For the last week a neighbour and I have been locking up the park at sunset, which yesterday was 5.59pm, so I went into the park about fifteen minutes later and spoke to the few groups left in the park: two students having a swing on their way home, six Chinese lads playing basketball and a man with two boys dunking. As on the previous occasions everyone has been friendly, including a young French man who had pitched a tent in the park with a view to spending the night.
Some have looked up and said 'It isn't dark yet', but when I point to the moon in the sky and the fact that the sun has set and the official closing time is 5pm and we're not doing it until just after 6pm, they understand, say 'thanks' and leave. Once it starts getting dark, it happens in minutes. Something I haven't really noticed before.
Yesterday as I walked with the man and the two boys to the Church Street gate, he asked me 'Who owns the park?'.
I replied 'We do, the people of Nottingham, and the city council look after it for us'.
'It's not private then?'
'No' I replied.
He then asked 'How did (the park) get here?', so I told him when it opened and pointed to the park sign by the gate.
He then pointed to the parish church and said 'How old is the church?', so I told him. He said 'You know a lot. Is it the church you go do?'
I replied 'No, I am a non-believer'. 'You don't believe in god?' 'No' I replied. 'Ah, but you must have an image of god in your head, otherwise you wouldn't know what you don't believe in'.
Here was I in a couple of minutes getting into a deep philosophical conversation with a very big man I had never met before, but I could tell he was a gentle soul.
He turned and looked across the park, bathed in amber light filtering through the trees from the Derby Road, and said. Do you believe all this got here by chance?' 'Surely, someone planned all this and made the world?'
'I believe the world is an amazing accident of nature. A bit like the lottery, one day long ago all the right numbers came up together and it happened'.
He then said 'I believe you are a good man' and I returned the compliment. We then shook hands, exchanged first names and I said that I hoped he would return to the park soon. He replied 'I hope so'.
I hope he does. I liked him. He was special. Perhaps if I see him again I will learn more. If I hadn't been locking the park I would never had met him.
The other good thing is that I now have a Park leaflet to hand to users when I close the park. It helps turn what could be a chore into an opportunity to promote Lenton Recreation Ground and that can only be a good thing.
The Guardian alleges that the government is about to do a u-turn and lower the 'green' targets it had set for 2020 in order to save money.