Monday, 31 December 2007
Introspection in the park
I said to Susan yesterday that it was getting to the point with The Guardian where it wasn't worth buying it for last two weeks of the year because it was nothing more than a collection of lists and quizzes about the past year and even the year ahead. The amount of news is minimal. The last-half of December has become a kind of black hole everyone climbs into — or out of if you are a student with digs in Lenton. On the 15th the local population fell from about 7,000 to under 2,000 and almost everyone I saw in Lenton was someone I could nod a 'hello' to or recognise as a local resident.
I am one of those people who gives animals and places human like qualities and Lenton Recreation Ground is no exception. For the last couple of weeks I believe the park has been in a state of introspection, probably thinking about its real purpose in life and why has it been abandoned by visitors at a time when it is as interesting and captivating as ever albeit in different ways to spring and summer. Writing this and I suddenly think of older women. The older women I know are, without exception, as lovely and attractive as friends and companions as they ever were. I feel comfortable and happy with them. I hope they feel the same about me. Now, where was I? Yes, the park and introspection. In the absence of people and colour the park does look bleak and forlorn, but look beyond the obvious and you can see wide open spaces as large as any you will find anywhere, even the sky looks bigger. As lovely as leaves and flowers are, they enclose open space and crowd out the sky. Maybe this wouldn't happen if the playing field in the park for four times as big? But like life itself, I can only reflect on what I know or imagine.
I had intended today's blog to be a look back at my blog during 2007. This my 88th posting since I started in February this year. It is the longest I have ever done anything like this, as I have never kept a diary. I have written on a regular basis since I was a teenager for various socialist, trade union and community periodicals and newsletters. I even did a weekly radio spot for eighteen months, but working with Susan on Local History Magazine since 1984 is the nearest I have come to continuous writing. I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it and I like to think that this blog will be with me now, in some form or another, for a long time to come. What makes this blog different is that it reflects my age and a growing sense of introspection within myself. It is in no way consuming, but I am aware of it and the park at this time of the year heightens my awareness of it.
During 2007 the park has had its moments: the county bowling matches, the Park Life and Community Festivals events, an Easter church procession and five 'Tea in the Park' afternoons to name a few. I should also mention the park's third consecutive Green Flag Award — something we can all take pride in. Most of all, it has gone about its business of being a local park without fuss or notice, as thousands of people have come in and out of the park on a regular basis or as one-off visitors from afar who found the park by chance and I have spoken to a few such people myself during the course of the year. All have found Lenton Recreation Ground to be a delight. One cannot think about the park without thinking about Dave, the groundsman. He embodies the soul and spirit of our little park and in my view every park in the land should have a Dave.
It wasn't all 'highs'. There were a few low moments too. A few weeks when studded boots made a comeback and were in danger of turning the grass into a sea of mud. Thankfully the problem has lessened but the situation still needs to be watched. Then a couple of weeks ago the park house and and pavilion were broken into and vandalised for the first time in years, almost certainly by youngsters. But in the order of things these were hiccups, not disasters.
Introspection if carried to extremes can become morbid, but as a means of self-reflection it can be a good thing and that it is how I feel about it. Life, like the park, doesn't stand still. People come and go, events happens, but the good times remain and strengthen one's belief in the future despite all its uncertainties as you get older. The park, like Susan and my friends, has been an important part of my life for such a long time that you can be guilty of taking them for granted. As I get older I want them to know how important they are to me and I know Susan feels the same. To all who have got this far I say Happy New Year and may all your dreams come true.
As my final act of introspection, I have chosen three photographs from the countless photographs I have taken in the park during 2007 and taken as long choosing them as it has taken me to write this sentence!
Gordon Brown should use the new year to reconnect Labour to the older voters who will decide the next election, the former cabinet minister Stephen Byers urged last night.