Whale and Hot Dog are at a new book shop launched in Croydon. They saw an advert for the shop on television a couple of days ago and Hot Dog really wanted to check out what the place is like in the flesh. It is a small shop which specializes in books on people: biographical reads, tales about ordinary people doing the most extraordinary of things and interviews of community leaders who make quietly make an impact with the work they do daily.
Whale had slept in the taxi cab throughout the journey to get to the shop because just the thought of having to take a look at books as boring as those made him fall asleep. But Hot Dog managed to perk him up later when they got to the shop, with the thought of biographies of his favorite stars and how they might find something really good to buy after all.
Hot Dog: Whale! Come here! I found a book on a chef that you might like! Whale: Is it my favorite chef from television, because I really can’t afford to fall asleep standing this time; the nap I took inside the cab was uncomfortable enough. Hot Dog: No, it isn’t! But listen…it’s a really nice tale. The chef cooks with paprika, beans, coconut milk and lentils alone, and he has actually whipped up more than 200 recipes with those ingredients alone. Whale: Really? That is pretty interesting. Hot Dog: Yeah! Did you find any interesting book yet to get for yourself today? Whale: Yes! That I did! I found a biography of one of my favorite celebrities that I would really like to read. Hot Dog: Who is it? Whale: Errol Flynn. What about you? Hot Dog: Oh! I found a book myself too! It is a biography on William Boeing and I want to get it. Whale: That is really great! Anything else interesting that has caught your eye except for that book about the chef? Hot Dog: There are a lot of those kinds of books around but nothing else in particular, no! I think we should just buy the two books and head back home already. Whale: Oh! Hot Dog! Look…I found a book about an extraordinary woman who grew rich by knitting colorful handkerchiefs in a dark valley.
Whale is in the kitchen today cooking. Recently, his favorite cooking program on television made him yearn to cook something healthy in his household by investing a lot of time in it. His cooking plan for the evening involves making two pots of baked vegetables and two sandwiches (with dabs of mustard as fillings) for him and Hot Dog. His beloved pet is propped up in front of the television and catching an episode of Superwoof – a cartoon about a beagle that is a superhero, who saves innocent people (and animals) from mayhem and destruction caused by villains.
Whale: Dog…how many types of vegetables did you want again for tonight? I added eight. Hot Dog: I was thinking three but eight is obviously better. Whale: Alright! I am almost done puppy…I will be right there to catch Superwoof with you. Hot Dog: Take your time…I am taping it again.
Whale hums to himself and pours steaming vegetables from a big pan and into two purple bowls and then tops it with sliced onions and chopped chilies; he also places the two sandwiches on a small brown plate and takes it to the living room to dig in.
Hot Dog (taking its bowl): It smells good! Which flavored dressing did you use today? Whale: None. But there is enough of toppings for you. Eat before it gets cold. Hot Dog: Yeah, going to! You just missed Superwoof rescuing some kittens from the tree this evening, by the way, and the episode was so entertaining and funny! Whale: Was it? Oh! I will just catch it later! I am just happy I can share my recently discovered enthusiasm for healthy cooking with you! I am still on a diet, you know, and it makes me so mad whole day. But now that you are also eating a vegetarian meal with me, I feel even more happy! Hot Dog: Oh! That is so great! I am also really happy because it looks as if healthy food will begin to taste good around the house for a change now that you can no longer think it is a great idea to outpour your rage with dieting right into the food!
Whale is on a burger and iced lemonade mission today. He is at a drive-in restaurant and he’s just ordered twenty burgers and twenty iced lemonades for the office. His boss has some very important industry friends of hers over for lunch and has sent Whale out to make the food arrangements – there is a big book fair coming up in the winter to which Bart wants to ensure a lot of her publishing house’s books are sent, for people to purchase. It’s one of the biggest book fairs on the calendar for the book industry, so Bart needs to be absolutely certain that the meeting turns out to be a good one for everyone she’s asked to come to it.
