THERE is a danger in idly scrolling on the internet.

I was reminded of this to my peril in recent days when I stumbled across a story about taxidermy.

To be fair, I have no gripe with the general subject. Some years ago, I spent a pleasant afternoon in the company of the talented Polly Morgan – whose taxidermy work is adored by everyone from Banksy and Damien Hirst to Kate Moss and Courtney Love – as she gave me a fascinating masterclass in her art.

On another occasion I was lucky enough to be given a tour of one of the vast storage “pods” at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, home to a Noah’s Ark-esque menagerie of taxidermy specimens including a polar bear, a walrus, tigers, an emu, zebras and penguins.

The story I chanced upon, though, was about an Australian family who had tasked a taxidermist with turning their deceased golden retriever into an ornamental keepsake. The accompanying image showed the dog – post-taxidermy process – looking like a deflated balloon/grotesque caricature.

It begs the question: why? Well, apparently it is all the rage. In the days since a clutch of pet taxidermy-themed tales have garnered column inches. Among them was a woman who had a pygmy hedgehog stuffed after it died – each festive season it is given pride of place atop her Christmas tree.

Meanwhile, the author Dawn O’Porter revealed this week that when her beloved Siamese cat passed away, she had the feline freeze-dried: a process using extremely cold temperatures over 10 months.

According to O’Porter, the moggy has been preserved “perfectly to look just as she did on the day she died” and “sits happily, but 100 per cent dead, on a chair in my dining room”.

Grief is a deeply personal experience. It affects us all in different and profound ways. But the idea of having a former animal companion sitting stiffly in your home, utterly devoid of any life, feels incredibly sad rather than comforting. At least to me.

It is an empty husk held together with wire and foam: there is no wet nose nudging your hand for a treat; no warm, furry bundle curled up gently snoring in your lap; no joyful laughter sparked from witnessing the madcap nuances of their quirky personality.

Taxidermy pets is a theme that sums up the essence of 2022, or as I’m beginning to think of it, the year of ick. And, as 2022 gallops towards its finale, it feels like the ick-inducing moments are coming thick and fast.

It is bourgeois shoppers suddenly discovering Spam (sales are up 36% according to Waitrose); Elon Musk and his Twitter antics (the entire vibe is annoying guy who corners you at a party to spout conspiracy theories); the endless hype about air fryers and heated clothes airers (dull, dull, dull).

It is Royal Caribbean’s latest cruise ship (a tacky neon eyesore that looks like someone vomited up a giant box of Duplo) and the New York Post hailing the return of "heroin chic" (for the last time: body types are not a fashion trend). Can someone hit reboot please?