Amy came to see me. I wanted to talk to her about the dog’s addiction, immersed as she is in the world of drugs that take you by the throat and never let you go. I myself have learnt the hard way to take kefir one week on and one off, although, as she says now, she could have told me that, had I not been so damnably insistent.
She didn’t put it in those words, but I could see that that was what she meant.
The dog was going though a maudlin phase that day. He lay with his head in her lap, gazing at her with his soft brown eyes. Amy has the limited tolerance for dogs often to be found in those who can read those parts of the menu not translated into English. She eyed him critically, with particular attention I thought to the areas of muscle. He sloped off, with his tail between his legs.
He tail between legs, she laughed. Usually metaphor. Not now.
Her remedy was simple.
Place whisky on top shelf.
But what about his underlying anxieties?
He very old. Underlying anxieties not matter.
It was a harsh judgment, but she has troubles of her own, and they all arise from the Olympics. The district in which she has her business (I’d better not tell you where it is) has been infested with police. They are trying to make it nice for the Olympics and they are busy trying to stop people doing whatever it is that they are doing. I have seen them myself in Soho, walking in twos like lovely bees in their yellow stripy things, and uttering inhuman cries from machines hidden about their chests.
(Bees not yellow, said Amy when I told her the story. Wasps yellow.
(Yes, I said, falling into her vernacular, but wasps not lovely.)
It so happened that I was proceeding peacefully in a northerly direction along the pavement on Wardour Street when I was addressed by three attractive Afro-Caribbean ladies, who asked me with great hilarity if I would like ‘business’.
I was taken aback.
With all of you?
More hilarity ensued.
It was partly the numbers but more so the jollity (it’s not called ‘business’ for nothing) that convinced me that it was all a good-natured joke. I turned to make some appropriate riposte, but suddenly they’d entirely disappeared, melted into some dark courtyard. There instead were two rozzers, squawking without moving their lips.
So maybe the ladies were serious after all.
Anyway, Amy too has had threatening visits from the police. When she maintains that selling kefir is not so far against the law, they mutter darkly about the Border Agency and knowing what’s good for you.
Why a sports-lover from Ukraine, say, staying in our capital city as our guest, should be hindered in satisfying his desire for good-quality dreams I can’t think – or indeed his desire for sex with three attractive West Indian ladies at the same time.
Amy says bitterly that of course Mr Lee has not been troubled.
Limehouse has been much redeveloped, I suggested. Maybe the police maps aren’t up to date and they can’t find him.
She laughed shortly. Apparently Mr Lee not only has local protection but also that of an Olympic potentate, a big cheese in some anti-doping agency.
Every month he come to London on fact-finding mission. Olympics pay. After he one pipe he no find no more facts.
Mr Lee, she said, makes him leave his blazer at the door of the opium den, so as not to frighten the others.
Apparently this personage has provided Mr Lee with a ticket to attend the final of the 100 metres. Amy suggested that she could take or leave the 100 metres but that she did resent Mr Lee’s immunity, compared with herself, from police interference.
Even Aubergine Small no help.
Don’t give up, I said.
After she left, the dog had his inevitable relapse. One minute I was the only one who could save him. The next he was saying the most hurtful things he could. (With dogs, that’s not actually very hurtful.) I reflected that addiction was OK if, like the man from the Olympics, you had power and could control your habit and the world around you. The dog, for all the love that we lavish on him, is at the bottom of the social heap. He controls nothing. I resolved to increase his pocket money, as from the end of the month.