I told you how Tilly joined the family here and here. As you will see, I argued strongly to have her. This isn’t something I do often – not that I don’t bicker, quarrel, row, even – but I don’t argue. If someone feels more strongly than I do, I give in. Often, I don’t mind, so I let the other person have his or her way. Maybe I see that I’m on a losing wicket, so I may bat like a Boycott, stonewalling all day, but I won’t resent the inevitable winner.

But occasionally, I am right. And then my way will prevail and I don’t care if I make myself unpopular in the process, because the result will prove my case. And Tilly proved this, as I was sure she would.

Chester came to us differently. I went to have coffee with a friend, who was raising money for a charity – can’t remember which, but the thing was to invite 8 people for coffee and ask them to pay *whatever*, each of them asked 4, each of them asked 2. I was one of 4. Bridget was another. And she mentioned that the chap who delivered horse feed to them had a bitch which had recently pupped. This was at a time when I was on the lookout for a puppy. I asked about the parents. The father was Rusty, the Irish setter that belonged to friends of mine (I knew her from WI and he was our milkman). The mother, Mindy, was a bearded collie, more or less. This sounded good. I asked Bridget to pass on my phone number and, a day or two later, Zoë rang me and invited me to see the pups.

On the way, the Sage and I talked. That is, I talked. Well…

I said that I’d like a boy, A blond boy. He was happy with that. When we arrived, it transpired that there were three blond boys, but they were keeping the biggest and palest and would call him Morph. There were also two black boys and two black girls. They were three weeks old and we were the first visitors and could have first pick. I looked at the two blond boys, who were identical except for a few white hairs on the head of one pup. My pup. “Which one do you think?” I asked the Sage. “This one” he said. Our pup was the same as my pup. Well, of course he was.

They were born on the 17th October, so they would be ready to leave their mother a few days before Christmas. We talked to the children and all agreed that a new puppy was worth a quiet Christmas. We visited once a week – Zoë is a sweet woman and always welcomed us, but I didn’t like to call every day. When we brought him home, we boxed him in for the night in part of the kitchen and I spent most of the next few nights downstairs settling him when he cried. Then I let him have the run of the kitchen and he didn’t cry again.

I’m not good at choosing names, very indecisive. I suggested Zebedee, as he was so very bouncy. My daughter said that Zeb would be fine. I didn’t like Zeb, I wanted Zebedee. Blokes, sensibly, kept out of all this. Then El suggested Chester. I liked it, as did we all.

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