THE story about a woman in Peterhead who has been decorating the dog mess she sees on her streets with strawberries and cream in an effort to highlight the shoddy behaviour of naughty pet owners reminds me of a tactic I recently saw employed by my neighbour.
Granted, my neighbour's effort wasn't quite so culinary - thank goodness (the idea of strawberries and cream will now, I fear, forever be associated in my mind with dog mess) - but it was creative. He or she would circle the offending matter with chalk and leave a wee message to shame the offender, such as: "Pick up your dirty animal's foul mess! It's disgusting and so are you."
Strong words for the suburbs, where such issues - big or small - have a way of escalating from minor bugbear into World War Three-style squabbles. A recent study says one in three of us does not get on with our neighbours - and the reasons, on the whole, are pretty petty. Yet, for one in seven people, neighbourly nuisances were enough to make them move.
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Now, I don't think of myself as one likely to be bogged down in the minutiae of everyday life. I have bigger problems - don't I? Yet, there are few things in this life that boil the blood in my body more than coming home to find someone has parked in front of my house. In my space. My spot. Always a silver BMW, too. A Beemer: typical.
I'm not alone: the nicking of car spaces tops the list of infuriating- neighbour habits, along with allowing cats to defecate in gardens (cats? seriously?), messy gardens and overflowing wheelie bins.
But it's when we come to the top of the annoyance list that I guiltily bow my head and slope off to tell the silver BMW owner that, actually, it's no big deal, they can park there if they want. The number-one complaint on the poll? Noisy children.
Apparently, they can be loud. (Does my baby screaming at 3am count as a problem?) And they kick balls into gardens. (Erm, that might have been me, not my kid. Sorry.) And peer nosily over fences. (Does a one-year-old playing peek-a-boo with the neighbour's cat count? CAT! Ha! I bet it's been doing its business in my garden ... )
You see, we are all guilty of one offence or another from time to time. So the next time your neighbour annoys you, shrug your shoulders. Remind yourself of that Christian ethos: love thy neighbour.
Except if it involves dog poo; that should never be tolerated.
Just save the strawberries and cream for yourself.