Oh Poland

Yet again, Polish women have had to take to the streets to fight for their right not to be treated as incubators. It saddens me to see that the situation has gone full circle. The bigoted, misogynistic, little grey men have, once more, tried to outlaw abortion and now find themselves facing mass protests. If there is one thing I have learned in my years on this Earth, it is this – you cannot break the spirit of the Polish people. Many have tried, and nobody has ever succeeded.

In solidarity with the rational Poles, I have written something I wish to share with you.

Oh Poland

In every church,

And every book,

In every corner,

And every nook,

In every painting,

And every prayer,

In every psalm,

And every stare,

In every sermon,

And every mass,

In every song,

And this is a fact,

It doesn’t say a single word,

About a woman’s right to choose.

#StrajkKobiet

Gone to the Dogs

I have a confession to make. My name is Scott Andrews and I am a canine addict.

Since I was a child I have found dogs to be almost mystical. The hours I have spent, staring in wonderment at an animal whose sole reason to exist appears to be to satisfy us, is beyond compare. As a teenager I was as awkward as they come. I often hid myself behind a straggly beard in a bid to become invisible. That all changed the day Bracken walked into my life. From that moment on, everywhere I went people wanted to talk to me because of this beautiful Border Collie that accompanied me everywhere. Suddenly that ethereal, improbable species – the human girl – wanted to talk to me, wanted to go for walks with me, and mostly just wanted to spend time with my dog. This Border Collie, an extraordinary black and white beast, led me from my social anxiety and showed me that there was a different way to live.

As the years passed by and I crossed continents that longing for another dog to fill the hole that Bracken left never disappeared. It was not until some years later that I found myself sitting on the floor of a house in the middle of nowhere, in a Polish village with a name entirely made of consonants, when a stout-looking Scottish Terrier climbed onto my lap. It was a behaviour he only repeated twice to date, and it was a moment when I knew my life was set to change. Unsurprisingly, a Border Collie was no preparation for a Scottish Terrier. They were chalk and cheese. The sense of responsibility overwhelmed me. I had adopted a dog that had never left his house, never met a strange dog, had never been for a walk and was properly suffering from agoraphobia. I felt completely insufficient and utterly terrified and fell back to the only thing that I knew: I read. I read like I had never read before. I devoured book after book after book about dogs. I searched the internet in a desperate bid to find the answer, the key which would help my dog better understand the world he was living in.

Much like every addict, soon enough the books weren’t enough. I started studying course, course after course after course. I collected certificates like a Premier League footballer collects STDs. I became a qualified instructor and dog handler. And I read more books. I got certificates in canine aggression and more instructor skills. And read more. And then I got more dogs. I studied canine evolution and canine cognition. I can now say that I have a qualification from Duke University in the Grand ole’ USA. And then I gained more dogs. And I read even more books, and more studies and filled my brain to the point that I now needed to let out some of the pressure from time to time to prevent my head from exploding.

Did I find the answer? Of course not. What I did learn is the golden truth of dog ownership: we will never feel sufficient. It is an impossible deal. Dogs offer us unconditional love, judgement free companionship and a miraculous, quite improbable sense of joy. We offer belly rubs, walks in the rain, and on occasion, a lovely treat. They are getting the bum deal and always will. Quite frankly, we have no chance of ever being able to pay it back.

I have learned one other thing. I am now every dog owner’s living nightmare. I am the stranger in the dirty anorak and unshaven chin that comes over to stroke your dog and gives you a three hour lecture about canine studies into developmental delay in adolescence, and what it means to left handed dog owners teaching their right pawed dogs to fetch. I am a professional dog bore and I cannot get enough. I have this enormous love of dogs that drives me to keep learning in the hope that I can be the best canine care giver that I can and until recently I haven’t had an outlet for it.

When the opportunity to embrace my inner canine nerd and record a podcast came up I felt it was too good to turn down. Normally when I talk to people about dogs they say ‘leave me alone, I’m going to call the police’. I am able to trap someone in a room and they voluntarily talk to me about dogs. They don’t try to run away. They don’t even scream. They actually ask questions and seem interested.

So it gives me great pleasure to introduce the pilot episode of the podcast ‘Talk2ThePaw’ featuring me as the canine nerd, and the magnificent Caroline Bartley on broadcasting duties. By all means have a listen and let me know what you think.

Episode 6 Talk2ThePaw

In this episode, we discuss a recent spate of dog poisonings in the UK, a new study that questions whether a canine's character changes with age, the practicality of doorbells for dogs, and we celebrate the tiniest Wagtastic Woof so far.Just how likely is it that your dog is going to be poisoned? In The Twilight Bark, we take a look at some of the dangers that can be found in the great outdoors. Is your garden puppy-proofed or will you be in for a big surprise?In the Doggler Effect, we examine the ways in which your dog's character changes as it ages.  A new study from a university in Budapest has shown that a dog continues to mentally develop well into its mid-life.  Is your dog a middle-aged Einstein, or is he still full of the joys of spring?This time in Gadgets, Gizmos, and Gastronomy, we examine the practicality of doorbells for dogs.  Our presenter and dog nerd go head-to-head over whether it is a gimmick or an act of genius.  Would your dog use a doorbell, or would it turn you into a canine concierge?And our Episode 6 Wagtastic Woof is an epic heroine in the tiniest possible body.  Tune in to hear how this awesome little animal has broken down barriers and made the impossible possible.
  1. Episode 6
  2. Episode 5
  3. Season 1 Trailer
  4. Episode 4
  5. Episode 3

The Non-Stop Laughter

Those of you with somewhat memorable memories may well recall a recollection about a short story I published entitled ‘The Non-stop Dancer’.  It was originally written during the time of the great referendum and left in a dusty drawer to rot and hopefully be forgotten.  When the last general election rolled around I decided to publish it in the faint hope that the allegory would serve as a warning and would not be missed.  Sadly for the Disunited Kingdom, the stark warning that appeared in its pages has come true.

The ludicrous idea of a man continually dancing for no other reason than a whim before upping and walking away from the monster that he had created, seemed perfectly apt.  When I wrote about a populist MP who was prepared to abandon all beliefs in the face of popular opinion, I was convinced that he would one day be Prime Minister.  Yesterday, I was proven right.

The notion that drove me to write the story was the realisation that populism creates beasts that opportunists look to harness.  In some cases, the beasts grow bigger and stronger.  In others, the beasts eventually crush those that try to ride them.  The danger we are faced with now is the fact that we are in the hands of an opportunist, in an age where we disregard information that does not appeal to our beliefs.  Truth is dead.  Long live the truth.

They were no longer individuals. United in dance, joined in the ecstasy of becoming one, they were a new species, a new organism, a dangerous warning from the power of unity. They danced atop mountains, they danced into a new dimension, they were the heralds of a new dawn, they were the new crusaders, singularly, via the medium of dance, they had created an entirely new reality, a new beginning, it was as if the future had been laid at their feet.

Scott Andrews, The Non-stop Dancer

You can read ‘The Non-stop Dancer’ right here

 

Another Year Done

As we reach the end of 2018 and move into another 365 days of mindless stupidity it is worth taking a moment to consider everyone that has lost someone, something and sometimes themselves. Let’s start by being gracious, by appreciating how lucky we are not to have had our lives completely fucked by fate and circumstance. Let us appreciate those that have stood by us through the darkest of days and hardest of times, and let’s buy them a drink, send them a message or pick up the phone and give them a call whilst we still can.

Happy New Year to all the wonderful people I have met on my travels through life. May it bring you all great sex, book and movie deals and some level of peace in this fucked up crazy world we live in. We get one life. Let’s make it count.