In the early 1960s, my paternal grandmother went mad and was carted off to a Mercy Home for the Baffled and Bewildered. It was run by an order called the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, and my grandmother spent her final decade contented and happy. Surrounded by nuns, she perhaps believed that she had realised a lifelong ambition, and become a nun herself. The home, in Lytham St Annes, was – still is – called Stella Matutina.
More than half a century later, at the beginning of last year, my brother acquired a dog. It was the first time he had ever had a pet pooch and, by all accounts, possession of the dog “changed his life”. The name he gave to this dog was Stella Matutina.
I find this psychologically fascinating. It would be intriguing to plumb the depths of my brother’s psyche in relation to dogs and mad grandmothers and nuns. As the psychiatrist remarked in Fawlty Towers, “there’s enough material there for an entire conference”.