On Tuesday evening the MadGang went to the seaside to celebrate Mrs MP's dog, Edric's fourth birthday.
The beach to the north of the city of Sunderland is popular with dog walkers all year round. Even in the depths of winter, you will find us walking along the strand braving the icy wind coming off the North Sea. I expect there are some irresponsible dog owners who do not clean up their dog's mess but, honestly, you would be hard-pressed to find evidence of such sinful behaviour; it is certainly not a common occurrence.
It is the school holidays at the moment and we are also experiencing unusually hot weather, so, on Tuesday evening, the beach was crowded, not only with the usual doggie types but also with parents accompanied by young children and with teenagers perambulating aimlessly or playing games in groups, small and large. It had obviously been this packed with youngsters all day and the litter that had been discarded all over the place was horrific. Tin cans, empty sandwich packets and plastic bottles lay everywhere, waiting to be picked up by the incoming tide and carried out to sea. Some of it was possibly destined to feature in a future David Attenborough documentary about the ill effect our garbage is having on the sea-living creatures of our planet. Although there are many signs on the promenade warning dog owners that they will be fined a thousand pounds should they be caught not cleaning up after their dog, there are no similar instructions to parents to clean up after their children or to teenagers to deposit their empty energy-drink cans in the nearest litter bin (of which there are many). I assume that it is just assumed by the local authority that young people view everywhere as a tip for their convenience and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
It is the same in the park where I regularly walk my dogs. It is almost dog dirt free but you could not get anywhere near the skateboard ramps where the kids hang out without crunching through the detritus from their snacking the previous day.
No doubt, many of the children and young people who casually discard their non-biodegradable crap on our beaches and in our parks are the children and young people who have been taking days off school to march around the streets demanding that adults stop messing up the planet they are to inherit. No doubt the parents of these kids are the same ones who are banging on about how irresponsible adults are being and how environmentally righteous their children are.