Just over a week ago I had the misfortune of being called out in the early hours of Sunday morning to attend a fire alarm activation at my place of work. I didn’t get away again until 7 am.
Seeing the windy streets of Leamington Spa at this time in the morning as I wended my way home was something of a revelation.
Or rather like something out of Revelations.
I don’t think I have ever seen so much rubbish and stomach lining spread over so much surface area of one town before.
It looked like someone had disemboweled a rubbish cart at 15,000ft and let the contents fall to earth in a 10 mile radius.
It was horrendous. Chip paper. Newspaper. Polystyrene burger cartons. Styrofoam cups. Half chewed chips and chicken nuggets. Shredded lettuce. The ubiquitous McDonalds paper bag. The entire gherkin crop of Bulgaria. All of it knee-deep.
I swear I saw pigeons re-enacting the trash compactor scene from Star Wars.
Worst of all though was the vomit.
We are talking vast, half congealed porridgy oceans of the stuff.
And it was multicoloured.
My worst encounter was under the seat of the bus shelter right outside the Parish Church. It was pink with red bits in it, flecked with the odd strangulated shard of green. Someone had either thrown up a chicken tikka or had crawled home minus their entire stomach and the taste of their lower intestines dissolving on their tongue like a rubbery alka seltzer.
If this is the morning after the night before I’m glad I no longer frequent pubs or go out drinking as a social pastime.
What disgusting selfish creatures we are.
All this waste. All this mess. And it probably happens every Thursday / Friday / Saturday night of every week of every year in most towns across the Western world.
Here are major contributions towards global warming for you. Here are carbon footprints that smell as bad as they look.
As I picked my way home through the detritus the litter pickers and street cleaners were already hard at work picking, sifting, lifting and hoovering up the evidence of a single night’s pleasure seeking.
I felt sorry for them. Sorry that such thankless work is plainly necessary.
Oh I know it gives them a job. A friend of mine once threw litter quite deliberately onto the street and justified it by saying "it gave someone a job and allowed them to earn a living”.
Well, as I said at the time, such a stupid argument could also be used to justify rape, child abuse and murder but I’m sure the police and the support workers and the attendant counsellors would all rather be doing something else if they could ever express a choice about it.
Forget dubious employment opportunities, what this billowing carnage said to me was the majority of our species just don’t have any true thought or respect for their own environment or the people they share it with. That maybe too many of us justify appalling behaviour and antisocial activity under the guise of “just having a laugh” and “just having a drink after a hard week at work”.
That maybe going out and getting yourself absolutely twatted on a Saturday night is not so much an innocent way to let off steam and de-stress but a way of proclaiming to the world that you really just don’t give a toss about anyone or anything that exists outside your own little sphere of beer-goggled selfishness.
What a load of utter garbage.
Our street cleaners are unsung heroes.
We’d all be dead or dying of cholera, typhoid and bubonic plague by now if not for their sterling efforts.
Gentleman and ladies of the broom, I salute you.