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"It's an amazing feeling."
August 1, 2014 12:28 PM   Subscribe

In recognition of his tireless devotion to picking up litter in the countryside, local man David "Pig Pen" Sedaris is honored by the Horsham District Council by having a garbage truck named after him.

The West Sussex County Times realizes after publication that their local hero is also known in other quarters as a Grammy-award winning author and comedian, who was most recently featured on the blue for his obsession with walking the English countryside, picking up said litter in the company of his fitbit.

Sedaris's publisher is amused.
posted by something something (61 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
The correct UK term is "bin lorry", by the way.
posted by pipeski at 12:31 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


“I’m angry at the people who throw these things out their car windows, but I’m just as angry at the people who walk by it every day. I say pick it up yourself. Do it enough and you might one day get a garbage truck named after you. It’s an amazing feeling.”

That's awesome. I love how straight-faced the first article is. I think his quote was taking the piss.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:34 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]


I love it.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:35 PM on August 1


He's working toward six to eight "bin lorries".
posted by Redfield at 12:36 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


The BinLorry Diaries
posted by scody at 12:43 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


I'm still waiting for his Fitbit article to be outed as a paid endorsement.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:43 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Bin Lorrie sounds like the name of your eccentric aunt.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:44 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]


If my neck of the woods is anything to go by, everybody who knows him as "Pig Pen" had no clue as to his real name until now.
posted by Thing at 12:44 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


I tried to read a Sedaris novel once.

Once.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:45 PM on August 1


I'm still waiting for his Fitbit article to be outed as a paid endorsement.

Really? I thought it read like an addiction horror story.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:46 PM on August 1 [12 favorites]


I didn't know he wrote any novels.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:47 PM on August 1 [19 favorites]


I thought it read like an addiction horror story.

And yet I immediately wanted to buy a Fitbit.
posted by maxsparber at 12:49 PM on August 1 [4 favorites]


"I’m angry at the people who throw these things out their car windows, but I’m just as angry at the people who walk by it every day. I say pick it up yourself."

It's embarrassing how long in life it took for me to arrive at this same realization. Perhaps, in addition to "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute" there should have been a series of companion PSAs along the lines of "See Some Trash, Pick It Up, Then All Day You'll Have Good Luck".
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:49 PM on August 1 [11 favorites]


Wow, I loved his piece in the New Yorker but I had just assumed that whatever truth there was to him walking a lot and picking up litter along the way was rather embellished for the sake of a funny story. I'm amazed to see that he wasn't making it up.
posted by Flashman at 1:00 PM on August 1 [15 favorites]


“I’m angry at the people who throw these things out their car windows, but I’m just as angry at the people who walk by it every day. I say pick it up yourself. Do it enough and you might one day get a garbage truck named after you. It’s an amazing feeling.”

That's awesome. I love how straight-faced the first article is. I think his quote was taking the piss.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:34 PM on August 1 [+] [!]



I actually think he's pretty serious about it given what he's written before and the amount of time he puts into this
posted by Bwithh at 1:00 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


The West Sussex County Times realizes after publication

omg, this is the best part
posted by Bwithh at 1:02 PM on August 1 [6 favorites]


Didn't the US kill Bin Lorry when they got her husband?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:04 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Flashman, that's what I loved about it, too. With humorous essayists, especially in a post-James Frey world, I always assume they're making a lot of their stories up, or at least greatly exaggerating for effect. In this case, at least, it seems that if anything Sedaris has been downplaying his dedication to the litter situation in West Sussex.
posted by something something at 1:05 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


I wonder what it must feel like to find a place like that, a locale that just so perfectly suits you.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:05 PM on August 1 [4 favorites]


The West Sussex County Times realizes after publication

They don't fully confess to that in the follow-up. But the other online sources linking to original article that I've seen also framed it along: unsophisticated peasants not realizing that there's a real-live "celebrity" living among them.

I think that the writer for The West Sussex County Times was probably aware that the local eccentric American writer has a following, but: English-Style Understatement. Which makes for a funnier story.
posted by ovvl at 1:15 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


He wrote about it in an essay that was included in his recent book (Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls). My first thought was, those English lanes can be mighty narrow with hedgerows, etc. I hope he doesn't get hit.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:16 PM on August 1


I love everything about this, including the fact that I now know what a Lord Lieutenant is. (The Lord Lieutenant for West Sussex, Susan Pyper, is included pictured in the newspaper photo as a local dignitary.) I guess this is old news for UK mefites but I just love that such a position exists, and apparently really is more than just a sinecure.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:20 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


those English lanes can be mighty narrow with hedgerows

If there's some rubbish in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now
It's just a spring clean for the Pig Pen
posted by scody at 1:23 PM on August 1 [32 favorites]


I liked how he started carrying the litter picker-upper as a snake protection device.
posted by bleep at 1:24 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


David Sedaris has yet to do or write something I haven't found hilarious, charming or both.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:25 PM on August 1 [13 favorites]


From the first article:
The council will be appointing a co-ordinator to encourage people to join as well as giving basic health and safety guidance and to supply volunteers with gloves, a litter pick and high-vis waistcoat.

