Columnist: Clean for the Queen is straight out of 1920s

Wouldn't it be better if people didn't drop litter in the first place, asks Allan
Wouldn't it be better if people didn't drop litter in the first place, asks Allan

As ideas go, it was harmless enough, but Clean For The Queen struck the wrong note.

Picking up litter is a good thing. Not dropping it in the first place would be even better, but we live in a disposable society and just assume it’s someone else’s job to clean up after us.

But ‘Clean For The Queen’ just jarred.

The tone was straight out of Britain in the 1920s when everyone knew their place.

Close your eyes and you could hear Harry Enfield’s Cholmondley-Warner character loud and clear.

‘‘Chaps, it’s Her Majesty’s birthday and we’re all going to jolly well do our bit. There are gloves and litter-picker things so posh folk don’t get sullied by actually touching the discarded items - so pay up, clean up and three cheers before we go. Hip hip!’’

The whole launch of CFTQ looked like a parody sketch - a bunch of Tory MPs, including a positively beaming Michael Gove, posing with giant feather dusters in front of of a pop-up board with the magnificent slogan ‘‘vaccuum your villages!’’

Presumably ‘‘sweep up your schemes’’ was deemed a step too far ...

And that’s where this whole bid to unite the nation around something easy to do and, undoubtedly good, started to fall to bits.

Linking a litter crusade with a woman who has never had a Tesco bag flapping in the trees of the gardens at Buckingham Palace let alone a crushed can of Tennents lager rattling along the terrace in the middle of a blowy night was a hopeless mis-match too.

The Queen lives in a rarified world of perfection. The day before she arrives anywhere, the venue is still frantically completes its maintenance programme to look its best. everyone is turned out in their Sunday best.

Our streets - the ones she doesn’t see - are littered with rubbish, the bins are battered to bits, and, on a windy day we face the prospect of a salt and vinegar crisp packet slapping us in the face.

A clean-up campaign is fine, but CFTQ just felt like we were being talked down to , and the fact you had to buy the kit to do take part was a barrier to participation.

Intentional or not, it also tapped into the notion of royal deference which, in 2016, is simply antiquated. It really is time we binned all the bowing and curtseying - its plain silly.

I think the organisers meant to tap into our own notion of civic pride.

It’s shame they missed the target so badly because I do believe such a value still exists.

Every week there are folk across Fife who do a tremendous amount for their towns and villages - they just prefer not to wear a purple t-shirt with a rubbishy slogan on it.

We ought to have used this landmark birthday to celebrate their work rather than dreaming up a litter picking wheeze which just reminds everyone of those terrible public information films of the 1970s - remember Margaret Thatcher scolding everyone as she picked up some rubbish in a park?

All that CFTQ was missing was Orinicho and his Womble pals from the 1970s.