WHISPERING SMITH: The binmen cometh...

Littlehampton binmen
Littlehampton binmen

Binmen, or dustmen as we knew them to be, were very noisy banging the galvanised bins around, emptying them into the dustcart and tapping them to shake out any rubbish reluctant to go to the tip.

They still are a pretty noisy part of the dawn chorus. The lorry makes more noise than the old dustcart, but it was a comforting sound early on a Monday morning and to me it still is.

Things have changed of course, now it is a Tuesday. But, in my road still, just a little after seven o’clock, it is a cheerful sound and like the blackbird’s song it lets one know the world is still turning and you are still part of it.

Why this nostalgia for refuse collections? Curious answer. Last week I could not sleep, I awoke early and looked out of the bedroom window. A grey day made even more so by the sight of the plastic bin bag I had put out for collection ripped to shreds.

The contents, and packaging, much of which I had forgotten ever eating, was spread across the pavement in an unsightly mess as if the tide had reached my front door and deposited its flotsam on my doorstep.

I got back into bed thinking what a miserable delight that would be to clear up.

The bin lorry noisily rolled up the road passed my house, the bins rattled over the uneven pavement and it went its ghostly way along the road and out of my hearing.

Some things cannot be put off. I put on my coat, got a broom and bucket from the shed and went out front.

Wow, now there was a surprise, the pavement was clear except for some spud peelings, a few edamame bean shells and a yogurt pot. The binmen had cleaned it up, I didn’t know that was their job and was delighted.

The thought struck me though, I wondered how much they were paid for their all-weather job and to go beyond the call of duty in order to keep our streets clean? A wage compared to that paid some of the suited council officers still a’bed, folk I very much doubt walk the mean streets of Littlehampton long before daybreak with only the blackbird’s call for company.

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It is a known fact that Arun District Council is not my favourite organisation.

However, I do have some sympathy for them where domestic fly-tipping is an issue.

Several times now old radiators and other assorted household detritus has been dumped on the nearby grass verge.

A quick call to the council usually results in a swift clear up but, to what end?

If they clear it, others see that as the result and dump their rubbish there, if they do not clear it then it just gets added to.

A no-win situation for the council and, short of catching the tippers and making examples of them, so it will remain to be.

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