Honestly, you wait weeks on end for a new post, and then they all come along together…
It has to be said that waste management is pretty well organised here in France. As a matter of course everyone recycles their plastic, glass and paper into the relevant coloured bins at the local déchetterie – and you’re never far from one.
The rest of the household waste (in French, ordures du ménage, which admittedly sounds rather less savoury) goes into the poubelle – bin – and is collected on a weekly basis from outside your house. This is unlike in the UK where, if your collection day happens to fall on a bank holiday. you can forget about it until the next scheduled time comes around (which might be a fortnight or more in some places). The
refuse disposal operatives binmen here will simply come on the next working day. They manage to catch up somehow.
Nor – unlike the UK – do they knock on your door at this time of year to wish you the compliments of the season and hold their hands out, with the unstated subtext that if you want your rubbish to be made to go away in the coming twelve months you just might want to get your hand in your pocket right now.
Wednesday is our collection day. Typically, the lorry passes through our hameau in the late morning. However, it has been known to come early sometimes, so I always take our bin up to the roadside on the previous evening. Crucially, this also avoids having to get some kit on of a Wednesday morning before the statutory two cups of tea have been consumed in bed, as a prelude to rising to face the new day.
So anyway, as per any normal Wednesday, I let the world turn until lunchtime, when I went out to bring our empty bin back to its rightful place behind the gate at the side of the house.
It was gone. Nowhere to be seen.
Not lying on its side on the grass verge somewhere or flung carelessly into the ditch on the other side of the road.
AWOL. Utterly disparu.
Now, I’m not being paranoid about this. For a start, we’ve got another bin. The commune even provides them for free. Indeed, not so long ago they handed out new ones – with nice green lids – to everyone (which explains why we have a spare). You don’t need to steal someone else’s bin.
And yes, we can also put two bins out if we have produced more ordures than fit comfortably into one. Try doing that in the UK and, as the saying goes, ‘you’ll have the council on you’. As well as two unemptied bins. Or, in extreme cases, two bins emptied on you.
I mean, who steals a dustbin? This is not exactly a high crime area. At this time of year the resident population of the hameau is just over twenty. Three are of school age but certainly not juvenile delinquents. The average age of the remainder is – well, put it this way, in relative terms Madame and I are sprightly youngsters.
And it certainly weren’t us, guv.
The closest habitation to here in any direction is over a mile away and I think it’s true to say that, whether you go north, south, east or west there is nobody you would associate with the sort of anti-social behaviour that could be seen as an entry-level drug inevitably escalating to hard-core bin theft.
Oh hang on, maybe I am starting to get paranoid about this, Funny, isn’t it, that nobody else’s bin has disappeared?
Is it because we are the only Brits in the hameau? That seems unlikely, since we’ve always been on very good terms with everyone else here – even the ones who don’t get on with each other. Apart, obviously, from the people at the end who don’t get on with anybody at all.
Nicking a bin isn’t much of a way to express displeasure about either ‘bloody immigrants’ or Brexit, is it? You’d have thought that a bit of graffiti or a burning cross outside the front door would be far more effective means of getting your message across.
Are ‘they’ spying on us? Well, of course ‘they’ are, but I don’t think there’s much to be gleaned about my threat to global peace and security from combing through the two plastic bags of raw chicken trimmings, used Kleenex and that coleslaw that was way beyond its sell-by date. And why take the bin as well?