Bring Back The Stocks! 

So the wine was flowing and, inevitably by that time in the evening, we were putting the world to rights. We've learned to stay away from political debate – more or less, anyway – and instead we settle on things we can all agree on. Usually this will get around to what to do with the kind of people who wind us up. Not the everyday people we dislike, you understand? No, we're talking about the people on the bus with their feet/bag on the last remaining seat. Or the school kid who walks to the front of the long queue because he goes to one of those schools where they teach Swagger as well as Sociology. The people who might fall short of breaking the law but are certainly being antisocial and selfish. But, as it turned out, some of our suggestions were frighteningly vengeful. Some I dare not mention and I'll not 'out' the individual who suggested fastening cheese wire across the street to ensnare pavement cyclists. "They wouldn't do it again!" insisted the individual. No, indeed, and they wouldn't be able to do much else either, the rest of us thought.

I'm grateful to report that most of the other suggestions were somewhat less bloody. And  I'm proud to say it was my own suggestion that caught everyone's imaginations. You see I've long thought it would be a good idea to reintroduce the stocks. It worked very well for hundreds of years. Particularly for crimes that didn't really justify official detention. Couldn't it work again? Well we debated long and hard, and we weren't too sure, but as yet more wine flowed, we began to develop ways in which the stocks could be made to work in modern Britain. There are plenty of plus points, of course. It would be almost harmless, with no lasting damage. It would be inexpensive. Indeed it would make good use of all that wasted food.  And, rather than costing money, people might even be prepared to pay to participate. Imagine the crowds if all those naughty bankers were lined up in the stocks so the public to hurl rotten tomatoes at them. People would surely pay 50p a time to do that? 

As the discussion progressed we realised you could really tailor the punishment to suit the offence. You could punish yuppie types with yesterday's polenta and sundried tomatoes.  Or splatter annoying hoodies with cold Pot Noodles. 

What yob wouldn't think twice about hanging around the local precinct if they faced the prospect of being peppered with last week's Chinese takeaway? How many lager louts would drink themselves senseless if it resulted in them being daubed in an old chicken jalfrezi? 

And it would all be so satisfying. Imagine the thrill of peppering foolish drivers who insist on double parking with tinned sardines (okay, I might suggest they are taken from the tin first), or hurling a tub of cold chips at the person who deposited their own leftovers in your hedge last night! After all, they say revenge is a dish best served cold, now don't they?

Those neighbours across the way, you know the ones, who have the noisy barbecue parties that go on into the wee hours, could be put on the receiving end of a load of old spare ribs and coleslaw. While the vandals that graffitied the war memorial could have rancid beetroot thrown in their faces, to leave a nice purple stain. 

Because, think about it, there'd be no disguising what they'd done and wouldn't it be a better deterrent? Instead of Asbos, which seem to have become badges of honour rather than marks of shame, a session in the stocks would hardly be glamorous and you can't really imagine anyone boasting about it on the bus!

Of course, we all knew this could never come to pass. The powers that be, or at least the human rights folk, would put paid to that. But imagine, for a moment, if it could. Imagine the satisfaction! But we're just putting that idea out there. Just in case anyone should wish to include it in a future election manifesto. And so that, should David Cameron, Nick Clegg or Ed Miliband ever run short of policies, they know just where to come.