Live like a local.
Where to begin? How about somewhere totally mundane like the signage in front of our house. Just to clear up any confusion before starting, we live on Chepstow Place. Now in Mid-August, we notice the road crews came by and placed these seriously significant signs on all four corners of our street that say:
ROAD CLOSED FOR PLAY STREET UNTIL SEPT 2020
Yup… they were very visible, and we had no idea what they meant. Our road had plenty of traffic and clearly was not closed to cars. We walked around freely as well as did all the parents and nannies with their children in tow. We expected to “see” something in September that would clear up the big question, “what does the sign mean?”
The obvious, was that the Road would close for the month of September, but no. Then it was clear come September that all the families would come out and play on the street, we were really looking forward to this! Maybe this is similar to a block party in the states? But no. I began to daydream about all the neighbors I would meet. But no. September came and went. And no official closures of any kind. No play. Nothing changed that we could tell.
It was clear the city could not reuse this sign, it had Sept 2020 on it. So, I asked some official looking person if I could have the sign when October came! Afterall, what is more cool than to have a memory of such a ludicrous no closure that was supposed to happen in front of our house? But, nobody I spoke with had the authority to give permission, I had to call the City. Of course, I considered just taking it on the last day of September… who would care or would know? If you are unaware, there are CCTV (AKA video surveillance everywhere!) “THEY” would know, I was not about to just “take” the sign. So, I find out who made the sign and called them. They gave me the council # who paid for the sign and I proceed to call them to ask for permission. I should have known better. Nobody is going to take the time to reply to some lunatic who wants a sign that makes no sense! But WHY can’t I have it? It cannot be used again. So today, Oct 1, I am in luck. I am sitting at the computer and the city’s road maintenance truck is in front of my house collecting the signs. I dart out of the door and up my stairs, my immediacy received some attention because by the time I landed in front of his truck, he was ready to listen with wide eyes as to what could be so important …. The speed in which I tell him all the reasons he should let me have the signs he is picking up made his head spin. I explain they can’t reuse the sign (due to the past date) and that I called the council but I couldn’t get a hold of anyone with any authority, and that there were so many signs nobody would miss one… etc… I was rambling so fast and furious that once I shut up and allowed him to speak, he couldn’t see why either. He was curious WHY I wanted it, and what I planned to do with it, but other than that he was happily searching through the signs to find the sign with the least wear and tear. I’m going to go as far as to say he was amused.
I felt somewhat foolish admitting that I wanted to put it on our bare walls because we thought the sign made no sense. With a smile he tried to explain that it meant - our street was near a school, kids might be at play. I stopped him and said, “Here? In the street? Children playing in this busy street?” he rolled his eyes and said, “yes, it’s possible, they’re called Play Streets” Then I went on to ask, “Why the Date sept 2020?” School is longer than one month. He said he didn’t know the answer to that question! And so there we have it folks. The logic of the British has escaped me again. Maybe I could get a job with the council? My first suggestion would be to place permanent signs up on the streetlamp poles near schools that clearly state: Sept-June School in session, children at play, SLOW THE FUCK DOWN!
I might need to eat a chill pill. I was volunteering today at my favorite charity – plug for London’s book project, and I brought up how poorly this sign was worded, and they all laughed at me. They said that “Street Play” was a THING. And it was not easy to get your street designated as a Street Play, so I should be grateful. I came home and looked it up. Yup, it is a thing. Maybe COVID had something to do with it this year because it was not anything like the video, just saying. But I am happy to think that the effort it took to make my street a PLAY STREET gives me joy. Maybe next year, we'll see kids playing with one another outdoors?
Don't take life so seriously.
I'm Jody. I love to travel. I love to take pictures. I love to meet people and find interesting places. I also love to write about and post pix of what I've found. But, I've been told that I write like I talk - in streams of consciousness. So, if proper grammar and well composed sentences are a must for you - my posts will make you crazy. If you want to follow my journey as I learn about really cool places and offer some great tips about living abroad, read on!