Readers of my rants from back in 2012 may be be aware of my campaigns to defend children’s services in my local area of Kentish Town.
I was involved in campaigns to save both a nursery and a play centre and I am proud to say they are still open. Bringing up children in London is incredibly expensive and families need childcare and safe places to play. I am incredibly lucky to live near loads of wonderful open spaces – Hampstead Heath, Highgate Woods and Alexandra Park to name but a few.
Parks are as quintessentially British as strong tea or fish and chips and who can forget the song:
Yes I know it was more recently used to abuse Russell Brand…
Where was I? Yes, parks. They allow my children to experience nature in the middle of the City and move around safe from traffic.
I was therefore horrified to read this today:
I remember a neighbour mine going down to an action to save the adventure playground – sadly the campaign failed and the space has been privatised.
It has been bought up by a company called Go Ape, that charges between £18 and £33 for tickets.
So were I to take my 3 children there (and supervise them), I would be looking at least a hundred pounds. This compares to a FREE space that was used by generations of local people.
I was arguing with a friend – who is very different politically from me – and he told me not to be angry, that this was a one off. The old playground was unsafe – I concur this may be true – and that is why it disappeared. However, I see this as a worrying trend towards the privatisation of space, further evidence that our city has been captured by the wealthy and that ordinary people are just a nuisance – hence the announcement that life time tenancies are going to be phased out.
I find the privatisation of space infuriating, as I see at as an attack on our freedoms. It is also bad for our health – it is harder for parents to keep their kids healthy if there is nowhere for them to go. If the parks and playgrounds disappear, then it will be even harder to find alternatives to the Xboxes and Playstations our kids are glued to. I feel lucky to have grown up in a previous era when it was normal for kids to play out (even in middle class suburbia); children nowadays have so little freedom. Moves like the sale of the playground in Battersea Park do not help this.
I noticed a Facebook post from 38 Degrees today that read:
Councils across the UK are privatising our green spaces.
SHARE if you believe that our parks should remain in public hands.
Maybe this is specifically in response to the news about Battersea, but I feel it is part of a wider malaise. In an expensive area like London, developers are permanently on the look out for new land and when councils are cash strapped – which they are – it is tempting them to sell off bits of public space. Look at how school playing fields vanished in the 90s – again often cited as a contributing factor to childhood obesity. Look at how ‘luxury flats’ are springing up in the most unlikely places, only to be snapped up by developers off the drawing board.
Which leads me back to The Flats.
I could give you a political bit but instead let’s see what happened when upper crust ‘radical’ film maker Lucinda Spears got it on with Blake Lovelace
Lucinda sat on her white sofa in her white town house in Chelsea. Wasn’t life strange? Only a few days she had been lying there crying about silly Francesca’s silly baby – Drongo or Pongo or whatever it was called – but now she was in a very different place. She had got what she wanted. Sex. With Blake Lovelace. Possibly one of the most famous men in Britain today. Lucinda smiled a sly smile. Now that would be something to put on Facebook….
Obviously that was not an option. She had to play this very carefully, she didn’t want to look like one of those cheap orange women – usually from somewhere utterly ghastly like Essex or Liverpool – who make money by shagging some loser from Aston Villa or Man Utd. They were common trollops with no breeding, whereas Lucinda Spears had been to Rodean and was the second cousin of a Duke. Mummy and Daddy did not want to read about such behaviour in the Mail on Sunday – or be told about it by one of the servants.
