The Keep Britain Tidy campaign has focused on the big picture: rubber bands. Quantities are being dropped by Britain’s few remaining post people and littering the streets. Not around here. True, they are dropped, but our eight-year-old Charlie is a collector. Eyes constantly peeled, he’ll duck down every few paces on the walk to school to pick one up. As a result, my attitude to the rubber band has changed.
The son of parents who lived through the Second World War, I try to live up to their standards as regards wrapping paper and pieces of string. In a modern vein, I fret about wasting the Earth’s resources. But now, if a rubber band disappears, by accident, into the vacuum cleaner, I blush not; we have so many of the things around the house. Don’t write, I know the issue.
Just as Charlie had antiseptic gel squirted onto his hands after stroking the donkey on Palm Sunday, so surely we should equip ourselves with sterilising equipment each time we go out? No doubt, but what then to do with the rubber bands? Boil them? Soak them in bleach? I’m not sure what it would do to the rubber. We console ourselves that the health risk is outbalanced by the mental benefit of imaginative play with humble materials. It may be obsessive, but at least he’s not on the computer.