Imagine, if you will, a beer garden. Running alongside this English summer institution is an abandoned orchard, hemmed on all sides by a wooden picket fence. Through the orchard though, towards a row of three little white cottages, there is a path, blocked by a gate. On the other side of said gate – in addition to the houses – you can see a garden shed, some well-tended walnut trees and a scattering of vegetable patches, punctuating an otherwise flat grass field. Signs of settlement span both sides of the little dirt track which serves the buildings and a woman carries shopping from the car on one side of the road to her front door on the other.

Would you, with your collie dog in hot pursuit, proceed into this domestic scene and begin a game of fetch in which you are too lazy to retrieve the ball by bending – and so have some kind of claw for this purpose – and in which your dog has no interest because it’s too busy trying to make sweet love to the afore-mentioned car whilst pooping?

Because that’s exactly what one man tried to do yesterday afternoon as I was unloading my blueberries and sour squirms from the boot.

“Excuse me,” I said, as I tried to shoo the dog away from Charlie Micra, “but this is private property.”
“I didn’t know,” the man replied and made no move to leave.
“Well I’d appreciate it if you’d go. There are children who play in this field and I don’t see you making an effort to pick up the dog’s mess. I don’t think that’s really on.”
“I didn’t know,” he repeated and turned around, without his poop. I followed and handed him one of my shopping bags which I had been returning to the boot of the car.
“For the mess,” I said, and watched him clear up. He left without another word.

It’s not the inconsiderateness which startles me, just the blatant stupidity. How could you not know that the scene you’re stepping into is someone’s garden? I just can’t fathom what else he could have thought our little field was. A multi-storey car park, a supermarket, the Sahara, a time machine, Botswana’s gross national income? I realise I’m a little on the short side, but I don’t think I’m so non-threatening that someone would simply ignore my presence and continue using my front yard as a doggy toilet whilst I look on – I genuinely think he didn’t realise.

And it’s not that I have anything against dogs – they’re wonderful, fun animals. They make great companions, loyal workers and wonderful hot-water bottles come the winter time. I also realise that there are few places in the local area that a hound can go for the purposes of pooping. Had the man yesterday actually made the effort to clean up his pet’s mess, I’d probably have said, “It’s fine to keep playing here – just put a lead on collie if next door’s kid comes out.” And it’s not just the children I’d like to keep dog mess away from, it’s also my vegetable patch. I don’t mind well-rotted manure, but a steaming dog turd is something else entirely. There’s a reason they tell you not to compost cat and dog waste, afterall…

But I don’t mean to rant about the stupidity of the locals. I forget what I was going to rant about – knitting or sewing, no doubt – so I suppose that means it’s time for me to sign off and see what Artemis is howling about.

Also, if you have a DS and get the chance, I highly recommend you try the new Professor Layton game… I am ever-so-slightly addicted.