That was the year that was

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That was the year that was

ROBIN: Well Alan, you've been a retired gentleman of leisure for a year now. I've had you under my feet for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for three hundred and sixty five days and we haven't killed each other yet. How about that?

ALAN: Yes -- that must be some sort of a record. By and large, retirement has been a wonderful experience and I'm enjoying it heaps. Let's hope the next few years are just as much fun as the last year has been.

ROBIN: Do you miss not going to work every day?

ALAN: Certainly not. I've always regarded work as an irritating intrusion into my hobbies. I'm glad it's out of the way now, and I really don't miss it at all. Interestingly, just a few weeks ago I got an email from someone at the office asking me to come out of retirement for a few days and do some consultancy work for them. I had no difficulty whatsoever in turning them down.

ROBIN: So what have been the highlights of the last year?

ALAN: Moving house was the first thing. I think we both found it very stressful, though the end result has been well worth while. Even the cats seem to have settled well into their new home.

HARPO: I didn't like it at first, but it's definitely grown on me. There's long grass to hide in next door and sometimes small creepy creatures scuttle past.

BESS: It's warm. I like that. Lots of sunshine to curl up in.

ROBIN: And then, of course, we got a dog called Jake.

JAKE: Hey! That's me!

HARPO: Now that was a definite lowlight of the year. Who needs a dog? Nasty, smelly things. And he keeps eating my breakfast biscuits, damn him. I don't approve of that.

ALAN: Yes, but you sneak up and eat his biscuits when he's not looking. And you drink out of his water bowl. Fair do's!

HARPO: That's different!

BESS: And he keeps stealing our toys and chewing them to bits.

ALAN: But you don't play with those toys. They've been sitting untouched in your toybox for the last twelve years,  ever since we bought them for you.

HARPO: That's got nothing to do with it. They're OUR toys.

JAKE: Great toys! They've got all this fluffy stuffing in them which expands to fill up most of the room when I rip them apart. Some of them have got bells on, which is a bit scary, but on the positive side, none of them squeak.

HARPO: That can be arranged...

ROBIN: But at least we gave you somewhere safe to escape from Jake. Both you and Bess made nests for yourselves in my office and you come in and out through my window as the mood and hydraulic pressure takes you. That was wonderfully bracing in the middle of winter. There's nothing I like more than an ice blast through an open window to wake me up in the morning.

BESS: I thought it was really good that you built a dog proof door across the entrance to your office so that we could stand there and hiss at Jake from a position of perfect safety.

ROBIN: Yes -- it is only a sheet of cardboard with a small hole cut in it to allow you and Harpo to come and go at will. But somehow Jake knows that it is utterly impossible for a dog to jump over it or knock it down.

JAKE: Looks like a force field to me. Feels like one too. I don't trust force fields.

HARPO: You've been reading too much science fiction.

JAKE: There's no such thing as too much science fiction.

ALAN: That's my boy!

JAKE: Hey! Isn't it time for a walk? Let's go somewhere with lots of babies in prams. I like babies in prams. They are usually smeared with peanut butter and vegemite and they taste really yummy when I lick their faces.

ROBIN: And have you learned any life lessons from your first year as a gentleman of leisure?

ALAN: Yes I have. I've learned that picking up dog poo is a great way to keep your hands warm on a cold and frosty winter morning. When it comes to plumbing the secrets of the universe, I don't think you can get any more profound than that.

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