I went to one of those relentlessly self-improving Guardian Masterclasses the other evening, says Elaine Kingett. ‘How to change your life,’ run by a life coach. I quite like mine already, but am always open to input on how to make things a bit better – and every envelope deserves to be opened by the eternally optimistic single woman on the look-out.
We had to team-up with a partner; someone we didn’t know who was sitting next to us, and deduce what our life values were and how to get more of them. ‘Tom’ quickly decided that mine were Freedom, Harmony, Independence and Nature. Not bad for 15-minutes work. I wanted to take him home and put him on a shelf. What I did already know was that I want to be fitter, sleep better, drink less, laugh more and play more and – guess what? Seems like getting a dog would sort it all.
My last one toddled off a couple of years ago at the grand old age of sixteen-and-a-half. A chilled-out Border terrier, he had enough resilience, attitude and love to entertain and comfort my family through cancer, death, a myriad of house moves, relationship break-ups, childhood dramas and university successes. I used to harrumph loudly when the bloke in the newsagent called him my ‘partner’ and repeatedly cursed the early mornings and late nights that I had to drag him around the darkened streets of Brighton or London, but my partner he most certainly was – and never under estimate the social life you gain with a dog. People smile at you in the street because you must be nice, you have a dog! Especially if it’s not a growling, grumpy fighter-boy sort of dog. Small children approach you and their mother’s don’t drag them away.
I give in. I want someone to talk to indoors, to cuddle and to watch telly with. I’ve given up on men. I’m getting a dog.
Elaine Kingett runs creative writing holidays in Spain and Wales and workshops in London; for more information check out Write It Down.