Donald MacInnes: The dog that sold for a million and a vision of Father Ted


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Welcome to another seasonal “Best of In the Red”. I do hope Santa was good to you and you managed to get through the holiday without any fairy light-based violence.

Anyway, to business. Last spring saw an announcement in China that a Tibetan mastiff puppy had been sold for nearly £1.2m. Even in China, this is a lot of money...

A property magnate dropped 12 million yuan for the one-year-old behemoth – which weighs a patio-cracking 80kg and is in possession of a quite magnificent golden mane – at a prestige pet show in Hangzhou. Another example of the breed was sold for £600,000.

Zhang Gengyun, the chap who bred both dogs, said (in Chinese, presumably): “They have lion’s blood and are top-of-the-range mastiff studs.”

Hold on – lion’s blood? I find that pretty hard to believe. The last time such a claim was made was when erstwhile drug-enjoyer Charlie Sheen said he had tiger blood. And look what happened to him. That’s right: he ended up getting a brand new sitcom and a sackful of money from his old employers.

In May, my wife and I took a trip to Ireland …

When you get out into the near-lunar landscape of parts of Donegal, the lack of, well, any people is reflected in the way many local businesses double up; half-grocer/half-taxi office. This was best illustrated in a wee place called Church Hill, where the local boozer was also home to the local undertaker.

Yes, it sounds like a pitch for a sitcom idea, but it’s real. We also visited a half-pub/half-sweet shop (“Two pints and a bag of liquorice torpedoes, please”). But it wasn’t the most memorable instance of Ireland doing it her own way. Throughout the weekend, the local undertaker (who had recently passed away) was lying in waxy state in his erstwhile front room, while a three-day wake went on around him. I was invited to attend but declined, claiming that, as a Protestant, I wouldn’t know where to look at such an occasion. What if I got nervous and said the wrong thing to the priest? Our host snorted: “Priest!? Nah, he’ll just show up for 10 minutes, say a rosary and feck off.”

As summer blossomed, it was announced that Brooklyn Beckham had got his first job, as a barista in some west London coffee shop. I was far from surprised …

Given the near-Amish work ethic displayed by his mum and dad over the past 20 years or so, it’s unlikely that their sharp-dressing offspring will be anything other than diligent, ambitious and beyond-their-years savvy in business. Let’s face it: he was never going to fail, was he? And if he did, we probably wouldn’t know about it.

One shot of him crawling out of Mahiki in a drooling daze, with a gamine society miss on his arm, would have his father lacing up his boots for one last Beckham special, only this time the boot would go flying up his boy’s behind.

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