Picture of the day: Millenial Waste – 2014

Waste paper basket
Millenial Waste Paper Basket – Great Yarmouth 2014

Today’s picture was taken in 2014 during a visit to Great Yarmouth. It depicts a fine example of the Millenial Waste Paper Basket Scheme of the late 1990s. Since then, I have endevoured to document these post industrial premillenial relics of well spent public funds during my travels around the UK.

Set up as part of Tony Blair’s New Labour’s Millenial celebrations schemes, those that gave us excellent value for money public investments such as the Millenium Dome, the Millenial Waste Paper Basket scheme was a joint enterprise between artisian metal workers, bearded artists and sandaled environmentalists. The baskets were sited in various locations – mostly parks, elevated places and coastal regions – with the intention to encourage the public to throw away their waste food wrappers in handy recepticals which would then be ritually set on fire.

I believe the intention was to have them ignited on regular occasions but, due to reallocation of funding to support the post 9/11 Iraq war and ultimately withdrawal of funding by the Conservatives in 2010, they have mostly remained dormant since their last ignition during the 2012 Olympic Games.

As you can see from this picture, there is not much waste paper in the basket as the local seagulls frequently steal the chip wrappers to line their nests but also, it was taken in 2014, nearly two years after its last ignition. These days, the waste paper baskets have mostly fallen into a state of disrepair and some, if not many, have been demolished, their original purpose often forgotten. However some have been inventively redesigned and reallocated into things as diverse as street food vendors and luxury accomodation.

Waste not Want not

Our beloved and most glorious exhalted leader of the Great and Holy Third British Empire, Gordon Brown, says that we waste food. We do. We waste like the selfish ignorant fat westerners we are. Often I muse on how times have changed (in parallel with the growth, surprise surprise, of supermarkets), how we take far too much for granted (space, food, air, the environment) and how we are all, not just us Yoropeans but Merricans and Ayzians alike, heading for a massive crunch. In our own life time. Miserable as it sounds and reads, there is no escaping from this fact. The people we “elect” into power in order to find solutions to our problems think, quite rightly or not, profit before benefit and tell us, fickle unworthy peasants that we are, what we can and can’t do to alleviate the issue. Such is the way of modern life.

I remember my nan would try to use everything, and I mean absolutely everything, that came into the house food wise. Stale bread – Bread & butter pudding. The fat from bacon or beef – dripping. The plastic bags from bread – handy little rubbish containers. Even the little metal tin casing from pies would be reused. I look at my world now and I see waste. I see perfectly edible food being thrown away. I see sacks full of rubbish where there need be none. Even when I take a trip to the tip with rubble or wood from the house I see evidence of this sickening throw away culture in which we reside. But for the purpose of this rant I will point in the direction of food.

When I roast a chicken. I pick off all the uneaten meat and use it for sandwiches or salads. The carcass I boil away and make into a stock. Even the vegetables, when they look limp and gay go to become a tasty soup rather than join the rotting peels at the bottom of the compost bin. In this day and age, it is obscene that people waste food. Really. No SERIOUSLY. There is no need to waste food AT ALL. If you throw away a bag of spuds because they’ve gone mouldy WHY THE HELL DID YOU BUY SUCH A BIG BAG IN THE FIRST PLACE? There are people starving in Africa. There are people who are malnourished in your own country. Yet what do you do? Chuck away quantities of food. You really should be ashamed of yourself. I am. I waste food sometimes. I feel dreadful about wasting food. The only food that should be wasted is parsnips and marmite. And even then that is only because they are foodstuffs in the loosest sense of the word. No. Food is as precious as water and electricity. We should cherish it while we have it. It won’t be long before we will be thinking wistfully at the days when we could chuck away a whole goose just for the sake of it.

People are overweight. Yes. People are fat fat fatties because they eat too much. They eat and eat then throw away whatever is left. People have high cholesterol, high salt intakes, really bad diets and are putting a strain on medical resources. I know. I’m one of them! Yes. I am a fatty fat fat. I use the scales at Newton Abbot rather than the ones in my bathroom. We eat shite. We waste it. We do not deserve to sit at the top of the food chain. We are but a pestilent slug like cancer upon this planet.

So after this announcement from Mr Brown (the Most Beloved Great and Glorious Emperor of the Third Holy and Magnificent British Empire) it got me thinking what better way to lose weight, regulate peoples dietary intake and solve the impending food crisis than imposing rations onto the populace once more. Wouldn’t that be great? When I was on the dole back in 1995-1997 I learnt how to manage on £140 a month. These monetary skills I carried on into later life and, yes I know I cock up sometimes, now I still try to manage my funds in a similar fashion. Indeed, living on a pittance with naught but beans and something labelled “bread” which clearly wasn’t, teaches one to make food stretch. So yes, rations would have the same effect. Of course, since the war people have become more fussy. All sorts of allergies and intolerances are abound but with medicinally approved dietary control watching what we eat there would be no need to worry. You would still get your rationing like everybody else, just the equivalent of such. Of course there would not be any need for draconian measures such as powdered egg and powdered milk because there wouldn’t be as much as a shortage of such (during the war animals were seen as draining of resources so a lot of the live stock were culled).

Nobody would need to go hungry, nobody would need to worry about wasting things. We could all sit round the radiogram singing along to Vera Lynn and take shelter in the Anderson. It would be like the 1940’s all over again. 🙂 Thinner, wealthier and smelling of carbolic.

Of course it’s not going to happen like that, but still, I believe a short 5 year spell on rationing is what we in the western world need to remind ourselves how damn fucking lucky we are to be where we are.

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