Peter Rhodes on Brexit fallout, the obituaries file and the problem with counting dead cats

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Those who live by the claw....

Our police have never been more over-stretched and less able to take on extra work – especially if it involves counting 8,000 dead cats.

Battersea Cats and Dogs Home says drivers who run over cats should be obliged to report the death, just as they must for dogs, sheep and other animals. Whitehall is drawing up plans for the compulsory microchipping of all cats, and consulting animal charities, including Battersea. At present, about 8,000 cats are killed on the roads each year in unreported accidents. If incidents were reported, and the bodies found, the owners could be traced and informed and be spared some distress. We may be witnessing the birth of a growth industry with a whole new set of problems.

For example, how much time should the authorities invest in searching for a cat which was injured by a car but limped away to die in some secret place, as cats do? What if the owner wishes to contact the driver for closure - will police cat-liaison officers be on hand? How long before the lawyers get involved and cat owners sue drivers for loss and distress, or drivers sue owners for not keeping their cats off the roads?

The fact is that cats are not like dogs. Dogs do not wander the streets at night looking for things to kill. Cats are hunters and those who live by the claw sometimes die by the car. While it's all very sad, the cat carnage could probably be reduced if owners simply kept Tiddles in at night.

The disaster/catastrophe/Armageddon hasn't happened yet but, oh yes, it's coming, just you wait and see, you'll be sorry. That is pretty much the theme as the anti-Brexit bellyaching rumbles on. I am reminded of Constantine Cavafy's great poem, Waiting for the Barbarians. It describes the muted panic in Rome as the barbarian hordes approach. Long story short, the barbarians don't turn up. In fact, it is rumoured that there are no barbarians any longer. The poet wonders: “Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? / Those people were a kind of solution.”

While some Remainers have sound economic or political objections to Brexit, some are simply from the catastrophe-blanket tendency who cannot function without some looming disaster to wrap themselves in. For them, Brexit was a kind of solution. Maybe coronavirus will take its place.

In yesterday's item on Nicholas Parsons, I mentioned the files of pre-written obituaries on celebrities which were kept in newspaper libraries in the days before digital. The most sobering thing about delving into these typewritten files of yellowing paper was to find obituaries-in-waiting for stars and politicians who were still alive and going strong, written by fondly-remembered colleagues in the newsroom who had long since popped their clogs.

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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