Last Sunday was a beautiful spring day in Moraira, the perfect conditions for a walk in the countryside. The fields are brimming with poppies, daisies and tiny jewel-like bee orchids, growing free for everyone to enjoy. The birds are swooping about madly, butterflies are fluttering and bees are buzzing. It is the most wonderful, optimistic time of year.
As my friends and I walked with our dogs, chatting away as usual, we got onto the subject of picking flowers, and a news story that had appeared in the British press. A couple was telephoned by the police after their two daughters had been spotted picking daffodils, which is, apparently, classified as criminal damage. The two little girls had picked 27 flowers, which were confiscated by police and taken to a care home instead.
Of course, these little girls probably didn’t realise that they were doing anything wrong, but some people can’t resist the temptation to pilfer. As another friend on the walk told us, she was once manager of National Trust property called Croft Castle. Apparently, whenever a senior citizen’s coach trip would turn up to visit the house and garden, every toilet role, bar of soap and tissue would disappear, while French schoolchildren were particularly skilled at pinching bottles of wine from the displays! Once, she told us, she nabbed an elderly lady cutting geraniums from a pot, who, when caught in the act, put her sequiturs back in her handbag.
How can people be ‘persuaded’ not to steal things that are there for everyone’s use and enjoyment? All this reminded me of my visit to the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, a place scattered with petrified tree trunks and fragments of ancient wood. Although removing any specimens of petrified wood from the park has always been illegal, it isn’t always enough to deter people. After all, nobody is going to notice if one little piece goes missing. So, they created the Curse of the Petrified Forest, claiming that bad luck would blight anyone removing so much as a pebble from the site. The result? For decades, the park has received pilfered samples in the mail, returned by people who regretted taking them. There is even a pile of conscience rocks at the south entrance.
Perhaps we need to spread a rumour that daffodils are bad luck and, remember… beware the curse of the haunted loo roll!