As someone who works with journalists, it’s important to keep across what they are writing about – even if I don’t agree with their views. That’s my main excuse for reading the Daily Mail, which rarely fails to amaze with its combination of fear and fury on behalf of Middle England (if there is such a thing). Fact is though, it’s a good read too and many journalists I know admire the way it chimes with its readers’ views even if they don’t like what it stands for.
None of that really accounts for one of the oddest few lines I’ve read in a newspaper column for a long time however, on a chance reading earlier this week.
Step forward Stephen Glover. In a piece headlined: ‘If only our politicians were on the side of the ordinary people – and not the green fanatics and council jobsworths’ (note the juxtaposition of ‘man in the street’ with two stereotypes hated by The Mail), Glover lets rip at Oxford City Council for issuing him with a food waste bin a year ago.
Yes, that’s right. Not closing his local Sure Start or his library. Or reneging on a promise to build a new school. Or slashing local transport. It’s the poor old ‘slop bucket’ that has become ‘a bridge too far’.
I’ve never been a columnist, but I’ve always thought it must be difficult to find something to be angry about every other day, in a way that most people would find difficult to achieve every six months. If Glover can get angry about a food waste bin, however, I doubt he has such problems. Loosening his tie with a flurry of frustration, he writes:
“Sometimes I find myself devoting a fair bit of intellectual energy to wondering whether, say, a tattered piece of cellophane is recyclable or not.
“I try to ignore the newspaper reports that there are vast warehouses full of unsorted rubbish, and ships laden with the stuff on the high seas to China, where it all ends up in a landfill site as big as the Gobi Desert.
“I attempt to discount stories that recycled paper is sometimes rejected by paper mills because it contains shards of glass or other unsuitable materials.
“We are all in this together, I repeat to myself, as I dutifully drop the right thing into the right bin.”