The British 'Silly Season' is almost here - this relates to the time when the contents of the House of Commons has spewed out into the streets and has either washed up like flotsum on the beaches of the Carribean, or is spending more time with it's family by the pool. This is known as 'working in the constituency', even if the pool is 50 miles from it's nearest constituent.
The newspapers, having nothing to report about aside from world unrest, simply make up the stories themselves during the dog-days, and the longer the summer continues, the more silly the stories become.
I notice today that certain unnamed 'town councils' are considering introducing an annual fee of about £1500 for people who use public parks for reasons of 'work'. This category of professional park-users include: nannies who push children in prams through the park; personal trainers who go jogging in them; dog-walkers; artists who paint or take photographs to sell in parks - in short, any activity carried out in a public park which earns money.
I do not know if this story has been made up by a bored journalist, but - in today's climate - it has a ring of truth about it, and I am quite willing to believe that most councils would consider it if they thought that A: they could get away with it, and B: they could get the old park-keeper to police it, dressed up in his military style uniform of old, as when I was a kid being shouted at by these men on 'Scott Squirrel' scooters.
The reason I find this 'proposed' scheme easy to believe is because most town councils seem to forget that - when they threaten to fine residents up to £1000 for putting out 2 bin-liners of rubbish instead of the regulation 1 - they have already taken about £2000 from each household for the service of taking it away as they must, and all money-making schemes which involve penalising residents and visitors who are forced to drive through or park in our town centres, are funded partly by this £2000, even though they insist that they are self-funded and non-profit making. It would be a damn good wheeze to charge people for going into shared areas which they already pay to maintain, wouldn't it?
Personally, I have always hated public parks, and I have been wondering why this is the case recently. I find them melancholic and sterile. Maybe the melancholic effect is a throw-back to my adolescence, when - being too young to go to pubs, etc. - I would be forced to try to meet girls in parks, and spent many lonely hours watching the sun go down and knowing that the girl would not turn up as promised. (Yes, I know - no need to comment on that.)
The sterile thing is probably to do with the municipal attitude to gardening, which relies on tidiness and civic pride coupled with the selection of the most hardy and gaudy flora they can lay their hands on, placed in regimented patterns in weed-less beds. All those bloody yellow daffodils.
Then, after the sun has gone down, unspeakable things go on in the dark, now that park-keepers no longer exist to shout at small children. The few public toilets that have not been closed down because of unsavoury nocturnal activities, are fitted with unbreakable blue lighting so that junkies cannot locate a vein in which to inject.
Give me the litter-strewn streets any night.