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Dogs, the By-Products Thereof, and How They Saved My Life

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I am not a violent man. I am tolerant of a great many things which would drive others to despair. In fact, I have been known to turn the other cheek on the sort of behaviour that would turn Gandhi into an axe-wielding homicidal maniac, or make Jesus run amok with his best carpenters' cordless drill.

However, for one group of people, a good old-fashioned "I got so cross I nearly said something" just won't do. Nor will a frustrated roll of the eyes, or - God forbid - a faux-polite passive aggressive note stapled to their forehead in the traditional manner.

No, for these people, it's the Full Monty: Round them up and fire them bodily out of a cannon straight through a sieve, turn them to soup, feed the soup to baboons, and fire the baboons in a rocket into the cold depths of space. And even then, I don't think the punishment is severe enough, but I'm worried baboon lovers might send me a sarcastic note if I take things any further.

You see, it's like this (dissolve to idyllic rural scene, with butterflies, bunnies and cute-looking owls)...

Behind my house is a wood.

In that wood is a large, beautiful tree.

A large, beautiful tree which stands out from all the others, as winter becomes spring and our countryside comes to life.

In that tree are a multitude of decorations, swaying in the breeze in any number of jaunty colours, like Buddhist prayer flags on the slopes of a Himalayan peak, like a comely all-year-round Christmas tree. From a distance, it is a thing of extraordinary beauty.

When you get up close, you realise that these comely, jaunty decorations are - in fact - bags of dog poo, slowly festering in the bright morning sun.

Which beggars the question: What kind of person clears up the mess left after their dog, only to throw it up a tree? Judging by the sheer variety and number of bags, the answer is this: Most people.

Talk about leaving the job half done - you've picked up after your dog, only to leave it in the worst place imaginable. It's like - and let's pluck an example from history entirely at random - invading Iraq without having a plan what to do next.

This comes from a world were we are so used to convenience that when we are faced with doing something unpleasant for ourselves, we bung it up the metaphorical tree. For example, and while we're on the subject: We pay companies to take the water from our toilets, clean it, and return it to our taps as drinking water. Can you imagine what would happen if we had to do that for ourselves, even for a single day? I'd imagine a lot of bags up a lot of trees, and everybody dying of dysentery.

A society accustomed to convenience and having the nasty things done for us leads to laziness, and is why you should never look at what's stuck under the table in any fast food outlet. Just trust me. Don't.

The correct thing to do would be to pocket your dog's hot bag, take it home and put it in the rubbish, like a good socially-aware citizen. It is because I clear up after the hound that I was once saved from a right old beating, because in this world danger lurks behind every corner.

Not terribly long ago, I was mugged by a couple of young men (and if you'd excuse a term which some members of the outragederati are convinced is racist) of the chavular persuasion, and I count my escape as the greatest achievement in my life.

After threatening to "cut me with my flicky, innit" - an object which was clearly a broken twig - I convinced the gruesome twosome that the 'Elizabeth Duke from Argos' bag was a Christmas present, and let them run back to their lair with the loot. It was only when they got there, and I was safely at home enjoying the smuggest cup of tea of my life, that they found that their ill-gotten gains amounted to one freshly-laid dog egg, courtesy of a small canine by the name of Lucy Minogue.

Good dog.

Clear up after yourself, it could save your life.