Hangin' on a belt...
I spent several happy hours yesterday at Tigersonic Studio in North London with Felix Macintosh and Gilly Spencer, recording my new song, 'Hangin' on a String', and coming away late in the afternoon feeling absolutely delighted with how it's sounding. Gilly has put down some fabulous Latin-style piano, complementing the Cuban-style percussion already put down by the lovely David Naylor, Felix has worked her magic with all those knobs and faders and other stuff that's beyond me, and I can't wait now to play it to the world - though wait I must as it's not quite finished yet. Anyway, as I floated down a busy rush-hour Caledonian Road towards the tube station, the song still flowing through my head, the thing that's happened at irregular intervals through my entire life happened yet again, and I responded in the same way I've responded so many times before. Yes, a dog trotted past, not obviously belonging to anyone, but I hoped against hope that one of the crowd of people he was among was trusting him to be good off the lead, even in that bustling throng. I watched him trot up the road, and then he stopped... and the crowd went on, and he was left standing there by the side of a road with lorries and buses thundering past just inches from his sweet greying muzzle. Immediately Mandy Woods, singer-songwriter disappeared, to be replaced by the Pet Rescuer Extraordinaire who has shadowed me through my life, from the UK to the Costa Brava (as a child) (we applied kid power to the hotel management to force them to get help for a stray pup wandering around the hotel grounds) and later to Austin, Texas, where I ended up falling for a stray dachshund on my way to work one morning, the rest being history... Anyway, back to the Caledonian Road, and I very carefully approached the adorable-looking old chap (he seemed to have quite a bit of Lancashire Heeler in him, and I've long wanted one of them...), not because I thought he might bite me, but because I was afraid he might get spooked and run into the road. He did look a bit edgy, but I crouched down, held out my hand for him to sniff, and very gently got hold of his bejewelled black collar - to find, to my dismay, no sign of a tag on it. Just as I was wondering what the heck I was going to do next, lumbered as I was with a guitar on my back and a hefty bag containing a day's worth of stuff, and no lead with which to restrain him, for the second time in a week (see previous post), a dog-loving angel appeared from nowhere, pulled out her phone and said she'd call the RSPCA. Thank God - or Dog - for her. And also for my jeans belt, that, in a moment of inspiration, I realised would serve as a makeshift lead. Fortunately my jeans were not so loose that without it they'd fall down, Whitehall farce-like, as soon as I next stood up. So there we were, two women and a ruby-studded Lancashire Heeler on the end of a leather belt, standing on one of the busiest roads in North London in the middle of the rush hour, not quite knowing what to do next. I was beginning to think this was Fate, that the dog had crossed my path for a reason, and that now I had to find a way to negotiate two jam-packed tube trains and the train back to Eastbourne with not only my guitar and overstuffed bag, but also my new four-legged friend in tow. Strangely - or maybe not so strangely - my main concern about doing this was that I didn't know when he'd last emptied his bladder, and was worried that he might do it in one of the carriages... He didn't seem the type though - he looked to be a real gent. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the angel ended up calling the Islington dog warden, who said he'd come immediately. I then gave her dispensation to leave, as she was on her way to work, and moved down the road a bit to stand outside the tube station with my chap, in two minds whether to do a bunk with him before the warden arrived or do the right thing and wait. In the end we waited, and within minutes, impressively, a white van rounded the corner and pulled up next to us. The warden whipped out his microchip checker and found that the old fella had one, which showed that he was 11 years old, was called Blanco (the astute Londoner thought his owner must therefore have been a fan of Porridge), was unaccountably described as a jack russell terrier, and lived just round the corner. Part of me was a bit sad that I couldn't keep him - but then my heart sank more for Blanco when the phone number for the address was found to be dead. The warden put a rope lead round his neck, gave me my belt back, then put the old chap in his van and said he'd take him round to the address anyway and see if anyone was in. I gave him my contact details just in case no one was there and Fate wasn't finished with me yet. He didn't call me, so I can only hope that, as I write, Blanco is curled up at his person's feet, and that his person was overjoyed to have such a great little fellow back safe and sound. As for me, I'm now back to being Mandy Woods, singer-songwriter, hangin' on a string...