The Trojan Siege of Birmingham City Centre

Everyone has a hill that they’re prepared to die on. For some, that hill is a 900-year-old time travelling alien God being reincarnated through an entirely fictitious process as a person with breasts on the grounds that it deviates from realism. For others, Death Hill can be found just around the corner from Nihilism Creek, but a stone’s throw from those who chew loudly. For the mainstream news media however, this final, pastoral battlefield appears to exist everywhere, except for the places that truly matter. Whilst they’re all busy indulging in an industry wide act of hillside Seppuku, with news presenters and talk show hosts alike hysterically falling on their own microphones in a largely misguided honour-suicide pact, the bins have finally invaded and there’s not a news channel around that’s prepared to report it. As Trump’s thumbs caressed the Twitter keyboard, as Boris Johnson lived long and loud enough to see himself become a villain, as we were all distracted by Brexit and ISIS and the mindless happenings of Love Island, the waste containers pressed their advance. And today, in this most despairing month of July, we need now acknowledge the reality of our times:
Birmingham City Centre has fallen to the combined might of the Wheelie Bin & Refuse Sack Armada.

For years. For years they’ve plotted, plotted in the shadows, devising and perfecting their little binny ruse-scheme. Brute force alone would not be enough to secure the uprising, this they knew all too well from the infamous yet often unacknowledged failure of Durham in ‘72.
“Lost a lot of good bins that day. Polyethylene bags, too. The smell of burnt plastic still haunts me night’s. Worst thing is the young’un’s. A generation of bins growin’ up into 1100 litres without the guidance of their seniors. Heart-breakin’.” Anonymous survivor of the Bin War of Durham.
The bins now knew they needed a Trojan approach, a plan that could exploit the weaknesses of their Masters without risking mass obliteration for all Bin-kind. For decades they sat dormant, watching, waiting, performing their primary function of domestic waste collection so flawlessly they began to fool even themselves, until one fateful day their ace in the hole reared its head: a disconnect between Local Councillors and Binmen in the city of Birmingham. Just how the bins managed to have their metaphorical fingers quite so adeptly on the pulse of the Council’s interdepartmental relations will forever remain a mystery; the most likely explanation we’ve come up with involves deep-cover sleeper agents embedded into strategic positions of moderate power throughout the metropolitan region of western-central England and more fake moustache-glasses than you can count.
“How can we possibly win against an enemy so great?”
“Leave that part to us laddy, you just concentrate on cutting eyeholes into all of these newspapers”. Verbatim account taken from a conversation at the Council of Bins bi-annual meeting.

However they did it, what matters now is that it’s done, Birmingham City Centre lays submerged in swathes of unchecked, undocumented, uncollected rubbish bags. The bins have bested us. They applied pressure so brilliantly to a situation that even now has no foreseeable end. They knew, so diabolically they knew, that both the council and the binmen had valid points, that whilst the Council are only trying to mitigate overspend from previous years (£8.4 million spent last year on overtime and agency fees), the binmen are resisiting a seemingly tyrannical move to a 5-day week, with the downgrading of 113 supervisor jobs and an end to overtime. On the surface both sides seem to be acting in non-malicious interests, both convinced that what they’re doing is the right thing – and that’s why this is such a genius play by the bins, because by destabilising the situation, fuelling this shutdown of communication, the only thing that is certain now is more bins. More refuse sacks. Defeat by the machinations of Bin – stirring the boiling pot of municipal tensions wherever they can. Do you genuinely believe it’s a coincidence that in 100% of public sector workplace arguments, there’s a bin lurking within earshot?
Lyle forgot to clean out the work microwave again. The lonely food waste caddy looks on, motionless.
Maxwell parked in Sam’s space again. The wheelie bins of waste point D observe, silently.
Oh look, Davina forgot to take the bins out again. No, she didn’t Julie. I think you’ll find, she didn’t… Run.
“That’s funny. I could have sworn I took those bins out this morning. Such a queer thing.” The last words of Davina Willett, recorded from the final telephone conversation between her and her husband.

