Sunday morning and I am sitting at my desk, windows open, sunshine streaming in, working on my book edits. Luis is chatting with his Portuguese compatriots next door and will be coming back at 3pm for Sunday lunch (meal times a la Portuguese are always +2 hours over French time). Everything is close to perfect. There is just one thing missing: Biff.
On Friday morning at 7.00am I dropped him off with Rachel the dog sitter before heading to Shabsted to fly back to France for the weekend. Rachel gives us a discounted rate on account of Biff's big paws and charming personality. 'He's my favourite of them all,' she says. 'I think of him as my little gypsy dog.'
But when Biff saw me heading for the door he started to cry. His plaintive wails followed me down the stairs and I felt horribly, horribly guilty. If it wasn't the thought of Luis and the book edits waiting at the other end, I would have ran back up the stairs to his rescue.
By lunchtime I was sitting in the sunshine at my local cafe drinking diablos [lemonade with strawberry syrup] with Travis, before setting to work. With uncharacteristic discipline I turned down the opportunity for early evening aperitifs with friends in his garden and worked until midnight instead. And that's when I really missed my little canine friend, since normally, when I take work breaks, I scoop him up in my arms and we dance around the room to [Nothing] Sweet About Me, a trashy Italian pop song that I am addicted to (I know it sounds odd but Biff really enjoys this).
On Saturday morning in the local cafe, the first question people asked me - almost with an air of recrimination - was 'where's Biff?' As my friend Susie says, 'he's so much part of your personal presence that it's really strange when he's not around.'