A brisk breeze was blowing heavy grey clouds across an early July evening sky. Theo was sat under the lamp post waiting for Ernie to arrive.
They’d not met at their favourite lamp post for months, so Theo expected Ernie to get a bit lost, or distracted by things he saw, en route. Either way, he knew Ernie would arrive late.
So, he opened his mobile device and began reviewing 'Ernie and Theo’s' first quarter's sales figures. As he suspected, they confirmed their new line in facemasks had helped to keep them afloat during the lockdown.
Despite this success, he was relieved the economy had started opening up. He was looking at how they’d done at their first post-lockdown markets when Ernie trotted round the corner.
“Yeo Theo!” he cried, “Sorry I’m late, I took a wrong turning somewhere.”
“Hello Ernie, I thought you might forget the way here after all this time,” Theo chuckled.
“Oh no,” Ernie replied in a slightly hurt voice, “I didn’t forget how to get here. I saw some squirrels en route and went over to say ‘hello’ to them. They ran off though. I thought they were playing ‘chase me’ - so I did,” he explained. “As you know, squirrels are very fast and by the time I lost them, I’d lost myself too.”
“Well, the main thing is you’re here now,” Theo said, “it’s good to see you!”
“And it is good to see you properly too Theo!” Ernie replied, “I’m not keen on looking at computers. Give me a zoomie instead of a zoom meeting any time,” he laughed.
“Yes, I noticed!!” Theo laughed. “But those meetings were vital in the lockdown,” he said. “Without them, we mightn’t have moved into making facemasks.”
“Oh yes,” Ernie agreed, “we mightn't have had that idea if you hadn't zoomed in to tell me to look at a blue sky and think outside my toybox,” he said.
“We’ll never know Ernie, we’ll never know,” Theo sighed. “Anyway, the good news is things are starting to get back to normal. How did the markets at Sale and Cheadle go?” he asked.
“Well, at Sale I went for a very long walk along the canal,” Ernie said. “I saw all of my mates there and said hello to the ducks who were out sunbathing.”
“Yes, but how did the market go?” Theo asked, a hint of frustration entering his voice. “I was just starting to study the sales figures when you arrived. I wanted to see how our new drying robes did.”
“Ah right.” Ernie replied, “Well, we sold a couple at the Sale market, but they made almost as big a splash as me at Cheadle,” he went on.
“Ernie, I know you are a big splash with our customers,” Theo said exasperatedly, “I want to know if we sold any drying robes!!”
“No, I didn’t mean that sort of splash Theo,” Ernie explained.
Theo was beginning to remember how difficult it could be to get Ernie to converse sensibly.
“Well, what sort of splash did you make?”.
“I went to Bramhall Hall Park while one of my humnans set the stall up. I went down to the lake and ran over to say hello to the ducks...but I slipped.”
“You slipped where?” Theo asked.
“Well, it had been raining very hard. I slipped on the wet path and into the lake. That’s how I made a big splash,” Ernie explained.
Theo roared with laughter.
“Well, I have to say this has been coming Ernie,” he said. “You are always chasing one little creature or another close to water. What did you do then?”
"I was very wet and it started raining. My human was worried about me getting cold,” Ernie said, “so I had to sit in front of the car heater.”
“And you wouldn’t have enjoyed that,” Theo chuckled, "served you right!!"
“It turned out well in the end though,” Ernie explained, trying to ignore Theo’s giggling.
“Why?” Theo asked in a curious voice
“Well, when I finally got to the market, my human put me in my blue drying robe to keep me warm,” Ernie explained. “Lots of people stopped to say how smart I looked, and some of them bought a robe for their best friend!”
“Ah, so that's how you AND the drying robe made a big splash at Cheadle,” Theo said, “you're a marketing genius Ernie!”
"But it was all a bit of an accident Theo!" Ernie explained.
"Okay, you're an accidental genius then, Ernie!" Theo said laughing.
Ernie had never thought Theo would ever call him a genius, even an accidental one, and looked very proud of himself.
"Thank you Theo," he said with a big smile and a swelling chest.
"You're welcome Ernie. Now will you be going to the Makers' Market at Warrington this weekend? It will be our first time there," Theo said.
"Only if there isn't a duck lake nearby, Theo!" Ernie said laughing..
"I don't know if there is one, but if you find one steer clear of it and take your drying robe just in case" Theo suggested.
"Oh I'll certainly do that, Theo," Ernie replied.