Get Your Laughing Tackle Around this
“What’s your dog’s name?” he asked, having ordered a large scotch and a gin and tonic. “Oh, and a pint of lager, please,” he added.
“Just Mutt,” I replied and put the pint down in front of him.
“Jusmutt. That’s an odd name.” He turned toward the table where his wife was sitting and called, “Hey darling, the dog is called Jusmutt!” She grimaced. “What an odd name.” I was about to explain, when a group of guys from the pirate radio station came in. The ship, which housed an illegal radio station, was anchored just outside territorial waters. When the crew and disc jockeys came ashore, we would end up with them spending the evening.
Mutt was a pajama case that bore a striking resemblance to a small, cute, cuddly dog. I found him abandoned in the laundry room, and after some futile enquiries as to his ownership, I had installed him in the corner of the bar. He was given his own food and water bowls and even a collar with his name on it. He quickly gained celebrity status with a history of adventure and heroism. Renowned as a vicious guard dog as well as the protector of the small and the innocent, he was on several occasions, in need of retrieval from the arms of a child or the clutches of the inebriated.
One morning when I came in, he was gone. No one could shed light on his whereabouts. Customers were asked if they had seen him. Sonia the waitress, who was particularly fond of him, put a note in the window of the post office offering a £50 reward for his safe return. After a few days, his bowls and basket were removed, and when customers asked after him, they were told he was chasing sticks in the sky.
It was about three weeks later when Larry the potwasher came running into the bar, bubbling over with excitement. Standing there in his wet and permanently-stained long white coat, he could hardly contain himself. “They’ve got Mutt!” he blurted out. “Who’s got Mutt?” I asked. “Those guys on the radio! They want money for him or they will find out if he can swim! They said it on the radio just now!” He was trying to control his excitement.
By now, more of the staff were standing at the bar. It was decided to raise the ransom since we not only wanted Mutt back, but the money was to go to the hospital charity.
A collection box was placed in the staff room and another one on the bar. In no time, funds were raised to liberate Mutt from his incarceration and to save him from Davey Jones’ locker. The radio station acknowledged our generosity and promised to return Mutt unharmed.
Unfortunately, Mutt was not returned, and no amount of questioning helped us understand his fate.
We had all about given up hope when I opened an envelope postmarked from Paris. Inside was a photograph of Mutt in front of The Eiffel Tower. On the reverse was written, “Having a great time. Mutt.”
About a week later, another photograph of Mutt arrived – in front of The Berlin Wall. His travels then took him to The Vatican, Moscow, Tokyo, and Calcutta. Often the feet of a human traveling companion could be seen in the photo, and in one, a group of small children were bending down to stroke him.
After several months, the time between the envelopes started to get longer, until no more appeared. It was perhaps a year since Mutt’s initial disappearance when a parcel arrived with the by now familiar handwriting on the front. A penknife slid across the bar toward me, and in utter silence, I opened the parcel. I lifted the lid off the cardboard shoebox, and curled up in tissue paper, was Mutt.
A collective shout filled the bar, and someone said, “Look there’s an envelope”. I read the contents aloud: “Dear Friends, I have now finished my extensive travels and have returned to you. I do hope that you did not miss me too much and that you enjoyed the photos I sent. Now that I am back, where are the treats?