Friday, 17 June 2011

Those Bundle Moments

Sometimes you can be asked things in a quiz, where the answer seems so far fetched that you just can’t believe it. I like to think of these occasions as my Bundle moments. I will try to explain.

My aunt had a talking dog. Actually that’s not really true. She was my great aunt, not my aunt. Now, when I say talking, you will appreciate that we’re not exactly talking the Gettysburg Address here. His vocabulary was strictly limited, and his diction left a lot to be desired.

I only actually encountered this prodigy , whose name was Bundle, on one occasion. Not long after my eldest daughter was born, Auntie Vera ( Auntie V. for short ) knitted a very pretty pram blanket for her, so Mary and I took her round to show her off. As we were having coffee, Auntie V’s dog entered the room, and sat down expectantly at her feet. Bundle was a schnauzer, a breed I’ve always liked. Auntie V took a biscuit – which I believe was one of Mr. McVitie’s most excellent HobNobs – from the packet, and looked down at Bundle, and casually asked him ,
“Bundle , do you want one ? “
To which Bundle, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, looked up, and said ,
“I want one.”
Well, I say that he said “I want one.” The truth is that he didn’t say anything, he whined something, and it was much more like “ Hiiii wwoorrrnnn wuuunnn.” As I said, the amazing thing wasn’t that he spoke well – it was that he even sounded as if he was speaking in the first place. I guessed from Auntie V’s reaction that it was something of a party piece, as she looked up triumphantly from him, and across at us. If she expected us to be amazed she wasn’t disappointed. I looked at Mary, she looked at me, and we both looked at Auntie V.
“Good Lord !” I said , or words to that effect. “Did he just say ‘I want one.’?”
“Oh yes, “ replied Auntie V. “He does that. “
“How on earth, “ I asked , “ did you ever get him to do that ? “
“I didn’t .” she replied, and then she began to tell us the whole story.

Auntie V. always had dogs. Now, there was a comprehensive school not far from her house, and a large number of the kids would pass by on the way home, so Auntie V. would let her dogs out the front in the afternoon so that they’d be there to bark at the kids as they went past. It takes all sorts. One day, about 5 o’clock in the afternoon there was a ring on the doorbell. Auntie V. opened it to find a man standing there with two boys, one maybe 11, and the other a little older.
“Excuse me missus, “ the man said, “ but my boys have been telling me about your talking dog, and I wonder if I could come in to see it. “
Well, according to Auntie V. she was sniffing his breath at this point to see if he’d been drinking, but then one of the boys piped up with .
“You know, the little grey one. When you go past, if you offer him some crisps or a biscuit, he says “I want one.”
At this Auntie V. invited them in, whipped out the biscuits, and called Bundle. He sat down, sensing that something good was in the offing, and she asked the question ,
“Bundle, do you want one ?”
“Hiii wooorrnnnn wuunnn !”
Of course, Bundle wasn’t really talking, and I doubt very much that Bundle had any idea of exactly what he was doing. But somehow he had once, whether by accident or design, made that sound , and seen the reaction that it got from the kids going past. He was smart enough to know that if someone’s holding out something nice to you, then that’s the noise to make.

When I tell you that my eldest daughter is now in her mid twenties, then you’ll understand that this all happened a long time ago. Bundle passed away. When I first heard Bundle I did suggest to Auntie V. that Bundle had it within him to become a minor sensation. This was long before the age of YouTube, but only a few years after a dog became a national celebrity when its owner manipulated its jaw so that it sounded like it was saying “Sausages” on the TV show That’s Life. Over 40s may well remember this, and under 40s can possibly find it on YouTube. As I saw it, Bundle scored doubly over the sausages dog because a) he could manage a whole phrase, and b) you didn’t even have to cheat by moving his jaws with your hands. Auntie V. wasn’t exactly horrified by the suggestion, but she informed me that she’d never dream of doing such a thing. As far as she was concerned it was just a funny little thing that Bundle did. When it amused friends and family, all well and good, but as for making him a source of amusement for complete strangers, forget it.

There’s no great moral, or quizzing link to this story. I mention it because in the quiz last night there was a question about the old sitcom Mr. Ed. – the one with the talking horse. One of the boys made a comment about it being a load of far fetched rubbish – no disagreement from me there – but this led to me regaling them with the story about Bundle. To which they responded – yeah, right, good story. You should write that one down . Which is why I did. Well , that and the fact that it does do to keep an open mind – sometimes the unusual or far fetched answer is actually ever bit as true as the question master says that it is. And that is why, dear friends, I call such moments of doubt, where I need to sit back and suspend my disbelief of an answer my Bundle moments.

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