Monthly Archives: June 2009

Gardening without permission

I’ve been a very Disobedient Child this morning. I got my daughter to school late (only a weeny bit…) because I figured it was more important to finish the cool story I was telling her (scrabblingly remembered from Shonaleigh’s telling), and then I went and graffittied a council fence, and pulled up some plants on land that was neither public nor mine! Shocking behaviour.

I wonder if it stands in my favour that the fence was a hideous one, erected alongside somebody’s house when the council deigned neither to make safe the lovely brick wall, or build a new one. With some string and some strips of old fabric (otherwise destined for the bin), I cross-stitched a butterfly. Yes, cross-stitch, a resort of the cutesy, and the lacey tablecloth. Pfft.

Ugly fence be gone!

Ugly fence be gone!

I wonder if it stands in my favour that the plants I pulled were weeds and grass, growing in the cracks of an abandoned hop-scotch, on a scraggy piece of wastland which used to be a council-owned garden and green-space, before they sold it to developers. Who now, of course, are finding it tricky to sell, despite the fact it has planning permission. Yes, planning permission! The only green-space in a huge warren of red brick terraces with postage-stamp back yards, and the council cheerfully sold it off and gave blessing for more houses!

Before, from front

Before (with cat)

I’m all for Guerilla Gardening , “fighting the filth with forks and flowers”. I’ve done it before; a friend and I snatched back some wasteland from, it turned out, the council, and with help have turned it into a beautiful garden, with fruit bushes, herbs, and wildflowers. A little bird in the council planning department recently let slip that whilst the council had intended to lease it as a possible car-park for the (as yet un-built, privately owned) nextdoor flats, given what we’d done to the space, that permission would almost certainly be turned down! Result!

I’m not sure if we’ll be as lucky this time, but who cares? It’s been derelict for years, in the current economic climate it’s likely to continue to be so. So in the meantime, why shouldn’t local people have somewhere nice to sit, local children have somewhere grassy to play? It’s in a residential area, wouldn’t it be great if someone organised a street party, or a BBQ?

Three of us had been at work less than an hour, when some passers-by saw what we were doing, and gave us £8 “to buy some flowers” – on the proviso there was a pink one, as the little girl with them loved pink. That, more than anything, made our day.

So ner to those who would own and enclose land they never use, like a child putting their arm round their school-work so others can’t see. The dog may sit in the manger, but he can’t stay there all the time. And when he’s looking the other way? Well, I guess that’s my cue.

Keep Curry British!

I’ve been a bit hot under the collar since the European elections, I do confess. The child of people who looked fascism in the eye during WWII (my mother as a Red Cross volunteer during the Blitz, my father in occupied Denmark), I now find myself having to write to my uncle, who fought in the Danish Resistance, and tell him we’ve elected a closet nazi to represent us in the European Parliament. It left me ashamed, and angry.

And then I read this, wonderful, forgiving, eloquent and powerful observation. Thank you, Tom Attah, for giving me hope, and perspective.

Read “Curry and a bit of Motown”, by Tom Attah.

No really, read it now.