I realised this morning, rather guiltily, that it was the day of the annual parish litter pick & I had done nothing about it. Last year I’d rung up, arranged to pick up some bags, told the organisers which bit of road we’d do, and let them know where to pick up the resulting haul but this year I’d not got hold of the number and then I’d forgotten all about it and now it looked as though it was going to be too late. There was no central starting place or time so I couldn’t just show up and join in. It’s the time of year when litter is all too readily and nastily visible and it seemed a shame that our bit of road would not get cleared just because of my disorganisation.
At that point it struck me that there was no reason why I couldn’t just grab a bag and clear exactly the same stretch of road as last year. I had my own gloves, we had plenty of bin bags, and we’ve got plenty of room in our bin as we’d be hard pressed to fill a wheely bin in a month, let alone a week. Why not just do a litter pick all of my own?
Well, there was one reason. My childhood walks were often blighted by the humiliation of my mother’s insistence on bringing along a plastic bag and picking up all the litter that she saw along the way. Going on an organised litter pick was one thing – it’s a social sort of occasion, becoming part of the community. Just picking up litter is the exact opposite, an eccentricity that sets one apart, and besides, who knew where it would stop? If I start turning into my mother in this particular, pretty soon I’d be doing everything else: listening to radio 4 at all hours, lecturing shoe shops about the importance of properly fitting shoes, and feeding the birds on an industrial scale.
But, as I’ve said before, there are worse things to turn into. So I turned off Desert Island Discs, slipped into some sensible shoes. left the other half refilling the bird feeders from the 5kg bag of nyjer seed and went out to pick up litter along the road for an hour with my inner teenager cringing along behind me hoping no one saw.
Happy Mother’s day, Mum…