Getting out of bed at half past six on a Sunday morning so one can ferry one’s offspring to where he dumped his car the night before so he doesn’t get a parking ticket, is, I’m sure you’ll agree, taking one’s motherly duty to award-deserving levels. Or: “You’re mad – make him walk,” as my husband put it. But of course, once one has shifted one’s sorry rear from beneath the duvet, one is always glad to be up on a summer’s morning. And I was particularly pleased on this one, as I was able to witness at first hand what I don’t doubt half the letters’ page will be devoted to next week.
Namely, the rubbish in the streets after the first full night of Broadstairs Folk Week. Which an earnest-looking bloke outside the Dolphin pub was busily taking photographs of and which I crunched my way over as I drove past him and scowled. What did he expect? If you get over 20,000 extra people in a town, many of them teenagers, all drinking out of plastic cups, with no obvious receptacles at hand to deposit them in, some are inevitably going to end up on the ground. The week was young at the time, but no windows had been broken, I’d heard of no punch ups, nobody, as far as I know, had died.
“It’s not too bad – better than last year,” said Cassy, one of the Waste and Cleansing Team, cheerfully. “But I expect they’ll all be writing to the paper….”
She and her grandson Kai were briskly sweeping the upper part of the High Street while several more of the team were attacking Albion Street with gusto. “Nobody from the pubs wants to come out and do it,” said one of the chaps with a wry grin, “and that’s where all these cups have come from!”
“You’re doing a great job,” I said.
Driving on, I spotted two more people taking pictures. I leapt out of the car ready to deliver a let’s-not-be-negative tirade only to see it was Dave and Mave – Broadstairs Town Councillors, supporters of and participants in, Folk Week, and general good eggs. Mr and Mrs Saunders were staring sadly at the strewn pavements and shaking their heads at the occasional broken glass, telling tales of damaged flower pots. “It could be worse,” I said. I repeated the theory of the smiley chap about the pubs. They nodded. “Look there,” said Mave, gesturing behind me. We all looked. The pavement in front and down the side of The Chapel was pristine. Clearly owner Julian Newick, or more likely his staff, had been out there the evening before and cleared up their patch after closing. Maybe a few more hostelries could follow suit in appreciation of the swell in their takings? Or at least provide some bins or cardboard containers outside with a sign entreating drinkers to keep the place tidy. Perhaps volunteers could go round with some plastic sacks collecting the empties as they do on trains. “Suggest some ideas in your column,” said Mave. Pleased to oblige, love!
But looking on the bright side, by the time I returned to the scene of crime at 8.15am there wasn’t a scrap of litter in sight. Regular readers will know I am not slow at coming forward to complain about Council services but credit where credit is due and that, I think, is pretty impressive.
In the meanwhile, I’d been to the cash machine where Elderly Man with Cap (always a bad sign) was surveying the last of the debris. “Disgusting isn’t it?” he said, sucking in his cheeks and clearly preparing a speech entitled The Youth of Today – Why we wouldn’t have dared and Society is now in ruins…
“It’s a few plastic cups,” I said sourly, the early morning start now catching up with me. “Get over it.”