Mad dogs (and dead beer bottles) in the noon day sun.

Outside the Lodge – with its eastern European barbecue music and universal barbecue smells, a slightly sadistic dog owner watches as his terrier stands silently tensed, one leg lifted, eyes fixed on an insouciant squirrel that is pottering about about half way between the dog and a tree and casually getting closer. As the dog explosively makes his move, the squirrel bursts away and up the tree. We ask the owner what it would have done had it caught the squirrel. “He’d have shaken it to death then carried it around the park, dropping it from time to time and barking.” This was quite close to the children’s playground. An important life lesson luckily missed. Nice.

After the gale force winds the other night a chestnut tree lay uprooted across the path in majestic ruin. Other trees are decorated with half finished water bottles shoved into the boughs as a sort of offering; or some sort of perverse decorative impulse.

In the evening a large circle of middle aged and elderly men sit on folding chairs smoking hookahs and taking it in turns to hold forth in Arabic and humming agreement like some sort of middle eastern Entmoot. A backgammon set sits with a game almost ready to go.

Two middle aged women sitting romantically side by side chatting energetically on the end of the concrete ping pong table in the park.

On the scrappy bit of grass by the 204 bus stop on Roe Green dozens of beer bottles, crushed cans and plastic water bottles lie like the dead bodies of soldiers in some doomed attack. Picking them up into a similarly discarded box and shoving them in the nearest recycling bin feels like a tiny gesture against human carelessness in the face of the burning amazon or melting arctic – which somehow makes it even more important to sanity to make it.

 

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