Friday, 2 July 2010

You can’t always just throw money at it

This is my friend Hilton (on the right) and my son. Hilton, who now lives mainly in New Zealand, is back for a South African sojourn, and turned up for a visit to us wearing – completely coincidentally – the same subversive T-shirt as my son. (Apparently, you can take the South African out of South Africa, but you can’t take South Africa out of the South African.)

Hilton is a man of unimpeachable morality, as evidenced by the story he told about a dog walk gone wild. He had two young dogs, not very big specimens, and one afternoon he took them for a walk on Cape Town's Rondebosch Common – on leads, of course, since he is not only ethically irreproachable but also possessed of intelligence.

Two Rottweilers (not on leads) came tearing out of nowhere, and one of them grabbed one of Hilton’s dogs. A scene of unspeakable violence ensued, during which a woman (whom Hilton took to be the owner of the Rottweilers) managed to grab the Rottweiler’s penis and yank, causing the animal so much pain that it finally let go of Hilton’s dog.

Hilton’s vet was within walking distance of the common, so he picked up his badly injured dog and, with his other dog (still on the lead) following, ran as fast as he could to the vet.

Hilton’s dog pulled through and, remarkably, the woman who had become involved in the fray actually took the trouble to follow up – she got Hilton’s contact details from the vet, and phoned Hilton to explain that the Rottweilers weren’t her dogs, but her sister’s, and that she had taken them for an unleashed walk because… well, who knows why, but let’s be charitable and assume she just didn’t know any better. Could she pay Hilton’s vet’s bill? she asked.

No, Hilton said.

But she felt terrible, she said, and she wanted to do something to try to put things right.

Okay, Hilton said. You can take me out for dinner and allow me to crap on you for being so astonishingly irresponsible.

She agreed to this. She duly made the booking, took Hilton out for dinner (for which she paid) and sat meekly for two hours while he lectured her on the jaw-dropping stupidity of walking on a public common with two unleashed Rottweilers.

They parted on civil terms and never saw each other again.

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