The Environmental Health Officer

May 22nd 2006  

I answered the door to Mr Vizard of the local Borough Council Environmental Health Department. I suspected that when it was time for his arrival Sod’s Law would automatically kick in and the Pollitt’s dog You Twat would stop barking and howling for the first time since it arrived, but no, it was barking and howling at full volume, bless it.  

“Mr Vizard, I’ve called about the barking dog nuisance,” said my visitor, all business and purpose I was glad to note.    

“Good. Well you can hear the problem for yourself.”  

“Er…well actually, no. You see I only have partial hearing and my……  

I hit the roof. “The Council have sent a deaf man to investigate a complaint about a barking dog?

Well I also have a complaint about the height of next door’s leylandii hedge, perhaps you could get them to send a blind council official along to take a look at it, and a dumb one to describe…..  

“Hold up, hold up, you didn’t let me finish. I was about to say I only have partial hearing and my hearing aid is on the blink. Must be the battery.“  

The dog was barking loud than ever. “I’ve got news for you,” I said. “You haven’t even got partial hearing if you can’t hear that bloody racket.”    

“What?”  

“For fuck’s sake!”  

“What are you shouting at,” shouted The Trouble, from indoors. 

“The council have sent a deaf Environmental Health man,” I shouted back.  

“I heard that,” said Mr Vizard. He strained to listen. “I can hear the dog barking too now.”     

“Well if you can hear it without your deaf aid think what it must be like for someone with normal hearing. And it’s like that all the time they’re out of the house. Which is every working day from eight in the morning to about four in the afternoon when the kids get in from school, or more likely from playing truant. So what do you intend to do about it?”    

I’d taken care to shout the above and Vizard obviously got the gist of it because he replied: “Right, I’ll set the wheels in motion to get it stopped. It will take about three months altogether.”  

I congratulated him. “Three months. My word, you local government officers really know how to pull out all the stops, don’t you.”  

My irony was completely wasted on him. “We aim to please,” he smiled.  

“Why does it take so long?”  

 “What?”  

“WHY DOES IT TAKE SUCH A LONG TIME?”

“Procedure. Initial letter. Follow up letter in stronger terms when they ignore the initial letter. Then a letter threatening them with County Court when they ignore the letter in stronger terms. Three months.”  

“And in the meantime we have to suffer?”    

“What?”    

I didn’t bother repeating the question. I already knew the answer.