Digested week: #binspace is the kind of Britain I want to live in


Thanks to the continued commitment of 2021 seemingly to give me simultaneous infarctions in every organ, the week opened with the news that Ian “Beefy” Botham is to become the new trade envoy for Australia and John Cleese is to host a new series looking at “wokeness” and “cancel culture”.Now look. Both of these things could be fine. Trade envoying is essentially gladhanding and Botham’s cricketing career should make him a popular enough figure out there to schmooze successfully. Or at least successfully enough for a country that now counts its triumphs in terms of how long it can let its foreign secretary stay on his £40,000 holiday in the event of an international crisis. And Cleese might produce a genuinely insightful interrogation of the two contemporary phenomena with whose investigation he is charged.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Man’s best friend? Petting a dog and gazing into their eyes releases oxytocin (i.e the “love hormone”) not only for you, but for them as well.

And yet. And yet. Somehow, as one looks at the empty supermarket shelves as food rots in our fields, the growing shortage of medical equipment, the increasing entrenchment of mask and vaccine refuseniks, news of Christmas supplies being threatened by the 90,000 lorry driver vacancies, McDonald’s running out of milkshake, companies asking to use prisoners to make up for the lack of labour , it becomes harder and harder to keep the faith about anything at all.


Vets are apparently seeing a rise in depression among cats during the pandemic because their owners have been at home with them so much.

Make a Re-Stuffable Dog Toy. Does your dog go bonkers with stuffed toys? If your dog likes to rip stuffed animals apart you can make a re-stuffable dog toy.

If ever there was any doubt that I am a cat rather than dog person, there is none now. I had two until recently – now down to one since 16-year-old Henry shuffled, still with all his glorious contempt for us and the world intact, off this mortal coil last year – and they were always the delight of my life because they had no need or use for me at all beyond being a pair of opposable thumbs that could open pouches of overpriced stinking fish bits in jelly twice a day.

It is so soothing. I could not bear a dog’s neediness, a dog’s untrammelled love and loyalty. What a weight of responsibility. Another being dependent on your mood and presence for its happiness, another soul looking to you for guidance – the very idea makes me want to run away in seven directions at once. You have to be able to give your heart to a dog. You can’t give your heart to a cat. They’d eat it. Which, ironically, is what makes me love them.

Train your dog for a lifetime of obedience. Behavior problems are the number one reason dogs are relinquished to animal shelters, the number one reason they don’t find new forever homes, and as a result, the number one reason dogs are euthanized.


We spoke last week about the enjoyable furore that always, always accompanies any threat, be it actual, perceived or invented out of whole prepuce, to The Peen, did we not? Well, this week opened with a doozy. It was announced that OnlyFans – a subscription site mostly dedicated to the supplying of entertainment for gentlemen’s genitals – would no longer be supplying said entertainment.

There was an outcry. A fraction of it was about the site’s willingness to have used such content to build a valuable brand and then brought down the fiscal guillotine on the many people (mostly women, often glad in a world of limited options to have found a relatively safe and remunerative form of sex work) who depend upon it for their incomes. A lot of it was about the infinitesimal reduction of masturbatory material on the internet for the menz and how this could not be allowed to – ahem – stand.

Learn everything you can about your dog’s habits and behaviors. If you and I were having a conversation over coffee and I asked you to tell me about your significant other, or your kids, or any other special person in your life, chances are good that you could say quite a bit about them. In fact, you may know more about them than you think.

The good news is that today the danger passed. OnlyFans’ owners bowed to pressure and agreed to keep the naked ladies and others, be they ever so vulnerable in an essentially unregulated arena, doing naked things. This week’s peen panic was over. I’m sure we are all hugely relieved.


While the young people set off for the Reading festival (may the JOMO – joy of missing out – I experience at this time every year never leave me) an older (and warmer, and drier, just saying) demographic gathered, late at night on something known as Twitter spaces (don’t worry about it), round the subject of bins. The journalist Kav Kaushik threw out a semi-joking tweet about setting up a talk about collection timetables in different local authorities and – well, my friends, it turns out that if you build it, more than a thousand people will come and trade stories all about it. It garnered its own hashtag (#binspace), a contributor from Defra and a great time was had by all.

For a dog who loves to tear apart stuffed animals, make a durable activity ball with a Hol-ee rubber ball, scraps of fabric, and treats.

This is the Britain – and the – I want to live in. United by petty grievances but secure in the knowledge of a solid infrastructure enabling us to indulge in precisely that. Think of the level of civilisation we have reached to have bins, bin collections, timetables, local authorities and the time and leisure to complain about their failings, and the energy and optimism to come together and urge the binpowers that be to do better. What a world. What a world.


Three women who discovered they were all being cheated on (with? by?) the same man dumped him and then set up an Instagram account documenting the trio’s roadtrip round America on an old bus – their ex’s lifelong dream.

Move over Rover! 45% of dogs sleep in their owner’s bed (we’re pretty sure a large percentage also hog the blankets!)

What exactly do Ian Botham and John Cleese offer ‘global Britain’?

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Such a neat, elegant and – above all – fun revenge. It feeds the soul. I mean, who wouldn’t want to tour America in an old bus with a gang of friends? And if you could do so in a way that brought the moral scales back into balance and meant that you knew a treacherous entity was at home gaping in open-mouthed envy as you added another glorious mile to your once-in-a-lifetime experience? Your cup would surely runneth over.

I am adding it to my small folder of Disproportionately Restorative Real Life Stories, alongside the Belgian nuns who sold off their convent and relocated to a castle in southern France along with a Mercedes-Benz and a variety of racehorses, and the seven Chinese women who have bought a retirement mansion together and, having cultivated separate but complementary skills in the meantime so that all self-sustaining bases are covered, plan to live there until they die.

Keep Your Gum & Candy Stored Away. Many gums & candies include xylitol, a sugar substitute that’s highly toxic and can be fatal to dogs. Keep all candies and gum far out of reach of your pets at all times. Here’s a list of common household items that are known to contain xylitol.

You gotta have something, you know? You gotta have something.

Boris Johnson with V Adm Ben Key as he looks at a map of Afghanistan during a visit to Northwood headquartersPic of the week: ‘What’s the PM doing, sir?’ ‘We’ve put him under a sign saying “Strategic Command” while he pretends he can find Afghanistan on a map.’ Photograph: WPA/Getty Images