A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

LAMB CHOPS



A few weeks ago the ringleaders of a Lincolnshire-based international dog-fighting gang were found guilty of various offences and warned that they faced lengthy jail terms. Needless to say, the whole country is now in a state of shock, completely at a loss to understand why on earth someone would get pleasure from watching their much-loved dog being ripped in half in someone’s front room.

This raises a question. Why are we so shocked? The pit bulls used in dog fighting are not like the doe-eyed mounds of fur and slobber that come to your breakfast table in a morning, hoping that a piece of bacon will fall on the floor. They are Millwall dogs. They are born to fight one another and when they are not fighting they fill their time by eating babies.

Trying to get a pit bull to lead a peaceful life, reading poetry and pressing the buttons on pelican crossings for blind people, is as impossible as getting Michael Palin to hose down a bus queue with machinegun fire. It can’t be done and for this reason you aren’t even allowed to own such a dog in this country.

But people do. They take the risks. They spend the money. They train their animals and they meet with other members of the Enormous Tattoo Owners’ Club in garages and sitting rooms in Lincolnshire, where they get their outlawed dogs to fight.

They’ve been doing this for ages. Dog fighting was such a big problem in the early 19th century that in 1835 Britain became the first country in the world to make it illegal. Today, almost every other country in the civilised world, and America, has followed suit.

           Of course, fans of the “sport” would doubtless maintain that its traditional, that war dogs were used for fighting in Roman times and that in 14th-century Japan fighting dogs could be used instead of money for paying taxes to the shogun.

Doubtless this is true but it’s also nonsense. I’m happy to cook a partridge every now and then, or even eat a cow’s front leg. I’m also happy to watch a buffalo being torn apart by a crocodile — and so are you, to judge by the popularity of warts-and-all nature documentaries. But in a civilised country you can’t really have people running dog fights. Common sense dictates it’s just wrong.

So, what’s to be done? The government, believing that everything can be solved with more laws and enforcement, would undoubtedly decide that a special taskforce should be set up. But this is a totally impossible scenario, since the police are already far too busy these days learning how to use ladders and bicycles.

Women with frizzy hair and disappointing breasts would inevitably say that it could all be solved if violent video games were banned and more money was spent on education. Publicans, meanwhile, would suggest that it’s because all the nation’s pubs are closing down so there’s nothing much else better to do.

Me? I believe the best course of action is to provide those who like dog fighting with a viable alternative. In short, we should look for another sort of fighting animal they can use. Cocks won’t work because watching two roosters going at one another is even more traumatic than watching two dogs. Especially as they can keep on fighting even when their heads have fallen off. Bears are right out too.

I was minded to suggest moose because they seem to spend most of their lives trying to poke one another’s eyes out with their antlers but I fear keeping them would be impractical. Butterflies would be easier but the fights would, I suspect, be boring.

So, what about sheep? There are many advantages to this, chief among which is that sheep are unique in the animal kingdom for having no sense of worth and no particularly strong will to live.

You may think humans are imaginative when it comes to committing suicide. We jump in front of trains and off cliffs. We drive into Saigon and set ourselves on fire. Some of us even go to Switzerland. But when it comes to the art of killing ourselves, we are rank amateurs compared with the good old British sheep.

Wales is a billion acres of pastureland but you must have noticed all the sheep tend to hang around by the side of the road, choosing to saunter across whenever a motorcycle is coming. Sheep are the only animals in the world that like to garrotte themselves on fences and that can develop non-specific illnesses unknown to veterinary science. Given half a chance, a sheep will excrete its own lungs. That’s what those dangleberries are: internal organs they’ve managed to squeeze out of their own bottoms.

There’s another reason sheep fighting is sensible. They like it. When there are no cars to run them over, or fences for them to impale themselves on, they will run at one another and try to fracture their own skulls. You may have seen this on YouTube. It is very funny because, of course, it doesn’t work. They just end up a bit dizzy, and that’s funny too — watching a sheep walking round in circles and falling over because it has just head-butted its best mate.

Quite rightly, televised dog fighting would be condemned, but televised sheep fighting would be the smash hit comedy of the decade. And with the viewers would come all the high-rollers. Pretty soon, everyone would forget all about their pit bulls because the rewards from sheep would be so much greater.

There’s more good news too. Unlike dogs, sheep don’t use their teeth and have no claws, so a death is extremely unlikely. But if there were to be a tragic accident, the body would not go to waste either. Unlike a dead dog, which is useless, a dead sheep can be garnished with mint sauce and eaten.

This is what’s missing from the legislature today - A bit of lateral thinking. Our leaders need to understand that we will never stop dog fighting with laws. But we will stop this heinous crime by offering its fans something much better.


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