Tuesday, 13 July 2010

T in the Park, Live Aid and good citizens

My post last month referring to 'T in the Dump' attracted a slightly caustic response from someone, who called me a 'grumpy old man' and asked if I punctured footballs that landed in my garden. Charming. Of course, this year's music extravaganza is over for another year, and I suspect that the organisers' 'Citizen T' initiative did little to alleviate the detritus left on the Balado site by revellers. Indeed, the Evening Telegraph's columnist Sean Hamilton refers to an area "covered in rich, green grass just a few days ago" becoming "an undulating sea of empty plastic pint pots that crunched underfoot", although I'm not sure if this is entirely or even partly meant as a criticism(!)

Anyway, the rich, green grass will no doubt be dutifully restored over the coming few weeks, and perhaps the organisers of this private money-spinner will even have the 'maturity' to ask the public authorities for help in this task, and won't be 'precious' about it.

But that (almost literally) sweeps under the carpet the wider implications of the culture on display last weekend, that being indifference to the disposal of rubbish and the expectation that someone else will pick it up. And no doubt many of the revellers simply aren't bothered at all, and indeed are like pigs in their own poo at events such as this.

Others - particularly the organisers, not to mention fawning police officers, politicians and journalists - will perhaps not feel particularly comfortable with all this, but, hey, it's just one weekend a year, it'll all be tidied up and we can all go back to our executive piles with their nicely tended gardens.

Unfortunately, for others it's not quite that straightforward, and the photo above was taken not a million miles from where I live at the rear of a block of flats, and obviously this kind of thing is all too commonplace these days. And the point is that it's effectively permanent and, short of spending a significant amount of time cleaning up after others, there's not a lot that can readily be done about it - according to officialdom this kind of thing does not preclude the "behaviour and attitude" of the perpetrators being praiseworthy, the point being that if indifference/ contemptuousness as regards the disposal of rubbish is concerned is their only foible then that's fine - they're not engaged in theft, violence or murder, are they?

But perhaps the powers that be would take a different attitude if they had to live amidst the kind of environment shown in the photograph, or if perhaps they made the connection between the T in the Dump culture and the despoiling of other public spaces such as the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Indeed, in a recent Courier article a private landowner who accused "wild campers" of turning his estate into a rubbish tip referred to it as resembling the "aftermath of a music festival in miniature".

There are wider implications as well. For example, debate has raged recently in the Dundee press about attacks by aggressive gulls, and a small-scale council cull involved a furore about "shooting seagulls and battering a chick to death".

But with the prevalence of the T in the Dump culture it's not difficult to see how the gull problem has gotten out of hand, and the second photo was taken shortly after the first and shows an early morning scene in Dundee involving almost a dozen gulls and the juicy attractions of some rubbish, which looks as if it has come from the plastic bag towards the left of the picture, whether burst open by the gulls themselves or perhaps tipped out by a passing, er, reveller. But in the early mornings scenes such as this are commonplace in Dundee at this time of the year.

And it's not just careless and contemptuous attitudes that are the problem. For example, I recently witnessed a no doubt well meaning lady throw a whole loaf of bread on to a grassy area, and this immediately attracted dozens of pigeons and gulls.

Of course, the young will always be naughty and will always attract the opprobrium of "grumpy old men" like myself, and the former will replace the latter in a perpetual cycle. However, perhaps the more important point is the degree of naughtiness tolerated by the oldies, and surely the dominant liberal ethos has allowed this tolerance to create the T in the Dump culture.

For example, today marks the 25th anniversary of the original Live Aid, and while no doubt my memory is hazy, I seem to recall myself and my pals dutifully gathering our empty beer and lager tins into a suitable bag and taking them to one of the various skips situated on the hallowed (from the English football perspective, at least!) Wembley turf. And while no doubt others were less responsible, I'm quite sure the average Live Aider a quarter of a century ago was a bit more of a Citizen L than last weekend's hoped for Citizen Ts at Balado.

Oh, and did I mention it? I was there. AT THE ORIGINAL LIVE AID!!

But, as Sean Hamilton says of the T in the Park revellers, "unfortunately we have to come back to reality". Equally, unfortunately, the permanent reality for many people is the soul destroying environment portrayed in the photos.

(On a wider note, perhaps a more fundamental question has to be asked of the whole T in the Park rationale. After all, with Joe Strummer dead and thus a reformed Clash impossible, and a Fish-led Marillion reunion unlikely, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF LAST WEEKEND? Oh well, at least there's Stiff Little Fingers in Dunfermline to look forward to next month, not to mention the Buzzcocks in Dundee in September.)

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