Peter Rhodes on flying bishops, dodgy dogs and the ghosts of moggies past

Jonathan Goodall, the Church of England bíshop who has defected to the Roman Catholic church, was until recently a “flying bishop,” ministering to parishes who won't accept female priests. What a great job description. I can't help thinking that people's faith would be much stronger if bishops really could fly.

Gone but still glimpsed
Gone but still glimpsed

As tastes in fashion change, fewer than half of Marks & Spencer branches are offering men's suits. I only ever bought one M&S suit. It wasn't a perfect fit but I thought I might grow into it. As the years passed I realised I would never fit into its bulbous sleeves and lopsided back without growing at least one extra arm and a Notre Dame-sized hump. Suits you, Quasimodo.

The decline in suit wearing is blamed by some experts on the pandemic, and the more casual attitudes that go with working from home. Oh, please. We were a nation of slobs long before Covid-19 came along.

Crystal-ball department. How long before one of the Afghans hurriedly evacuated from Kabul to Britain turns out to be a sergeant-major in the Taliban? And how long before one of Pen Farthing's hurriedly imported Afghanistan mongrels bites somebody?

I'd put money on the bitey-pooch incident. In its adoption forms, Farthing's charity, Nowzad, pulls no punches in warning that taking one of these creatures “can be a long road of trial and error and careful supervision is always necessary. Overcoming the Afghan animal’s very territorial nature can have its moments.” In other words, you can take the “very territorial” pooch out of Afghanistan but how do you take Afghanistan out of the pooch? There are reckoned to be 2.5 million more dogs in Britain today than at the start of the pandemic. Nearly 8,000 people a year are bitten by dogs and need hospital treatment. I am the soppiest dog-lover ever but the last thing Britain needs is more dodgy dogs.

Still on pets, my eye was caught by a fine comment from a reader on a Guardian column about the death of a much-loved cat. “It takes a while for you to stop seeing them out of the corner of your eye.” True enough. Three years after we buried our old tabby, I still catch fleeting visions of him.

On the other hand, we have never had so many songbirds at the bird table. Not all creatures mourn the passing of a cat.

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