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In the park a small dog is chasing ducks.  When the ducks reach the pond the dog does not follow them in but instead rolls on the floor and waits for its owner to tickle its belly.  I do not know what kind of small dog it is.  Nor do I know what kind of ducks they are.  Standard-issue park ducks, I suppose.  I wonder if this lack of detail matters.  Would I be a better writer if I knew the proper names for these things?

The owner tickles the small dog’s belly and then she throws a stick in the opposite direction to the pond, which the dog, of unspecified make or breed or whatever, obviously chases after.  Whilst the dog is chasing, she turns back to the pond, takes some bread from the pocket of her coat and hurls it towards the ducks.  With the wind behind it, the bread travels further than expected.  It seems to be olive and walnut ciabatta.

I could be wrong as I only make this identification as the bread arcs through the air, but I am pretty sure I am correct.  The question which now springs to mind – replacing the question of the specific breed of the dog, now returning with the stick between its drooly chops – is this:  What is she doing feeding such a well-to-do bread to a bunch of standard-issue ducks?

I decide that – although the dog owner is, presumably, able to differentiate between the various breeds of dog – she is perhaps unable to tell the difference between different types of bread.  This must be it.  I bite triumphantly into my braeburn.

Once I have finished my apple I consider approaching her and asking about the choice of bread, and maybe suggesting that it would be better to feed cheaper bread to the ducks.  I imagine how the conversation might go.

“Excuse me.  What is that you are feeding to the ducks, if you don’t mind me asking?”  “I don’t know, just some kind of bread.”  “Yes, I thought so.  It looks very much like ciabatta with olive and walnut in, to me.”  “Perhaps, I wouldn’t know… Good boy!”  (This last comment aimed toward the small dog and not myself.)  “That is rather expensive bread, are you aware that there are cheaper breads which may be more suitable to give to ducks.”  “Do ducks not need good bread?”  “I don’t think they appreciate it that much.”  “Oh.”  “Yes.”  “Well, thank you for the advice.  I will bear it in mind.”  “No problem.  By the way, could I ask what is the breed of your dog?”  “Sorry?”  “What kind of dog is it?”  (I point at the dog.)  “He.  He’s a spaniel.”  “Of course.  Thank you.”  “Goodbye.”  “Cheerio.”

Of course I do not even start this conversation and I am no nearer to learning what kind of dog I am watching chase ducks in the park, which I believe was the whole point of my wondering.

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2011

While the others dig the hole,

crunching spadefuls up and
out of the time-hard ground,

ocassionally pausing for swigs
of icy-cold canned drinks,

he sits in the corner and writes
a story which has nothing at all
to do with anything else.

They do not know that.

“Hey, hows about we put you in the
hole instead of the time capsule?”

one of them says, and he looks up
from his notebook, squints into the sun,

“You just stay down there and write until.”
“Until when?” he asks.  “Just until after the
apocalypse.”  They all laugh.  He laughs.

They put the time capsule down in the hole.

Ice Cream Sandwiches

We have completed little over a mile and a half when Ed turns to me and says:  “Can we slow down a bit?  My false leg is giving me trouble.”  I am surprised as we have been training together for months – stretched-out, long, sweaty laps of the park down the road.  “False leg?” I ask.  He holds his hands up like a hostage.  “You got me.  Ok, confession time.”  He goes on to tell me that he is actually Ed’s identical-but-for-the-false-leg twin brother Edwin.  “So, where’s Edward?”  Edwin points to the crowd and says:  “There he is.”  Edward waves and I swear at him and have to be restrained by Edwin.

We continue to run, now at a slower pace.  When we get to the point where the coast road turns inland we exit the route and rip off our numbered vests.  Edwin buys us both an ice cream.  The wind whips around the headland and whips around the whip of our Mr Whippys, all of the whipping making the ice-cream difficult to eat.

“We’ve met before,” Edwin tells me when I explain that I didn’t even know Edward had a twin brother.  “Remember that time we made ice cream sandwiches?  That was me.  And lots of other times.  We tend to swap in and out.  The leg makes things difficult but…”  He does not finish his sentence.  I am busy thinking down the years of our friendship and sending more swear words Edward’s way by whatever brotherly telepathy we seem to have cultivated during our many years of friendship.