Amy and I were up early this morning. Up and out. Round the block and down the road. It was a day we had long been looking forward to. It was the day of bottled secrets.
Earlier this year our Council announced new rubbish collection arrangements. The weekly general rubbish collection would, in future, be every fortnight. The recycled bin would also be emptied every fortnight. And once a month the bottle box would be collected : and today's the day. Here was an opportunity to peer into the drinking secrets of my neighbours, a chance to sort out the wine drinking boys from the whisky-sloshing men, a prospect to discover an answer to that age-old question : "Does anyone in their right mind actually drink bottled water?".
I went about the research with an energy and determination my grandfather Enoch - an occasional leader of the Great Horton temperance movement - would have been proud of. Armed with my camera and reporters' notebook, my trusty dog and myself walked up the road, down the avenue and along the drive and examined people's bottle boxes with the attention to detail of a Government Inspector. And what secrets there were waiting to be discovered : lives laid bare, curtains thrown open.
That little old widow lady up on the main road, all prim and proper : as far as I can tell, she is single-handedly keeping Gordon's Gin in business. That young couple who walk their dog each morning and - if the evidence is to be believed - down at least jeroboam of Cabernet Sauvignon each night. That family up the top of the Avenue who must have misunderstood the concept of recommended units of alcohol (let me stress that one unit equals half a pint of beer and NOT half a pint of Old Fettercairn Single Malt). And as for Mrs Whats-her-name up by the Crem, what on earth does she do with all those bottles of vinegar?
At a time when people are concerned about personal information being made widely available, the introduction of open bottle boxes is nothing short of a national scandal. The Government seems determined to shame us into accepting its latest food and drink fetish. Making people hang out their dirty washing in a bottle via these awful plastic bins is yet another attack on our personal liberty. Within the next few days I will be launching a campaign to introduce "modesty curtains" which can be draped over the tops of the bottle boxes to protect our right to privacy. In the meantime, I suggest that people adopt a restrained approach to what bottles they show to the world. As you can see from the picture, I threw all my whisky bottles in the general bin and displayed just a select few continental beer bottles.