Friday, 27 May 2011

When the chauffeur returned our dog Taz from Racehorse Ritz he brought with him a raft of Part One Orders. We were instructed to limit him to one room,.accompany him at all times to the ablutions, not allow him to climb on furniture and above all not let him escape to the Great Outdoors.

Here, at Stalag Luft One, an anti-escape committee was convened. It was pointed out that this entire dwelling was about the same size as my library in our home at Aberbraint. Therefore it was proposed, and seconded, that for the purposes of command the ground (and only) floor of Stalag Luft be designated as 'one room'. A further proposal was adopted that furniture be rearranged in the drawing room to limit movement in early stage of convalescence/captivity. Dog walker to be re- mustered as dog sitter.

The meeting was then adjourned and adjutant(me) retired to my study. Closely followed by Taz, who had ignored recently erected barriers and now glared at him challengingly from the plastic cone which prevents him from biting stitches. An escort was summoned and prisoner and escort were marched out to confinement suite.

Adjutant returned to study and peace reigned until rent by scream from Head Ferret. The dog under advisement had vanished. Suite search failed to discover signs of tunnel and guards were despatched to search perimeter fence. Prisoner discovered hiding behind hedge. Challenging glare replaced by smug insubordinate expression. Prisoner returned to punishment suite. Peace reigned after Last Post was piped.

At 6 am came a sound as of a plastic helmet being dashed against C.O.'s bedroom door. Adjutant observed dog butting said door. Returned prisoner to suite with adjutant spending night on armchair duty till reveille piped.Prisoner insisted on lullaby before sleep. Adjutant obliged and prisoner slept soundly

Anti-escape committee re-convened. Prisoner's records perused. Revealed considerable form for escaping whilst still an apprentice dog on recruitment to Unit.

The problem is that he insists on being with us. With us he is loving and obedient. If we are not within licking distance he gets a red mist. He is the only dog we have ever been owned by to be barred from a boarding kennels.

When he was badged with us on Anglesey he was billeted in a Kennel Yard in which bloodhounds had been confined. He pleaded guilty to burrowing beneath a 6ft high, heavy duty steel fence and tearing through wire on a padlocked gate. When repairs were effected he found a weak join four foot up, made a hole and jumped out. Left in the house, he ate through a listed window, demolished the cat flap, ripped out the phone cable and shredded the cushion flooring in a bid to burrow under the door.

Confined to cars, he ate fourteen seat belts. Estimated cost of replacing and repairing £3,000.

At this point it was discovered from a Children's TV programme that Taz is the shortened form of Tasmanian Devil. Obviously there were personality flaws his previous owners had kept to themselves. Happily his cheery, loving presence more than cancelled them out and it was observed that he only escaped as far as the gate, where he waited placidly for our return.

In the light of these disclosures, the anti-escape committee unanimously voted for compulsory parade of dog to view DVDs of “Colditz” and “Bridge Over the River Kwai” for instruction purposes. Dog warned that future acts of indiscipline may be punished by confinement to the Hole. Adjutant's objection to this description of his study overruled by CO.

Sadly over the weekend the wound became infected and Taz was back in the camp hospital, under guard, on a diet of money; leaving his bemused owners to wonder how his absence leaves a huge chasm so much greater than the space he occupies with his presence.

On Thursday we had an anxious call from the veterinary nurse. He had gone on hunger strike. He was refusing to eat hospital food. Could we bring round some chicken?

The C.O immediately went into Meals on Wheels mode and delivered a tasty melange of chicken and rice. The suggestion of the adjutant that he might like to wash it down with a saucer of Chardonnay was not well received. Before she returned a vet rang to say that if she wanted to visit Taz after Rounds she would be welcome.

That day we had lunch at 4 pm because a second vet rang to say he had been in touch with the Racehorse Ritz who said there was nothing to worry about. Wound infection often happened with greyhounds and Taz could come home the next day.

The adjutant is as well as can be expected though exhibits a worrying tendency to jump nervously for no apparent reason. No doubt in time the attendant nervous twitch will disappear.


Lord Dannett, the noisy Christian who used to be C.I.G.S. is predictably against defence cuts. He says if we do make them we won't be a great nation any more. He asks if that is what we want.

General, you can bet your sweet arse it is. It is time we gave up our seat at the top table. It is time we gave up trying to turn Afghanistan into Slumberland. Afghanistanis are an undisciplined mob which lives to fight.
General, the MOD is already 3.5 million in debt financing your folies de grandeur. Add to that a further billion fighting the Libyan army, whose military experience in war is limited to stealing petrol from the 8th Army.

May I remind you that you are borrowing from your countrymen, who are so broke we are closing care centres and libraries, throwing millions out of work? We even have to buy hospitals on HP.

General, you seem to have misunderstood our role, or perhaps you have not noticed the Empire has gone. Nations sit on the top table because they are powerful and call the shots. We are not. Borrowing billions to buy lethal toys and giving billions in Aid to countries wealthier than we are will not buy us privileges to which we are no longer entitled.

But that is not the reason I want us to be a little nation, bothering no one. The reason is guilt.

My ancestors fought at Hastings, Crecy, Agincourt, in the Civil War; at Ramillies, Waterloo, Trafalgar; in the Crimea and in the Zulu and Boer wars, and every silly war including World Wars One and Two. A branch of us even fought in the American Civil War. It didn't do us any good. We learned nothing, Worse, I am of the generation of World War Two. I grew up watching the destruction of my cities, the death of my school fellows in a succession of blitzes. I spent two years in a beaten Germany, witness to its degredation and the mass obliteration of Berlin, Hamburg, Hanover and Cologne.

My guilt? I have fathered a generation which has learned nothing. A generation of people like you, General, who believe that war is a solution, not a problem. It is something of which I am deeply ashamed and eager to make reparations.

Thanks to my publishing friends Revel Barker and Neil Marr, the thirty odd books I have written are being republished and all the royalties are going to service charities. It won't wash away the guilt I feel but it might help the fine young men and women who will go through life without limbs or genitals just so that our generals and our politicians can swank on a top table they have no right to share.


A mass display of public disobedience, of judicial petulance, blatant abuse of parliamentary privilege and a commercially driven media campaign............

So now we know that Ryan Giggs had it off with Imogen Thomas. Do we feel (a) greatly relieved (b) proud that a blow has been struck for media freedom or (c) slightly shabby and wondering what the fuss was all about? Young men filled with adulation and money, surrounded by nubile young girls eager to give their all. The wonder would be that a testoterone-brimming Adonis turned down the opportunity. I do not suppose the cuckolded Mrs Giggs feels better for the fact we all know of her betrayal by the man she loved. Ms Thomas cannot enjoy the reputation that will be her lifetime companion.

I used to make a handsome living writing stories for the tabloids about similar situations. Cannot honestly say that I felt ashamed. My only fear was that one of my victims might have asked in answer to my probing:
“What has it got to do with you?” I wouldn't have had an answer.

Until recently all I knew of Giggs is that his dazzling talent has entertained thousands of supporters for over a decade. That he is universally liked...
I think I will stick with that memory and the feeling of relief that no one has been nosing into my private life in the way I nosed into theirs.

P.S. In passing, I cannnot believe that any legislation which muzzles Giles Coren is wholly bad.