Gerry Farrell: Doner no drop your kebab on the pavement?

Don't drop your leftover late-night pizza in the street. Picture: Julie Bull
Don't drop your leftover late-night pizza in the street. Picture: Julie Bull
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Only two days till Friday. That special day when we go a bit bonkers. Look over people’s shoulders around 3pm on Friday and if they don’t shut their screens down with embarrassment, you’ll see they’re all on social media deciding which bars to meet in and which clubs to go to afterwards. On Friday nights, we don’t just shed our work clothes, we shed our inhibitions. We drink more, eat more, smoke more, laugh more and swear more.

Unfortunately we also fall out more and fight more. The paramedics and police call it “silly o’clock”. That time of night when they chuck you out into the Scottish weather, dressed as if you were on holiday in the Costa del Sol. All it takes is a wee shove in the taxi rank or a bit of catcalling and suddenly there’s a scuffle on the cobbles and punches getting thrown.

Slugrevolver by Dani Labrosse.

Slugrevolver by Dani Labrosse.

But it’s our attitude to mess that annoys me most. We need pizzas, kebabs and pie suppers to soak up the booze, fair enough. But what is it in us – apart from ridiculous amounts of alcohol – that makes us think we have the right to lick our fingers and flip the polystyrene tray or cardboard pizza box onto the pavement? Do we really imagine there’s a wee butler hurrying along behind us clearing up the mess?

Our city centre is well-provided with bins. They are illuminated by street lamps. But we don’t seem to care. Edinburgh’s pavements are studded with flattened white blobs of gum and filthy cigarette butts. Tattered, windblown plastic bags flap in the bare tree branches. And broken, empty bottles roll in the gutters.

What’s the answer? It starts in your own community. Last Saturday, we set up a litter stall at the Leith Market in Dock Place. We weren’t selling rubbish, we were offering litter-prevention communication materials people could put up. We had window stickers you could give to your local takeaway shop saying “It’s a takeaway, not a throwaway” and posters to put up in community spaces encouraging people to “adopt a street” in Leith and get free litter-pickers and gloves from the council at Leith Library. There were huge stickers people could put on their bins to discourage their neighbours from flytipping and cards you could take home advertising the National Re-Use Phoneline, who will send a van to take away heavy items for nothing, as long as they are in good enough condition to be used again by somebody else.

It was encouraging how many people stopped and chatted and took away a poster or a sticker. If we can get this kind of attitude to be more widespread, we can make a difference.

Isn’t it time for the cinema chains to play their part too? Why is it OK to go to a movie, drink a quart of Coke, eat a tub of popcorn then leave the rubbish on the floor for somebody else to clear it up. We wouldn’t do that at home. Why does our attitude shift so radically when we’re under someone else’s roof?

Same goes for football stadiums. Make it illegal to drop our pie trays and Bovril cups at the game and enforce the £80 penalty. Otherwise, we’re just reinforcing littering as a cultural norm in Edinburgh.

Oh boy, Dani’s a very talented artist

You’ve three days left to see Ghosts In The Junkyard at The Creative Exchange in Leith.

Let me declare an interest first. The artist responsible is my stepson, Dani Labrosse. His first exhibition was in Budapest last year during Design Week and it got rave reviews. Between then and now he entered an international art competition run by the Tate Modern in London. The theme was “The Future Of Art”. He sent his work in just hours before the deadline.

Weeks passed before he got the news: he was one of a handful of winners out of the thousands who entered from all around the world.

The night the Tate Modern re-opened to celebrate its multi-million pound refurbishment, Dani’s work was projected twenty metres high in the Turbine Hall. You can see the same piece, The Future Of Art, and 18 other original works, between 9am and 5pm at The Creative Exchange, 29 Constitution Street. The exhibition closes on Friday.

I’m hooked on flies, but shoes .. not so much

I’ve got a confession to make. I can’t walk past a fishing tackle shop without going in to buy some flies. It isn’t that I need more flies. I have 24 boxes full of the little blighters in the boot of the car. There are flies in my fishing waistcoat, flies in my hat and, knowing me, flies in the post. By the time I die, there will still be flies in my collection that have never had a swim in a loch or river. The fact is that flies aren’t really designed to catch fish, they’re designed to catch fishermen. It’s not just the way they look, all tarted up with fluorescent fritz and holographic tinsel. It’s their exotic names. Dog Nobbler. Hairy Mary. Suspender Minkie. Cat’s Whisker. Greenwell’s Glory. Wickham’s Fancy. Tup’s Indispensable. Foam Arsed Blob. I don’t need them but I can’t resist them.

Some folk are the same with shoes. Look in the wardrobe, on top of the wardrobe and under the bed. You’ll find slingbacks, stilletos, kitten heels, high heels, pumps, trainers, brogues, wedges, platforms, clogs, flip-flops. Maybe even a pair of those God-awful Crocs.

Nobody needs all those shoes. In fact, with the exception of flies, the older I get the less variety I want. When my brogues wear out, I buy another pair of brogues. If they’re really comfy and a good price, I might even buy two pairs. My socks are black. My T-shirts are white. My favourite jumpers are dark blue, with a six-inch zip at the neck. What a relief that I don’t need to trail round the shops, undressing in cubicles, trying things on and taking them off again. I can be in and out in five minutes with exactly the stuff I need. The only problem I’ve got with my clothes now is how to stop those little brown moths eating holes in them.

Lucky strike?

You’re more likely to be struck by lightning TWICE than to ever win the lottery. Just saying. Why not just put your two quid in a piggy bank every week?