Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

I live with a dog. All right – my dog. If we started this note from his per­spec­tive, it would read a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. Any­way, I live with Rex Phillips. That is his name. It is a suit­able ap­pel­la­tion. Ev­ery­one agrees that when at rest he has a most royal de­meanour. He sits with his small fox ter­rier paws el­e­gantly crossed, head erect, eyes mak­ing only the barest of con­tact. You never look a prince in the eye. Don’t you know the first thing about eti­quette?

Rex is a prince among men. In his mind at least. The only trou­ble with his re­gal bear­ing is that I fear it does not ac­cord with his place in the world. He is af­ter all a dog. A fact that seems to mys­tify him some­what.

Sadly, we are not as one, Rex Phillips and I. Re­cently, I have been at­tempt­ing to halt diplo­matic re­la­tions with his high­ness. What mea­gre com­mu­nion and meet­ing of minds we might have shared has come abruptly to a halt.You might call it a stand­off.

Ev­ery­one else in the house­hold main­tains that they love the Ca­nis Rexus but, as I am al­ways at pains to point out, I am the only one who reg­u­larly suc­cumbs to his silent doggy pres­sures. What is a prince if not a sub­tle com­mu­ni­ca­tor of his will to power?

Per­haps he is too sub­tle, as I am the only one who ever re­ally gives in to that dogged will.

And his en­tire Machi­avel­lian will is bent to­ward this sin­gle thought:‘ When will my stupid sub­ject take me for my damn walk?’ Ev­ery time I ven­ture into my walk-in wardrobe (you can see where he might have de­vel­oped the as­so­ci­a­tion) and ri­fle around for a bit (of­ten aim­lessly, be­cause it can be a tricky thing, get­ting dressed) Rex po­si­tions him­self out­side the door and be­gins to sigh.

It starts pa­tiently but with an un­der­tow of ex­as­per­a­tion: ‘Will you get a move on…’ and builds up to a cli­max of ir­ri­ta­tion laced with de­spair: ‘For good­ness’ sake woman, what can be tak­ing you so long? Put your walk­ing shoes on al­ready and let’s go!’

You can tell he thinks fur is a far su­pe­rior so­lu­tion to the peren­nial prob­lem of the el­e­ments in re­la­tion to bare skin. He is also im­per­vi­ous to the im­port of a stiletto – the mere fact that I have spent time in the walk-in wardrobe im­plies a walk. Duggh!

But lately I am to­tally ig­nor­ing him. Our stand­off is the re­sult of years of angst, a cou­ple of falls (mine), some near misses, one vomit (his) and sev­eral very ten­der mus­cles. Also my knee is now play­ing up. No, I am not an old crock of a dog walker/run­ner. Rex has sim­ply bro­ken me. As soon as he gets the leash/ har­ness/choke chain – I have tried ev­ery per­mu­ta­tion – about his neck, he trans­mo­gri­fies into Thor the Avenger. Noth­ing re­gal about him now. He is just some crazed high­way­man cut­ting the coach off at the pass. Rex the beast: a solid ball of fur and teeth and spit­tle pulling for all its worth and at­tack­ing ev­ery­thing that moves. Well, al­most ev­ery­thing. In­ex­pli­ca­bly he pos­i­tively ig­nores the toy poo­dle on Sax­on­wold Drive. He lit­er­ally looks the other way.

But for the rest he be­haves like those lit­tle Grem­lins from outer space and my child­hood – evil, mal­con­tent lit­tle bug­gers with mur­der in their eyes. I used mace on him once. My man was in his ‘You will carry mace for pro­tec­tion’ phase. He was not nec­es­sar­ily think­ing of Rex at the time.But Rex had turned into the abom­inable monster out­side Woolies and all that the mace did was cause him a mo­ment of de­light. ‘Yes! Now this is more like it – burn­ing pep­per spray in­tro­duced into the mael­strom of bat­tle – nice one, lady!’ It’s like a par­tic­u­larly hard­core chap­ter in The Hunger

Games. Rex is go­ing to take out the neigh­bour­hood; it’s a life and death bat­tle of wills in the leafy sub­urbs; do not be fooled, people. And the minute we get home?

Prince Charles could take some coach­ing from this fel­low. In­stant poise.

Some­body told me about a dog whis­perer. Ap­par­ently you call the lady on the phone and she tunes in to your an­i­mal there and then. Your crea­ture promptly ex­plains via the eth­er­net what is go­ing on and she then re­ports back to you. The per­son who told me about that whis­perer is now feed­ing her prince free-range chicken and veg ev­ery morn­ing and night, and con­sid­er­ing a name change. Ap­par­ently he is not happy with ‘Leo’. I am so not call­ing her. I al­ready know what’s go­ing on in Rex’s ca­nine brain. I am not his bitch; I don’t care what he tells the lady on the phone.


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claire .co.za. Marie WHAT I AM READ­ING Frances Cor­ner is Head of Lon­don Col­lege of Fash­ion. Un­sur­pris­ingly, given her ob­vi­ous al­le­giance to the cause, she has penned a book called ‘Why Fash­ion Mat­ters’. It is prac­ti­cally a call to arms – a vivid com­pen­dium of facts, fig­ures (3-tril­lion-dol­lar busi­ness any­one?) and vi­gnettes mar­shalled into a glam­orous pack­age to make her point: ig­nore fash­ion at your peril. THIS MONTH GO TO page 12 to see what in­spired me in the fash­ion wardrobe.

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