Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Sunday Songbook - Littoral Littering

Britons now drop litter as cows defecate in fields, or snails leave a trail of slime. That is to say, they do it naturally, without conscious reflection.
(Theodore Dalrymple: 'Litter: The Remains of Our Culture')
Recent news coverage has treated us to abundant images of litter strewn across parks and fields in the aftermath of festivals and Bank Holidays. Doubtless this weekend's V festival will be no exception, as thousands of people exercise what they seem to regard as an inalienable right to drop their rubbish wherever they choose.

Perhaps it's because they know that, sooner or later, someone else will clear it up - the more callous might even suggest it creates work for the unemployed - or maybe they want to demonstrate that they are free spirits who can't be bothered with such mundane details, but I suspect it has at least as much to do with simply following the herd.

There's a blackly amusing irony that, if you approached these festival-goers and asked their opinion on, say, Green issues, they would probably sigh over the latest global warming predictions and deplore the plight of the polar bear and Man's impact on the environment while surrounded on all sides by their own carelessly discarded leavings.

It's not just the festivals that generate unnecessary carpets of rubbish; it's a depressing thought that, thanks to this summer's fine weather, Britain's coastline is likely to be strewn with even more litter than usual, and 'usual' is pretty bad.

Even after the poor summer last year, the Marine Conservation Society's annual clean-up produced 924kg of rubbish from just six beaches in Northumberland alone.
The number of cigarette stubs found on beaches between 2011 and 2012 doubled, with general smoking litter, including lighters and packets increasing by 90%. There was also a rise in the number of sweet and lolly wrappers.
Along with the ubiquitous drinks cans and bottles, this suggests a constant stream of secondary indulgence by those for whom a trip to the beach is not sufficiently enjoyable on its own - not to mention a considerable financial outlay.

It's hard to imagine what goes through the minds of the people who are happy to spend a few hours sitting amid the spectacular scenery of England's North-east coastline, then walk away and leave their rubbish behind.

Perhaps it's something like this...

Come here me little Jackie
Now av smoked me baccy
Let wer drop the packet
Dinna mind a bin.

Dance ti' thy daddy, sing ti' thy mammy,
Let fa' the wrapper that yer lolly's in;
Haud thy chip buttie till it’s gan a’ squishy,
Chuck it doon an’ leave it by yon baccy tin.

Here's thy mother sittin'
Lager cans a’ roond her,
Sup thy drink and kick the
Bottle doon the sand.

Dance ti' thy daddy, sing ti' thy mammy,
Dance roond their tab-ends lyin' in a ring;
See in the watter a’ the little fishies
Swimmin’ in wor rubbish when the tide cooms in.


4 comments:

  1. Where you get litter etc. you get rats. Our local rats are infected with Weill's Disease. If they bite a dog it is one dog less. If they bite a human being they are in for a bad time with a degree of risk of termination. Stand by for health warnings and sad cases in the media.

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  2. There's a blackly amusing irony that, if you approached these festival-goers and asked their opinion on, say, Green issues, they would probably sigh over the latest global warming predictions and deplore the plight of the polar bear and Man's impact on the environment while surrounded on all sides by their own carelessly discarded leavings.

    In one.

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  3. Thank you, Julia *bows*

    Demetrius, true: in fact there could well be a potential festival/rats perfect storm looming one of these summers.

    JH, what's so infuriating is that they are doubtless certain that they care more deeply about the environment than the rest of us.

    I wonder what the aftermath of an anti-fracking protest looks like.

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