As Alice tears strips off Wes, Little Minch wraps up an Australian water beagle

Morning. Chez Piddens.

Alice emerges from the bathroom clad only in a face washer. Her dander is up, and she is on the near-naked warpath.

‘Have you pinched my towel?

Wes! What have you done with it?

Wes! Where are you?

Right!’

And where is Wes? Wes is in a quandary. Should he lodge his quarterly BAS for the Tax Man? Or should he re-pack the wheel bearings on the Land Rover? He has decided to strum his guitar for a while and think it over.

‘Don’t change horses (strummmmm!) in the middle of a stream (wang!) Giddy up. Giddy up. Hi Ho Silver!’ (chugga chugga!).

He spots Alice and raises an eyebrow.

‘Well, hello there!’

‘Wes! Stop that racket! Have you pinched my towel?’

‘What? No. Very no, and I reproach that coarse and vulgar implication.’

‘Well, it’s gone missing, and you’ve got form.’

‘If you’re referring to that turquoise bath mat of very ancient history, may I remind you that the tractor was leaking oil badly. It was essential that I protected the workshop floor, and the bath mat came conveniently to hand.’

‘It came to hand? I loved that bath mat.’

Only Alice could love a bath mat quite so much.

‘I know you did, Allie. And I had feelings for it too. I did, but I explained. It was a Work Health and Safety thing. I couldn’t have you coming along innocently, skidding on that oil patch, going base over apex and deflecting your coccyx, or maybe your incus.’

‘Oh, here we go. The incus is a bone in the ear, dummy.’

‘It could happen.’

‘Anyway, wild horse flies couldn’t drag me into that random rats’ nest of disorganised dishevelry you call a workshop. It looks like the clubhouse of the Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’

‘Five? I thought there were only four. Let’s see: Conquest, War, Famine and Death. Four. Who’s the extra horseman?’

Wild horses running away from Bullgoose.

‘Grease!’

‘OK. Fair enough, but I haven’t touched your towel.’

‘Right, stop that god-awful strumming and give me a hand.’

‘But I’ve… OK, I’ll hang out the washing.’

‘Oh no, you won’t. I’d only have to re-peg it. You never get it right.’

‘What can you mean? I always do it right. Tops by the bottom; bottoms by the top. I learnt that at my mother’s breast, or maybe at her Hills Hoist.’

‘Yes, but you only use one peg.’

‘Not nessa-celery. I will use two if I know there’s a cyclone or storm cell approaching.’

‘And you stick the pegs anywhere. You peg out undies by the, by the… by the gusset area.’

‘What? By the crotch?’

‘There’s no need to be crude, Wes! I don’t like you pegging the gusset. It’s disrespectful.’

‘Who am I disrespecting if I peg my own crot… gusset?’

‘I just don’t like it.’

‘Look, Allie, I know my pegging might only score one out of ten for street appeal. I’ll give you that. But it’s efficient. I could peg out five loads before you’d pegged out one.’

‘That’s not the point. My clothesline, my rules.’

This is Alice’s territory.

But Wes is looking out the window and across the paddock.

‘Well, well! Mystery solved, and Wessy is off the hook. Nyuk, nyuk. You might want to cover up a bit, Mummy.’

Alice decamps at pace.

Little Minch (7) appears, carrying something furry wrapped in his mother’s missing bath towel.

‘What have you got there, Minchy?’

‘A puppy. I rescued it from drowning down at Coogee Beach’ (a bend in the creek).

‘Well, well, well.’

‘Just in time too, Dad. I reckon he was going down for the third time.’

‘Hell!’

‘Yeah. I think I’m gonna call him Hayley Lewis. Can we keep him?’

‘Hayley who? What would a puppy be doing down there I wonder? What breed is it?’

 ‘Hard to tell, Dad. I think maybe it’s an Australian water beagle. Can we take it to the vet? He’s in a bad way. I think he’s got a crushed nose.’

‘Crushed nose? Australian water beagle? Give us a look, Son.’

Little Minch unwraps the towel for better inspection.

‘Hmm. Good news, good news and bad news, Minchy. Good news: Your mum’s towel is back. More good news: I don’t think we’ll need the vet.’

‘Hey!’

‘Bad news: I don’t think little Hayley Lewis will be chasing sticks, or burying bones or blocking-up the cattle any time soon.’

Little Minch’s lip quivers. ‘Is he… is he going to die?’

‘No, Minchy. He’s a platypus.’

A new breed.

A lesson to us all.

Bullgoose.

More Bullgoose here.

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