You can never be too clear about rubbish......
By James Clarke
Attentive readers will recall that from time to time I piously go on about the need for plain English and how I support the current UK Plain English Campaign by shouting "Bravo!" and avoiding long words such as pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
Lylie Musgrave has drawn my attention to an item highlighted by the campaign.
It concerned Donna Challice (30) of Exeter in England, a mother-of-three who appeared in court last month for "contaminating recyclable rubbish".
Now, just as I support plain English, I also support recyclable rubbish. Ring ring!
Threnody! See who's on the phone, please.
What? It's the E*D*I*T*O*R and he's rung off? What did he say? He said everybody knows I am in favour of recycling rubbish because I keep doing so in my column?
Anyway, Britain's Environmental Protection Act specifies what sort of material householders have to place in special bins (after cleaning it) on specific days for recycling. Donna, on six occasions this year, put items in the wrong bins. She says it is because the rules are so confusing.
Exeter City Council's waste disposal chief, Arthur Dimson, says Donna's excuse is nonsense.
"It's quite simple," he says. "On the second and fourth Monday of each month, plastics go in the red bins and aluminium in the blue bins. On the first and third Tuesdays of each month - provided there has already been a first Monday, paper goes into the red containers and other non-aluminium metals go into the blue containers.
"If there hasn't been a first Monday, the schedule is pushed back a week. On alternating Wednesdays, glass goes into the red cans and miscellaneous recyclable refuse goes into the blue bins.
"On Thursdays, non-recyclable refuse may be put into the red or blue receptacles. All discards must be washed, except clothing - which may be washed or dry-cleaned, depending upon the fabric - and paper.
"Paper with coloured printing should only be placed in the red cans on the first Tuesday of each month. Paper with only black ink may be placed in the red containers on any other qualifying Tuesday.
"On weekends the bins remain empty for cleaning. These rules are all posted on the bottom of each recycling bin, so it's not as if people have to memorise them.
"Mrs Challice could wait until the weekend and look in the bottom of the empty bin to refresh her memory on the rules."
Apartheid - The lighter side
This reminds me of a Cape Town City Tramways announcement during the apartheid years. I am quoting from Ben Maclennan's 1990 book, Apartheid: The Lighter Side.
"A new bus apartheid system of seating will come into force on some routes on Monday. In the new system the front four rows of seats and the longitudinal seats over the off-side wheel in the lower saloon are reserved for Europeans, and the long seats over the near-side wheel for non- Europeans. The rest of the seats in the lower saloon and all seats in the upper saloon are for all classes.
The system changes slightly on Sundays, when non-Europeans have both of the long seats over the rear wheels, the Europeans having the first four rows. The trunk-route from Wynberg to Sea Point will be segregated only between the city and Sea Point, conductors change the boards before reaching the city stop at the Waldorf. In an interview, the manager of City Tramways denied that passengers were confused.
Scene - an auction room. The auctioneer suddenly announces: "A gentleman in this room has lost a wallet containing $10 000. If it is returned, he will pay a reward of $2 000."
A moment's silence. Then from the back of the room: "$2 500!"