It's always the same with January: in like a lion of good intentions and out like a lamb of distractions. From the giddy heights of the first day of 2016, I surveyed a carefully crafted campaign of meaningful blogposts - as regimented as a Brigade of Guards and as regular as a packet of Pomfret Cakes. And within a few short weeks, I find myself once again having to pen an apology for blogging absence. On this occasion the culprit is obvious - it is a small chocolate-coloured bouncy parcel that is beginning to answer to the name of Lucy.
She operates according to a remarkably manic timetable, dashing around the world at high speed, driven by an obsession to chew at anything that crosses her path. And then, without any real warning she will crash into a deep sleep, that offers you, her guardian, the hope of grabbing a few moments of normality - the chance to make a pot of tea, put your trousers on or plan a blog post - before all such hopes are buried under a renewed mountain of puppy-chews, half-digested copies of the Guardian, and other things too gruesome to relate.
On the few occasions I have managed to find a puppy-free moment I have been lost in a good book, which - ever since the onset of the digital age when you have an almost unlimited supply of literature at your downloadable finger-tips - seems to be an increasingly rare pleasure (there is an inverse square law waiting to be written here).
The book in question is the wonderful "Sweet Caress" by William Boyd which relates the life of a fictional twentieth century photographer called Amory Clay. Interspersed with a excellent story-line are both photographs that supposedly come from her camera, and descriptions of the nature of the photographic process that will resonate with anyone who has ever picked up a half-serious camera.
Any book that can overpower the demands of an eight week old puppy must be a compelling read - Sweet Caress is a book I can heartily recommend.
That might sound like an advertisement, but it is not. This, however, is. Lucy is not fed on Spratt's Dog Cake - in line with any self-respecting twenty-first century mollycoddled pooch she is fed a scientific-formulated, veterinary-planned, vitamin and mineral enriched kibble. I am tempted, however, to see if I can still acquire a bag of Spratt's, which in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century always claimed that it was produced with the extract of American Buffalo meat.
I have managed to occupy the few minutes that Lucy has been asleep by reading a brief history of Spratt's Dog Foods, and whilst not quite of Boydian dimensions, it is a fascinating story. Did you know, for example, that they were the fist company to erect a billboard in London, or that during the course of World War 1 they produced 1,256,976,708 dog biscuits for the British Army?
But the Lusitania now stirs, demanding exercise, distraction, play and something to chew on. Do you fancy a little bit of baked buffalo meat Lucy?