Look At It This Way - October 16, 2015

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This column has taken three times as long to write, and four times as long to check for literals. And I’ll have missed one – I now. Sorry, know.

I’ve effectively been under house arrest for a week after a small operation last Saturday at Spire courtesy of the NHS – which almost made me glad to be going into hospital.

I sipped my café latte and debated what to watch on a flatscreen telly which didn’t swing down in front of me or come with costly phone charges to nearest and dearest.

Instead I read my Kindle. The serial killer I’d been following for three days was put on ice until I could take the evisceration again. A murderous medic was the last thing I needed just then.

With nothing to drink since 7.45am I tried to order take out from the Visitors’ Menu … which includes wine!

Could have murdered a bone dry Prosecco, but the canteen staff brought me water and toast instead – after a discreet check with nurses.

I think Marmite was thrown in by way of punishment.

At the risk of doing what is known in Gazette circles as ‘A Canavan’ – somewhere between Ronnie Corbett and Michael McIntyre – I once reviewed a restaurant where you told them what you didn’t like and turned up to a surprise meal of their choice.

I arrived to find the place full of clowns. I don’t mean the staff or diners; the restaurant was adorned with hundreds of clowns. I hate clowns, but hadn’t banked on having to tell them to redecorate. The ghastly things peered and leered and grinned at diners.

It set the tone for what turned out to be a laughing stock. I’d forgotten to mention my partner didn’t like lamb. Pink lamb all but bleated to the table.

Best of all, I got marmite bread. Marmite? Bread? Who on earth would think of saying ‘and I don’t like Marmite’ when sending over a list of food dislikes. I’m lucky I didn’t get a tripe starter or real mud pie for dessert.

But back to that op. It went well. Pete, one of my pals on Twitter, turned out to be one of the bank nurses in theatre and held my hand, literally and metaphorically, through the procedure.

Armed with a sling I slung my hook for a week of one-handed eating, washing, showering, hair drying and typing. Spaghetti bolognese was the low point. I had to wash my sling after.

I’m a touch typist, but when you’re a finger down and supposed to keep your hand elevated it doesn’t help. I’m still working out how to take notes and pictures at the CashQuest4Carers Awards ceremony tomorrow – mentally devising some Heath Robinson contraption.

My sense of perspective – in the face of growing self-pity – was restored by three things.

A tweet from a carer attending tomorrow’s awards, who looks after his wife with MS. She’s virtually paralysed and her legs had cramped and he was massaging them.

An email from an American friend who broke her back in a climbing accident – and who’s off to take part in a canyon ‘walk with some abseiling thrown in’ for charity.

And finally watching the care with which an extremely elderly lady used a disability aid to extend her reach and scoop up dog muck left by her little dog, before placing it in the supermarket bag she had placed on the ground (the sort which will cost her 5p now) before walking a few paces and doing the same with a small black plastic (full) bag dropped on the pavement of West Drive, Cleveleys, by a less considerate dog walker.

Doggone it, I’ve stopped whingeing now.

Let’s dump on the fly-tippers ... from a great height

Litter is not, generally speaking, a naturally occurring phenomenon. It happens because people create it. And very few other people have the guts to call them out on it – ‘I think you forgot this’ is probably as good as it gets from me if someone has moved on from a picnic and left a trail of wrappers and cans in their wake. And if they say ‘no, I haven’t forgotten’ I’m more likely to meekly pick them up myself, rather than challenge them further. People have been knifed for less.

However, fly-tipping falls into a whole new league. It cost Blackpool £320,000 a year to clear up the mess left by 4,328 incidents – £20,000 for 564 incidents of white goods dumped illegally. It’s on the rise in Fylde and Wyre.

I tried to cut across the Moss the other day, between St Annes and Blackpool, and noticed one of the ‘passing places’ on the rural route, now closed, had become a dumping ground for white goods.

It may look like no-man’s-land (Fylde or Blackpool?) but is everything to wildlife and walkers and cyclists. It’s an environmental nuisance and a health hazard – and it says a lot about our throwaway society.

There’s every chance it’s been dumped by van-man rather than a householder. Time to dump upon them from a mighty height, I’d suggest… through the courts.