I heard the roar outside of the engine and ancient instincts were reawoken.
Primeval man and woman responded to roars outside the cave.
Their brains worked quickly, instantaneously processing calculations. Categorising the sound by animal, mood, direction and proximity and assessing risk and what was the best next thing to do.
Years of improvement and extinction mean I don’t have to worry about sabre-toothed elephants and giant, one-tonne voles.
But the responses are there.
When I heard the bin lorry, I performed similar automatic calculations.
Is it Tuesday? Which Tuesday is it? Black Tuesday or Green-Brown Tuesday?
Checking the time lets me know which one of the 147 companies it is.
Just like a Neanderthal, then I use the sound to try to gauge proximity.
Have I time to run out with the bin? Is the bin already out? And finally: Am I wearing clothes?
Since children came along, Black Bin day has been more important than ever.
Normally it was the bin for mad stuff that couldn’t be composted or recycled.
Although as readers of a previous article will note, I was once under the mistaken apprehension that most things could be recycled, that the Chinese, fair play to them, could make iPhone parts out of a leftover Ikea Allen key.
So the Black Bin had depleted uranium, the contents of a bauxite tailing-pond and half a jar of Lloyd Grossman curry that had been left so long, it now talked like Lloyd Grossman.
But recently something much worse was added — nappies.
The Evil Bin used to go out once every two months.
After babies arrived it was every two weeks and it looked like front of the truck lift ever so slightly with the weight of picking up our bin?
We changed — at least partially — to cloth nappies.
Which means that we have conversations like: How was it? Was it tippable?
Listen, if you’re child-free you don’t need to read the next bit about hauling a nappy sack in from the garden, forcing it into the washing machine, checking the door seal of the washing machine afterwards, like one of those Worst Mediaeval Jobs ever in Horrible Histories.
You don’t need to know the details.
You gain nothing from knowing how obsessed with poo one becomes with babies and toddlers.
I announce to my wife that a child has done a poo to my wife as if I’ve had something to do with it.
Like a minister announcing jobs. All of this is TMI for the child-free.
If you are interested though, and thinking of touching cloth, cloth nappies have changed a lot since my day.
The ones I was in were basic squares of cloth and then there was a ‘plastic pants’ outside it.
The look could be described as ‘discoloured shed-roof meets elephant mahout’.
Now it’s all cute colours and designs and unicorns and fairies.
They’re like one of those videos of North Korean kids playing guitar: cute to look at but hiding a dark dark secret.
And that dark secret can’t be ignored. It has to be examined in detail for clues about well-being.
I finally understand what Shakira meant when she sang “Hips don’t lie”.
She probably said hip because bowel doesn’t have the same ring to it. (Even though it does—in a manner of speaking.)
Anyway, the hip’s truths have to be tipped from the nappy.
That’s a process that growing up on a farm just about prepares you for.
But we’ve only one set of clues to worry about now because we’ve potty trained the older child.
Hugged huggies goodbye, said au revoir to Toujours.
Excursions out of the house now have to be punctuated with Are you ok for the toilet? Are you sure?
Go on try a little pee and once we’ve established I’m ok, we then check does the child need to use the toilet.
Anyway, now I need to go. To the bins I mean.
I hear the engine’s roar.
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