Monday, 22 March 2010

Tea in the Park: 'So English'

Yesterday I did a 'Tea in the Park' afternoon, which turned out to be a great success, with over sixty 'customers'. Many were students, whilst others were regulars from past teas and there were so many people to talk to, as well as setting up shop, cutting the cakes, making drinks and, most of all, taking the money, that I simply did not have time to take as many photographs as I would have liked to.

What was especially pleasing about the afternoon was that Lilian Greenwood, the Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Nottingham South ( the constituency that Lenton is in), came along and took advantage of the opportunity to meet local residents and to chat. Unfortunately, I got no pics (sorry, Lilian!). However, I got a few and here they are.
The only pic I got of folks enjoying 'Tea in the Park' was during one of the quieter periods. On a couple of occasions, the queue stretched to the door.

Mike and Amy were among the students who came along and enjoyed some tea and cake. In fact, Mike did come to help, but he did a better job mixing and chatting with residents young and old. Both posed to have their pic taken with Lilian, when we gathered together in the park for a 'photo opportunity'. Someone else was taking pics, so I am in one of them, but I did manage to take one of my own…

With Holy Trinity in the background, a group of local Labour Party members and supporters pose for an impromptu picture with Lilian (centre). The General Election is now only weeks away and, as it draws nearer, my 'tribal Labour' instincts take over and all my mutterings about Gordon Brown and co seem less important. All I know for sure is that, for all its shortcomings, a Labour Government is far better than the Tory/Liberal alternative (even their leaders look alike — at a quick glance can you tell Cameron and Clegg apart?).
Whilst we were having our group pic taken, Matthew Butcher, the Green Party's candidate in Nottingham South wandered over. He had been playing football in the park and was going home to do some gardening, so he couldn't stay around for tea in the park. I have a pic of him chatting with Lilian, but I couldn't resist Matthew with his boots. I explained to him that it would make a great publicity pic for a leaflet I am working on to explain to young men why they shouldn't play football in the park in studded boots and that is what I was going to say he was saying as well. He readily agreed, so thanks Matthew. When I've done the leaflet, I make sure you all see it.
Among my first customers of the day were Yana and Danelia, who are studying at Nottingham University and come from Bulgaria. Yana asked me when she came in if they could buy tea and cake and I said 'of course'. A face then lit up with a big smile and she said 'This is so English — I love it!'. It seems that back home, even community events are a bit exclusive and the idea that everybody and anybody can join in something isn't quite the same. They tried some of our homemade Lenton elderflower cordial, after I explained how and when it was made. They must have liked it, because they came back for 'seconds'.
The fact that I got any pics at all was because two of Lilian's three daughters came to my rescue and Elsie took over being my champion, tea server, cake cutter and money taker. Her elder sister Patsy took over the washing up and without them I would have been struggling. Alex, who Elsie is pouring a cup of tea, for came across from nearby Wollaton.
I also found time to chat with Anne and Adam, two local residents that I know and took a cake order for Susan, as Anne is having a party for her 50th birthday at the Crocus Café, and loved the coffee and walnut cake that Susan had made, so we will take it along as our birthday present to Anne.
At the end of the afternoon, as I was leaving the park I saw a near-neighbour, Amanda, who is an environmental biology student takes pics for her course work and we had a chat about wheelie bins and recycling. Lenton's students get a bad press in some quarters and, yes, at times, they can be annoying, but many of them, like Amanda, Amy and Mike (see previous pic), are mindful of the impact that students have on Lenton and recognise that it is an issue. My take is that when local residents blame the area's problems on students they are tackling the wrong people. Nottingham City Council is the main culprit when it comes to the demise of Lenton, ably assisted by the city's two universities, especially Nottingham University. All I know is that I am glad to have Mike and Amanda as neighbours on Devonshire Promenade.

Barack Obama last night forced his bitterly fought healthcare reform bill through Congress, bringing near-universal coverage to Americans and delivering the first major triumph of his presidency.

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