Monday, April 11, 2011

Salt And Vinegar

When you’re watching a Western and you see all those dust balls rolling across the main street just before the main gunfight kicks off, have you ever wondered where they all end up?

No? Well, they end up in my street.

Along with yellow foam-styrene chip cartons, McDonald’s milkshake containers and old copies of The Sport (which could very well become museum items over the coming years).

I tell you this so that you don’t think my street is so clean it looks like something out of Trumpton. (How come Mrs Honeywell’s yapping dogs never foul the pavement, eh? Where are her pooper-scoop and her little plastic shit bag?)

My street is just a messy street. The town planners, when laying out the residential housing grid in the 1950’s, inadvertently created a trash vortex that pulls in rubbish from miles away and dumps it in the gap between my hedge and next door’s garden wall.

Or at least this is what I thought. This is has been my long held belief for years.

But I was finally disabused of this belief last Friday.

Leaving my house I chanced to look across the road where I witnessed a man in his thirties finishing a packet of crisps. Now, given there are public bins not 100 yards away, you’d expect him to screw up the packet and dispose of it responsibly. Well, you would if you were an idealistic fool who think that people actually care about their immediate environment. If, like me, you have a cynical bent you wouldn’t be too surprised to see him screw up the packet and lob it onto the pavement. ‘Cos that’s just how the majority of people behave these days. Like scum.

But no. It seems there was a third option.

This surprisingly well dressed lout carefully flattened out his crisp packet and took considerable pains to slide it between the slats of a neighbour’s fence.

I couldn’t believe it.

I mean, it’s bad enough to throw your litter to the four winds – people do it unthinkingly all the time. But what kind of inconsiderate, thoughtless, selfish prick expends time and energy shoving his rubbish into and onto the property of someone he doesn’t know?

I know, I know. Bigger things are happening elsewhere. This is a small issue.

But I can’t help but think it is somehow representational. There seem to be more and more people around these days who go out of their way to cause problems for others. Not just causing problems accidentally for other people, but deliberately doing it. Planning it. Devising ways to do it. Doing it even when doing it is not even the easiest option.

And what did I do? Nothing. I gave him a hard stare, Paddington Bear style, enough to make him turn around and face me under the iron disapprobation of my censure. But like Paddington I merely felt like I was a lone 3D character in a world of animated 2-dimensional cut-outs, i.e. I was the odd one out in this scenario.

The odd one out for caring and being pissed off at what this guy had done.

I did consider removing the crisp packet and following this guy home and shoving the offending article somewhere prominent on his own property but, I’ll be honest, even though Brian Turner has revamped the menus at the local A&E I am not overly fond of hospital food.

And besides. Why expend all that energy? A good gust of wind and that damned crisp packet will end up behind my front hedge anyway. The world is still the world.

Nothing has really changed.

*Sigh*

I never did like Status Quo.



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42 comments:

Crystal Jigsaw said...

That's the problem isn't it. We don't do anything because people like that don't care anyway and wouldn't bat an eyelid if they gave you a smack in the mouth for trouble. There is a fine for dropping litter in certain parts of the country, but it never seems to be in "your" part does it?!

CJ xx

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

We have a hedge full of litter too. In fact the other day someone placed a microwave, in its box, and left it on our drive on bin day.

By the way, I think Mrs Honeywell shovelled the shit with her crinoline petticoats as she walked along.

Steve said...

CJ: we seem to have become "the permissive society" in the very worst sense...

Trish: urgh! That probably explains why even the ugly goons from Pippin Fort wouldn't touch her with a bargepole (and why the streets of Trumpton are always so clean).

MOTHER OF MANY said...

I understand what you mean about not wanting to end up in hospital and I do choose which fights to actually engage in. I have NEVER purposely thrown litter and I have never understood how people can actually do it. As for the littering , I have been known to say to a litterer 'Excuse me but you have dropped something' but of course the person has to look very un-scary and not likely to punch me in the head!

Steve said...

Ally: I must admit I'm quite anal about disposing of my rubbish properly - I will carry it home in my pockets if I can't find a bin and get very annoyed with people who just throw it to the ground saying "It gives someone a job," because, by that logicm murder and rape also gives someone a job and I think we could all do without those in our lives.

Heather said...

Urgh, another reason i don't think i could move back full time to the UK - nobody cares.

Steve said...

Heather: nobody cares about you moving back to the UK full time? Not true. I bet the tax office would care.

;-)

the fly in the web said...

