Friday, April 25, 2008

Hey, Chris Malette Relax, You're From Belleville, For Christ's Sake!

One of the few "landmarks" of Belleville, the abandoned Doc's Palace

My step-father recently emailed me a snippet of an article/ op-ed from the Belleville Intelligencer, written by the City Editor, Chris Malette. Malette writes:

Trash Bash is this weekend in Quinte and it brought to mind something I noticed on a trip last week - Scots are terrific folk, their country is magnificently rich in history and natural beauty ... but, frankly, Scotland itself is peopled by slobs.

There was rubbish everywhere you looked, in parks, by the side of motorways and choking the shorelines in postcard perfect places like Oban. Recycling, if it's done at all, is negligible, trash bins are few and far between and no one seems to have the compunction to pick up litter at any time of the year.


To be fair, I have moaned about the litter and lack of recycling in Glasgow myself (and blogged about it too!) but having lived here for two years now, I'm beginning to understand the local customs.

Let me explain.

See, there aren't many garbage bins because a lot of them were eradicated (if they even existed in the first place!) in the 1970s/ 1980s mainly due to the threat of IRA bombings. Why the IRA would bomb Scotland, I don't know. Nevertheless, garbage bins (especially the old-school cast iron ones) are few and far between. Garbage cans are virtually non-existent on the subway and again, this is mainly due to "terrorist threats".

Secondly, many city people live in tenement flats and as such, have communal garbage bins and recycling containers. It's not like Canada, however, where you would have a scheduled pick up of recycling/ garbage from your front door. I have no idea when the garbage and recycling people pick my shit up because I have never seen them and quite frankly, pick-up seems as random as the weather over here. All I know is, the communal recycling containers empty themselves and for all I know, it's some magical elves that collect them.

In addition, I think that Canadians are unique in that we love to harbour guilt about the environment (and everything else) - which is why we are conditioned from a young age to "reduce, reuse, recycle". It's part of our culture whereas, it isn't so much in Scotland. Interestingly, however, Canada is one of THE WORST of the world's highest per capita greenhouse-gas emitters!

Chris Malette is correct in pointing out, however, that Glasgow (and Scotland at large) does have a litter "problem". As a Canadian (and decent human??) I see littering as a form of disrespect. To me, people who litter have no respect for themselves or each other.

The thing is though, Glasgow is a diamond in the rough, so to speak. On the surface, it might appear that Glasgow (and by extension, Scotland) is a dark, litter-ridden, mouldy, wet, and grey landscape but the truth is, Glasgow has more going on in one city block than all of Belleville, Ontario. I know this because I lived 7 years (7 miserable years) in Belleville and I can attest that it has little to no culture, atmosphere, downtown or unique identity.

Belleville is a McCity - a city with no soul and few prospects.

In the end, I do agree with Chris Malette but quite honestly, I would take dirty and litter-scattered Glasgow over clean and soulless Belleville anyday.

1 comment:

STAG said...

Why one of my fondest memories is of passing out on the street in front of the Pink Palace. Actually not the passing out part, but rather successfully waking up considering the 10 cm layer of snow on me at the time. Lost part of an ear to the frost that morning.
My wedding night was at the Four Seasons Hotel, several years later, in the spring, where we spent the evening picking fish flies off the walls, off my new bride's hair, and off the pillows after I foolishly swung the screen door aside to step out onto the balcony.
Hmmmm...come to think of it, I can see why you left.