It is difficult to recall a time when our country has faced a more diverse set of challenges. A period of post-Brexit economic uncertainty was quickly eclipsed by the global pandemic and, in addition to the heavily publicised failings of the Metropolitan Police, the last few weeks have seen widespread disruption caused (in part) by a shortage of HGV drivers, but also by the subsequent panic-buying of fuel.
Those members of our family who continue to live in the Southeast of England, frequently regale us with stories that would strongly suggest that many local councils are close to breaking point too. One such council has had to suspend its garden waste collections – despite its residents having already been hit with paying an additional subscription for this particular service – and I’m told that its household waste and recycling collections are currently somewhat sporadic too. I gather that hospital appointments around the region are also something akin to gold dust at present, with NHS trusts working flat out to cover staff shortages whilst also trying to meet the ever-increasing demands posed by the ongoing pandemic. It would certainly seem that (in this respect at least) the North-South divide is currently tipping ever so slightly in our favour because, since relocating to Derbyshire in 2014, we have been fortunate enough to see little or no reduction in either the quality or availability of our local service provision. Any medical concerns have been promptly dealt with (to the point where my husband saw his GP one morning and, rather impressively, attended the local hospital for a range of tests the very next day) and our various bin collections have continued without disruption – and, better still, with no hint of a surcharge either.
Much to the relief of us all, I might add. Especially this week.
For half term week (regardless of location) is challenge enough for any family. With countless sibling disagreements to mediate, a range of interesting activities to mastermind, unpredictable weather to surmount, and one’s own last few shreds of sanity to retain, there is one household collection that positively NEEDS to take place. And boy, did our neighbour take full advantage this week…
As I reluctantly stepped from the shower cubicle this morning, I was met with the (all too) familiar sound of clinking glass and falling dustbin lids.
‘Grown-up’ cordial evidently forming part of this week’s coping strategy for other households too!
But this raucous ‘dawn symphony’ lasted well beyond the expected 4 movements, eventually culminating in an elaborate cadenza of aluminium cans too. And as I chuckled to myself (noting that perhaps a wine box or two might have been the wiser option here) I caught a brief glimpse of the ‘conductor’ surreptitiously wheeling their recycling bin towards the pavement. The irony being, of course, that in less than 48 hours (when the UK reverts to GMT) their identity would likely have been well and truly protected.