WHEN ASTON WAS MAURICE'S ONLY FRIEND
(Disc and Music Echo, July 19, 1969)

Aston de Maurice de Beaudier is currently spending his summer holidays in Henley. He isn't punting up and down the river or eating strawberry teas.... He's being house-trained. And his owners, Maurice and Lulu Gibb, miss their Pyrenean mountain dog very much.

"It's sad," says Maurice, "but it's got to be done or he'd be a bind to live with. And there isn't really enough room for him in our house any more. It was all right when he was smaller and there was just me living there, but now it really is too small."

So when Maurice and Lulu went house-hunting for a bigger place for them to settle down in, Aston was one of the prime considerations. And in August 1st the Gibbs hope to move into a five-bedroomed house in Hampstead, with a huge garden. The present owner has even agreed to leave her dog kennel behind, although Maurice fears Aston will never fit into it.

Maurice bought Aston a year ago, after he'd seen Dave Dee's Pyrenean mountain dog. Then his brother, Barry, fell for Aston and bought one a few days later, Barnaby.

Maurice bought Aston as a companion. At the time he was so miserable the puppy was more than just a dog. He was a friend, sympathiser and comforter. "It was when I was broken up from Lu for a period of about six months. I was so much in love with her I didn't give a damn for myself. I didn't wash my hair for weeks. I drank rather too much, and Aston was the only friend I had. I used to sit and watch TV with him asleep on my lap. Then all of a sudden Lu came back and my affections turned to her. But I'll never forget those days, they were the best days of dog owning."

Now, says Maurice, Aston is more of a family dog "because Lu and I are planning a big family."

Aston got his name from Maurice's car at the time, but he's been through two more since then and has now got a Rolls-Royce.

When Aston was in residence at the Gibb's Knightsbridge Mews house, his welfare was organised from walks to getting someone to sit with him if Lulu and Maurice were out. Aston gets lonely you see. Maurice's personal assistant usually takes Aston for a walk in Hyde park, but on Sunday Maurice and Lulu take him out there.

"Lu loves Aston," says Maurice. "It would have been terrible if she'd hated him. But she does miss her dog. It was a little Yorkshire terrier called Dog, and she adored it. He went into kennels while she was in America, and he got killed. But nobody told her. For three weeks after she got back she kept wondering when Dog was coming out of kennels, and then someone told her. She was terribly upset. I keep saying I'll get her another terrier, but she says there could never be another Dog."

Perhaps the incident Lulu most regrets with dog-owning was when she suggested bathing Aston. She had just come in from the studios after one of her television series, and quite out of the blue said "let's bath Aston." Rather taken aback, Maurice agreed, and Aston was coaxed upstairs and plonked in the bath. The result was Lulu getting soaked from head to foot, drenching her dress she'd been wearing for the show.

"Aston's obedient if he feels like it. If you tell him to sit he runs under the table. The trouble is he still does it and forgets how big he's grown, so the table falls over. He's grown, but he's still mentally a puppy. I can never take him in the car because he slavers so, and he's usually sick. And his hair gets everywhere! Visitors keep sending us in dry cleaning bills."

For the record, Aston eats two fillet or T-bone steaks a day, or a little chicken. "But he's like Lu and I," admits Maurice. "He nibbles a lot. We eat big meals and then we nibble bits and pieces afterwards."

But despite his size and total disregard for dog obedience, Aston has a song dedicated to him on the next Bee Gees' album. A song written by Maurice called "My Thing".

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