Society Diary: Are lobsters really animals? It's an intriguing question

17 Feb 2017 Voices

Another week has passed, dear friends, in this, the terrifying Year of our Lord 2017. Donald Trump remains mystifying. Brexit remains Brexit. But elsewhere, plus ça change.

This week, Society Diary asks ‘Do lobsters dream of electric sheep?’ Because, be honest, have you ever really thought about the cognitive powers of the humble crustacean? 

So long, and thanks for all the crayfish

First off this week, a story has come through to Diary about a lobbying group whose name will be well-received by all those out there who adore an alliterative appearance to their not-for-profit nomenclature.

Diary readers, please meet Crustacean Compassion. Not so much a lobbying group as lobbyingster group. For CC are, from today, “calling for crustaceans to be included in the Animal Welfare Act 2006” which relates to the humane slaughtering of animals for food. The act covers your cows, your chickens, your pigs and so on, but it doesn’t currently cover decapod crustaceans.

For those not up on their decapod delineations, we’re talking crabs, lobsters and crayfish. Those shelled organisms which share two things with a line of Gerard Manley Hopkins poetry. They have ten feet, and they're hard to crack.

Anyway, Crustacean Compassion says there is “a marked increase in scientific evidence about the ability of decapod crustaceans to feel pain and suffer” and is demanding a change in the way they're treated. Because it's chitin appalling at the moment, as it were.

It actually is quite bad. They've really got a point. Diary feels that government - unlike our friendly beach-dwelling invertebrates - has nary a leg to stand on.

Donkeys get cash. Date proved a bit pony

So this week's newspapers have focused extensively on a young lady who - having declined to go on a second date with a gentlemen - was sent a £42.50 drinks bill for half the first one by her aggrieved one-time paramour. 

Suffice to say that public opinion hasn't favoured the poor bloke. But Diary has a little bit of feeling for him. He'd had to save up to pay for all those drinks, he has wooed and failed to win the woman of his heart, and now the whole world is laughing at him.

Frankly, life is hard for those gentlemen who are not endowed with the physique and persuasive skills to win over the fairer sex. We can all remember what it was like in those teenage days when romantic relationships were akin to having your face pressed up against the window of the sweet shop, knowing that inside others were getting their lips around a mouthful of gobstoppers, but that for you it wouldn't open for another three years. Imagine if that was your whole life.

To be honest, that kind of lack of ability with a chat up line should be classified as a disability. There should be charities to help blokes like that.

However this column does not write about charitable issues when they are that flimsily connected to the sector. No, this story has a solid charity angle. It seems that the woman involved has indeed forked over her half of the bar bill. But not only that, she's bunged another £42.50 to Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary.

I'm smoking a fag

While we're on the subject of people being told to get on their bike, a bunch of blokes on bikes are at risk of being told to, er, get on their bikes.

So Roughley's Bike Show is apparently an annual convention of large, hairy men who wear lots of black leather and bandanas and have loads of tattoos, and sometimes keep their sunglasses on when they go indoors. In some unspecified way a bunch of them get together and raise cash for charity, as well, presumably as saying things like "Nice bike" and, er, "Nice bike".

Anyway, it happens in Stockport, where TV giant Sky has its call centre, and there is apparently a drive from the company to prevent the bike show taking place because it will prevent employees from going downstairs to have a smoke.

Now Diary is aware that fundraising has had a bad press recently, and that it has got a bit in your face, and people would mostly like people who do fundraising to go away and stop bothering them. But this column is rather hoping that "It stops folk having a fag" is not now actually a reason to stop people fundraising for charity.


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