Message in a bottle: Don't litter
Monday, February 6, 2006; Posted: 7:14 a.m. EST (12:14 GMT)
NAPEAGUE, New York (AP) -- A boat captain who sent a message out to sea in a bottle says he received a reply from Britain -- accusing him of littering.
"I kind of felt like no good deed goes unpunished," Harvey Bennett, 55, told the East Hampton Star.
The plastic bottle was one of five that Bennett placed in the ocean off New York's Long Island in August.
Last month, he excitedly opened a letter from England, and was stunned by the reply:
"I recently found your bottle while taking a scenic walk on the beach by Poole Harbour. While you may consider this some profound experiment on the path and speed of oceanic currents, I have another name for it, litter.
"You Americans don't seem to be happy unless you are mucking about somewhere," says the letter, signed by Henry Biggelsworth of Bournemouth, in the southern county of Dorset.
Time for a programmed snicker at Mr. Biggelsworth (wasn't he a hairless cat in the first Austin Powers movie?). Ungrateful foreigner, treehugger with no sense of humor or proportion, blah blah blah.
But let's give him his due. "You Americans don't seem to be happy unless you are mucking about somewhere." Ain't it the truth. But at least the beach at Poole Harbour was subjected only to a plastic bottle, rather than the Empire's more-customary tons of precision-guided high explosives and depleted uranium. England is fortunate to be both imperially cooperative and nuclear-armed. Places that don't meet either of these criteria are apt to find themselves being "littered" rather more violently.