Bloody do-gooders

by Rick Johansen

We all, I suspect, have a touch of poacher turned gamekeeper about us, albeit not necessarily literally. I have been the heavy smoker who,  30 years ago, transitioned into that awful, hectoring beast, the reformed smoker. For much of my life I had no need to drive a motor car, until one day family needs became more pressing and now I can hardly imagine going somewhere unless it is by car. And there’s that antisocial vermin, the litter lout, which also I once was, casually tossing litter from a moving car, particularly cigarette butts, or dog ends as we call them in these parts. I’m definitely a reformed litter lout now and I have taken positive action to make the next step: picking it up myself.

The dropping of litter is not a modern problem and in many ways things are better than they used to be. These days, we recycle stuff whereas IN THE OLD DAYS we chucked everything in what was known as ash bins, which given the preponderance of coal fires, were full of ash. Certainly the area of Bristol I lived in, dumping litter was the norm and allowing one’s dog to shit on the pavement was common. I suspect I was as guilty as anyone else, although I didn’t have a dog, because after all everyone else was dumping rubbish and someone would eventually pick it up, what was the problem? Well, no problem if you didn’t mind litter being dumped here, there and everywhere. For a good while, I took a relaxed view to litter in our part of the village, but more recently, having actually watched people chuck stuff out of their cars, like fast food wrapping, disposable coffee cups and the like, I decided to do something about it.

I could, I suppose, have picked up such litter and left it on the perpetrator’s garden but that runs the risk of civil war with the hard of thinking who somehow find the practice acceptable, so I went further and contacted our local council to obtain the relevant equipment to do it myself. This was delivered last week and from tomorrow I shall get stuck into it.

I was inspired by a small group of similarly retired folk who collect litter in various parts of our local area. They too, I would imagine, had become weary of the sight of abandoned rubbish just being left to rot or being collected by someone else and that is what has happened to me.

I suspect that my sudden desire to take action is as a result of cumulative litter rage, having cussed and cursed for a very long time at the antisocial actions of others. And I realised that the usual SOMETHING MUST BE DONE! call to action had something missing, that being BY ME.

The littering offenders are in a small minority, but the litter they leave has a disportionate effect on the area. I classify litter louts in the same miserable category as fly-tippers whose actions blight whole communities. They’re essentially the same people, whether they dump a McDonald’s drinks container or a tatty old mattress. Big or small litter, it’s the same thing, exactly the same thing and I’d go so far as to say they are often the same people.

As I am now that most hated species, the do-gooder (many people prefer do-badders, it seems), that holier-than-thou scourge of the litter lout and rubbish dumper. I am coming for your rubbish, you messy sods. After all, it takes one messy sod to know one.

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