Saturday, March 19, 2011

What a load of rubbish

Kim and Aggie have let themselves go since they were in Abba ...

I generally think of myself as being fairly tolerant of my fellow creatures and content with the world, although for the life of me I can’t think why I should entertain such a smug image of myself.  In reality I know for example that if I were ever famous enough to be a guest on the TV programme Room 101, I could easily produce so many pet hates, they’d have to open up Room 102 as well.  The programme of course took its name from George Orwell’s “1984”, in which a room of that number contains the worst thing in the world in the mind of whichever social miscreant is being forced to enter it.  Orwell himself named it after a room at the BBC where he had sat through interminable tedious meetings.  That sounds horribly familiar; as a civil servant I feel his pain.
I don’t know if my Room 101 nominations could reduce me to betraying someone I love, as happened to  Orwell’s Winston Smith (forced to face – quite literally – his fear of rats), but they certainly piss me off enough to gnash my teeth and mutter darkly.  I won’t bore you by listing them all (there are far too many and in any case, people who never know when to shut up are also on the list), but right now I’m brooding about just one.  It’s not actually at the very top of my list; I’ll bore you with that one some other time.
I hate litter.  I despise it.  I was fortunate enough to live in Cyprus for a few years, and at the right time of year (April-May after weeks of rain followed by glorious sunshine), it is a green, bright, warm and lovely island, except that is for the sheer quantity of rubbish strewn about everywhere.  And I don’t just mean bits of paper and cigarette ends; I’m talking discarded oil drums, fridges and cars.  Mind you, the Cypriots have all sorts of disposal problems, and not just because of limited landfill space.  The plumbing, and presumably the lack of a decent water treatment system, is such that the majority of toilets are not designed to accept loo roll.  So instead the loos in public places usually have a frankly terrifying ‘poo-bin’, into which the used paper is gingerly deposited and eventually emptied by some poor sod.  Sorry if you’re trying to eat while reading this; suffice to say that Cyprus is a very hot country and, well …. you get the idea.
Please don’t think I’m having a go at Cyprus, because I’m not.  It’s the litter I hate, and let’s face it there’s plenty of that on our own doorstep.  Nowhere seems to escape.  It’s bad enough seeing it on the streets or under a hedgerow, but I once found a discarded car battery just below the summit of Snowden.  I have never been able to fathom how it got up there, and more to the point, why.  How can it possibly be less trouble to carry a car battery up a mountain than take it to a council tip?
Did I do my civic duty and carry that car battery down the mountain for proper disposal?  No, I bloody well didn’t.  I might hate litter - but not quite that much.  I left it there to corrode some more, much as I leave the sweetie wrappers and the crushed fag packets I find in the fields where I walk my dog.  For that reason, I take off my metaphorical hat to Jonathan; he is a work colleague, and to be frank he can be a bit of a twat around the office.  However, Jonathan does routinely go out for weekend country walks armed with an industrial strength bin bag and one of those long sticks-with-a-thing-on-the-end-for-picking-up-litter-with.  I admire him for it but I couldn’t bring myself to do the same.  It’s partly that I'm constitutionally lazy, partly that I know full well the old litter would soon be replaced by yet more, but mostly because that's not my idea of a nice walk.
So I mutter darkly as I pass the offending items and do nothing about it. People like me shouldn’t be allowed.  Come to think of it, they should be on my Room 101 list …

Waiting for Jonathan ...

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