Darling, I have a horrid story to tell you. Just awful. Dahlia is talking to me. She is supremely English, a retired midwife who lived her whole life in Kensington, looking after well to do pregnant ladies. When she says her story is horrid, I don't know what to expect.
My dear friend Penelope rang me up last night, says Dahlia. Her daughter is at University in London and is penniless, absolutely penniless, and homeless, too. Essentially. And she had called her mum, because she was house sitting for a family, they asked her, Penelope's daughter, to come and stay in their house while they went on holiday, because they had two dogs and a cat that needed looking after. So, fine, off goes Penelope's daughter. And then she rings up her mum and she says, Mum, what am I going to do, the dog has dropped dead. And it had, the family's four year old Labrador, on the third day the daughter was staying there, why, he just fell over. Dead. Just like that. Boom.
Oh no, I say.
Really, nods Dahlia, just horrid.
So Penelope says to her, Darling, I'm in Shropshire, I can't do anything about it. You're just going to have to get the dog to the vet, and the vet will know what to do.
But Mum, says the daughter, how can I take the dog to the vet? You see she had no car, no money for a taxi, nothing, there she is in this house in South Kensington, dead dog. And Penelope says, Darling, you're going to have to cope.
Penelope's daughter hangs up the phone and looks around the house. No money, none, for a taxi, and how's she going to get the dog to the vet, so he can get rid of it?
Really, Dahlia interrupts herself, just awful. Poor girl. Can you imagine? I mean really.
Then she sees one of those wheeled grocery trolley thingies, you know, like you have in the city, with a flap and a handle.
She didn't, I say. She couldn't have.
Dahlia nods. Yes she did. She did. She bundled the dog into the grocery trolley and off she went, down the street to the tube station.
Well she got to the station, and there were steps. You know the dog was quite heavy and off she goes down the steps with the trolley, bump bump bump. And then this nice young man comes up to her and he says, Oh, that looks heavy, do you need a hand? And she says, Oh, yes, please, that would be very kind indeed. And so he lifts up the back and off they go, down the stairs.
They end up getting in the same car on the train, and they're sitting together. He says to her, Your trolley is so heavy, what are you carrying in there? And Penelope's daughter, she has to think fast, so she says, I'm moving house, and these are all of my family treasures, things I didn't want the movers to take, so I'm carrying them myself.
Oh, right, says the young man. Then the train pulls into Penelope's daughter's station, and she gets down from the train, and it turns out it's the young man's stop, too. They--daughter, dead dog, grocery trolley--start up the stairs again, and the nice young man is helping her. He takes hold of the front of the trolley, and she is following along, and she doesn't really need to hold onto her end of the cart at all, he's carrying all the weight. And then he takes off with the trolley.
He takes off with the cart with the dead dog in it? I can't believe I've heard right.
Yes! Dahlia is hooting with laughter. Cart! Dead dog! Off he goes!
And the rest is up to our imagination.