror, imagining her finger as a veterinarian’s knife and his pride and joy on the chopping block; he gave a loud whimper.
‘E don’t ‘alf fancy that lady policewoman. I reckon e thinks it’s a Great Dane!’ said Tommy to everyone’s amusement except Ma’s.
‘It’s not the first Great Dane he’s chased, added the Wagstaff eldest child.
‘Well yer can’t blame ‘im Ma, that Larsen ain’t half a looker, they call her the Striking Viking down the Crown and Anchor,’ said Da sitting at the kitchen table. ‘I wouldn’t mind being ravaged, pillaged and carried off by her if her long boat came up Weyport marina.’
All the children laughed at Da’s boldness but Ma was not amused.
A tired and irritable Ma went straight to the sink, turned on the cold water tap and half-filled the washing bowl before picking it up and pouring it up over Da’s head.
‘If it’s good enuff for Our Patch to bring im to his senses, it’s good enuff for you Joe Wagstaff!’ exclaimed Ma before she slammed the kitchen door leaving a drenched Da and the four youngsters laughing with glee.
‘Looks like Our Patch is not the only one in the doghouse tonight, Our Da!’ concluded Victor.