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Just Nuisance would have stopped them laughing at the Queen January 4, 2005

By John Scott

Queen Elizabeth’s corgis probably saved her from breaking her coccyx, when a courtier courteously pulled away her chair when she rose temporarily from the Christmas table but did not replace it quickly enough when she resumed a seat that was no longer there.

She ended up on the floor in a very unmajestic posture. Fortunately, the dogs, to whom she had been feeding titbits, broke her fall. When you are 78 any fall is serious, and I recall much younger people in my student days injuring themselves while boisterously playing musical chairs.

That is why, though the story has the ring of truth, the reported reaction of the other guests (they “broke into peals of laughter") seems a bit heartless.

It reminds me of another shaggy-dog story. It goes on and on, as shaggy-dog stories tend to do, but the crux of it is that a cripple on crutches tells how he is promised he will walk again, if only he has enough faith to cast the crutches away.

“So I flung them to the floor,” he says.

“And what happened then?” he is asked.

“I fell on my bloody bum.”

At least the corgis served some royal purpose for a change instead of bad-temperedly snapping at the ankles of Prince Philip.

The Royal Navy’s very own Just Nuisance, the Great Dane stationed in Simon’s Town during World War 2, showed far greater reverence for British royalty, if the book on him by Leslie M Steyn is to be believed.

I picked it up over Christmas in a second-hand bookshop, and immediately came upon a paragraph titled Profoundly Patriotic. 

It says: “Even when sound asleep, the first bar of God Save the King always brought him (Just Nuisance) to his feet. And usually, with everyone standing to attention about him, Nuisance burst into song, barking loudly in perfect time to the music of the anthem.” Now that’s a shaggy-dog story, if ever I read one.

My parents would have believed it, though. When they lived in Simon’s Town they often saw him taking a ride on the suburban train, sprawled across three seats with his friends, the naval ratings.

Noticeboards in the train warned everyone during those war years: “Do not talk about ships and shipping.” And Just Nuisance, clever dog that he was, didn’t.

But he did take exception to those who did not observe a two-minute pause, signalled by the noon-day gun, to pray for the Allies in battle against Hitler.

Bill Kitchener, then the collector of customs, whose Cape Town office overlooked Adderley Street, saw the giant dog barking at a man who had carried on across the road.

“Nuisance’s bark was like cannon fire. So conspicuous did he make this transgressor feel that he observed the pause.”

I have no doubt that had he been present when the queen had her fall, he would quickly have put a stop to the peals of hearty laughter.


Posted by rosevine69 on 01/05 at 06:08 AM in Blogging

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