Watching Up tonight was difficult. Not because it’s a bad film; it’s some considerable distance away from being anything approaching a bad film, but because I was fairly well positioned to be punched in the gut by a movie in which the message of “Don’t let the past weigh you down” is delivered by a (surrogate) grandfather and an unbearably cute and loyal doggy.
Obviously, if I were to become miserable over the losses my family have borne over the last nine months, I’d clearly have missed the point of the film entirely. Instead, then, I’m just going to use this post as something of a memory to the departed. A few things that passed through my mind on the walk home.
“Don't ever ever underestimate the will of a grandfather. We're madmen, we don't give a damn, we got here before you and they'll be here after. We'll make enemies, we'll break laws, we'll break bones, but you will not mess with the grandchildren. ” - Josiah Bartlett, The West Wing.
“A dog's friendship is stronger than reason, stronger than its own sense of self-preservation.” - The Mayor, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
“I never won a fight with Walter Crossman, because he always knew that the best way to win an argument was to be right in the first place.” - Ray Mallon.
“My name is Dug, I have just met you and I love you!” - Dug, Up.
I spoke at some length on my grandfather when he passed away, as indeed did others, so I hope he will forgive me for focusing on our four-legged friends this time around. Dogs are, quite simply, indispensable. When I was becoming Doctor Squid, I listened to Bill Bryson gave his traditional Chancellor speech which, amongst various other nuggets of wisdom, reminded us that we are all uniquely special - an infinitely unlikely swirling mass of molecules and thought - but that so was everyone else, so it was important to make sure we don't get above ourselves. Cats, as Ambassador Delenn once pointed out, are the universe's way of making us face up to the latter point. Dogs, I think, are the natural counterbalance, a reminder of how uniquely brilliant we all are. As an old friend once pointed out, there is nothing quite like seeing a dog barrel towards you, its tongue hanging out, and bearing an expression on its face that shouts "My God, it's you! This is the best thing that could possibly have happened to me today!"
In other words, dogs are God's apology for the rest of reality.