Oxford’s gleaming spires now poke up through a rubbish dump. The litter on the streets last weekend was unrelenting, and, when we took our foreign guests punting, we did so through a flotilla of Styrofoam burger wrappers, plastic water bottles and other detritus. Litter begets more litter, and, with so much lying around, nobody seemed the slightest bit concerned when they added to it.
It was shocking, and I spent most of the day apologising to our friends. On Monday, I read that Britain spends £858 million a year clearing up litter. We either need to spend more or drop less.
After Oxford, we went for a walk around our parish, and, not only is there no litter, but there were wild raspberries in their hundreds. Wild raspberries, like wild strawberries, are smaller and have a more intense flavour than their cultivated cousins and often appear, as on this occasion, after coppicing of a wood has taken place.
As well as the raspberries, the red kite obliged with a slow flypast and, with the breeze weaving its magic through the golden wheat, the countryside put on a show that poor, litter-strewn Oxford couldn’t match.