One does not in the 21st century expect the manners of bygone eras, but I’m beginning to wonder if things are starting to go a little too far.
A little while ago I asked our refuse collector to ensure that our bins were brought back to where he had got them from after emptying. If you had been there you might easily assume I had asked him to perform some Herculean task of almost impossible complexity.
Don’t ask me what was said, I’m as deaf as a post, but my wife, who was at the kitchen window, said that he was complaining about the slight slope on the footpath, which must be all of five yards long. Then, as he left, he shouted: “Old c***.”
I didn’t hear that either, but my wife most certainly did.
Well, I was astounded. Around 25 years we have lived here, and nobody, including refuse collectors, has ever mentioned the slope before. I lug bags of shopping along it every single day.
His parting remark, I felt, was absolutely outrageous – old! I’ve barely reached middle age, a mere stripling. I have plans for a whole new career with the Royal Ballet Company. I know my walking stick may appear to be a bit of a hindrance to such a career, but with good choreography and a skilled make-up department, I feel sure it could be easily accommodated. The only qualms I have are the ridiculous tights the male dancers wear. Hmm, come to think of it, the amount of padding I would
need to buy to pack the aforementioned tights could be prohibitively expensive… maybe I’ll have a bit of a rethink.
Our bins not having been returned to us, I decided to ring our caring local council, South Hams District Council. I don’t know if you have tried ringing it lately, but it has installed the very latest, super-duper, deluxe automatic telephone answering system. A system designed by a top, if somewhat mad, neuroscientist with the apparent intent to drive you insane long before you get to speak to a live person. (I think the council likes to get you into the same mindset as its staff.)
Unfortunately, the system does not have a button to press if you get called an “old c***” by your dustman. However, undaunted, I pressed on with the pressing of buttons and eventually reached the refuse department, where I spoke to a real, live human.
The department was magnificent – it even sent a really pleasant man to return our bins to us. So thank you very much SHDC refuse department.