Posts Tagged ‘dustmen’

Boxing Day

December 26, 2013

In my family we don’t particularly celebrate Boxing Day. It ought to be the day on which we give and receive boxes. Like virtually all others we use December 25th and other days around then when we meet people.

But it got me thinking about one aspect of Christmas past – and that was the rubbish collection. Not that I am thinking just of Christmas – just of times long past when services were offered as just that – a service.

We used to get a weekly collection of refuse. The dustmen used to walk round to the back garden, empty the contents of our bin into their carrying bin and take it out to the lorry. Now what a fantastic service that was, so different from today’s fortnightly collection (alternating weeks are for the collection of recyclable materials). Big wheelie bins now have to be moved by householders out to the edge of the road where they are always unsightly and can be hazardous.

But the worst thing is that dustmen (refuse disposal operatives) no longer get to meet the people they serve. And even if they did, they’d have no time to get to know them properly. In my part of the world the young men who work the refuse lorries call themselves runners – a fair name because that seems to be the speed at which they have to work.

Now let’s return to those old days when we had a service worth calling the name. In the run up to Christmas, our friendly dustmen did expect what was always called a ‘Christmas Box’. What was expected was a small gift of cash for the work they did all year. You could expect an extra banging of bins in that last week, as the men made sure householders knew they were there. You might also expect that if no box was forthcoming, some rubbish would be accidentally dropped for you to have to pick up – a sort of reminder to remember them in a year’s time.

But we knew our dustmen. One of ours was a great tall chap called Johnson, always known as ‘Doc’ Johnson. I came across him in another capacity – cricket. I played, from time to time for a number of local teams when I was a teenager. One was an evening team known as ‘The Jolly Rogers’. Doc ran this team and awarded me my one and only cricket cap. It wasn’t new – it was an old one of his.  Gosh, I was proud of that.

So, Boxing day reminds me of dustmen, which leads me to cricket and a Jolly Rogers cap.