Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Article excerpt

THE question of whether there is intelligent life in other galaxies has often been debated, but it seems to me that a more pertinent question is whether there is intelligent life on earth. I sometimes imagine a race of super-intelligent aliens landing on our planet to pass judgment on mankind as a whole. I don't think it'd get off lightly.

What could be said in mankind's favour? I think the best that could be said is that it likes dogs. Whether dogs' liking for man would count in dogs' favour is, of course, another question entirely. On the whole, I suspect not.

Of course, dogs can cause problems. Last week, for example, a woman nearly committed suicide because of one. She asked her husband, a Polish refugee, which he preferred, his dog or her? He'd have to choose between them, she said, for one of them had to go.

He chose the dog. I must say, merely on superficial acquaintance, and that with only one side of the equation, I understood his point of view. As if reading my thoughts, she said, `I've threatened to leave him many times, doctor. I've had lots of offers from other men. I may look an ugly bastard, but when I dress up, I dress to kill. I'd like to see the dog dress up.'

`What did he reply?'

`You wouldn't want another stepfather for your son.'

`And you said?'

`True enough, it's took me enough time to train you, you white-enamelled Polish bastard.'

I asked her what she had done after she took her cupful of washing-up liquid in her bid for eternal oblivion.

'I went down the pub. …

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