Peter Rhodes: Blues over shoes
The Clark rumpus, the road to total equality and why cats hate walkies.
JEREMY Corbyn condemned all violence in Ulster. He then condemned all violence in Venezuela. He then attacked Donald Trump for condemning all violence in Charlottesville. So should we condemn all weasel words, or just some?
IT is an issue that won't go away. The Tory Toff Jacob Rees-Mogg, described it as "dreadful . . . wrong in all sorts of ways" while the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon thundered: "It is almost beyond belief. Shows what we are still up against." The cataclysmic issue? The decision by Clarks to market a Dolly Babe range of shoes for little girls and a Leader range for little boys.
YOU may think this row is a teacup-storm but we are reaching the point where it will be illegal to suggest there is any difference between the sexes. You may applaud this lofty, unisex aim. But where will it take us?
ON the day that Clarks agreed to pull its Dolly Babe range, the Sunday Times Magazine published a heartbreaking feature by Sarah Pullen on the death of her beloved 10-year-old son Silas from a brain tumour. She recalled the moment the doctor delivered the terrible prognosis: "I feel what is coming. I know it in my bones as only a mother can." Hang on. Surely the term "as only a mother can" is sexist. It suggests mothers have deeper feelings than fathers. If we cannot tolerate girl / boy shoes, how can we tolerate such divisive language? If you think this is a silly question, just wait and see what the future brings. I bet that before long it will be unacceptable to attribute any qualities, or weaknesses, on the basis of gender, age or even locality. We will not be allowed to suggest that Cockneys are cheerful or pensioners are slow. And a bereaved mother will not be able to describe her agony in the words she would choose. The trouble with the road to absolute equality is that it does not always lead to sensible places, and it has no end.
A MOGGIE called Ash appeared in a national newspaper as a cheerleader for the latest fad, walking your cat. Ash, wearing a lead, was taken on a three-day hiking trip to Snowdonia and was pictured sitting on a Welsh hillock, allegedly enjoying himself. But he didn't look happy. His eyes and body-language seemed to say: "Please take me home."
CATS are not natural tourists. They love their own little territory. And while some, including our old tabby, enjoy walking with humans, they do it on their own terms and reserve the right to vanish into the hedgerow or dash home. The moment you put a lead on a cat, you try to turn it into something it isn't. And while some good-natured cats will put up with it, others will invoke the cat's ultimate four-footed revenge, and walk out on you.
PS: In the interests of research I have just woken our cat and asked him how he would react to being walked around Wales on a lead. He says he would rip my face off.