Memorable Moment

Living with Two Gentle Giants: Salt and Pepper

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, December 19th 2018

I have lived with cats since a teenager, but this year I ventured into completely new territory by getting two cats at the same time. They are brothers, from the same litter, half Maine Coon, and were one year old when they came to stay. Got from the nearby Cat Protection League and already christened Salt and Pepper, they have retained their names due to the simple logic that they answer to them.

Salt and Pepper have obviously known each other all their lives, and are an item, a couple, who act and interact with each other, but also have independent lives. They have an effortlessness being with each other, cuddling up to go to sleep, or cleaning each other. And they also have a gentleness, trust and intimacy with me and my partner.

They are different characters. Salt tends to go on long adventures; Pepper stays closer to home. They provide challenges and comedy: often trying to dash into the basement whenever the door is open, or working as a team to pull over their toy bucket. Or in the case of Salt, before he was fully homed, dashing out the front door and straight into the neighbours, running up their stairs at high speed, pursued by two large labradors. It reminds you that the small, intimate things in life matter.

Anticipation for 2019

The Search for Easy Answers and Targets Continues

2019 is going to be an even more turbulent year than 2018. Brexit will not be resolved whether the UK leaves the EU or not. Trump will become more partisan and abusive. Mainstream politics will come under more pressure. There will be more noise, assertion, tribalism, and lack of understanding of those with differing views.

Where this is going no one is sure. What chance an American Trump figure who is more competent and organised after Trump – and hence even more danger? Where does the Tory Party position itself after May and Brexit? How does Scotland navigate itself from this wreckage?

At some point we as human beings have to start discussing the huge issues facing us: climate change, the demographics of falling birth rates in the West and aging populations, the positives of immigration, and the march of AI. Just don’t expect the serious and philosophical conversations on these to start in 2019.

That is one bet you can guarantee on as the mainstream struggles and populist and dodgy figures from the shadows tell us that we can have it all and there are easy answers to everything if we just find someone convenient to blame. That is the deception that got us into the Brexit mess – which will continue for years – and which we will see many more similar examples of.