Gerry Farrell: Lady Muck’s luck runs out

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Yesterday Zsuzsa and I went for a long litter-pick around Leith Academy. As we drove home and turned off Easter Road into Duke Street, Zsuzsa turned and shouted “That woman just let her dog take a dump in the street then walked

off without picking it up.” We were stuck in traffic. She walked past our car and Zsuzsa managed to squeeze off a single photograph of her, taken from behind.

She was wearing a smart, navy, quilted coat that came down to around mid-thigh, tight black trousers and shiny black ankle boots. She looked around 50 and had short, wavy hennaed hair. She was wearing a lot of make-up that made her face a little bit orangey. Oh, and she had her nose stuck in the air as if she was the embodiment of middle-class Morningside perfection. She was walking a lovely, light-golden Labrador on a fluorescent yellow extending leash. We posted her photograph on our Leithers Don’t Litter page and asked if anybody recognised her. Several people did. Apparently, she’s a serial offender.

One of our Facebook fans said: “I’ve seen her many times making a deposit in the walkway outside Tesco on the car park side. When I spoke with her, I asked her why she didn’t pick up her dog’s mess. She said: ‘Oh, I never saw him do it. I handed her a plastic bag (I always have them). She declined to pick it up. It’s an old-school stance. People of a certain age think that’s what the street is for. She needs to be fined to get it through her skull that this is not what the street is for.”

Now, I’m not convinced about naming and shaming so even if somebody does know her name, I wouldn’t be happy to see it in the paper. But I would like more people to challenge this woman, take her photograph, ask her to pick up her dog mess and if she refuses, report her to the council.

I’ve always imagined that hardcore dog-foulers get up at the crack of dawn or do their dirty deeds after midnight. But the Duchess Of Duke Street, Lady Labrador, who’s too posh to pick up her poo, has the effrontery to repeatedly foul Leith’s pavements in broad daylight and then refuses to do the right thing when a stranger plucks up the courage to confront her.

Here and now, Leithers Don’t Litter is founding a splinter group. We’re going to call ourselves The Poo Fighters.

Nobody has the right to dump dog waste on our pavements. Or the right to pick it up in a plastic bag then sling the bag up into a tree or dump it in the street. But we have the right, all of us, to expect our council to take the issue of dog-fouling seriously. Right now, they don’t. Do you know how many people in Leith have been prosecuted for dog-fouling in the past year? One. Do you know how much dog poo is left on our streets? About one ton is my guess.

It’s not good enough. In an area as dog-dirty as Leith, the council is doing as little as possible. Let’s be clear; this isn’t optional. Dog waste is a dangerous health hazard and it needs dealt with. We want special bins with pictures of dogs on them to encourage people to dispose of their mess. We want dog toilets with sandpits and wooden enclosures in all our green spaces and especially in children’s play parks. Most of all, we want prosecutions. That means more environmental wardens spending more man-hours down here in Leith, catching repeat dog-foulers red-handed.

The Poo Fighters have just begun.

Double trouble for Aunt Nancy

My lovely Dad, John, passed away on Saturday. He was an identical twin with my Uncle Ger. I was asking his sister, my Aunt Nancy, what her earliest memories were of them. She said “Well I was the wee sister and I was very confused. I used to go up to them and say “Are you John, Ger? Are you Ger, John?”

Brut, Noddy Holder and egg and chips

I was having a little think about when I first started noticing labels. It was when I was 14 years old. I wore Converse Chuck Taylor black and white hi-top basketball boots, a gingham check Ben Sherman shirt with a button-down collar and Levi’s jeans or two-tone Levi’s Sta-Prest. If it was cold I added a Fair Isle jumper.

I used to meet my girlfriend, Sheena Wilson, outside Bruce’s Record shop on the corner of Hanover Street and Rose Street. Often, I’d go there early to browse or buy something. By the time she arrived I’d be holding a red carrier bag with “I Found It At Bruce’s” printed on it in black. Inside would be a Led Zepelin album. We’d go to The Golden Egg for a cup of coffee. When you asked for a coffee back then that was exactly what you got – a coffee. If we felt like splashing out we ordered egg and chips.

I smelt of either Brut or Hai-Karate aftershave. I would have had my Noddy Holder-style curls, right, cut at Bob’s in Tollcross where you could sit and read grubby magazines like Knave or Mayfair until the barber called your name. That was where I first noticed Durex condoms advertised with the slogan “Something For The Weekend?” I would get my hair cut and blow-dried. Back in the house, I would hold it in place with Cossack Hairspray.

On Saturday nights at Clouds disco, the place would be heaving with skinheads and suedeheads wearing Crombie coats with a red silk hankie in a triangle in the top pocket. If I was lucky, my girlfriend would smell of either Charlie or Badedas Bath Salts. Badedas had a risqué advertising campaign with the slogan “Things happen after a Badedas Bath.” If we went drinking in the Meadows or Bruntsfield Links we would pass round cans of Carlsberg Special, which was eight per cent proof, or a sickly-sweet whisky-based drink called Scotchmac which was 16 per cent proof.

Only our parents had cameras and they only took photos on special occasions like birthdays or on holiday in windswept, rainy places like Oban or Glenfinnan. We ate our holiday lunches in the car. Shipphams meat paste sandwiches made with slices of Mother’s Pride or Milanda. Once we had coffee made with coffee-bags. That was like the Second Coming. Tea-bags but with coffee in them instead.

I don’t remember much of the advertising back then. The first poster I ever noticed was for a felt warehouse just off the A8 to Glasgow. It said “Get Felt Here”, which is a pretty funny line. The first TV ad that struck me was for the Playtex 24-Hour Girdle “With Fingertip Panels To Hold You In Like Firm Young Muscles”. I smoked Consulate menthol cigarettes because the ads said they were “Cool As A Mountain Stream” – but also because I thought my Dad wouldn’t notice the smell of smoke because of the mint flavour. I know this ages me like crazy but looking back, I loved the Seventies.