Friday, 25 September 2009

What ever happened to Conkers?

Today, MrT and I decided to take Zed Conker Picking in a park a couple of miles away from where we live. It was another crisp autumn day; a great day to go for a walk. We walked the full circumference of the park kicking crispy leaves, photographing squirrels and ducks and geese, searching every tree for fresh Conkers, yet we found none - Not even a green spiky shell, despite the many Horse Chestnut trees that are spread all around.

After a whole hour searching, we made our way back to the car, disappointed and curious as to where all the conkers were. On our way home, MrT decided to ask the park keeper why the trees had no conkers. The park keeper told him that they had injected the trees to stop the conkers growing to deter children from climbing the trees.

I am quite angry that they would do this. Not only does it prevent the trees from reproducing, but conker picking is a tradition. Every child I know grew up looking forward to the fall to collect the conkers for competitions with their friends where they pierce a hole through the conker, thread a shoe lace through the middle and take it in turns to hit their opponent's conker until one cracks and falls off the string. It is a simple form of enjoyment and harmless fun. I understand the health and safety issues with tree climbing, but how can they inject a tree to stop it from baring fruit?

Later on that day, as we were all sitting down eating our dinner that evening, there was a loud thud on the window. I ignored it at first as I knew it was the children in the street playing Knock Knock Danger, just as I did as a child, but the bangs got louder and louder and I feared they were going to crack our window. I went outside and gave them a telling off. I do feel sorry for the older people who live either side of our house as this must be terrifying for them, but I cannot help but wonder what our town is coming too. It is no wonder the children are up to no good.

This year alone has seen the closure of many facilities for youngsters, with the threat of our sport center closing. We have lost all of our park keepers due to lack of funding for wages. Our park, which was once immaculately kept, now lies stripped bare of all it's beauty, and where once it was lined with seasonal flowers, a lush bowling green for the older citizens and a proud war memorial statue, is now drowned in graffiti and vandalism. It seems like our children are the last things on peoples minds. They may be a nuisance, but it is not their fault when we cannot even provide them with a nice place to play.

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