THERE was a memory game our family played when I was a child.

We sat in a circle and took it in turns to say: “My aunt went to Paris and she brought me back …”

We each had to remember what everyone before us had put on the list and then add something.

In the end the impossibility of recalling all the items addled your brain, at which point you were out.

I was reminded of it when my husband took a quick half-hour paddle up the river in his canoe the other day.

He returned laden with junk he’d ‘rescued’ from among the reeds along the way to the cathedral, and my mind was so boggled I wrote a list of it all:

A toddler’s inflatable boat, shaped like a duck; three tennis balls; one small rubber ball; one larger rubber ball (beach style); one bottle Aptimil breast milk substitute (how did that get there?); one frisbee; one black trainer (Primark); two kebab trays; one takeaway carton, McDonald’s style; one blue plastic stick; three cider cans; one Red Bull can; one San Miguel Special can; one tin hand cream; one large plastic sack (type that holds builder’s materials); one football (not deflated – at least, not till the dog got hold of it); one Haribo sweet packet.

If a partridge in a pear tree had been the final item to emerge, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

When we’re told about the problems that plastic waste causes to our environment and our wildlife, there must be a lot of thick people who simply stick their fingers in their ears and go “La, la, not listening”.

How on earth do we reach them?

Having picked up and binned people’s discarded picnic containers, drinks bottles, sandwich wrappers, socks etc. on the park almost every day whilst dog-walking in the current warm spell, I really don’t know.

But I do know that all the Attenborough programmes in the world aren’t enough to stop them blithely ruining their environment and ultimately, the planet we all share.

Many of the culprits are gaggles of carefree teenagers.

Some of them sound quite intelligent when you walk past, yet presumably they have parents who have taught them nothing.

Do they all live in piles of s..t at home? I bet they don’t. But they don’t care whether that’s the problem they leave to the rest of us.

One possible answer might be for citizenship classes in every secondary school to include several hours of compulsorily going out there and picking up litter till the little dears get sick of it and the message sinks home.

But I expect Health and Safety would worry about them picking up germs, too.

The teachers would probably have to fill in a Risk Assessment.

Yours, despairingly.