On Saturday husband and I drove through Anstruther; it’s a small fishing village in Fife.
Home to the UK’s best fish and chip shop and near enough to St Andrews’ for us to seek accommodation for the night when I was playing the Byre Theatre.
We decided to stop when I saw sign saying ‘Hotel’.
It was a bar that had self catering apartments attached.
I walked into the pub and there was a wee skinny young woman called Kelly, who told me she was in charge. “Do you have flats for one night?” I asked.
“Aye, we do” she answered.
“Can you show me the room?” I asked her.
She had thin greasy blonde hair, looked tired and pulled out some keys and told me to follow her.
She opened a door which revealed a disabled bathroom in front of us and two rooms either side. In the wee hallway, stood a wee greying dog, it had white eyebrows, a white tufty beard and a milky eye.
It whined constantly and limped about.
“What’s the dog called?” I asked, secretly wondering if we had to stay with an aged crippled dog, did it come with the room.
“Erm…I am not sure I call it Skippy” Kelly said.
I looked at the dog and thought to myself ‘That dog hasn’t skipped since 1978’.
“There is one problem, the disabled toilet here belongs to the bar, and so if someone comes in on a wheelchair, we have to bring them through here to use the loo” Kelly told me. The dog whined and limped more behind us.
“So at anytime you may be in here, in the flat where I am staying with some poor disabled person who needs the toilet?” I asked incredulously.
“Don’t worry, you will have plenty warning” Kelly assured me.
“People in wheelchairs don’t often have much warning when they need to pee” I added.
The dog stared at me and whined again.
“What is wrong with that dog?” I asked as I had a quick look in the 1970s styled living area. All cream plastic sofas, nylon carpets and cheap wood fire surrounds.
“Its owner died last week” said Kelly as she carried on showing me how to work a microwave oven, which I suspect was new technology to her and the locals in Anstruther.
“Look I am sorry but I don’t want to stay here, but thanks” I smiled and went to leave, husband had just arrived as he had been parking the car.
He took one look around and shook his head at the room.
Then the dog huddled at my feet and tried to sleep on my flip flopped feet.
Husband looked at the old grizzled dog and raised an eyebrow in question at the whole scene.
“Ok, then” Kelly said and started to walk out the door.
I tired to follow but the dog started walking with me laboriously and I felt compelled to walk slowly to let it keep up.
Husband and I got outside and I opened the car door to get in and the wee greying dog hobbled at my side and tried to climb into the car.
I looked at its one clear eye, its wee bearded face and wiry coat and felt sorry for it; I leaned down to stroke it and heard Kelly say “Excuse me; do you want to keep the dog?”
Husband made a huffing sneering noise and I looked at the dog then at Kelly and said “Tempting but actually…no…I don’t think it has long to live” I tried to shut the car door and heard her shout.
“It really likes you and its owner died and it’s really sad, you should take it Mrs” She pleaded.
Husband leaned over, gently pushed the wee dog out of the car entry and slammed the door; he revved the engine and drove off. The wee dog stood on the pavement as I watched it disappear in the car mirror.
“We are not collecting old nearly dead dogs Janey” he shouted as I pleaded for him to go back and keep the old dog.
We spotted another B&B place “You go check I will go park the car” Husband muttered.
I stood at the glass door and knocked lightly, I really did want to stay over so I could get a shower and go do my show in St Andrews that night.
I heard loud violent barking, a shape through the mottled glass door looked like it was coming down a flight of stairs, it sounded like a mental dog…again.
An elderly woman with the bluest eye shadow I have ever seen opened the door at a peep as a big black dog popped its head round to bark and growl at me.
“That’s Shelia, he is really a pet of a dog, he was beaten so badly as a pup” she said as I tried to get the dog away from my leg, it was snapping at me.
‘Shelia’ I thought…an unusual name for a male animal, and as far as being beaten? It almost bit my thigh; it may need another punch to the head I thought to myself.
“Do you have a room for the night?” I asked, convinced I could now play the part of Joseph in any contemporary Nativity Play to the full effect.
“Yes, but the dog doesn’t like you so I am not sure if it will work out” she said without any sarcasm. Her blue pasted eyelids scared me and her incredibly black eyebrows were drawn way up higher than her natural ones should be, giving her the look of a very surprised transsexual.
“The dog up the at the hotel near the shop liked me so much the owner almost gave her to me, I am good with dogs” I tried to convince scary eye woman to let me stay.
“She likes anyone that dog, her owner died and she is looking for a new home, she would stay with a dog killer” she sneered at me.
“Ok, can we stop talking about dogs and tell me if you have a room for the night?” I butted in.
“No” said the crazy woman and she slammed the door, the dog barked through the glass and I heard the mad lady say “Don’t worry Shelia, I didn’t like her either”
Husband laughed at the story and convinced me to sit on the harbour and he would go get us fish and chips from the famous chip shop. The queue was fifty deep at the front, as people from all over come to buy their fish and chips there. The place has won all sorts of awards for its tasty deep fried goods.
I sat on the warm stones, took in the late summer sun and wondered where we were going to stay.
I came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t get a place to stay, we may get a dog but no room, so I would head to the Byre Theatre in St Andrew’s have a shower, do the show and head for home.
Husband waited an hour to get the fish and chips and YES it was worth waiting for, so yummy and delicious, so crispy with thick fluffy fresh fish and chunky fat chips.
We sat happily at the waterfront, boats bobbing in the sparkling water, the ancient stones on the harbour wall holding their heat for our fat chip eating bums to rest on.
We arrived at the Byre Theatre in plenty time, the place is so wonderful. I had a great shower in my dressing room, fresh towels and fully stocked green room to have a good cup of tea and a sit down before the show started.
The theatre was almost full when I stepped out at 8pm. I love comedy, I love being onstage…I did 1 hour 25 minutes and that was good value for money for an hour show!
The audience gave me a really good cheer at the end and I walked out front and thanked them for coming along, I love meeting the people after the show.
Some people brought along my autobiography for me to sign, luckily no one brought along a dog for me to keep.
I wonder what happened to wee old Skippy, and who knows how that crazy eye shadow lady gets guests based on her dog’s dysfunctional personality, but what a great day!_