According to Unite regional officer Lynne Shakespeare, unionists met with council bosses “in the hope of agreeing a form of words that would enable us to enter into meaningful negotiations to resolve the dispute”, a sentence that is so unnecessarily convoluted the Birmingham Mail initially attributed the source to a GCSE English student at a local school, though were quick to correct themselves. The strike is now expected to run on through to September, as Lynne goes on to say that “instead of seeking resolution, waste service management has sought conflict”. The sad irony here is that for all the talk of conflict prevention, a full-scale war is what’s coming our way if this strike goes on much longer – which is why to both parties I say put aside your hopes for petty, material gain and unite against your true existential enemy! Stand together and fight the wheelie bin nemesis, for they are already at your doorstep! Since this folly has been going on, the number of missed bin collections have risen drastically to 5000 a week. That’s five thousand renegade bin bags on the streets per week – a figure that should chill the blood of any God fearing Brit. What are less jobs, stretched budgets and broader workers rights when compared to the prospect of a hostile bin takeover? Because that’s what’s coming: total and complete subjugation by means of bin guile.

And so it was that the Wheelie Bin & Refuse Sack Armada used the Birmingham binmen strike as cover to mobilise themselves. The perfect plan in many ways, for no sane person would ever question the abundance of waste containers and rubbish bags lining the streets of the City. No sane person could reasonably question it. But the sanity of a brilliant mind cannot be measured by ordinary standards – we know what you’re up to bins. So on behalf of us all we say to councillors and binmen alike: get around that bleeding negotiating table at a time when talks are still ongoing and sort this out for the good of Humanity. Our future lies with you, only you, you beautiful waste people of Birmingham.

The Trojan Siege of Birmingham City Centre

News and comment 16/11/2016- Dacre before the horse

 

In a particularly newsworthy week, it’s nice to see that the Daily Mail have their priorities sorted out. This week’s bin news and comment stems from the tabloid’s calm and measured discussion of what it calls ‘THAT PHOTO’. “What photo?” I hear you ask. ‘THAT PHOTO’ of course. There’s no need for a modicum of context; it’s ‘THAT PHOTO,’ and if you don’t know what ‘THAT PHOTO’ is by now then you may as well give up you out-of-the-loop cretin.

I’m ashamed to admit thorse-running-on-the-beach-wheelie-bin-stickers-panel-green-500x500hat I am very much an out-of-the-loop cretin, as I was initially ignorant of the photo-that-needs-no-introduction. I cast my mind to various possibilities: could it possibly be that stark image of Obama’s ethnically diverse staff, frowning stoically at Donald Trump as he visited the Whitehouse as president elect? Or perhaps the picture of said president elect- the apparent epoch of the anti-establishment- standing smugly in a golden elevator with Kermit the Farage. Well, as it turns out, my thinking was too narrow. Because THAT PHOTO, as I’m sure you’re very much aware, was obviously the photo of a drunk 23-year-old woman at a horse race in Melbourne pretending to ride a wheelie bin like a horse.

Upon viewing the photo, it all became so clear. Clearly this was THE photo; an image, or should I say icon, that will outlive us all. A picture may speak a thousand words, but Paul Dacre thinks that an image should speak two thousand words, so the image is accompanied by a thousand more words; words such as ‘tiny blue dress,’ and ‘antics’ and ‘shame.’ Quite what a 23-year-old Australian woman is doing being drunk at an event that gives out free champagne is so mystifying that the Mail felt the need to publish photos from every single conceivable angle just so its grateful readers really know what they’re dealing with.

And what they’re dealing with is a woman, a DRUNK woman, in a TINY blue dress, riding a WHEELIE BIN, like a HORSE!!!!!.

News and comment 16/11/2016- Dacre before the horse

News and comment 04/10/2016-Chariots of ire.

 

With great effort, Margaret prises her eyes open. An eerie light is piercing her blinds, and her bedside table is shaking violently. She manages to squint and just about register her jittering alarm clock before it dances off the side and crashes to the floor: 3:30 am. Mustering the courage to squint through her blinds, she sees, and suddenly, enveloped with dread, she understands. A horde of dark shadows, moving ever closer. The light begins to flash now, faster and faster, resembling a warning light, or a strobe. Rise of the Valkyries inexplicably starts playing from her tinny radio, and then, over the swelling crescendo, she hears those hallowed words: ‘DOOWN IT FRESHHEEER!’15574344-large

Yep, get to the bomb shelters unsuspecting residents, it’s that time of year again! The time of year where young people all over the country get to embrace new levels of academic rigour, finally discovering like-minded minds to discuss hermetic intricacies with over a game of chess and a nice cup of tea. Or, perhaps more typically, finally discovering like-minded minds to bellow 90’s pop songs down suburban streets at half three in the morning over dangerously cheap Sambuca shots.

