This is Flump (short for Fat Lump) and he was the great love of my life. (My husband is very understanding about this.) When he died ten years ago I wrote the following poem –


Remember me a little while,

Pause on the landing where I often lay,

So that climbing over me was a trial.

Say “Awkward dog!” just once more,

And smile.

From the bottom of the stairs,

Look up to where I once peered down on you.

Wear, one last time, the look that said

I was your love,

And you’d forgive me anything.

I knew it, all the while.

Miss me, but not for long.

I was your joy, don’t let me be your woe.

So remember me, and smile.

Then let me go.

When I was writing Farelli’s Wife I was wracking my brains trying to think of a good climax. It’s about a woman in love with her cousin’s widower. He loved his dead wife and feels guilty about loving another woman. Then I remembered this poem, and saw how it could be used to resolve the problem. She wrote it to him before her death, releasing him to love again. I had to adapt it slightly to take out dog references, but only a little, and basically its the same poem. The last verse is exactly the same.

That’s why Farelli’s Wife contains a dedication to Flump in the front.

He was the most beautiful dog who ever lived, and ten years later I still miss him. I haven’t been able to take his advice and let him go.

BERTIE 1 & 2

The first Bertie was only mine for a short time. When we went to live in Italy we took him with us. He had a dual personality. He would spend the nights out being macho cat, fighting all the local toms and loving all the females. (They say the number of black litters born in that area rose dramatically.)

In the morning hed come home with a smile on his face, curl up in my lap and be Mommys boy. He was loving in the way a dog is loving, endlessly wanting cuddles, and he was terribly upset when Flump, the dog, came to live with us. He didnt want to share the love, jumped out of my arms and snubbed me for six months.

At last we decided to return to England, and went across for a week to find a house. By that time we had three cats and two dogs. We left them in the house, being looked after by a friend.

But when we returned Bertie was gone. Hed simply gone out one day and never returned. The others were all fine, but we never saw Bertie again.

Maybe he met a sudden end on those dark country roads, but in Italy few of the female cats are neutered, and he did enjoy his fun. So I like to believe he chose to stay among the ladies who appreciated him.

Recently I got another cat and, rather unwisely, tried to duplicate Bertie, even to giving him the same name. But, of course, hes his own cat, and insists on his own personality. He gives me his company while Im writing, but on his own terms, and hes not one for cuddles.

Its taken time, but weve reached an accommodation. He gives the orders, I obey them, which seems about fair.