Sunday 24 June 2007

I have developed (or perhaps caught) the recyclers’ instinct. It is like a rather rubbish (ha ha—that joke never gets old) sixth sense which, somewhat unfortunately, is attuned to finding rubbish even where there isn’t any. Today, it got me twice, and, like an anagram of a Sith Lord, I used its Force to detect nonexistent litter.

First came the whiff of alcohol—“Aha!” exclaimed the italicised voice in my mind, “Where there’s booze, there’s all kinds of debris! Cans, bottles, paper cups…”—I whirled around, eyes on the floor, scanning—nothing, what could be wrong?!—aaaah, I had let my bag fall open on the ground, and from thence had the distracting aroma of day-old beer dregs ascended into my waiting nostrils. Disappointment gripped me like a hunter cruelly foiled in pursuit of his quarry. I began to wish that, like my anagrammatised namesake, I could launch lightning from my fingers and punish those around me for this humiliation.

The next clue was in a different field entirely. On the floor, I spotted a plastic bottle top! “It’s a logical impossibility (well, almost…it’s pretty unlikely, anyway) that that should be an orphan bottle top!” For several seconds my eyes flitted over grass and mud in search of a mother bottle, perhaps a Sprite or 7UP judging by the faintly green colouration, then, nothing. A feeling of dull emptiness like my very soul had been snatched from me. I picked up the somewhat disappointing bottle-top (only worth one point) and headed on my way.

The instinct’s other side-effect is that it is now quite impossible to set eyes on crap on the floor without instantaneously classifying it by what colour of bag it should be dropped into. Bottles and cans are recyclables—classic green bag stuff—whilst food waste and paper should be deposited in one of the strangely-silky biodegradable white bags—the least fun, both for their unconventional texture, and the kind of greasy, yucky stuff you have to put into them. Whatever’s left, the barren wasteland outside the recycling Venn diagram, is lobbed into a black bag.

My vision became somewhat like Arnie’s in The Terminator; rubbish would immediately be surrounded by a little green box, under which a blinking cursor paused momentarily, before identifying it and suggesting which bag to put it in with a satisfying beep.

My sixth sense beeped throughout Shirley Bassey’s performance. I think she was green bag.

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