Let's train our children to be tidy
CASUALLY flicking cherry stones out of the car window, perfecting my aim and trajectory with each stone, I suddenly realised that my youngest daughter was copying me.
Oh well, I thought, that's
another childhood habit that will have to go by the board.
I can't very well stop her and continue to do it myself. Sadly remembering that I was once a champion cherry stone flicker, not to mention a champion spitter, I resigned
myself to perfecting the children's manners at the cost of their enjoyment.
Good manners, however, oil the wheels of life and in some cases, such as the litter problem, are the only things that enable the wheels to turn at all. Now that the first ever National Anti-Litter Week is over and gone 1 wonder whether it has made a ha'p'orth of difference to the litter bugs.
Certainly it is better than nothing as a way of drawing people's attention to the disgusting mess of rubbish that is steadily engulfing us. Unfortunately, no one seems to have pointed out that the only way to save us from the litter bugs is to teach them good manners — prevention being better than cure, so to speak.
The saying that "manners maketh man" always seems so tritely dull until you realise what the opposite means, "No manners maketh beast" is not too strong a phrase to use about the people who litter our no longer green and no longer pleasant land with debris.
I may have a yen for flicking cherry stones but that is nothing compared with the "bug" who throws every scrap of cigarette and sweet paper out of his window. His activities, mind you, have got nothing on the type who throws bottles out, Believe me this is true for we narrowly escaped
serious injury when someone threw out of his car a large, empty bottle which flew into a million splinters as it hit the road just beside our car. Perhaps he forgot to leave it behind after his picnic.
Picnickers have always been among the worst offenders in the litter brigade. And this must be why it is now impossible, except in the wildest parts of the country, to find a pleasant picnic spot off the beaten track.
The farmers and landowners have fenced themselves in so well that on a recent trip to Sussex we were landed with Hobson's Choice—either the main road or an unofficial rubbish tip. Choosing the tip but staying in the car rather defeated the object of the exercise but we had come on a picnic and a picnic we were going to have.
Making life hell for other people is the unwritten and possibly unconscious motto of the litter bug. Even if it's only a minor hell—like the state of our front garden, it's unnecessary and inexcusable.
Like the other gardens along this main road, ours lies under a carpet of traffic-born dirt but it is also festooned with used bus tickets, cigarette packets, sweet and iced lolly papers, biscuit wrappings, newspapers —you name it, we've got it. And although I don't object to removing my own litter I have a rooted objection to removing someone else's.
While hurling their bits and pieces onto our gardens the litter bugs have the gall to pinch a few flowers at the same time, A friend of ours has her roses stolen regularly. She would like to lynch the thieves as much as I would like to get my hands on the litter merchants.
Neither of us is likely to have much success, which is perhaps just as well. Even so, unless children are trained to think of others, I can't see the litter problem growing any less no matter how many AntiLitter Weeks we have.