River Wissey Lovell Fuller

The Village Pump Soapbox

November 2002

A load of rubbish

Surely untidiness is not a British characteristic? And yet there is evidence of untidiness everywhere in the UK and, in my experience, to a greater extent than you will find in many other European countries. What type of person is it that throws a drink can or cigarette packet from a moving car? What type of people stop for a picnic, then go off and leave their litter behind? Why do some people throw down their polystyrene fast food containers (often with some uneaten contents) when there is a litter bin within fifty yards? Who are the morons that spit out and drop their masticated chewing gum on to the pavement, knowing full well that it might stick to other peoples shoes and, if it does not, it will certainly stick to the pavement and will remain for months if not years, despite the combined efforts of the weather and the road sweepers? Who are the fly-tippers? Why do they discard a load of rubbish, or even a three-piece suite, by the roadside when they are less than a mile from a council tip? Why do some people wish to spoil the environment in which they themselves live?

If one dares talk about 'class', is it a class thing? According to my own observations such is not the case. You will find people who dislike untidiness in all classes and similarly you will find those who are prepared to leave their litter behind in all classes. I am sure that those responsible are a small proportion of the total, thank goodness. No doubt the majority of people do take their rubbish home or find a suitable bin, but there are degrees of untidiness of course, a person who would not throw a drinks can out of a car might happily discard a sweet wrapper.

Many householders take a pride in the appearance of their property and keep their fronts nice and tidy but you may find a row of neat houses and fronts marred by one neighbour's front garden where the grass has been left unmown or that looks more like a builders yard or a scrap yard, or perhaps spoilt simply by a broken down fence or hedge growing wild. There are those who keep their houses and gardens neat but show no interest in what is just beyond their boundary, so you will have the effect spoiled by a grass strip just outside their house that is unkempt and weed infested, or by gravel that has spilled from their driveways onto the pavement. Does it matter? It is clearly ridiculous to expect mown and weed free edges to the roadside in the country, on the contrary the cow-parsley looks very attractive, at least whilst it is in flower, but within a residential road one uncared-for road edge amongst the ones that are cared for is definitely unattractive.

King's Lynn is a town for which we have a strong affection, we have been pleased to see the developments around South Quay and the Purfleet and delighted to hear that some very large sums of money are to be spent improving the centre and South Lynn, although perhaps not everybody is pleased with the way it is intended to spend it. Sadly, however, there is as much if not more evidence of indifference to the appearance of the town in Lynn as in other towns and we may see these new developments spoiled once again by litter and chewing gum.

There are laws against discarding litter but there is no attempt to enforce them. I doubt if using the law is the best approach, it requires a change in the culture of some folk. It seems that to some extent we, as a nation, have lost some of our sense of pride; pride in our country, pride in our towns, pride in our villages, pride in our appearance, pride in ourselves. I am sure that we do need to make more effort in encouraging children to have more pride and to accept their responsibility to the community.

I know the above reads like the words of some moaning old git who has got nothing better to do, which is not altogether surprising. Youngsters may well view it as such, as may some who will maintain that there are more important calls on their time than cutting grass, but I hope not. We all have to live in the same environment.

Ron Watts

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