Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hard Standing - A Lament

At home for once on a Sunday morning (NigeCorp usually has need of me), I feel not a rhapsody but a lament coming on. Lately, it seeems to me, each time I walk the streets of this suburban demi-paradise so well known (to the point of tedium) to regular Thought Experimenters, I encounter the ever advancing scourge of Hard Standing. Where once there was a pleasant enough front garden - bit of lawn, some bedding, a few shrubs, often in these bosky parts a decent tree or two - now there is an unbroken expanse of nauseously tinted pink block paving. Unbroken, as like as not, even by the cars that are the rationale for this eco-vandalism - they remain parked perfectly happily at the side of the road. Why are more and more people who should know better having perfectly good gardens dug out, scraped, flattened and 'laid to hard standing'? Because lazily they assume that,walking anywhere being out of the question, at least two cars per household are essential (and that walking even as far as the road to get into said cars is asking too much) and that gardens are simply too much work and trouble, with all those weeds and growing grass and falling leaves. The resulting blight on the locality exposes the best-hidden nakedness of houses of indifferent quality, leaving them islanded in all their blocky ugliness. It involves not only a loss of aesthetically pleasing greenery and flowers but of yet more of the ever dwindling habitat for wildlife, from birds and mammals to the lowliest insects and worms. It is also a major menace in terms of flooding. The run-off of rainwater from all that undrained hard standing means that the slightest cloudburst, which once would have caused no problem, is now enough to overwhelm the drainage system and cover roads and pavements with water. I have only one thing to say (in the sure and certain knowledge that I'm wasting my breath) - Stop this madness now! Impose stringent conditions, entangled in the most ingenious thickets of municipal red tape, on all would-be razers of their front-of-house plot. Otherwise, all of suburbia will soon be one vast expanse of hard standing - and, much of the time, flooded.

7 comments:

  1. What an amazing post, Nige. Not a paragraph break to be seen anywhere.

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  2. Your neighborhood should take a page from the Katrina tragedy. One reason the city of New Orleans flooded was because the wetlands around it had been paved over. That land used to absorb the excess water of hurricanes and their attendant tidal surges.

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  3. Couldn't agree more, Nige. What is wrong with people, that they would wish to uglify their environment so? On my own street, there are no garden walls at the front. The grass in front of each house is separated from the next by small hedges or shrubs or occasionally nothing at all. I think it's great. The kids can run between gardens for the most part. The higgledy-piggledyness of it breaks the monotony of the housing itself. But, of course, I have noticed on other streets nearby some cretins have decided they must separate their garden from their neighbour's permanently by erecting concrete walls. Ahhhhhhh! Why, oh why?

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  4. Remember a chap, a doctor, telling me he would ideally live in brand new Barrett houses all the time. i assumed this was a joke but no, he was serious, a new Barrett house every year would be his Paradise.

    My guess is the same instinct to utterly control one's environment, to make sterile & dead the living & growing, is behind these concrete fools. They are suburban Sarumans uprooting life for no good reason, preferring by far to live within the man-made, they'd probably abolish the sky if they could.

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  5. A year agao I would have agreed with you, but since learning to drive (out of necessity, and reluctantly, in my forties) I find that there really is nowhere to park on my street. Too many people drive, and households often have too many cars, but many people really have no choice: we cycle most places (and always have done)but a car is a necessity, as is having somewhere to park the foul thing. It's not my fault that streets planned fifty years ago dont have enough parking spaces, and if the only option is to dig up my front garden, then that is what i will have to do. I dont like shopping in supermarkets, either, but I do so, because I have to, and I try not to feel guilty about it.

    The problem is caused by cultural, societal and economic factors, and not the choices made by individuals. Getting all sanctimonious about what individuals do is at the least uncharitable, and at worst counter-productive.

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