Whale, meanwhile, is sat in his car thinking how hot this summer’s been. Also, how excited he feels to have his boss entrust him with something more than just editing one book after another, on one subject after another. Whale checks his watch from time to time and sighs heavily…three minutes and still no sight of brown bags, a little bit greased at the bottom.
Whale (thinks to himself): It’s 12 o’clock already. I wonder whats taking them so long…I expected fast food delivery to be super fast but this place doesn’t really do as it advertises. What’s it’s name again? I’m sure Hot Dog would have a better memory than me over places like these.
Whale pokes his head out of the window (of his car) and notices that there is a huge sign in red and purple saying The Veg Burger Station. He takes out his notepad from his backpack and scribbles down the name of the place – if the food turns out to be good then he and Hot Dog can come here more often.
Waiter: Here you go! Twenty green chilli and ‘station’s original veg-patty’ burgers and twenty small-sized iced lemonades. Sorry for the delay! It’s been a really long queue today! But hope to see you again!
Whale (gruffs): Thank you!
Whale drives off back to his office within twenty minutes. Inside, there’s a lot of chattering going on about the book fair, and several of the office workers have got a heated debate going on over which books may or may not make it this year.
Three knocks on the second boardroom’s door…
Bart (opens the door): Yes!
Whale: Boss! I have got refreshments!
Bart: Oh! Thank you! Please come on in!…also, please put the refreshments on the table. You can then go and get yourself to eat something from the cafeteria…it’s on me! Thanks a lot for the last-minute trouble!
Whale: Oh! Thank you boss!
Ten minutes later…
Whale is sat with a crunchy salad and a buterred-bun sandwich, with melted cheese fillings. The cafeteria is oddly empty today, with only a couple of workers spotted eating their way through lunch in silence, or noisly with coworkers.
Whale (sighs and thinks to himself): Boy, has today been different at work. Since, Hot Dog has been back from her grandmother’s I haven’t had a moment to spare to myself. Dog just always keeps bouncing around the house…I think I could use today’s quiet lunch with my thoughts.
But soon enough, everything doesn’t go as planned…
Margot: Hello Whale!
Whale (looks up from his lunch):…………………………..Margot! What are you doing here?
Margot: I was just on my way to a friend’s house – she recently got married and I really wanted to meet her and her new family. I haven’t actually seen her since her wedding. Uh, so I thought I coupld spare some time and drop by and meet you, as well, along the way. It’s been some time since we got the chance to talk.
Whale: Um…we had a fight Margot and we no longer just talk after that.
Margot: But Whale…you know it’s really just one of those ups and downs of a relationship.
Whale: Um…Margot! I really think you shouldn’t be here. If my boss…if um, Bart finds out you are here in the cafeteria she is going to get really mad. And I also don’t want to see you anymore. I really, really feel like I don’t want to. Did you not understand that from our fight?
Margot: But Whale…I really miss you!
Whale: Margot…please leave me alone! I’m scared for my life now. You don’t have to visit me ‘just because…’ anymore!…
Margot (shouts): Fine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just stay with your boss!!! Just do anything you feel like to do!!!
Margot then stomps out of the cafeteria, leaving Whale looking frightened, and the whole cafeteria staring at him.
Whale (looking all around): What you all looking at? Never had a crazy ex-girlfriend disturb you at lunch? I have had plenty. And to think…the woman must appear, the moment I sat down with my melted cheese bun…
On a sunny winter’s day, Whale and Hot Dog are playing in their nicely pruned garden. It is a Sunday and he thought it would be the best idea to spend some quality time with his little baby. Hot Dog, on the other hand, is busy thinking about her worst nightmare: a marriage with a great boy dog and having his babies.
Hot Dog: Whale…I have been thinking!
Hot Dog: It’s my worse nightmare and I never ever wish for it to happen but did you think I would ever end up as one of those unfortunate female dogs that grew up and only erm ever had babies?
Hot Dog: No, I was just wondering because a lot of girls in my school are becoming ‘teenage mother dogs’.
