Ben's Story - What to do Next?
Clive Baker was wide awake well before his alarm was due to sound at 6.30.
“God,” he thought as he woke. “What a weird dream that was about a talking dog.” And then he realised he hadn’t been dreaming. He swung out of bed, slipped on a dressing gown and went down to the kitchen to make tea as usual – half hoping that it had been a dream and that he wouldn’t find a dog down there. But he did.
Ben, still curled up by the big Aga cooker, opened an eye, but kept his head down waiting to see what would happen next. Clive, playing the same game, ignored the dog, filled the kettle, put a teacup, saucer and jug of milk on the tray and turned on the radio. Perhaps because they remain closer to their past thousands of years ago when they were hunters than man does to his hunting days, dogs are usually more patient than humans and Ben won the waiting game. Clive gave in and spoke first.
“Good morning Ben. Did you sleep well?”
Ben sighed. Humans did sometimes ask silly questions. Why on earth should a Labrador not sleep well? If there is nothing better to do, then a Labrador will simply close his eyes and take a nap.
“Yes thank you,” he replied politely. “But I would like to go out for a moment – and could I have some breakfast please?”
Clive opened the door and as Ben sniffed the air before strolling down the garden, he thought there is no doubt about it. Ben might be a very unusual Labrador, but he certainly was a Labrador. Clive found the dog food, poured some into a bowl and put it down beside the water bowl on the floor, then watched Ben exploring the garden, head down, tail up wagging confidently, sniffing around the plants.
A few minutes later whilst Clive was making his breakfast toast, a sharp bark told him that Ben was waiting to come in. In moments he hoovered up his breakfast and curled up under the table as Clive buttered his toast.
The waiting game continued. To anyone watching it would have looked like any well mannered dog at his master’s feet waiting to see what the day would bring. But this was different. Man and dog were both wondering just what would happen that day.
Eventually Clive pushed his plate away, finished his tea, got up and walked over to his fireside chair. Ben stayed put.
“Come on Ben,” he said at last. “We have to decide what happens next.”
An extract from "Ben's Story" by Norman Tebbit
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