Plain Jane 081113WHO says we can’t make our own entertainment? This family, gathered round the kitchen table on a dark, windswept night, has just spent an enjoyable fun-filled hour on a spontaneous game of Which-Bin-Now? For which jolliness, I must thank Thanet council.

Consternation rippled through the Wenham-Jones household when the bins, bags and 14 pages of leaflets arrived heralding the new system of recycling and refuse collection.

My husband is not a man given to embracing change. He believes in Routine and Not Wavering from it. Bin day moving from a Friday to a Wednesday was never going to go down well. Where we live, facts, once established, remain immutable. (Woe betide any family member who has previously been heard to state: “Let’s leave at seven,” and is not panting by the front door at 18.59.)

Changing Bin Days AND the colour-coding of receptacles was a step too far.

When I returned from a small therapeutic trip away to a place where I could leave lights on and the radio unattended for 30 seconds without it being switched off, a family summit was convened to deal with the crisis.

My son Tom, in his position as highest academic achiever on the premises (a truth established after a small argument over the merits of a banking diploma gained circa 1964), was put in charge of training, and soon proved his worth.

“It is easy to remember,” he said, beautifully illustrating the value of those hours I spent banging his head against the wall to make him learn his spellings, “anything you’ve READ goes in the RED. Food that passes THROUGH, ends up as POO. And what colour is that?”

This made both him and me fall about giggling in a very juvenile fashion, but my husband was not to be deterred.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,” he barked. “I pay nearly three grand a year in council tax. I’m not washing out bottles as well.”

“Bottles go in the blue,” said my son. “How do you feel when you run out of wine? Exactly.”

“It’s all a nonsense,” shouted my husband, now banging the table in testy fashion. “Neither of you has a clue how much the water rates are, either.”

My son flapped the leaflets to regain order. And began testing us in a rapid-fire manner reminiscent of Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge reading from practice papers for the 11 plus.

“If Rashid has cereal for breakfast and finishes the packet,” he demanded, “and there is a cardboard outer, but a plastic inner, which bin does he put it in?” “Red then Blue,” I cried triumphantly. “With the left-over crumbs in Brown.”

My husband glared. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” he growled. “I pay three grand…”

The next morning he was up bright and early, unplugging appliances and throwing out the papers I hadn’t read. I managed to retrieve the Gazette while he was frowning at his colour chart, and turned to the isle’s reaction to the latest system.

I particularly enjoyed Isobel Browning’s resistance, lifted from Facebook, to having a “slop bucket” in her kitchen. I share that revulsion. Can I suggest the following: a compost bin outside for the vegetable peelings. A robust approach to sell-by dates (in my experience there’s a good week’s margin on most products and I’ve eaten yoghurt after six months). And this tried and tested method of disposal: Pile all unwanted food on a plate, take it into the garden, place on a picnic table with cutlery and a glass of wine as if about to commence a summer’s lunch.

Clap a hand to your forehead as if you have forgotten the salt and pop back into the house for a maximum of ten seconds.

When you return, a seagull will have taken the lot.

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