The Collie was nice. But I draw the line at bestiality.
"Get down Shep," said Prof. Malcolm Fergusson. "Don't mind old Shep, he's a good boy, aren't you?"
I managed to free my leg from the Collie's affectionate grip.
It was 24 hours later, I was cold, scarred for life by a bic razor (so YOU never forgot your shaving tackle?) and Edinburgh was a long way from home.
It was however, the stamping ground of the United Kingdom's foremost historian of the condition known as 'shell shock' - or to use the politicially correct terms, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
And that was Prof. Fergusson. Pity about his bleedin' mutts.
For there were two. There was amorous Shep and slightly rebellious Sheba, who tended to growl a bit and give me doggy style dirty looks. I was nonchalant.
I'd caught a flight up from London and made an appointment with the Prof. through the University where he taught psychology.
You could say I was surprised to be invited to join the esteemed academic and his dogs on a constitutional.
"Fine weather for a stroll, eh?" declared Prof. Fergusson as he watched Shep and Sheba chase each other across the green at St. Andrew's Park.
"Very much so," I agreed. "Lovely for the time of year."
He gestured towards a bench and invited me to sit.
"So you want to know about this laddie Hartley then? May I ask why?" he enquired.
After a few minutes, he had the bones of the story.
"And this client of yours is paying for this research, I presume?" asked the Prof. raising one eyebrow.
I hadn't mentioned that part but then again, he was a psychologist.
"Up to a point," I answered, evasively.
"Just that I make a regular contribution to Edinburgh Dogs Trust ... perhaps you could see your way to make a small donation? Just by way of a charitable fee, if you know what I mean?" said the Prof.
"Certainly," I surrendered.
That night, I bought a bottle of Glenmorangie purchased from an off-licence on Princes Street and retreated to my hotel room. It had a superb view of the floodlit Edinburgh Castle. If I looked hard enough I could even see the statue of old Sir Douglas on his trusty steed which greets the thousands of tourists who flock to the venue each year.
But a view of the castle has it's downside. It means you are looking out over Princes Street and there was a loud altercation between the Calton Toi and the Tovey Tong taking place at the bus-stop opposite.
"Calton rule ya bass!" screamed one hooded Ned as he ran into action with his bottle of Buckfast at the ready.
Police in landrovers screeched to a halt, sirens screaming. The gangs ran off into the night. One of their number lay on the pavement, blood streaming from a head wound.
I closed over the curtains and opened the slim folder which the charitably minded Prof. had kindly photocopied for me. I took a hit of the Glenmorangie and waded in.
Extract from 'SHELL SHOCK AND ITS LESSONS' By Grafton Elliot Smith, MA. MD. FRCP. FRS.Dean of Faculty of Medicine and Professor of Anatomy, and Tom Hatherly Pear BSc. Lecturer in Experimental Psychology, Manchester University Medical School, Published Manchester University Press, England. First edition 1917
"Not every nerve-case, however, presents such striking and objective signs as those which we have just been describing. The subjective disturbances, which are apt to go undiscovered in a cursory examination of the patient, are frequently more serious than the objective, and are experienced by thousands of patients who to the mere casual observer may present no more signs of abnormality than a slight tremor, a stammer, or a depressed or excited expression. These afflictions: loss of memory, insomnia, terrifying dreams, pains, emotional instability, diminution of self-confidence and self-control, attacks of unconsciousness or of changed consciousness sometimes accompanied by convulsive movements resembling those characteristic of epileptic fits, incapacity to understand any but the simplest matters, obsessive thoughts, usually of the gloomiest and most painful kind, even in some cases hallucinations and incipient delusions - make life for some of their victims a veritable hell. Such patients may have recovered from sensory or motor disturbances and yet may suffer from any or all of these afflictions as a residuum from the original "shock- complex;" they may suffer from them as a complication of the discomfort attending upon a wound or an illness, or, on the other hand, they my have no overt bodily disorder: their malady then being usually given the simple but all-inclusive (and blessed) description "neurasthenia."
Prof. Fergusson had underlined this paragraph on a page copied from a learned volume which was vaunted as the definitive contemporary work on the subject.
It fitted well with the psychiatric analysis carried out on Hartley. He was, it seemed, an accident waiting to happen.
To be continued
To be continued