Friday 29 August 2014

The undeserving great unwashed

This week I seem to have turned into one of those sad 'concerned residents' with too much time on their hands who writes letters to the council. I am engaged in a largely pointless (but entertaining) email duel with some jobs-worth from the council (or more precisely their privatised 'contacted service provider') about bin collection: 

To incentivise us all to re-cycle we now have our re-cycle bins emptied weekly and our non-recycling waste bins emptied fortnightly. Which means of course that by the end of the fortnight everyone's  non-recycle bins are smelly , overflowing, surrounded by flies and the bin bags ripped open by urban foxes. This makes  our typical inner city environment - crowded, busy,  dirty and  generally fairly grotty - just that little bit more unpleasant at best, and at worst a threat to public health. 

My complaints to the council were met with a patronising letter explaining the council policy and effectively telling me that people should suck it up and just re-cycle more. 

Setting aside the arrogance of those in authority - if we are all too stupid to re-cycle then we deserve to pay the price of rubbish on the streets - this also ignores the fact that the re-cycle bins are actually also regularly overflowing. 

In other words, we are re-cycling but the service is just not adequate for the area. It seems like a no brainer that an urban area with a denser population - multi-occupier dwellings and mixed business and residential use, simply needs more frequent services than a dormitory suburb. Yet in Tottenham our rubbish is collected as frequently as it is leafy Highgate. 

This isn't about NIMBYism or 'localism' - nor is it petty. It is exactly what is happening at every level of this recession. Again and again the people who have to put up with the worst of its effects are told that it is our own fault. 

Historically it was always so. It was much the same in Victorian times when our inner cities first developed. The feckless and insanitary masses - literally the great unwashed - were blamed for their own appalling living conditions. And we seen the same old arrogance today - with a bit of added green sanctimony thrown in just to rub salt in the wound.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Back to school

And to blogging. 

My first long Summer holiday as a proper teacher and I am just coming down from a general hiatus. 

Holidays are always a chance for a bit of stock-taking. This year more than most - it was our first holiday for 20years without the (now grown up) kids and having completed my NQT year it was the end of my three year 'journey' from my utterly different previous life.

And all this against what I see has been called the 'Summer of Hate' in Gazza, Syria, Iraq - and Missouri. There's nothing like events to put you in your place - or to paraphrase Rick in Casablanca - 'the problems of little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world'.

A sense of perspective reinforced when I took my usual historical road trip on the bike around East Anglia. I find staring in to the 3,000 year old preserved timbers of the causeway at Flag Fen does the same for me as staring at the stars does for some people. It  inevitably snaps you out of too much unhelathy  introspection. 

And so now back to work in every sense...