I know this is neither original nor profound, but what is about other people's toys that makes them so much more attractive than our own? The Lord in His Wisdom knew all about it, and tried (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to put an end to it once and for all in the Tenth of the Ten Commandments: 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.' (Incidentally, what a fascinating hierarchy of desire, starting with the neighbour's house and ending with his ass).
Simon has been provided with a veritable cornucopia of toys:
(The cornucopia is in fact an Edgebaston wine box.)
You'd think Simon would be satisfied. But what happens? The neighbour comes to visit (well, neighbours, but I'm sure the Lord had a kind of collective neighbour in mind):
( The neighbour's dog, by the way, is a black Labrador called Liquorice, who will soon figure in this blog.) The neighbour's little daughter has recently acquired a new toy, which I can only describe as a balloon with tentacles, one of those ingenious inventions made possible by technological advance attendant upon the Space Race. Simon, whose attention is normally exclusively focused on poor long-suffering Liquorice, sees the tentacled balloon, and immediately covets it. For a Dobermann, as for King David of old (I'm thinking of Bathsheba, I think) to covet is to grab:
BUT enter Space Age Technology: the tentacled balloon miraculously survives twenty minutes in the Jaws of Hell, and after a merry chase, is restored, gob-covered but otherwise unharmed, to its rightful owner.
Moral: what's a bit of coveting between neighbours?