No, I am not referring to the edge of the political tightrope that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are walking, having decided to work together in governing Britain. Nor am I thinking of the work I am involved in, racial justice and equalities, and how as a minority one is always located (either by choice or by the majority) on the edges. I am referring to the fact of walking around in London, or in any crowded city space for that matter, where the safest and most convenient place to walk on is the edge of the sidewalk – literally suspended or floating somewhere between any space and the edge of sidewalk. Ironically, this may be the safest place to be walking (or more correctly floating) in order to avoid any form of harsh contact with the thousands flocking and treading the roads.
It is a fact that our roads and street in the cities are very busy. Whether it is London or Birmingham there are too many people around on the streets and the fact of perpetual sales and discounts (now losing its charm) does not help. While there are times when the traffic is a bit lighter, this is rare in places like London. But what really complicate matters is the chaotic nature of the many activities people are involved in and the total breakdown of any sense of propriety.
There are people walking, others jogging, cyclists running through stop lights, mothers or grandmothers pushing some fancy and oversized baby strollers, too many walkers plugged in and wired up so tightly that they are oblivious of the others around them. Then there are the most dangerous lot – travellers pulling one of the most contemporary weapons – suitcases with long handles and on rollers with the ability to pose as serious obstacles in one’s way. Further, the fact that we are expanding nation, our obesity problem conspires to make matters worse. Sidewalks have become a dangerous place to walk on if you can find space to get to your destination. And the fact that people no longer follow the traditional guidelines of keeping to a particular side of the track side does not help.
One certainly needs to say a prayer for safety before, during and after any walking journey in the city. The funny thing is that I seem to welcome the adventure as I have now developed an ability to live and walk on the edge. I am sure it will serve me good in terms of the many other edges I have to walk. In the meantime, I also eagerly look forward to the calm of a safer and empty place, especially after work and on weekends.
© copyright May 31st 2010