As part of the blog tour for We Have Lost The Chihuahuas by Paul Matthews I have an extract to wet your appetite.
Howie did his best to sound sympathetic, without allowing his voice to give the slightest hint that he would be offering practical assistance any time soon. ‘It’s a tough job, I know. But someone’s got to do it.’
They continued on and out of the park in silence. As they approached the palace, Conor spoke again.
‘Can I ask you a question in complete confidence, sir?’
‘Of course you can.’
‘What would happen if these dogs ever escaped from my custody? I wouldn’t lose my job or anything like that, would I? I mean, I’m just doing it as a favour. It isn’t part of my job description or anything like that.’
Howie thought about it for a short while. ‘In theory, no.’
Conor sighed with relief. ‘That’s good to know. Just in case, you know, it where ever to happen in the distant, middling or very near future. Heaven forbid.’
‘But, in practice, you’d never work in Whitehall again – not if you’ve got a reputation for losing the First Lady’s Chihuahuas. It would be like losing the queen’s corgis before the revolution – you’d probably end up being thrown in the Tower of London.’
‘But the First Lady isn’t royalty, is she, sir?’
‘No. But she thinks she is. And there’s no royalty around to argue with her, is there?’
That revelation killed the conversation until they were nearly at the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Conor stopped. ‘I forgot to tell you, sir. I have a physio appointment this afternoon for my left hand. Donnie sank his teeth into it four weeks ago and it still tingles when I wiggle my fingers. Mrs O’Brean insisted that I get it looked at – mainly because I’ve been using it as an excuse all month not to do any household chores.’
Howie frowned. ‘You didn’t mention anything to me about going to physio.’
‘Didn’t I?’ mumbled Conor. ‘I was sure I did.’
‘And I’m sure you didn’t.’
‘We’ll have to agree to disagree on this particular moment in British history, sir. That’s the intrinsic problem with history. It’s always written from an intrinsically subjective point of —’
‘Okay, okay,’ interrupted Howie. ‘I don’t need to hear your intrinsic-problem-with-history theory again. I intrinsically know you never told me. And you intrinsically know you never did. So, let’s intrinsically stop arguing about it.’
Conor bowed his head. ‘I really do need to get intrinsically going, sir.’
‘Okay,’ groaned Howie. ‘You can go.’
Conor shoved all three dog leads towards him. ‘Then I’ll leave this trio of wonderful creatures in your intrinsically capable hands, sir, and be on my way.’
Howie’s face bore the expression of a man who wasn’t refusing to do something, but would much rather the person proposing it forget their physical pain for a few more minutes and finish the job themselves.
Conor seemed to sense Howie’s reticence, so he quickly added, ‘Traffic is awful this time of day. I’ve got to be at my Hammersmith physio by three o’clock.’
Howie reluctantly took the dogs’ leads. ‘Alright. I’ll return the princes and princess to Her Majesty.’
‘Thank you, sir. And thanks for accompanying me to the park in your lunch break.’
Howie grimaced. ‘Don’t mention it.’
Conor hurried away towards Green Park Metro station.
All three dogs eyeballed Howie. Ronnie and Connie’s expressions were relatively serene. But Donnie had a devilish glint in his eye. Howie accelerated towards the palace gates – all the time keeping a close eye on Donnie and an even closer eye on his ankles.