Far and away the most powerful image of 1979’s Winter of Discontent, when one and a half million public sector workers went on strike, was that of the dead lying unburied. There’s a peculiar horror in that; it blends dishonour with decomposition most potently. Bloated rubbish bags, bloated corpses. Bluebottles. Stench. The unburied dead of ’79 endure in our national mythology – and myth is what it mostly is. But hey, let’s not let the truth get in the way!
Up here, our rubbish bins should have been emptied on Tuesday, but the council can’t get their truck to slither up our street. Happily, while walking the dogs yesterday morning, I waved to Steve the undertaker as he drove his limousine gingerly past me on his way to a funeral. And I reflected that it won’t be long before some shroud-waving newshound disinters the nightmare image of the unburied dead, transmuting a little local difficulty into a national crisis.
It hasn’t happened yet, but you never know. Is this the start of it?