I’ll start with a confession: I’m actually really enjoying the COVID-19 lock down! Apart from me finding the time to go to the allotment and do some gardening, it’s made the World a better place, or at least my little corner of it: it’s nice and quiet, there’s nobody about, it’s very mellow out there; I can go for a stroll without having to navigate discarded Nando’s boxes and piles of rubbish dumped on the street by students and local businesses.
I set up this web site some time ago with a grand plan to highlight the mess I see out in my street in East Oxford and how my fellow human beings show scant respect for the area I live in. My plan was to encourage my neighbours to post up their moans and groans, and then use the site to pressure local companies to take more responsibility via the local media and by flyering the local area.
So how’s it going? Well of course, I set up the site, did a few of my own posts, and then didn’t do any more with it!
Not that this matters of course. It was a place for me to express my frustration at my fellow human and it served its purpose.
Until now: it’s not needed, and it’s all thanks to the Coronavirus, or rather it’s thanks to our beloved government’s response to the situation in the UK.
I live on a street off the Cowley Road, a busy artery just on the edge of the centre of Oxford. It’s an ethnically diverse area, one that students and alternative type like to hang out in. There are many such streets in many cities, and this is Oxford’s. Normally my street is busy, like the Cowley road is busy. The hustle and bustle of daily life is rife along it. People coming and going, doing their shopping, coming to eat. The throng of populous is plenty here.
This business leaches into the side streets like mine. Where I live it was once quite quiet, but slowly the businesses have crept in: there’s a shisha lounge opposite, a dentists, Nando’s is on the corner, the Jehova’s have a Kingdom Hall next to our house. It’s a busy little place.
Normally we have to put up with the street being used as a car park in the evening and on Saturdays, despite their being a residents parking scheme in place, everyone knows that it’s just not enforced: the parking invigilators don’t come out after 5 or 6pm, which is about the time when all of those committing parking infractions like to come out!
We often find a place taken by someone sat in their SUV, engine running, whilst their parter goes to get the Nando’s. They come back, engine still running, decide to eat in the car, engine still running, and dump the remains out on the street before pulling off.
We’ve tried asking people to turn the engine off, but often receive a “fuck off”, or a “I’ll do what I fucking want; it’s a free country!”, or “when my boyfriend comes back, he’ll smash your face in”!
Then there’s the swathes of students who go to the sisha lounge opposite. Come 10.30 – 11.00 at night, we often find forty of them drunkenly on the steps shouting at the tops of their voices words that sound like they’re trying to squeeze their brains out through their ears, puking, fighting, pissing down our side passage…. They’re just kids having a bit of fun, I know. They’re feeling their first sense of freedom and camaraderie having flown the nest. I kind of don’t blame them because they’re not all that aware; they don’t know what they’re really doing, they don’t know that we even exist, and to be honest, I was the same at their age.
But I do care that the proprietors of the Shisha lounge let them do this: they are our neighbours and it’s them that don’t give a fuck! They in addition have these huge flood lights outside the front of the restaurant that light our street up into the wee small hours, and they’re not interested in doing anything about it: “it’s a free country”.
Well not any more: we have lock down now!
And all the wankers, tossers, and careless idiots are scared and locked up at home. And my street is bliss! There’s no floodlights on at night, there’s no marauding groups of drunken students, no SUVs, no Nando’s boxes strewn on the street, no puke, no broken glass, just a peaceful residential street.
And the Cowley Road is bliss. You can stroll down to buy some comestibles without breathing in tonnes of lorry, car, and bus fumes, without having to negotiate your way past piles of bicycles, and rubbish bins that have been pulled over the night before, as a joke by some of those marauding students no doubt.
It’s quiet, it’s blissful, it’s peaceful.
Thank you COVID-19 for making this a nice place to live in, for keeping the inconsiderate idiots way. Long may it last.