Originally uploaded by JungsPN
When I was on my daily walk and stalk today (she was being door bitch today which was odd - I was really thrown my nemesis with the creepy eyes wasn't on the door) and I was thinking about having lunch in the park. I also was thinking about old football cards, and what they can tell us about the times we bought them in. I mean, my 1991 Stimorol set with the card of the 115 year old Michael Tuck could tell us lots about early 90s Australian society - the demise of Scanlens for instance, the horrible demise of the mullet, the errors that plagued the set - all kinds of fascinating things for a blog. But then I thought, wow, this is the first time I've walked through this shop and not seen one single child. Not one kid got in my way all day, which was good - and I thought between that and the Kane Cornes/Will Minson sledging sooking, I'd tie it all together and write about my old local park in Penguin and how kids are soft today. That all seems logical doesn't it?
This is what it says on the Penguin council website - "Hiscutt Park is a delightful park situated around the Penguin Creek. Once an environmental problem, this park was built in 1984 under a Commonwealth Employment Programme." - an environmental problem? That's not how I remember the place pre development. I specifically remember the two main attractions of the park when I was really little. The main attraction was a randomly left piece of concrete piping that you could crawl through, which adjoined onto a smaller random piece of piping, and then adjoining a piece of piping you could only get through by crawling on your belly - and then that was it. Now, I love the fact that a childs piece of play equipment was basically sending the kids in to crawl through dog shit, mud and probably the piss of a homeless man. I sincerely hope it was mud in most cases, but I doubt it. It was a very limited amount of fun, since once you were in the pipe, you could...well sit, or crawl out. I'd imagine when the report talks about the environmental problem, they specifically refer to this pipe. I actually am glad for the guy who got to remove the pipe when the park was rebuilt - he would have got so much loose change, most of mine that fell out of my Stubby shorts.
The other attraction was an incredibly dodgy flying fox. It was held together with string and chewing gum, and seemed to plough dangerously close to the lead pipe. Fun for the youngster was to push a smaller kid off in mid "I'm not sure about..." or "I don't wanna", like ripping a Band Aid off, sending them ploughing into that natural landing pad, a big giant patch of dry dirt and concrete. I don't think it'd pass OH&S standards today, with the combination of rope burn, potential head smashing into pipe, potential broken limbs from about thirty different sources, the potential of a bolt ploughing into skull if the whole thing collapsed in a giant heap. I honestly remember saying to one of my friends that being Western in Beirut was probably safer than that flying fox. Fairly, he called me a dickhead. That'll teach me to be vaguely intellectual. I had to go and sulk in the pipe after that.
It was the talk of Penguin (especially in the tea shop) when Hiscutt Park was re-developed and made incredibly poncy. Probably because everyone where they would buy their drugs from dodgy kids after dark. Those kids could get you anything you wanted. I think Dad got a spanner off them. Sadly, those kids were driven out by security guards, builders and various despots determined to put right the environmental disaster. I don't know if they ever came back. The windmill was nice, the grass somehow greener, the air a little cleaner, but I never enjoyed the place quite as much. The main play area had some kind of poncy plastic soft fort with ladders and pine bark. It was 1985, and our world was changing - we had to care about the environment, and make our world safe. No longer could a child risk life and limb ploughing into an uncertain landing. Somewhere at a sporting trophy night, someone was saying all the kids were winners and everyone was getting a trophy, and someone tripping over in a pub car park was wondering if they could sue. The times, they were a changing.
Me? I was OK - our school was about to get a big climbing caterpillar, but that was a story for another day. She was really good as door bitch you know, very foxy....