When we lived in Walthamstow, the recycling scheme was clear and simple. We had a single green plastic container into which all material was deposited – plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, aluminium cans – the entire kit and caboodle. I called it my ‘save the world box’ and it was emptied weekly. Four years on and the whole recycling malarkey has got a lot more serious. We now have a black wheelie bin for general household refuse and a light green wheelie bin for recycling except for kitchen waste that goes in a little black box, garden waste that is chucked into a beige sack and glass which goes into a dark green box. The latter, in particular, requires the strength of two butch lads to lug and tip. Our little back yard, with its random collection of multi-sized containers, could be entered into the Turner Prize to represent the municipal oppression of the common man.
Our general rubbish and recycling is collected on alternate weeks. This came as quite a shock after the twice daily tours by Bodrum bin men. At my advanced age, the new regime takes some mental acrobatics to remember what week is which. I’ve taken to sticking post-it notes on the multi-point. Nevertheless, we do our bit. Sometimes though, the city council don’t do theirs and sometimes, they serve up an embarrassment of riches. Three times now, our recycling has been left to rot by the wayside. Our refuse was refused. Then we were suddenly hit by the mysterious case of the stolen wheelie. I looked out the window. It was gone. I looked up and down the street. It was of empty of wheelies of any sort. What would Miss Marple make of it? I amused myself with the thought of early-morning students on a drunken caper wheeling my wheelie around the city with a pissed-up nerd inside. Wheelie-less, I rang the Council. “I’m without a wheelie,” I said. “Oh dear, no,” a sympathetic lady replied. She was shocked by my sorry tale and promised re-instatement. A shiny new wheelie arrived the very next day; then another one the day after, then a third the day after that. I’ve opened an e-Bay account. Don’t tell the Council.