Email 18th January 1998

So are you ready for today's story, children? Swallow your pills before I begin!

Once upon a time there was a handsome Scottish prince who had a wonderful head of hair, a one pack a day cigarette habit and a voice that could sometimes reach falsetto. He married a beautiful German princess and set up a new home in Gerrards Cross, a fashionable and not inexpensive neighbourhood in Southern England, which was at the time ruled over by the Baroness Thatcher.

The prince often went away and was sad that his wife was often on her own in the house. One day he went to a nearby kennel who'd been advertising German Shepherd puppies for sale. When he got there only one was left. She was the runt of the litter, a small dog with huge feet and the cutest eyes he'd ever seen. The evil kennel owner was going to kill her but the valiant prince took the puppy away and when he got home he made the princess close her eyes and placed the puppy in front of her. The little dog wagged it's tail and licked the hands of the princess who cried with happiness when she realised the prince had brought her a puppy and didn't want to play another one of his weird sex games. Everyone was happy and they decided to call the puppy Kerouac, the name of a king from another faraway country and the dog that followed Nick Nolte around in the film "Down and Out in Beverly Hills". The prince was often ironic!! (the other name they thought about was "bollocks" but they thought that the joke might wear thin after a few months!!) As the puppy had a pedigree and lots of famous grandparents they had to register her with the kennel club who didn't like the name for some reason and so the second choice name, Kerry Ann Borthwick, was used. This was a more girly name and the puppy liked this name instead of that of a beat poet with an alcohol problem.

And so Kerry grew up with the prince and princess and grew to like her new home where she could chew away happily on Italian shoes, Porsche sunglasses, telephone cables, sofas and the occasional door frame. How the prince and the princess laughed when on returning home from the local Chinese restaurant they found the entire spare room devastated and lots of the prince's treasures badly chewed including the original artwork of the inner sleeve of a long playing record called "Script for a Jesters Tear", and the collage from "Real to Reel".

Kerry was never locked in a room again although she was lucky the prince wasn't wearing a sidearm that night and that the princess calmed the prince down after a lot of threats and shouting!!

Kerry also stopped chewing things after one night she received a message in a blue flash after chewing through the mains wire of the prince's Sony Walkman charger.

Two years passed and Kerry didn't grow in relation to her paws. She didn't get on well at training classes and the couple gave up with the idea of dog shows and ever having an obedient dog. Meanwhile the wicked Baroness put up interest rates and the prince was having problems at work (This was a modern Royal family!). The money that the prince had been told he would be collecting that year hadn't appeared and it seemed that the prince had to make a big decision.

The prince and princess decided to change their lives and go home to the prince's own country. They sold their castle at a profit and set up home in an old run down farmhouse where they would build a recording studio for passing minstrels. The princess cried a lot or so it seemed, it was hard to tell because it rained all the time. She cried because it was so verdamtte scheisse cold and because she came from a city where you could have white tiled floors in the kitchen and not have to worry about long-haired German Shepherd dogs coming back from wet and muddy fields with dead rats in their jaws.

The house was always muddy and became very hairy as the dog continually moulted. But they were happy as the dog was a superb guard dog and frightened strangers away. They felt safe when they slept and when the baby came along Kerry looked after her and made sure she came to no harm. Kerry had a loud bark and could make human beings shit themselves even though all they had to worry about was if they were carrying anything edible which in Kerry's case took in a wide range of substances and objects including her favourite food which was cat litter, preferably used.

But the prince and princess knew there was a problem because they had Kerry x-rayed a long time ago and they were aware that Kerry had bad hips. The evil kennel owner had been unscrupulous and had allowed dogs in the same family to have puppies. Kerry had inherited a disease and soon had to be given lots of drugs to take away the pain she felt in her back especially when it was cold. As Scotland is a cold place she took lots of drugs, in fact more than the prince and princess had ever taken between them and so many that the prince and princess couldn't afford their own stash anymore (which was a good thing because they were a bit older now and should be responsible adults!!!). Kerry was a happy dog and so would you be children if you spent most of your average day completely out of your skull and feeling no pain!!!

But eventually she started to bark less and less, and lay about looking sad. She couldn't chase rabbits anymore (the last one she had was Tara's pet which she lay and stared at through the porch door for weeks until one day the little girl left the latch off and Kerry moved faster than she had for years to finally nail it!), she found it hard to swim against the tide when she tried to carry back sticks to the beach and she couldn't play football with the minstrels anymore!!

The prince had been away for 7 months chasing badgers and when he came back he knew that Kerry was very old and that the drugs weren't working as well anymore. He'd talked with the princess and their daughter and the family knew that Kerry would soon have to go to sleep and never wake up.

One night the prince was watching late night TV and Kerry came to him. He rubbed her head and she rested her bad hips against her favourite sofa. She looked very sad. After a few minutes she jumped with her front legs up onto the couch and hopped with her rear legs into a standing position before dumping herself down to rest. She yelped with pain and the prince knew it was time.

The family let Kerry have Christmas and the New Year house party. They gave her extra chocolate because it didn't matter about her weight anymore. They didn't shout at her or complain about the barking. She had more food than ever before and together with the extra drugs she was already in doggie heaven. The prince and princess didn't even ask about the mysterious wet patches that had been appearing more often in recent months. And the house was peaceful with only the family there, together again after a long time apart.

The family talked and everyone agreed it was time to say goodbye to Kerry. And so on Wednesday Neil, fellow 5-a-side team member and local friendly vet, came to the house, agreed with their decision and proceeded to administer the draft that would take Kerry away.

The prince and princess held their dog and watched her drift off to sleep, leaving her pain behind. The family all cried a lot and the prince had to have several large Spanish brandies and it wasn't even 12 o' clock yet. Late at night in the palace you can still hear Kerry's collar jingling in the darkness and sometimes the good Turkish carpet feels damp under your bare feet.

The palace doesn't feel the same anymore even though the messengers from DHL still shit themselves when they see the "guard dog" sign at the gate. As for the prince and princess, well they decided to move as they looked on Kerry's death as a sign that there were big changes happening in their life again and that the palace they lived in didn't need guarding any more. It was time for a change and a new beginning to another shaggy dog story....

lots of love Onkel Fish..

Part 4 will follow in a few days, I'm off to London on business!!!

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