They've only just started collecting litter here....and where we are, the dustcart can't get down the road to our valleys, so the rubbish gets chucked in the stream.

Horrible.

Steve said...

The fly in the web: suddenly a crisp packet shoved in the fence doesn't seem so bad...

diney said...

We live in a beautiful rural area and it astounds me that some ignorant bog dwellers come out into the country and drop Big Mac bags - just like that! Don't they even think (do they have a brain to think?) that it is wrong?? I'm going to come back as a Womble.

Modern Military Mother said...

He'd stab you. Best let it go.

Perhaps move somewhere else.

I would be so annoyed - you could start a litter campaign!!!

Citizen Bloggertropolis!! xx

Steve said...

Diney: anyone in particular? I always felt I was a bit of a Tobermorey.

Steve said...

MMM: that would just be my luck; stabbed to death with a McCoy's crinklecut Barbecue Beef flavoured crisp. At least if it was a Quaver I might stand a chance. And as for Wotsits... well, no self-respecting crim in gonna pull a Wotsit, are they?

libby said...

Littering? hate hate hate it....it's up there in my list of people that do things that drive me mad, like NOT INDICATING when they are driving.....but just like everyone else says, apart from knowing that my children don't litter, what else can I do? I am too much of a scaredy cat to accost someone for their selfish loutish behaviour.

Rol said...

The word you were looking for in the first paragraph was tumbleweed.

And you really need to stop giving a shit - it's quite clear nobody else does.

(I wish I could take my own advice.)

Steve said...

Libby: we litter haters need to band together to take on the litter louts. That's what I think. We need to go in tooled up with litter pickers and marigolds and clean this dirty town up!

Rol: tumbleweed, yeah, that's the stuff. It's almost like you were momentarily inside my head. Bet I feel more sullied than you do. And as for people not caring... I'm beginning to think there's more of us than there is of them. So why do we take all this shit and let them get away with it?

The Dotterel said...

You said it! You've hit on the solution, right there Steve in your reply to Diney - bring back the Wombles.

Kelloggsville said...

I think it's really interesting how many people have written 'nobody cares' but I care and they do too. That's a lot of nobodies! I think most people do care and the morons that don't stand out. Imagine how bad it would be if really nobody cared. On the upside your littering moron just upped his colesterol and is headed toward a miserable level of illness to befit a person of his kind. I knocked on a womans car window once to point out she had thrown her apple core onto the floor. Her excuse 'it's organic' ...oh that's ok then, I'm sure the rats will appreciate it all the more...you see there is no reasoning with the moron. Step away.

Steve said...

The Dotterel: haven't they all been done for kiddie fiddling?

Kelloggsville: I agree, I think more people care than don't but those that don't care are too intimidating half the time to approach and be reasoned with. The answer? Learn some martial arts and arm oneself with a cricket bat. Litter patrol just got mean.

Gorilla Bananas said...

What you need is a neighbourhood bully like Flashman to sort out all these tykes. Maybe he'd let you be his fag.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: better that than his bitch. No, wait, hold on a minute...

Mark said...

Well you already know my views on littering - 'uncouth and loutish' is what my grandma would have said, and that basically sums it up.

Steve said...

Mark: your grandma knew a thing or two and then some.

Marginalia said...

Brilliant, finally you're becoming a fully fledged grumpy middling aged man.

You're lucky to have fences. At least your yobs are smartly dressed. Think yourself lucky and stay indoors.

Steve said...

Marginalia: you know something? You're dead right. Fences, crisps (not cocaine) and yobs who wear suits and shine their own shoes... I'm in Utopia if I only but knew it.

Phil said...

Re: “I'm beginning to think there's more of us than there is of them. So why do we take all this shit and let them get away with it?”

There are more of us, and we do let them getaway with it.

Trouble is, we don’t all collectively and publicly share the same levels of shame or conscience as a wider society, in the way that we used to. We’ve become tired, war weary and insular with all the dross we have to process and the seemingly indifferent and ambivalent stance of our fellow community members, let alone the authorities.

There is far less respect for what should be the universally understood and accepted levels of social conduct and manners decent, by comparison to a few decades ago and beyond. It’s not only become ‘cool to be crass’, but “cool to be cruel” as well - and we’re all pretty much to blame in a way.

No-one wants to risk a smack in the mouth let alone a swipe from a knife, of course – but we’ve lost our edge and our iron never the less. We casually walk the parade grounds of life without any sense of fear or trepidation for the angry glare of the Regimental Sergent Major stood rigidly in the center for us all to salute and pay our respects to. The do gooders and the gutter media have long since ripped his stripes away, and we’ve thus lost one of our most respected, enduring and dependable symbols of authority and correct behaviour.

