Sometimes it’s like I’m in a real-life game of Donkey Kong. Negotiating Hampstead’s pavements, assailed by a host of objects and obstacles – not all of them stationary – that seem designed to sap my energy levels.
Now, I know I’ve ranted about our cluttered pavements before! The Parisian-style cafés that have co-opted the public right of way for their own retail space; the A-frames advertising everything from beer to bikini-waxes; and the mournful, monotonous accordion murderers. They are all street trash but, for the most part, I’ve learned to live with them.
I’m not even going to vent more spleen on the school run. Summer’s here and we can enjoy seven blissful weeks without toddler’s on ‘Razor’ scooters cutting a swathe down the pavement as they hurtle away from their handlers; and no four-wheel-drive Ego-carriers off-roading across the York-stone paving. Not today!
No, this afternoon, in-between rubbing arnica into a bruise the size of a kumquat on my shin and feeling the blood seep from cuts on my palms that I hope don’t require a tetanus jab, I am putting finger to keyboard because it’s a waste of time trying to contact those responsible for my injuries. Thanks Camden!
It’s rubbish! Strewn all over the pavements, every time I step out of my front door.
Since when did Hampstead become an extension of Regis Road Rubbish Dump!? What century are we living in?! The last time I saw this much crap all over the pavements was the late 1970s – when the country voted in Maggie Thatcher to clean up the mess.
Apparently it’s all due to cuts. I’ll show them cuts…and bruises. Lots of them, all over my body from all the recycling bins and bags of garden waste and household refuge that are littering our already cluttered pavements because – guess what Camden – your refuse collection programme is a mess.
I am a big fan of recycling. I religiously sort it, wash it and put it in the right containers. I also understand that the containers need to be larger now we are recycling more. But 5-foot tall wheelie bins for homes that have virtually no outside space is not clever. After years of witnessing how lazy people are about taking in their smaller (and stackable) green boxes, did it occur to no-one in Camden that large wheelie bins were even less likely to be brought indoors – and so, like herds of heavy plastic Daleks, were destined to be abandoned at awkward angles across pavements all over the borough? I find they are particularly effective at fracturing ribs and collarbones because they are wider at the top than the base and so my white cane doesn’t always find them before my upper body does. Thanks Camden!
In the two-or-so years since these alien invaders took possession of our streets I’ve done my best to adapt. I’ve slowed my pace right down, tried a guide dog and thought about buying a flame-thrower. My fellow Hampstonians have taken to shouting out warnings and for the most part I’m down to a couple of BLTs (Bin Laceration Traumas) a week – I can handle it.
But just when I thought I could cope what did the Council of Cretins do? Halve the number of collections to once every two weeks. So now the bins are fuller and smellier and even less likely to be stored indoors. The result is a proliferation of heavier, more bruising objects strewn all over the pavement – and a lot more fly-tipping, particularly in the roads near the High Street that are fortunate enough still to have weekly collections. Thanks Camden!
At least non-recyclables and garden waste go into nice soft bags – you wouldn’t think they could do much damage. Don’t you believe it! I carry the scars to prove it. This morning I was assaulted by a bag of tree cuttings, squatting in the middle of the pavement like a mini-palisade, in Willow Road. Its partner in grime, a festering food recycling caddy was cunningly positioned to trip me a couple of feet ahead of the up-thrust spikes. Fortunately I found them with my hands, not my throat. Thanks Camden!
Limping home through rubbish ripped from refuse bags by foxes and rats, who must be the only creatures in London to believe that we live in a time of plenty, I had a light-bulb moment…
I’ll give the idiots who came up with this rubbish scheme a blindfold and white cane each so they can try to navigate their way round Hampstead for a couple of hours. Then let them tell me how workable they think their scheme is. Dare you!
I was going to finish there but have new injuries to report: a cut forehead and smarting eye. I only nipped out for emergency medical supplies (more plasters and antiseptic cream); but in sidestepping a sack of broken crockery dumped next to a street bin, I was raked by an overhanging branch.
At least, I suppose, I’ve found the one area where there have been no Council cutbacks. Thanks Camden!