17 November 2022
By Chin Chin
Just occasionally you miss out on something really worthwhile; you turn down tickets to a play which the critics then say is the performance of a lifetime or you refuse a dinner invitation where the food turns out to have been cooked by Gordon Ramsay. Hopefully it doesn’t happen often but it happened to me this week when I failed to respond to a suggestion by a friend that I attend a meeting on the Barnsbury Laycock Liverpool Neighbourhood which I believe amounts to a proposal by the Council to create a no-through traffic area in the middle of Islington. Logically my reasons for not going were impeccable. Traffic restrictions are a technical subject and whether this particular zone is a good thing or not is way beyond my ken. It’s no good listening to the locals. They are far too steamed up with some arguing that the motorist is being oppressed and others drawing sylvan images of children playing with lambs on the Islington roads. There is no way of forming a view without research and, not wishing to do that research, I thought it better to keep well away and leave the debate to those more knowledgeable than I. How wrong I was.
Apparently the meeting got off to a sparkling start by being called in a room which was much too small for it. That meant that there were in a sense two meetings, the one inside the room and the one outside. The irritation of those locked out was little mitigated by a promise that a further meeting would be held in January while those in the room expressed their feelings by continual interruptions and shouting abusive comments. Soon the police had to be called, and then, because someone felt that the occasion would be improved by setting off the fire alarms, the fire brigade too. Eventually the meeting was halted and, the police announcing that it would not reconvene, people left for their homes, presumably pausing to spit onto the doorsteps of those who disagreed with them.
And the truly awful thing was that I wasn’t there. I had an aunt once who sat in her car outside a shop while my mother returned some clothes. The shop had not wanted to take their clothes back and there was a blazing row with stopped cheques, allegations that defects had been concealed and all the rest of it. When my mother returned to the car she looked quite heated and gave her sister a blow by blow account of what had happened. My aunt looked sad. “Oh, I do wish I’d been there,” she said. “I would have enjoyed it so much”.
I lay no claim to rival my aunt in her splendid enjoyment of a row but, let’s face it, most of us enjoy them a bit and to miss a really good one on one’s own doorstep makes one feel sick as a parrot. Never mind, though, all is not necessarily lost. I believe there have been similar rows in other boroughs and perhaps a careful exercising of choice would secure a first-class evening’s entertainment elsewhere.
But let’s not get carried away with the frivolous side of this. All London boroughs are short of money at the moment. Perhaps they could supplement their coffers by making a charge to anyone who wishes to attend a meeting on the regulation of traffic. Spice it up a little, perhaps by letting everyone go to the pub first. That should make sure people get proper value for their money.