Issues of local concern

I listened to Brian Taylor’s Big Debate this afternoon (for non Scots readers he is the BBC Scotland political correspondent and every so often hosts a town hall question time type event on the radio). 

Today Brian was live from Dumfries in the South of Scotland, with 4 of the region’s MSPs, and a self selected audience of locals who are available at lunchtime on a Friday in Dumfries.

Anyway, aside from some an elongated section in response to the question ‘Are the SNP anti-English?’ (to which of course everyone said No but then went into a ‘why I love Scotland and Britain’ rant (in the case of the unionist parties) or a less than useful tizz about the Economist’s front cover (which seems to me designed to raise hackles so is doing a good job of that), it was an okay debate. 

Some chat about the lack of local enterprise zones in Dumfries and Galloway, and the impact on farming of our current EU status, and the tax threshold.

And then, just at the end, a question from a woman in the audience which basically asked ‘why aren’t there more laws to stop people leaving dog poo lying about?’ (I paraphrase, she didn’t use the word poo, it is the BBC darling).

I sat dumbfounded for a wee minute, and listened to Brian Taylor sort of re-phrase her question back at her as he is wont to do (well worth the money our Brian), and then I got up and turned off the radio.

I knew immediately what I wanted someone to respond, but doubted they would, and decided maybe I was better off never knowing, and certainly my afternoon would be enhanced by not hearing what the panel thought about dog shit.

But what I wanted someone to say was: Firstly, if this is your primary concern in life, then I tilt my hat to you – you have clearly managed to avoid worrying about some of the pertinent issues of the day, both local and global. Secondly, unfortunately the problem of shit on the pavement is not really about dog poo, it’s an indicator of a broader societal problem about community, responsibility and a general failure to maintain a decent attitude towards our neighbours and our planet. 

I was once asked if I really thought we could fight climate change, and in a moment of drastic honesty, I replied “Given we can’t even get people not to drop litter, I doubt it”

Imagine if everyone was nice to each other. Not like sickly sweet nice, but courteous. And that people thought about the impact of their actions on others. Wouldn’t that be pleasant? And a happy side effect would be that people would clean up after their dogs. In the meantime, whilst we still fail to reach this idyllic goal, frankly my dear, I don’t give a crap.


One thought on “Issues of local concern

  1. While I am in general agreement with everything I have a foolish undercurrent of dogged optimism that provides a consistent albeit groundless ‘yes-but.’ There are four things, one of which is a correction, two fuel to the fire, and one about walking the walk. The correction is the during the first day of the eviction of Occupy Edinburgh, the magistrate dismissed Essential Edinburgh’s complaint about fecal matter being found in St Andrews Square by saying ‘an unidentified jobbie is not grounds for eviction’ (verbatim); perhaps you can do that if you’re a magistrate not a regular member of the public. There is one independent council candidate for Edinburgh (I can’t remember where) who has his primary manifesto promise to prosecute providers of pavement presents (the owners rather than the dogs, I presume) and the main response has been similar to yours. This being the issue the woman wanted to raise reminded me of someone on the news during the expenses ‘scandal’. She was about my age and was campaigning against her MP for being one of the sinners and said that this was the first time she’d been politically active which completely nonplussed me – I would have been happy to provide a long list of things worth getting stroppy about before that and more important than that. The last thing is more loosely attached. Just before Easter Cardinal O’Brien told Christians to wear crosses to proclaim their faith and, while I have no problem with people wearing displays of their faith or none, my feeling was more along the lines of ‘isn’t it better that I live my life accordingly, practice my faith, my ethics, my standards and if people find out where I’m coming from and join the dots for themselves, then isn’t that a better advert, if you like, than carrying a trademark?’ Along Portobello prom a bloke has put stickers up with a picture of poo, and plus sign, a bag, an equals sign and a heart, probably a more effective gentle reminder than gestural, headline grabbing laws.

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