tin of spriteThey circle on street corners
Sensing victory
Lids yawning to clutch at all we hold dear

If an Englishman’s home is his castle
Then surely his dustbins are the sentries
Standing guard without moving
In uniforms of plastic and tin

Nowhere but the United Kingdom
Is refuse collection
A cause for taking to the streets
Injustices lie unadressed
Brushed over with a disinterested tut
On page eleven
But when the state
Lays its invisible hand
On an Englishman’s bin
There the trouble lies

Shrieks each media outlet in town
Petitions proliferate
Fortnightly collections
Meet a shudder usually reserved
For the dead remaining unburied

This isn’t why we fought the war!
Unite to keep these gaping-mouthed monsters off our streets!
A weekly bin collection is a basic human right!
And has been since the sun first rose
On our sceptred isle
Lice, hedgehogs, and other unmentionables
Claw at abandoned sacks
Left rotting on the stairwells of the underclass
And the banks of the Tiber swell
With empty baked bean tins
Used tissues
Unwanted Christmas gifts
A million lonely bottles bobbing in the low tide

We will fight them on the porches!
Fume at council consultations
Slip brutal jolts of anecdote
In brown envelope
To the local MP
We will never surrender

Horrifying rumours from foreign climes
Proud home-owners prising insulation
Out from between walls
Or seeking to deport the neighbours
To make room for those excess refuse sacks
When you ask me my three priorities for government
I tell you this
Bin collection
Bin collection
Bin collection
Socialists sneer on the letters page
About how I don’t want things in my back yard
But this is all about
My Back Yard

On the way to the Neighbourhood Watch Meeting
A lad in a duffel coat
Thrusts a leaflet into my hand

Is this about BINS?
I enquire
Keen to add a new recruit
To our swelling ranks

“No, mate
Drum ‘n bass,
Tonight at the Volks,
Unless you mean Bass Bins?”

Hopeful expression fading
As he realises I’m a bit old for nightclubs
And I don’t pay my taxes
For “Bass Bins”

His tin of sprite falls to the floor
And I fix him with steely glare
And he shrugs with the dumb insolence of the young
And my stick not that I need it for walking
More a status symbol
Swings in parabola and catches him off balance
And another swing and he falls gasping onto the now crumbled can
And I swing the stick a couple more times for good measure

Common assault.
Six months suspended.
For trying to Keep Britain Tidy?
This country’s going to the dogs.
I shall be writing to my MP.


So this might be a slightly odd choice for the first poem on this blog, but I’ve got to start somewhere. This one was accidentally topical – I wrote it in late April, and then the bin strike kicked off in Brighton a few weeks later. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with the bin strike, as should be obvious from the text. “A weekly bin collection is a basic human right” is an actual genuine quote from Eric Pickles MP.

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