Dom Joly: The trouble with Harry

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The Independent Online

I'm aware that this column has been a tad anally fixated of late. I apologise and promise it won't happen again for some time - but, first, I need to offload this one, so to speak.

A few months ago, Stacey and I were going away and facing our usual problem of what do with our beloved black Labrador, Huxley. We used to leave him with friends in London until it became clear that he had quite vehement views on multicultural Britain. It turned out that, despite being black himself, he is something of a racist and makes his views clear whenever he spots a Rastafarian. Not only was this wrong, but it was becoming embarrassing as the Rastafarians concerned invariably assumed Huxley was simply expressing my own, unspoken views.

So it's become better for all concerned if Huxley stays in the Shires when we have to farm him out. On this occasion, we had plumped for an old friend of mine who lives in Cheltenham called Harry. Some time ago, to the consternation of his family, Harry married his Belgian cousin. Since Huxley had never shown any aggression towards the Belgians, we thought it would be okay to leave him with them, however legal or illegal their union might be.

We went away and returned, picked up Huxley (who hadn't mauled any Belgians in the meantime), and that would have been that if I hadn't played a round of golf with Harry the other day. The story he told me as I fired new ball after new ball into the evil lake on the third hole highlighted the perils of marrying someone whose first language is not your own, never mind her being your cousin.

Apparently, one fine morning during Huxley's sojourn, Harry set off early in the morning to take him for a walk. Barely 600m from their house is the crèche that Harry's children attend. To his horror, when they reached it, Huxley roared up the drive and proceeded to take a huge dump right on the front porch. Harry, unused to dog-walking, had no plastic bags or pooper scoopers with him and therefore took the only sensible way out - he and Huxley scarpered before anyone spotted them.

As he returned past the scene of the crime 20 or so minutes later, it was to see the lovely lady who runs the crèche and looks after their children hosing the porch down, looking very annoyed. Harry waved and gave her his best "What has the world come to?" stare before scuttling back home to hide with Huxley.

Safely home, he confided in his misadventure to his Belgian wife. Something in her reaction was not quite as he expected. She seemed to be overly horrified by something that, in his eyes, was pretty much out of his control. It was early in the morning and there were no children at the crèche, so no one had been bothered apart from the woman who ran the crèche, and she only had to turn a hose on...

His Belgian wife stormed off ranting and raving but this was hardly uncommon so Harry decided to forget about it and get on with the day.

It was a month or so later that he discovered the real source of his wife's distress. They were in the car driving home past the crèche. As they passed the front porch she turned to him in the passenger seat.

"'Arry, I still cannot believe what you did, it is so disgusting, I am so embarrassed I can't even go back there no longer."

Harry started to protest. Surely she was making a mountain out of a molehill. No one knew it was to do with them; it was no big deal.

"NO BIG DEAL," she screamed as the car screeched to a halt. "'Arry, you, a grown man having a crap on the doorstep of his own children's crèche and then coming 'ome and boasting about it to your own wife. What the 'ell is wrong with you? You should go and see a psychiatrist." She was apoplectic.

She'd apparently discussed the whole scenario with friends and family abroad, quite at a loss as to how to deal with this curious matter. Marriage is tricky at the best of times but a mutual language is, I think, essential, even with your cousin.