Keeping busy

Monday March 21, 2005

“To the dump!” said Graham.

“No! No!”

“To the dump!” he repeated.

“No! No! Or I shall tell the vicar!”

“I am the vicar!”

“No you’re not. I’m not sure what you are but you’re certainly not the vicar.”

“That’s not the way the joke is supposed to go.”

“No, I know. But then the joke’s not about the dump, either.”

“I think we’d better stop this now or you’ll get confused. Are you ready to go?”

“Sure. Just so long as I can manage to put my shoes on the right feet.”

“Why would that be?”

“Well, like you say, I’m liable to get confused.”

So, off we went to the dump.

The trip to the nearest town dump is a lot further here than in our last place, following a pleasant route over the Wolds and down towards Skegness. They don’t call it a dump any more of course. It’s a Recycling Centre now, and you have to separate your trash into different bins and collection points according to usefulness. It’s a mark of our progress towards a disposable goods society that, while an old cooker is classified as material suitable for recycling, old vacuum cleaners are not. It was with some satisfaction that we watched our erstwhile marvel of Korean technology being squashed up with all kinds of horrid stuff ready to be transported to a land-fill site. Satisfying, because we came to hate the thing and crushing seems an appropriate fate for it. Worrying, though, that there’s no economic way of recycling the component parts even if they are mostly plastic. Goodness knows what future generations will make of our profligate waste.

All the roads into and out of Skegness, so far as I’ve experienced them, are lined with bungalows, built over the years to satisfy the needs of retirees as they have sought to escape the grime of the Midlands industrial towns and cities. All kinds of bungalows—large and small, smart and tatty. They go through a cycle, it seems, being made smart and desirable as newly retired folks move in, and then sliding slowly and inexorably into decline as the inhabitants grow older, poorer, and physically less able. We waited in a queue of traffic, held up by road works, and came to stop by one example of what must have been a really pleasant retirement home but which is now in the last stages of decay, with rotting woodwork and sagging masonry. The windows hadn’t been cleaned in a long time, and were obscured by part-drawn curtains. I caught a glimpse of the interior, of an extremely old woman sitting in a broken down armchair, seemingly looking at the walls, though she was more likely watching TV. There was a residual dignity still among the decay, but it was clear that her wait for the call home will not be much longer. And then the house will pass on to another owner, be renovated and made pleasant once more.

“I’d take it on,” said Graham, following my gaze.

“Well, there’s enough there to keep you busy for a while, that’s for sure.”


We’ll not be taking that one on, of course. Wrong place, wrong time. I rather suspect however, and certainly hope, that next time we buy a house it’ll be one in need of a lot of work. Keeps us busy, does a lot of work. Keeping busy is one of the things we most like to do.

Anyway. When we got home I found myself to be unaccountably tired, so I flopped for a while. And then a little while longer. And then, after a break, I flopped some more. A floppy kind of day, really, so it was just as well we went to the dump or I’d have nothing to show for it at all. I like to keep busy but, best to be realistic about these things, there are days when I need a break from busy.



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