“Right, we’re down now to ‘Any other business’.”

I’m glaring around the screen. We’ve already been here an hour and a half. It took us an hour to get past item one (the wording of the litter clean-up poster). There better be NO other business for this meeting. I’ve business of my own to do in the loo. I should have gone before, but I had to get the laptop warmed for the meeting. It needs plenty of notice. “Like yourself,” says Denis.

Suddenly, I hear a voice.


Who is that? I can’t find who it is around the screen. The sooner we’re off this video call the better. But the Tidy Towns meetings will be the last to be “in-person”.

I understand why. If I’m going to be getting the virus, I want it to be from being three sheets to the wind at a Rod Stewart show. Not taking minutes at the Tidy Towns AGM.

“The black bags with the poo in them, Ann.” It’s Nuala Costigan.

Her camera is pointed at her teapot. She’s right, though. Someone has been hanging full dog poo bags off a tree in the town park.

“We need a sting operation,” says Gordon. He’s the chair of the Tidy Towns and he’s great for suggestions that go nowhere.

They’re all mad for “sting operations” these days.

“How would that work, Gordon?” I ask in the voice I use for suggestions I don’t think are going to work at all.

“We could get one of those cameras. The Rings. Hide in the tree,” says Nuala. “They work off a battery. We have one and the AMOUNT of people that call to the door during the day. I have them all on tape. I’ll show you the video next time I see you, Ann.”

I swear to myself I’ll be self-isolating to avoid that.

“Are you allowed do that?” asks Noirin Healy. “With the whole GDPR? Don’t you have to get permission?”

“Ah GDPR my foot. Don’t mind that aul thing,” Nuala says. “Sure I was talking to the sergeant and he said it’s only a cod. And he should know; he a garda.”

I don’t know should he know. The sergeant isn’t exactly Ted Hastings out of Line of Duty. Years ago, when they were doing up the station, they found about 800 cans of Fosters from confiscations. He’d forgotten even to drink them. They say he has an evidence room below in the barracks that’s like the middle aisle of Aldi.

“My son could rig up that camera in a flash,” says Nuala. “You know he’s in IT.”

We all know, Nuala. Her eldest was seemingly a bigwig in Silicon Valley, but he came back home during the pandemic for a bit of “rebalancing”. But I don’t know what he’d think about rigging up a spy network in Kilsudgeon Town Park. And it’d have to be for free, as well, too. Because we haven’t a bean.

There’s a sort of silence then and I’m hoping that’s that.

“Great idea, Nuala,” says Gordon. They all start chiming in. Now they’re talking about getting a few cameras while they’re at it. I don’t know where they’re getting the internet for it. There is talk of ladders being found to put things in the trees. “We’ll need a modem,” says Nuala. Although her screen is still pointed at a teapot.

So now, Kilsudgeon Tidy Towns is going to be like Mossad bugging a park for someone hanging bags of dog shite off a tree.

We’ve all spent too much time in front of computer for the last year.

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