Disposing of nothing.

When I was a horrible child, we had proper bins. Big galvanised steel ones with lids that were capable of handling the ashes from the coal fire even if they were too hot to touch. They weren’t as big as the vast black plastic thing on wheels we have now, they had no wheels at all. Just handles.

Bin men used to come around and lift these things without ever once measuring how far they were from the kerb or worrying about what was in them. They had no lifting device, just a truck with sides they opened, then they lifted and poured the contents of the bin into the truck and put the bin back.

Not one hi-vis jacket to be seen. No complaints about bin lids being a quarter of an inch too high.

Then again, not much went in those bins. Coal fire ashes, mostly. Newpapers went in there because they were part of the coal fire ashes. Cremated paper. We didn’t throw away much food because we didn’t have supermarkets selling packages of food in amounts nobody could possibly eat in the timescale allowed.

I remember the first nearby Carrefour in a town called Pontllanfraith. There was much excitement but when it opened, nobody really know how to work it. Get the stuff yourself? What’s that about? How do we get half a pound of this stuff that’s all in one-pound bags? What the hell – trolleys? What are those for?

Trolleys are insane. I rarely use them and only ever use the low-volume ones. People arrive at tills with the massive trolleys piled high with enough food to get them through a zombie apocalypse and I wonder at their reasoning. Sure, you can have several well stocked freezers but if the worst happens and the power goes off…

Incidentally, if there is a zombie apocalypse and you insist on me going outside to smoke, you’d stand a better chance with the zombies.

Back to those bins. We threw stuff straight in. No plastic bags or bin liners. Now I have a bin in the kitchen which takes 70-litre bin bags. When that’s full I take out the bag, put in a new one and put the full one in my massive wheeled disposal box outside. It has occurred to me, often, that bin bags are bought simply to be thrown away. Fortunately we have lots of mysterious charities here who seem to think I buy so many clothes that I must throw out a whole bag full every week. They deliver loads of plastic bags which fit my kitchen bin.

When I do clear out old clothes, I put them in the big RNLI clothes box. They are in plastic bags, as requested, they just have the name of the wrong (and likely fake) charity on the bag.

Supermarket plastic bags are a new phenomenon too (if you are old like me). We used to get stuff in paper bags which were good for starting up a coal fire. Plastic ones stink when they burn. I remember buying sodium chlorate in a little brown paper bag. Nails and screws too. None of those hard-plastic bubble boxes in those days, those packs containing ten screws each when you need eleven. If you wanted eleven, you bought eleven. There is actually a local shop that can still do that for common sizes – yes, this is a hick town but I like it that way. I can buy one hinge in there. One. Grasp that, drones. That shop sold me the little block of beeswax I use to seal model boat rigging so it doesn’t get damp and sag.

Now we throw away much of what we buy – and we buy plastic bags for the sole purpose of throwing them away. I must admit that the free supermarket bags have been a blessing. I use them to line my office bin. Still, I can cope without them.

Inevitably, this scenario leads to the throwing away of nothing at all at enormous expense.

And so it came to pass that the Government devised an expensive, insane and ridiculous scheme and the Church of Climatology rejoiced, and nobody with more than half a brain was even remotely surprised. Do political parties select candidates based on their gullibility these days? It certainly looks that way.

Their idea is this. We grow plants of a kind that will suck up carbon dioxide. So that’s any kind of plant at all, if the politicians were capable of the merest hint of understanding of biology. When I was at school we had to learn the biochemical pathways of photosynthesis for A level. I was pleased that bugger didn’t come up in the exam. Now they just learn that ‘some’ plants are good at .taking up CO2.

Then we burn these evil, contaminated witch plants and steal their power. Then we capture the CO2 we have just released by burning the plants that have already captured it. How we do this is not explained. Then we hire lots of minimum-wage-slaves to shovel this stuff into coal mines to hide it, so next year’s crop can’t sneakily absorb it. We will know the world is safe when all the plants die.

I have this image of baffled  guys with shovels being told to shovel the contents of an apparently empty truck into a hole in the ground. You know, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that MPs don’t know what ‘it’s a fucking gas, you idiots, and it all blew out of the truck on the way here’ really means.

Carbon dioxide dissolved in water produces carbonic acid. Pump enough into the ground and those plants struggling to find enough CO2 in the air to live on will also find that their roots are being wrecked by soil acidification. As ‘sustainable’ ideas go, this one will bring on Armageddon within ten years. What a bunch of dicks.

Leaving aside the nonsense of turning arable land over to growing stuff to burn instead of to eat while simultaneously telling us all to eat more veg and less meat, there is a better idea.

Just ram all the spare vegetable matter into the old coal mines. No need for special crops, use all the waste stems and leaves of current crops. It is exactly the same. Pack it in hard. There goes your CO2, it’s all locked up in buried plant material and there is a bonus.

