Real life

In praise of fly-tipping

3 October 2020

9:00 AM

3 October 2020

9:00 AM

The pile of fly-tipping was dumped in the night as usual, right against the five bar gate. I arrived to feed the horses and found seven fridges and a pile of mattresses blocking the entrance to the field. I raised my eyes to heaven and said: ‘Thank you, God!’

The rotting mattresses and busted, filthy fridges, lying with their doors open, blocked almost the entire pull-in, the field gate and the stile.

I believe Nicholas van Hoogstraten once piled up a load of old fridges to block walkers from looking into his garden from a footpath. Well, maybe I know how he felt.

No rambler, no matter how many National Trust stickers he has in his car window, can park up to ramble around my horses and cause havoc with seven fridges piled against the gate.

By the way, I see the National Trust’s latest lavish TV advert depicts a silent stream with a caption suggesting we all need peace and quiet. Er, yes, but what peace and quiet have National Trust members allowed me to have for the past six months, as they run rampant through the Surrey countryside? None.

As the builder boyfriend and I stood among the fridges, two walkers marched past tutting their disapproval. One of them took out his phone and photographed the registration of our car.


‘Yeah, that’s right,’ said the BB, as they walked off, ‘all that came out of a Volvo.’

If the fly-tipping backlog is big enough, it will take the council a while to come and shift this lot.

I know Mayor Giuliani had a lot of success with his broken windows policy, keeping things so nice in New York neighbourhoods that even yobs didn’t want to drop litter. But I tend to the view that when you are dealing with the problems of Surrey, the best deterrent is to make the place look a right dump.

That way, the middle-class trespassers don’t want to walk their cockapoos around your field because it doesn’t look all chocolate-boxey, while the fly-tippers never tip on top of fly-tipping, for reasons I have yet to fully understand. It seems to be a hard and fast rule. Perhaps there is honour among fly-tippers and they don’t like to tip on each other’s tipping patches.

In any case, the BB, who understands these things, assured me no self-respecting night tipper would go near my field entrance now. And hopefully no day-tripper will either.

We kicked around the fridges and found one of them was covered in fridge magnets. The builder B likes to do detective work on fly-tipping and is very good at it. One time, he forensically examined a big dump of rubble outside his field until he unearthed a receipt leading him to a well-spoken professional chap in Worcester Park.

He rang him and interrogated him expertly to find that he had just had some building waste removed by a clearance company. The BB demanded the details and when the man refused, he informed him that if he didn’t tell him he would, that very afternoon, bring all the rubble back to his house in Worcester Park, and dump it on his lawn.

Whereupon the man divulged the clearance company’s full details and the BB rang them to ask if they would do a job for him. Delighted, they asked for the details and he gave them the address of his field. The man on the other end of the line began to stutter, but the BB held firm. ‘That’s right, you’re going to come back and clear the rubbish you dumped by my horses. And when you’re done, I won’t call the police and give them all the evidence so they can come and crush your truck.’

The fly-tipper duly turned up, bang on the time arranged, and meticulously cleared up the rubbish he had fly-tipped.

Hopeful of another such victory, we kicked around the broken fridges, noticing bailing twine, which suggested they had been stored in a rural lock-up somewhere, house clearance after house clearance, until the toerags had enough fridges to warrant a night-time dumping expedition. They charge £30–£40 a go for fridges at local authority tips, and nearly as much for a mattress, so even the professional clearance companies see no harm in getting the council to clear them for free by doing it this way.

We scrutinised the fridge with the magnets, which spelt out rude words and phrases badly. It also bore a sticker for a famous gym company. I suggested we put a photo on Facebook: do you recognise this fridge?

But do we really want to do the council’s job for them and find the culprits? Not really. We want to take this precious gift of respite, enjoy some blessed peace and security, Hoogstraten style.

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