TUMBY BAY - I’ve had this voice floating around in my head for several years now. It’s the voice of a small dog of indeterminate breed whose use of the English language is strange but quite endearing.
When he talks to me I reply in the same style, sometimes out loud if there is no one else about. We have some interesting conversations in this manner. These mostly occur when I’m out walking.
He’s not quite an alter ego and certainly has nothing to do with my conscience because he tends to be rash and uninhibited in his pronouncements.
We tend to agree on many matters but also argue about others.
I’m not really sure where he came from or when he actually arrived in my head.
He’s also quite different to the various secret friends that I had when I was a small boy. Those friends used to do what they were told, my little dog tends to be more rebellious.
I don’t appear to be alone in this respect. On my walks I’ve noticed other people who appear to be talking to thin air. Most of them are about my age but a few are younger.
Writers of my acquaintance freely admit to their own little invisible companions. That’s part of the quirky nature of writers I guess.
On my walks when people notice me watching them they tend to go quiet and cover their embarrassment by putting their hands to their mouth. A few, however, just cruise past nattering away quite oblivious to me.
Of late I’ve been caught out in this respect. Someone approaching me apparently nattering to thin air can turn out to be talking on a mobile phone. It’s only when they get closer that I notice leads sticking out of their ears or an iPhone in their pocket.
At least I presume that’s what they are doing. It could be that they’re using the leads and phones as cover for a conversation with someone or something much less temporal. You never know with people these days.
Sometimes, when I take my daughter’s dog for a walk we have three way conversations. Strangely enough the two dogs seem to be able to communicate with each other.
I’m not a great fan of psychology. Sigmund Freud and his ilk leave me cold. I don’t want to know that my doggy friend’s existence has something to do with my toilet training as a toddler.
Besides, I know from my exposure to indigenous people in both Australia and Papua New Guinea that these sorts of extra-body entities exist, even if it is only in the minds of their hosts.
Talking to ancestors and spirits is a quite normal thing for indigenous people. Many people take advice from these creatures. Just like I take advice from my little dog.
The Biami people in Western Province can conjure them up during séances and are so convincing that a team of scientists once unsuccessfully filmed a séance with infrared film to see if they could spot these elusive spirits.
My little dog is different however. He turns up when he feels like it and I’m sure he would ignore any mumbo-jumbo designed to flush him out.
Over the years I’ve become quite fond of him and the prospect of him ever going away would leave me bereft.
I think, that when I die, I’d like to become a little dog in someone’s imagination. It would at least be consolation for the inevitable nothingness that death will bring.
But that’s too morbid to contemplate. And besides, I’ve got to go.
My little dog wants to go for a walk.