6 Days to go

A couple of weeks ago we’ve received two additional large rubbish bins. Haringey Council had given us 3 bins ever since I’ve moved in here 12 years ago. Now we have five, the additional two being “green bins” for anything that can be recycled.

This appears to be pretty much everything apart from maybe plutonium and mercury. Everything else (ie plutonium and mercury) still needs to go I the black bins.

Be that as it may, the new bins couldn’t have come at a better time: for the last five weeks we have been producing on average 5 black bags of rubbish every day! You wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff we’re carrying out of a one bedroom flat. Lucky for us we’re nearly finished.

Those green bins seem to be collected on a different schedule than our black bins, so now the rubbish people come to us on Monday and on Thursday. At least that was the plan I guess when their arrival was announced with the accompanying little pamphlet. Reality is a slightly different matter: because the rubbish collections never seem to happen anymore.

Now we are stuck with overflowing bins, and neither on Monday nor on Thursday the collection guys are showing up. The timing for this couldn’t be worse.
Among the gems we’ve thrown out this week were a large red suitcase filled with everything from a DVD labeller, books, office supplies and a lot of small nicknacky stuff, an air bed, old paint, plus several sacks full of old clothing among many other things.

Turns out that rubbish is a big opportunity for some people: when we went to get some paint from Homebase the other day we spotted a crew of people systematically going through all overfilling bins in our road. You probably imagine the odd guy digging through other peoples’ trash, but times have changed: we now have a team of four scouring the street, two on either side of the road, plus a driver in a white can accompanying them. They’re just like the professionals. One of them was even wearing a hi-viz vest. And neither of them felt the slightest bit awkward when we walked by and gave them a look.

So today we spotted that they must have come back to dissect our own bins: the red suitcase downstairs was completely emptied and every black bag was torn up and sifted through. It’s scandalous…. but to be honest it did help the rubbish problem to a certain extend because now we have some room in our bins again to throw more stuff away. Nice!

But the story doesn’t end there. When my eyes wandered from the bins down to the floor I saw a slightly shocking surprise: a dead fox was lying right in front of me!

At first glance he appeared to be sleeping peacefully, but the circling flies gave away that something wasn’t quite right (that and the fact that the fox was not moving even though we were talking to him).

So what do you do with a dead fox next to a rubbish bin? Pop him in there I guess before he starts stinking up the joint.

But how do you do that? With your bare hands?

I remember when one of our half blind idiotic cats got run over back in  Germany in the late eighties. We knew something wasn’t right with that cat, I don’t even think we gave him a name, he was only with us for a couple of months or so. One day a neighbour came by and said that they believe somebody had just run our cat over. I went to take a look, and sure enough it was true: dead cat in the middle of the road.

Since the incident had only happened minutes earlier it wasn’t difficult to pick him up by the neck and pop him in a bag, and then take the bag to the outside bins. The cat was still warm and felt just a bit heavier than usual. Case closed.

I was briefly contemplating to bury the cat. Thinking out loud to myself in front of both the dead cat and the neighbour, the latter was adamant that he doesn’t want the smell in his garden. The bin sounded better for all three of us.
So here I am, twenty years later, facing a dead fox on my grounds. How did he just die in front of the bins? Did he peacefully fall asleep and never woke up? Did he freeze to death? Was he poisoned? Considering his eyes were open and his tongue was popping out.

I decided not to grab the fox by his neck. I didn’t know how long he had been dead and didn’t know what to expect when touching him with my bare hands. Incidentally I spotted a street sweeper from the council only half a block away, explained the situation and asked if I could borrow his spade. He was very kind and agreed to let me have it; he even gave me one of his purple bags so that his colleagues would collect the fox together with the autumn foliage him and his contemporaries had been collecting all morning.

I was surprised how the spade industry must had advanced: a professional street sweeper’s spade is super light and is a pleasure to use. I’m thinking of buying one myself! Last time I shovelled things with one of those was when the handle was made of solid wood and the tip was made of cast iron or steel, amounting to a total weight of probably 4kg before lifting anything.

So I used that super light weight spade on the dead fox. I had expected for it to slide right underneath it, and I had somehow expected the fox to be much heavier too. Instead he just slid away and was simply being moved by my spade, further away from me towards the brick wall that was our house. Turns out the fox was suffering from a severe bout of rigor mortis, indicating death had probably occurred 4-6 hours ago. I’ve never experienced rigor at first hand before, but I can tell you now I know why they call a stiff a stiff.

I finally managed to move the fox towards the wall, sliding the spade underneath him while making sure the brick wall was holding him in place. Slowly lifting my dead friend up, he felt like a pet animal stuffed with straw. I plunked him upside down into the still very full bin, so now his feet were sticking up in the air. Interestingly even his tongue had rigor mortis and seemed to be falling up to the sky. It was a weird picture, and I don’t think the flies were too happy when I threw their food away.

The Rigor Mortis Fox, next to one of my old shirts and what appears to be a bottle of booze (not mine)

We decided we better put that red suitcase on top of the bin so a casual walker by wouldn’t be shocked to see four feet sticking out… it would just attract the wrong crowd and gives the wrong impression.

I returned the spade to its owner and thanked him for his help.

Just a reminder: rigor mortis wears off after three days and proper decomposition begins.
We’ll see if we ever get another rubbish collection or of we leave this place before the fox does (and we’re leaving in 6 days).

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