Give it time. When the  human race actually manages to grow up and see what a teenage dirtbag it has been, that rammed-in vegetable matter might well have turned into new coal, or at least peat. A huge supply of energy for the (hopefully) less idiotic world of the future.

As for now, there is no point trying to help the drone government to understand. They are incapable of it. Let them play their silly little games right up to the point of piano wire and lampposts.

I probably won’t live to see it but for the future people, I recommend the bass strings. The high strings are like cheese wire. Far too quick.

Maybe I will live to see it if I continue to studiously ignore all that Puritan health insistence. Indeed, as I am both well pickled and thoroughly smoked, I might last longer than Tutankhamun.


Tonight’s randomness has been brought to you bu Caol Ila, because I am not working tomorrow so it’s safe to stink of peat all day. There are probably typos in there but I don’t care.


35 thoughts on “Disposing of nothing.

  1. I recall buying hardware by the pound or even a potion by the pound, even here in America. I tried explaining that concept to a young Home Depot clerk while buying a packet of six Lag Bolts when I needed 7, and her eyes glazed over. Thus it goes….


  2. In Scotland you can buy a half loaf which is a whole loaf.

    On another tack, the biofuel rubbish really grips my shit. You build a power station to generate electrickery but it has to burn “biomass” which is well known to be inefficient. There isn’t enough locally so you buy it elsewhere then truck it to the power station burning diesel and wearing tyres and roads in the process. Yay! Planet-saver . . .


  3. The short-handing of CO2 to ‘carbon-free’ and ‘zero-carbon’ is the reason for confusion. It has led to a short-circuiting of faculties.


  4. Now look. I wanted a peaceful Sunday, but after reading your blog I can instantly feel another bout of Victor Meldrew coming on….


  5. You had a nearby Carrefour in a town called Pontllanfraith Really ?? A branch of the French supermarket giant. Crikey..
    I do agree with you about buying small quantities of ironmongery. I lived in a town once with a very ancient shop that had a refurb. If I recall correctly they got some sort of listed building grant to retain the back half of the shop with creaking floorboards big wooden drawers with brass pull handles and a brilliant worn counter. Probably been Tescoed now.
    Oh yes it even smelled right. They sold leather to people who mended shoes like my Dad did.
    Thank for the memory LI.


    • Carrefour was our first experience of a supermarket. Did they go bust or just withdraw from the UK? Anyway, it’s gone now but there is a huge Asda near my old home, also Tesco (of course) and Aldi.

      I remember those old banks of wooden drawers. Lots of shops were set up that way, even the place my grandmother bought all her knitting supplies.

      I had forgotten that old general-store leather smell.


  6. In the town where the Dwarf Hovel is currently situated there is still a Town Square-with a twice weekly market that dates back to F.K.W (a historian’s technical abbreviation: “Fuck Knows When”). As far back as anyone can remember, there had always been an ‘Ironmongery/hardware’ shoppe there. Run, traditionally, by some old man in a brown lab coat who could ALWAYS find whatever 1/2″ double flanged lefthanded widget one needed…somewhere in the cavernous wooden drawed depths of The Stock Room (turn left at Mordor) . He’d sell you a single nail or whatever poundage you wanted (and it would be in lbs cos he couldn’t be doing with all that ‘foreign kilo nonsense’).

    Last year the shop shut. Now anyone who needs anything ‘metally’ or ‘homewarey’ has to either ebay or drive to Homebastard (some 9 miles aways). Result? The whole Town Centre is dying. Various shopkeepers around the Market Place have bemoaned that since that Ironmonger has shut the ‘foot fall’ (a shopkeepers technical term for paying customers walking in off the street) has plummeted lower than shares in Co-Op Bank.

    Off topic but when I lived and worked in Scotland, back in the 80’s, almost everyone smoked either Regal or Kansita Club. While they weren’t cheap brands they weren’t as expensive as , say, Malboro or Silk Cut. I was in the Supermarket a minute ago- which for some reason still doesn’t have the Panzer Steel Blast Doors Of Shame- and I noticed a pack of Regal is now £9.26 (Morleys are almost a £1 cheaper)!


      • Hmmm Gauloises Caporal, Gitanes and Roth Haendle, all filterless bien sûr…..the tastes of my mispent “Radical” youth. Still smoke them when someone else is buying. The price of Regals maybe explains why I sell sooo many tabocco leaf shredders to Scotland (the other big customer is Wales, funnily enough).


    • £9.26!

      When I first set up my own baccy growing operation, my total budget for buckets, trays and compost was about the cost of two of those packs. Since most of it came from Poundland it’s still the same price.

      No wonder there are so many websites selling seeds, plants, leaves etc now.

