06 February 2007

Wittgenstein, Freud and wheelie bins!

What an unexpected joy to have Clive James back on our airwaves with his first contribution to BBC Radio 4's A Point of View! I normally dip out when Brian Walden finishes a stint on this programme, but now I'll try and tune in to Mr James - always providing my Sunday morning hasn't degenerated into full panic mode by 8.50 am!

This week Clive touches on environmental issues, seduction by language and male pride. I especially enjoyed this section on the wheelie bin and male/female roles. To say that I recognised myself would be ... absolutely true!

In Cambridge we divide our garbage into two wheelie bins, marked compostable and non-compostable.

The two classifications don't apply to the wheelie bins, both of which are made of heavy-duty, non-compostable plastic, but do apply to their contents.

As the dolt of the household, a mere male and therefore little more than a brain-stem with a bank account, I myself am correctly regarded as too stupid to decide what goes into each bin. My job is to substitute one bin for another in the garden shed according to which week which bin is collected.

Only women are clever enough to plan this schedule but only men can do the heavy labour involved, employing the brute force for which they have been famous since the cave, when everything was biodegradable.

... Each time I change the bins I almost subtract myself from the present total of the inhabitants of East Anglia because for evolutionary reasons I am unable to lug one bin out and push the other bin in without impacting my forehead into the top frame of the shed door.

After the first time I fell to the flagstones clutching my bisected skull, when I jokingly suggested to the three watching eco-furies [wife and 2 daughters] that if I croaked in mid-manoeuvre they could always recycle me, I was informed that this possibility was on the cards because just outside of town there is a cemetery where they will bury you in a cardboard box.

There is also a graveyard called All Souls which has two wheelie bins standing outside it, one marked "All Souls compostable" and the other marked "All Souls non-compostable".

In the terminology we use in our household, it is important to recognise which are the "blue jobs" and the "pink jobs"!

Clive's full talk is here.

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