Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Rue de la Merde?

 Rita Spode writes (Mar 2008)

Dear Sir,

A group of Bohemia residents is calling on the expertise of our Twin Towns in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany for advice on a street renaming exercise, to more accurately match the nomenclature to the cleanliness of the pavements in their roads.

  • To British ears, German can sound quite strident and harsh, so Scheissse Strasse has an appropriately angry feel to it and is a good candidate to replace, say, Tower Road.
  • French on the other hand, sounds romantic and chic, so with an eye to their property values, Rue de la Merde might be a popular choice for the residents of Woodland Vale, Cloudesley or St Peters Road.
  • Dutch sounds quite guttural, with vowels and diphthongs strange to English ears, but the onomatopoeic Poepweg captures perfectly the gloopiness of actually standing on dog mess. So this would be ideal for the stretch of London Road, from the glen to the needlepoint traffic lights. Poepweg has the added advantage of being usable as a slogan with Weg in the imperative as in ‘Away with…’ or ‘Get Rid of…’
  • Flemish tends to be a bit more mellifluous and modulated, but there is an undertone of dry irony and resignation in Strontsingel that might be appropriate to Chapel Park Road.

Unfortunately, Hastings & St. Leonard’s only has four European Twin Towns. So what do you think? Should we sign up for more Twin Towns for the proposed renaming exercise? Or try and get something done about it? Dog mess on pavements and streets is the number one irritation not just here, but all over Europe, with the situation in Holland and Paris, for example, being worse than it is here. Maybe that’s why the street cleaning contract is awarded to a French company like Veolia, because they are so used to doing a bad job in tackling dog mess.

Who has not been awakened early on a Saturday morning by their little sweeper vans, beetling up and down the roads but ignoring the dog mess on the pavement? But maybe the problem has to be tackled from the other end – with the dog owners. Surely it is time to reintroduce a dog licence – local if necessary. At the time it cost more to collect and administer than it produced in revenue. If a dog licence was reintroduced at say £50, the money could be used to fund a separate and specialized dog mess cleaning and action service.

There are of course many responsible dog owners –  but it only takes a few rogue owners to mess up a whole area. Perhaps the licence could be linked to incentives for responsible dog owners? In any case the current system where the unemployed and the unemployable actually get an allowance for their dog(s) – with the same dogs being passed around a group of claimants – needs to be binned.

Rita Spode (Mrs), Bohemia resident.

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