Wednesday, 27 April 2011


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.


  1. Hello Tom:
    Sadly, we do share many of the views you express here regarding public 'green' spaces in England. The contrast could not be more striking in Budapest where green space is at a premium and is universally well used. A lack of money, in this case happily, disallows multi-coloured displays of seasonal bedding but it is more than compensated for by the gaily painted playground areas which are always teeming with children.

  2. And I bet the Hungarians do not have a Victorian tradition of Salvation Army brass bands playing for our edification as we give the son and heir some sun and air.

  3. I've always found 'municipal flower beds' highly amusing. Floral clocks, coats of arms, animals, etc. It's 'folk art' gone NUTS.

  4. Actually, Cro, a few years ago here in Bath, there was a team of council gardeners who were absolutely BRILLIANT at these floral sculptures. One year, they excelled themselves with a vast depiction of 'The Magic Roundabout', all made in flowers placed on a chicken-wire frame. They did a good Jurassic scene once too - lots of almost life-sized dinosaurs.

  5. I don't believe the girl never turned up to meet as fine and entertaining a person as yourself! She must have been delayed at the hairdressers! Only two days now till you get to have three pints instead of two! What a joy!

  6. There's a municipal roundabout in Cahors (near here) which is known as Telly Tubby Land. It even has it's own small vineyard!

  7. I just love the way French do their roundabouts. Peculiar and incredibly brilliant! (Generally I detest municipal parks, too regimental and artificial, too many garish climbing frames and noisy kids.)

  8. Probably it was a bored journalist. What tremendous fun to dream up a story like that and set it loose on unsuspecting grumpy old men all over the country.
    Anyway, once the wannabe policemen all die or leave for higher paying jobs in the private sector, nannies, personal trainers etc will happily go about their business regardless.

    Have faith in commonplace anarchy and utter indifference to authority, Tom! In the end, the legislators will answer to us all as we 'accidentally' step on their daffodils.

  9. Sorry, I meant 'f**king daffodils.'

  10. She didn't turn up because you don't stop complaing about everything! I do agree with you though..... & I have been told frequently that I moan all the time also!! xxx

  11. That's a nice thing to say, Mise. Actually, they were half way through treatment at various sex-change clinics, so had valid excuses, bless 'em.

    I'm with you on that one Sarah. There are many rumours about impending P.C. legislation involving immigration, sex equality, etc. etc. and they are not all directed at grumpy old men. Some of them are directly targeted at people like Tracey above, and she passes them on to us old gits direct.

  12. 'm not too keen on parks either Tom - I think this is something to do with growing up in the country where my grass, trees, flowers etc. were a bit less manicures and a bit more real.

  13. "I just love the way French do their roundabouts"

    the wrong way round

  14. My local council has just spent a bloody fortune on our local park - planting trees and erecting some of those expensive adventure playground / Marine Corps. drill punishment type climbing frames for the kiddies to break limbs on.
    Trouble is the area is mainly used by the local adolescent scum who insist on taking carrier bags of bottles to smash on any available square yard of newly laid path and delight in breaking all the new trees at the stem.
    Still, nice to see my council tax going to good use...

  15. The first roundabout in the world was created after the French Revolution, on the site where most of the Guillotinings took place, and still operates as one today - Place de Concorde, I think. They go in an anti-clockwise direction - very strange.