It was a year ago yesterday that I started ths blog, and I wanted to post something upbeat, I realy did. But yesterday was weird a day of immense pride in my country (Wimbledon!) and also great disappointment in my city. I’d come back from Canada on a two week visit to Banff, Alberta.
Banff is a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, nestled in the Rockies. Of course, Greenwich also has this accolade, but the contrast between them yesterday was pretty ugly. Banff was really clean. The parks were spotless. I saw a sum total of two pieces of litter in my time there.
On return to London I got a dirty train flanked by concrete banks of grafitti to a urine-soaked Croyden, where I was told there was no service to New Cross. So far, a pretty dismal impression of my home city. Greenwich would be better, I thought.
New Cross was smattered with Sunflower plants, as part of a project by Goldsmiths University - finally a glimpse of what makes me proud to be a Londoner.
But, that afternoon, annoyed with myself for taking a “nap” and waking five hours later (damn jetlag) I went on a run, up the hill to Blackheath and back down via Greenwich Park.
I have NEVER seen Blackheath so dirty. Every five steps there was a beer can, or water bottle, or tissue, culminating in the grass closest to the Princess of Wales pub strewn with sun-worshippers floating on a sea of rubbish. Some geniuses had even parked their cars on the heath and were picnicking around them.
Greenwich park was a similar story. More littler than I’ve ever seen in the place. Those who had bothered to take their leftovers to the bins may have done so in vain - I watched a bin lorry come and leave with a minimal load from the actual bin, ignoring the piles of detritus spilling out alongside. By the time I saw a squirell with a chocolate wrapper in its mouth I’d had enough, and trudged dejectedly home.
I know it was sunny, I know Greenwich is a high-footfall tourist trap, I know the Parks authority and the council are doing their best, but seriously, this is dismal. I love Greenwich. And Blackheath. But yesterday, having seen them both in stark comparison to areas of natural beauty and national pride abroad, they were left severely wanting.
I’m not dure what the solution is - yesterday it seemed like too mammoth a task to be taken on by individual volunteers or well wishers. But if we each pick something up when we see it, or politely point out when someone has dropped something, we may make a dent in the problem.
Come on Greenwich - let’s sort this out.