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A wise quotation that dropped into the inbox today was a serious reminder of our very conflicting attitude to our, well, fellow animals.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Happy as a pig ... Enjoy life while you can, seems to think this contented fellow. Photo by Laura Anderson on Unsplash
Over the weekend, my conscience had been prodded about our approach to animals when cycling through some gorgeous Surrey countryside.

I passed two paddocks only a field apart.

In one, a number of ponies stood in a circle, heads in tails out, as though they were in conference.

They stood in mud that seemed to reach their ankles, and it’s true that each wore a sort of canvas cover round their middles, but they looked miserable.

Miserable in the cold

Utterly miserable in the cold and the freezing puddles.

Their conversation, if they were able to pass messages, seemed to be about the appalling state of their lives, particularly in winter.

Just fifty turns of the pedals and I saw two or three horses with their young owners. The animals wore smart jackets and were being groomed.

Of course, it could have been my imagination, but it really seemed the ponies shared verbal thumbs up over the pleasure of their pampered lives.

There's a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals ... Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to consider the miserable life of the pig - an animal easily as intelligent as a dog - that becomes the Christmas ham.
I'm a vegetarian and have been for 20 years and five months and one week (but who’s counting) so I feel free to reveal the wise words of Michael Pollan, a professor and writer, quoted in an admired daily email from Wordsmith.

‘There's a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals, in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side. Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to consider the miserable life of the pig - an animal easily as intelligent as a dog - that becomes the Christmas ham.’

My veg conscience couldn’t last long, for I soon remembered helping a late lamented brother, Peter, sell Christmas chicken to neighbours. The price was close to a Christmas gift in itself, and consequentially the purchases were huge. Almost every house bought at least one chicken.

Peter's astute young business brain knew a thing or two.

Chopped off the heads

Back at our home, the two schoolboys who loved cats and dogs, and helped with milking and animal welfare for a nearby farmer, simply chopped off the heads of the squawking chickens, one after another.

The poor old birds could see what was happening further along the queue, and sad to say, we thought nothing of it. So true, Dr Pollan.

Perhaps the best excuse one can offer is that many, many humans don’t suffer much of a conscience either when knocking off members of our own species.

How many people died in the 1939-1945 war, just over 70 years ago? About 70–85 million people perished, about three per cent of the 1940 world population, Wikipedia reports.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory and on Blogger,

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The blogs for Sailing to Purgatory are introduced on Facebook and Blogger.