IT could only happen in England.

An indignant letter from a host of animal lovers in one of our national newspapers, headed "Military must end cruel exploitation" demands the use of dolphins and sea lions by the Americans in the war with Iraq be unreservedly condemned.

"Dolphins are highly intelligent and sensitive animals. Using them in a war zone is deplorable," continues the missive from the Captive Animals' Protection Society, Cetacea Defence and The Marine Connection. Haven't they heard young soldiers are being slaughtered in battle, Iraqi women and children have been killed and many people don't have water to drink, let alone a home to live in? That sounds pretty deplorable to me.

I suppose we should be thankful we live in a society where people still find time to care about Flipper and his friends. But I can't help wondering what those suffering in Iraq, or the families of serving soldiers here, would give to be able to enjoy the luxury of fretting over the fate of a few dolphins.

PERHAPS some compassionate soul will form a support group for comedians because this is not an easy time for them either. War and comedy aren't a good mix. Graham Norton has made a few lame jokes.

Frank Skinner did pretty well the other night, though, talking about Saddam Hussein and his penchant for using look-alikes. If and when he is captured, mused Skinner, couldn't he just say: "Thank God you've rescued me. I'm just a look-alike, I've been forced to play him for years." Skinner came up with another idea. Why don't we find our own Saddam look-alike and film him trembling with fear saying: "Oh, I'm really scared. I give up, you win"?

But I wonder if our Prime Minister's aides have ever thought of employing a Blair look-alike? The PM is run off his feet. The look-alike could do a few press conferences and the odd long distance flight while Blair catches up on his sleep. He looks like he needs it.

I HAVE little sympathy for the two British soldiers facing jail because they refuse to fight in the Gulf. They were not conscripted, they joined the Army of their own free will. They weren't just being paid to learn a trade while travelling the world. The deal is they must fight when called upon. That's what we have armies for. It's not like playing computer war games. Real soldiers don't get to pick and choose battles.

CHILDREN as young as nine are being teased at school about being fat, say psychologists. Of course, this is appalling. But in our rush to reassure the overweight, we must not forget we also have a duty to ensure children eat sensibly and exercise regularly. This week researchers in Plymouth revealed up to 30pc of children, some as young as five, are displaying the first signs of diabetes, linked to poor lifestyle. For grown-ups to be so lax about a child's diet that they risk condemning them to a debilitating disease seems every bit as cruel as the playground taunts.