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There was me in my underpants and the Gauleiters of Bristol's Environmental Services Operatives showed mercy

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 31 January 2017

The Mrs asked me to put the bins out today. According to the complex glossy grid posted to us by cash strapped Bristol City Council, it is a 4 bin day. I am still not sure what the difference is between the green box and the black box but they together with the big black bin and the brown food bin must all go outside by 7 AM and if you are caught putting the wrong stuff in the wrong box you are publicly stoned to death in a multi cultural ceremony to demonstrate Bristol's commitment to diversity as well as saving the planet.

Actually I am not sure what the penalty is but I realise that it is a heinous crime, like owning a Golliwog you were given fifty years ago as a kid, or allowing your infant son to dress up as a soldier rather than as a fairy in pink so that he can view his sexuality objectively.

For some reason I forgot. And so I found myself lying in bed at 7.15 AM ( having already done a one hour early shift on the keyboard) but thinking that it would be nice to hop in next to the Mrs having brought her a cup of tea. I do that chore every morning as part of my atonement for 3000 years of living in a patriarchal society. Clunk, bang, clunk the sound of the environmentally unfriendly garbage truck making its way down the road could be heard.

I leapt out of bed wearing only some rather old boxers which these days contain almost as much hole as boxer and my Hillary for Prison 2016 T shirt. I rushed downstairs and flung open the door and started to put the four trash containers on the street. I could see one burley Environmental Services Operative, or dustman as we used to refer to them in less enlightened times, removing boxes on the house one side of us while a colleague dealt with the ones on the other side.

"Am I too late?" asked, in a pathetic begging manner, the barefoot figure in the old boxers that left little to the imagination and a T-shirt that is deemed a hate crime in this culturally sensitive City. It rained last night and I was aware that my feet were not enjoying this experience nor, one suspects, were any neighbours unlucky enough to be staring out of the window as they ate breakfast.

One Environmental Services Operative growled "you are late". As if it makes any fucking difference that my bins arrived on the pavement at the same time as his noisy lorry rather than before the 7 AM deadline set by the eco-fascists at Bristol City Council. But you do not argue with ESOs. It would be like trying to argue with operatives of the 3rd Reich. These guys are obeying orders and they expect you to be good fucking Germans too. So I just apologised for missing the deadline and hoped that - as the operative was at this point standing just two yards from my bins - he might relent. That he did.

Now, five hours later, another lorry winds its way up the street, belching fumes and making a racket as it has to collect the big bins which contain something different to the black and green boxes or whatever. I am sure it is all very environmentally friendly.

When the Greek hovel is complete I aim to achieve the target set by the guru of self sufficiency John Seymour with whom my mother corresponded at length. John reckoned that you could arrange your life so that 99% of what entered your house never left it. For us that will mean PV cells to power everything, eco-loos, using waste water from the house on the olives, not buying anything wrapped in plastic, recycling any paper that comes in as part of the eco-loss composting system or to light the fire which will heat us with waste wood in the winter, etc, etc.

Over in Kambos the nearest waste bin is some two miles from the hovel just by the small church looked after by the most amazing woman for its two services a year. There, three big bins fill up with everything (and those who know how Greek loos operate realise what "everything" means). My neighbours would look at our four bin arrangement here in Bristol and laugh "So you are saving the planet?" Ho Ho Ho. Indeed.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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