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.