      For myself, I doubt I’d go back to shop bought tobacco even if the price came down. Mostly due to my ability to hold a grudge.


  7. I remember as a boy in the sixties going to the local ironmongers with a plastic jerrycan to fill up with paraffin. Thence to the newsagents to buy Dad his 1/2 oz of Golden Virginia, matches and Rizlas plus some loose fags for my Mum. We also bought bamboo and string to make bows and arrows. I’m surprised we survived given the H & S puritans that proliferate these days and believe those activities should have killed me.


  8. As ‘sustainable’ ideas go, this one will bring on Armageddon within ten years. What a bunch of dicks.

    My hand in the air, I prefer ‘sustainable’ since I plan to be around for another decade or two. But when the people preaching ‘sustainable’ are incapable of maintaining a fire through the cold night, haven’t the first idea where the outhouse goes in relation to the well, couldn’t sustain a plant from the seed on through to the table, are incapable of raising to adulthood any type of animal (whether meat to eat, mobility to ride, or offspring to continue the race) and in general can not sustain themselves through a hard weekend…they can just keep their sustainability ideas in their own head, where they will die of loneliness.


    • Real sustainable ideas are to be applauded – also real recycling and real waste-cutting.

      But we used to do all that before! Deposits of a few pennies on bottles meant they were returned to the shop for re-use. Everything in paper bags and you’d take your shopping basket when you went out. Most houses had long gardens and many people grew a lot of their own vegetables. Those long gardens have been mostly sold off so someone else can build another house on it. Modern houses, like mine, have bugger all garden.

      All of it forgotten within one lifetime. Now we have people telling us we have to do the sort of things we used to do, but not in the ways we used to do it. The old ways are no good to ‘progressives’. Even though they used to work very well indeed.


  9. There are a couple of shops like that in Shakespeare Street, Southport. We all call it “shakey street” because some of the businesses are “shaky”, especially Dodgy Dave.

    But there’s Chris Taylor (electricals) who even still sells big good tungsten light bulbs. Even the 200 watt ones which are supposedly illegal. You can get then in dozens. Or just the one. You can even buy the smaller ones from him.

    Then there’s a little bearded man in a brown labcoat, in a shop you have to climb over stuff to get into, and he’ll sell you _one bolt_, and even the nut to go with it. Many’s the time I’ve taken in a stripped bolt or screw from a VOX AC30…..and he has new ones of the right Imperial thread, and even the right length.

    And there’s John @ Lancashire Heroes (that’s what the shop’s called) where you can buy your five-a-day (Special Brews, that is. Like you, I think about vegetables at least five times a day, but prefer the tinnies, the soft drinks as you term them.) He also does whiskies: not really the expensive stuff you’d like, but I did see a couple of bottles of Talisker in there a while ago. I visited the Talisker distillery as a venture scout in 1968 on “summer camp” in Skye. I and my patrol were even allowed to “sample” the odd thimbleful, by our scoutmasters as we were “16 or older”. Happy days, before GramscoStalinism, they were!)


  10. Uncannily (or not) similar experiences and memories. Of course, the kind of people who gravitate here are much of an age. But given that most (many) of our governors are much of the same age, one has to ask what kind of childhoods did they have? Misfit ones I say. They were the weirdos who never joined in and so ended up being crap at everything. And also I will permit, most of them have never lived in the real world anyway, by virtue of some ‘class’ business.

    I suppose in addition that there are now entering the governing class those of a younger age. They’ve never had a childhood, whatever class they came from. Have you got onto the fact that it’s people aged quite possibly up to 40 now (30 seems definite) who look at you simultaneously agog, bemused ……. and critically? Even everyday things you may recollect belong to a dangerous, oppressive, backward age …………..of evil controllers, uneducated (so they like to think) hordes, feral children (sic) and of course racists and sexists and planet killers.

    I’ve long been griping about wheelie bins, binmen and the whole caboodle around rubbish. I still have some of those old galvanised dustbins at work, for steel off-cuts and coal and firewood and all-sorts. Had them decades, though one or two have been re-bottomed. I now have four, differently coloured, garish wheelies at home, but I think they’re great. Two holds logs, the other is my store for plastic sacks (old sand and stone bags), and the 4th is full of bamboo canes and pea-sticks. The MINIMAL amount of rubbish I generate is put in my neighbour’s wheelies, to supplement the minimal amount she generates and she’s ok with that. Community sharing, without the Council being any the wiser. We still don’t fill one bin between us in a month.

    The other two (?) brand new, blue wheelie bins the council deposited in excess of what we needed have come in just fine at apple harvest time. Try moving a wheelie bin full of apples and out of a van. It’s a leg-breaker (gasp) but they are so convenient as a store whilst on the move. Bit of a ramp though out of two old scaffold planks and you’re away.

    Thirty-year olds – don’t try this at home!

