Most of the time the sounds are happy. All of the voices one would expect fill the space in front of our balcony: children’s voices; those dedicated footie coaches – bright and early on a Saturday morning - who bellow training instructions and encouragement; the Jester Festival (full blast), etc.
But this vantage provides a vignette into the evening social scene of local youths too. They gather and inhabit, for hours, the benches close to the play centre and the Sager Building, shielded by the landscaping. There are consistently between 5 and 12 young people. This group tonight seems to be different from previous ones: less aggressive, perhaps younger. When the one light at the end of the pavement was broken, they were gathered almost nightly. They have a good time socialising together and disperse around midnight-1am or later. Some weekend nights the volume goes up, and the Sager Building (Green-side) residents are offered sound bites of their lives. If the wind blows from the prevailing side (from the cemetery), the coverage is loud and clear. Sometimes the action gets belligerent: yelling, swearing, and abusive verbal attacks. Worse yet is when the gatherings degenerate into physical violence or the destruction of property.
It is sad to think that there are no alternatives for them to being out there, in all weather, in a public space, an obscured, safe haven. That they are surrounded by properties with residents who wish to have a quiet night obviously doesn’t factor into their social plan.
We would like our sleep undisturbed and to be free of the bad language, raucous laughter and inconsiderate behaviour. And … counting down the minutes until the police attend (or not) an anti-social behaviour complaint to protect someone down there in trouble, or to disperse them to another location, does not make for a peaceful night either. Daytime is the better time to be “Green-side residents”…
On the other hand, it is hard to beat the night cityscape. If only the cool breezes that waft through our doors could bear hushed, respectful tones.
-Judy Emms (Guest Blogger)