The toddler wants a puppy. He will be fluffy, he will be called Boy and he will be taken for walks. Naturally, she's not getting one. I have no desire to add another incontinent, mess-creating, eater-of-random-things entity to this household. I have children already.
I don't dislike animals – I love dogs, in fact. I cried for two days when our Spaniel was put to sleep in 1985. Not even a trip to Penneys for a new outfit could console me. I love a go off someone's terrier but, like a grandparent, I like to hand the little furballs back before I get a whiff of Chum-breath. I wouldn't be averse to one in the house, but the law of the universe indicates that Dad and the kids get to do the running in slow motion down a hill throwing a ball, all flailing paws and flapping ears, while Mum gets to do the rubbing of noses in puddles and cleaning up of whatever that mess is before it's re-ingested. Thus it was, and always will be. Or won't be in my case.
How about a cat? I'm a complete cat magnet. Once, in Cape Town, the owners of our accommodation watched in awe as the angriest, fattest, oldest cat in the world, Antonia, waited patiently day and night outside our room for me to rub behind her ears. In my hands she was putty; a feline Beryl Reid. In everyone else's she was a whirlwind of teeth and claws. If I wore a catsuit it would be an actual suit made up of three tabbies, two tortoiseshells and a Siamese all vying for attention, all sandpaper tongues and wiry hairs. But how do I feel about cats? It's the ultimate irony – I am completely indifferent to them. Take that, puss! And I also don't think they're devious and mysterious. I think they're quite frankly a bit self-serving and dim. Like babies. Or Cheryl Cole.
I've also never understood the appeal of reptiles, rodents and all things creepy. If you're going to keep a spider for example, then why not a ladybird? They're more colourful and tend to make people shriek less. You might even find you have more friends.
If I ever do cave and get a pet, I sincerely hope I don't become one of those frankly disturbing animal-lovers. The last one I encountered had a 'leedle puppy dog at home' that had the same name as my daughter. I was informed of this with breathless excitement and obviously expected to do a cartwheel at the prospect. Instead we had a stare-off – she waiting for reciprocated excitement; me, frantically thinking of an appropriate response, both with breath held and faces like startled goldfish, blinking silently at each other. I think I said; “Oh”.
And much as I respect vegetarians, I simply could never give up sausages and roast beef. I won't buy factory-farmed meat, but I will not surrender a chicken kiev for the sake of anyone's principles. Take heed, my old friend Morrissey. Meat isn't that murderous compared to crazed killers wielding guns at teenagers, wiping out young lives. You can't make that comparison. Oh, you did already? Groan.
So relax all hamsters, goldfish, parakeets, budgies, pot-bellied pigs, chinchillas, monkeys, snakes, gerbils, chickens, rabbits and ponies. You won't be coming to live with us just yet so you still have your chances, just like Minter, Juice and Callum, the heirs to the McQueen dynasty. Unless you're any good with a nappy of course.....