On a Friday afternoon last year, my husband turned up at our front door, a little harried, asking for my three-year-old daughter’s pink scooter and helmet.
He had run into our neighbour, with her three boys in tow, on the walk home from daycare. A spontaneous three-wheeled race had been organised in the lane that comes off our street.
My husband stood at one end of the lane and my neighbour at the other to block any cars and the four children raced each other down the hill on their scooters until dinner time. Every terrace in the street would have heard their delight. It reminded me of my father’s stories about racing billy carts through Kogarah as a boy in the 1950s, on the same street that Clive James used to race along, as captured so well in James’ book Unreliable Memoirs.
Our suburb, in an old part of Sydney, is full of little streets and lanes that are ideal for this sort of old-school fun – the type of fun that builds community. Yet it hardly ever happens. As a city, it seems most of us have forgotten how to enjoy our streets and use them for anything other than driving, parking and the odd Christmas party, if you’re lucky.