It’s amazing what you find under a bush in Leith. We hauled out not just the usual suspects of sunbleached fag packets, faded crisp pokes and dried newspaper pages, but also one random shoe and a pair of matching socks.
We were doing our civic duty by answering the call from the mighty Gerry and Zsuza Farrell to join a community litter pick along the Shore.
Armed with sturdy yellow gloves and massive black bin bags, I led my offspring into action against the rising tide of discarded detritus.
We wielded our council-donated litter picks like very small imperial stormtroopers, if the Empire had gone soft in its old age and ordered its legions to start clearing up after Darth Vader.
Between us, we filled two bags. It was a great afternoon, even though we were regarded with slightly weird suspicion. Well, it’s not that weird, if you think about it. This is Leith. If we spot people peering under bushes and down drains, it’s usually a cert that a Scene of Crime Officer is not far behind.
Of course, we can all argue that it shouldn’t be the ratepayers out picking up other ratepayers’ dross. Isn’t that what the council tax is for? And yes, I’d say, if my tax was keeping folks in a job to clean up the city, then I’d holster my trusty litter picker and leave it to the professionals, but sadly, council tax is not what it once was.
During the afternoon, we were briefly joined by some unfeasibly cheery council workers emptying litter bins. They went out of their way to thank us, and to have a quick and justified moan about the area of the city they had to cover in a shift.
A cash-strapped council has to make the money go further.
I live here, and I love this city. I want to see this old gal look her best, so I’m more than happy to turn out now and then to help give her a wee bit of a wash and brush-up.
Also, I’m fed-up with discarded paper smacking me in the face every time I mooch along the Kirkgate.
Of course, the simplest solution to stop the crisp pokes blowing in the wind is to just not drop litter.
Chips are down
Leithers Don’t Litter, but someone sure drops a lot of empty chip papers round here. Could it be the QCs and chartered accountants of the New Town? Perhaps they sometimes cast off their gym-going, lo-fat, booze-free lifestyles to indulge in midnight fag, chip and Buckie binges, like a sort of modern equivalent to the 18th Century Hellfire Clubs, when feckless young rakes would break into kirkyards to cavort around the gravestones, do a bit of carousing and guzzle fine claret from a virgin’s skull.
Just think of the litter that would leave.
Building blocks of manhood
We got distracted by some young chaps constructing a wooden structure on a flatbed truck. They were not professional. You could tell. Most of the yelling was not in English. No matter. You don’t need to understand the language to know what’s going on. Community construction follows the same pattern, no matter where.
Young men come out and attack the problem with vim, vigour and power tools. There is a great deal of arm-waving and occasionally an alarming bang as a random bit hits the deck.
This will attract the attention of the older men, who will come out to shout at the younger men and remonstrate loudly about the power tools. A smaller child usually manages to get involved. Health and Safety nightmare. Small child will scream. This is the signal for a flotilla of mothers and grandmothers to steam out like the North Sea Squadron.
They will have serious words with the older men, tick off the younger men, haul small kids out of various dangers and point at the power tools, all the while firing salvos of maternal concern such as: “Be careful with that, you’ll have somebody’s eye out with that, who told you could use that, watch that wee boy/girl/your fingers.”
Not forgetting that great favourite: ‘Did anyone read the instructions?’
Are you feeling poll-axed yet?
It’s not every day that you get an invitation to a wee swally-and-canapé at Number Ten.
It’s also not every day that you get to turn the Prime Minister down. So, naturally, when Teresa summoned the press to Downing Street for a shock announcement, I assumed she was going to break the news that, since I couldn’t make it for a chinwag, she had cancelled the white wine order and cut the canapés. Nah. She just hit us with another election.
Did I buy a timeshare in a voting booth? Never seem to be out of the blasted place. Perhaps they should start offering loyalty cards for elections. Seven stamps and you win a prize. Or an election.