Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 8

I was just taking today's picture when I looked down the road and saw something to strike fear into any lover of Bathmatwatch: the unmistakeable flash of hi-vis jacket through the parked cars that can only mean one thing: a street sweeper. The street sweeper is the natural predator of the abandoned bath mat, and what I thought was going to be a routine spot turned into the kind of battle of wits where the only rule is the law of the jungle.

He was coming up the opposite side of the street, making a worryingly thorough sweep of bits of old firework. The bath mat’s side was yet to be done. It was in mortal danger, but I knew that I had some time. The street sweeper would have to get all the way to the top of the road, then turn around and start the other side yet. I forced myself to walk around the block, then checked again. The street sweeper had made little progress and was yet to cross the road.

But what could I actually do? I had a feeling that saying “Excuse me, could you leave that bath mat please, as I like to take regular photographs of it and post them on the internet” might come across as slightly odd when said out loud. But worse than that it would break the golden rule of Bathmatwatch: to only observe. It’s not called Bathmatinterfere, is it? I am merely there to document, and whatever happens is Nature’s way. Martyn Colbeck would never intervene, even if a really cute baby elephant was in danger.

I made myself come home and had a cup of tea to calm myself, but I couldn’t get any work done. So I slipped out again. The street sweeper had crossed the road by now and was heading off into the distance. Like the Angel of Death and the Israelites’ first-born sons he had passed mercifully by.