There’s a chap in the park who has an old terrier. It’s a lovely, placid dog that wanders around, enjoying the park as he feels like it. It’s a bit like Freya though somewhat slower given his advanced years. The chap, his human, is a contractor who repairs things around the park like stiles and fences and railings and the dog comes to work with him.
I’ve often seen the chap’s van slowly driving along the Avenue of Trees, heading for his next job, the terrier sitting in the front passenger seat of the van, paw on the window sill, looking for all the world like a small, hairy faced human.
Today this chap and his dog were at our entrance to the park, fixing a bit of vandalism.
A few weeks ago, I was headed into town, but when I reached the park entrance, the long railing on the slope had been forced from the ground and left, strewn along the path. By the time I returned from the shops, some kind persons had lifted the fence to lean against the bushes rather than blocking the path.
The bases had been broken off (I presume) by some idiots rocking the whole thing back and forth until they broke. I’m sure it was great fun for someone of limited intelligence and far too much time on their hands.
Fast forward to today and the chap with the dog was installing new posts and a rail along the slope. He was also installing a new one on the steps. (This railing had fallen into disrepair ages ago and was entirely natural rather than the result of pointless vandalism.)
By the time I returned from the shops, the posts were up and the railing added. I think he might be cutting them back once the concrete has set properly, otherwise they’re going to be quite high.
Also on my trip home I was witness to something I thought was quite sad.
A young girl (about seven, I’d say) in her school uniform, walking with her dad down the path out of the park, stopped as they reached a big, black bitumen patch in the path. Her imagination took over. This black patch of seemingly innocent pitch was, actually, a platform which was the only way to move forward. It would take them down to the next level.
She was reciting all of this to her father as she approached the patch. She instructed him to step onto the patch from the north side so they could travel down. They could then move forwards, heading for school. Their descent wouldn’t take long but it was imperative.
In her minds eye, it was all very real and she painted quite a vivid picture. Sadly, her father was more interested in something on his phone.
When she tried to get him to step forward he did a sort of sideways shuffle to stand on the patch without his eyes leaving the phone screen. Obviously I have no idea what he was looking at but he smiling and it wasn’t a phone call or anything important. That doesn’t explain why he stepped through the imaginary wall rather than the imaginary door.
The two then travelled down before leaving the platform at the bottom of the imaginary shaft. While it was very sad that her father couldn’t be bothered enjoying his daughter’s imagination, possibly the saddest thing was how her voice just dwindled away as they continued down the alley, his eyes never leaving the more interesting screen of his phone.
I hope she keeps a sense of magic and her imagination maintains itself against such an onslaught of neglect. I feel really sorry for the father who will never know what a wonderful world his daughter can create from a small, black patch of bitumen.