Gentlemen prefer dogs

Andrew O’Hagan

  • The Dogs by Laura Thompson
    Chatto, 254 pp, £9.99, January 1994, ISBN 0 7011 3872 6

A relative of mine, a white-haired Capuchin friar now working on a mission in Zambia, spent the early days of his vocation at St Bonaventure’s, a strict residence a mile or so out of Cork city. There was no drinking, of course, and no cigarettes or newspapers either. When not doing the do – working and praying and partaking of the holy sacraments – the good Reverend Brother would now and then make for the flat roof of the house, from where he enjoyed a decent view of the greyhound racing taking place in a park over the way. By then, despite his local upbringing, the dogs must have seemed otherworldly to him, enticingly alien. And as those nameless, sleek bodies scampered around the track – carrying with them the variously-priced hopes of those secular specks whooping and hollering from the terraces – I can imagine him wondering, high on his priory rooftop, at what manner of life was passing, unhindered, before him.

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