Pet Cemetery

butchIf you’ve ever had a pet, then you’re intimately acquainted with death – especially if you grew up with one.  This piece you’re reading now (as opposed to a completely different piece you may once have read six years ago) is about having pets, loving pets and losing pets, with a few detours along the way to incorporate things like the Rat Jesus, inter-species murder and mafia slayings. I lost four of my pets this year. Three rats and a dog. This is their tribute, delivered the only way I know how: not very well. 

Paddy’s Troubles

One of our first family pets was a budgie called Paddy; he lived during the height of The Troubles, and he was blue. I’d like to think that the act of naming him was some sort of artistic comment on the futility of Scottish sectarianism, but it’s possible that my mum was just racist, and had to fall back on her second choice of offensive racial nickname after Sambo was vetoed.

This isn't Paddy. But who gives a shit? They all look the same.

This isn’t Paddy. But who gives a shit? They all look the same.

Anyway, Paddy didn’t live long enough to have much of an impact on global race relations, as he was tragically murdered. Who’s your number one suspect? A cat, right? Tsk tsk. You bigoted cattist. And don’t even think about telling me that all of your best friends are cats. No, you feline fascist, the perp wasn’t a cat; although in your defence history does tell us that cats and small birds have been mortal enemies since time immemorial (Bros, Warner., 1963, Sylvester & Tweetie Pie). As far as rivalries go it’s a bit of a one-sided enmity (kind of like the rivalry between the sun and asteroids), and, yes, I’m willing to concede that the cat’s usually the aggressor. What I’m saying is, I can understand the root assumption from which your flagrant cattism sprouts. But you’re wrong, friend. Paddy didn’t meet his maker at the jaws and claws of a cunning cat: he died a statistical anomaly, having been snuffed out by an over-excited dog. What a twist.

The dog came bounding into our house with its visiting owner at the same time as Paddy was enjoying one of his brief periods of liberation, free from his cage and happily toddling and hopping about the living room floor. The spaz-tongued, slobbering beast pulled free from its owner’s grip, hurtled in to the living room, and gave our feathery little fella the gift of a massive and fatal heart-attack – as I suppose creatures fifty times the size of you are want to do. A little while later, after the requisite period of budgie mourning (two hours and eleven minutes) we got Paddy II. A little truer to expectations, Paddy II was skillfully – and lovingly – eviscerated by our first cat.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the family declined the option of a Paddy III. As my mother put it: “I’m not having a bloody horse coming in and trampling this one to death.” Also, my mother well knew that the final installment of any trilogy is usually the shittest. She’s right… isn’t she… Spider Man 3? Stop your smirking, Godfather 3, you’re next!

We're so weird as a species that we even keep pets inside giant pets.

We’re so weird as a species that we even keep pets inside giant pets.

I think it’s weird that we keep pets (especially fish. They’re excruciatingly boring. You might as well keep a brick as a pet). Sometimes I look down at my pet cat as it brushes against my leg and think, ‘How did this happen? This is surreal. Why is this four-legged creature living in my house?’ You could argue that keeping a pet is a ridiculous, pointless and incredibly wasteful act. Look after your own genes, or the genes of another of your species: don’t invest your time in the well-being of a creature that shits in a box and licks its own arsehole. Sure, you could argue that case. I’d counter that our ability to indulge in these seemingly pointless acts of nurturing might just be one of the more important stitches in the patchwork-quilt of our humanity.

Having a pet can teach you about compassion and selflessness. It can also, as I’ve glibly demonstrated, teach you about death. Perhaps, in a strange way, we’re nothing but masochists. Owning a pet is like saying: ‘I don’t believe that I’ve been subjected to quite enough in the way of human loss and agony. I’d quite like to experience grief and heartache through a variety of different species, please.’

In a world crammed with suffering, the greater share of which happens unseen or unimagined by mankind – i.e. the never-ending reclamation of flesh as carbon through tooth and claw – why do we desire to bring a proportion of that invisible suffering into sharp focus by ensnaring an animal, developing feelings for it and then observing it as it gradually dies before our very eyes? What a curious species we are. In this year alone, during which I’ve wept not a centiliter of ocular fluid for a single fallen human at home or abroad, I’ve cried genuine tears of grief over the bodies of three rats and a dog.

This piece you’re reading serves as both obituary and commemoration for four special creatures that were plucked from their ancestral destinies within the animal kingdom’s brutal pyramid, and placed – plump and cosseted – upon a man-made pedestal. And loved with a deepness not often seen between two different species outside of underground German movies from the early 1980s.

So RIP, you wonderful, fun-filled, furry little fuckers. I’ll always remember you. You may have spent most of your time eating, shitting, pissing and sleeping, but, collectively and individually, you still lived more worthwhile lives than the cast of Geordie Shore.


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On the Death of a Pet – Piece Published in The Cat Magazine

This is a piece I wrote following the death of our family cat a few years ago. The article appeared in various national cat magazines, which is my way of saying that I’m rock and roll. It’s a little departure from normal service, in that I show compassion and sensitivity. Well, as much compassion and sensitivity as a man can show when he’s cynically exploiting the death of an animal to get himself in print. This article should accentuate my humanity, or perhaps confirm that I like animals more than people.

Click on the pictures to view the full-size text. Or, if you’re an eagle just read it as it appears on the page, you show-off.

Do it the George Gallo-Way

What’s the difference between Tony Soprano and George Galloway?

