I spoke to my dog. It’s not the first time I’ve gone to him for some advice. I may have mentioned him before. He’s called Toastie. He’s a springer spaniel. He is the best and wisest dog of this, or any other, age. Don’t even try to argue.
We were in the park. I’d thrown the ball, again. He brought it back, again. Then he started chasing some birds. Balls and chasing birds, finishing with a drink. Like an unreconstructed 1970s footballer. This is a record of the conversation:
– Why, Toastie, are there a big number of mostly middle-aged blokes wanging on in long think pieces having a pop at Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old schoolgirl who can speak to foreign governments in a language that is not her own?
– Well Paul, my guess is that they’re both confused and insecure. And, you know, copy. They need to file something. Besides, weren’t you a bit sniffy about those climate change protesters taking over London?
– Yes but…
– No buts Paul.
– Look Toastie, I just wanted to pick your brain. And I had simply said that the level of disruption caused to people going about their normal lives might not convert the hearts and minds necessary in the general public.
– That’s some muddled thinking, Paul.
– How?! I support the young protesters, the school strikers. They are smart and have something to say. They’re going about things the right way. Did you even read last week’s Big Issue, Toastie?
– I find it hard to turn the pages…
– Very droll.
– Anyway, you can’t have it both ways, Paul. You can’t back one side because you like the cut of their jib, because you feel morally it’s right, and remain sniffy at the rest because you don’t like their hair or the way they danced on Waterloo Bridge.
– It’s not just their hair…
– Isn’t it?
– Are you trolling me? You’re supposed to be a man’s best friend…
– I’d suggest you’re doing it to yourself…
He is the best and wisest dog of this, or any other, age. Don’t even try to argue
– Toastie, there are good things happening. There are behavioural changes across the board. Last week energy production in Britain came from coal-free sources for over 90 consecutive hours. That’s a record. That’s nearly four full days. There is a lift in electric car use. Things are changing.
– I’d suggest they need to change faster. I’d suggest you need to stop tinkering, to stop being mealy-mouthed about the protests and accept the need for major structural reforms.
– What do you know? Are you George Monbiot all of a sudden? You’re a dog!
– So it’s like that now is it?
– Back a horse, Paul. And stay on it. Tick tock…
– What does that even mean?!
I never found out. Toastie went to roll in a piece of fox dropping. He looked quite happy with that.