Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Curious Incident of the Cat in the Bin

Another day, another case of cruelty to an animal, another round of on-line commentators making snide and smug remarks about how the British love animals and loathe humans. After all, don’t we as a nation give more to donkeys than we do to children?

This argument is, of course, based on a rather weird mistake. We are animals too. I’m sorry if this news startles you but human beings are in the same biological grouping as felines, it’s just that we have access to wheelie bins, CCTV cameras and computers in a way that domestic cats do not. I’m always surprised when a cruelty to animals story does the rounds and various commentators start wittering on about how we care more about them than we do about humans, especially children. But we are them, and so are our children. This may be a blow to some people’s self-image but we are members of the animal kingdom, the mammal county to be precise, and resisting the urge to put our fellow subjects into wheelie bins strikes me as good practice as well as good manners.

Meanwhile, on a purely pragmatic note, it is known in circles where such knowledge is necessary, that cruelty to animals is a sign of a serious capacity to be cruel to humans and is a major danger signal. And to all those who think the cat in the wheelie bin is terribly funny, no it isn’t because it’s real and caused real distress to a living thing. It would have been funny in a Tom & Jerry cartoon and I think it’s terribly important to remember that distinction.

So why did she do it? I suspect we’ll never really know. My personal feeling is that she did it because she could. She had the power to do so and for some reason there and then she used that power. Am I sympathetic? Am I buggery. Cats do what cats do because they are cats. We do what we do out of choice and that is why while we may be closer to angels, we often choose to embrace demons.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

With all the discussion of Tony Blair’s donation of his book advance to the British Legion, here’s a Shakespeare character in Henry V with a short speech that seemed appropriate:


But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath
a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and
arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join
together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at
such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a
surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind
them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their
children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die
well that die in a battle; for how can they
charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their
argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it
will be a black matter for the king that led them to
it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of