DEMONSTRATING and protesting are part of the British DNA and at the core of democracy. A good march with home-made banners, soup in a flask and an abusive, repetitive slogan is our human right.

'Raising awareness' it is called.

As I write, Sid Saunders maintains his hunger strike to draw attention to a controversial waste incinerator in Gloucestershire. It is a powerful message about the environment and issues of freedom of information, and I wish him well. Literally.

We also have a high street company which makes soaps and bath bombs making a vivid statement in their shop windows highlighting police involvement infiltrating organisations and creating false persona in order to gain access to potential criminal activity.

The images they use are crude and general, attacking all policemen, at a time when they have never been more stretched and demand for their protection is especially high. That the police occasionally push the boundaries and that this in itself needs policing is undeniable. But the use of a shop to inform and attack is worrying.

While this is high-profile and attracting wide-spread coverage (as was the aim) I see it as an extreme version of what is bombarding all of us as shoppers, some of us unaware.

Shops as moral arbiters, educators, setting a standard by which we should (try to) live. There are causes which need promoting but retail shouldn't be the high moral ground. Meanwhile we should value and protect those who protect us.

A recent concern is of the legal status of police dogs.

They have no more protection than an everyday object yet they are highly trained and skilled, and the police rely on them each and every day. So do we, whether we are aware of it or not. Campaigners are trying to make it an offence to attack service animals including police dogs and horses.

Called Finn's Law, after a heroic police dog nearly fatally wounded while on service who saved his handler's life, it aims to protect and recognise these key members of the law enforcement team. Now, there's something to jump up and down about.

PEOPLE will never cease to be fascinated by who is dating who. Thus it was with great interest I noticed Basil's tentative steps on the dating scene.

Basil, an early case of gender confusion hence the name, is a woman of mature years who, to my knowledge, has only recently yearned for company other than mine.

To see her gulping down her breakfast, her elaborate washing and grooming ritual, and her growing anxiety as she looks out of the window, show this is no trivial matter.

I have acquaintances who have ventured late in life into dating. Not content with family and friends they seek what they had when they were young, or imagine they did. All the talk about 'happiness' leads people, of all ages, to believe there is 'the one' out there if only he/she can be found.

Whether he can be found in the pages of The Telegraph lonely hearts I very much doubt. There are risks, cautious people say. Conmen and con-women abound, ready to take your bank account contents after one reckless email.

Setting aside amazement that anyone can hand over their life savings on the basis of a borrowed photo of an ageing actor, it seems to me the greater risk is that you end up dating a man who reads The Telegraph. Quite awful.

But Basil shares my view. She has waited for Him to find her. He comes and ogles her expansive charms, shares a little Norwegian cod, she shows appropriate indifference. Romance blossoms.