I live in a run-down inner city slum (as Beattie from the BT adverts would say, we're very 071). Somerstown lurks between Euston and Kings Cross. A few years ago estate agents essayed "South Camden" but have now decided we're "St Pancras".
For an inner-city slum, Somerstown is lovely. But it has its problems. Luckily, the National Lottery has given us a shed-load of cash to Do Lovely Things.
Notices went up inviting us to come along to a meeting with ideas on how to spend it. I trotted along. You know on the news when they say "X became Radicalised After Attending A Training Camp"? I became accidentally radicalised because I sat too far from the crisps.
I sat in the meeting for an hour. There were a bunch of genuine residents. Some had brought along bits of paper, including a child's drawing in felt tip. It appeared to show a lot of green lawn and trees. But there were also a lot of people who were Big In Local Politics. The news would call them "Community Leaders". I'd call them Men Who Loved The Sound Of Their Own Voices.
They started talking with each other. Loudly and longly. Acronyms were exchanged. Grudges about differences between Local Forum and Working Parties. There was a lot of disparaging talk about Edith Neville (she sounded rather grand until I realised she was a school) and Plot 10. There was A LOT of shouting about Plot 10.
I put up my hand. "Er, what's Plot 10?"
Mr Love-Voice sniffed disparagingly.
Madly, I got a round of applause. No-one else seemed to know. Turned out Plot 10 was an outdoor gym.
The shouting carried on. After an hour the cowed-looking chair said "So, shall we move on to start the agenda?"
An hour. No-one had asked for any ideas. Just a lot of fat voices talking shop. I stayed a bit longer. Nothing more happened. Felt tip drawings moved from laps to under chairs. More voices.
Eventually I stood up. I'd left dinner on and had to get back to it. I apologised quietly and left.
I heard voices behind me. "Quite right!" and "Disgusting!".
On my way out of the community centre, I glanced back. I'd accidentally staged a walk out. I wasn't alone. Oh dear.
I'd gone along wanting open spaces and lawns and things for kids to do in the evening. All I'd done was sit too far from the crisps.
As I walked through my courtyard, two boys were destroying one of my rose bushes with a lightsaber.
Sparkling Cyanide (1945)
1 year ago