Mussolini was a bigoted charlatan who became the dictator of Italy. His arrogance and egoism led his country onto the losing side of World War Two. By the end of that conflict millions were dead, many more were displaced and homeless, Europe was a wasteland and Italy itself was in economic ruin – a situation from which it has never really recovered. Mussolini himself finished his war dangling upside down from a service station roof with a bullet in head, reviled by the public who he had so disastrously mis-led.
This is, of course, history. So why do I mention it now?
Because newsreel footage of Mussolini’s speeches reveals an uncanny resemblance to Donald Trump on the podium. The strutting and preening, the ludicrous facial contortions, the exaggerated hand movements, the alpha-male braggadocio, the ignorance, arrogance, impossible promises, divisive phrases, violent imagery and rabble-rousing xenophobia are characteristics shared by both men, as is the hysterical fanaticism of their supporters.
Let’s hope for all our sakes—including dodgy Donald’s—that the comparisons end there.
I have made an amazing, previously unsuspected, discovery regarding animal migration.
It’s well known that lots of creatures have inbuilt, primaeval urges to migrate, or travel large distances.
Salmon have a genetic imperative to return every year to their spawning ground.
Swallows fly south for the winter.
Wilderbeest migrate in their millions to the Masai Mara in late summer.
And now, to add to this list, I have discovered that that every cat in the world is born with the instinctive impulse to make their way to my home and poop on my garden.
I think it’s hard-wired into their DNA.
Far be it for me to interfere with one of the wonders of evolution, but I wish it were otherwise.
For, in the course of their feline ablutions, these four-legged poop machines pollute and poison my ground, and make it dangerous for my grandlings to play on my lawn unless I mine-sweep it thoroughly first. I need to make the same preparations before I can walk barefooted on my lawn, which, as a confirmed ‘grounder’ is bloody infuriating.
A tame robin who used to come and feed at the bird table has disappeared, either scared off by the cats, or worse still, now turned into the same poop that revolts me so much.
These brutes cause my whole garden to be pervaded with a disgusting smell. Any newly dug or prepared patch of ground is fouled as soon as I take my eyes off it. They have destroyed a whole bed of fennel, which they scratched up and replaced with the undigested remains of last night’s Meow Mix. They have even crapped on my shed roof, and on top of netting which I put down to keep the cats off!
I’ve tried everything. Lion pooh, cut-out tin cats with glass eyes (the big ginger tom from over the road is best friends with mine), lemon spray (they just lick it off), one of those sonic things (waste of a good battery) – none of ‘em work.
If you go out and shout at the monsters they just stand and stare you down, and will only run off when you chase after them, which of course nearly gives you apoplexy and shortens your life by half-an-hour every time you do it.
The things that do work have major drawbacks. Little spiky sticks stuck in the ground certainly keep the creatures off, but they are hard work to put in place and make it impossible to weed. A well-aimed lump of mud, either thrown or delivered via catapult, or a good splosh of water are effective direct action deterrents, but of course you have to be there to deliver them, and cats do their most dastardly work at night when you’re asleep or drunk.
Since I don’t have time to look after a big barky dog, that option is out of the window. And, to add insult to injury, domestic cats are protected by law and it is an offence to trap, injure or kill them. So I can forget the shotgun then.
It seems hopeless, but I’m not going to give in.
In my wildest imaginings I dream of some boffin breeding a strain of GM cat which would be genetically engineered to poop only in its owner’s garden, but I know that this is just fantasy.
In the meantime I’m working on a solution.
When I find it, you’ll be the first to know.