Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Highway Illitterati

Published in Liverpool Daily Post Letters - Fri 21st March 2008

Highway Illitterati

March is the last month of winter, ‘Natures’ waiting room’, CS Lewis called it. But while the countryside in general clings to hibernation, the nation’s verges are blooming with perennial colour. The skimpy undergrowth and skeletal trees provide a perfect canvas for that most disgraceful display of modern art… roadside litter.

After the high winds of recent weeks, the plastic bag trees are heavy with their discarded fruit. The roadside margins and central reservations reveal blooming herbaceous borders of multi-coloured crisp bags, ever-yellow burger boxes and brown rimmed designer coffee cartons. The cornucopia of detritus is a lingering colourful collage, carelessly tossed by passing tossers. A veritable chavarrhoea of slowly bleaching waste.

Councils do their best to preserve the cleanliness of the urban space and individuals will often avoid polluting their own back-yards, but the open road is a landfill free-for-all. Aliens alighting on the A50 between Stoke and Derby would have no difficulty in discovering the life artifacts of our modern ‘civilization’. Even the backwaters are not immune; a short stroll along a quiet Welsh highway reveals not Sparrows nesting in the hedgerows but nappies, fag packets and quietly fermenting, urine filled, plastic milk bottles.

Nature however, will soon spring into life and wrap this indigestible human compost with long grass, nettles and bramble, leaving consciences quiet in the winter of our litter-bugging discontent.

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