It’s still comparatively early in the day, but it’s been such a long day.

I had to go and get some petrol, nothing altogether exciting there, but I decided that I would put up the Movie Night posters around the village on my way home. I also thought it would be an idea to clean off the advertising board outside the Clubhouse, so I don’t have people getting excited for ‘Churchill’ when I’ve done that now, and, since I was at the Club, I reasoned that I might as well empty the bottle bin.

One of the bar managers insists that we should empty the bottle bin every night. I don’t. This is entirely because we have a family opposite, with four children, all of whom are in education, and I have no intention of upsetting their sleep when they have school in the morning.

My solution to this quandary is simple: I empty the bottle bin during the day after my shift.

Today, there are builders in the Clubhouse. All this time I’ve been thinking about the portapotties, and wondering how we will cope. I have imagined them as the tall green plastic jobs you see on work-sites – the portapotties, not the builders. The green jobs don’t look entirely stable and it gets a bit gusty this way, also I don’t know how well lit they are. My concerns were for nought. The builders have erected a cabin, with recessed lighting and corridors, beautifully sparkling and I don’t know why we can’t just keep it on the front lawn and the hell with the grottiness within.

They have started ripping out the urinals and depositing them in a skip on the front drive. I managed to breathe in enough to get through the snug door, round the long way to the bar, and emptied the bottle bin without much difficulty.

Some muppet has tried to wrench the lock from the Legion display box at the shop. Before we had a lock, we used to get a number of unrelated adverts in the Legion box, left by people and organisations who clearly didn’t want to pay the couple of quid a week to advertise in the shop. The unknown adverts were taken down quite often, due to the fact I have never had a talent for buying my shopping in one go. I always run out of bread, milk, cheese, it’s as if I don’t know myself very well.

However, with that, I am always nearby to take extraneous adverts out of the Legion board.

Thankfully, the Club took pity on me and fitted a padlock. Secured across two fairly robust eye-hooks, someone has come along and twisted the lock around enough to open the eyes. This seems fairly small-scale vandalism, because nothing has been removed or added to the box. Still, it’s a diversion in my day, which I didn’t really need.

Dropping Aimée at work, I replaced the eye-hooks and muttered under my breath before returning to the homestead to consider how to get four over-excited dogs into my car without any of them, or me, losing sanity. I decided that this prospect warranted a cigarette, and since the carpet is more important than me, I had to stand on the porch to smoke. Just barely through the door, and there stood Aimée’s driving instructor.

I didn’t know she had a lesson and clearly neither did she, or she would have made arrangements regarding cover at work. After a little bit of back and forth, it was determined that they both need to check their emails, and I went smokeless because time was against me.

Usually, going to the groomer’s is a cheerful affair. The groomer is a delightful lady from my neck of the woods, who is patient and kind and terribly fond of our dogs. She has a proper friendship with each of the animals, and a ready supply of squeezy cheese, which keeps them focussed not on their feet but on the drip-feed of Primula.

All of the dogs have their own strangeness. Tara is the nicest dog in the world, unless you go near her feet, and then she’ll want to take your head off.

Doobie has a medical condition which makes moving difficult, but a personality which insists he is a dancer.

Poppy is a diva who can’t bear to play second fiddle.

And Pumpkin a nervous girl, who has had laser surgery, carpet burn and made a dew claw bleed all in the last couple of weeks.

I took Poppy and Pumpkin in first and explained that Aimée was at work and had just missed a driving lesson which, when I called her at work, she was convinced she’d cancelled.

Then Sam told me the awful truth. The shop next-door had run out and she had no squeezy cheese. Poppy had the fluff between her pads trimmed with no problem at all. She made a hell of a fuss about the nail clippers. In the absence of squeezy cheese, we experimented with dinky treats, each of which caused her to try and take my thumb off.

Pumpkin, on the other hand, was wonderful. The only positive to this week’s laser-based shenanigans is that she has grown accustomed to being handled, whether she’s especially happy about it or not.

Doobie is a massive tart for Sam. He wolfed down the treats, but his feet were done in moments. He jumped all over the groomer and raced around her salon, having a wonderful time. He tried to lick her face and she coped remarkably well, given that Doobie’s breath could kill a buffalo.

Tara has to be muzzled for a trimming, such is her worry over her feet. She was absolutely fine until a trainee veterinary nurse tried to trim her nails a few years ago. Tara has black nails, it’s tremendously hard to determine where the quick might be. After some guesswork, the trainee did her best, and hit the quick. Since then, Tara won’t let anyone near her feet. She has been learning, with the patient assistance of Sam, a muzzle and at least half a tube of squeezy cheese, that no-one is trying to hurt her. In the absence of her usual treat, she growled, a lot. She almost knocked herself off the table. She thundered at me, which never happens.

It was exhausting. We got back just over an hour ago. The dogs are all asleep. My nerves are worn down to the bone.

I probably should have given the groomer a tip. I’ll take her flowers next time. And my own supply of squeezy cheese.