First Recognise The Problem

From the small van on the roundabout in Emmer Green who let me across even though it was his right of way to the bin lorry in Pangbourne to the Volvo in Pangbourne lane and the blue car in Twyford, there was a lot of active consideration being shown today. It wasn’t busy though; I wonder if people feel they can be more considerate, if people simply have time to look up more, if they’re less hassled.

On the lane that runs past the turn to Mapledurham and on up to Goring Heath they were litter-picking the verges today. It makes a terrific, positive difference; the leap from neglect to cared-for is vast in both its visual impact and how that then makes you feel – the emotions it engenders. You can’t help but feel those doing the litter-picking are contributing labour of far greater social value than any number of ‘financial sector workers’.

Drive around, cycle around, walk around – whatever your mode of transport, if you keep just half an eye open then the signs of careless and unnecessary, unjustified neglect are everywhere. There’s so much littering and fly-tipping, so many ‘public works’ (roads, pavements, buildings) are tatty or badly repaired. So much graffiti isn’t cleaned up … and so on. Just focusing on these simple but very visible aspects of public life is very grim. And in so many cases it doesn’t seem to be a question of money; it’s far more to do with how money is spent.

With the Olympics coming up and the hoped-for influx of tourists, who presumably won’t stop just in the East End of London, I was wondering today whether there’s a drum to be banged about the state of ‘Royal Berkshire’. If I was a tourist visiting, I’d be very quickly disabused of any notion of England being a green and pleasant land. If we can’t get the only Royal County looking half-decent, then what hope for the rest of the nation. To do anything about it though, first the problem needs to be recognised for what is. We can’t keep on pretending that England’s a great place to visit. It’s not. We need to own up to that, and then tackle why it’s not.

Discarded Union Jack

National pride only goes so far, it seems