burning question…..


Atavistic memories of the word “incinerator” recently started to shuffle around the corridors of my mind but the events surrounding that word remain in soft focus. There was a point in my childhood when several parts of our family shared a house which had, as I remember, a very extensive garden with alleys and paths that led to various sheds, green houses and lean to’s around which steamed piles of noble and ignoble rot. Somewhere in those nether regions lived the “incinerator”. The often heard recommendation to “put it in the incinerator” seemed to be a cure-all for a surprisingly wide range of household and garden problems yet, as a child, I don’t remember witnessing our incinerator incinerating. In a golden age when a link between “health and safety” had yet to be realised I can only imagine that this exclusion must have been imposed because it was considered “dirty” and “dirty” was quite bad. The adults of our world had just lived through a world war so safety in the garden wasn’t a priority which meant that living one’s childhood in that era was an exciting time full of finding, falling and fear. At that time, the sockets in electric wall plugs were round and of a width to allow the insertion of a small child’s finger, a temptation to which I succumbed on occasion with no lasting effect, although maybe I’m not the best judge of that. Were we more resistant to electricity, I ask myself, or was I just a bad conductor. The latter seems more likely as, let alone conducting, I couldn’t sing a note in tune on account of which, during my years at prep school, I was relegated to emptying the dustbins during choir practice. Dustbins, or the shape of them, bring me back to my new acquaintance with incinerators which I believe will be fruitful and lasting.incinerator2_0010 The incinerator in question, which belongs to our neighbour, is to be found close to his atelier, by a wall against which is stacked a multitude of rusty things that must not ever be thrown away as they may well be the vital components of something that is not yet needed but may well be essential in the not too distant future. This “atelier” is equipped with every sort of tool or machine imaginable providing him with the means to mend the broken or to create the new, which ability is in the remit of all “paysan” farmers who often do not have the wherewithal to pay others for services that they are quite capable of doing for themselves. They are also quite parsimonious, a word which I like very much but which will never be used to describe my own nature by anyone who has more than a fleeting acquaintance with me. Rubbish you may say, and in this case you would be right.Rubbish and its sorting, or triage, is the point of this post. The rubbish collection service here in the Vendée is extremely precise about which sort of rubbish should go where. This precision is sadly not reflected in the printed edicts with which we are supplied and which, with the help of competent graphic artists, illustrate into which sort of collection container should be put each sort of refuse. It appears that manufacturers are creating new sorts of container at a speed up with which the illustrators cannot keep. Should a container of the non illustrated type reveal itself to be in one of the variously coloured semi transparent sacks provided for its particular collection then, the appointed collector, will leave it by the roadside thus brilliantly creating rubbish which is the direct opposite of his mandate. To add a little sharp seasoning to this inconvenience, the collector will attach a sticker to the abandoned sack which states that something in that sack contravenes the list of that which is allowed but, annoyingly, not clearly defining the culprit. This led me into a Kafkaesque charade which involved emptying the contents of the sack on the ground  and, with the illustrated edict in one hand,  trying to decide which morsel of the misshapen crap lying before me could be the offender. So now, with the aid of my new friend, the incinerator, I burn the fuckers.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2016, Art photography, Bad Habits, Digital photography, Emotion, Farming, France, French countryside, Landscapes, Memory, Photographic Prints, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to burning question…..

  1. Mad Dog says:

    There’s nothing wrong with a bit of pyromania 😉

  2. Having poked a hair pin in the same shaped socket in New Zealand in the 70’s and being flung against the far wall, I must modestly state that I can sing perfectly in tune. Miraculous, I know. However, in regards to my sanity and IQ, it’s all, well, rather questionable. In our neck of the woods, the Government come by semi regularly and check the contents of your recycling bin. You either get a massive green ‘YES, you are a good recycler’ sticker planted on your bin or a giant red ‘NAY, you suck’ (well, almost those words). We have ‘won’ two green stickers but frankly, the pressure is killing me. Think I will go buy me an incinerator and burn that shit, um, stuff up.

