Chico Patel (Mark 2).

I think it’s fair to say that my stormy relationship with Mum has improved a great deal of late; I’ve come to appreciate how difficult it’s been for her without a soul mate since Dad departed for the 4:15pm at Kempton Town.

Sick of seeing my mum lonely; I decided about six months ago that it’d be a good idea to get her a dog; we had a poodle called Pep when I was born and he always brightened up our home.

You’d think it’d be pretty easy finding a little rescued dog right? Wrong. It’s an utter smeg. Understandably, procedures for rehousing a dog are pretty tight; but in my opinion they are pretty unrealistic and inflexible. Lots of visits, reviews by inspectors, yearly evaluations; barriers all. Then again, I refuse to pay £500-£1000 to someone who is privately breeding an animal; It’s prostitution isn’t it?

I was getting ready to give up the search; when lucky for me, a friend of a friend had stumbled upon a poor little soul who was surplus to requirements at such a breeders. A 10 week old Jack Russell puppy was on borrowed time; I was asked if I wanted him; I said “yes please”.

He arrived to my house in a cardboard box, energetic, not nervous at all; very affectionate. His attitude contradicted the lack of love and attention that I understood he had been subjected to at his previous ‘home’. Then he was sick. I wanted to call him Ralph because of this (Ralph being a slang term for being sick in the 1980’s AND the name of the dog in the Muppets).

Anyway, Mum came down from Joanies, unaware he was in the front room. And as soon as she clasped eyes on him, I knew almost immediately that I had done something really special for her;it felt great. Yes, this is all mushy stuff isn’t it? But I have to take a little break from all the cynical shit I throw up on here right?

The evening of my birthday will be a special one as I shall always remember Joan, my brother, sister and her children, in the front room; all watching the dog sod about. No mobile phones, no T.V. on. It was a cool moment.

Trying to find a name for him was painfully slow. His ‘given’ name was Jack. Nyeaaah. Then mum disliked Ralph (bitch!), she thought Eric was nice (Eric Cantona) but I suggested that it sounded too much like erection, and Snowy was just a gay suggestion.

Mum asked me to remember what I used to call my Dad; I had honestly forgotten till she mentioned it; as a pun on our Indian heritage, I used to call Dad ‘Chico Patel’; going as far once to write it on a chauffeur board and hold it up whilst waiting within Gatwick Airport arrivals hall when Lorraine, Brian and I went to pick them up after a holiday to Turkey. Much to the old man’s amusement.

So we called him Chico.

Today I bathed him, treated him for fleas and cuddled him as he fell asleep in his fleecy blanket; I’ve not seen my Mum smile so much, nor have I seen her so motivated for many, many years. And I am very grateful that he is here.