Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Walton Road street party
Last Saturday, we threw a street party to celebrate ourselves. And why not? It was a warm sunny day, everybody had a good time, and I met neighbours I'd never seen before, even though they'd lived here for years. I ought to get out a bit more. I played a few 78s, someone else strummed a few songs on a guitar, we ate burgers, drank beer, and concocted a makeshift badminton court at the end of the road. At twenty past seven everybody slipped indoors to watch Mo Farrah win the 5000 metres, then returned twenty minutes later to carry on where they'd left off. I just missed out winning a medal in the kids scooter race, and drowned my sorrows with another beer and a sausage in a bun.
The thing that was the most interesting part of the day was the fact that there were no cars at all in the street, and the kids were running around unencumbered in the middle of the road. Psychologically, it opened the whole area up - there wasn't a line of cars hemming us within the confines of the pavement, and everybody commented on just how pleasant it was, and how happy it made them feel. A neighbour who'd lived here since 1956 showed us a couple of photographs of her as a child riding a horse outside her house - at the time, the only kind of horse-power in the street.
Maybe the best way of solving a lot of society's problems isn't to build more houses, but to build more garages and parking spaces. By removing parked cars from outside our houses, we'll be returning our immediate environment back to ourselves, and our streets into self-contained communities once more.
The next morning, we took the bunting down, then parked our cars back outside our houses.