I demand a high-vis waistcoat.
posted by medusa at 1:26 PM on August 1 [4 favorites]


That sounds so much classier than traffic vest.
posted by maryr at 1:30 PM on August 1 [7 favorites]


I now also want such a waistcoat.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:32 PM on August 1


I tried to read a Sedaris novel once.

Once.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:45 PM on August 1 [+] [!]



Try harder.
posted by stenseng at 1:35 PM on August 1 [16 favorites]


I love everything about this, including the fact that I now know what a Lord Lieutenant is.

Just wait 'til you hear how it's pronounced!

That sounds so much classier than traffic vest.

The waistcoat-vest-tanktop-sweatervest thing is one of the most fascinating examples of "divided by a common language." That we in North America think of a vest as formal wear probably makes a lot of stuffy British people get funny ideas about us.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:36 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


I tried to read a Sedaris novel once.

Interesting. He's never written one.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:37 PM on August 1 [7 favorites]


...was rather embellished for the sake of a funny story. I'm amazed to see that he wasn't making it up

Actually now that I think about it, my favourite bit from the story, "You can tell where my territory ends and the rest of England begins. It’s like going from the rose arbor in Sissinghurst to Fukushima after the tsunami" quite obviously is an embellishment. I once lived in a village in the South Downs (Alfriston, the 'Prettiest Village in East Sussex') and know that while there might indeed be the odd bit of litter on the verge, comparing it to the aftermath of a devastating tsunami is a gross and contemptible exaggeration. Which is why the line is so funny.
posted by Flashman at 1:52 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


My favourite part in the new yorker article was

"... I saw mother and child standing side by side, not in the loving way that I had imagined but more like strangers waiting for the post office to open."

The mental image is amazing.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 2:05 PM on August 1 [4 favorites]


The line spacing is driving me nuts. What kind of crazy person comes up with:

Thanks
David
for
helping
to
keep
the
area clean


Why are 'area' and 'clean' the same line instead of, say, 'to keep'
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:07 PM on August 1 [8 favorites]


Is this newspaper real? It looks like a Private Eye parody of hyper-local news. The top five most read articles are this story and its update, two items on people laying wreaths for a closed McDonalds, and this gem:
Police officers gave chase to a fleeing man in Horsham town centre yesterday (Tuesday July 29).

A Sussex Police spokesperson said: “Police pulled up in a van in the Causeway in Horsham around 4.40pm on Tuesday and a man started to run away.

“Officers caught up with the man and searched him but nothing was found and he was released without any further action.”
posted by rollick at 2:07 PM on August 1 [4 favorites]


They had Sidaris over for a reading and book signing a couple years ago at school. I didn't have any of his books hard copy at the time, so I brought my hard drive for him to sign (I always have a couple lying around). He put, "it's sure no iPad" on it, and I was duly amused. Now we are told of his environmentalism.
posted by curuinor at 2:11 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Is this newspaper real?

Small English Towns are extremely ....that yes.
posted by The Whelk at 3:08 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Is this newspaper real?

Yes, well Horsham....

Local news in the UK is a wonderful thing. My local newspaper -- which usually does its best -- published: Discovery of 'suspicious' paint pot from Kent caused evacuation of two houses in St Albans. I'm fairly sure there are many blogs devoted to taking the mickey out of this sort of thing. Bill Bryson kept a clipping of a headline from a local paper 'Woman, 84, dies'.

Horsham, if I remember rightly, is a small to medium town full of elderly, affluent people and families. The most exciting thing in town is a one-screen cinema. It is regularly in 'best places to live in Britain' lists for its good schools and low crime.

It's probably got a local Am-Dram group that puts on Gilbert and Sullivan twice a year, possibly a pantomime at Christmas, an a regular farmers' market. There will be Open Garden Sundays and several fetes in the surrounding villages over the summer. The flower beds and hanging baskets outside the town hall will be well kept. It is a Nice Town.

In other words, a slightly jumpy man really is the most newsworthy thing to happen -- that and 'Eccentric American picks up litter, names bin lorry'.
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 3:11 PM on August 1 [9 favorites]


Yep, one of those places Aunts are from.
posted by The Whelk at 3:14 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Like Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha? That sort of aunt?
posted by Area Man at 3:24 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


That's more like Buxton ( richer ) but yes.
posted by The Whelk at 3:29 PM on August 1


I once tried to read a Sedaris novel - it was okay. Of course, I am a time-traveller, those of you who are less temporally flexible will have to wait until 2019.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:46 PM on August 1 [4 favorites]


To me this is proof that his stories are non-fiction. Because of course this would happen to the person that all those other things happen to. OF COURSE.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:46 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


I've always enjoyed his essays, but this litter thing makes me feel a true kinship with the man. I probably have a mild OCD myself. I'm 44 and I am pretty sure that except for a couple of biodegradable apple cores in the woods, I've never littered. Like, I've never tossed a cup out a window, or let a napkin blow away from a table. And I do the thing he does of picking up litter when I'm at the park or walking. Frequently I come home holding a couple of plastic bottles and with pockets full of paper and chunks of tire rubber. My wife thinks I'm nuts.

