Don't you just love them? The sheer trivia, the desperate scrambling for something - anything - to make a story; the ill-disguised glee over a local tragedy. There's nothing quite like them.
We don't have the local newpaper as a rule, but I was browsing through it at the dentist's this week, and came upon this typical gem:
"CREWS CALLED TO FIRE IN BIN
Police and fire crews were called at 10.40pm on Thursday after smoke was seen coming from a bin in Monkton Park. The caller extinguised it with a bottle of water, but checks were made to ensure it was safe."
Phew. I bet that had you on the edge of your seat.(It poses questions, too. Why did anyone call the fire brigade at all? What "checks" were made? Did someone just take off the lid and have a look, or did they get out those smoke-detecting instruments to make sure there were no little sparks just waiting for them all to go away?)
You have to live in a place for the local paper to make any kind of sense. When you get to the stage where you read about people/places you know, it means you've arrived. And when you actually read an article that includes yourself, well, then you really are part of the scenery.
Dog poo is an old favourite in local rags. When all else fails - when no-one's been murdered, gone missing, met the queen, grown the biggest artichoke - dog poo is a reliable standby. Letters about dog poo, complaints, fines, new legislation, dog wardens - it's all there. Good old dog poo. Where would the local papers be without it?
We get lots of dog poo in our lane. (I fantasise about putting the guilty dog-owners in the stocks, and pelting them with the stuff.) I haven't written to the paper about it. Yet. But one day, when I really do have nothing better to do, I just might.