Gary & Flopsy – Part 1
As the many young, creative-types of Shoreditch make their way down the high street after work, eager to soak up the final embers of the day’s sunshine outside one of the many bars in the area, they pass a man and his dog setting out their stall for another night underneath a railway bridge.
The man lays down some sheets and the dog lies down in front of him and I go over and say hi and compliment him on the dog. “Yeah, he’s a good boy, he is”, says the man.
“What’s his name?”
“Oh right, two names, yeah?”
“Yeah, but he responds to Flopsy. Don’t you, Flopsy. Say ‘ello.” Flopsy opens an eye and tilts his head in my direction.
“Hiya, boy”, I say, crouching down to pat him. “God, he’s got a great coat.”
“Thanks, yeah, I comb him every day – not much else to do out here. But I keep him in good condition, healthy like… So they can’t say I’m treating him badly and take him away from me.” Flopsy rolls onto his back and I rub his belly. “Oh he loves that”, says the man.
“What’s your name, mate”, I ask.
“Nice to meet you Gary, I’m Compo”, I say, shaking his hand. “God, he’s a big boy – aren’t you, Flopsy! You’re a big boy!” I say, in dog-speak. “What breed is he?”
“Not sure really, they did some tests on him because they thought he was a dangerous dog, thought one of his parents might be a pitbull. But he’s not. And he’s harmless as a fly. Most dogs back away when he stands up, like.”
“I bet they do.” I ask Gary if he minds me taking a few pictures that I might use for a blog. He agrees and I stand up and take a couple. One’s of Gary leaning over with his hand held tight over Flopsy’s ear. I ask what he’s doing.
“Cos of the sirens – they scare him, they’re so loud…” he says, as a police van whizzes past us down the high street.
After the van’s gone Gary continues, “I’ve trained him well, like…”
“Oh yeah, I can see that, he’s a lovely dog. How long have you had him?”
“A few years, like… Here, do you want to sit down?”
“Yeah, cheers.” Gary stands up and walks over to his cart, an old postman’s trolley chained to the railings nearby, and pulls out some cardboard, rips off some pieces and places them on his sheet for me to sit on. “Thanks very much”, I say, taking a seat.
“What was I saying? Oh yeah”, he continues, “I got him when he was tiny, like… Pulled him and his brother out of a canal when they were puppies.”
“Shit, really? What happened?”
“A friend and me were down by the canal and saw a sack in there, and I knew something wasn’t right with it. So I says to him, ‘there’s something in that sack!’ and we ran over and fished it out.”
“And Flopsy and his brother were in there?”
“Yeah. They were alright, just… Trod on their sister to keep their heads above water… She’d drowned, like.”
“Yeah, some fucker wanted all three of them dead… So he’s lucky to be here really, aren’t you Flops!” Gary says, rubbing the dog’s head.
I tell Gary I’ve got to go and meet a couple of people but will come back if he’s still going to be here later.
“Yeah, we’ll be here all night, like. Bring your friends if you want…”