Municipal Clean Up Day

Municipal Clean Up Day

A Story by Georgina V Solly

Surprise, surprise on Clean Up Day







Clean Up Day was held every year on the first weekend of June, the middle of July, and on the last weekend of August when the holiday season officially ended. It meant that for three months of the year the lake, the river, parks, and other open spaces, were maintained at an acceptable level of cleanliness and tidiness. If litter looked as if it were getting out of hand volunteers took it upon themselves to put things right. The villagers were very proud of themselves and their village, Dashall. Even the pubs with gardens and outside tables and chairs were impeccable. It was said that in Dashall, there were more mysteries than inhabitants.

The holidaymakers who went to Dashall to spend some days in peace and quiet, were not disappointed. Nothing much happened in the village, and when it did, it took everyone by surprise as if they were all wondering how such a thing could have taken place in their beautiful and well cared for Dashall. There was only one street to speak of, and that was the main road in and out of town. There were other more insignificant roads and lanes but in the end everyone related to them by where they turned off the main road.

The inn called The Eight Bells was at the end of the village where the lake was. The interior was rustic, as were the garden and the wooden tables and chairs. It gave the visitor the illusion of what they expected in the country. The bedrooms overlooked the back garden and the main road. The publican was a rosy-cheeked man with a thin veneer of sophistication shown in his dress, a cravat worn inside the neck of an expensive shirt, and a navy blue blazer. His name was Ben, his wife Polly, the two made a handsome pair, and kept up an atmosphere of well-being in the inn. It was popular with both locals and visitors.

The Twisted Fork was at the opposite end of Dashall and was as different from The Eight Bells as anyone could wish. The pub with restaurant was run by Dave and his wife Marjorie. During the days that the clean up was held, both hostelries were so busy that they didn’t have time to think.


The first day of the clean up of the year took place as usual on the first weekend of June. In spite of its being an annual obligation for the villagers, nevertheless, it was always advertised throughout the village as something very worthy to do for the community. There were always some grumbles and groans from those participating, but instead of opting out, they stayed in it till the bitter end.

The first place chosen was the lake. It could hardly be called a beauty spot but it belonged to Dashall, and that was enough to make it important. It wasn’t a very large lake but it was where everyone liked to walk round. Trees bordered the edge and the grass grew down to the water. The participants wearing diving suits and carrying a plastic bag in one hand and a stick in the other went right down until they got to the bottom of the lake. Visibility wasn’t too bad and they began picking up rubbish. The bags were soon full, and the divers rose to the surface with their horrible haul.

There was a shout from one end of the lake that a car had been found. “It’s down here, stuck in the branches of a tree that enter the water,” shouted Ben, who was a keen cleaner, and advertised the clean up as if it were his own idea.

The mayor, Job, who wasn’t going to be left out of anything interesting, swam over to the site where the car was located. “Anyone inside it?” he asked Ben.

“The windows are too dirty for the light to penetrate. We need a crane to get it clear out of the water.”

Job and Ben swam back to the spot where they had got into the lake. “We’d better get the police to come and see the car, and if the number plate is legible then try to find out the owner’s identity. I suppose that it’s the end of the clean up of the lake for the day. We should go and see what’s going on in the river.”

Job rang the police, and while he and Ben waited for them, the rest of the group walked along to the river.

There was never much traffic on the river as it wasn’t wide enough, and the only boats to be seen on it were rowing boats with fishermen. It was more of a dumping ground for bicycles, supermarket trolleys, old kiddies buggies, and luggage. To tell the truth the river was in sore need of being converted back into a river instead of what it had become. The fault lay with the local waste collectors who had declared that everything had to be put into separate containers. Every home was meant to have two or three eyesores outside in the front garden, each container for a specific use. Nothing was to be mixed. This caused great anxiety for the elderly and infirm and, of course, for those who thought it was just a way for the general public to have to spend more money. The collections now took place every fortnight, or in some villages once a month. People were angry, and so the river had become the answer for dumping the unwanted things. The volunteers picked up all the trash they found and it was sent to a centre set up by a private company, where it was sorted and turned into useful material.

