RECENTLY, a certain college student I know was visited by one of those most lovely of people, the television licence inspector, writes Tric Kearney.
This student lives in a large housing estate, mostly inhabited by fellow students. Earlier that morning the word had gone out via social media that the inspectors were around.
Doors were locked and curtains pulled but, unfortunately, this student’s house missed the warnings — I like to think it was because they were busy studying in the library. Whatever the reason, they opened the door and despite a rather pathetic attempt to assure the inspector they had no television; they were advised to pay up within a few weeks.
It reminded me of a time when I was younger and a lot less law-abiding than I am now. As a child, I’d say anything not to get into trouble. As a teenager, I wasn’t averse to leaving school without permission, in my 20s, I drove too fast and as a student nurse went on holiday to Cyprus with a gang of fellow nurses, six of us staying in an apartment for two.
However, there is a saying “your sin will find you out” and one day I was caught rotten.
On the day in question, I was minding my friend’s children as well as my own, a total of nine under 11 years of age including my new baby. It was lashing, so they were playing indoors, trashing every room they entered. Toys littered the floor and pop-up tents made from blankets and chairs were in most rooms. It was a rather noisy household, which got a whole lot noisier when someone rang the doorbell, causing our small dog to go into doberman mode, her ferocious bark at odds with her size, and hopefully causing the culprit to regret ignoring the note begging callers not to ring it as we had a new baby.
I’d been breastfeeding my little one, so quickly buttoned up, not progressive enough to let it all hang out as I opened the door. The sudden shutting up shop sent my usually placid newborn into a rage. With her wailing in my arms, I opened the kitchen door the tiniest bit and did my best to squeeze out without letting the dog escape but failed miserably. She flew past, barking wildly as I roared at her while eight little ones thundered downstairs not unlike the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music.
“Don’t open the door,” I shouted, too late as my eldest did just that. Out shot the dog, ignoring our visitor in her bid for freedom. My heart sank, knowing the only way to get her back was to pile the younger children into the car and go look for her.
“Suzy,” screamed my daughter, as we watched her disappear out the gate.
“That’s it,” I roared. “When I find her I’m driving straight to the dog and cat’s home.”
“Sorry,” said the rather traumatised man at the front door as the eight children jostled for a good view of him while the baby screamed blue murder in my arms.
“It’s OK,” I said, “I’ll go look for her in a minute.”
“Well,” he said with a hint of an apology in his voice, “I’m actually a dog warden. I’m checking if you have a licence for your dog.”
“Well, maybe I don’t have a dog anymore,” I said, looking towards the gate.
Mr Inspector hesitated, and as the baby’s wails reached a new level, I thought he might be having a change of heart.
“It’s OK,” said a small voice. “We have another dog out the back if you’d like to see her?”
Mr Inspector shook his head and pulled out a notebook as inside I wailed as loud as the baby.