Back in the 70’s, when I was much younger – and slimmer – we lived in the High Street of West Malling. Across from us was a greengrocery/cigarette/gift shop. The shop was run by Don Robinson, his wife, and his sister, Babs. Babs lived above the shop, Don and his wife (whose name I never learned) lived a short walk away past the cricket field somewhere.
I remember going to the greengrocers one day and getting into a conversation with Don. He talked about his childhood and youth and told me something I found extraordinary. He said that, when he was a boy, he used to roller-skate down the A20.
The A20, in the 70’s, was a very busy road going from Folkestone to south London, via Maidstone, West Malling, Brands Hatch, Swanley and Eltham. Many of the lorries which had crossed the channel from France used the A20 to get to London as well as commuters and other traffic. (I believe the M20 hadn’t been finished at the time Don and I chatted. Note – In normal times the M20 is extremely busy from rush hour a.m. to rush hour p.m. and beyond!)
As I was walking Lola today I was able to cross roads wherever I wanted – which is not something I would normally do being old and slightly doddery as well as totally risk-averse. I would usually find a zebra crossing or make several detours so that I would miss out the most trafficky, and therefore the most dangerous, roads. On Osborne Rd I was passed by a jogger running down the middle of the road and I thought of Don Robinson on his roller skates on the A20.
During this time of lockdown, the roads are quiet; school yards are silent even at lunchtimes; there are places to park on our road even at school-getting-out time and the main roads into Broadstairs are car and lorry-free much of the time.
Julian has been painting in the garden today and came in to say that he had been hearing loads of bird song today. I think it’s because he has taken time to listen!
We may moan about the effects of the virus on our lives but there are some benefits!
For those of you wondering about what Julian was painting, I’m adding a photo. If you are interested in seeing his other paintings, go to http://www.julianlovegroveart.com .