One of the other things we did in North Yorkshire was to pass through a grisly tourist town, where the Northern Professor inexplicably fell in love with a stuffed toy Labrador — so we bought one. The excuse is that it will be passed on to the very cool two-year-old son of our Venetian friends, who will probably reject it on the grounds of being insufficiently electronic. This object, black of course, has an expression of lobotomised good nature and round brown eyes; details of stance, proportion and so forth are strangely precise as an evocation of a Labrador puppy something around three months old. The Professor, for some undisclosed reason, put this creature on the floor by Dido’s water dish on the upstairs landing as if it was thinking about taking a drink, where its appearance of being a Lilliputian labrador puppy causes it to play strange games with perspective and proportion especially if you catch it out of the corner of your eye. What is interesting about this harmless narrative is that Miss Cat has taken to springing out of the bedroom and bowling the stuffed toy across the landing. She has never shown the slightest interest in surrogates; she kills mice, voles, pigeon et al, and once in a while plays with leaves or whatever to keep her paw in, but she doesn’t do toys. So does she recognise this thing as in some way, a dog? Or is it a sort of fetish which she is beating up in the hope that Miss Dog will writhe in agony? What is going on in her little head?