"I don't think it's wholly unreasonable to expect spacemen to stop dumping their garbage in my back garden." So says Alexander Cravat, who is fed up with astronauts on the International Space Station discarding their rubbish on his property.
"It started six months ago," said Mr Cravat, a self-employed weasel stuffer from Essex. "Each morning I wake up to find piles of trash heaped up against the fence. At first I thought it was the local kids, but then I noticed stuff that you wouldn't expect to find in ordinary household waste. Things like empty oxygen cylinders, burnt-out circuit boards, tatty old star maps and an inordinate number of Twix wrappers. That's when I thought to myself 'Hello - that's bloody spacemen, that is'."
Mr Cravat has now filed a legal claim to recover the cost of cleaning up the mess, including £12.99 for a new brush. He has also asked the local authority to bring a prosecution for fly-tipping, but a spokesman for the council was reluctant to offer much hope of success.
"The problem we have is in uncovering hard evidence that astronauts were responsible," he explained. "Mr Cravat has shown us several items that he claims can only have come from the International Space Station. We have passed these to our technical advisers but their view is that a dry cleaning ticket for a space suit and a battered Haynes Manual for a Soyuz capsule are circumstantial evidence at best."
Nevertheless, the council's environmental health department has sent an investigator to try and catch the culprits in the act - although at the moment he's in hospital with concussion, after being hit by a superheated baked bean can that had reached terminal velocity as it plummeted to the ground from low Earth orbit. Or, at least, that's what Mr Cravat believes; the local police have been unwilling to rule out the possibility that it was hurled from the top deck of a bus.