There is a really interesting item in today's Times about litter and rubbish left around on our streets and how distressing this is to some of us and how others can happily walk past it every day and hardly notice it. I suppose it is just another aspect of how some of us are fanatically neat and tidy and others are happy to let things stay where they are inside our houses.
But Janice Turner in today's Notebook speaks of one particular mattress - a double one, which had been 'abandoned on a grass verge outside a block of flats' where it stayed for a long time getting wetter, dirtier, more difficult to move and making the whole area seem more neglected. She passed it every day - as must thousands of others have done. But nobody moved it. No council rubbish lorry stopped and collected it, no individual dragged it to the place designated as the area to dump the rubbish from the flats.
And so on a dismal, damp, darkish afternoon she decided to take the law into her own hands and drag the wretched thing - thick with slugs on the back - the one hundred metres or so to the council tipping space herself. The next day it had gone.
She says, "This is the most rewarding thing I have done all week." And as a result of that and reading David Sedaris's Book 'A Carnival of Snackery' which is about how he is obsessed with clearing away other peoples' rubbish to make the countryside more attractive she has put a litter-picker stick on her Christmas list this year. What a brilliant idea!
The whole idea of rubbish is such an annoying one and makes such a difference to our countryside apart from often becoming dangerous and even fatal to wild life. Living on a housing estate as I do now - albeit an attractive and sought-after place to live- it is astonishing how much rubbish accumulates - plastic bottle here (either thrown there by somebody or dropped accidentally from a rubbish bin on collecting day) or maybe just a milk bottle top which can lie in the gutter for weeks, or a crisp packet which blows out of the collecting bag on recyclng day - but as Priscilla and I walk round I often notice these things for weeks. And before you ask why I don't pick them up myself I will remind you that I just cannot bend down without falling over.
Does it matter that in the giant scheme of things a green plastic milk-bottle top lies in the gutter outside my bungalow and has done for the last month, or that a crisp packet blows up and down the road and has done for some time (it is a good indication of which way the wind is blowing)?