online: 26 may 2004
modified: 26 may 2004

25 may 2004 the Hollywood utopia

19:55 Kenwood: a seat I'd never seen or sat on - facing an undulating field surrounded by copper beeches, oaks and I think chestnuts. Led here by a chance walk through familiar woodland and a new path leading to a newly contrived wild pond surrounded by nettles, brambles, fallen trees and dead ends. The work of ecologists, I imagine. I suspect that they've been planting seeds of wild flowers, nettles, buttercups, thistles, irises and other swamp plants. And especially cow parsley - there's so much of its white blossom this year. But there's also much more white may blossom on existing hawthorn trees than I ever remember seeing before. Can that be global warming - I suspect yes.

Given such changes, my lifelong thoughts and attempts at cultural change may be more timely than they've ever been - or less resisted. Perhaps it's time I brought softopia, as I call it, to more public notice than it gets by the accident of being written here in, on, or as this website? Averageing 6 visits a day, recently increased to 8. What number is sufficient to make it an effective 'public writing place'? I imagine very few - if visited by people of energy and thoughtfulness who can act and who tell others about it. What happens socially may be forever invisible, yet effective... (so speaks the optimist!)

20:17 Bus stop near Kenwood. Expensive cars, fast traffic, no pedestrians or even cyclists, it's like a piece of California - yes, it reminds me of Hollywood. A landscape made for people with cars, not legs - a domain for the pedestrially disabled.

Car people go by continuously, strapped in their luxury carriages. And here comes a cyclist, a woman, pedalling fast, as she gazes ahead from under her crash helmet (but her body's completely unprotected among these steel-encased people moving at four times her speed and ten times that of someone walking). A man goes by on an open carriage (with dozens of hidden horses). The cars remind me of carpet sweepers as they zoom along the gentle slopes and bends in the highway. The tall trees in full leaf give this expensive madness an impression of being natural, desireable and glamourous. Bishop's Avenue, round the next corner, is one of the most expensive roads in London - locally it's called Millionaire's Row. You see no one walking there. Each house looks shut off by gates, hedges, closed windows and security devices. And yet most of us might be happy to live there, given the chance!

The bus is advertised as passing every 10-12 minutes. I just missed one and have waited for 15... now one arrives and I signal with a slight wave of my hand and the bus signals that it's stopping. It stops and I get in. I have a free ticket because I'm over 65. No empty seats. A young man with spikey hair gets up to give me his.

Why am I returning by bus today instead of walking back across the heath? Was it the chance process that led me to the bus stop...?

...At Archway an oldish black man gets in and immediately another young white man with spikey hair gives him a seat. 'Good manners' it seems, are not extinct! Our version of the 18th century utopia may yet turn out to be achievable, with or without motor cars and millionaires. The signals from the natural environment, from the machine culture such as it is, and from the discounted heart, may be enough to show us the way... if not, then it's time to take new thinking seriously and to change the culture accordingly... Difficult!

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