Words to strike fear in the heart: Daddy can we go to the park?
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
The Battle of King's Head Meadow is one of those stories that makes me love living in Norfolk – and adore being a local journalist.
It has all the ingredients to be a quirky sitcom or a drama-documentary: an army of angry parents and grandparents, complaints about noisy children, play equipment put in and then – possibly – removed, a barrier stormed, a blockade formed, diggers thwarted and mediators called in.
The lesson that Wymondham Town Council might like to learn from this is one that I learnt many years ago – never get on the wrong side of a group of parents. For there are few things more fearsome than mums and dads on a mission.
When it comes to protecting the safety, rights or reputation of their offspring, they can be terrifying.
Throw in the grandparents and you have a force that the armies of Genghis Khan would flee from.
I have enormous admiration for the warriors of Wymondham (I'm putting it on the record now for my own safety). But I do not support their cause.
I do not think children's play equipment is worth fighting for. In fact, I would fight for its removal on the grounds that it is a curse, not a blessing, for parents.
My militancy springs from years of dreading the words: 'Daddy, can we go to the park?'
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You cannot say no, of course. But it is the prelude to at least an hour of mind-numbing dullness, comprising:
•Pushing them on the swing over and over again, always having to stoop so that your back creaks;
•Making the roundabout go round and round and round until your shoulder leaves its socket in protest (not that serious injury is enough to make a child stop saying: 'Again, Daddy!');
•Playing 'It' – possibly the most loathsome game ever invented – around the play equipment until day turns to night, with no sign of young-un flagging;
•Having to make small talk with the other parents who are being tortured in the same way.
Posher parks are even worse, as they have one of Hell's torture implements – the zip wire.
Son or daughter sits on the swingy-thing while daddy runs down a steep slope and along the grass with child and swingy-thing in hand before launching child at about 2mph and falling over.
Repeat to fade…
With all of this in mind, is it any wonder parents put an Xbox controller in their child's hands and leave them to it for a few hours?