Whale: Well, that is their life, baby! It is never going to be your headache ever with me around!
Hot Dog: Really?
Whale: Yes, really! You also have your nan and your two pets. And you are only a little baby dog. And then you have school and…
Hot Dog: Well, what if I fail school?
Whale: Why will you fail school?
Hot Dog: I don’t know…what if I cannot finish school. Then what will I do?
Whale: You will get a job, maybe stacking shelves at a grocery store, like a good little kid. Plus, I am always there to look after you…
Hot Dog: You won’t be mad?
Whale: Why would I be mad?
Hot Dog: I don’t know. Sometimes I feel scared seeing Jack. You know, one dozen lady dogs in school have crushes on him and some of them are ‘teenage mother dogs’. I always find it hilarious but I would never want to end up as Jack with all his child-rearing responsibilities post a relationship, or even a marriage. I have also um like heard that he shamelessly likes that those lady dogs like him and I don’t care at all you know, because he is my best mate for ages now!
Whale: Oh! Well, I think that Jack deserves to be with one of those lady dogs because you Hot Dog are my precious baby dog!
Hot Dog: Thanks Whale! I really appreciate it!
Whale: You are welcome!……………so, what else have you been thinking about?
It’s the start of a new year. Snow is everywhere in Chelsea, and particularly in front of Whale’s house. Hot Dog has been neglecting her snow shoveling duties because it is the holidays. It’s a Sunday but people are busy at their porches, or going to church or to grab a little bit of holiday sale action yet again at their nearest supermarket. Looking at the chaotic first day of a new year from the window is making Whale feel hopeful and a little bit at peace.
Whale (thinks to himself): I can’ t believe 2017 is here already. I am getting a year older soon it seems. Us Capricorns are so determined to climb the career ladder, it’s not funny. Wonder how Bart rang in her NYE! Mine was filled with drunken behaviour, loud music and a pretty late night. Good thing I could come back home to tuck Hot Dog in her bed at night. The little baby…I can’t wait to tell Hot Dog about all the unrealistic stories my friends have been knitting for the new year. They had so much to drink all they could talk about was their lousy jobs, how hard it is to ask for a raise from their bosses, and caricaturing scary stories when there aren’t any problems or anything at all that should be making us feel queasy or nervous or fret about because there is no way any of us cannot solve them – maybe it was the homemade punch or something. How hilarious! It couldn’t be a better start to the new year…
Hot Dog: Happy New Year!
Whale (startled): Oh! Where you came from? Had a good sleep?
Hot Dog: I did, yes! I am excited that it’s 2017 already!
Whale: Me too! Happy 2017 and a Happy New Year!…I kind of feel like going back to bed again.
Hot Dog: Why? There are like a million happy things you can do today…
Whale: I feel sleepy and everyone is so busy, it’s making me feel even more lazy!
Fat Pig: Happy New Year folks!
Hot Dog: What happened? Did Pig startle you?
Whale: Yes, he did! Sorry, Fat Pig! I wasn’t expecting you infront of my window so early on a New Year’s Day!
Fat Pig: Oh! That’s alright, Whale!
Hot Dog and Whale (together): Happy New Year, to you too!!!
Fat Pig: Have I got a riddle for you…there is word on the street…”it is just there”.
Whale: Wot is?
Fat Pig: I think that is followed by “Things. It’s one of the many different kinds of things. It’s just going to happen. Hmmm. What else? I think it is just there. It IS there.”
Hot Dog: Something amazing?
Fat Pig: I don’t know my amigo but that’s on replay and it’s driving me crazy.
Whale: Me too! Just listening to it gave me a headache.
It’s almost late evening. Whale parks his car next to an old house, which bears a rusty yard sign “Mrs. Jennifer Lamb”, and it’s covered with enveloping botanicals. Hot Dog jumps out of the car and runs to the front door of the house, to gently knock announcing their arrival, as Whale gets busy offloading Hot Dog’s luggage from the trunk of his car. The front garden of the house is very messy and unkempt – it looks like a who’s who of the jungle-plants world has set up base there without Mrs. Lamb’s permission, and there’s no pruning through them ever, no matter how much you would want to. Indeed, this is a house that has let gone of itself over the years…
Whale: Knock louder Hot Dog, Mrs. Lamb told me she would be in!
