I’ve been having a think recently about genies – as you do. And I’ve decided that when I finally get to excitedly rub my magic lamp (stop sniggering at the back of the class) I’m not going to ask for wealth, health or even happiness. No, my first wish will be to create a new category of criminal offences.
These won’t be punishable by execution or exile, but will incur lengthy jail sentences and quite probably a slap around the legs.
What misdemeanours would come under this new penal code? (I won’t warn you again, Jenkins. Stop sniggering or you’ll be doing detention!) What facetious felonies would cause my friends and fellow citizens to end up in the dock, if not splashing about in the harbour?
Well, easily first on the list has to be the heinous act of leaving one last lonely sheet of toilet paper draped ceremoniously over the cardboard roll. For the sake of delicacy I won’t go into all the reasons why a single sheet of toilet paper just isn’t up to the task, but it’s the attitude of the perpetrator that stirs my ire – the getting-off-on-a-technicality, talk-to-my-shyster-lawyer glibness of the message: “Look I haven’t really finished the old roll, so it’s not my responsibility to fit a new one.” This is doubly annoying when the replacement toilet roll isn’t located in the bathroom but in the cupboard under the stairs, one floor below.
Be assured under the new legal regime, I’d immediately close this loophole and do serious damage to any guilty party’s loophole, preferably with the empty manila tube! (Okay, Jenkins – that’s it. Up to the blackboard. Write a hundred times. I must not giggle at Mr Pattison’s double entrendres.)
Next for my wrath – those bewildered souls who risk our lives and limbs by pausing at the top of escalators, particularly in department stores. They stand frozen in time, staring around – surveying the new landscape like Mason and Dixon, memorising every contour of the vista for posterity, blissfully unaware that those behind are now tumbling over each other, creating a writhing, terror-filled ball of churning humanity.
It’s particularly prevalent at the entrance to lingerie departments during the weeks leading up to Christmas where timid husbands pause to gird their loins (perhaps not the most appropriate metaphor to use in the context) before venturing into the sexually charged wonderland. There they’ll purchase crimson, waist-hugging basques and seamed stockings that will without exception be returned on Boxing Day for a white, shapeless bra and panties ensemble that won’t inflame passion but will do sterling service for the next 15 years.
Fetish felons claim in their defence that it is criminally negligent to have underwear departments at the top of escalators, and if that excuse fails they usually blame the criminal negligee itself.
Moving on (as I wish these escalator hoggers would) comes the rather odd cult of people who spend inordinate amounts of time on Facebook boasting that they’ve never seen Game of Thrones. Now, don’t get me wrong, I see nothing amiss at not liking a particular genre of book or type of TV programme. We all have different likes and dislikes. Gratuitous sex, violence and dragon adoration isn’t to everyone’s taste. But to go on Facebook to actively brag about never having seen something; to admit, nay, proclaim your closed mind strikes me as odd. (Which is probably why people often strike me!)
I’ve never seen Gone With The Wind but it doesn’t define me. It isn’t a badge of honour. It doesn’t help me huff and puff my way up on to the moral high ground. If anything, it’s a failing in my make-up – like that lipstick I had to take back to Poundland.
There’s only one excuse that I’d accept – that the offender was confused and thought the drama was set in Weston-Super-Mare not Westeros. Even then I’d still contend that the programme was worth catching. Think of it – Weston with a pier AND a dragon! My cup runneth over…
Okay, I hear you demand. These three categories of anti-social, underworld outrage are bad, but is the worst offence in this new world order? What goes beyond the pale?
That’s easy to answer – those evil orcs who block the entire width of Tesco’s reduced items shelf with their trolley. They want first dibs on the chemically-enhanced, mechanically recovered and reshaped budget sausages, the weird-flavoured Red Leicester with liquorice flakes and the out of favour cartons of semi-skimmed emu milk – and are murderously determined to protect their sell-by-date plunder against all rivals.
I loathe and detest these mendacious supermarket salvage hunters with a hatred that is positively Shakespearean. It’s not the rugby scrum that I mind, nor the sharp elbows poking me in the eye or even the muttered assertions that my parents weren’t married. That’s just the fun-packed rough and tumble of consumer sports.
No, it’s the illegal use of the trolley as a barrier – utilising the metal carrier as a defensive mesh wall to repel the hordes. We are kept back like rioters or extras from Les Miserables caught on the wrong side of the barricade.
This most serious of crimes will naturally carry the heaviest penalty. Those convicted will be wedged securely head first into their trolley and when it is dumped into the canal – where statistics prove 50% of all metal carts end up – the offenders will drown, or at least get a mouthful of very nasty sludge.
I know it won’t totally solve the problem. But as I like to tell people: every little helps…
What new laws would you introduce? And why? Let me know by leaving a comment.