I may never be carbon neutral, because I commute from a suburb, but I am definitely litter neutral.

Here lies freecellwizard.
Litter neutral for 87 years.

Not bad!
posted by freecellwizard at 4:21 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


NoiselessPenguin: "Local news in the UK is a wonderful thing. My local newspaper -- which usually does its best -- published: Discovery of 'suspicious' paint pot from Kent caused evacuation of two houses in St Albans."

My favorite recent local news headline was "Assistant Fire Chief adds sprinkler system to home." It's like 1500 words.

I also have a soft spot for local news headlines where the person is from a place with a name that renders headlines nonsensical, like once I saw one for "Missing Person Man Found." And while ONLY RARELY does it rise to the level of "Oblong Man Marries Normal Woman," I giggle basically the entire time I listen to the local news in Normal, IL: "Normal teenager arrested with pot" or "Normal citizens rally for diversity" or "Normal politician caught with beastiality porn." IT MAKES IT ALL FUNNIER. (And everyone in the car with me has to listen to me say, "Wow, I wonder what the ABNORMAL citizens were rallying for? Uniformity?" "Whoa, what kind of porn do the ABNORMAL politicians have?" and it NEVER GETS OLD (for me at least).)

I might actually kill someone to have a garbage truck named after me. That is awesome.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:21 PM on August 1 [17 favorites]


If you've ever seen the cover to Thick As A Brick by Jethro Tull, English local newspapers actually are like that. I saw one recently which dedicated five pages to interviews with local shopkeepers about their dogs. Including the front page.

It makes me strangely proud to think that David Sedaris is our national treasure now.
posted by Grangousier at 5:12 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


A-and about … too many … years ago a girlfriend gave me a copy of a Sedaris D. book as a gift, and I was too much of an arsehole at the time to recognise what a good choice it was. Sorry, Stephanie.
posted by Grangousier at 5:15 PM on August 1


What is it with American comic writers moving to England and then devoting themselves to cleaning up the countryside? A few years back, Bill Bryson became quite the one-man campaign against fly-tipping.
posted by Creosote at 7:33 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


David Sedaris has yet to do or write something I haven't found hilarious, charming or both.


Spoiler: like everyone he's imperfect -- his relationship with his sister and embillishments paint a darker picture, one you may not want.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:58 PM on August 1


Spoiler: like everyone he's imperfect

Damn him, being human and fallible. I want my authors to be utterly beyond reproach!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:29 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


Fly tipping?
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 5:08 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


Dumping waste in unapproved places to avoid disposal costs.
posted by biffa at 5:22 AM on August 2


Here in North America, we call dumping dumping.

(Fly tipping is something drunken teenagers do late at night. Those poor flies.)
posted by Sys Rq at 12:01 PM on August 2


But they don't have to declare it on their taxes.
posted by maryr at 2:41 PM on August 2


I mean, legally they do, but no one really follows up on it.
posted by maryr at 2:41 PM on August 2


Because they are flies.
posted by maryr at 2:41 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


That we in North America think of a vest as formal wear probably makes a lot of stuffy British people get funny ideas about us.

I assure you this works both ways, as my American fiancee found out when asking my British father to "Help your son adjust his suspenders" on our wedding day.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:27 PM on August 2


In the UK, tip and dump can be synonyms in both noun and verb form as regards the action of refuse disposal and the location. It's less common to use tipping as a synonym for dumping but it is used in fly tipping to differentiate legal from illegal dumping.
posted by biffa at 4:18 AM on August 3


The correct UK term is "bin lorry", by the way.

In the UK, I've always referred to them as dustcarts, those who work on them as dustmen and the bins themselves as dustbins.

It's probably one of those British things where a person 15 miles from where you live speaks something close to a different language.
posted by rhymer at 9:27 AM on August 4


Gob yer shiite eeeough.
posted by maxsparber at 10:00 AM on August 4


Dustcarts! I don't think I've heard anyone say that for years. I think it's more that 'bin men' have gradually supplanted 'dustmen'. Everybody still says 'dustbin' though - so much better than 'trash can'. A 'dustbin' can be almost any receptacle for rubbish. I assume a 'trash can' can only be the metal thing Top Cat lives in.
posted by pipeski at 2:37 PM on August 4


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