A voice came from the kitchen. ‘Have you put the rubbish out yet?’
I put my newspaper down and looked up at the clock. It was two minutes past five. It was always two minutes past five when the voice from the kitchen said, ‘Have you put the rubbish out yet?’ Every Wednesday without fail. Fifteen hours before it became a job that needed doing. And I would reply, sometimes through gritted teeth but always with a sigh: ‘Not yet. Just doing it now.’
And the voice would say: ‘Was that a sigh?’
The rubbish wouldn’t be collected until tomorrow morning. Never before nine o’clock. I would be up by six. Three hours should be enough.
Three hours was only just enough as it happened. It was a much more awkward job than I’d expected. Films don’t really dwell on the time-consuming nature of the task, and although they like to show the mess created, they offer very little by way of guidance to do-it-yourself pioneers with a limited selection of tools. And Google, I find, contains very little on the subject, which surprised me.
The wet, windy weather was a hindrance too and, living in a mid-terrace, everything had to be carried through the house from the secluded back garden. Which meant laying old newspapers down. And then those had to be disposed of too.
So, yes, in the end, three hours had only just been sufficient.
Still, at least the rain helped me clean the back garden afterwards.
The bin lorry clanked off down the street and our little close was quiet again. I picked up my newspaper.
At two minutes past five, a voice came from the kitchen. ‘Have you put the rubbish out yet?’