Community Payback and no Goldilocks

My weekend has been busy as always. Yesterday I was hoovering, I should say vacuuming the living room, when I became aware of a persistent sound of metallic scraping noises somewhere out in the road. I pootled on, hanging washing on the line in the sun, a great treat now that spring is here, and generally tidying. It wasn’t until I realised that the dogs were roasting in their living room window seat, and I let some fresh air in that I found out where the noise was coming from. A woman emerged from a large white van parked opposite, wearing a hoodie saying that her name was ‘Supervisor’.

I noticed the first of three young men because he was shovelling the gutter right beside the wheels of my car. A bit panic stricken, I threw the window wide for a closer look, and two more appeared. All three were wearing bright orange tabards with ‘Community Payback’ printed on them. The Devon and Cornwall police website has this to say

Community Payback can be part of a ‘community sentence’. A ‘community sentence’ means that the offender is supervised in the community and in the case of Community Payback has to carry out between 40 and 300 hours of unpaid work. This work benefits the community – and means the offenders pay back the community for their crimes by doing tough demanding work. For this reason members of public are encouraged to nominate Community Payback work projects for offenders which will benefit the community. 

I would have liked to go and talk to them but I was in housework clothes and had wet hair, so I made a point of catching the supervisor’s eye and each of the guys to say thank you. The road is now weed free, and has saved residents the task of clearing up, as the council no longer has the resources to do it, despite the outrageously high council tax.

This morning I was visiting my family, for two of my grandchildren’s birthdays. Louisa is seven and William is three, I have no idea where that time went. Today at 11am was Williams’s party but Louisa was over excited by 9.30 so I decided to take her for a calming down stroll. We set off around the block, ‘Getting out with nature’ as she puts it, picking tiny wild flowers and stroking catkins. There were a couple of flowers that mummy apparently says are weeds, to which I replied that weeds are just flowers in the wrong place.

After not very long Louisa wanted to go home, she didn’t want to miss a moment of the party. We had about fifteen minutes to walk and she had lost interest in wild flowers. More distraction needed! I challenged her to tell me a story about nature. She started by picking a forget-me-not and saying that a girl found lots of them on path. The girl picked and picked them, but she became very hungry and didn’t have any food. She passed the story on to me, so I sent the girl deep into the woods until she found a cottage.

You know the story, Goldilocks meets the three bears, sits on their chairs, eats their porridge and falls asleep in baby bears bed. Except that her name wasn’t Goldilocks it was Meg. The bears were pandas and the porridge was chocolate cake. We had a great time embellishing the story, making it ours. I hope that one day she will be walking with her granddaughter, telling stories about walking in nature with her crazy story telling mma.

So that was a little of my weekend, how was yours?

 

An Evening of Stories

Lat night I went with my friend to Exeter Phoenix, the local arts centre, where a group of volunteer researchers and story tellers gathered to talk about Exeter’s multi coloured history. We learnt about the city’s medieval Jewish population, and about a visit to the synagogue.

American GI’s were stationed here in World War Two and were segregated, with the black soldiers being kept over the river in Westexe and not allowed into the city centre. They won the hearts of the people in the St Thomas area and had some good times with the local high school girls!

Our Royal Albert Museum has had a beautiful carved and painted stone Ganesha in its colections for many years. It inspired some of the group to tell the story of how Vinayaka Ganesh  became the revered deity, that drives away sorrow and obstacles. Maybe Madhu will tell us the story.

To bring us into the 21st century some young women from St James High School performed their own play, ‘Anna’s Story’, a moving story about the impact of racism.

There were several more stories and two super musicians, with an eclectic mix of instruments, who improvised thoughout the performances and during the interval. A fab evening and I’m looking forward to the next.

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It is easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are. They do their work in silence, invisibly. They work with all the internal materials of the mind  and the self. They become part of you while changing you. Beware of the stories you read or tell: subtly at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.’

Ben Okri