|Shaggy question: Was £10 plus £2 tip well spent?|
These questions have to do with word usage and the passage of time. Decades ago, at echt middle-class gatherings in Britain, conversations might have kicked off in response to: "And do you have a pet?"
Maybe I don't get out enough but that question seems strangely at odds with the year 2016. These days it's likely to have morphed into "Do you have a dog?" Then, slightly more reluctantly, "A cat?" If the sequence were to continue all the way to "A budgie?" a reference to pet might crop up, possibly out of nostalgia. But dogs and cats I imagine are no longer pets. They're something grander and the subject of rhapsody.
Needless to say I have innumerable theories which I don't intend to rehearse here. I've lived in homes shared with animals but, with one exception, it's been someone else's choice. I even get along with animals although gloomy speculation dogs me: "What happens to the French villa holiday?"
That exception, many years ago, concerned a white rat. During a period of reduced parental scrutiny I acquired it and loved it. In return it ran up my arm and nibbled my ear lobe. By contrast a labrador would have been misanthropic. As I approached with cabbage leaves it emerged from its sleeping shed, pink eyes glistening with affection – for food but mostly for my company. Outraged at the discovery, my father ordered its disposal and I gave it away.
It was definitely a pet. Proving the point I petted it. I wish I still had it so that my 2016 cocktail-party answer might be: “Actually, a white rat.” Writers should always try to arrive out of left field.