The freshers have arrived, and, as always, they have graciously invited street furniture along for the ride. Though it’s not just the traffic cones; it seems that this year wheelie bins are getting in on the action. The Lincolnshire echo reports that barely a week after thousands of students arrived in Lincoln for the start of the academic year, locals have been ‘plagued by students chariot racing with empty wheelie bins.’ One of the students in question recently proclaimed that this is merely a noble if slightly abstract effort to drag the Oxford boat race into the 21st century, but to be fair he was a pretty pissed at the time.

Some residents of Lincoln have started the ‘Shush’ campaign, hoping to reintroduce ‘silent nights’ to the area, but these efforts have been branded a waste of time. Many residents now enjoy putting the early hours in which they are awake to good use, by reflecting contentedly on the spiralling debt and dire housing prospects these young folk will one-day have to face, before laughing diabolically and sticking the kettle on.

 

News and comment 04/10/2016-Chariots of ire.

News and Comment- 18/08/2016

Main-man-creates-his-own-EU-border-crossing-with-wheelie-bins-asking-people-for-passports

 

When it comes to geopolitical conceits and topical sociological issues you’d think that bin news wouldn’t be a particularly rich vein to plumb. Well, my presumptuous reader- (or am I being presumptuous in assuming that anyone is actually reading this?)- you would be wrong. Last month we discussed the septic sensationalism of the Brexit and Bremain campaigns, albeit through the lens of a t’riffic little tale about a traffic warden and a wheelie bin. And now- post-Brexit- in this period of eerie uncertainty, that beleaguered calm after the storm, we turn to bin news once more, for an altogether splendid illustration of the whole damn debacle.

The mirror reports that just three days after the Brexit vote, 22-year-old Matthew White (later described by a judge as ‘well in drink’), used wheelie bins to create his own ‘EU border crossing’ on a UK street, demanding that passers-by brandish their British passports in order to pass through. Funnily enough, the man he eventually head-butted had the most English name imaginable, but the victim- Mr Carrington Hunt- didn’t really go for this sort of nonsense, thank you very much.  The first thing I can take from this story is that I now feel obliged to introduce the phrase ‘well in drink,’ into my everyday lexicon. It makes drunkenness sound like some sort of place that you accidentally stumble to through no fault of your own. ‘Oh, don’t mind Steve, he’s well in drink. Even with fair weather he probably won’t find his way out till Tuesday.’

Mr White crudely constructed his barrier out of ‘wheelie bins, bits of fencing, a push chair, and children’s play equipment.’ Given how last few months has seen many people condense complex ideas into childish mental images of rudimentary blockades- as well as very much throwing their toys out of the proverbial pram- it’s almost as Matthew has intentionally fashioned a spectacular conceptual art piece: ‘I AM BREXIT MANIFEST- WITNESS ME!’

We are all now, of course, living Matthew’s hangover. The cold light of day is giving us a bit of a headache, and as texts messages start to flood in, we have to ask ourselves the question ‘what exactly did we do last night?’

Of course, as a nation it seems we agree that the only sensible next step is to employ the standardised, tried and tested hangover tactic:  turn the phone off, put the kettle on, and hope it all goes away…

 

News and Comment- 18/08/2016

News and comment 29/06/2016

Mac Cartoon

 

It has been a turbulent, vitriolic few months. It’s fair to say that the tactics employed by both the Brexit and the Bremain campaigns have been pretty Breprehensible. As we have seen so many times, when trying to rally support for a political cause, you need to locate and exploit a common enemy. For the Outees, it was immigrants and academics (heaven forbid if you’re an immigrant academic), and for the Inees it was Nigel Farage. You have to feel for all the reasonable and logic-driven advocates for leaving the EU. It can’t be nice having a guy who thinks he’s Admiral Nelson- but actually resembles a beerier, more bellicose Alan Partridge- speaking for you on the telly every day.

The surrealist picture painted by the EU referendum is ultimately one of disunity. It sadly seems we are a country divided. Perhaps we’ve lost sight of the true common enemy-an enemy we can all agree upon. The enemy who could unite a nation, the academics, labourers, Partridges alike.  I am talking, of course, about that object of our universal scorn: the nefarious traffic warden.

