Where’s Michael Winner when you need him?

Friday morning: bin collection day. The binnies can come quite early so we always put the bins out the previous night. This week, grey bin and food bin.

Except that when I left the house this morning there was no sign of the food bin. I stopped the car at the entrance to the drive to ponder its absence. Had it been abducted into the food bin slave trade? Was it an early victim of tomorrow’s Rapture?

No, it was lying in two pieces on the other side of the road, and our split-open food bag was lying in the gutter. I’m sure it led to much entertainment for the rush hour traffic as I dodged cars to get across and bring back the fragments. I’m guessing someone moved it from the driveway into the centre of the road, for the lulz. The driver who hit it probably isn’t accountable. Probably.

Sorting it all out meant popping back upstairs for kitchen roll and a fresh food bag, trying not to touch anything because my hands were filthy, then loading up the fresh bag with the remains of the food. Coffee grounds … egg shells … rotting vegetables … lovely. At the back of my mind I was aware of a car beeping its horn but I wasn’t too worried because I could see no one was trying to leave the property, so I didn’t think I was blocking anyone.

Turned out I was blocking someone trying to gain access, though, to visit our neighbouring flat. Immediately I noticed the car I went over to it, filthy hands held up in explanation, but she got in first with the dialogue:

“Look, are you going to move your car?” (says the total stranger with no access rights to the person who actually lives there.)

“I will. I’m having an emergency.” (Hands still up, plus she had just clearly seen me put the remains of the food bin into the grey bin.)

“What emergency?” (Explanation of emergency in rising tones of irritation.) “So is that my fault? Are you going to move your car?”

Oh, how I wish I could have that five minutes back again to be decently, properly rude instead of just blowing my top at the uncivil ungracious self-obsessed baggage, which is the easy option and loses moral authority. Suggestions from helpful colleagues when I finally got into the office were:

  • The Michael Winner option: “Calm down, dear …”
  • (holding hands up) “Do you want me to touch you?”
  • (leaning on bonnet with dirty hand) “Now look, sweetie …”
  • “Give us a kiss and tell me your problems …”