Dear Reader: The problem with recycling + a very British sense of humour

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.
The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

What to do on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the hottest summer in Harrogate for 40 years?

Take the rubbish to the tip on Wetherby Road, well, those bits that the municipal dustbin men won’t pick up.

I have to admit it’s usually a fun experience in a strange way.

Unloading your car and disposing of the discarded bric a brac of daily living in various giant metal skips at the tip means, inevitably, that you have to get your hands dirty. The great thing is no one judges you because we’re all in the same boat – or scrapyard, rather

But, for once, this shortlived return to being a six-year-old boy with skint knees and torn shorts failed to cheer me up.

How to decide which giant bin to put which bit of rubbish in?

It was almost symbolic of the complicated, interwoven nature of modern life.

Was an ugly bit of tat made of plastic but with a bit of metal in it meant to go in the plastic bin or metal bin?

Which bits were truly recyclable and which bits were not?

Despite the bonhommie of the helpful staff in sturdy overalls, I wasn’t entirely sure - and no one else was either.

I’m a card-carrying believer in a green future but standing right there in the dusty heat of the Harrogate Household Waste Recycling Centre, to give it its proper title, was depressing.

Suddenly I felt more like part of the problem than the solution.

He’d been an insurance under-writer until he set sail round the world.

Now Mick Husband was sitting opposite me in what used to be the ‘presentation room’ in the Harrogate Advertiser’s myriad of rooms talking about danger as if it was as normal as fresh air.

A thoroughly modest and likable bloke, Mick’s weather-beaten skin betrayed the effects of 11 months of being battered by the full force of the elements as part of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, sea spray, wild winds, beating sunshine and all.

I suppose that’s what joining the crew of a 70ft manually operated yacht in some of the toughest conditions on the planet does for you.

There was steel in his eyes, as well as the constant hint of a smile.

But simple bravery had not been enough to achieve what Mick had achieved.

Dealing with the most challenging oceans in the world meant this Killinghall family man had come to develop a dark sense of humour.

As a political approach,“keep calm and carry on” may have been found lacking as a means of solving society’s deepest problems but as an individual survival tactic it’s obviously hugely effective.

And, if anyone knows this, it’s the quietly remarkable Mick Husband.

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