The Life-Sized City Blog: Noctural Working Class Heroes

Riding home at 3 AM (early night in Copenhagen) on a Saturday I cycled past these two working class heroes. The chap in the foreground has been collecting bottles in the busy city on a Saturday night. Denmark has a 65 year old bottle deposit system where glass bottles are re-used up to 7 times and the deposit is quite high. 20 cents for a beer bottle and up to 75 cents for a 2.5 litre soft drink bottle. Collecting bottles can be lucrative and on weekend nights - or in parks and on beaches in the summer - you don’t need to worry about your bottles. People will come and gather them up for you. It’s a great system. Anyway, this guy is heading home with the night’s haul. Working hard. Respect. Ahead of him is a newspaper carrier heading out to deliver papers to the citizens. Most papers are delivered at four or five in the morning - if I get home at a ’normal’ hour after a night out, I can manage to catch the bakeries when they open at about 5 AM and then pick up my newspaper off the doormat before stumbling into my flat. Bicycles, as ever, are instrumental in keeping this city moving. The Germans confiscated the bicycles in the Netherlands during World War 2. When the German High Command in occupied Denmark proposed to do the same, there was a massive discussion. The Germans used Denmark as a bread basket for feeding their troops. One General wanted the bikes to be made illegal because of the Resistance but another understood that the country would grind to a halt without them. The argument went all the way back to Berlin where it was decided to let the Danes keep their bikes.

Anyway... working class heroes in the Copenhagen night have my deepest respect.

Read More