This month: Anne Harmston, FoFG Committee Member and resident of Ajax Road.
We moved to Ajax Road in October 1969. The Green was really rather tatty in those days, it’s vastly improved now. There was a play area and tennis court, both in bad repair; a public toilet close to where the play centre is now, and the path east to west (from the Ajax Road side towards Fortune Green Road) had hedges along both sides. There was also an old shelter where the two main paths met, from where shrieks could often be heard. Murder it wasn’t, just high spirits, but the shrieks were startling nonetheless. There was no dog free area, and fouling could be a serious problem: people had to go around picking it up before events on the green. There also used to be two elm trees, one really large one, but sadly Dutch Elm disease meant that they had to come down. I remember people putting ropes between them and swinging.
Talking of dogs, at one time, they were allowed to roam on the green unsupervised. At one point there was quite a pack of them, and my husband had to bat them away from him with a rolled-up newspaper. Children also played on the green unsupervised, which you don’t see nowadays. There were football games but not organised ones and there was less damage to the turf.
I think that most of the changes are for the best. I know I may be in a minority but I like the Sager Building: it replaces the rundown, graffiti-covered brick buildings that preceded it and it’s kept neat and tidy now.
In the early 70s, a event happened called the New Games. It was a summer, one-off day of games and informal fun, run by Stuart Able, who was the original Jester Festival jester. I remember activities such as people falling backwards into each other, allowing themselves to be passed hand to hand, trust exercises, that sort of thing. Hippy 70s style. There wasn’t a huge attendance but it was a fun day.
My favourite time of day to look out on the Green is when the sun goes down. The shadows from the West are stunning. It’s even better than sunrise, though I admit that I seldom see that nowadays!
My favourite season is summer because I have lots of opportunities to people-watch, which I love. My son Joe lives in the country and has a beautiful view, but he’s envious of the views from my windows because there’s always so much to see here. The slight downside of living where I do is noise at night, though it doesn’t bother me too much. Hearing the foxes barking used to annoy my husband, but I’m a little deaf now and deafness has its advantages!
Nowadays, I only really go out there when I have young visitors. When I want to sit out, I sit in my garden. When the family were younger, I used to play games with them on the Green, but now they’re a bit older, I can happily watch them from a safe distance.
I think the Green should be an open space for people to use as they will, without lots of objects on it, just a free space. I wouldn’t have the tennis court back –that would turn it into a park, and that’s not what it is.