    We tried to send the two excess blue bins back, but the council said they were delivered by private contractors (?) and it was out of their hands. Oh well, they’ll come in for something I thought and come the autumn harvest and – eureka!

    They also make very good water butts too.

    But to my mind, the sheer production of so much heavy-duty plastic has surely caused as much ‘nasty stuff’ on the planet than if we had just stuck the the galv ones and lobbed everything in there like we used to. Mainly just ashes like you said.

    Actually I agree with the separation and grading of metal waste (cans and tins) and plastic waste. Paper and glass too. It’s not rocket science. It depends on what’s done next too of course.

    As for the O level Biology and all that – is that really what they’re saying now? Mind you, try saying ‘photosynthesis’ to any thirty-year old. See what I mean?

    As bad as it all is, our type will still be chuckling till the end. Might as well. If you didn’t laugh you would cry.

    Bamboo canes and waxed twine was the one. And we didn’t buy it – we ‘borrowed’ it out of the garden shed and whilst we fiddled with bows, the hand-throwing arrows were the superlative device, easily cast the length of a football field – aged ten. Tipped with dart points!

    Don’t try it at home!


    • Paper recycling went on when I was a child for sure. It was what those crappy school exercise books were made from. There was something in the process (dioxin?) used to bleach the horrible grey pulp that was causing problems, so paper recycling had a bad time from the Greenies. Who now insist we do it again, but without the bleaching.

      Good to see you found a use for all those bins. All they give out around here is the black wheelie and a black box for empty whisky bottles (officially for glass, plastic and tins). I’d actually quite like one of those garden-waste bins. That would be very useful since I grow far more than I can compost myself. Our council don’t have those.

      At least we don’t have the slop-buckets here. Instead, they’ll sell us (if we want it) a ‘cone’ composter that you stick in the ground and chuck in anything organic. The roitting stuff goes straight into the soil. I’m considering getting one and placing it next to the rhubarb.

      As for education, I heard some time ago that in school physics classes (locally at least) the acceleration due to gravity is no longer 9.8 m/s/s, but 10. To make the sums easier.

      My flabber was ghasted. We had to do those sums using 9.8 and calculators weren’t even available until my final year of school – and were not allowed in exams.

      On the plus side, it means that we are not getting fatter. Gravity has increased. We are the same mass but we all weigh around 2% more.


    • Hold on Laddie, you have just given me an idea!!!

      A wheelie bin with a hole drilled about 10 cm from the bottom, and one of these plastic taps fitted would make one HEL of a fucking brewing bucket!!!


  11. Everything possible went on the fire. Oh yes… There was an incident however, at my paternal Scottish Grannies. One evening in the 60’s, whilst I was visiting with my a Dad, granny put an old girdle on the fire.

    Did it burn? Oh yes… It must have been rubber to a degree so it burned enthusiastically. It set the chimney on fire producing huge amounts if dense smoke which was also stinky. Neighbours were noticing and once again Granny had a solution. She threw sugar on the fire which reduced the ferocity and avoided any potential visit from the local part-time fire brigade.

    If it couldn’t be burned or put in the Brock bin it went in the metal bin. Everything possible was used to the nth degree. A great way to get the most out of everything.

    The local hardware guy was Jewish and didn’t open on Fridays but did open on Sundays. The only shop for miles which was open all day on a Sunday.


  12. I’m surprised to see that no one has pointed out which plant is the best to absorb CO2. Tobacco plants can grow leaves 3′ long by 18″ wide, and they do so rapidly. No need for trees which take a lifetime to grow. Pay the Indian government to grow tobacco plants all over their territory, and the problem would be solved. Not only that, but they could be given away free to the poor, who would burn them, releasing only the harmless substance called nicotine. The ensuing euphoric effects of the nicotine in the atmosphere of India would have enormous beneficial effects. Further, the ashes could be distributed and scattered wholesale over the land, thus increasing the potash content, to the greater benefit of all plants. It is hard to imagine an easier way to SAVE THE WORLD.


    • Grow tobacco and burn it for energy… oh, there would be much wringing of teeth and gnashing of hands among the Righteous.

      That alone makes it well worth doing 🙂


  13. Apparently it is possible to burn something, capture the CO2 and store it, in theory. Problem is, you’re taking a gas at atmospheric pressure and compressing it (and cooling it) which all takes energy, and then you squirt this stored-enedry gas down into a gas-holding rock or something.

    Nobody has managed to do this on an industrial scale.

    The last industrial-scale plant that was supposed to test how this could be done closed down last year, as it didn’t actually generate any power. It burned coal, and spent all the energy in the coal pumping the CO2 back underground. I suspect that the scientist in charge simply got fed up and told his masters it was a waste of time and why didn’t they try not digging up the coal in the first place.


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