Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A crappy tail or une queue de merde

Is there any city, town, village or hamlet in the UK that is not subject to the scourge of dog poo? It's certainly a continual problem around these parts and every now and again I'm asked to mention it in the newsletter I edit. Another issue and another request cometh. As usual I went looking for an illustration for the piece and pulled up the fairly standard street signs, of which there are many variants. Boring, boring, boring!
But, amongst all this canine dross, was an unexpected gem in the form of a series of posters commissioned from the artist Ronald Searle by the City of Paris to help keep their pavements clean. Apparently they wanted dogs to use the gutters as depositories for their excrement. Searle lived in Paris for the best part of the sixties (why and who with is another story!) and produced the following, which put our rather pedestrian signs firmly in the shadows. I don't know whether Searle's designs were any more effective than our red circles but I pity the poor Parisian Pooping Pooches if the City Elders had to resort to a remedy much favoured by their forebears - Madame La Guillotine. The next time I go to Paris, I'll be looking out for headless dogs or, more correctly, les chiens sans tête or, even more precisely, les chiens décapités.
Translations of the text of the posters are from neighbour LB, to whom 'merci beaucoup'. And the line at the bottom of all three reads: "The ecology is not only for the countryside."
If it will not think of the gutter,
think about picking it up
Rather than pay 600F, pick up.
Or teach it about using the gutter
You will surely find a way
to teach it to use the gutter
The next one is not in Searle's Parisian series but I like it! Can anyone else see where Gerald Scarfe might have got inspiration for his style from? 
Particularly revolting dog glowing
under the impression that it is man's best friend.
Coming across Searle reminded me of a book of his I once owned and regret losing as it is sadly now out-of-print. It was called 'The Dog's Ear Book' and came "with four lugubrious verses" written by Geoffrey Willan (the creator of Nigel Molesworth, the "goriller of 3b and curse of St. Custard's"). I remember it as being very, very funny and, it goes without saying, Searle's drawing were amazing. I want a copy!
And if you had any doubts on how to pronounce 'lugubrious', here's a YouTube clip that will help. 

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