I take a morning constitutional. In doing so, I usually buy some cheap, tacky sweet substance. Rowntrees' Fruit Gums. Lucozade. The other day I Tango'd myself. At the end of the circular walk I pass a recycling centre, with an orifice into which the socially-conscitneitous can insert drinks cans. I went to do so, and then...
The 18th HGV in as many minutes roared along the narrow B road that bisects my village. These vile machines are aggregates carriers, plying to and from two brick/cement works nearby, often on journeys connected with the absurd redevlopment of the 'Celtic Manor' golf course, a horror whose traffic is slowly destroying the historic town of Caerleon. I looked at the can in my hand and thought: 'why bother?'
Most public discourse in the UK built around dissembling - from the folderol parroted by the backhander-pocketing pillocks of civic disgrace that are sweeping Newport into the gutter of chavviness and gimcrack anonymity to the garbage that the Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor will somehow create 8 million jobs within a few seconds. Green issues are much the same - here was I, gullibly conscientious with my tiny attempt at environmental goodwill, an example Mr Brown and co contionually exhort us to set and yet here was a road choked with roaring juggernauts dutifully attending the destruction of more acreages of virgin countryside.
It's as cheap a con as notices adsvertising 'real ale' outside pubs who don't stock a drop of it, the phrase 'your call is important to us', the insertion of the word 'gourmet' on menus when gastronomes would only enter into a contract with the 'chef' on the promise he paid them and provided a bucket. As Paul Fussell writes in BAD (1991) we live in the Age of Publicity - the Age of Disinformation, not of Information.
But to interfere would be to interfere with business, the ultimate heresy for New Labour. And worse, to ionterfere with the road transport business, that accursed boil on the backside of British social and economic life since the 1950s. After all, the fate of the planet might be important, but loosening the shackles on hauliers, cowboy and choirboy types alike - takes precedence. They are, as those obscene 'Fuel Protest' clowns of 2000 realised, 'the lifeblood of the country' - because the destruction of the rail and canal networks has allowed the development of social and economic infrastructure to make this status secure.
I used to like lorries - the scalloped lines of the face of Fodens, and of Scammells - one cab designed by none other than Pininfarina - of AEC's Ergonomic cab. Now they are not only toxic avengers, they don't even look attractive. They have, in the words of the song, crashed the gate doing 98. I say let them truckers rolll, 10-4! And we have.
I stood, foolishly, the crushed can in my hand, and watched another four barrel by.
Then I put the can into the recycler. Fuck 'em. Anything to fight back.