The week before last there was a special advertisement shown on television at about 7.15pm. This was an advertisement for dog food - and the manufacturers claimed that the ad contained special features to make it attractive to dogs. They also claimed that this was the first television ad aimed at dogs. The result has been a number of letters to my regular newspaper regarding pets who are attracted to certain things on the television.
(We owned a collie-cross who enjoyed watching show jumping, but I have not and will not bother writing to the paper about this.)
The correspondence may have been brought to an end - though I doubt it - by a letter published yesterday. It was from an Australian who wrote:
"As a regular visitor to your shores, I have been intrigued by the spate of letters concerning the viewing habits of household pets. This has reinforced my view that the British are quite, quite mad. Long may it remain so."
It struck me that the writer's view of the British as being mad is a refreshing change from the view most Australians have of the British. We are frequently described by our antipodean cousins as 'whingeing Poms'. But that's not how we see ourselves - nor, I suspect, is it how citizens of other countries see us.
It's odd, really, that we should regard any nationality as having specific character traits. We British tend to view the Irish as stupid, the Swedes as slow, the Italians as cowardly, the Spanish as lazy and so on. It's all nonsense, of course, just as our view of ourselves is nonsense. We think we are animal lovers, tolerant, slow to anger, God's gift to the world etc etc. And we are! But I do sometimes wonder how people from other countries see us.
It was, I think, the well-known Scottish poet who wrote, "Oh, would some gift the Giftie gie us, tae see oorselves as ithers see us". (You must excuse my appalling Scots accent.) Frankly, I would prefer not to see myself in the eyes of others; it would likely be either too cringe-making because of unjustified (in my eyes) compliments or too infuriating because of (in my eyes) unreasonable complaints. I'll just stick my head in the sand, thank you very much.