Friday, 8 August 2014

PAVING THE WAY TO THE PAST...



Paving slabs.  Or sidewalk slabs as our American readers
might call them, perhaps.  Not that it much matters as I'm sure you
all know what I'm talking about whichever term I use, but I thought it
best to cover all the angles.  A number of years back (15 or 20 maybe),
my local council started to replace paving slabs with the same substance
they use on the roads - tarmacadam, I guess.  I don't like it to be honest,
because it makes the streets darker and gloomier at night, as the sub-
stance doesn't reflect light from the street lamps in the same way
as lighter-coloured paving slabs do.

Also, it tends to sink - and crack - in places, resulting in an
uneven, pock-marked surface not unlike an obstacle course, which
makes walking more of an ordeal than it should be.  The tarmacadam
paths in my area are currently being renewed, to make them safer and
less patchwork, but no sooner have the workmen completed a stretch of
street than residents are parking their cars up on the side of it, which is the
main cause of the kerbsides being all cracked and crumbled to begin with.
The fact that people in wheelchairs or invalid buggies, or folk with prams
or pushchairs, can't get by is ample testament to just how thoughtless
and selfish some car owners can be.  But that's not the point of
this post - I'll save that rant for another time.

There are some areas within my home town which still have
the original  paving slabs from when they were first laid in the '50s
and '60s.  Whenever I find myself walking on them, I'm struck by the
fact that, in most cases, these are the same slabs that I actually walked
on as a child and I feel connected to my past in a way that's difficult to
adequately explain.  (But you know me - it won't stop me trying.)  I was
visiting an old neighbourhood recently where some sections of street
are as they were when I was a boy, and the sense of walking in my
own footsteps was quite a fascinating one.  (For me anyway.)

These were the very slabs on which I walked as a youngster,
on my way to the shops, or to school, or to visit a friend, and they
were still there after all this time.  Much has changed about the world
since they were first laid - industry, technology, society, etc., but the slabs
have survived.  Eventually, of course, they'll be replaced by tarmacadam,
and a sense of sadness will assail my soul at their passing;  yet another re-
minder that much of what encapsulates an earlier era - the era of my child-
hood and teenage years in particular - is slowly but ever-so-surely being
wiped away, erased from reality as if it had  never existed.  In time, that
'clean sweep' will catch up to me and I'll join the ranks of history, but
it's odd to think that paths on which the Romans walked centuries
ago will continue to outlast the ones on which you or I trod
for a minuscule fraction of that time.

So next time you're out for a walk, give a thought to the
slabs under your feet.  They were there when you were a child
and their days may well be numbered.  True, that's a fate we'll all
one day face, but it's a shame that the things of which our lives
consist can't be with us to the end, don't you think?

Hopefully, I've paved the way for some contemplative
reflection on your part - and some interesting comments in
return.  C'mon, Criv-ites - don't let me down!  (Even if you
don't quite understand what I'm wittering on about.)

10 comments:

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

The paving stones in the town I now live in were all renewed (well in the main street area) a couple of years ago and it looks really good (although starting to get covered in chewing gum as most places in the UK are - a real bugbear of mine). The old pavements were cracked and raised with wear and were dangerous (where I live they train guide dogs for the blind and we seem to have a lot more than average older folk in buggies so it is a lot safer now) But I know what you mean the pavement outside my house is tarmac but to be fair to our council (same as yours South Lanarkshire) the reason is that so many folk have cable (including me) and my road is literally covered in the tell tail signs of having the road dug up to install cable and it looks awful (I think paving would make that more complicated to install although its probably all down to cash)

I can't say I feel nostalgic for my old pavements I remember my wee old Gran going on about old cobble stones looking great & pavements being awful (and they do some old tourist villages, and even the Merchant city in Glasgow city centre are cobbled and its nice but impracticable though)

Kid said...

I know that feeling nostalgic about paving stones may seem a little odd to some, McScotty, but they're symptomatic of a wider concern of mine. What with fields I once played in being built on, and my old schools being demolished, it gives me a sense of connection to not only visit a place or street from my past, but to stand on the very same surface I did as a child. It's like a conduit to an earlier time, in a more tangible way than it would otherwise be. Funnily enough, there is one path inside one of our famous roundabouts that was re-slabbed a couple or so years back instead of being tarmacadamed - not quite sure why.

joe bloke said...

strangely, I feel the same about white dog poo.

Colin Jones said...

At this very moment old paving slabs are being removed in my town centre but they are being replaced with new paving slabs which look nice but I couldn't see anything wrong with the old ones. I hadn't really thought about the old slabs being the same as when I was young (I don't know if they are). I rather like new things anyway and don't really worry about the old things passing - although in March my local WH Smith's closed which had opened in 1978 when I was twelve and that did make me think about the fleeting nature of time and how transitory everything is.

Kid said...

Joe, do you mean it's a conduit to an earlier time in your life when you stand on it, or what McScotty was saying?

******

Your last sentence captures just what I was about, CJ. I don't like change at all, I've got to admit.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I miss seeing John Menzies stores and still call W H Smiths "Menzies"

I feel nostalgic for "things" when really well built. designed buildings are knocked down and replaced by 70s looking square box like structure with no "souls"(ie Hamilton town centre and most towns in UK)

Joe we all miss white dog poo but on a serious note (well as serious as you can be about dog poo) the reason it is white is because that's the calcium left behind as the water evaporates etc its not a specific type all dog poo would go white eventually - the reason we don't see it so often now is that dog food has less calcium / bone meal in it than in the 70s etc and dogs don't eat bones as much now (I haven't heard anyone ask for a bone for their dog in the butchers in years)and dogs get better vitamins from chews etc - Also and more importantly folk now have to by law pick up dog poo in UK under various health acts so there is much less of it about to dry out.

Wow I never thought this am I would be typing about pavements and dog poo and getting nostalgic

Kid said...

See? Just goes to show that even the more obscure and odder subjects on this blog can inspire thoughtful and informative responses, such as on display here. And some people claim I just write meaningless sh*te!

joe bloke said...

the conduit thing. you never see white dog poo anymore. when I was a kid, it was everywhere. this was back in the days when people would give their dogs bones that they got from the local butcher. so,yeah, lots of marrow equals white dog poo. these days, you're not allowed to give your dog a butcher's bone - fnar! fnar! - something to do with health & safety. but there's a guy who lives up near me, a farmer, who obviously couldn't give a monkeys was the Sue Police think, & his dog does white poos. saw one the other day, &, no kidding, it was like being instantly transported back to being a child. icky stuff, I know, but it brings back the loveliest of memories.

joe bloke said...

just read Paul's reply. . .

Kid said...

For some reason I thought white poo was from cats when I was a kid. Someone must've told me that.

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