Rant & Rave (03/02/13)


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The Independent Online


Bless Ben Fogle, who has called for a "pick up a poo day" to help clear Britain's parks of dog mess. His idea is for dog owners and locals to have a fun day out for all the family – with pooper scoopers. The dog owners part of the plan seems very sensible. The locals part, not so much. Just as non-smokers should never be reduced to clearing up fag ends, dogless folk should not stoop to picking up poo. That, you see, is why we don't have dogs. Unfortunately, it seems that fines do little to deter dog fouling: Islington council spent £134,000 on a 12-week "dog squad", which caught 26 dogs and raised only £2,080. If dog-free people must be roped-in to clear up after other people's animals, they should be allowed to follow the naughty owners home and to shove the evidence through their letterboxes.


Three cheers, skål and kippis to Robert T Bywater, a retired scientist who is trying to solve a particularly English problem. Mr Bywater has spotted a gap in the English language for a gender-neutral pronoun, and is determined to make it catch on. In Sweden, where he sometimes lives, they use "hen" as an alternative to "han" and "hon" (he and she), and Finnish uses "han" for all three, but English just has the clunky "he or she", or the grammatically incorrect "they". He suggests "hem" instead of "him or her", and "heirs" for "his or hers". Any intelligent reader shouldn't find hemself too taxed by the change, and heirs life will soon become the richer for using the terms. And if English speakers can negotiate the change, then perhaps the person who writes government forms could see heirs way clear to getting rid of the pointless terms Mrs and Miss.