It is nice for a change after a few months of darkness to be woken to the sound of birds outside the window rather than rain. After a brief dry and sunny spell, which seemed to have the same effect on the memory of winter as childbirth has on pain, it all turned ugly for 48 hours. The result has left people in a bit of a spin. One minute they are cleaning their gutters and pressure washing their decking, the next, they are tying the garden furniture back down after having dragged it from the shed.
Last weekend, there was a bulk rubbish collection near where my parents live. We don’t have them in my area, our council prefers to issue residents with three passes to the rubbish tip, or delivery of three small skip bins that you can use throughout the year. Both systems mean that householders have no excuse not to regularly clean their houses out, it is just that in some places all you have to do is drag the stuff out to the verge on the designated weekends and in others you have to ring and order your skip, or get hold of a vehicle big enough to haul rubbish to the tip.
There are advantages and disadvantages of each system. Bulk rubbish collection is very easy. You watch to see when piles of junk start appearing on verges and then throw your own out. The problem is that some houses seem to think that the pavement can be used as a permanent holding area for rubbish and if you have a magpie husband you can sometimes be enjoying a nice quiet evening only to find it disrupted by the arrival of a large, ugly, probably filthy and certainly undesirable piece of second-hand furniture. The skip is cleaner but there is often a waiting list for weekend deliveries and you can’t get big items like three seater couches or double mattresses in them fully, which is why I spent a few evenings last year when I was waiting for a skip, breaking up an old couch with nothing more than a Stanley knife and a pair of Blundstone boots. Either way we are lucky to have the system. I remember trying to get rid of a mattress in Brighton once. A couple of friends had tried walking it down the street and leaving it somewhere else, but it mysteriously (and actually justifiably) it found its way home and eventually, I paid a man with a van to drive it off somewhere – off a cliff I hope.
After dropping off some shopping to my parents last Sunday, I took the dogs to a nice park nearby where we used to walk our old dog, Moody. As the dogs ran over the beds and the grass, exploring the new smells, I noticed a couple of Utes driving around the quiet roads which circle the park and turning up and down the side streets which peeled off them. The trucks stopped every minute, at which point one driver would get out, have half a shouted conversation with the other driver and then either get back in and continue, or cross to the pile of household rubbish and pull items from the pile, which would then be loaded onto one of the vehicles, no doubt to appear shortly afterwards on Gumtree. We may not longer have rag and bone men, but the hunt for brass in muck goes on.
I am not sure what was on the minds of the four people I saw today on my drive to work who had been unlucky enough to bang their cars together, but clearly they had been distracted by something. Maybe it was the reappearance of the sun. Two cars’ fenders came together with a soft but decided bump right in the middle of the intersection just after I had left my house. There was minor damage to both vehicles but both cars were still driveable and no huge harm was done, other than to the insurance premium of the driver who tried to turn right across the path of an oncoming vehicle. The second was just before I arrived for work. I am not sure what happened but it looked like the classic case of one car moving forward a little in a queue, and the driver behind thinking they were pulling out and then realising they were wrong when their vehicle slammed into the other’s boot.
I don’t think I have ever seen two prangs within the space of such a short time and frankly was quite glad to get off the road, into the carpark and back to my desk. The second accident I saw seemed to have left at least one car unusable as I had to get past a tow truck that had pulled up to assist. At least it is a small comfort to know that for now at least, while there is something on the side of the road – even if it may be a little damaged – there will always be someone coming around soon in a truck to pick it up.