Simmy Richman: Rant & Rave (12/12/10)

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No one can love dogs more than I do. I'm not calling into question the depth of anyone else's emotional capacity by stating that as bald fact, I'm simply pointing out that if you'd grown up in a house where no amount of spoilt-brat nagging could alter the parental view that dogs were "filthy creatures", you too might, in adult life, embrace our furry friends with the zeal of the convert.

Whether or not I'd risk my life to save my dog's, though ... that's another matter – one brought into focus last week when a woman fell through the frozen River Ribble in Lancashire while attempting to save her pet Labrador. Both were unharmed, but the risk was real.

It is, of course, impossible to know how you'd react in a crisis. And if you can safely say you would do nothing while your pet was in distress, where do you draw that line: what if it were a drowning child?

Yet a spokesperson for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) was unequivocal: we should never try to rescue pets from frozen rivers. To do so would be "putting your life at risk as well as the dog". But is this not what it means to love? To put personal risk to one side; to be willing to lay down your own life to save another?

It is in RoSPA's DNA to err on the side of caution – to give sensible and heartless advice that ignores that part of our human nature which longs to take risks or act on impulse. Like I say, it's impossible to know how you'd react in a crisis. One thing's for sure, though: I wouldn't stand off to the side taking photos to sell to a national newspaper.


Along, I suspect, with many others, few words chill my bones as much as "fancy dress". But there is something just right about the festive jumper – an item that keeps you warm, shows you have the party spirit and can also be removed in one fell swoop.

Marie Claire has celebrated them, the Saturdays were papped in theirs and even an old curmudgeon such as I could not possibly be opposed to the simplicity of the gesture.

So why am I not wearing one here? I can answer that in three words: itchy, itchy, itchy.