Podcast transcript, Dec. 5, 2020
A - Hello and welcome to WoW!, the positive podcast! Showing kids that there’s a lot more to the world news than bad news.
I’m Alastair. As a journalist, I’ve often written about things going wrong. But people also need to know too about what’s going right.
This week I’m looking backwards – and forwards – with Clarisse (I’ll have to be careful not to give myself a sore neck!) and we’ll be talking about playing and how this year’s lockdowns have got more people making more space in towns for children to get out and run wild. Interested? Then listen on!
A – Hello Clarisse!
C – Hello Alastair, what was that you were saying about looking forward and backwards? It doesn’t sound very comfortable!
A – Ha, well, I’ve actually been looking backwards and forwards in time. So not quite so bad for my neck! I was visiting my mother and I was thinking about the streets where I used to play with my friends when I was a boy…
C – That is quite a few years ago, Alastair…
A – Yes, all right, Clarisse. It wasn’t yesterday! But what I was thinking was that I didn’t see children playing in the street as we used to do.
C – Isn’t it a bit cold for playing outside at the moment?
A – Well, that’s true Clarisse. It is chilly. But actually, I don’t remember that stopping us from playing games in the street, at least games that kept you warm, like football, or skipping over ropes.
C – And children don’t play in the street so much?
A – Well, certainly a lot less, Clarisse. Do you know, I remember that the street was just basically a big playground. We lived on a hill and we would race down the road in what we called ‘bogeys’ – basically old boxes that we put wheels on. Or there would be hopscotch. Or we’d stretch a rope across the street and have competitions for skipping over it.
C – So what about the cars on the road?
A – Well, Clarisse, when I look back, there just weren’t many cars. If one came along, it would wait for us to finish racing our bogeys down the hill. Or we would lower the skipping rope to let the car past. But that didn’t happen very often.
C – It sounds really quiet.
A – It was, Clarisse. A lot quieter than it is now. Do you, there are now 3 times as many cars in Britain as there were then. That’s made a big difference to children – because towns are now full of cars. They’ve basically taken over what was a playground for me and my friends.
C – I see. Yes, I really can’t imagine children playing in the street here in Paris.
A – Ah well, you see Clarisse, that’s where I’ve been looking forward as well as backwards. More and more cities, including Paris, are trying to give streets back to children to play in and trying to get people to drive less, to do more walking and cycling. That’s good for the planet, because it cuts carbon emissions, but it’s also great news for kids who want to get out of the house and play with their friends.
C – I can see that. But where is this happening?
A – Well, here in Brussels for example, they have “play streets” which look more like a bit of park, with lots of plants in big pots and maybe tiles on the ground instead of tarmac and cars have to drive really slowly – and stop and wait for children. And that’s the kind of thing that more and more cities are trying out – especially after what’s happened this year.
C – Yes, I remember the feeling in Paris this year when we had lockdown because of the virus and there were hardly any cars in the street – children were able to play and people were just walking and cycling freely.
A – Yes, that’s right, Clarisse. In Brussels every September we have “Car-free Sunday” where there are no cars moving in the whole city for a whole day and everyone just goes made and cycles and walks about and really enjoys the feeling. There are some streets where that happens every Sunday. That happens in places in Paris, too. And lockdown has really given people a taste for more of that it.
C – Hm, but we don’t want to go back to lockdown…
A – No absolutely Clarisse, we definitely don’t want to go back to having to stay indoors. But imagine how much more in fact we could be outside if we were just willing to stop cars going absolutely everywhere. There’s some amazing pictures on our website from Barcelona, in Spain, where they’ve not just blocked streets to cars but turned them into fantastic playgrounds, with games and sports equipment.
C – Hm, but it’s easier to go outdoors in Spain…
A – Hm, yes, they have more sun and less rain. But I can tell you, in Scotland that didn’t stop me and friends spending most of our time in the street…
C – Aie, I think that’s enough ancient history…
A – Ouch! OK, yes, that’s probably enough. But looking to the future, are you ready to get on your bike and reclaim the streets from the motor car?
C – You bet, Alastair! I love being able to walk and cycle around peacefully and I feel much better when I can.
A – I think that’s your cue for heading out for a bit of fresh air, Clarisse!
C – Yes, I’m going out now, Alastair. See you next week!
A – See you, Clarisse. Take care.
And if you’ve enjoyed this podcast, maybe you can make a gift of it to someone you know – just send them the link. And as I was saying, hop over to our site, wow dash news dot eu for some pictures of streets turned into playgrounds. And if you have ideas for how you’d change things in your town, just drop us a line on the website. That’s all from me for this week, I’m Alastair, and I’ll be back with Clarisse for more from WoW! News next week, Until then, staaaay positive!