Magazine article The Spectator

Another Pet Bites the Dust

Magazine article The Spectator

Another Pet Bites the Dust

Article excerpt

Roxy Mark II is dead.

I hoped I 'd never have to write those words, but there's no doubt about the matter.

I don't mean our replacement hamster has escaped like the first one (current whereabouts unknown).

I mean she's expired.

She's not resting. She's passed on. She is no more. She has gone to meet her maker.

I first learnt the news when I was travelling in E ast Africa a couple of weeks ago. Caroline called in a state of panic to say she 'thought' Roxy was dead.

'She's not moving, ' she said. ' I forgot to feed her. D'you think she's died of starvation?'

'Oh Jesus, ' I replied. 'Not another one?'

'Sasha's right, isn't she? We're pet serial killers.'

That was my eight-year-old daughter's verdict after Roxy II went AWOL last month. Coming on top of losing our cat and then losing Roxy Mark I ( I left her cage door open), this was her withering conclusion. A little harsh, but these tykes are merciless when it comes to handing out moral judgments.

I managed to win a reprieve when I recaptured Roxy II in the downstairs lavatory - 'You're the best daddy in the world' - but she had now been proved right.

My first instinct was to blame Caroline - 'Nothing to do with me, gov.

I wasn't even in the country' - and she must have suspected as much because she quickly followed up by telling me we'd have to stage the 'discovery' of Roxy's corpse after my return. ' I just can't deal with this on my own babe, ' she explained.

I agreed, not least because as long as Caroline remained convinced she'd 'murdered' Roxy I would earn vital brownie points by covering up for her.

I n fact, it's inconceivable that Roxy II starved to death. She was so fat she looked like an over-sized stuffed toy.

Died of over-feeding, more like.

On the morning of my return, Caroline shot me a pointed look over the breakfast table: 'Have you checked on Roxy since you got back?'

I dutifully trudged into the playroom and, seconds later, came back into the kitchen, having composed my features into a mask of gravity.

' I 've got some bad news, ' I said.

'Roxy II is dead.'

'No, ' said Sasha, her face crumpling. 'How? How did she die?'

I let the question hang in the air for a few seconds as Caroline looked at me imploringly. …

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