Sunday, July 10, 2011

Community Spirit Is Alive In Ella Street!

Last night was a good night; Fruitfingers had gone out for the evening and left me alone. So armed with 8 cans of beer, the movie ‘300’ and ‘Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight festival’ from way back in 1970, I had a lovely time on my own. I love Fruitfingers to bits and cherish every moment we spend together, she’s my world, but it did feel good to sit on my own and watch Hendrix play the guitar, drink a few cans and chill out and forget the rest of the world existed. I watched 300 and was disappointed after being told “if you like Spartacus, you’ll love this” actually NO, I loved Spartacus and 300 was OK.

Yesterday Fruity and I took a nice stroll to Planet Coffee on Newland Ave with the intention of walking down Ella Street and passing through the ‘Ella Street Festival’ which we had seen advertised the previous week on our walk to ‘La Piola’.

The festival itself was quite interesting. The residents of Ella Street had decorated the trees outside their homes, with a different and individual look to them all, from spotted material covering the trunk with cd’s hanging from the branches to stripy material covering the trunk and shoes hanging from another. Residents had put up stalls outside their homes selling various homemade items including cupcakes, jewellery, jams and preserves, clothing, teas and coffee, cakes and my particular favourite…jam and cream filled scones, which Fruitfingers and I tried and were delicious!

There were a number of other things going on as well; there were charity tents and stalls, a stage with various live acts performing such as the traditional African singers we watched. Also there were street performers and magicians doing their thing.

A couple of months ago, I visited Fruitfingers hometown of Hebden Bridge for Easter. Every year they hold a street performance called a Pace Egg, which is now a traditional and legendary event and what I noticed about it was that it really brings the community together. It would be nice to introduce a similar thing to the Ella Street festival, to add an extra dimension and focal point to the whole thing.

But it was nice to witness the Ella Street Festival and see a group of residents proud of their community and willing to celebrate it. It is things like this that a lot of society miss out on and it’s nice to see a part of the so called “broken Britain” that isn’t broken, a community that interacts and works together…truly inspiring!

The exact words of the evil dictator Margaret Thatcher, I am told were "There's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people and people must look after themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves, and then, also, to look after our neighbours." 1979

There is everything wrong with that statement by Thatcher and you see its evil consequences the instant you step into Britain. There is such a thing as society and consequently a public realm.

In Britain, this public realm is not valued as it is in other countries, so there's no wonder it's a "broken Britain" and it is noticeable, down to the smallest details. People don't generally drop litter in Scandinavia. The pavements are not spotted with chewing gum. If you travel on a train you will find a brush and paper towels in the toilet. That is only possible when everyone recognises that there is such a thing as society.

Community spirit is local people working together for a mutually positive and sometimes pleasurable result. This could be apparent at a community fair such as the ‘Ella Street Festival’, a school fete, or in more practical situations where a local is in need of help and the community rally round to provide appropriate support. It was good to see the community spirit apparent and thriving in Ella Street, so well done to them!

On a different note, I intended to do a 10k run this morning but unfortunately my knee is playing up so will have to give it a miss and fit one in during the week!

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