One’s a tough-talking, narcissistic, sociopathic, cigar-smoking adulterer, and the other one’s from New Jersey.

There’s a scene in ‘The Weight’, a season 4 episode of HBO’s The Sopranos, in which mob boss Tony Soprano covertly directs one half of a telephone conversation between Ralph Ciffaretto, one of his underlings, and Johnny Sack, a New York mob family underboss. Tony wants to make sure Ralph says the right things – and avoids saying the wrong things – to prevent further escalation of hostilities. Tensions are high between Ralph and Johnny: Ralph made a crack about the size of Johnny’s wife’s ass; somebody told Johnny; and now Johnny’s looking for blood.

Ralph: sorry seems to be the easiest word

Tony counsels Ralph to deny the allegations vehemently, and warns him that under no circumstances should he apologise. Ralph ignores Tony’s advice and, while still protesting his innocence, decides to apologise to Johnny in the interests of harmony and goodwill. That decision sets Ralph and Johnny on a course that puts both of them in mortal danger, and risks losing Tony a lot of money.

The moral is clear: never apologise. It’s weak, and makes you look guilty: especially if you are. This simple strategy worked for Tony Soprano, and it’s certainly doing the trick for ‘Gorgeous’ George Galloway. One stray ‘I’m sorry’ from the lips of the Teflon Don-donian at any point throughout the last few decades could have sunk his entire career.


Galloway knows that the world loves a larger-than-life character; a fighter; a righteous rebel. Where Winston Churchill – another famous cigar smoker with attitude – held two palm-facing fingers aloft to symbolise peace, Galloway prefers them flipped around to spell out ‘Fuck you’ with his fingernails. A large part of his appeal – and strength – is in his utter refusal to back down from any opponent, to answer for his actions or to show any contrition whatsoever for his apparent misdeeds.

And, let’s not forget, Galloway is the only politician ever to have uttered the words ‘spunk-loving sluts’ in parliament, and for that alone I will love him forever. Go on, Google it. Youtube it.

They say that great men become great by standing on the shoulders of giants. Galloway’s managed to keep himself astride the world of politics by standing on the shoulders of the underdogs. First, he spoke for the working class masses of Glasgow, then he gave a voice to those affected, both ethically and actually, by the occupation of Iraq, and now he’s championing the UK’s arab and muslim minorities. Galloway denies that he’s a demagogue, but it’s hard not to view him as Dundee’s answer to Gaius Baltar, a man ready to shed or cultivate any allegiance that will secure him power and a public platform with which to showcase his tub-thumping.

That being said, I’ve got something of a soft-spot for the little firebrand, and I even find myself agreeing with him from time to time…

And I’m not going to apologise for that. But, then, neither am I going to apologise for this:


1) Galloway smokes a cigar. This makes him cool by default, because Winston Churchill, Tony Soprano and Che Guevara all smoked cigars, too, right? Wrong. Jimmy Saville also smoked cigars.



2) Galloway’s support for the Palestinian cause was lent extra credibility through his ability to look the arab world in the face and proclaim: ‘Of course I’m pro-Palestinian. I’m fucking one, aren’t I?’



3) Eric Joyce looks at George Galloway with envy. ‘Galloway’s shagged his way through just about every nationality on earth, cheated on his pregnant wife and enjoyed cavorting with younger women. If only I hadn’t apologised for MY behaviour I could have bounced back like him.’ When Eric Joyce thinks this way about Galloway, he gets much the same feeling as Gary Glitter gets when he thinks about Michael Jackson. In a nutshell, Glitter thinks he’d be on T4 if he’d fucked boys and danced better.


4) Born in Dundee, George Galloway is a big fan of The Broons.




5) George Galloway went on Celebrity Big Brother to teach Britain’s youth about politics, which he successfully achieved by pretending to be a robot and licking invisible cream from Rula Lenska’s fist.



6) On the same programme, George Galloway championed the great British underdog Michael Barrymore by harnessing all his powers of rhetoric and being right mean an’ that about the entertainer’s alcoholism and mental illness. Barrymore’s not bitter, though. He’s still invited Galloway to his ‘CBB 2012 Reunion Pool Party’.


7) Galloway’s represented the Hillhead constituency in Glasgow, campaigned and conquered in Bradford, and toured the war-torn, bomb-savaged Middle East, and he still hasn’t found anywhere as shit as Dundee.



8 ) Galloway has his own show on TalkSport, where he can reach that all-important demographic of medicated housewives, racist taxi-drivers and truck-driving serial killers.



9) Galloway said the address he made saluting Saddam Hussein’s ‘indefatigability’ was taken out of context. ‘It’s like when two lorry drivers from the same haulage firm pass each other and toot on the motorway. It’s respect. I wasn’t saluting HIS indefatigability, but the indefatigability of his smashing moustache.’ Galloway claims that only one other moustache on earth has moved him in this way: that belonging to Denny-born comedian Bob Graham.


10) George Galloway has eleven testicles.





11) Galloway vowed he would ‘never become a Conservative’ because ‘their birds are well ugly.’




12) The only nationality of woman that Galloway has never slept with is an Eskimo. And he’s working on that.




13) Galloway was born and raised a Roman Catholic, but his last few wives – and weddings – have been Muslim. So which is he? On the one hand, he’s a sex-obsessed hyopcrite. On the other hand, he’s a complete bastard to women. I guess he’s both. 



14) George Galloway thinks the relationship between Tony Soprano and this article was incredibly tenuous. I’m sorry about that.