There was great excitement one misty Margate morning when Will and Mrs Turnstone appeared on the doorstep for a fleeting visit. ‘Sorry boys, I can’t take you out this time,’ said Will. ‘No dogs in the art gallery. Unless stuffed by Damien Hirst.’
‘He doesn’t mean stuffing your face, Alfie,’ beamed Ajax, licking Will and tangling his claws in Will’s scarf. ‘He means … skinning us and putting us on show in a glass cabinet.’
Alfie almost choked on the biscuit he’d snatched in his initial excitement.
‘Probably dressed in silly clothes like those Chihuahuas in woolly elf suits we saw on the train,’ continued Ajax.
‘You promised never to dress us for comic effect, T,’ Alfie growled.
Will, oblivious to this exchange, heard T say, ‘Nothing like that will ever happen to you while I’m here, boys, and you know it. And Will loves you too much for that to cross his mind.’
‘Indeed I do boys,’ said Will, ‘but just stay still, Ajax, while I free your claws from my scarf.’ ‘
Honestly! Ajax, you need them cutting,’ said Mrs T.
When Will and Mrs T had gone, Alfie asked if people did treat animals in that way. ‘A few people do,’ said T, ‘A few sad people. Hirst got rich and famous that way. But Will’s neither rich nor famous. He just likes dogs. And your nails do need clipping.’
‘We are so dependent,’ mused Ajax. ‘Back in the pod I had my own auto-nail-bar, completely independent. No need to go to the vet.’
‘No, but you enjoy being spoiled when you get there. You never had treats from an auto-nail-bar. In fact, zero treats in the pod at all. Every need fulfilled by the ’bots. Scientific food and drink, exactly what an Ossyrian needs. Exactly. No more. No excess.
‘Next time Will comes we might join him at Peter’s Fish Factory for fish and chips. If you don’t mind being dependent on the cooks to serve the whitebait just right?’