This is arguably my favourite newspaper story of the year so far.
‘It’s absolutely disgraceful’
Strong words, indeed.
It’s from local (to Sheffield) paper, the Sheffield Star. And it ticks all the boxes as far as Angry People in Local Newspapers goes:
Local Newspaper – check
Nothing Story – check
Undue Pettiness – check
Picture Of Angry People Pointing At Problem – check:
So. Talking of the problem, what is the problem?
Sheffield residents have hit out at the mess left by council contractors cutting grass verges. Harry Marshall, his partner Ann Hartley and neighbour Gaynor Elliot said waste grass cut from verges along their Basegreen homes is spewed out across the pavement and road each year.
Mr Marshall said residents along Basegreen Avenue where he lives are having to sweep it off their drives and pavements to prevent it staining their shoes and being trailed into their houses.
TRAILED INTO HOUSES!
“It gets in the drains and clogs them up. In this year, the 10th anniversary of the Sheffield floods, have we learned no lessons regarding blocking up the drains, or do we want some more floods?
It is absolutely disgraceful, it’s all over the place.”
CLOGS! (Maybe less stainable than shoes? I dunno. Just a thought.)
DO WE WANT SOME MORE FLOODS? DO WE?
Obviously, instead of simply contacting the contractor involved, Mr Marshall – who is allergic to sweeping – decided that involving the local newspaper was a better bet. And the Star duly sent out a ‘tog and a notebook and gave us this story and this pic:
That is terrible. Why on earth are we importing drain covers from Stockport? Oh, also yes, the grass is an issue. Maybe just brushing it up would have been a better option than ranting to the papers though? I reckon it’d take, like, two minutes, tops.
“We’ve recently got back from Spain and they keep their grass verges really tidy. You see the workmen picking up after themselves. I got back to Sheffield and I couldn’t believe the difference. If the workmen in Spain can keep it tidy then why can’t they do it here?”
Yeah, good point, Mr M. But those Spaniards are the bomb when it comes to sweeping up grass clippings. They’ve been European picking up after themselves champions for the past 5 years straight and were runners-up to Oman in the World’s held in Vladivostok last year. You’re comparing Sheffield to the very best mankind has to offer here: it’s a tall order. Do you own a brush, by the way? I’m just asking.
It’s a wonderfully unimportant, petty rant, which is great in itself, but then there’s the bottom picture.
Now, I’m no professional when it comes to taking pictures. Especially when they are pictures of angry people pointing at grass clippings (niche), and I’d hate to stain my shoes or trail grass into their houses while out on assignment, but… but…
Maybe you could try one more step back, just so you can get both the offending partially grass covered drain and whiney neighbour Gaynor Elliott’s head in shot?
And then also, isn’t Harry Marshall (for it is he on the left there) risking a rather nice pair of slacks by kneeling in that rather devil-may-care fashion? Incidentally, I’ve found that using a solution made of one part white vinegar to two parts water is a good remedy for grass stains. Use a toothbrush to work liquid into the area. Leave for 30 minutes before washing. But then, maybe I’m just a shill for Big Vinegar.
In fact, Mr Marshall’s sour-faced partner, Ann Hartley, is the only one that really comes out of this with any glory, albeit that that glory is tempered somewhat when one remembers that she chose to stand there and look grumpy in front of an inept photographer, rather than just using a brush for all of 90 seconds.