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Mulch Ado About Nothing: Or, Leaf Me Alone


I love the debates that rage on online neighborhood bulletin boards. These Yahoogroups and Listservs are useful ways of keeping a community informed, but they regularly get entertainingly off track. A thread that starts with the subject line "Dry Cleaner Recommendation?" can end up with participants sniping about George Bush's foreign policy. ("Anyone know a good dry cleaner?" "There's an eco-friendly cleaners near the post office." "Even 'green' dry cleaning uses chemicals!!!!" "Everything is made of chemicals. The real problem is greenhouse emissions." "NO MORE BLOOD FOR OIL!!!")

And don't even get me started on the lost-dog announcements.

Some Montgomery County message groups have been abuzz this week over that bane of autumn: leaves, specifically, where to put them. It'd be nice if they stayed on the trees of course, but since they don't, do you rake them into the street near the curb or do you rake them to the edge of your property? Leave them on your lawn for weeks on end and they may kill the grass. Ah, but put them in the street and you've narrowed the travel lane.

I prefer putting them in the street myself. Who cares if cars have to travel more carefully as they wend their way through the neighborhood? They shouldn't be speeding anyway. Ah, but if the leaves are in the street, where will people park? And didn't a car get burned to a crisp in Bethesda just last week after parking in some leaves, its hot undercarriage setting them ablaze?

Ah, but didn't the county once use Bobcats to remove the leaves, gouging lawns in the process? And what sort of idiot would park on leaves in the first place?

The leaves were collected from our street yesterday so the issue will go away for a year. Can't wait to see what the neighbors have to say about snow.

BritNews RoundUp
Skull for scandal: When he attended performances of "Hamlet" in London Andre Tchaikovsky always hated seeing a fake plastic skull in the play's famed Yorick scene. So when he died, Tchaikovsky left his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company. The troupe was using the prop in its current production, starring "Dr. Who's" David Tennant but has decided to stop. According to the Telegraph, the real skull was too much of a distraction for audiences. Alas.

And people complain about British food: A celebrity chef in England has been criticized for some advice she gave on the radio regarding turkey drumstick preparation. Chef Delia Smith pointed out that the recipe requires a rather large casserole dish and listeners could keep it cool overnight by putting it in their garden shed or the trunk of their car. The Food Standards Agency quickly issued a warning that failure to chill cooked poultry quickly might "permit growth of bacteria which survive cooking." But that's the tastiest part!

The headline says it all: "Wife calls police to restrain 82-year-old on Viagra." Apparently she was concerned that his heart might give out from "over-exertion," says the Telegraph, which notes, "Police said that the man was 'furious' when they arrived insisting that it was a private matter."

Finally, a "John Kelly's Commons" BritNews RoundUp first: Someone we wrote about has written back! Last week's BNRU mentioned a London Santa who had been sacked for inviting a woman to sit on his lap. Andrew Mondia e-mailed to set the record straight:

This is my own account of what happened at the beginning of the week with what went down. Everything was going fine all weekend when I started my Santa Claus job at Selfridges on Oxford St. I treated the guests who came with respect while making sure everyone had fun when coming to visit Santa Claus (me). I would ask whenever possible to some adults if they wanted to sit on my lap. I have had grandmothers, women in their 20's and older, and even some guys sit on my lap. On Monday early afternoon... a middle eastern family with kids came in. I asked the kids and then asked the Older lady if she wanted to sit on my lap. Afterward, discovered at the end of the day that the elderly lady was Muslim and was offended so complained. As a result of that they said cause I asked a Muslim grandmother to sit on my lap I was being sacked. I found this so reverse discrimination on me for doing my job and laughed at being fired for such thing. I did go to media despite not getting proof so a bit of what i said could not be printed for legalities but my story was heard for most part of what happened and this is my own side fully without anything being left out. Also I am 33 not 32.

Thanks, Andrew. And merry Christmas.

Talk to Me
Friday is chat day. Come together in our cyber town square at noon and we'll discuss whatever's on your mind, from stuffed horses to godless atheists to heartless taxi drivers.

By John Kelly  |  December 5, 2008; 8:45 AM ET
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Next: Talkback: 'Commons' Comments of the Week


The excerpt from The Telgraph is a window straight into Britishness (or Englishness), the "over-exertion" and "private matter" being priceless. Indirection, understatement, ironic humor: how characteristic.

Posted by: cktirumalai | December 5, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse


I have donated yearly to Children's Hospital. I receive at least 4-6 solicitations/year. Why so many and what percentage of donations received go to all these mailings?

Thank you,


Posted by: bflam | December 5, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe you didn't get comments on the leaf issue.

One year I piled all of my leaves on the edge of my property, because putting them in the street blocks the flow of water to the storm drain. Then someone parked in front of my house, and the leaf guys just skipped me! I had to bag all those leaves and put them out with the trash. Lesson learned -- now I put them in the street. If I'm feeling generous, I try to leave room for a car (though my neighborhood doesn't depend heavily on street parking anyway).

Posted by: Janine1 | December 9, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

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