Friday, 24 April 2020

What I'm reading: a Dog and his Ghost-writer

Havoc Bathard: WHEREVER I HANG MY LEAD


I have to declare an interest here. Havoc, the author of this travel memoir, stayed at my flat in Hastings in 2007, halfway through his 5,000-mile walk round the coast of Britain – raising over £50,000 for Guide Dogs and the Lifeboats.

It’s not often you read a book written by a dog. Havoc’s ‘ghost-writer’ Wendy is my second cousin. She gets the dog’s ‘voice’ exactly right. During a spell of pet-sitting: ‘I soon put the other dogs in their place and let them know that I was still top dog, whoever’s house we were in.’

Havoc’s perspective on their 11-month trek (and subsequent campervan excursions to the Scottish Isles, Ireland, France and the Spanish costas) is loaded in favour of riverside walks, beach chases, food and treats, dogs and other animals encountered. There’s quite a lot of peeing and pooing, but he does take time to notice the scenery and historical attractions. He also records the break-up of his Mum’s relationship with an abusive partner and its happier sequel with a new partner (soon husband), who drives the campervan on their later adventures. And he touchingly chronicles his own declining health on their continental journey. Expect to shed some tears.

If you loved Marley and Me and A Dog’s Purpose (and how could you fail to?), you will very much enjoy this happy/sad autobiography of an adored and adorable collie/terrier cross.

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