"Oh Really ………."

There was a man living in the village, who after the Second World War kept the title of the rank that he had left the services with. Upon finding that his title was lowlier than his neighbour, whose house was bigger, upped the said rank and was known from then on as the 'Major'. There was no committee, or organisation that did not have The Major at the helm.

Now his claim to fame was, that he had been on board a ship, that in peacetime was sister ship to a passenger liner.

The aforementioned ship was used as a hospital ship through the conflict and was sunk by an even more famous German U-boat, somewhere off the Icelandic coast. He, the Major, claimed to be one of the very few survivors. The reason that the Major was on board, he had been injured - hence the very dramatic limp that he was left with for the rest of his life.

Through superior technology we are able to formulate more accurate accounts as to what is closer to the truth. Yes this liner did sink, and yes it was used as a hospital ship in war time, and yes it was hit by a U boat, but no, apart from medical personnel and the crew, there were no injured on board. It also proved to be true, that had the portholes not been opened, in an effort to 'air' the ship for its future passengers, then the chances are it would not have sunk.

The reality is, the Major, like many men, when the threat of war was imminent, was conscripted into the forces - reluctantly. He never gained any rank in the two years he served, and his injury was as a result of being 'winged by a sergeant who, fed up with his subordinate continually trying to 'dodge the column, finally let a round off into his fleeing left buttock to stop yet another attempt at desertion. The limp, like the title, worn like unearned medals, was the result of a pebble placed daily in his sock.

The above, not unlike a dog pedigree I read recently, is an abuse of trust. The Major, felt safe in manufacturing a past life, as his fellow combatants in the village, had lost theirs.

I was shown this dog. Cute little thing. Nice companion for the proud owner I'm sure. "It's a show champion, out of champion parents". "Would you like to see his pedigree"? The latter being produced from the depths of the owners pocket. Committed to black and white, or more accurately, red, was a pedigree that dreams are made of. Quickly rechecking the end of the lead, stood, anything but four square, a canine worthy of anyone's worst nightmare.

The pedigree, bearing the marks of much handling and creased from continually being refolded and unravelled, was proving to be the essential part of owning this dog. I don't doubt the age of the dog on the accompanying piece of paper. But what did raise my eyebrows, was the sire, which was not a real champion, and the name given to the sire was actually that of a bitch also not a real champion. Obviously making the next four generations nonsense. On the dam's side, inaccuracy reigned supreme, the dam was a dog, a real champion. The next two generations on the dam's side should have followed the named sire, which as stated was a bitch. By the time one reached the final two columns on the dam's side, which on most pedigrees there could be double ups, each dam and sire was a separate dog or bitch, accuracy once more giving way to dogs carrying bitch names and visa versa with titles attached to wrong names.

For the owner to have constructed this montage would require knowledge and a reference library of gargantuan proportions. The albeit wrongly written sire and dam were from a top kennel, the date of compiling the pedigree looked the same handwriting as the signature. Which bore some resemblance to the printed breeder's name, affix and address at the top, which matched the sire and dam. The authenticity of the document is questionable. But I will never know. I just handed the owner back the piece of paper and simply said......... Oh really!...

Bonnie Thorlby......... Aarhus Lhasa Apsos