Friday, 4 October 2013

Barking at the Moon

I was living in Spain, in a rambling pink house complete with peacocks and a guard dog Alsatian that was more likely to lick a burglar to death than bite them. The Alsatian's name was, rather unfortunately, Denise, and she used to bark at the moon several times a night, right outside my bedroom window. It being Spain, and summer, and hot, I always slept with the window open. This meant that the barking reached my slumbering ears at full volume. I loved Denise, but anyone, man or beast, who interrupts my sleep on a regular basis is not going to rank high on the popularity charts.

I would generally toss and turn through the first three or four outbursts, but eventually, exasperated, I would leap from the bed, fling my head out of the window and yell "DENIIIISE" at full volume and with considerable vehemence. This was surprisingly effective, until the moon peeked back from behind the clouds and the darn dog started up again. This usually happened approximately thirty seconds after I fell back to sleep. It was a fun game. It was difficult not to forgive her in the morning, of course, when she welcomed me at the door with her big silky brown eyes and her innocent expression. "Me? Barking? There must be some mistake. I would never disturb your precious sleep, oh glorious mistress, for surely I do adore you, and your every need and desire is my greatest concern in life. Breakfast?" How could I refuse?

Anyway, one night I was sleeping particularly badly, even before the barking commenced. I was clammy, restless and uncomfortable, sweating under my thin sheet. When the barking started, I pulled the pillow over my head. Whilst this muffled the sound very slightly, it also significantly impeded my breathing and made my head a lot hotter than it already was. Not ideal. Nonetheless, somehow I drifted back into an uneasy sleep, and the dog must have given it a rest, because I managed to make considerable progress on a rather troubling dream.  Mid-way through the night, Denise piped up again, and I was dragged awake. Hot, angry, still half asleep, I stumbled out of bed, yanked back the flimsy curtain, and wound up to fling my head out of the window, taking a deep breath, ready to shout "DENI..."

CRASH. My forehead and face made hard, fast, catastrophic contact with the glass. I reeled back as it cracked almost elegantly, in a cartoon-like zig-zag. The window was closed!? WHO CLOSED THE BLOODY WINDOW!? Oh yeah. I did. Earlier, when I thought it might rain. Oops.

Dazed, bruised, but fundamentally unharmed, I fell back into bed and back to sleep. I slept pretty well for the rest of the night. Mild concussion, perhaps.

We all had a good giggle the next morning, in between giving Denise her breakfast and calling a glazier.  It may have been the one and only time I sincerely wished I had CCTV in my bedroom. I still laugh when I think about myself winding up to headbutt a window. We would have made our £250 from You've Been Framed, for sure.

After that, I never shouted at Denise again. I learnt to tune her out, or to accept her barking as the inevitable soundtrack to the long hot nights. In any case, who am I to interrupt a dog's conversation with the moon?

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