Lots of coronavirusy related news today. Like Charles Windsor, Boris Johnson has miraculously morphed into one of those high risk patients who qualify for a coronavirus test and has tested positive. To be fair, we always knew that Boris was one sick puppy, and anyway he was always going to qualify for a test on account of being much richer than plebs like you or me. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also been tested positive.
Dominic Raab is supposed to take over in the event that Johnson is incapacitated and unable to perform his usual duties of fnaugh-fnaughing and telling inappropriate jokes. Dominic Raab. Dominic. Raab. The white van man of government. The man who exudes the permanent air of a low level business executive who has his ex-girlfriend buried under the patio and who has just realised that there’s a broken drainage pipe that’s going to need the entire back garden to be dug up. Dominic has been appointed as the designated survivor as no one would ever know if he had the virus or not because he’s permanently sweating. In that respect he’s the exact opposite of Andrew Windsor, thus proving the ancient aphorism that if you go far enough in opposite directions you’ll end up at the same arsehole.
We’re now in a UK where the words “if the Prime Minister becomes incapacitated, Dominic Raab will take over” are supposed to be reassuring. If you weren’t scared by the coronavirus crisis before, you should be terrified now.
In more reassuring news, I got in touch with Glasgow North East MP Anne McLaughlin to ask her for clarification on the rules about walking dogs. This isn’t about exercising dogs, it’s about their toilet needs. We’re told you can only exercise your dog once a day, but it’s simply animal cruelty not to permit a dog to do the toilet for 23 hours. The RSPCA recommends that every few hours a dog should be permitted access to a space where it can do the toilet. Dog owners have a legal duty of care to their pet’s physical and emotional welfare. Those of us who live in flats don’t always have access to private gardens that we can let our dogs into to do the toilet, we have to take them out. I live in a top floor tenement flat, and we don’t have a back green where the dog can do the toilet. All we have out back is a tiny wee space for the bins. https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/environment
Anne spoke on a conference call with UK government minister Penny Mordaunt. Penny told her that that within the guidance / rules there will be times when people just need to use their judgement and that this is one of those times. If your dog needs to pee he needs to pee and she would not expect the police to interfere with that. She also said should your experience be any different, she would expect your MP to step in.
However this is a devolved area, and the Scottish Government state that as per the advice, you can only leave the house for one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle. However this isn’t about exercise. It’s about your dog’s toilet needs. There’s a very good argument to be made that this is covered in the medical exemption provision. It’s unhealthy and distressing for the dog to have to restrain itself from peeing for 22 hours or more. We’ve spent the entire dog’s life teaching it not to do the toilet inside the house, any well trained dog is going to be extremely upset if it pees indoors. No dog wants to be a bad boy or girl. Puppy pads are not an option – have you any idea how much urine a medium sized adult dog is capable of releasing? And besides it’s disgustingly unhygienic for you to have a dog pissing and crapping indoors. So if anyone from the Scottish Government is reading this – and I know that some do – some public advice on this issue would be very welcome.
But in the meantime we have to use our common sense. If your dog needs to go out to do the toilet, take him out. Just be sensible and considerate. Go out alone with the dog. Strictly maintain social distancing protocols. And don’t go too far from your home. As soon as the dog has done his business, return home. This isn’t a sneaky opportunity to get more exercise or for you to get out of the house more often, it’s about your dog’s needs. So don’t take the piss. Pun intended. If you get told by the police to return home, explain that you’re only out so that the dog can do the toilet then you’ll return home immediately, and contact your local MP when you get home.
In other reassuring news, we now know that there’s now finally some help for self-employed people. It’s late, and there won’t be any payout for months, but it’s welcome news nevertheless. Not everyone is going to be covered, especially those who’ve only been self-employed for less than a year. I’ve been self-employed for several years now but wasn’t sure if I’d be covered as I’m still able to do some work – after all you’re reading this blog right now. As well as the blog I can still keep writing for The National. I am grateful for that, as I’m considerably better off in that respect than many self-employed people.
However like many who are self-employed my income has taken a significant hit. A large part of my annual earnings derives from selling books and maps at speaking events, but those have entirely dried up. I also do a significant number of paid speaking events – I had three of those booked for this month alone but all have been cancelled so I have lost all the income from those. And of course there will be no new bookings for the foreseeable future. Additionally I can no longer do the dugcast for The National as the paper’s offices are closed and all except a skeleton staff are working from home. (I’m going to look into doing a dugcast myself from home, but of course I won’t get paid for that.)
I’m not writing this because I want a pity party, but because there are bound to be many other self-employed people like me whose incomes have been severely affected but which haven’t dried up entirely, and who will be wondering whether they’re covered. This morning I received a communication from the accountant who does my taxes, and he informs me that it seems that people in my situation will indeed be covered by the new regulation. So if you are self-employed and most or much of your income has dried up as a result of the crisis, it appears that you will be covered as well as those people who can’t work at all. There won’t be any payments until at least June, and my understanding is that you will have to wait for the government to contact you first. Better late than never.
If I get any other information I’ll let you know. Stay safe, stay indoors.
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