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Posts Tagged ‘trash’

Mazda MalhamThe small blue car and I slipped out today, for pleasure! We were going to find a quiet little spot up on the Western Pennines, and I was going to take a hike. This is legal now, but it turns out it’s still not advisable. Tuesday afternoon, midweek isn’t known for being a busy time up here, but it was busy today. Very busy.

I couldn’t park the car. I cruised around for a couple of miles but every pull in, lay-by and car-park was jam-packed. There were people everywhere, hordes of them, at times ambling four abreast down the middle of the roads. They blinked, cow-like, at me as I squeezed by. Worse, the waysides were trashed with several month’s worth of Macmeal leavings. It was a disappointment and a disgrace.

So I came home without stopping. I hesitate to say it’s time everyone went back to work. Those of us still working weird shifts want to enjoy our time off! And aren’t all you lot supposed to be working from home anyway? And that means – you know – being at home, not all enjoying the same couple of square miles of green. I know, it sounds selfish of me. Bad Karma and all that.

There was one tight little spot I could have squeezed into, then took my place in line on the trails. But where would the pleasure have been in that? Risky too, with so many sticky palms on the kissing gates, and on the stiles. The moral is to stay local for a while longer. No matter what the rules say, don’t use the car for anything yet except commuting and supplies.

There was a package on the step when I arrived home. I’ve been waiting for my garden twinkle lights for months now. You know how it goes? You make sure you pick the UK supplier on eBay, but it turns out it’s a front, and the stuff gets shipped on that slow boat from China anyway? All right, so it’s a non-essential item, but such things weren’t an issue when I placed the order.

Anyway, great, I thought. We’ll get those up, and sit out tonight in the peace and quiet and with the bats a fluttering, with a glass of something nice. I’d ordered warm-white lights, 2000 of them. Awesome!

I switched them on. They were pink.

Send them back to China? Nah! Give them time, I thought.

They may grow on me.

 

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southport sunsetSo,.. out walking with my phone in my back pocket. Not a good idea, cracked the screen and killed it. On the upside it’s a Chinese ‘Droid, so it didn’t cost much, and all the important stuff was saved to the removable memory anyway. All told then, nothing lost and in true consumerist tradition I threw it away and ordered a new one from Amazon. This was Sunday, just before midnight when I placed the order, standard postage, nothing special. I was thinking it would do me good to be without the phone for a bit – teach me to be more careful. However,…

Next day, Monday, a bank holiday and there’s a white van outside come mid-afternoon: ‘Sign here mate’. Package delivered, and I’m holding my new phone in a state of bemused awe. Okay, this doesn’t happen with everything you buy off Amazon – and you usually have to pay a premium for next day delivery, so I’d clearly hit upon a set of fortuitous circumstances here, but it illustrates how the machinery is gearing up to provide us with an instant gratification. But is this what we really want? Given the direction things are moving in it seems to be what we want, and it’s impressive, but do we really need it? And rather than being served, are we not merely being used, abused and generally hoodwinked into expectations that are ultimately self destructive?

While I was sitting in my garden, sunning myself all Monday, the guy in the white van had been up since dawn, sorting his deliveries out, then sweating on one of the hottest days of the year while fighting his way through bank holiday traffic along with so many other diesel belching white vans, each making their own manic deliveries, and all so we could get our stuff faster than we really needed it. But before doing his bit, it was another guy pushing a trolley in a warehouse to get my thing, his feet and knees killing him, the machine counting him down to a telling off for going too slow, that he’d better hurry up, keep pace, deliver more stuff to replace all the other stuff he found last week that’s already been thrown away.

But don’t worry about the human exploitation angle. In the near future, our stuff will be picked and packed and bagged entirely by machine and given to a drone for delivery. No humans involved. We’ll all be living within an hour’s flying time of a fulfilment centre by then, and the thing will be dropped off to a landing zone in our back yard, or maybe we’ll be fitting delivery chutes to our roofs and they’ll be as ubiquitous as chimney pots. Then we’ll be grinding our teeth if the drop’s five minutes late, berating the quality of a drone that struggles to make time against a howling gale. Total time to fulfilment? a couple of hours, and we’ll be looking to cut that in half. The infrastructure will facilitate it, and we’ll get used to it, and expect it, whether we really need it to be that way or not.

So, safe now in possession of my new phone, having been without one for all of fifteen hours – and ten of those asleep – I drove out to the coast, secure in the knowledge it was tracking my every move and could guide me back home if need be. But the coast, on the evening of a Bank Holiday Monday was like the aftermath of a rock festival – litter strewn as far as the eye could see. The promenades were thick with it, the beaches too. You could even see outlines in it where the cars had been parked and all this discarded stuff had just spewed from the open windows. Fast food cartons, plastic bags, blobs of ice-cream,…

Feral seagulls feasted on all the food waste, and what they missed the rats would get come fall of night. The tide was coming in; scent of the sea, scent of disposable barbecues and recreational weed. In a few hours the beaches would give up their filth, and the sea would gulp it down, vomiting it back up wherever the ocean currents took it.

While the machine pioneers pioneer ever faster ways of telling us what we want, then getting it to us ahead of when we want it, whether we really want it, or need it, or not, the aftermath of a bank holiday Monday provides no better illustration of the price we pay for a society hooked on consumption and instant gratification. And the price we pay is this: we are drowning in our own effluent. And it’s too late to do anything about it because our heads are so far inside this box now we’re losing sight of the light of day.

We all had our phones out, taking pictures of the sunset and cooing over it while stepping around the trash. I took a picture of a waste bin, dwarfed by mountains of rubbish piled beside it. I was thinking to post it here, but it turned my stomach, so I deleted it, kept the sunset, posted that to Instagram, self censored like everyone else, so I can go on pretending the world is still a beautiful place.

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