  3. Ah yes, we have NO Rubbish man out here in the country and no nice recycling centre like we used to have in NZ, so anything I can burn is burnt the rest is heaved into big bags and sent to work with john to be surreptitiously jammed deep into the company dumpster. We don’t have a lot of rubbish though sheila eats most of it. I have to admit (being a farmer and all, not necessarily parsimonious but definitely of the thrifty variety )- I inspected your image closely for anything I might find useful. Some of the farmers collections here are from so many generations back that no-one knows what they are anymore – but if grandpa saved them then we also must leave them in the rafters – saved. To throw them out puts souls at risk. Have an excellent day – c

  4. Graham New says:

    ‘Twas only yesterday that my neighbour and I were mourning the passing of the bonfire which, when lit, would lead to much slamming of windows and taking in of washing.

  5. Nadia says:

    Nothing like a good bonfire. We do not have garbage collection here, we need to take everything ourselves to the local dump. Unfortunately we are restricted forbidden to burn anything, large fines. Pity.

  6. I love a good bon fire. 🙂 Your garden from childhood sounds amazing.

  7. Oh we love a good bonfire in Spain. Together with the house fire, the recycling, the chickens and the dogs…..very little goes to the the rubbish. Burn, baby burn!

  8. A most beautiful photograph of the lowly burning of garbage.

  9. ardysez says:

    I was chuckling so much while reading this I had to share it with my husband, who joined me with chuckles. Also, I note that a good photographer can take a beautiful photo of anything 🙂 even an incinerator.

  10. Eha says:

    Suddenly feel quite blessed regarding my rubbish which I have always regarded as quite a nuisance. Living on a short street of some sixteen homes or so we are blessed just with the one lot of bins of various kinds quite a way up the said street – non-see’thru’ and obviously shared. Hmm: so who got it wrong if indeed it is – oh, it cannot have been me 😀 !! Don’t think the garbos particularly care anyways . . .

  11. You reminded me of the incinerator at my primary school. Mr Finlay the gardener would load that fucker up on a weekly basis and set fire to anything and everything… Ah, the good old days.

  12. Conor Bofin says:

    I just love your approach. We have had water charges introduced in the recent past. We also have our rubbish segregated into three bin types Grey for the rubbish. Green for the paper and plastic. Brown for the general food waste, vegetable peelings, garden cuttings and anything that will rot down. We are charged for each both by weight and per lift. Unlike in parts of France, we consign our yoghurt cartons to the paper waste. however, we are expected to rinse them clean before recycling them.
    This got me thinking that I am expending far more energy (and my cash) on water to clean the packaging before the council whom I pay to collect my rubbish takes it away for sale and then recycling. That really annoys me. They are particularly vigilant over what goes in the brown bin as the vegetable matter etc. is “High Grade” recyclable and worth a lot more to them.
    The net result of all this is that I don’t wash anything before to gets recycled. If bean tins with beans stuck in them can’t be recycled, they can wash them themselves, at their cost. If I had an incinerator, I too might incinerate the fornicators.

  13. ChgoJohn says:

    In the basement of the two-flat,we had a small incinerator and it handled much of the burnable refuse from the 12. In the fall, everyone raked the fallen leaves to the curb and set them afire. Of course, that all ended in the 70s when people discovered air pollution. It was such a part of fall that I almost miss the scent. The smoke-filled streets — and eyes — are much easier to live without.

    • I would have loved to have seen the burning of the leaves in the streets. I can’t imagine that burning leaves compares to burning diesel fuel…but what do I know. I do know that I very much like the smell of burning leaves and detest the smell of exhaust fumes:)

  14. Francesca says:

    We enjoyed this travelling down to the beach- making the longish drive more pleasant with a Roger rave.The incinerator was always a feature in the backyard growing up. What’s that smell- Oh it’s just Dad at the incinerator. Fortunately our recycling gets thrown into one large wheelie bin, and is sorted and separated at the factory, otherwise, I might end up doing what the elders did- burying the fuckers, the other ancient solution, or throwing it in the creek- for old cars and mattresses!!

  15. lulu says:

    You never fail to entertain. I so enjoy the way you use words which create as vivid an image as your wonderful photos.

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