A few weeks ago I was at yet another funeral. Oddly enough I find funerals to be rather uplifting affairs, bringing together a family and giving everyone a chance to reflect on the brevity of life and the limited time we have to do something really meaningful with it.
For me, a lifelong atheist, nothing throws this into sharper focus than the 30 minutes or so spent in a cold church, muttering hymns at my shoes and shuffling uncomfortably as the vicar tries (and on one splendid occasion failed repeatedly) to remember the name of the person he’s paying tribute to. For me the church, at least as a physical building if not an institution, is full of well-meaning folks who are completely wasting their lives talking to the sky.
I’m a liberal sort of fellow and have no objection to anyone doing whatever they wish with their time, within the bounds of not harming anyone else. Standing there in a cold church listening to a vicar none of us had met and an organist who couldn’t play I couldn’t help but reflect on the irony. Life is not everlasting. We can do good things with the brief time we have. The vicar and the organist were clearly ‘good people’, but to my mind they were great examples of how easy it is to waste it.
In the current snowy conditions, with all the relevant agencies and motoring organisations warning against non-essential travel, Twitter is alive with the sound of people moaning that their bins are not being collected. It is a collision of two great British media obsessions – the weather and bins. I haven’t yet seen the Daily Express weave Princess Diana into the picture, but perhaps they are working on that angle right now.
The most striking aspect of all this Twitter-talk is that most of the people complaining seem to be at home. I imagine it is far too dangerous for them to attempt to drive their small hatchbacks along the street, let alone walk to work. And yet they are aghast that council managers are not willing to send out 26 tonne (gross weight when full) wagons down ungritted residential roads, where children are rightly playing (because teachers clearly cannot open schools) to pull heavy bins along icy pavements.
Let’s put it in perspective. If the council don’t collect your bin, it will have to stay full for a few days. Most councils are relaxing their side waste policies so they can catch up next week. Your life won’t be blighted for too long. Store the waste in the garage, in your recycling bin or perhaps in the boot of the car you can’t drive.
The alternative is that a 26 tonne truck may just slide straight through your garden.