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Opinion

Bella and Blake: Why not hold the front page?

Why are we carried away by a lamb and a little dog? Because it’s good to have a break from the confusion and sneering…

They were last seen, read the simple, plaintive message, around noon on Monday May 8.

The young couple, Bella and Blake, are said to be inseparable.

There are contact numbers for sightings. There were pleas making the front pages of national newspapers.

Phillip Schofield, in many ways the Andrew Neil of mid-morning television, has offered £1,000 for their return.

Bella and Blake, the couple who are on the lam, are a lamb and a dog. It’s a ludicrous story, of course. Though, it’s not really.

But they don’t return! It’s Babe and Charlotte’s Web with the anxiousness of Casualty

Unquestionably Brits love their animals. And what could be more heartwarming and interesting to many than the tale of a cute collie who made friends with a lost lamb wandering off to gambol in the rolling Nottinghamshire hills.

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Then comes the jeopardy. THEY DON’T RETURN! It’s Babe and Charlotte’s Web with the anxiousness of Casualty.

At no point does reality or a comparative reading come into this. At no point do we say, this is ridiculous – this is not an intentional elopement. It’s a small sheep and dog that have got lost. At no point does anybody mention mint sauce.

Cynicism has thrown a curve ball way round this. Statistics about missing people don’t overshadow it. Though, it’s worth noting that there were 300,000 calls in Scotland, England and Wales in 2015 to report someone missing. And that almost half of people who go missing in the UK are aged between 15 and 21. There are also an estimated 10,000 refugee children missing in Europe. The terror they must be facing is unimaginable.

So why are we carried away by a lamb and a little dog?

Because it’s good to have this kind of break. All around us there is confusion and sneering. Manifestos are leaked. We’re going back to some 1970s proletarian swamp – that didn’t exist anyway. And men are taking out the bins because that’s what the Prime Minister’s husband says he does, therefore it’s a man’s job.

And nobody really knows what Brexit will bring, but it’ll be brilliant. Or rubbish.

And all senior politicians are totally obsessed with their fidget spinners so they can’t do TV debates.

If we’re living in an age when a union leader slipping on steps and landing on his rear end can drive a news story, then why not a dog and his lamb pal?

Long may you be protected, Bella and Blake, by our need for a break from the quotidian, and our OTT anthropomorphism. And pipe down at the back with the mint sauce chat…

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