There’s a house on the corner of our road which doesn’t seem to be occupied, or at least only occasionally. The hedges grow out over the pavement and there’s an old hawthorn – much of which is dead, which is gradually dropping large lumps of deadwood. So far no-one has been brained. I worry that one day the whole thing will come down onto someone’s car.
The house is near the top of the hill and exposed to the south-west wind which can rip through, and quite often a fence panel gets punched out by the wind. The owners haven’t been by for a while and the fence panel has blown into the garden, leaving a laurel hedge exposed to the pavement, as the photo shows.
A local dog-walker walks past this spot. Having picked up their dog’s poo and bagged it (in what look like biodegradeable bags), they consciously drop it through the hole in the fence, into the garden beyond, under the Laurel bush. They don’t do it every day, just some days.
There are five poo bags there now, plus one which is on the pavement nearby.
I am trying to put myself in the place of the dog-walker, trying to work out what thought process would lead me to pick up my dog’s poo, bag it, tie a knot in the bag, carry it a certain distance, spot a hole in someone’s fence, drop the bag through the hole, then do it again, and again.
In some ways the person should be congratulated for having not just left their dog’s poo on the pavement, or in the local park at Maumbury Rings – as others do. But on the other hand, it seems extraordinary to deliberately drop it into someone’s garden.
Do they have some long-standing family vendetta with the owners of the house? Or are they making a critical (excremental) statement about the lack of fence maintenance undertaken by the owners? Or are they suffering from some sort of mental health disorder where they feel compelled to create a collection of dog poo bags in that particular spot for some unknown reason.
It’s a mystery which has compelled me to write about it and share it with you. Is there some metaphor to be drawn about personal and civic responsibility and society?
Yes there probably is, but I will leave you to draw that for yourself.
My guess, Miles, is that, as this appears to said person to be “nobody’s land”, it’s assumed to be all right to deposit the bagged dog turds there, away from public or private land. It works that way on nature reserves too, if there’s not an obvious sign and signs of management. I guess the conceptual extension (I’m too tired for a metaphor!) is that we value what’s ours individually, what we feel to be ours collectively and worth having (usually dependent on a human scale), and what what we believe to be others’, especially if there are suspected or known to beconsequences for abusing others’ stuff and, by extension, their beliefs. We get on to the Common Fisheries Policy and “the crisis of the commons” and the forging (in both senses) of nations, and shared land and identity and not sharing with “the others”; and so to discussions of Parnell and Sturgeon/Salmond and UKIp and the three ‘national’ Green parties in the light of today’s events and; I’ll stop now before I start using up too much time at work…..
That comment’s like an episode of James Burke’s Connections; wonderful.
Yes I think you’ve nailed it – a bit like fly-tipping on “abandoned” post-industrial land, but in microcosm .
Miles, why don’t you just ask the person why?
thanks Norma. I’d certainly ask them, but have never seen them do it.
On my daily walk, with my dog plus poo bag (!) I take a can of coloured sheep marker and spray all poops. This is beginning to have an effect.
I’d like to ask you if you can tell me if there is a Law whereby developers holding onto land for years, hoping to get planning permission eventually, can be forced to farm the land? We have two large fields in our parish that are idle but kept cut once annually.
Hi Norma, no there’s no requirement to manage land unless farm subsidies are being claimed. If the land harbours injurious weeds such as ragwort or thistles then in theory the landowner can be required to cut them before they flower. Also invasive species like Japanese knotweed have to be removed by law.
Ha,ha,ha! What a lovely story……
There is naught so queer as folk!
You made me laugh
The innocence of your question….
Thanks for sharing….
There is a wider mystery here: I frequently find little caches of poo bags near the paths in nature reserves and wild land, and hanging on hedges. In many cases it would be better for everyone if the poo had been left to rot where it was, on the ground. Bagged up poo is one of the worst forms of litter, so why not carry it to a bin? I can only conclude that people expect to be thought ‘nice’ if seen to bag their pets’ faeces, but drop them later when out of sight.
thanks Kevin. I think you could be right, the pressure is on people to be seen to be doing the right thing (bagging), but then taken over by the temptation to secretly dump the parcel rather than taking it home
Miles – throwing poo bags in bushes is an action that defies any rational explanation. But people – including scientists – are rarely driven by reason for their actions.
The story reminds me of the time, many years ago when I was litter picking Dunstable Downs car park, when I saw a bloke empty his ashtray out of the window a few yards in front of me. I went over and litter picked each butt with a picker into a bag. He could not ignore me doing this, so he wound the window down and said “Some people are animals aren’t they?” I was staggered by his observation, as he was disparaging his own behaviour.
It also reminds me of the very many wealthy households that back on to National Trust properties, who feel their well tended gardens would be untidy if they had clippings and cuttings in it, so they fly tip it onto National Trust ground.
The lesson? we all tend to be blind to the impact we have on our environment – I say this as someone who tends to champion the positive impact we are able to make.
Thanks David. True we are all at least partly blind to our own environmental footprint.