Dog-day afternoon isn't the happy hol I'd hoped for. . .
FAMILY holidays, you realise, can be a bit like Christmas. They start off full of big plans for great fun, after which it's downhill all the way.
You ponder this inevitable but unassailable fact as, with rasping breath and tightening lungs, you try to prevent your dog massacring a flock of sheep.
It's the first week of the family holiday. It's still quite early and nobody else is around when you arrive at a spot of immense historical and cultural significance which, for purposes that shall become abundantly clear, will not be identified.
You suddenly notice -- right around the time the family dog snaps the lead out of your daughter's hand and bolts -- that the area in question is also heavily populated by sheep.
Hundreds of terrified animals scatter in all directions in fear as your pet -- ignoring all shouted entreaties -- rampages through them in a state of unmitigated blood-lust.
Screaming at him to stop, you join in the chase, but soon he's only a dark blob, then a tiny dot in the distance.
Then, to your horror, he vanishes from your sight completely.
Your heart hammers in your throat, your arms tremble and your legs feel like jelly as you race after your son and your husband.
As you gallop past, you notice your daughter hasn't even broken a sweat -- in fact she's actually slowed to a walk.
"Run," you scream at her, as you race onwards, your head filled with visions of bloody, disembowelled lambs, disapproving gardai and your dog being put down by the vet.
You glance back -- she's now just a tiny strolling dot in the distance -- as you pant through the entrance of another field giving chase.
You sob with relief as you spot your son with the struggling mongrel in his arms, closely followed by your puffing husband.
The boy, it emerges, had had to throw himself bodily on top of the little dog which had proudly cornered a terrified sheep.
You take the creature from your son. All three of you glare at your daughter when she finally makes a belated appearance.
She had a sore foot, she mumbles, as an excuse.
As the two miscreants are silently escorted back to the car, you notice that a bus has disgorged a large crowd of tourists, who are just this moment walking up to the monument.
Your eyes meet those of your husband: there but for the grace of God, you think.