The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Tyre Trees


Anthony McIntyre • 6 March 2007

It is one of life's ironies that once you complain about something the more thereafter you are condemned to see it. Hovering permanently on the margin of your vision, it looks at you even when you are not looking at it, managing to catch your attention in the way that someone staring at you from off centre does. Like the annoying tune, that never irritates until someone comments on it, once planted in the mind every subsequent sighting or sound becomes enhanced.

In my case it was the abundance of litter that plagues the streets where I live. So used to its status as a feature of daily life, my ability to notice it had long since malfunctioned until last week when it was kick-started into life by a chance encounter with the spotless streets of Rathcoole.

Walking my daughter to the school bus this morning, it seemed as if the route had been subject to a litter attack during the night. Maybe it is that way every morning and I just fail to notice. What definitely wasn't there yesterday, however, was the substantial amount of broken glass at the street corner. Later removing it, I noticed, trapped beneath the shards on the wet street lay a Bob the Builder crisp packet. The people who left the glass probably neither knew nor cared that every day children, some of them toddlers, play in the spot where they discarded their dangerous rubbish, the sharp fragments of Budweiser bottles. Had I not shifted it, some neighbour would have. But the glass would have grown a beard before the local council arrived to remove it.

My child had decided to take a carton of juice with her to drink on the way to the bus stop. She finished it while walking through the local park. I reminded her not to throw the empty at her feet but to hold on to it until we found a bin. It seemed a futile gesture, the place was already covered with cartons, crisp packets, chocolate wrappers and plastic bottles, most of it trapped in railings running parallel to the path we walked on. One more throwaway was hardly going to make a difference. Still. A food sociologist might be intrigued to know that the junk food eating habits of a working class community can be gleaned courtesy of a mere short walk along a park pathway.

Once on the Springfield Road we found a bin attached to a bus stop and I placed the used carton in it. It fell to the ground. My daughter laughed and commented that there was no bottom in the bin. Presumably it had been vandalised. Whatever the reason for its uselessness it is now only there for the optics. Exasperated I didn't even bother to pick the carton back up from the ground, adding slightly to the voluminous quantity of litter already mounting up.

A few yards on my daughter pointed out to me that there was a tyre up a tree. I looked up, although by this point I could hardly say in disbelief. Around one of the branches from the many leafless trees that adorn part of the Springfield Road was a bicycle tyre, placed there perhaps by a child who fancied their dexterity as a lasso artist. A further two trees had been used as target practice by the aspiring hula hoops performer. I wondered what visitors think when on their quick tourist taxi trips up the Springfield Road one of their guides tries to pass off the anomaly as a courageous example of West Belfast experimenting with its own imaginative version of the rubber tree.

An election poster featuring Gerry Adams lay not too far away, just feet from the roadside where there sat a stripped motorcycle, good only for scrap. The Adams poster was ripped either by vandals combating the tedium in their lives, or by people unhappy with Sinn Fein for whatever reason and deciding to register their protest by litter writing. At the bus stop there were more election posters strewn on the ground alongside Budweiser bottles. Prior to reaching the bus stop, at the site of the republican commemorative garden, the contrast could not have been more marked. It exuded an appearance of being carefully manicured and definitely unpolluted by litter. It didn't happen by chance. Those tasked with husbanding it have certainly been meticulous in their craft. Pity, the street cleaners are not as attentive. It is only possible for street cleaners to miss a discarded motorcycle as they go about dodging their business.

Glasgow streets once looked like ours. But that was in 1973 when I was there during a strike by the city's refuge collectors. Our own collectors may not be on strike but how are we to tell? There has been a considerable hue and cry about the need for a police service in this area. Arguably it would benefit more from a better bin service. At least with bin men something would be cleaned up.



























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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

6 March 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

Irish Republican Ex-POWs Against the RUC/PSNI & MI5

Whispering Past the Graveyard
John Kennedy

RSF Campaign Reports
Tony McPhillips – Election Agent

Save Derry
Brian Mór

Support Peggy O Hara
Ex-POWs and Concerned Republicans Against RUC/PSNI & MI5

Only the Beginning
Mick Hall

St Bore's Day
Anthony McIntyre

SS Sinn Fein
John Kennedy

Election Guarantees Nothing
David Adams

Coulter's Pre-Election Report
Dr John Coulter

Others Promise...
Brian Mór

The Curse of the Caudillo Complex
Mick Hall

Rest, Do Not Surrender
Dolours Price

...We Deliver
Brian Mór

Super Six Dictator
Dr John Coulter

Anyone Up for a Serious Alternative?
Philip Ferguson

The View from Outside
Jerry Pepin

Boom to Bust?
Dr John Coulter

Tyre Trees
Anthony McIntyre

Cleanliness Not Next to Godliness in the Shankill
Marty Egan

Leadership Needed
Stephen Hughes

Where Does the State of the Union Leave the Rest of Us?
Richard O'Rawe

22 February 2007

Litter & Glass
Anthony McIntyre

Not Worth the Paper Its Written On
John Kennedy

Ballot Box Pressure
Mick Hall

Commission of Truth Needed, Says O Hara
Peggy O Hara

RSF Election News
Press Release

Help Sinn Feign
Brian Mór

British Policing Must Never Be Acceptable in Ireland
Francis Mackey

The Next Step
Dr John Coulter

Conclusions from the Ard Fheis
Brian Halpin

McAleese Should be Criticised
David Adams

The Best Woman to Succeed
Dr John Coulter

Fred A. Wilcox

The Critical History of (Irish pop) Noise
Seaghán Ó Murchú

No Clean Hands
Anthony McIntyre



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