I perform a daily external patrol around my place of work pretty much as soon as I arrive on site each morning, armed not with a telescopic baton, pepper spray or a taser but with a bin bag and the keys to the bin store.
You see, I’m not on the lookout for armed blaggers or tooled up psychopaths but for litter louts and damned defacers. Or rather, I’m on the lookout for their multifarious droppings.
This is just one of the many uplifting and status elevating jobs that I perform regularly for my employers.
On a good morning my rounds will net nothing more than a couple of empty cans of Special Brew and an empty cigarette packet (usually Marlboro). Though on occasion these items are augmented inextricably by the presence of a pair of ladies shoes, the cellophane wrapping from an Asda T-shirt (which will be missing – presumably on the purchaser’s / shoplifter’s back) and an odd collection of serviettes still folded up into neat little squares.
Plainly the drunks and tramps around the Leamington Spa area have standards. Not necessarily high standards but standards none the less.
On a bad morning I will encounter what is known in the trade as “a man turd”.
Now, this is not to be confused with a dog turd.
A dog turd is bad enough. I don’t need to describe one to you because you’ve all seen one / walked through one. They’re disgusting and unwelcome in the extreme but have one small positive; one saving grace. The odour of a dog turd (unless stepped into and thus reactivated) is relatively short-lived. A quick slide action with a shovel and they can quite successfully be scraped up off the ground and catapulted into nearby undergrowth without too much post-contact shovel cleaning required. If you’re really lucky the turd will already have turned quite crusty and will barely have left a mark on your spade of choice. Job done (no pun intended, etc).
None of this is ever true of a man turd.
Now, you can tell a man turd by the size and smell.
They smell bad.
And they smell bad forever.
So bad in fact that even a passing hyena would gag.
And they take a hell of a long time to go crusty. In fact they retain a Christmas cake moistness of such magnitude that they may one day be identified as reliable sources of H2O in a post atomic holocaust world.
If you’re lucky the “bricklayer” will possess a healthy digestive system and will deposit a single neat sausage that can be scraped up quite cleanly and lobbed somewhere out of sight and out of mind. If you’re unlucky, however, the owner will have the digestive system of a cat on high strength worming tablets and will leave matter that can be variously described as “a broken muffin”, “a Spanish omelette” or, worst of all, “a walnut whip”.
And such matter will defy any and every attempt at efficient shovelling. In fact using a shovel is just a big no-no. You’ll just get the offending matter spread over a wider surface area and the shovel itself will be transformed into a chemical weapon so effective it would make a muck-spreader vomit.
What is needed is an industrial strength hose and a bio-suit.
I was faced with one of these this morning.
Now, I’ve become something of a stoic when confronted with these still-warm examples of ethno-botany but a couple of niggling questions always buzz around the back of my head (like the flies) every time I encounter one.
The mechanics of producing such an offering... I mean, how exactly does someone go about it?
The pulling down (or up) of clothing and the squatting down I can just about envision (though try not to)... but... cleaning yourself up afterwards...? What happens there, eh?
Do these people come pre-prepared with toilet paper or freshly bought copies of The Big Issue? If they do this suggests something premeditated about their whole activity and therefore a sickness of the mind.
Or are such droppings evidence of people genuinely caught short... a case of the poo-train is coming and the brakes they ain’t a-working?
What happens then? Surely you don’t just pull up your kecks and walk daintily home, ignoring the uncomfortable localized heat and the feeling of greasy skid marks working themselves deeper into the gusset of your Y-fronts?
You must surely make some attempt to clean yourself up, to scrape off the worst?
But with what or on what?
Nearby foliage? The wall of a building? The pavement itself?
A sleeping tramp?
My mind boggles.
Answers on a piece of toilet paper to the usual address please...