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Peter Rhodes on proper dogs, the deaths of cats and a quandary of colour

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

A proper pub dog

ONE of the strangest Bills to be brought before Parliament is the proposed law which would force drivers to report accidents involving cats. Moggie deaths would be logged, just like accidents involving dogs, horses and pigs. The MP behind the Bill, Rehman Chishti, says reporting such deaths would bring cat owners "closure." Maybe so. But in an age when police don't have the time or numbers to deal with the killing of humans, how are they supposed to make time for reporting the demise of Tiddles on the A46?

IF you want an indication of how much time police can afford to devote to offences involving animals, consider last year's statistics for sheep rustling. In 2018, more than 9,600 sheep were stolen, many by organised gangs. All that criminality resulted in just one charge.

SO farewell, Crufts. The annual parade of wheezers, powder-puffs and other inbred oddities makes the case for a new and rival show featuring dogs that actually look like dogs. I am reminded of the pub mongrel we encountered in Devon last year, a jolly jumble of genes that bounced with energy, adored his master and took a passing interest in every new customer, without any embarrassing fawning. In mind and body, a proper dog. We ought to see more of them.

OUR changing language. Here are two headlines and I bet you don't understand either of them: "Daily launches bid to save patch football club" and "Weekly honours patch music legend." I grieve to report that both appear in the website, Hold The Front Page, written by journalists for journalists. In each case the word "patch" means that the football club and the music legend have connections to the newspaper's circulation area, or patch. So why not simply use the old, reliable and universally understood "local"? Do you not hear, on the blasted heath beyond Royston Vasey, proprietor Edward explaining indignantly: "This is a patch shop for patch people."?

THE kindest thing said about Amber Rudd after the Tory minister used the term "coloured woman" was that it was not only thoughtless and gravely offensive but old-fashioned. We'll see. I bet within a few years "coloured" turns out to be not old-fashioned but was simply unfashionable for a few years. "Coloured" used to be considered a polite term among those who shrank from the bluntless of "black." Today, "coloured people" is unacceptable but "people of colour" is fine. These things evolve.

YOU may recall a row in September 2017 over a proposed "slave auction" for students at Loughborough University. The uni's African-Caribbean Society had plenty of time to choose its words and draft a written response. It chose to denounce the event as showing "blatant disregard for coloured people." Old-fashioned? Or leading a change?

IT'S funny, clever, poignant, thought-provoking, beautifully constructed and with a cast of some of the best British actors. After Life, the new Ricky Gervais comedy, is on Netflix and not on the BBC. Auntie has missed yet another trick. And I'm not even a Gervais fan.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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