Tag Archives: dogs

The Origin of: Feelings

It is hard to imagine it nowadays, in our fast moving society of social media and dogs on skateboards, but up until the 1990s people didn’t have feelings.  In the eighties, only celebrities had emotions on things and those emotions were usually associated with cocaine or Margaret Thatcher.  In the sweltering trip-hop summer of 1994 this changed.  One intrepid journalist by the name of Helene Garblog dared to ask a simple follow-up question about a new flavour of Fanta to a man no more famous than you or I, and it changed the world.  She asked “…and how do you feel about that?”.  It may have seemed like nothing at the time, and the man’s answer may have been very racist, but this answer opened a global flood-gate that released a foaming torrent of, often non-racist, emotion.  

Over the next two years, science categorised emotions into five categories: ‘angry’, ‘sad’, ‘drunk’, ‘looking’ and ‘pretty chilled’.  In 1997 the categories ‘disappointed at Bill Clinton’ and ‘frustrated’ were added and there have been no new emotions recorded since then.

Now ‘feels’ are as important a part of day to day life as eating, going wees, or taking your dog for a skateboard.  It is hard to conceive of a world in which you aren’t asked how you feel about the weather, the AMC show Mad Men, or your sister.  Instead of a PIN number, some banks are simply asking how you feel about money to identify their customers.  Rugby players. once the bastions of not feeling anything, are now asked how they feel about the French before, after and during any given game of rugby.

The feels are here to stay, and all because of one reporter’s inability to leave a racist man alone.

Pets. The Fake Cat Issue. Part Two.

As I recently discovered, pet ownership is widely considered to be a good thing. They provide companionship, they make great earthquake detectors, and they provide cardigans with an almost inexhaustible supply of fluff. However, there are downsides to pet ownership.

Firstly, you cannot simply leave a cat or dog for several days to fend for itself. If you leave a bowl of fish for too long it rapidly becomes either one big fish or loads of dead fish. Snakes? What are you doing with snakes in the first place you nutter! Since animals that can fend for themselves, or in fact even thrive when left to their own devices, like flies, cockroaches or worms are not usually considered ‘pets’ you are basically stuck coming home every two to three days to feed them and talk baby talk to them.

This can be severely limiting. What if you are at an after-party and it just doesn’t really finish? What if you pass out and someone puts you on a train?

Secondly, pets are expensive. We all know how expensive it is to keep a monkey or a rhinoceros, but what they don’t tell you is the hidden costs of owning even a 2013 model cat. They don’t tell you about the food, and the weird crystals it needs to stand on in order for it to go to the toilet. Depending on the type of crystals you use, this can cost anywhere between $30 a week and $457,000 a week.

When you consider these limitations, it is easy to see why some loud wedding guests have called into question the value and virtue of pet ownership and started drunkenly slurring “Why own a pet when you can just tell everyone you’ve got a pet?”

No one checks

The thing about cat ownership particularly is there’s no standardised way of knowing how many cats there are and who owns them. Unlike with dogs, hand-guns or children, there’s no registration system that you have to participate in.  Therefore, if you say that you own a cat, it is difficult to prove that you don’t. Furthermore, social convention dictates that the onus really falls on the person who questions your cat ownership.

Most of the time people are going to take your word for it.  Imagine what a massive arsehole you’d feel if someone said they had a pet cat and you said “You don’t have a cat you berk”.  Even if you were right and they were lying, chances are you’d still look like a knob and if they stuck to their guns there’s little you can do to conclusively prove that they don’t own a cat.

You can still have all the pet paraphernalia

While ownership of a real pet is expensive, having a pretend pet is relatively inexpensive. You can bolster the cat owning story by simply buying a plastic bowl and a tin if jelly-meat that, because it isn’t being used, can sit in the fridge indefinitely.

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The plane in the picture isn’t a Spitfire

You can carry a picture of your cat around with you by simply going to the internet and printing off one of the twelve cat pictures that are on there. No one will know.  Another option is to draw a picture of a cat and carry that around with you. Cats all look roughly the same and can be drawn from memory. Nothing says ‘Awww…cute’ like a barely competently drawn cat. It makes people think: “He loves his cat so much he is prepared to look like a total bell-end carrying that, lets be honest, fucking awful cat sketch around with him.”

Be the talk of your friends

When people come over to my house I like them to not only have a good time, but I like them to also feel slightly unnerved.  Sometimes I’ll pretend I have Whooping Cough, or I’ll pretend I’ve become very racist.  I like to see the expression on their faces: Do they say anything? What’s he up to? That sort of thing.

Once I started trying to beckon an imaginary cat called Biggles. Now, I’ve been to loads of people’s houses and met countless pets. Some have been interesting but a lot, lets be honest here, were below-par and not worth another mention.  However, when my friends left my humble abode that night all they could mutter nervously under their breath was “What was the shitting deal with Dan calling that cat? There was no cat! What the hell was that about?” My imaginary cat therefore, was of more note than virtually every real cat I have encountered.

Now imagine if you continued a charade like that for many months? What if you had actually purchased cat-themed products and carried a crudely drawn cat in your wallet? What if you were not the sort of person who normally did stuff like made up imaginary pets so it was all the weirder when your friends started to suspect but didn’t quite know? That fake cat would rapidly become the talk of your social circle while all those expensive ‘real’ cats barely warranted a mention.  Hardly seems fair. But what is fair? And what is real?

Return to Part One