A trip to the dump is one of my great pleasures in life – and I’m not alone


Everything has its place at the dump, no matter how abject or broken. No wonder there were queues when it reopened after lockdown

A couple of miles from my home, down on the other side of the motorway, in a semi-industrial scrubland of building-supply merchants, gearbox specialists and a mysterious warehouse called Limbs and Things, lies the Household Waste Recycle Centre. At least, the council calls it the “HWRC”; everyone else calls it the dump. I have visited this enchanted acre seven or eight times this past year, and I always emerge feeling happy and serene. I see it as my favourite piece of municipal infrastructure – and clearly, I am not alone. “People love it here. Honestly, with some of them, it’s like they’ve seen the Second Coming,” said one of the waste-management officers on a recent visit. When the dump reopened after the first lockdown, the queue to get in stretched 200 cars long. Like pubs, like school, like the touch of our loved ones, we missed it when it wasn’t available.

There’s a number-plate system in place now to limit the hordes, but it’s still massively popular – queues 30, 40, 50 cars long. Imprisoned in our homes this last year, we all have a lot to process, a lot to throw away. I have unloaded the contents of a garage there, a couple of tons of concrete from our front garden, a floor’s worth of carpet and underlay, plus various defunct appliances, a broken chair, a sawn-up tree and much emotional baggage, too. I don’t mind waiting for my turn. If anything, the restrictions have heightened the pleasures of the dump: the gruff camaraderie; the clang of rubble against corrugated metal; the fascination of other people’s waste; the stellar levels of customer service, particularly from Pete, the soulful maître-d’ who directs each car to the appropriate bay: “What you bringing, my friend?” “Hardcore.” “Go straight on through.”

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