May 24th 2006

The distance from the nearest point of our back garden to the clothes-line post to which You Twat is tethered is a distance of 26 yards (I have paced out on the road the distance from the end of my house to the middle of the Pollitt’s house to arrive at this figure, so it is reasonably accurate). I estimate that the chain by which You Twat is hitched to the clothes-line post to be eight feet. This means that I will have to throw an eight ounce minced beef and crushed sleeping pill ball a distance of 26 yards and land it in a sixteen feet diameter circle. A piece of cake. Or rather a piece of minced beef and crushed sleeping pill.

However I wanted to be certain; the last thing I want is to spend half the day tossing spiked meatballs into the Pollitt’s garden on the off chance that one will land within eating distance of You Twat. For one thing it could be expensive, for another messy. So after wrapping a golf ball in several yards of masking tape until it weighed exactly eight ounces and was about the same size as my proposed sleep-inducing meatball I repaired to the park to put in a spot of practice.

It was around 10.30 when I arrived and I half expected to see Mr Jeffs, Mr Barnaby and Mr Ross practising throwing the walking frame, but there was no sign of them. Perhaps they didn’t get the lottery grant they put in for and had become disheartened?

I painted a sixteen feet diameter circle on the grass and practised for a good two hours, by which time I had become quite proficient, and could land the projectile somewhere within the limits of the circle nine times out of ten. When the time comes I will make two meatballs in case the first I despatch turns out to be the one in ten that misses the target.

Somebody asked me what I was doing of course. Well our park is well used and naturally some of the people who frequent it are of an inquisitive nature. “Tossing the Truss,” I replied, “Paralympic Games 2012.” Fortunately he didn’t ask me for a go, he just said “Whatever will they dream up next?” and went on his way, shaking his head.   


Dad’s Solution

May 23rd 2006

Whilst wondering what, if anything, I could realistically do about the problem with the Pollitt’s dog until such time as the Environmental Health people get off their arses and sort it out I happened to recall how my dad had once dealt with a similar situation, when I was a boy.

At the time my dad, from whom I inherited my sense of fun as well as my nickname, was working the 10 till 6 nights stint of a three shift system, and slept during the day. That is he would have slept during the day if next-door’s dog Jock hadn’t chosen, on occasions, to bark for most of the day. Dad had tried sleeping tablets with only limited success – it would have taken more than sleeping pills to render him immune from Jock’s worst excesses, maybe several blows to the head with a lump hammer – so decided to try them on the dog to see if that avenue would be more successful than when taking them himself.

As I remember it my dad crushed up six of the sleeping pills and mixed them with a couple of ounces of minced beef, rolled it up into a ball and tossed it over the garden fence.  Very soon the barking had stopped, after becoming progressively half-hearted for ten minutes or so and ending with a feeble, plaintive howl.

Jock not only slept all day but all the next day as well. On the second day his owners became so worried about their pooch they took him to the vet who pronounced, so we learned later, that ‘it must have eaten something’. Jock subsequently ate the something it must have eaten several more times, in fact every time it insisted on barking when my dad was on nights. Even when it had finally come round it was dopey all day, and I will never forget the sight of it dragging itself up our road (dogs were let out on their own much more in those days), bloodshot eyed, managing to keep itself from falling over only by leaning on the wooden fence that bordered our row. After every two houses there was a gate in the fence and if it was open or not properly closed Jock duly fell through the opening and had to pick himself up before continuing his journey home. Hilarious.

If You Twat persists with the barking and howling he is definitely going to get the same treatment.


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.”    


“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?”  



“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?”    


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



May 20th 2006

I sat down in the black leather chair and made myself comfortable.

John Humphreys: “And your name?”

Me: “Terry Ravenscroft.”

JH: “And your specialist subject?”

Me: “Two minutes on Kristin Scott Thomas.”

JH: “Your time starts… How long is it since you first fancied two minutes on Kristin Scott Thomas?”

Me: “Ever since I first set eyes on her.”

JH: “Wrong. When you first set eyes on Kristin Scott Thomas you fancied a night with her. It is only now you are nearing your seventies that you have modified your ambitions to a more realistic two minutes. How many times have you seen the film The English Patient?”

Me: “Twenty seven.”

JH: “Wrong. The right answer is ‘Too many times for your own good’. When you saw Kristin Scott Thomas naked in The English Patient what did you say to yourself?”

Me: “What a simply delightful, nubile body that young woman has.”

JH: “Wrong, you said ‘Christ, look at the beaver on that!’  And how often, when viewing that part of the film on video, have you used the freeze frame or slow motion facility?”

Me: “ Er….well, every time.”

JH: “Wrong, the answer is every time but one; the only occasion you didn’t use either the freeze frame or slow motion facility being when your wife The Trouble unexpectedly came  into the room and you quickly changed channels before she saw you were watching it yet again. Given that you were granted two minutes on Kristin Scott Thomas and while you were halfway through your two minutes she asked you to…


…I’ve started so I’ll finish – she asked you to stop, what would be your reply?”

Me: “I’ve started so I’ll finish.”

JH: “Wrong. You would say ‘Thank Christ for that, two minutes of this and I’d have a heart attack’. And at the end of your two minutes on Kristin Scott Thomas Mr Ravenscroft you have failed to score, which would probably be the case if you we were ever given the opportunity of having two minutes on Kristin Scott Thomas.