Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A dog’s life

Had a bit of a down day today, readers. I started out full of pith and vinegar, as my old Gran used to say. I realised that I was getting behind on my journalism and so I decided it was time to write that Dog Theft story. I had wanted to do a bit more research but, what with Blockbusters, my religious quest and normal life stuff like cooking, cleaning, eating, PES and Gill, I realised I just didn’t have the time.

Besides, I figured I had the meat of the story. I had Mrs Bradley and Raffles as the victims, I had the faceless bureaucracy of the Metropolitan police force representing a cold and uncaring society and I had my role as neighbour, which would have to double up with my role as writer. Granted, it wasn’t yet epidemic but even an epidemic has to begin with one crime. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, runs the ancient Chinese proverb, and a spate of dog thefts is no different, as I’m sure Confucius would tell us, were the great man still dispensing wisdom today.

I dialed 999 and demanded that I be through to the police. I spoke to them about Raffles, and I didn’t hold back. I told them I was a freelance journalist and that an anonymous tipster had informed me of their lack of interest in this serious case of theft. I told them it was supposed to be their duty to protect and serve, but the officer told me that was the motto of the American police. One point for him in the pedantry stakes, I suppose. But the moral victory was mine. He took down Mrs Bradley’s details and promised to look into it.

I toyed with the idea of nipping round to see Mrs Bradley for a few extra quotes but I was scheduled for an afternoon shift at Blockbusters and I really believe there’s no time like the present. Carpe Diem – that’s my motto! So I sat down at the iBook and crafted the following:

No Leads in Dog Thefts

Police have been unable to throw any light on the recent spate of pedigree dog thefts in the South West London area. Victims of these cruel canine kidnappings have been left with the sense that their suffering is not important enough to warrant the Met’s attention.
One victim, whose prize Bernese Mountain Dog, Raffles, was stolen from her front garden, described the police response as ‘apathetic’. When the Metro spoke to the Met, this claim was rejected, although the officer who took the call was able to offer no information on the case. It didn’t even seem to be on record.
One possible reason for this could be that the police don’t want to see their crime figures inflated. A stolen dog represents a crime; a missing dog does not.
As anyone who has ever marveled at the pristine specimens on Crufts will know, pedigree dogs are very expensive. Puppies can cost up to £300 and the money spent on their upkeep runs into the thousands, when you take vet bills and food into the equation. While pet owners can take out special insurance, this can never repay the sentimental value of the bond one strikes with Man’s Best Friend if something bad happens to them.
Relationships between the police and the public are often strained, with victim’s rights groups increasingly vocal. If the Met doesn’t get its nose to the trail in this case, it could end up in the doghouse.


I was really pleased with this story readers, as it had a pun in the title, doggy allusions in the conclusion and some nice alliteration in the opening paragraph. The whole piece was punchy and read exactly like something you’d see in the Metro, so I sent it to them along with an invoice for £247. I think £1 per word is more than fair.

Realising I was running late for work, I grabbed my stuff and headed out the door to be met with a big shock. What did I see, readers? A police car parked outside Mrs Bradley’s house! Not only that, there were two policemen talking to Mrs Bradley!! And not only that, either: One of the policemen was petting Raffles!!! Mrs Bradley’s missing dog!!!! Because I didn’t want to interfere I hid round the corner and watched until the police had left and then ran up to Mrs Bradley. I enquired about Raffles and she told me he hadn’t been stolen after all, he’d just wondered off. He’d come back the same day at teatime, I just hadn’t noticed.

I asked her about the police and their apathy and she said she didn’t even remember saying that to my Mum!

I had a Yoko Ono moment, have you heard of those? As in I went Oh No!! It’s got nothing to do with splitting up the Beatles. I couldn’t believe I’d just emailed the Metro with the story and none of it was true! I’d only just begun may career and I was in danger of having something published that wasn’t factually accurate. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was now really late, I would have been in a right state. The only solace I could find was that it was Richard’s day off and at least he wouldn’t catch me being un retard, as the French say.

Or so I thought. The paranoid little Hitler turned up just to make sure we were all there and, of course, I wasn’t. He gave me a dressing down in front of the others, and I’m pretty sure Amber and Leigh were laughing at me. I felt like pointing out to him that Nottingham Trent University was originally supposed to be named the City University of Nottingham upon Trent, and that suited him just perfectly, but I kept my cool because I need the money.

After he was gone I tried to make chit chat with the others. But Leigh had a stream of friends who came in, all giving him those fancy handshakes, although none of them rented any DVDs, or even bought some sweets. And when I asked Amber if she had any performances scheduled, because I’d be interested to come and see one, she said it would be too weird, what with us working together.

What the hell’s with these people, readers?

Not a good day chez Newsdesk. :-(((

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