I went to the most wonderful place in the world this morning. I can’t believe I am nearly 52 and this is the first time I’ve ever been here (except perhaps for some childhood visits with my dad). I went to the dump. And finally found out where I belong.
You know how much I love rubbish and sorting out bins and moving stuff around into piles. How could I not have known that there was a place that I could do all of this and more.
Now I had an idea of what the dump would be, possibly based on mostly forgotten childhood visits, but more likely from watching TV and films. I expected a sprawling junk yard, piled high with random detritus and big mountains of mixed rubbish. It was not like this at all. It was a smallish yard full of vast containers with a car park in the middle and you had to climb a little staircase up to each one, which was dedicated to a different sort of junk - non recyclables, recyclables, meta, wood, garden waste, cardboard boxes, small electrical items, large electrical items. It was a wonderland.
And amongst it were the Santa’s elves of throwing away, rather than giving, the people with the best job in the world, the custodians of the dump who would occasionally tell people where they needed to go, or advise them that they were putting things in the wrong bin or tut when they saw something in the wrong bin (there was a toaster in the non-recyclable rubbish - come on people! Who could make such a terrible error? Also it was at the bottom of a fresh new container and thus unretrievable. Though if I worked there I would invent some massive kind of claw thing so I could pick things out. I wish I worked there. I imagine these guys can get any woman they want. Plus first dibs on the junk.
I had packed our people carrier with loads of rubbish, a free cardboard boxes of electrical items that had bust or that I no longer used - I had sort of assumed that a man would assess them and put some for parts and some for resale, but maybe that happens down the line - some big bits of polystyrene that almost killed me as I tried to squeeze them into the limited space (you may remember that the noise of polystyrene rubbing against stuff is one of my major phobias, but I am trying to overcome it), a broken old high chair, a tiny bit of ladder that had been left in the attic by the previous occupants and other assorted debris. The only thing that I couldn’t fit in was my spare snooker board (the one I had played on at the Reading Hexagon and St Albans Arena), which I was in two minds about throwing out anyway. Though what kind of person needs two snooker boards? Only someone who thinks they are two different people.
I can not tell you how happy it made me to divide up all my stuff and put it in the right container. To think that I nearly paid someone to come and pick this stuff up for me. At one point a man with a big double mattress was behind me in the queue for the non-recyclable section. I couldn’t see him getting the mattress up the stairs by himself so asked if he wanted a hand. He seemed shocked by the offer, like no one had ever offered to help him in his life before, or suspicious he was being tricked into something. Little did he know that I was getting the pleasure of throwing some extra rubbish away. It was a struggle even with two of us and it was only as I was hauling the mattress over the edge that I wondered why it was being thrown away. Was it coated in piss? Or did it contain a dead body?
He thanked me and as we came down asked me if I wanted a hand with my rubbish - I had a massive bag that our last delivery of logs had come in full up of mixed trash, but I had no ulterior motive. And in any case had packed that full of stuff before I’d appreciated that everything would go into different places, so I needed to do it bit by bit as there were some lamps and a broken clock in there and they did NOT belong in the noon-recyclables!
I took up my polystyrene as one of the lucky guys who works here was at the top of the stairs. He took it off me and as it was thin, it crumbled a bit in his hand. “I hate this stuff,” he said. “Me too!” I said, thinking I’d found a way in to become mates with one of the manly men who had been selected for this prime job, “I hate the sound it makes,” I continued.
The man did not look impressed. “It breaks and goes everywhere,” he blankly replied. He was too manly to be afeared of a squeak. All that bothered him was stuff being in the wrong bins or being too light and static electricy to get into a bin. I was like him too. I hated that too.
It was too late. I’d lost my in.
I am not even joking. I would LOVE to work here. But you have to be made of the right stuff. And also put the right stuff in the right container.
I can’t do much in terms of DIY or making the house nicer. I tried to put up a picture in the office the other day and just managed to make a big hole in the plaster. But boy, can I throw stuff away. I felt fulfilled, though a little bit guilty that some of the electrical items still worked and might have been saleable, but I don’t have the time or inclination for that. At least I hadn’t just put them in my bin.
But I am now looking to throw even more stuff away to justify another trip to the dump as soon as possible. I may have to accept that I am not the exciting, metropolitan man I once hoped I would be. My pleasures are simple and I am a dull old man who tries to justify his existence by making dry stone walls and disposing of much too short ladders. Living in the countryside has allowed me to embrace who I am. No-one.
A trip to the dump will be my monthly highlight for the rest of my short life.
And I am delighted about that.
My only regret is not going to the dump much much earlier.
I caught the second half of the first episode of the second series of Relativity on the drive home and it made me cry. Not because it was terrible, but because it was like someone had taken my life and turned it into a radio show. Some great performances from some fine actors (plus me playing someone so close to me that surely I can't fuck it up too much - you'd think) and this first one is set at the funeral of one of the characters from series one. And serves as a pretty cool tribute to one of my actual family members - nice to take up ten minutes of Radio 4 time with the eulogies!
And the BBC haven't repeated the first series and whilst I would never condone the illegal upload of copyright material - this might help bring you up to speed
if you missed the first four episodes. I will of course be seeking the maximum punishment possible for Mark Wilson who has commited this crime. I believe that is that someone eventually politely asks him to take it down.