Ray’s been back in a couple of times recently. When he arrives the front of house team find him and his dopey black lab a quiet seat out on the maelstrom that is our waiting room, and instead of the usual summoning by bells I actually get up and prowl the corridors to fetch them. Only the time before last there he was on his own.
The last time that happened it was because “Rockstar-dog” his first and dare I say prettier guide dog had succumbed to a coronary at the relatively spry age of ten. Since then he’s had “Dopey-dog”, who has been a faithful, if far more docile companion. So, with grim inevitability, I plant a size nine boot firmly in mouth by enquiring “What, no Rockstar-dog today?” Ray is of course far too much the gentleman to pull me up on my alarming faux pas, but gently says “No, Dopey-dog is out with my neighbour for a run...”
Our consultation runs its course, he’s actually looking better now than last summer when he was experiencing problems with his meds, and as we finish and I’m walking him back to the pharmacy, we return to the subject of the absent Dopey. Apparently the neighbour purloins him now and again to prowl the perimeter of the local golf course, seeking out strays. Stray golf balls that is. It turns out the neighbour is a devotee of the “good walk spoiled”.
Happily the quote stays firmly in my head, as Ray inquires if I play myself. I have to sheepishly admit I do not. I know it’s something of a cardinal sin for a chap of my tender years and noble profession not to play, but I never really saw the point. At my admission Rays face lights up in recollection—“You really should you know, it’s a great game. I used to love it, back before the arthritis got me.”
Now Ray is almost to the day ten years my senior, and the arthritis well and truly got him a good three and a tad decades ago. Anything that sparks such an evidently joyful reaction on reminiscence can’t be all bad, can it? So now I’m beginning to wonder if I’m missing out on something. Not that I’m sure I’ve got the time for a new pursuit just now, but that’s another story.
And yes, Dopey-dog was back next visit, and still in need of guiding, by me, to my room, the room he’s been coming to four or five times a year for most of his adult life while he’s been “guiding” Ray. But it seems the both of them know their way around a golf course better than I’m ever likely to.