This piece was written in August 2011. The “horsey stuff” refers to the equestrian events that took place in Greenwich Park as a trial run for the 2012 Olympics, against which the forces of protest were already gathering, complaining, amongst other things, that it would destroy an important area of acid grassland. Acieed! Sorry, minor flashback to 1988 there. Just for the record, the grass has survived and not a single hoofprint remains. And the pedaloes did come back – the horses briefly used the boating pond as a water jump. I’ve no idea if the missing parrot was ever found, though. Greenwich Time is the council’s own utterly unbiassed free newspaper. Oh and, yes, we’re now the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
The First Golden Rule of blog-writing, I suppose, is don’t launch a new one and then go to Saxony (and Prague) for four weeks after you’ve done only five posts: it’s not good for momentum. Luckily, I still hadn’t really told anyone the blog existed when the time came to board the train to Leipzig – it seemed like the height of madness, when I was about to go to Saxony (and Prague) for four weeks – so I don’t suppose too many people out there are now disappointed or disenchanted. But, just in case anyone is – whether by my lack of momentum, or the unconnected loss of a baby parrot and/or some ancient acid grassland – perhaps I can cheer you up with this photo of a feminist pelican crossing in Dresden? You go, girl! But only while the light’s still flashing.
Anyway, having now returned from my Mitteleuropäische pilgrimage along the banks of the Elbe – where the mullets still waft freely in the warm Saxon air and John Lennon, The Doors and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion are, for some inexplicable reason, still taken seriously – via Nuremberg (lovely), Frankfurt (shiny), Cologne (odorous) and [grips table fiercely to mitigate sudden trembling] Brussels (one pretty square, one small statue of a urinating boy, lots of chocolate and a Hergé obsession – if they’d simply erect a giant statue of Tin Tin pissing cocoa over the umbrellas of Japanese tourists in the middle of the Grand Place, we could see everything Brussels had to offer in 30 seconds; possibly even via webcam over a coffee and a pastry in the Eurostar lounge at Midi station), I’m eager to find out what’s been going on in SE10 since I left.
The big news of course, is that all the horsey stuff in the park has now ceased. And, flicking through the commemorative copies of Greenwich Time that were waiting on the doormat, it seems that the whole thing was a great success, with over two million smiling south-east Londoners lining the road all the way from the Westcombe Park flyover to Deptford Bridge to greet the arrival of horses and riders and other dignitaries with loud cheers and repeated chants of “The people of Greenwich welcome The Dear Leader of the Council Chris Roberts and his nice friend the Supreme Chairman of the Glorious Olympic Organising Committee Sebastian Coe.” So that’s good. I’m glad it all went well. Does this mean the pedaloes are back?
Greenwich Time also, in that curious, pointlessly punning way that is the true hallmark of inept journalism, tells me that our borough is about to receive royal status. Hmmm. Are they sure? Because I can’t help noticing that the post office on the high road currently has a fine display of unwanted royal wedding calendars in their window, reduced from £9.99 to £3.99, which to me implies that SE10 and nearby postcodes aren’t quite yet of a mind yet to hang out the bunting, organise a Royal Variety Showcase at Up The Creek, and generally doff a collective titfer to Her Maj. (I was going to add, “and what sort of idiot buys a calendar in April?”, but I guess the answer is simply “the same sort of idiot who wants a Kate’n’Wills calendar in the first place”, so it’s probably more of a quantitative than a qualitative point.) Speaking of titfers, though – do you like this photo of a little green man in a hat? East European pedestrian crossings seem somewhat stuck in the 1950s… though I do like the Saxon version of the toucan (pedestrian + bike) crossing, which has the LGM seemingly balanced on the handlebars of his bike, giving the impression that the former DDR is full of trick cyclists.
Which it isn’t. Prague, on the other hand, is. And jugglers. And puppets. And street theatre. Sometimes, living in England, you really do have to count your blessings.