Despite being castigated by most people, those of us who indulge in occasional fly tipping are usually unrepentant. Unless you have done it yourself, it is often difficult to comprehend the thinking behind it, and my purpose in submitting this article is to highlight the positive aspects of fly tipping and try to give some insight into why anyone would do it.
The first time I ended up fly tipping was when I was seventeen. Several of my friends said they knew places you could do it, and one July evening they picked me up in an old ex-Royal Mail van. You could always tell these vans because the Royal Mail logo was still visible though the hastily applied white re-spray, but at that time you could pick them up cheap. Anyway, we set off at around six o' clock with an old mattress in the back. The weather was fine although overcast as we made our way out of town and into the local countryside.
A major point with fly tipping is that the location and the conditions have to be just right. You don't want to be seen, or be attempting it in heavy rain or fog. Summer fly tipping tends to ensure better conditions, but often at the expense of being more visible, mainly due to the longer daylight hours and people being out and about.
We drove around until we found a place that looked suitable. It was a wide lay-by which backed onto some farmland. After checking all around to make sure we were not overlooked, we got out of the van and made our way towards the edge of the adjoining field. This appeared to be a paddock with deep ruts caused by cows or horses and a large proportion of manure caking the mud and grass. A tatty old wooden fence segregated the field from our parking place, and that is where we saw our opportunity.
I took my cue from the others and we sidled up towards the fence, trying to stay silent and not draw attention to ourselves. We carefully leant forward, and then, at a pre-ordained signal from one of the lads, we each grabbed a leg of the fly. It was a large horse fly, still dozy from the warm day, and we were able to get a good grip before it was aware of what was happening. However it soon caught on, and began to try to escape, frantically buzzing its wings and flailing its free legs. It was at this point that the second signal was given, and between us we upended the fly onto its back.
Of course it is a myth that a tipped fly cannot get back up again, and we were not surprised when, as soon as it was released, it flew away. But that did not detract from the fact that we had successfully tipped it and we awarded ourselves the customary tipping 'point' with a finger-drawn '1' in the air, before jumping back onto the mattress in the back of the van. We repaired to the local pub, where I was expected get the first round in to celebrate my inaugural fly tipping.
Within a few months I had left the town to go to college, and soon lost contact with the other tippers. I did hear a few years later that they had gone on to tip much larger animals; sheep, and even cows, and I know that for a time the cow tipping craze spread in some rural areas.
For me, though, tipping has always been about flies, and even now I am in my forties I cannot resist flipping the occasional fruit-fly or bluebottle. It is a point of principle that I always free the fly back into the wild, so I really don't think we fly tippers are doing any harm. It is just a shame that the press, public and even the police share such a negative view of fly tipping when so few have actually tried it.