The parks and gardens would be visited by the volunteers the next day, Sunday.


That evening all was quiet in Dashall. Some of those who had assisted at the clean up were too tired to make it to The Eight Bells or The Twisted Fork. The quietness, however, did not imply that nothing was going on. The majority of people were talking about the abandoned car. Who had it belonged to? Had anybody recognised it? Was there anything in it?

One person who was out and about that Saturday night but wasn’t a local man was Edwin, who went to The Eight Bells and said he was looking for his wife Leonie. “The last thing she said was that she wanted to help out at the clean up. We aren’t from this place, so I still don’t understand her wanting to help here. It’s a mystery to me.”

Ben, who was pouring Edwin a beer, said, “We get a lot of volunteers here on the clean up days. It seems that people need something to do. After all, until the summer is full upon us, it’s rather cold to be out of doors for long. Cleaning up is an out of doors task and that may be why it’s popular, it makes it seem that summer is not far off. Has it crossed your mind your wife might have had an accident?”

“I’m sure she would have phoned me. Is there a hospital here or near here?”

“The nearest hospital is a two hour journey and then it will probably be overcrowded when you get there. It serves about ten villages. So it’s up to you if you want to drive over there not knowing what you may be facing. Your wife may have gone to stay with one of the other volunteers for the night.”

“Well, if she has, then she should ring me up and tell me before I go out of my mind with worry,” Edwin replied in a worn out voice.


What Edwin didn’t know was that Leonie had been leading a double life for more than a year. She had met a flash Italian when on holiday with her friends, boring old Edwin hadn’t wanted to go to Italy. Leonie had taken up his offer of spending the Christmas holiday driving around the English countryside in a rented car. Since then they had been living together sporadically in a mobile home on the outskirts of Dashall. Of course, she was not into cleaning up Dashall, although she was vitally interested in her gentleman friend, of whom Edwin was in ignorance.


Polly and Marjorie were rushed off their feet with dinners, even though the evening was quiet. Not many felt like cooking after being out in the open air and just wanted to eat and then go home. There wouldn’t be a lot of chit chat late into the night. At one a.m. the village was in darkness. The streets were empty except for the odd cat. A wind had risen and the lake was covered in ripples. The river, which had been left debris free, was idling along its course. A short sharp storm arrived at three a.m. and lasted for twenty minutes. It was enough to help with a freshening up of both lake and river.


Sunday came, and Edwin still had no news of his wife. The police had been looking up on the internet for the owner of the car found in the lake. The volunteers were once again out in full force. This time they were not met by the mayor, as he had problems of his own. His daughter, Ruby, had stayed out very late, and on top of it was terribly drunk. Now, on Sunday morning, she had the most awful hangover. Job was doing his best to get her to make it to the public park and gardens. But Ruby was having none of it, and started screaming at him.

“I don’t want to go cleaning up again. This is just for your public image, not for any other reason. I got tired and dirty yesterday, why do I have to go again? I want to be with my friends. They aren’t doing any cleaning up,” moaned the irate young lady.

“You’ll do as I say. While I’m still maintaining you, that’s the situation. On clean up day you join in with the rest. By joining in the clean up you are setting a good example to those so called friends of yours. The only close friend you’ve got is Betty. You can’t fault her, she’s always there for you. So get on with it, get yourself ready, and go to the park. There’s a lot of work to be done,” Job never stood for any nonsense from Ruby, and she knew it, so she did as he demanded of her.

Betty and Ruby strolled up to where the rest of the volunteers were standing at the park entrance. The boys that the two girls flirted with unsuccessfully were among the young people. Ruby strode up to one of them, by name of Grant, who was continuously rejecting her advances. “Hello, Grant, how are you today? You went off rather quickly yesterday. Where did you go?”

