Goodnight – Tessa Waugh’s hunting diary: A hound called Boris? *H&H Plus*

  • Tessa Waugh muses over topical options for naming hound puppies during the pandemic, while the constant need to feed the brood sends her daydreaming about her granny’s scones and brandy snaps

    Summer is pretty much here again and with it three litters of puppies at the kennels. While we sat around the table eating our lunch, the subject of names came up. Usually hound names tend towards the traditional – two-syllable names like Rambler, Gambler, Landlord and Bluebell are evergreens reappearing intermittently through the centuries – but occasionally someone goes rogue and opts for the topical.

    In 2019, unsurprisingly, there were several puppies across Britain who were given the dubious name of Brexit. There were also some Peppas (like the cartoon pig), a Poldark, an Asbo and more perplexingly, a Gluten. Will the 2020 entry feature a glut of Rainbows, I wonder, some more Borises, a Furlough?

    In this instance, we were looking for names beginning with “M”, the mother being a bitch called Moonbeam. “Madcap?” offered Mary sensibly. “Moonlight?” suggested Jack. “Muffintop?” I added, tentatively.

    Since the lockdown, I have become unhealthily obsessed with food. It’s boredom, I think, but it also runs in the family. One of my grannies was never happier than when preparing, shopping for or discussing food. Even in her eighties, she produced mountains of Victorian sponges, scones (rhyming with stones), brandy snaps, the lightest floury rolls. Granny’s baked goods were the stuff of legend, but the weekly ritual of Sunday lunch wasn’t enhanced by her food-based chat.

    “Are these yours, Johnny?” she would ask my father over the industrious clattering of cutlery, pointing at a carrot or potato on her plate. The veg-based conversation would invariably meld into a detailed comparison of greengrocers in the locality. My mother, who had cooked the feast, was rarely recognised for her involvement, but managed to keep her pecker up in the face of conversational Mogadon. A lesser woman wouldn’t have been so stoical.

    I don’t share Granny’s love of cooking – I’d much rather be outside – but I am spurred on to produce another cake, loaf of bread or edible supper by my own expanding appetite. Driving home from the supermarket with enough food for three families, I feel something close to shame. What next? Turning up at the “click and collect” with the horse trailer?

    A recently retired master of the Dummer Beagles rang up, and conversation turned to next season. He was keen to book a week in our friends’ holiday let for the Dummer’s annual visit in the autumn – we all need something to look forward to at the moment.

    It’s a big year for the Dummer. Their fabled huntsman Steve Duckmanton is retiring at the end of the season and a valedictory trip to Northumberland will be a key part of his farewell. With any luck, the visit will still go ahead and if not, there is always cake.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 4 June 2020