Demonstrative Dog

I was sitting in the garden, chilling out and quietly sipping a beer while listening to some gentle Motorhead tracks when the dog lifted his head from where he’d been sunbathing and looked intently at me. I turned the music down a bit as he ambled over next to me.

After a suitable pause for him to yawn and stretch, he finally got round to the point.

‘You know, I was quite surprised by you yesterday.’

‘Why? What did I do? Cook your steak exactly the way you like it? Keep the walking pace steady? Fill your water bowl as if I were a head waiter in a top restaurant?’

He made a dismissive motion with a paw and made a little jump to get in the chair next to me.

‘No, none of that, although the steak was pretty good I suppose. No it was the protesters, I was quite impressed that you seem to have got over your recent bout of Tourette’s and that you managed to speak to them without swearing.’

He grinned at me to show that he might be joking and continued on.

‘To tell the truth, you were very polite, you asked them a couple of questions that seemed to confuse them and you wished them luck. I thought that you didn’t have any time for those ‘Black Lives Matter’ people. Actually, I seem to remember you calling them a number of names, many of them quite profane and some that may even be illegal in some places.’

I took a couple of sips of beer while I considered my answer. I was impressed at his hearing to be honest, I’d left him on the other side of the square with a friend while I wandered over to have a chat.

‘Well, the thing is that they were quite nice really, they seem to think that they’re helping somebody or other and it’s quite a brave thing for only two people to try to do in a small town. They weren’t getting in the way and they were polite.’

He wrinkled his face in the expression that I’ve started to call ‘Cartoon Dog’, he’s got quite expressive over the past few months and it’s nice to watch the emotions dance over what was once a very closed little face.

‘I sense a ‘but’ here….’

‘But…. they’re misguided and are treating a massively complicated issue as if it’s a one sided thing that says all black people are victims, all white people apart from themselves and their allies are evil racists and that a movement with Marxist aims and shadowy backers will somehow make everything right.’

He laid his head on his paws and waited for me to continue.

‘And so, I went over to talk to them. They’d made some little placards and one of them had a list of names that presumably were victims of some injustice or other including Mark Duggan. Twice. I asked why he was on there twice with different spellings and the answer was that they had written all the names themselves. So.. a mistake. I didn’t bother asking if they knew anymore about him than his name. He had been a murder suspect himself before he was shot by the cops.’

The dog wrinkled his nose in query.

‘It was a strange story, but although I’m not always a fan of the police, I think that it was done in good faith. I also never saw anybody riot or burn down parts of their own town when the cops shot Harry Stanley for having a table leg in a carrier bag.’

He wrinkled his nose again.

‘Don’t worry about that today, the point is that bad things happen to all sorts of people. Situations get out of control and people make mistakes. But to try to make out that that the police are institutionally racist is just stupid…’

I paused for more beer while he looked at me through drowsy eyes.

‘So I asked them if they’d be putting Kriss Donald or Ross Parker on their list. They confessed that they’d never heard of them and I suspect that they’d had to google all of the names that were actually there – or take them from a list published by BLM. I asked them to google the names when they had 5 minutes and then wished them luck with their protest.’

The dog was almost asleep in the sun at this point, his paws beginning to twitch.

‘Why did you do that?’

‘Because they’re still brave for doing a small protest in a town that mostly ignored them. Because abuse won’t help and maybe they’ll be curious enough to look for some more sources than whatever they’re reading now. Because…..’

I trailed off. He was fully asleep now and chasing squirrels in his sleep. I moved quietly to the kitchen in search of more beers.

Dog Tired

I had just finished a conference call when the dog did his little trick of putting his nose under my hand and guiding it to the top of his head so that I could stroke him. He looked at me with his enormous eyes and asked a question.

‘What’s Moral Authority then?’

I was surprised at the question, it wasn’t like his normal ‘where’s dinner’ ? Why won’t you play catch with me right NOW?’ sort of thing and it was a moment or two before I realised that I’d used the phrase earlier in the week.

‘It’s a good question but it’s a bit hard to answer. Let me think for a second so that you can see what I mean by it.’

He stared at me intently, waiting for the answer to what was obviously a burning question for him.

‘Right…. you know when you have one of your very infrequent little accidents because I’m too dead to the world to hear you in the middle of the night?’

He raised a paw in assent and I continued.

‘Did you ever notice that I don’t get angry and that I just clean it up and give you a little pat to reassure you?’

He lifted the paw again and looked at me even more intently.

‘Well, I’ve had my fair share of accidents myself, including accidents in broad daylight that aren’t drink related and some even worse and more public ones when I’ve been slightly drunk.’

He cocked his head and looked at me as if to show that he understood, then asked the question anyway.

‘When you say accidents, you mean poo and vomit?’

‘Yes. Afraid so. I’ve had some embarrassing moments, but then most of us have. So that’s why I don’t get upset. It’s not your fault and I can’t blame you for an upset tummy or catching a bug…. although, you do bring some of it on yourself with that fucking lamb-bone that you keep burying and digging up.’

He grinned at me and I continued.

‘So. In this case, Moral Authority means that I don’t feel that I have a case to be upset with you for things that I’ve done. And I’ve done some bad things. I once pissed on the driver door handles of over a dozen police cars in a police car park after I’d got drunk at a wedding reception in a police station bar.’

He was now sitting and looking intently at me.

‘And now I think about it, I’ve got more of those types of incidents in my past than I really care to mention right now. I’m not ashamed of any of them but I’m not overly proud either. And some of them were very funny at the time.’

‘But the trouble is that some people want to tell us all how to live our lives and they’re very happy to tell US what to do and why we should do it. Whether it’s obeying increasingly arbitrary Lockdown rules or why WE should slavishly follow a set of laws that others seem to be exempt from.’

I paused as I was trying to keep the tone of my voice calm, he’s prone to taking me too literally sometimes and I don’t want to stress him if I can’t help it.

‘Anyway. This week has been very strange. The government has seen fit to publish new rules on the lockdown that make even less sense than before and thousands of people across the country have started marching and rioting because somebody died over 3000 miles away. To add insult to injury, politicians, the police and other useful idiots have supported this and have been taking the knee in support. ‘

His ears pricked up and pointed forward.

‘They did WHAT? Why did they do that? Has the country been conquered?’

‘Sadly, no. The Leader of the Opposition, who has kept silent about antisemitism in his own party for years despite having a Jewish wife posted a picture of himself doing it. Loads of others have and they’ve effectively lost the right to lead us. The government has either got a very cunning plan or they’ve fucked this up as statues are being torn down, TV shows are being deleted from memory like some Stalinist purge and they’ve let that ridiculous dwarf Khan board Churchill’s statue up in case some mental defectives try to tear it down.’

He sighed and laid his head on his paws.

‘So, this Moral Authority thing?’

‘I decided a few weeks ago that I would take whatever risks that I wanted to in order to have some form of real life again. This has just pushed it further and accelerated it. These people have lost the authority to govern. The law applies or it doesn’t.’

‘It doesn’t make a lot of difference to us living here or the quiet lifestyle that we have, but it just means that we’ll see who we want to. Go out. Have friends round, have fun.’

He raised an ear.

‘We can always call it a protest. DOGLIVESMATTER Motherfuckers’

I nodded and dialled into my next conference call.