Oriel Park – now & then

Thursday saw a slight change of plan, meaning I got to spend more time in Brisbane and even got a few hours free in the afternoon. I took my daughter down to the park for a while.

For years, I always assumed I’d leave Brisbane and move somewhere else, but there was always some reason why it wasn’t the right time, so I never got round to it. Sometimes I regret that, but one of the benefits I’ve found with living in the same city all my life (so far) is developing a real sense of identification with places.

The park I went to is one called Oriel Park in Clayfield, which is a kilometre or so from where I grew up, so I used to hang out there a lot as a kid and a teenager. We’ve got a family photo from when I was very young of my grandmother kicking a football in that park – probably late 1960s.

When I was in my late teens I used to wander around the streets a lot late at night, with a bunch of schoolmates, pondering in a suitably angst ridden way about the pointlessness (or otherwise) of life. I can’t believe what long distances we used to walk doing that – as I’ve got older I’ve got wiser and realised it takes so much less energy to just lounge on the couch pondering about the pointlessness (or otherwise) of life. Even the angst seems a bit too much energy to bother with these days.

Anyway, Oriel Park was one of our late night hangouts. It’s totally different these days. The only piece of playground equipment that’s the same is the old steamroller, and that’s mostly sealed off so you can’t climb all over it – for public liability insurance reasons I think. Which reminds me, the cost of public liability insurance these days is a real problem – someone should do a bungee jump or something to try to draw attention to it, because there doesn’t seem any other way it will get noticed.

There used to be a few of those big pipes in the playground – good for lying inside and hiding from the world. I think I slept overnight in one of them once (as I said, I was a bit thick as a teenager – hiding from the world by staying at home in a comfortable warm bed obviously didn’t occur to me then). There also used to be lots of bushes you could sit in and spy on other teenagers doing really stupid things like lying inside the pipes and stuff.

So part of me wants to complain about how the good old Park is just nothing like the good old days and why couldn’t they have left it alone, and the other part of me thinks about how I’d sue the life out of the council if the park was still full of all the unsafe things that were there when I was a kid, now that I’m bringing my daughter there to play.

Anyway, my daughter seems to enjoy it, so no doubt she’ll come back in 35 years time and be wistful about how much it’s changed from when she was a kid. I hope she can.

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