Hot Dog (knocks thunderously): Mrs. Lamb!…Mrs. Lamb! It’s Hot Dog! Is Mother Potato in?
Just then, the front door of the house opens, and a very thin lady, with very long blonde hair greets them. Hot Dog can make out Mother Potato is listening to the evening news inside her house – there’s some report about a cyclone happening somewhere that has wrecked havoc to a lot of homes.
Mrs. Lamb: Good evening, Hot Dog! I am Jennifer! How was the trip here?
Hot Dog: Long…
Mrs. Lamb: Is that Whale with your luggage? Oh, it’s so tiny!
Hot Dog: Tiny? I’ve got my basketball and three board games with me…
Mrs. Lamb: But still that’s very tiny…I can sense you must have stuffed in all of your clothes for the weekend in those two mini suitcases.
Whale: Yes, she has!…So, I think I am going to drive back home now! I don’t want to be driving too late…is Hot Dog’s nan in?
Mrs. Lamb: Yes, she’s watching the six o’clock news! You don’t want to come in and say “Hi” to her?
Mother Potato (screaming from the living room): That’s quite alright, honey! Whale just help Hot Dog out with the luggage and drive back home, soon!
Whale: Yes, mother!
Whale puts his baby’s mini-luggages in the tea room, kisses Hot Dog goodbye (on her forehead) for the weekend, and drives back to Chelsea. Hot Dog is shown to her bedroom – it’s upstairs and she shares it with Jennifer’s daughter, Kim. Kim Lamb is a petite sixteen-year-old girl, who is four months into her pregnancy – given her misfortune, she’s oddly jolly, and happy to have a roommate for a change. After saying a few introductory words to Kim, Hot Dog moves to take a look at the house since it’s her first time here. There are two bedrooms (Mother Potato is staying in Jennifer’s bedroom), a kitchen so tiny there’s barely any room to stand, a crooked living room, one bathroom, and many windows around and they are all shut very tightly.
Hot Dog (mutters to herself, under her breath): Spooky! Wonder what happens around here daily?
Mother Potato is busy cooking up a storm, because she is so happy to see Hot Dog visit her. She is making tortillas, spicy one-pot beef and lemonade, for all.
Mother Potato: Don’t worry, baby! I am making enough for you to have as much as you want!
Hot Dog: Thank you, nan!
Mother Potato: So, what to chat about at first? Ahhh..yes! Mrs. Jennifer Lamb…she and I have been friends since college! She use to work as a jewellery designer for some store in town but now she’s retired like me as well. You can find some of her designs pop up in flea markets sometimes, I don’t even know how but I am going to guess she’s pretty talented that way, yeah?…so many nice, nice things these flea markets in Birmingham sell sometimes!
Hot Dog:…yeah! So, she never went to university?
Mother Potato: Oh no! She’s nothing like our family, Hot Dog! She quit college a few semesters before graduation and went looking for a job to support herself. Her father had deserted her the moment she was born – it was just her and her mother, and she never recovered from her husband running away, with another woman. She was too ill to work anymore as a baker, when Jennifer was seventeen – it was arthritis that did that to her, so Jen then had to go get a job!
Hot Dog: Was she married to a man anything like Kim’s boyfriend…you know, because he ran away with another woman?
Mother Potato: No! Hot Dog, she was married to a great fellow but he had lost total interest in married life, in his middle-ages, so ran away with his secretary.
Hot Dog: What was the secretary like? I bet she was fat!
Mother Potato (laughs): This was the seventies, and Kim’s grandfather was looking to settle down in Minnesota, for a very long time!
Hot Dog: In the United States? Really?
Mother Potato: Yes! So, then he really couldn’t find any way to do so, at first! But after a point in time he met Sylvia – she was American, and very…
Hot Dog: Loose?
