Tuesday, January 08, 2008

On dog whistles

On dog whistles

"Come on lad," says I to the boy Scaryduck Jr, "You've been playing on that DS all day. Why don't you put it down and get on with your homework."

Fatal mistake.

A man must never separate an 11-year-old boy from his Nintendo DS, especially one who has discovered how to tap in to the wireless network and indulge in several days of net play with some chap in Singapore. Non-stop.

"It's not fair..." he starts.

"And you've got homework to do..."

"You never let me have any fun..."

"And your school bag's not going to pack itself..."

"It's hours before bed..."

... as his voice raises into the pre-teen whine that only pre-teens and a particularly angry Sir Alex Ferguson can manage.

"Give it a rest, son. Your voice has gone so whiny, only the dog can hear you."

And so it was true. The lips moved on the face of the DS-clutching boy, but no audible sound came out. Lucy Minogue sat up alert in her basket, looking around the room with some distress.

"Funny," said Mrs Duck, "she doesn't do that when I blow that dog whistle I got from Portland Market."

"Maybe it's broken," I say after some thought on the subject. "But how would you know?"

How - I ask - without the help of incredibly expensive scientific equipment, do you know whether your dog whistle is working or not?

"In fact," said Mrs Duck, warming to my lunacy for once, "How do I know I haven't been ripped off? There's probably a huge market for mock dog whistles that don't work."

"I ought to write to Watchdog about it."

"No. Don't."

Instead, we aim to devise a test.

Step1: Blow the dog whistle. No sound audible to human will come out, but if it works, Lucy Minogue will come running.

Step2: Throw Scaryduck Jr's PS2 handsets out of the window just as he reaches a critical stage in Ratchett and Clank. If it works, Lucy Minogue will come running.

We have no alternative plan for the eventuality that Lucy Minogue is deaf. Or, as we suspect, just plain stupid.

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