The Vauxhall tree debacle

I haven’t written anything in ages and that makes me sad. Unfortunately, the lofty ideas I had about moving back to London and spending my down time writing up a storm for a variety of cool and historied publications have not come to fruition.

London has been hard on me, but in more subtle ways than I ever expected. It’s made me question my own drive and ability and left me feeling as though it’s not the city’s fault, but my own. London has been my mentally abusive on-off boyfriend for the past year. Like if I just tried harder, pushed a little more or loved what I do enough then I would achieve ALL my goals. It seems I have had to re-learn something I have understood in terms of my personal relationships for years, but have only just realised counts for my relationship with myself and my surroundings in the past few months. Self care can be walking away or changing your mind/plan if that’s what you need to do, physically or mentally.

Accepting our plan to leave London initially made me feel like a failure. I felt as thought I had not achieved even one of the things I had planned to when I set out on this trip. But, as I have to learn to accept my in ability to achieve grammatical accuracy in all things, I too have to accept the limitations of my physical and mental health.

My body is rapidly going down hill. I am suffering from regular migraines, terrible IBS guts which make me both rush to the loo at a moments notice and want to vomit in the most bizarre places and at inopportune times of the day. My general anxiety and panic attacks have reoccured on a  semi regular basis, and though I can pin point their resurgence to the stress I experience daily due to an inflexible and unsupportive work situation, I have to admit that a pattern of physical and psychological infirmity has become clear. I get stressed by personal relationships or a big life changes such as; not getting a job I wanted and thus feeling harshly cast aside by a colleague, planning a move across the world and being separated from my husband for 3+ months or now when I’m in an unpleasant work situation and exhausted both physically and mentally.

But, I’m side tracking wildly.

The point of this post is to talk about a tree.

Vauxhall trees

Well, technically a pair of trees. Near our flat in Vauxhall there are two newly planted trees, the life of which I feel clearly represent the struggle of living in London, of the atmosphere of London it’s self in this current social-political climate. London has so many amazing positives; the architecture, the restaurants, the history and opportunity. But London, or England in general has a legacy issue and a legacy of issues.

The main road where these trees are now planted runs along the front end of Vauxhall park. The footpath is wide and frequently strewn with dog shit and vomit, but on the whole the area is quite nice. Some time in October-ish last year I walked past the park and two patches of concrete had been cordoned off for works. By the end of the week the result was two, 1 1/2 meter square holes set against the park fence with round wooden poles set in the centre. Just big ol’ holes with dirt and poles.

Within 24 hours one of the wooden posts had been nicked, the second lasted about a week. But the holes remained empty. Big muddy impediments on the side of a busy road. The winter months didn’t help and the holes turned to churned mud bogs causing annoyance to foot traffic and danger in bike vs pedestrian altercations.It took over three months for something to come of those holes.

In New Zealand that would be unthinkable. The concrete would have been lifted, the dirt prepared and the trees planted all in one morning. But that isn’t how London works. Nothing is ever that simple here.

Understanding the legacy of these issues means understand how London bureaucracy functions. The men (because invariably they would have been men, probably hard working Eastern Europeans. The same people Mrs May and her gross Brexit cronies are trying to rid the country of so our services will become even less effective. Thanks Thatcher!) who lifted the concrete would have been from one company, independently commissioned by some low-tier section of the government works department, for a day when the cheapest bid for the job was proposed. The fact that that date would in no way line up with the seasons or the other departments who were involved never seems to bother anyone over here. The date the holes were prepared happened to be at the start of winter, a time not hugely compatible with the planting of new saplings. Another unrelated company would have won a bit to supply and plant the trees, perhaps preparing the soil a little first with proper drainage and compost. This company didn’t complete their work until February this year.

London is a city of people, companies, entities who don’t communicate with one and other. The lack of communication doesn’t seem to ever bother anyone, they have come to expect it.

When the Head of my department had his kitchen re-done last year, it seemed to take literally months to complete. He had to live in a  house without a functional kitchen for 4+ months because none of the companies who undertook the work could come at the same time or in close proximity to the other companies. There were weeks of dead time waiting for one errant plumber or a back order for the correct number of tiles. At home, if you were lucky and organised, you might be able to get your kitchen in and out over a weekend. I think when my parents did theirs back in the 90’s it took a week at most, back before the internet made scheduling a piece of piss. Not only did the builders working on my HoD’s kitchen take forever to finish the work, they left his house in a state of such dusty disrepair, that he had to take off a day to clean all the builder grime off everything before they could even move back into their own scullery. If that happened at home you would get such a shit reputation for your sloppy workmanship that you’d struggle to find more work. But, in England everyone is a jobsworth (as in “it’s more than my job is worth” to go above and beyond or just do the basic level of work that is expected of me) and doing the bare minimum is what is expected if you can possibly get away with it (read: come up with an excuse for why you’ve piked out on doing the whole job, i.e lie through your teeth).

So the mud pits stayed open and awkward for 3+ months until the spring came around. Why didn’t they just wait for the spring and do the whole job you ask? Well exactly.

Because England, because legacy, because lazy cunts.

This is one of many reasons why I’m coming home where opening a bank account doesn’t take a month and involve so many hoops to jump through that you’re tempted to request your work pay you in coins cash as it might be easier and less of a fuss.

 

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