Normal service up the Hill has been somewhat poleaxed this week as we namby-pamby north Londoners find ourselves submerged beneath a fairly modest dollop of snow. But as we know, there’s no rest for the wicked. Your blogger simply transferred shovel and wheelbarrow to the streets in a further attempt to put on my Pillock of the Community act – but still managed to find a little skirmish or two.
One could be forgiven for thinking, fellows, that a smidgeon of the Dunkirk spirit might possibly prevail as one attempted to marshal the troops into clearing the pavements before the white fluffy stuff froze solid and a jackhammer was required to dispatch it. I have to say that after a couple of afternoons of shovelling and scraping, I am feeling a tad defeated.
I have been:
• Abused for having the temerity to decline to lend my shovel to some half-witted motorist who was clearly going nowhere (with or without shovel);
• Abused for failing to show adequate “respect” by having the temerity to get in the way of some passing juvenile gangsta types;
• Abused for having the temerity to borrow a few barrowfuls of grit from bins in nearby streets (because we have no bins at all in the six streets that make up our residents’ association in Hornsey).
• Left feeling totally knackered as that stuff is seriously heavy, and carting it up and down steep, icy hills is not a barrel of laughs.
In fact the abusers came within an ace of outnumbering the volunteer snow shovellers – most of whom were somewhat inadequately equipped – which got me thinking about what it might be that dissuades people from fronting up with a spot of community spirit, and how to fan the flames a little more.
Alas, the defence of the realm, comrades, is not as straightforward as one might think. The chief objection I have encountered in previous years is “it’s not our job, it’s the council’s job. What do we pay these useless buggers for anyway, etc etc”.
I have done my best to gently explain that if the People’s Republic of Haringey were to do anything useful at all on this front, they would have to deploy several battalions at very short notice, all of which is going to cost some serious wonga – which they haven’t got. And who’s going to end up paying for all that? Yes, it may well be that they should do it, but then again, the world should be a better place. But it isn’t, is it? In the real world, we are the ones who will be going arse over tit on lethal pavements if the job is not done. I’m not into pyrrhic victories (or defeats, come to that).
So what else is getting in the way? Too idle or unfit; too busy; don’t give a stuff; never crossed my mind; above such menial tasks as sweeping the street; etc etc. Having the tools to do the job is always a good place to start, but it seems a shovel and yard broom are not commonly held kit in this day and age. But then again, neither is a carbine and a bayonet.
One wonders, how would Captain Mainwaring have handled all this? Is this how we won the war? Somehow, the threat of imminent invasion looks very friendly indeed.
Roasted chestnut, anyone?