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a blog by Chris Barrow

Clean sweep

If, like me, you ran around Falmouth at 06:00 but, unlike me, you never came back during the day – you would truly think that the town and its beaches were some of the filthiest places you had ever visited. There are three reasons for this:

  1. visitors

  2. seagulls and

  3. time and tide

The visitors are the best behaved of the two, because in the main they deposit their litter in the “bins provided” – and there are plenty of them. The seagulls have no such manners – and every night, after all the visitors and locals have retired, they descend upon the bins, tearing the very contents out on to the street and fighting over whatever scraps of food are available. The seagulls are also well known to attack the visitors as they walk down the street carrying food. Its almost a local entertainment – to see an adult carrying fish & chips and watch a lone seagull swoop and crash into their outstretched hand. Said visitor will leap back in amazement, utter an oath – and the flock will descend upon the scattered remains. Not so funny when its a small child carrying an ice-cream and likely to be traumatised. The time and tides are, of course, no respecter of humanity and its ways – we have seen very high tides these last few days, combined with heavy rain and a Southerly wind – hence the beaches are covered in sea-weed every morning. So – at 06:00 – the place is a rubbish dump of staggering proportions, with black bin-liners ripped and their contents thrown all over the streets – the beaches covered in the day’s human detritus and the night’s flotsam. Cue the street and beach cleaners….. Falmouth has civic pride and a business to run – the tourist business – and the last thing the next herd of visitors want to see is refuse. So as I jog around the town and along the Prom, I pass an army of gentlemen clad in bright yellow jackets and boiler suits, going about their business with HGV’s, street-cleaners, bin bags and even those sticks with robot arms. In an hour, a transformation takes place as the seagulls look on in frustration. By 07:00 we have a quaint Cornish port, ready to do business. This morning I realise that there is a metaphor here. During the day we accumulate “stuff”. Relationships, situations and things that pile, one on top of the other. Many of you who read this will be at the centre of a circle of humanity and events that require your daily attention. Remember my post on Thursday about “everybody wanting a piece of me”? I’ve realised why I’ve started running again. A good night’s sleep is a great way to clear the “refuse” that accumulates during the day. But my early morning run is the mental equivalent of the HGV pictured here – clearing the seaweed and flattening the sand. So that another herd of people can wander across today and leave their footprints. Regular daily exercise is one of the ways we can clear the beach and empty the bins. There’s no getting rid of the visitors and the seagulls – the latter will still swoop and steal. And we cannot turn back the tides. So you had better start each day with a Clean Sweep.

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