The Independent

January 17, 1991

Editorial Page


A good noise forthe job


Harry Greenexplains how the threat of prosecution gave new interest to a dog's life




IT'S NOT every daythat a dog gets a letter in the post, especially from the Royal Borough ofKensington and Chelsea. Being a dog, I know about these things.


Yet there it was onthe mat, addressed to me, Mr Harry Green. ''Dear Mr Green'', the letter fromthe council began, but then the tone turned less than friendly. Or perhaps itis just my problem with authority. I have been picked up, pronounced wayward,locked up in The Dogs Home, Battersea, freed by my new owner, Miss Emily Green,but then sterilised against my will.


Recently, however, Ihave been on the straight and narrow, apart from the odd scrap with my mateSpike over lamb bones, and a few reprimands from constables for chasingsquirrels in Kensington Gardens.


The council'scomplaint? An alleged offence under the Highways Act 1980. It was not to do, Ihasten to add, with that emotive issue of poop on the pavement. My owner clearsup after me with day-old newspapers. She lived in New York when this practicewas made mandatory by law and now swears by it. No, the letter complained aboutour household rubbish having been put out on a Monday instead of a Tuesday orThursday.


All right. I've donesome very bad things on purpose, I'll admit it, but these restrictions werenews to me. We live in the Portobello Road, Notting Hill, where collectorsworking the fruit and vegetable market have traditionally picked up severaltimes a day, every day. Trust me on this. I bark every single time thecollectors' trucks pass.


Clause Number 2 wasthe worst. It read: ''You are hereby advised that a report concerning thealleged offence may be forwarded to the Borough Solicitor, in 14 days from thedate of this letter, with a view to the consideration of prosecution. You areinvited to make any statement you wish as to:


(a) the allegedoffence


(b) the fact that theperson responsible will be reported for the alleged offence.''


Flipping to page 2, Isaw that at least they had informed me of my rights. ''If you are the personresponsible I have to advise you that you are not obliged to say anything ormake any statement unless you wish to do so, but what you say, or any statementyou make, may be given in evidence.''


It was signed by acertain N W Cook, Director of Cleansing and Recycling.


But how did Mr Cookcome to suspect me? Imagine my shock when I turned to page 3 and saw theevidence of my crime: photocopies of letters that had been found in the rubbishbag allegedly put out on the wrong day. Somebody had been fishing through myrubbish, then photocopying it! There it was, in black and white, a photocopy ofan envelope addressed in large, shaky print to Mr Harry Green. It had been thefirst letter that I had ever received, a newspaper cutting from my owner'smother about a collie Frisbee-catching competition. And there was anotherenvelope as evidence, this one addressed to Miss Green. She must have been theone to throw away the cutting and both of the envelopes.


She shrugged off thecharge of meddling with my personal effects and was going to bin the letterfrom the council, and put it out on a Monday, when inspiration struck.


Types such as myselfwould make excellent household rubbish enforcement officers for the council. Iknow the streets. I know what goes out - when and where - and who knots theirbags badly. And I am a master at rummaging, as is Spike. We'd make a greatteam. I confess that I am only semi-reformed, but if they can think aboutprosecuting me, surely they can think about hiring me. I must write to applyimmediately.


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