WELL that’s the festive season well and truly over and the January days are still cold, dark and wet. Depressing? Yes, but, hey, we’re Scottish so we can deal with it. We can go for a walk when the rain stops. Or use the bus to go a wee trip to that nice coffee shop.

Personally, I can’t say either cheers me up much. In fact, quite the opposite. Why? Well, you know how some people like to titivate their house for Christmas with, say, new furniture, carpet, curtains and fridge? Well, all the old stuff has to go somewhere, like the recycling centre, or into an uplift by the council. And I dare say much of it does – certainly there was a snaking queue to get into my local recycling centre the other day. But – and it’s a big BUT – a lot of it does not.

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A stroll up the path to my local shops changes my mood into an incongruous mix of rage and sadness. The hedge that edges the path is very special indeed – it’s a rubbish-eating hedge! Or so some people seem to think. Need to get rid of all that bulky polystyrene packaging? Och, the hedge can swallow that and the pushchair that Junior’s too big for, or that annoying slab of foam rubber that we used for ... well, can’t remember but let’s get this house in order so out to the hedge with it! Or let’s just tease passers-by and put everything into plastic bags and then into the hedge, and they can speculate as to the contents for a decade or so until the bags degenerate.

Have you ever watched a bright-eyed blackbird standing in a sea of rubbish looking up at you? I want to apologise and say, “It wasn’t me,” but I feel guilty all the same. It has probably just ingested some polystyrene ground down into minute pieces.

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And just wait for spring. Longer days make us want to tidy our gardens which, for some, means trundling wheelbarrows full of garden waste to the nearest nature area if there’s too much for the faithful old hedge to cope with. So what if it’s broken concrete slabs, plastic tubs, or a broken whirlygig, it’s nominally “garden” waste so surely that’s all right? And if not, “the council will get it.”

And a warning, dear readers – just because you don’t fly tip or litter doesn’t mean it won’t come to your own door. You never know what’s going to appear. A car tyre came rolling into my garden overnight.

So you catch the bus for a wee outing to cheer yourself up. Every lay-by you pass will have a selection of the following: a rolled-up carpet, neatly tied; a chest of drawers; a peculiar metal stand; bulging black bin bags and, of course, a mattress. Car parks tend to have old toys, bikes, a lone training shoe and black bin bags. That lovely copse of trees on the edge of the village? It will have sprouted a fridge (how did they get it over the fence?).

Fair enough, it is not always easy for people to get to a local authority recycling centre especially, if they don’t have a car, and some councils charge for uplift from your house. But if you are buying a new appliance, factor into your budget the cost of an uplift of the old one. Ask someone to help – I often take items away for elderly people who are unable to do so for themselves. As for those who obviously use their cars to take their rubbish to car parks, lay-bys and beauty spots, I’m sorry, I don’t understand your thinking. Does it please you every time you drive by and see your discarded mattress? Do you get a bit misty-eyed when you witness the springs eventually poking through, like the first green shoots after winter?

And, yes, I’m aware that you can report litter and fly-tipping to the council but no sooner are items removed than they’re replaced with more junk.

Never mind. It takes our minds off world politics, personal debt and what on earth we’re going to cook for dinner.

Frances Smith