Saturday, 11 March 2017

Rubbish - recycling - remarkable words!

Out running this morning I came across a woman with a bag full of rubbish in one hand and a further collection of bits and pieces she could not fit into the bag in the other. She told me she collects rubbish every day on her morning walk. She thinks that the lay-by up the road is used by drug addicts to share their poison of choice as she frequently finds crumples of tinfoil there. She also find vodka bottles on a fairly regular basis. She finds this slightly less offensive than the remains of picnics and packaging from fast food outlets: stuff that people don't want to clutter their cars with but don't mind leaving to clutter up our pavements. What she finds most offensive are the sweet wrappers, which she assumes parents allow their children to drop as they walk along.

Why do people leave all their detritus behind? Is it so difficult to carry your rubbish home in a bag in your car and then put it in the bin. Of course, some of the problem might disappear if there were actually bins in the places where people stop for picnics in lay-bys. And along the bridle paths for that matter. It is possible to go for a couple of miles along bridle paths around her without seeing a single rubbish bin. But wanting litter bins might be asking for too much. After all, you would then have to employ someone to empty them!

 Later, returning from the shops, I came across Mike, a local chap who walks miles and miles every day with his unprepossessing-looking rescue dog. He commented that earlier in the day he had met another dog walker. That lady's dog had one of those collars like a lampshade to prevent it getting at a wound on its leg. She had let it run around in a field recently and the poor thing had cut his leg badly on a broken bottle in the grass. Even worse than stuff left at the side of the road.

Our daughter is also having difficulty with rubbish. In her case, it's the difficulty of getting rid of it. First of all there is the paper-recycling bin that the local council neglects to empty. Recycling is encouraged; indeed people are sometimes fined for not recycling. But in her square the dustbin men fail to empty the paper recycling bins. The last time she complained about it the solution was for them to empty the recycled stuff into the general waste wagon. Not a solution! One of her neighbours plans to take up the challenge; he likes to remind them when he phones about such things that he is a retired magistrate. I wonder if that still works!

Her other problem is disposing of an old sofa now that she has ordered new furniture from that Scandinavian company. They promise to take old stuff away and recycle it when they deliver new but on this occasion there was no specific instruction to that effect on the delivery note and so the workmen refused to take the old sofa away. They did not realise that they were dealing with one of the experts in making complaints and now, after her telephone rant to customer services, they have to turn out again and take it away.

I am, however, impressed by the company taking stuff away for recycling at all. It is remarkably difficult to get rid of large old stuff when you buy new. But this is a Scandinavian company. They like recycling.

They also like words for odd things. We have already grown used to "hygge", the Danish for comfortable living. They also have "uhygge", meaning creepiness or possibly the antithesis of "hygge". The Swedes, by the way, call "hygge" "koselig".

A pleasing word is "Kabelsalat", which both the Germans and the Norwegians use to describe the mess when all your cables are tangled up.

I also like "kalsarikännit", a Finnish term for drinking by yourself at home in your underwear with no intention of going out. Goodness knows why they drink in their underwear, let alone have a word for it. Maybe they are all "Texas", a term which the Norwegians are said to use to mean crazy!

Now I need to start looking out for English terms for odd things. Surely we must have some.

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