Wheelie Bins, The Beach and Tony Christie. Trust me, it’ll all make sense

I like my work. Generally it’s the only time I can relax ;) The weekends now consist of painting, wallpapering, sanding, gardening or something in between. What happened to spending lazy summer afternoons in the pub eh ? How come we’re not getting drunk at our towns biggest summer event of the year? Well, I’ll tell you why..

In my hometown this weekend there’s an event called the Burntwood Wakes. This used to be called the “Chase Wakes” but they changed it due to some strange local political issue. Apparently now most of the cash funding it has come from the local town itself .. and some bloke.. so the name got changed… Anyhow, last year hardly anyone turned up. There was a massive argument in the local press about it. A huge amount of letters were written by residents about how the event was too quiet with no hardly any stalls or activities…or acts onstage. Letters, press releases from the council, reports by police and protests…. It was shocking. No-one had seen so much disapproval since the council in a neighbouring town decided to give everyone an additional wheelie bin to recycle (more on this in a minute).

So this year the organiser of the revamped Burntwood Wakes had a bit of trouble getting people interested in the event. He’s managed to bag himself Tony Christie (From Peter Kay “Is this the way to Amarillo” fame) but, even after sinking 50,000 of his own money into the event, he had trouble getting the punters back. The reason seemed to be that, although the two-day event (Saturday 13th and 14th) was free on the Sunday, most of the stars and events came on the Saturday…. which wasn’t free. Tickets started at 19, which meant 58 for a family of four. After yet more daft letters into the paper (we love to moan in this country!) ticket prices were reduced.

After all the discussions, the plans and the arguments were complete the event kicked off on Saturday, billed as the great “come back” for our local town … But oh dear… The weather was against us. It rained all over the Burntwood Wakes on Saturday. And when I say it rained, it poured down. It absolutely hammered it down all day. We had floods, water cascading over walls and people paddling past our house in rubber dinghies (ok, slight exaggeration there). The event is largely open-air, so this didn’t bode well. This was also the day that it was free, with Sunday being the ticket-only event. DOAH!

:( I feel sorry for the organisers of this event. There was a tremendous amount of public apathy and then, to top it all, it rained more in one day than in the whole of the last month. Still, I guess the local papers will get to print more “I told you so” letters from the intellectually challenged people who compose messages blaming the Wakes for everything from drunken behaviour to grafitti or something. No, seriously. This is true – have a read of your local free newspaper this weekend and have a look at the “Letters” section. It amazes me at times what people moan about…

“I had children outside my house, and they ran across the road when a perfectly good pedestrian crossing was available just 200 metres away. Why does the local council waste it’s money on pedestrian crossings when people don’t use them ? Surely money would best be spent on policing the streets and stopping children running about.”

What?! Eh?!

The letter above is just the tip of the iceberg. At the moment there’s a bigger problem. A problem of this size has never been seen before in the world. Forget global warming, forget nuclear weapons or the forests being chopped down. The largest problem in the world according to the local letter-writers is all about………. wheelie-bins…. (DUM DUM DURR!!!)

The residents of Cannock may be aware of the additional bins. Basically they’ve been given a wheelie bin, a couple of boxes, some instructions about where to put stuff (like cardboard and paper in one, large plastic bottles, jars, cans in the other etc) Simple enough huh? Sure, we’ve been doing it here in Lichfield County Council for ages. It works fine. However…because you’re putting fabric conditioner bottles, pop bottles and the like into the recycle bins then it means that your regular bin doesn’t get so full. So the council decided to collect the regular bin every two weeks instead of every week.

..oh dear… This is where World War 3 has really kicked off in Cannock and any local town served by the council. Letters in the local free papers have got worse and worse by the week. I thought the “how dare they” letters were bad. I even thought that people saying “they have turned our street into a scene from the Middle ages” were a tad over the top. However, this week “The Great Bin Debate” (as it’s known) decended into utter madness as pages upon pages of letters appeared in the local Chase Post, The Chronicle and other papers from some very strange people indeed. Here’s how some of them went…

“Are we going to let Cannock Council walk all over us like Poll Pot ?”

“Not since Nazi Germany have we seen anything like this. How dare they make such a drastic change to our lives like this?”

“Come on Cannock! Rise up against this tirade of abuse! We need to march the streets, I’m putting my additional bin in my car now and I will put it outside their offices – let’s see how they like rotting rubbish for two weeks!”

Ermmmm… Slight over reaction perhaps? Yes, I think so, especially when – in years gone by – we used to have bin bags mounting up outside in the summer. No flashy wheelie-bins, just mounds of ripped plastic bags. I’m not joking about this – have a look at this recent news story, or this one .. or even this one.

Anyway.. So Sunday we felt we had to get away from all this madness, so we drove to the beach. Hurray for sun and sand! We went into Wales and went onto Black Rock Sands. It’s only a couple of hours away, plus it’s a great little break away from all the daily grind. We drove onto the beach and Em tazzed around like a nutter :)

Oh, afterwards we went to a place called the “Ysgethin Inn” in Talybont. We’ve been there a year or two ago and had a really nice steak each. The place was rammed. However, this time I have to say it was bloody rubbish. Whoever it is who’s taken over this gorgeous pub and restaurant needs a swift kick in the nuts. There’s a thousand static holiday caravans just across the road from the Ysgethin Inn, however the place was deserted – and rightfully so. The menu had about 6 main courses and the prices weren’t cheap. Also, when my gammon and chips arrived it looked like a floor-cloth, and I’ve eaten better chips and peas at a motorway service station. This was terrible, absolutely terrible. The gammon looked worse than the bar-staff, who’s customer-service skills were worse than a cash-machine. Don’t get me wrong – normally I’m not too fussy with food and I can bear people having an “off day”, but this pub is absolutely toilet in every respect now and I’d advise you to give it a miss until it inevitably changes hands again. Go to the Italian around the corner.. provided you don’t have kids (they don’t accept kids for some reason), where you’ll get something edible.