This is a blog inspired by the acquisition of a new puppy (Simon, a Dobermann, born 15/11/2010). However, since even I don't really believe the emotional life of a puppy can sustain a blog indefinitely, I'm combining such reflections as Simon's progress gives rise to with my other indulgence, books. So this will be about books and dogs, in particular books about dogs, and dogs in books. There'll also be plenty of photos of Simon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

... nor thy neighbour's tentacled balloon.

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:

So Simon ends up looking like one of the Things from Where the Wild Things Are, and a little girl ends up in tears -- as, mutatis mutandis, the Lord warned would happen, although I think He intended for the covetor rather than the covetee to be smited (ungrammatical, but smitten sounds inappropriate).
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?

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