She was called Una. A ‘rescue’ dog: about 70 pounds: a mix of German shepherd, Collie, and Golden Retriever. A most regal and beautiful creature – independently-minded to a degree, yet never to the extent of imposing too great a strain on the love that bound us together. When I was travelling I never put her into a kennel, but always employed a very competent older lady to come and live in the house and look after her. Una crossed the country on the back seat of the car 14 times East to West and 15 times West to East; became a connoisseur of Rest Areas, displaying a restless anticipation when we were a mile or so away from one where we had stopped a year earlier.
She died two years ago: neurological issues diminished her ability to walk and rendered her incontinent. The night before she died I said ‘goodnight’ to her as she lay on the drop cloth in the sitting room – and for the first time ever I saw her eyes were filled with fear, the likes of which I had never seen before in any living creature. It was six o’clock the next morning when I awoke from a dream… every detail of which I can recall to this day.
I dreamt I was a small boy again – still in short trouser – standing at the door of a typically dark and low beamed Norman church (built by William the Conqueror in about 1075 A.D.) in North Yorkshire: the Parish Church where, as a lad, I pumped the bellows for the church organ which, at that time, had not been electrified – and where my best friend, Warwick Broadhead (who had just turned 13) was the church organist. I tried several times to open the door, but it was obviously locked. As I turned away a very small nun – well under five feet – came walking up the path. A long train from her wimple brushed the gravel behind her.