One thing Mr Grumpy and I don't see eye to eye on is recycling. While I try to do my bit, rinsing bottles and cans, tearing the cellophane windows out of window envelopes and placing them, and all other paper and cardboard, into the recycling sack as instructed by our local council, Mr G chucks everything willy-nilly into the ordinary black rubbish sack. He has even been known to sabotage my efforts by placing things I have been storing for recycling, into the black sack. Lord only know what will happen if or when our council begin to act like others and bring in the Rubbish Police.
Now, this surely is a job only for people of a certain mentality. Rubbish police officers are like traffic wardens, sadistic folk with a grudge against society who luxuriate in being able to punish others. They must also be nit-pickers, nerds, anoraks, indexers; people who, if they had the opportunity and the brains, would have compiled dictionaries or worked for the National Bureau of Statistics. They are people who, although carrying out orders from above, become governors of their own small empire - your street or mine. They are the Binbag Barons, the little Hitlers employed (and, who knows, rewarded) by the councils for bringing in as much money as possible in fines, so that the council can afford to splash out on the wages of another score or more snoopers.
For that is what they are: snoopers. They will go through all the things you chuck out, be it birthday cards, condoms, used tissues or old knickers. They may even pocket a few of the latter Who knows their perverted desires? They will shop you for putting a crisp packet in with your recycling, even if was your child who did it in a misguided attempt to help and you knew nothing of it. It is redolent of the intoning Dylan Thomas from Under Milkwood, when Mrs Mythanwy Pryce tells her dead husbands' ghosts to 'put your pyjamas in the drawer marked pyjamas'. They are as sneaky as Cold War spies, as slimy as an old cabbage leaf.
What has gone wrong with British Society when the government would rather put garbage under a microscope than scrub their hospitals clean of superbugs, tackle real street crime such as muggings and make better provision for the care of the elderly? Instead, in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, they slap a fine on anyone, old, young, sick or disabled, for putting their rubbish out one second before 7am on collection day. Priorities have been turned on their heads. The government themselves should be fined for making us all aid and abet their game of 'trivial pursuits' designed to line their pockets with easy cash, and all those Binbag Barons and their bosses should be sent on a spiritual retreat to make them realise that there are greater, deeper values and more important things in life than persecuting someone for putting their binbag out at 6.55am because they must leave for work at 7.
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