PICTURE in your mind an image of the average litter-bug and you’ll probably see a city smoker carelessly discarding a cigarette end or a cigarette box; a motorist emptying the litter from his car on to the road at traffic lights; some schoolkids tossing their lunchtime drinks bottles by the wayside.
Squinter never tagged outdoorsmen as littering types. On the contrary, those who spend a lot of time away from the rat race do so surely because they prize Mother Nature’s pristine serenity.
You’d think that, wouldn’t you?
Sunday afternoon and Squinter’s walking the dog around Stoneyford reservoir, the vast expanse of water shimmering in the heat, undisturbed by even a hint of a breeze. Dotted around the banks are scores of anglers, all male, ranging in age from perhaps to 10 to 70; some are solitary, some are fishing in groups. None, it appears, gives a tinker’s curse about the state of the place.
Pan loaf wrappers and cigarette boxes are everywhere, food packaging and bottles abound. The bread thing is particularly galling because, according to the Stoneyford rules, only spinning and worm fishing is allowed, but it’s clear that the anglers here are doing their bit to keep our bakeries in business. Whether they’re using the bread as bait on the hook, or whether they’re throwing it on the water as groundbait to attract the rainbow and brown trout, isn’t entirely clear, although given the amount of loaf wrappers we can only assume that they are using it for anything and everything – except, of course, sandwiches.
After an hour or so of this, Squinter had had enough and was longing for the ordered cleanliness of the Andytown Road. So man and dog headed into the village and struck left along the Moss Road, returning to the car by way of a meandering circuit involving the Sheepwalk and White Mountain roads.
And as he walked the thought occurred that while the bailiffs are busy at Stoneyford, ever on the prowl for those fishing without a licence, perhaps NI Water should start employing a litter warden or two.