Mother Potato: Yes, I think that’s the word! He took an instant liking to her and after knowing each other for four years, the two ran away, after he fell in love…
Hot Dog: Like with her loose ways?
Mother Potato: Yes! Tragic, yeah?
Hot Dog: Yeah!…Did Jennifer’s mother ever meet Sylvia?
Mother Potato: No! She heard of her only when she couldn’t find James Lamb (her husband). A year passed, and then she heard of him through a letter from his mother, who didn’t endorse James’ relationship with Sylvia but didn’t care much for his wife: Julia, either.
Hot Dog: So, Julia was totally lost in that era of protests, and world-peace-loving crowd for one whole year before she heard from her husband’s mother through a letter?
Mother Potato: James had taken his mother to Minnesota, with him. She described in her letter that Sylvia actually pronounced to her she can’t do housework, or cook for her son, and only wants to drink sherry and enjoy her life with James!
Hot Dog (laughs): Sylvia is such a brilliant misfit! It’s better than if she was fat, I think!
Mother Potato: Yes, I suppose!…oh look! The beef is done!…it’s time to dig in!
Whale and Hot Dog are visiting Grandmother Potato today. It’s one of Hot Dog’s favourite things on Earth – visiting Mother Potato, because she’s Whale’s mother and a lady who always gives her so many very delicious candies, and knitted goods, she has crafted herself during her spare time. Most of the time Mother Potato (that’s what Hot Dog was taught she should call her grandma, apart from “nan” of course) is busy cooking, gardening, reading several newspapers, writing her diary entries, and spending time with her friends, a majority of which weren’t fortunate enough to escape living in homes after retirement because their kids (after they grew up and everything) and grandchildren, never really cared much about them.
Whale: Just look at the traffic this weekend! I think it will take us a whole day to drive to Birmingham!
Hot Dog(laughs): Where is nan staying in Birmingham?
Whale: With her friend Jennifer – her granddaughter just became a teenage mom, so Jennifer’s very distraught about it!
Hot Dog: What for?
Whale: She’s only a teenager, she shouldn’t be having kids! But her horrible boyfriend simply knocked her up and left her, so she’s quit her day job and holed up with Jen!
Hot Dog: Where did she use to work?
Whale: Oh that girl had a very bright future ahead of her but she totally ruined it…she use to work at this Mexican restaurant, like serve food and everything there!
Hot Dog: Wow! What a story!
Whale: Yeahhh…but you’ll be there with nan this weekend so she won’t totally lose her cool in all that drama!…poor Jen, she’s really freaked out about all of it!
It’s been flipping three hours and Whale and Hot Dog are still on the road, merely inching close to Birmingham. Whale stopped by at a gas station for a couple of minutes, in the middle, to get some soda for Hot Dog and chocolate for himself; he really can’t understand why the road is so badly jammed…
Whale:…so, Hot Dog! How was the circus? I feel last week was too much of a whirlwind and we couldn’t really properly catch up! Did you have a grand ball, with Fat Pig and Jack?
Hot Dog: I did, yeah! It was really, really fun! But we’ll catch up on that subject later…why don’t you tell me how work’s been?
Whale: Mmmm, work has been boring, first. Then it got interesting because I got to have tea with my boss, Bart, and I remember talking to her about moms and everything.
Hot Dog: Oh! Does she know I am visiting nan this weekend?
Whale: Yup, I did tell her! She told me that she hasn’t been able to have that kind of a-whole-week-of-fun for plenty of work, for ages, which is still cool because she frequently visits her grandmother and mother, for like a couple of hours.
Hot Dog: Why do they live a short drive away from her?
Whale: No! They live in Belfast!
Hot Dog:…OMG! That’s in Ireland!…this all sounds so much like the Spice Girls’ song “Mama”!
Whale: What’s the Spice Girls, honey?
Hot Dog: It’s this British band, I like!
Whale:… you do, honey? That is so amazing! I just know I will simply love everything you love…