I always do my recycling. I always separate my papers from my plastics. I always wash out my yoghurt pots and flatten my pizza boxes. Always. Least I did until this morning. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. Anyhow – I’ll tell you what happened.

I’ve got this big green box that I was given by the council for all my recycling, right? I fill it up over the week, all conscientious like, and then on Wednesday nights I take it out for the Thursday morning collection. So last night, just like every Wednesday night, I took the box from under the sink in the kitchen and picked it up to take outside. Just as I got to the front door, though, a baby mouse jumped out. Near made me pop an aorta.

What was I meant to do? If there’s one baby mouse in the box, I thought to myself, there’s probably a whole nest of the poor blighters. Now I’m not superstitious or anything, but I am a believer in Buddhistry, least the bits pertaining to not killing no one. So, you see, I couldn’t just put the box by the side of the road and let them get mashed by the recycler, could I? At the same time, though, I’m proud of the fact that I’m a conscientious citizen: recycling is my civic duty. So what’s it to be, my duties or my moralities?

The only thing left was a compromise. There was two options for the compromise. One, I could take the recycling out of the box and disturb the nest, remove the mice and get the recycling done. Or, two, I could leave the mice to it and take the recycling out when they’ve left the nest. I thought hard about it, but it came down to a very simple question: which do I value more, my duties or my moralities? There’s only one answer to that, so I left the mice alone. I didn’t want them in the house, though, so I left the box by the front door.

I thought I’d made it clear to the bin men that they weren’t to take my recycling. The box was right on the step outside my front door and I’ve got quite a bit of a garden before the road, where I normally put my rubbish. But I guess we’ve got conscientious bin men, haven’t we? I saw them taking that big green box this morning, as I stood in the upstairs bathroom, just out the shower. I saw them as they threw everything into the compactor – papers, plastics, yoghurt pots, pizza boxes – and mice. My aortas froze and I felt my heart skip a somersault. I nearly ran outside, naked as a lark, but I stopped myself in time – what good would that have done?

I feel pretty bad about what happened. I keep thinking about the day when I open up a new pad of recycled paper and there, across the page, is the scarlet gash of mouse blood. I’ll deserve it.

Published by


David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.