Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Stakeout

I’m discovering that being a Keep Wales Tidy Litter Champion changes how you view the world, or more specifically it changes what you view in the world. A stroll is no longer just a stroll. The eyes flit from hedgerow to river bank, seeing past the tips of emerging daffodils, zoning in on the glint amongst the grasses. Is it a crisp packet? Or maybe a can? A flick of the wrist and quick as a flash the litter picker is in, out and the offending item stowed away in the big blue bag.

It’s just as well that my long suffering Other Half mastered the art of selective listening some time ago as these days every journey, however long or short, involves a mini-lecture on the evils of litter and general bemoaning and bewailing over the ever present roadside detritus. More worrying, for him and other road users, is my habit when driving of watching the verge ahead instead of the road ahead. The litter wagon has plenty of parking related injuries and an encounter with a ditch or, worse still, a tractor could be the end of her.

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I’ve also discovered that trying to collect litter on a beach on a very windy day is an exhausting exercise in frustration. The big blue bag becomes a big blue balloon and I end up collecting the same piece of litter several times over as the wind works like a mini tornado whipping each piece up and out of the bag and back onto the beach. Windy day or not, working the high tide mark is never good for the soul – I end up feeling vaguely depressed by the never-ending plastic flotsam and jetsam. Last week I collected nothing but bottle tops, and no bottles. Is there someone further up the coast collecting topless bottles? 

Meanwhile, closer to home, my arch enemy the demon diet Pepsi drinker is alive and well , with a thirst for low calorie carbonated cola that remains undiminished and unquenched. Yesterday, just 11 weeks since my last litter pick down tin can alley, I collected another 50 diet Pepsi cans. That’s a serious daily intake of aspartame and caffeine! By the law of probabilities, if I keep walking up and down the lane I may just accidentally on purpose catch him in the act, indeed I may even get a diet Pepsi can related injury if I get between car, projectile and hedge at just the wrong moment. The possibility of a stakeout has not yet been discounted – I have a tent, a sleeping bag and a gas stove, and if the quantity of evidence sitting in my big blue bag is anything to go by, I wouldn’t have to camp out too long before a “disposal" incident” takes place. But knowing my luck (and propensity to snooze excessively), I’d probably oversleep and get a face full of exhaust fumes and mud as I poke my head out through the tent flaps just in time to see the offender disappearing over the horizon and another empty can bouncing under the nearest bramble thicket.

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