Bin Gone So Long

There is much to stare at in the beautifully restored King’s Cross/St Pancras Train and Underground Complex. Amongst the sights are tourists walking about forlornly while holding crumpled newspapers, food-stained napkins and the like. They search in vain: One of the lesser-known legacies of the IRA bombings is the lack of bins in many British public spaces. The restaurants have bins for customers, but this morning they unaccountably forgot to unlock them, driving hundreds of locals into the halls, empty coffee cups and muffin wrappers in hand, on the same fruitless quest as the tourists.

I wanted to assist all these poor souls, so I had a friend stack 20 extra bins on my back from his garbage truck. The weight was incredible, but I staggered into the station and yelled

“Hey everyone, I’m bin laden! I saw you suffering and I said Oh, So I’ma Bin Laden!”.

Why everyone ran away screaming when I was just trying to help I really don’t know.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

17 thoughts on “Bin Gone So Long”

      1. Well, I will come clean. I wrote the first paragraph in 5 minutes on the train to Leeds, just as an odd observation on London life. But coming back later, I did have a glass of wine (just one) and it suddenly occurred to me that there was a truly atrocious pun available.

  1. Wouldn’t transparent bins in full public view do just as good a job of preventing bombings while allowing people to throw things away? I can’t be the first one to have thought of this can I? Or is the sight of garbage so repellent that the public wouldn’t tolerate it?

    1. Nope, since bad things are easily hidden in bags, wrapped in newspapers, beer cans, etc. You see the garbage in the clear bin (which might not be so clear after a bit what with, you know, garbage being put in it–but, you don’t see what’s inside the garbage.

      1. The renovation included deep digging under the station, so a possible solution is a “bin tube” that drops the refuse down below the floor to a place where an explosion would not do damage.

  2. I can never see the name that church – St. Pancras – without cracking up because it’s where Dickens had Jerry Cruncher dig up corpses for the organ trade. I’ve always thought of the siting as a play on words, but I might be wrong.

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