“Hello, Ruby, where I went and who I went with is none of your business. Excuse me, I’ve just seen a friend, see you later, maybe.” Grant went off in the direction of a girl that Ruby couldn’t stand.

Ruby went back to Betty who was looking at a sheet of paper with instructions, “They have listed where we have to clean up and what not to destroy. Last year some of the good plants were either dug up or trampled on. How’s Grant?” Betty asked Ruby.

“As stupid as ever, do you see who he is with?”

Betty looked up from the paper and glanced in the direction that Ruby was indicating. “Oh, her. Well, I’m not surprised, they’re both wetter than the water in the lake and the river. Has your father made any mention of the car found in the lake yesterday?”

“No, he hasn’t. The only thing he said to me this morning was that I had to come on the clean up. He’s fed up with my hangovers. He’s afraid of the bad image I’m giving him. Come on, let’s get started,” Ruby said to Betty, nudging her friend into action.

Neither of the girls took any notice of the boys who made comments about their attire and how they looked without the layers of make up that usually covered their faces.


In spite of it being Sunday, Job was in his office in the tiny Town Hall. He had been on the phone and the internet since he had said goodbye to Ruby. The car in the lake was a blot on the character of the people of Dashall, and he was not prepared to put up with it. He had been pestering everyone he could think of who was interested in the matter. At lunchtime he received a call from a car rental company at Heathrow airport.

“Good morning, Sir. We saw your email on our computer and we have to tell you that the car you have found in the lake is ours. The person who rented it was on holiday in this country at Christmas, and wanted the car to drive around in with his wife at their leisure.”

“Why wasn’t it returned to the agency?” Job asked puzzled.

“It looks like he preferred to dump it in your lake than drive it to the agency. It’s not unusual for the customers to just abandon the cars when they’ve no more use for them, or the petrol runs out.”

“I can’t give credit to my ears. This is news to me. Anyhow, it’s a happier story than I’d imagined. We were all thinking there was a murder in there somewhere. The police have the vehicle, so you’d better get in touch with them. Thank you for letting me know. Goodbye.”

“Not at all. I don’t think the car will be worth anything now, not even for scrap metal. It’s likely to be nothing more than a heap of rust. Good morning.” The two men rang off, both of them pleased with the outcome.


On Sunday evening at six p.m. the clean up was officially over till the following month, which would not be quite so heavy as the first one which was always the worst. Dashall was immaculate and all the villagers were happy at their gleaming village.

Ben and Dave were more than happy as they had made what you could call a ‘clean up’ at the inn and pub. People from all over had gone to see the clean up, and the two brothers had made much more money than on an ordinary weekend. This extra money meant that Polly and Marjorie would be able to indulge themselves in a makeover and new clothes.


Edwin was still desolate, he hadn’t been able to find Leonie. He returned to his home in a neighbouring village.


On Monday, Edwin received a phone call from his bank manager, “Good morning, Mr Short, this is Robin Sangster, the bank manager where you have an account.. I have something I’d prefer to talk about with you, in person. Can you call in this morning?”

Edwin was surprised, as he knew he had no banking problems, nevertheless, he said,

“Yes, of course. I can be there in half an hour. See you then.” Both men rang off.


Edwin parked his car near the branch of the bank and went inside. He was taken to the bank manager’s office where he was received instantly.

“Can you please explain to me why I’ve had to come to see you?”

“Mr Short, it’s better you know now rather than later. Mrs Short has left no money in the joint account.”

Edwin leaned back in his chair and said, looking at the bank manager straight in the eye, “And she said she was going to Dashall to help with the clean up. Instead she’s ‘cleaned me out’.” 

© 2013 Georgina V Solly

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Added on June 23, 2013
Last Updated on July 18, 2013
Tags: village, car, cleaning


Georgina V Solly
Georgina V Solly

Valencia, Spain

First of all, I write to entertain myself and hope people who read my stories are also entertained. I do appreciate your loyalty very much. more..