And then there was Weasel. Poor Weasel. Lucinda felt a bit guilty about Weasel as he was so obviously in love with her. How could he not be – she was totes out of his league. They had met at an anti-fracking protest – or was it an anti-austerity demo – and she had given him a lift home. Weasel didn’t believe in cars, but it was raining and he couldn’t really say no to the thought of being confined with luscious Lucinda (despite deeply disapproving of her Chelsea tractor). They had gone back to his place for a smoke and one thing had led to another. Weasel was not really her type – too smelly for one thing – but he really was a fantastic fuck. Maybe it was the weed, but her entire body tingled when Weasel put his tongue between his legs. He really took his time, caressing her slowly and making her cum again and again and again. Very, very different from the public school trustafarians she’d be used to, whose sexual tastes were formed on the playing fields of Eton. She would miss fucking Weasel – or Jeremy as she preferred to call him. And she needed him too, or the documentary would fall apart. Yes, they had their star presenter in the form of Blake Lovelace, but she needed Weasel to help her with the people in the flats – they didn’t like Weasel much but they loved his weed and would therefore do anything he asked them to. Without Weasel the documentary would fall to pieces.
She’d also found her night with Blake Lovelace a bit strange. Yes, he was famous, and famous people were obviously different and special, but the act itself had only lasted for five minutes. He’d been passionate in the car on the way there but once they got into his hideous purple bedroom – the most vulgar place Lucinda had ever clapped eyes on – he became cold and strangely detached, flipping her onto her belly and just shoving into her from behind. He didn’t look at her or kiss her, just hammered into her for as long as was needed to achieve a climax. He didn’t make much noise, just tensed, groaned and collapsed into a sticky heap. Lucinda felt a bit disposable and inconsequential after the act; was he fucking her or just masturbating with another person in the room? Yet surely she should feel grateful for being there at all – it’s not every day that you get to fuck a celebrity.
It was also a bit embarrassing in the morning. The place was crawling with builders – Poles, Bulgarians, Lithuanians, Cockneys – you name it. It seemed that Blake had got bored with purple and was having the place painted white (with a hint of grey). Blake was very nasty to the builders – despite the rousing revolutionary speech in the Tenants’ Hall – haranguing them for mixing the wrong shade of white with a hint of grey (or was it grey with a hint of white) for the walls of his enormous sitting room. She could hear him screeching from one end of the house to the other.
“Look ere, you dumb Polish caaaant. I’m payin’ you top dollar to decorate me bleedin ‘ouse. All you ‘ave to do is paint a few bleedin’ walls, it ain’t bleedin rocket science. And, shit for brains, if I catch you eatin a bleedin bacon sandwich in my gaffe one more time, you’ll be on the first bleedin’ boat back to bleeding Krakow or wherever you bleedin’ comes from.”
Lucinda shuddered. It was terribly lower class to speak to one’s staff like that – not the done thing at all. Lucinda’s parents had not brought her up to behave like that; one gave the staff Christmas hampers, not a kicking. She hid under Blake’s purple sheets and wished she was somewhere else. Even Weasel’s smelly flat would be preferable – he gave her breakfast in bed when she visited and eased her into the day with a long slow fuck.
Lucinda looked at her shiny new Iphone. No texts. No missed calls. Nothing. Blake had shooed her out of the house at 9 o’clock as he had an important meeting with his financial advisor, followed by a gruelling session with his personal trainer. He had to be at Channel 4 by 2 and Shoreditch House by 4. Then he was speaking at a fundraiser at 9. His diary was packed, because he was a celebrity. He’d muttered something about seeing her again, but they had made no plans.
Lucinda realised the only way she would get to see Blake again was to call his agent and make an appointment to meet with him to discuss the documentary.
She picked up her phone and dialled Weasel’s number. He answered immediately:
“Hey Luce, how’s it going? What happened to you last night? I must have crashed or something. Do you wanna come round – I’ll cook for you if you like.”
Lucinda felt terrible. Weasel had no idea at all. Why would he? He only had eyes for her and assumed that the feeling was mutual. She laughed a false laugh.
“Yah. That sounds rilly brilliant. Be rilly brilliant to see you.”
“You too babes, you too,” replied Weasel. He’d felt sad when he’d woken up in an empty bed, without Lucinda curled up next to him. She was a bit posh and ridiculous but she was just so bloody sexy.
“Love you too,” replied (or rather lied) Lucinda.