One of our French friends complained about the noisy neighbourhood that she lived in. “When they come to clean the communal bins they make so much noise.” We were astonished. “The big bins on rollers get cleaned?” we asked, trying to conceal our surprise. “Yes, of course !” she said.

In France dustmen come three times a week!  One of my students was telling me about her recent holiday in Sri Lanka. She was horrified to see that people swept all their rubbish into the middle of the street where rats and flies were attracted to it. ‘And do you know?’ she said, ‘It is only collected once a week, so it smells horrible!’ I’m afraid, I kept quiet and didn’t tell her that some places in the UK have fortnightly rubbish collections!

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