Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Belonging, in the Community Way.

Much comment has been made in the media in recent years over the loss of community spirit; real-life community spirit anyway – online communities being the physical antithesis. I have to say that I have largely concurred, having taken the journey myself from an active social and community lifestyle to an increasingly online existence; driven by convenience, increasingly complex time demands as my son gets older, and if I’m honest, laziness.

In many ways, I have a lot more day-to-day contact with my immediate circle of friends than would be possible if I didn’t maintain an online presence, and I’m ashamed to say the receipt of a handwritten letter from a couple we met on holiday in February was a delightful novelty, a nod to times gone by, and I’m even more ashamed to say that I didn’t ‘hand’ write back – I emailed (having resisted the temptation to text!). Indeed, my own Mum even texts me now instead of picking up the phone and speaking to me.

However, this last weekend, I had a large injection of community involvement that I am still smiling about. I live in a town called Rickmansworth – it’s towards the north end of the Metropolitan Line, near Junction 18 of the great car park that is the M25. It’s affectionately nicknamed ‘Ricky’ to its residents. Every year, we have Ricky Week – a community initiative that runs all week and involves Parades, Fairs, Victorian evenings and events that drive people together to have fun.

My son’s School took part in the Parade on Saturday afternoon, and their chosen Theme was ‘America’. My husband and I were designated stewards for the school and paid a nod to the Theme with Mickey Mouse T-Shirts and other paraphernalia, and our Son was decked out in a full Captain America Outfit (including Shield ;-). I’ve never actually taken part in anything like this before, having always shied away from any form of exhibitionism, but that says everything about the things you do for your kids!

I loved every step.

Every step, down the High Street in a big Loop – in the leading parade group, 5 steps behind Captain America who looked round frequently for reassurance that Mum was on hand, if not hand-in-hand. Followed by several hundred other Ricky Resident Groups in the sunshine; Brownies, Sea Scouts, several School, Dance and Am-Dram groups, all dolled up to the nine’s to their chosen Theme, and laughing, dancing, horn blowing, waving their hearts out. The High Street was 5 or 6 people deep in spectators, waving flags, pointing out comical or impressively-decked Parader’s and taking photos.

For that 45 minutes or so, We all belonged; I belonged; The Community belonged; Captain America belonged.

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