ONE MAN’S TRASH
ROB INGRAM MOURNS FOR THE OLD VILLAGE TIP AND ALL ITS WEIRD AND WONDERFUL TREASURES.
“OUR TIP WAS THE SORT OF PLACE AS WHERE YOU’D LOSE A DAY JUST EASILY AS YOU COULD LOSE A FOOT.”
IF THE KIDS HADN’T LONG FLOWN the coop — or if there was some parenting benefit to be pocketed — I wouldn’t mind being labelled a stay-at-home dad. I like staying at home. These days my back goes out more often than I do. “Want to come to Dubbo tomorrow?” asks The Chosen One. “Nah,” I say, “…there are a few things I want to do around the house.” This is manspeak for: “There are more than a few things I don’t want to do around the house” or “I’d rather do nothing than something.” Okay, there are exceptions. When The Chosen One asks, “Want to come to Mudgee tomorrow?” I immediately ask if she’s planning to call in at the tip shop. We miss our local tip. Country folk used to establish a bond with their tip. Maybe not an emotional bond, but an affffectional one. Ours was the sort of tip where you’d drop offff half a trailer of rubbish and bring home a full load. It was the sort of place where you’d lose a day just as easily as you could lose a foot. Every bush community used to have its tip identity — ours was Fred. Fred could supply any known mechanical or technological need from our tip. He could steer you in the right direction. “Four-inch gate valve with a left-hand thread?” Fred would say. “Try over there under the cast-iron primary hub sleeve.” We’d no sooner made Fred a life member of the Cobbora tip than they closed it. Big tips became waste resource recovery centres manned by sanitation engineers, and small tips became extinct. These waste management centres will never replace the village tip. They deal in nasty industrial and chemical pollution that clutches at the throat and makes the eyes burn. The village tip used to produce the rich, chocolate-cakey odour of decomposition and decay that hung like damp curtains concealing fabulous fifinds. Not everything in the country goes to the tip, of course. Poet C.J. Dennis tugged at the heartstrings of all Australians with his legendary The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke. Rural Australia still bristles with sentimental blokes. On the way to the tip shop we pass a house with 30 cars and trucks parked out the back. “Must be a clearing sale there today,” says The Chosen One. They’re always there, I tell her — the country bloke is very sentimental about his motor vehicles. When their working days are over, they’re put out to pasture. And whoever heard of a country bloke throwing away a 40-gallon drum, half a windmill or a twin-row double-disc multipurpose fertiliser spreader. They’re part of the family. But thank God for the tip shop. The 50-cent book and the two-dollar golf club. The missing partner for the bedside lamp. The whisky glass to replace last night’s breakage. The Royal Family cake tin and the indoor clothesline. The missing wheel trim, the torch (condition unknown). I must admit to feeling a bit guilty about getting a surge of excitement at each new tip shop. I worry that we’ve become so blind to rampant capitalism that we now put our garbage out for collection on Tuesday morning and cheerfully buy it back from our councils on Friday afternoon. Worse, it worries me that I’ve become a garbage fashionista. Our rubbish is collected each week by Warrumbungle Shire Council, but my favourite tip shopping is at the Mudgee outlet operated by Mid-western Regional Council. Altogether a better class of rubbish.