Sunday, 16 March 2008

Imaginary Menagerie

As you may know, we've recently taken on an imaginary cat called Fluffy to see us through when our dog Jessie eventually dies - not long now as I have to carry her down the two steps to the kitchen, and help her down the one step into the garden, and even then she fell sideways into a rhododendron bush after taking a shit yesterday.

Lauren is delighted with Fluffy, particularly as I have assured her the cat (actually, she's still only a kitten) sits on my head all day while I am writing, like a bonnet in Cranford. Lauren has consquently gone and got herself an imaginary horse called Peaches. She is training Peaches to do all sorts of tricks like the one in this video.

Imaginary animals are much more burdensome than you might assume. For a start, they have to have all the characteristics of real animals - otherwise what's the point? So last night while we were having dinner, it was raining so much that we brought Peaches inside and let her shelter in the kitchen. So then you have to walk round her every time you go to get the horseradish (no pun intended - we were eating beef) or whatever. And while obviously you don't have to actually feed them hay, you have to imagine feeding them hay, or polo mints, and then exercising them on Clapham Common, and this in itself can be very time-consuming.

Also, I have insisted that Peaches should be a miniature horse (wasn't there one in the news recently who only stood 18 inches tall?) as we haven't much room. But when I reseached the various miniature horse websites, it turns out that you have to have two of them, because otherwise they get lonely. So now we've got a second imaginary miniature horse called Mambo. But then didn't I read somewhere that if you have more than one horse you have to get a donkey, to stop the horses fighting?

This imaginary menagerie is getting out of hand. The one advantage (apart from the obvious financial one) is that, because you have absolute power over them, so long as you don't cheat and you stick with the basic characteristics of the animal, you can determine other aspects of their nature and existence which can be as mythical or magical as you see fit.

In this case, I have decided that their existence should be tied to Jessie's existence. So long as she lives, our house will remain crowded with these ridiculous creatures. But if (when) one day soon I come downstairs to discover the quiet, not-breathing body of darling Jessie, then the clattering of hooves, the purring etc. will also fall quiet at exactly the same time. (Yes, I know that Fluffy's existence was first brought into being to compensate for Jessie's death but honestly, you don't have to live with it.)

Just in case Jessie doesn't die peacefully in her sleep but starts to suffer and has to be put down, I have talked to the vet about coming to the house to do it. She has agreed in principle. I don't know, however, whether her goodwill will extend to euthanising our imaginary animals during the visit.

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