The Blog

Bonfire Night And Why I'd Like To Give Politicians A Rocket

We're anxious and panic-stricken. We're not sure what's happening and we're worried what the eventual aftermath will be.

Frankly, we wish we could retreat to a nice safe place till it was all over with. Indeed, a lot of us think that's precisely what we might do. That spot behind the sofa looks perfect; the one we used to hide behind when a certain Doctor (Liam Fox, perchance?) came on.

How we feel and behave about Brexit is sadly precisely how our pets feel and behave about Bonfire night, although as humans we mostly tend to draw the line at chewing the furniture, drooling, pacing and digging a huge hole for ourselves. Unless that is you're Boris; a big, bouncy and boisterous yellow-haired Tory beast of Labrador popularity who, of course, is always digging a huge hole for himself. Luckily, his legendary gaffes are sufficiently documented elsewhere without having to mention them again here.

If politicians are to blame for the misery we're feeling as voters, they're also to blame for the anguish being experienced by our furry companions. Mind you, if rabbits could have voted to leave the EU, they'd almost certainly have done so on account of the French being so damn fond of eating them.

Earlier this year, MPs had a chance to change the despair experienced by poor defenceless creatures when 104,038 of us (myself included) signed the catchily titled e-petition 109702 to restrict the use of fireworks to specific occasions only. These include New Year's Eve, Diwali, Chinese New Year and most pertinently, Guy Fawkes Night.

Thanks to history, we know a lot of schoolboy facts about Guy (Guido) Fawkes, who was a member of the group which organised the failed gunpowder plot of 1605 to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. However, the one thing we don't know about him is whether he was an animal lover.

We have no idea if he owned a dog, a cat, a guinea pig, a gerbil, a hamster or even the domesticated form of the European polecat, which like many a Yorkshireman he would doubtless have kept down his unmentionables, leading future spouse, Maria, to oft enquire: "Oh, Guy, is that a ferret down your trousers or are you just pleased to see me?"

If any of the above were true, he'd presumably be turning in his proverbial grave to learn of the torment his revolutionary actions were causing to pets across the land over four centuries later.

I'm old enough to remember when November 5 meant November 5 and there were plenty of organised displays on the day itself and only the day itself.

Now increasingly, it can mean any day from October 14 right up to Christmas and people are letting off shop bought fireworks in the street.

Which is why the Conservative David Mackintosh recently introduced the debate on fireworks and animal welfare that was triggered when the aforementioned e-petition reached 100,000 signatories.

You may or may not be aware that it actually took place on June 6 this year. Don't feel bad if you missed the proceedings. You weren't alone. Practically the whole of the House of Commons missed it too. Perhaps its timing, only 16 days before the referendum, had something to do with the large number of absentees.

Out of interest, I watched the debate online and it was, to put it bluntly, about as well attended as a Steve Brookstein gig or to use a more up to date X factor analogy, a Sinitta/ Professor Green support meeting for Honey G.

Needless to say the government response was pretty much as expected and went as follows: "We are aware that fireworks can cause distress to animals. Restrictions on the general public's use of fireworks and permitted noise levels, already exist and we have no plans to extend them".

There you go then. Absolutely useless. Still, would you realistically have expected anything else?

So if you have a pet at this time of the year, try and follow the advice set out by the various charities and welfare organisations. Maybe it will do some good.

Unfortunately for many, especially if our terrified terrier, Sniff, is anything to go by, it won't help at all and you'll end up with a nervous, quivering and shaking wreck with sweaty paws.

Hold on, isn't that our much derided Foreign Secretary around the Brexit negotiating table?