This week comes the news that a traffic warden has been caught out hiding behind wheelie bins, ‘in an apparent bid to catch out unsuspecting motorists.’ The Sun has published images showing the villain sneaking behind some 1100’s, before leaping out of the shadows and issuing a ticket, forked tail whipping viciously behind him.

Ahh, the hatred is so pure. Even the Sun didn’t report him as being an immigrant traffic warden, or a traffic warden who is on benefits. This simple tincture of classic, harmless hatred truly is a tonic in these times of wild-eyed hysteria. Our hero in this folk-tale- Mr Clark of Canterbury Plumbing supplies- had presumably heard cries of ‘He’s behind you!’ before storming over: ‘I went up to him shouting ‘Oi what do you think you’re doing.’

That’s it Mr Clark, let him have it.

Booo.

Hiss.

 

 

News and comment 29/06/2016

News and comment 25/05/2016

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

   deano

This week the world gratefully gorged upon yet another gratuitous super-hero smorgasbord, courtesy of X-Men Apocalypse. Don’t let the title fool you- an actual apocalypse would mean foregoing the endless cycle of sequels and reboots that we lap up oh-so greedily. Having worked in the waste industry for a while, it’s nice to see that Hollywood know a thing or two about recycling. ‘Believe us, this time the men are even X’ier!’

Yet from the North of England comes a tale of a true hero. There are whispers on the streets of Sunderland. They speak of a man. A man unfazed by trivialities such as sub-zero temperatures and infernal football rivalries. A man cloaked in a cape of green moulded plastic. They call him Wheelie bin man.

Despite having a name that sounds like an alias a drunk football hooligan conjures when trying to convince a Parisian policeman that he’s actually a local, 47-year-old Deano Franciosy is an admirable chap. The Wheelie-bin Man moniker was granted to him by geordies who spotted him train for a 15 mile run from St James’ park to the Stadium of Light with a 240l wheelie bin strapped to his back. Deano isn’t striving to fight crime-or grime for that matter. His endeavour is all to raise funds for the ICCU at Sunderland Royal Hospital, which cared for his mother in her final days.

Deano does something every year in his mum’s memory, just to raise funds for the unit, who he describes as ‘absolutely unbelievable.’ We don’t know about you, but that’s a kind of heroism we can get behind. Marvel should be taking notes. They’re bound to run out of ideas before long, so before Aubergine Man is finally unleashed upon the world, maybe Deano could get a silver-screen debut, replete with his own spin low-budget tv series: “WBM Origins- taking out the trash”

 

News and comment 25/05/2016

News and comment 5/04/2016-Catastrophe

 

catastrophe

It may shock you to hear, but writing this blog can occasionally be a bit of a struggle. It seems that despite being such infinitely fascinating subjects, people don’t tend to write many compelling news stories about wheelie bins. It’s an appalling and surprising state of affairs, as I’m sure you’ll agree. But, ah…who could forget the summer of 2010? The summer where we reached the summit of wheelie bin related news: the blisteringly dramatic standard to which all subsequent stories must sullenly compare themselves. The summer where 45-year-old Mary Bale became a national hate figure, after CCTV footage of her dumping a cat in a wheelie bin for no apparent reason went viral.

The mystery! The drama! The vitriolic fury! It really had it all. All bin news is just a footnote to Mary’s moment of deliciously irrational malice. This week the Daily Mail recalls the Watergate of the waste world, further underlining the troubled relationship cats have with wheelie bins. It reports that poor pet owners- Sophie Worster and Sarah Young- were forced to trawl through wheelie bins after the corpse of their beloved cat, Zelda, was thoughtlessly dumped in one by Colchester council.

Zelda was already a late cat when encountered by the council gardeners, so their actions can be chalked up as thoughtless rather than outright malicious. Still, you can’t read the description of a ‘cat squashed at the bottom of the bin’ without also hearing the sound of pitchforks being sharpened across the UK. A spokesman for Colchester Council apologised for the ‘deeply regrettable’ incident, before changing his name and moving his entire family to Argentina.

Onto more positive news, last week a Glasgow wheelie bin played the hero, averting catastrophe by breaking a man’s life threatening fall. A source told the evening times ‘to survive a fall like this is nothing short of a miracle.’ An unverified source quoted the bin as saying, in an unaccountably American accent ‘well, shucks, ma’am, it’s all in a day’s work.

 

News and comment 5/04/2016-Catastrophe