Notes from West London

Cleaning up after your dog

We don’t have a dog. We don’t want one. It’s very unlikely that we will ever have one. Family members in Ireland and Spain have them and that’s as close as we need to get.

Here in West London there are plenty of people walking their dogs during (and as part of) the school run. The other morning one of the more glamorous school mums (I think she’s been on the telly) was stood at the edge of the pavement, dog-lead in one hand, small dog at her feet, trying to open up a small plastic bag with her free hand as my daughter and I walked towards her. We witnessed her bend down with the opened-out plastic bag and scoop fresh dog poo into it. I am glad that people now clean up after their dogs, and that we live in a part of London where people do it consistently. I am even more glad that I have never had to do it. I have changed thousands of nappies but always knew that this was a phase. The time would come when the children would take care of themselves. With a dog there will never be a time when they can scoop up their own waste.

Now that people pick up after their dogs we are much less likely to step in dog poo than when I was growing up. Again, I am grateful for this. As I first noted in this piece (“Porlock”) I have been reviewing some of the millions of words that I started writing (or, more accurately, typing) ten years ago. Earlier this week I was revisiting notes about the Shakespeare plays I watched in 2006 and came across some paragraphs about a walk in St Peter’s Square Hammersmith, where we have seen a few of his plays performed over the years. (There’s an annual touring production there every summer.) It was the first time my son had ever stepped in dog poo. He was around 20 months old at the time and ran towards it before we could divert him. Ten years ago people hadn’t got into the habit of clearing up after their dogs (or maybe they were just late adopters in St Peter’s Square). My notes connected the annual Shakespeare production with the volume of dog poo that accumulated in the Square back then. I speculated about what that year’s Shakespeare performance might be: “The Poo Gentlemen of Verona” maybe, or “Richard the Turd”, or “Anthony and Cleo-poo-tra”. That’s as far I got in my notes, but having been reminded of it, here are a few other possibilities: “Poo-ricles”, “Troilus and Cresshita”, “Romeo and Poo-liet”, “A Midsummer Shite’s Dream”, “Poolius Caesar”, “Taming of the Poo” and “Coriolanus”. That’ll do. There’ll be plenty more about Shakespeare in tomorrow’s post, 400 years to the day since he died, and nothing more about dog poo.

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