The circle at the centre of Deptford Park is surprisingly quiet, given that all roads lead here. Every entrance to this urban patch of greenery enters onto a line of gravel terminating at the centre, a microcosm of Hausmann’s radiant Paris in surburban southeast London. Yet as I sit here with my bottle of wine in the rain, nobody’s around.
I was in San Francisco, years ago, with a woman: all we wanted was to share a glass of wine, looking out over the Golden Gate Bridge. But in the sudden manner of Northern California, the day turned foggy and gave us the shivers, and there was construction work in the park. So: instead of a glass of tawny pleasure supped ‘twixt the sparkling vistas of the Bay, there was a brown paper bag in the rain, slurped furtively in between mouthfuls of grit and dust from a digger.
Alcohol’s not allowed in Golden Gate Park. Consider, just for a second, how utterly Satanic that is, even by fundamentalist America’s standards.
Parks are open to the public, municipal areas for the good of the citizenry. Yet in a public space, somehow the USA has decreed that a legal substance in the hands of adults may not be consumed within its borders, just because a certain subset of American society has deemed it improper. I invite you once more to consider just how completely weird that is, in a land that purports to be free.
The trouble you’ll get in Deptford involves people trying to take your bottle away, true, but here they don’t wear uniforms and you’re legally entitled to fight them back. And I do. Oh yes.