If we are to have any chance of turning back the clocks in future to the ways that clearly worked better before, then we’ll have to make the effort to get up off our butts and collaborate, together, as a true community should. A collective show of strength, defiance and unwavering commitment. A ‘Union’.

A kind of legitimate Klu Klux Clan in reverse if you like. Establish where the little shitheads live, then ‘all’ turn up en masse one night carrying burning torches, and knock on his or hers door by nailing a polite note and the crisp packet to it. Then just stand there and stare as a large and united mob in the street in silence, until they appear.

I’ll guarantee it will work …but we’ll ‘have’ to do it together.

Steve said...

Phil: I salute you, sir. A well thought out and reasoned argument. A true "big society" - though not the one Cameron has envisioned. In all seriousness I wonder if people would have enough self control to keep things legitimate. A mob - even a mob with righteousness on its side - can still lynch when the mood takes it and that is bad justice of another sort.

Phil said...

Steve: Roger that. Absolutely. No doubt about it. The ‘mob’ of the righteous as you say – would never ultimately work in today’s society. Apart from the lynchings and everything else, they’d just end up becoming the products of media over exposure, sensationalism and celebritiyitis, with a cash incentived ‘car crash’ Tv series on Sky.

This was more a case of ‘me’ being bloggerly naïvely ideological whimsical and at the same time, genuinely sadly disappointed and angry that all the good work and sacrifices that our forbears have made in this area, are seemingly being slowly but surely flushed down the sewers, and for all the wrong reasons.

If nothing else, we surely owe them a sense of responsibility and duty to do a better job than we have done in underpinning the foundations of all their hard work and sacrifice. We owe them the effort and a bit of discomfort at the very least.

Nelson once said: “In honour I gained them, and in honour I will die with them.”

And he did.

Steve said...

Phil: that I totally agree with. I doubt there's much that can be done for today's adults - they are too set in their ways - but there is always hope for future generations provided they are schooled better. And by schooled I mean how they are parented, how they are educated by the state but mostly how they are educated by society and their community. It's the community aspect that is woefully missing these days and is lack is the cause, I am sure, of many of our ills. People no longer feel connected. And when you are not connected how can you care about those around you?

Being Me said...

You need to get outta that town. It sucks your will to live. Or just plain sucks, at the very least.

Steve said...

Being Me: I just need a place to go - believe me!

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

I hate litter louts, there really is no excuse for it. It does make me want to go an empty a few dustbins on their property or in their cars when I see them fouling the streets, however like you I am a coward so I mainly just mutter obscenities under my breath and go about my business.

Steve said...

Very Bored in Catalunya: muttering obscenities is my main coping strategy... but I'd like to enter a few bins in these people's cars too.

London City Mum said...

Litter louts = pet hate.

LCM x

English Rider said...

You could innocently ask: "Would you like me to dispose of that for you?" or run after him with: "I'm sorry, I think you may have lost something"
or even: "Oh! Is that one of those newfangled, biodegradable crisp bags? Gosh! How great is that?"

Steve said...

LCM: pet hates = exterminator required ASAP.

English Rider: I'd love to but, alas, sarcasm is wasted on the terminally stupid.

Anonymous said...

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Steve said...

Anon: don't usually publish comments like yours but I was proud that I identified the language as Romanian. Do hope this translation is correct:

"Teeth Whitening Products

Yellow teeth from smoking and coffee? You can start your Albesti teeth now, and you will see results in just 3 days! Our product, Crest Whitestrips, is no. 1 teeth whitening in the world and recommended by dentists everywhere."

Now piss off.

bigwords is... said...

Those people give me the shits. What is so hard about putting your litter in the bin. I bet he goes home and his mum still makes his bed because he obviously believes in the litter fairy.

Steve said...

Bigwords: you may be onto something here. Maybe these people have been too mollycoddled and expect people to constantly pick up after them?

misssy m said...

Steve- i go ballistic at this kind of thing- I'm a litter vigilante- i always take folk up on it- it's a wonder I've not been beaten up. Mind you i always do it in an overly polite way. I say things like "Oh excuse me, I'm sure you didn't mean to but you've left this litter here"

it's even more fun if it's obvious they've folded it and carefully pushed it through a fence.

Steve said...

Misssy M: can I pay you to patrol my street? I can supply you with your own baton?