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1932: '... an infinitesimal heap of papers at the corner of Hatchgate Lane'

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 08 March 1932


To the Editor of The Mid Sussex Times-

Dear Sir,—-Many thanks for printing my letter about the litter in the Cuckfield- Haywards Heath road. It has brought me two messages of condolence from fellow sufferers, and two letters in your last issue. I am very glad to think that Mr. Fancourt-Bell’s communications to authority have done some good in the matter. They certainly would seem to have: since I was greeted, on my way to Cuckfield on Saturday, by villainous clouds of smoke mingled with small dirty flakes blown in my face, and, on hurrying to see what house was on fire, I came across an infinitesimal heap of papers at the corner of Hatchgate Lane, accompanied by a wheelbarrow, which looked as If someone had taken a kindly interest in the worst of the mess. The hedge is still trimmed with a fringe of bus tickets and small cartons at the roots, but perhaps they may become visible to authority in time—with gentle encouragement.

Hatchgate Lane c1910 colourised (courtesy of Cuckfield Museum)

I should like to thank “Weary Willie” for his offer of assistance with regard to the socks on my hedge. He will - I am sure - like to hear that the tongs, wielded with much determination, did, in the end succeed in removing them. I put them in the road, and next day one was in the hedge again. I then (always with my tongs) removed them to the grass on the opposite side of the road, where I have not the least doubt they are still. They had been resting from severe labour on my property for over week. May I say (in reply to “Weary Willie”) that dogs being “allowed” on pathways is the only way of securing that there are any dogs at all. I imagine anyone so weary as even Willie does not want them eliminated altogether?

With regard to the really serious aspect of litter in general, I could say a few words, as I lived for some years close to Hampstead Heath, and used to take my dogs there. A lovely place, were it not that the almost inevitable result of a walk there was a visit to the vet. Old sardine tins, decayed bones, tins of salmon left from a Bank holiday or picnic—all sorts of decaying rubbish makes what might be a paradise for dogs into a very dangerous place indeed. I once expostulated with a family who were leaving stacks of paper behind on rising from an alfresco meal, and asked why they did so. The reply was that if everyone left the park tidy they would depriving a good man of his job. I made enquiries after this as to that, and discovered that each of the six men responsible for the Heath had 100 acres to look after, and it was simply an impossibility to keep it neat.

It takes good six weeks to get the Heath even partially clear after Bank holiday, and one has literally to plough one’s way through the filthy papers. Another thing I noticed was that the keepers were always burning stacks of lovely wood. I asked them why they did not sell it. and was told that anyone could take it away who cared to. Nobody did. Yet there are very poor neighbourhoods close by, and children are always playing there. Isn’t it time people were penalised for untidiness in the streets and pleasant beauty spots, as they are in Germany? I am certain all the education, and coaxing in the world, all the appeals from His Majesty, and photographs of litter in parks, are as useless as - up to now—joint expostulation of various nations has been in the Chinese and Japanese trouble.

When one thinks that it is seriously considered that a League of Nations should have the only efficient Force in the world, one must see that even that peace-loving league must have real power to do any good.

Yours faithfully,

MARY McLEOD. Paddocks’ Land, Cuckfield.

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