For many years we badgered Mother to let us have a dog, and finally we acquired a wonderful little red setter puppy, who was promptly Christened ‘Barny’ and thoroughly spoilt by all three children. Anyone who has owned a red setter knows what idiots they are – perfectly adorable, but not the brightest of God’s creatures! I often took Barny for walks along Leigh cliffs, but as soon as I let him off the lead he was completely out of control. He would bound up to anyone and try to lick their face, and also had a dreadfully embarrassing habit of shoving his nose up unsuspecting ladies’ skirts. As a young lad of 14 or so, I experienced some dreadfully embarrassing moments retrieving him and, with beetroot face, trying to apologise.
He once took himself down to Leigh Station and boarded a train to Fenchurch Street, London. There were several people in the carriage and everyone thought that the dog was with someone else. They eventually all got out at various stations on the way and the train steamed into Fenchurch Street with Barny all on his own, comfortably installed in a corner seat, looking out of the window. The startled porter rescued him, read the tag on his collar, and put him on the next train back to Leigh, this time with the guard in charge.