A COLLEAGUE was weaving his way down Ecclesall Road the other lunchtime.
No. He hadn’t had one or two too many.
In fact, he is a respectable chap who had his three nippers in tow and they were off to the park. Again!
So why was a perfectly respectable, totally sober chap swaying from side to side?
Simple. He was bin-dodging. Scores of wheelie bins littered the pavement as far as the eye could see.
And the reason he recounted this experience to me was that it wasn’t bin day.
The bins had been emptied a couple of days earlier.
Yet there they were, still lining the pavement as though they owned the place.
With the kind of practised eye that comes from living in the area, my pal summed it up in one word: “Students.”
Now he may have been jumping to conclusions. But he was pretty confident that this was a correct one.
That part of Ecclesall Road is home to many of the young academics who come here.
And many of them live in shared accommodation, where four or more of them bunk down in a terrace house with a bedroom apiece and muck in around the kitchen and lounge areas.
It’s a good enough arrangement. Alas, it has its drawback in that there all too often nobody takes responsibility for the bins.
And so they are left out on the pavement. Sometimes for weeks on end.
The council threatens us with fins if we don’t retrieve our bin. But this cajoling falls on deaf ears with many people.
And I reckon that for the majority, it is just laziness.
Here I fall into the stereotype trap and feel that students are among the culprits.
You see, if it was me or many of my generation who were leaving the bins on the pavement (of course, we don’t...too much civic pride), the reason would be bloody-mindedness!
You see, we remember the good old days. When the nation wasn’t anywhere near as affluent as it is these days.
And we had service from our council.
Service in the form of them providing someone to do things for us.
And one of those things was that not only were our bins emptied, but the chap popped round the back of our house, hoisted the bin on his shoulder, carried it to the wagon and then, when empty, put it back where he found it.
The rot set in when we lost our urban district councils.
Small towns and villages were swallowed up by their big neighbours and very quickly services were standardised across the new boroughs.
And invariably, the every day services upon which we rely were standardised in a downward direction.
I remember working in Mexborough when there was a fuss among traders when they were first asked to bring their bins to the pavement to be emptied.
A warning to us all.
For it wasn’t long before we were all being introduced to the do-it-yourself bin emptying service courtesy of our brave new world.
And along with that came the growing problem of people leaving bins at convenient rather than discreet locations.
Not only are they abandoned at the kerb but a lot of people store their bins in front of their houses these days.
Can’t blame them but they are a mess to us passers by. Have we ‘bin’ had?