A while ago now — on a plane — the transatlantic in-flight film was a traditional style weepy called Marley & Me. Now, bearing in mind we had our three children with us, undisturbed movie watching was really not an option. But as we whizzed across the miles, the resounding sounds of sniffles from the surrounding passengers, and copious passing of tissues over headrests convinced me that this was really not a film for me. Being one who weeps at adverts, (…sad songs, singing children) I try to steer clear of warm family films that are laced with gut wrenching emotional suffering. I’m just not equipped to deal…
However, the fates it seemed were bent on conspiring against me. And on the return night flight home, with three beautifully sleeping children, a dark cabin and nothing more exciting to watch than the plane creep across the Atlantic on the live map, Marley ‘happened’ to me.
I was only 20 minutes in when I realised that this particular film would haunt me more than most. There seemed to be huge sections of this film that parralled my own life. And No, before you ask, I do not live in a glorious pad with constant sunshine, and nor am I lucky enough to bear an uncanny similarity to Jennifer Aniston. But her ‘boy’ — her Marley, a big flolloping yellow labrador that was the first addition to their family, was like my boy. My Flynn.
Flynn came first, before the marriage, before the children. He was our constant companion, camping, walking, sunday’s in the pub. His head (and tongue) hanging out of the window of the car, knocking over the bin , tail sending cups flying off of coffee tables. He really did think he was small enough to get up on the sofa and sit on your lap…maybe its a labrador thing, I really don’t know.
But as the film wove on, and the characters grew and the children were born, I watched uncomfortably as Marley grew old. His walk became a little slower, his gait a little more uncomfortable, and his sense of mischief ebbed away.
Flynn is 14 now, not as lively as he used be. Not as naughty. No.1 son sits with him on the floor. We call Flynn ‘old man’ these days, ‘come on old boy. Come on old fella.’ The vet doesn’t frown when she puts him on the scales anymore, now she gives him a treat for coming to see her.