Friday 9 October 2009


Samuel Johnson said, annoyingly in my view, if you are tired of London, you are tired of life. Now London, itself, can be pretty tiring, or, perhaps, frustrating would be more accurate. Anyway, coping with the everydayness of parking regulations and Congestion Charge and crowded underground trains and buses that start before you have sat down, would certainly drive the best equilibriated person to distraction and I am, at the least, frustrated if not exhausted by dealing with it. I wouldnt agree that I am tired of life as a corollary but the question I would like you to answer is this: what does it signify if you are tired of re-cycling? I am prepared to consider that that may well mean that I am tired of life because how can we sustain it if we dont recycle? I'll tell you what brought this heart-search to mind. In the borough where I live we have been issued with a number of different coloured bins in which to put our stuff to be recycled. So far, so worthy. Paper and bottles and cans and the like belong in the dark brown one and there is a green one destined for food and garden waste. Here is the problem: that green one is big so has to be kept outside, at the top of the path where it can be easily collected, but it is nourished, daily supposedly, from a tiny green one which lives inside in the kitchen. Get it? You fill the little one with potato peel and egg shells and uneaten greens and so on as things crop up and then go, no matter what the weather, and tip it in to the Grandma one which waits patiently to be cleared by the Refuse Collectors. Old ladies are not that keen on wet slippery walks up the garden path so daily is a bit of an ask. The Grandma bin is emptied only once a week. Food waste smells. Thus, you have a situation where the good citizen of whatever age is torn between saving the planet and feeding every rat and fly within whiffing distance. Dear Reader, I have given up. I am no longer recycling food, and, further to emphasise my rebellious disaffection with that aspect of saving the planet, I have put the little green bin inside a bin bag inside the black bin labelled 'miscellaneous' and thrown the b....r right out.

I do see that I have made a few complaints of the I-am-against-hassle kind in the last few posts. Perhaps the chronological me is getting a bit short of energy for the administrative side of life. Recently, I queried an item on my Bank statement. As a result, my bank card was stopped. All very fair and good for security. The replacement has not yet arrived so I am barred from holes in the wall and have to find a branch of the bank to withdraw cash. Innocently, I telephoned the bank to enquire what the card's status may be: had it been dispatched, had it been ordered, what about the current flurries of postal strikes? Fifty seven minutes later I lost my temper. I had been through security thrice, I had been cut off once and I still didnt know what or when to expect salvation. I asked for a supervisor and was told by one agent that they didnt take calls and by another that they were all busy taking calls. I shouted that I was a caller, too, and then hung up. I am certainly tired of that sort of scenario. But not tired of life, yet, because the story ends better. I dialled in again, pressed a different option and found a helpful person who offered to re-order the card ab initio, so to speak. I was back to waiting another between five and ten working days but I did have a bit of hope. It is hard to reconcile some things with the way they would have worked when I was forty. I was in St Pancras station, yesterday. At least, I think it is a station. It looks and behaves like a giant shopping mall. You cant see any trains at street level, there were no announcements to be heard while I was there and there was no recognisable staff. To my amusement, I was stopped by an Australian with a mountain of baggage and asked where there was an ATM. He and his brother could not even take a taxi to their hotel until they had some English cash. No staff, no ATM, no porters, what's a traveller to do? I hadnt seen an ATM but I had seen a Bureau de Change - now called 'Travel Money' in my local Post Office - so I was able to help. Why had he stopped me from the throng available? I looked like I'd been around a long time and, with no suitcase, must be a local. So there you are. I am not the only drawer of conclusions on the planet. But London, as typified by St Pancras had better look over its shoulder at past levels of service or I, and those Australians, will surely get tired of them both. G'day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of your best blogs, Liz. I couldn't agree more about disaffection with telephone menues and queues. How's this for a story... I wanted to use my air miles to get an upgrade on a long distance flight my significant other had booked for me (yes, that's another story, but he meant well). Rang the air miles number, got an out-of-the-country voice, but at least it was a voice. Explained legitimate wish. Was peremptorily interrupted (guess the native) and told I had the wrong number because my booking was in a category which could not be upgraded and I needed to speak to the airline. She would put me through. I was (of course) cut off. Redialled, reworked my way through a (different) menu and got a person. Explained legitimate wish. Ah, yes, said voice, she would put me through to the right person. Waited while being put through to... yes, you've guessed. Back to air miles, different person, but also out of the country. Let out a wail of despair which didn't help a blind bit. Had to go back through menu at airline. Then got a young man who really didn't deserve the torrent of released anger - "DON'T PUT ME THROUGH TO ANYONE ELSE!" - and was, it turned out, able to help me, at least he ghot some extra money out of me to change the status of my booking and put me on the waiting list for an upgrade to business class, because, it transpires, there are only a certain number of those per flight. If s.o. had put me in the right status in the first place....! It's all a bit like Monopoly (do people still play those board games, or only video games, nowaydays?). Remember the card? "Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass GO. Do not collect 200 pounds." Re-cycle as "Go to the call centre. Go directly to the call centre. Do not pass a helpful person. Do not collect what you need."
PS Well done on throwing away the food recycle bag - revolting idea !
Keep up the good blogs!