Friday, 22 July 2005

Fiat aqua!

It took 18 months to install, at a cost of G-d knows how much, and now it’s going to be switched off for good.

What's that?

A lovely fountain in the piazza facing the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith. Until now that area has been left to its own devices: in the past few years, it was a venue for a French cheese maker and his wonderfully smelly products for a while, until he realized he’d get a better class of customers in Whiteleys, in Bayswater; there was also a German Christmas market two years running, but it poofed off for some reason. So most of the time, it was a vacant space with no soul, and you couldn’t even rollerskate around it. And then, a couple of months ago, a fountain suddenly sprouted out of the ground and the whole place came to life.

It’s a clever design: nothing indicates it's a fountain; water comes out directly through several neatly arranged rows of holes in the ground. What makes it particularly fun is that it’s unpredictable: water shoots out here, there, everywhere or nowhere at all for a few long seconds, and then whoosh!, and you can’t tell where it’s going to be next. During those very hot days we had recently, it’s been a joy to sit at the theatre café terrace and watch little kids and dogs play in and with the fountain. Kids stand there and get drenched and squeal with delight. Dogs frolic all over the place in an attempt to catch the water and bite it. It’s relaxing and fun for onlookers, and you get a feeling of well-being thanks to those negative ions floating about the place.

So why is it going to be turned off? Someone complained that it was dangerous; that kids could get injured if they slipped on the wet ground. Duh! It’s the Diana memorial fountain fiasco all over again. Couldn’t someone foresee this earlier? Children, water, slippery wet ground... what does it conjure up to you? Yes, falls, children crying, angry parents, mayhem!

And yet, why shouldn’t we, adults, oh, and dogs, have the right to enjoy the spectacle of that mini Versailles? The nanny state, they call it. Can’t parents take responsibility for their children and what they do? Why should we all be penalized?

A slap to the Council (I assume it’s the Council that didn’t do its homework properly) and to those parents who need to be told not to let their children play where they might get hurt.


  1. Hey, the title of your post sounds like a new model of car...LOL

  2. I agree: it does. A nice blue-green one. LOL! In case your Latin is failing you, though, it means "Let there be water!" ;-)

  3. Dear J, I agree with you wholeheartedly here. Honestly, people are such ninnies. Excepting you and, of course, me.

  4. Actually, Laura, the fountain was on again yesterday, so they may have had second thoughts about turning it off, but the fact they even contemplated doing so is significant.

  5. And what about the kids, too? Who raises children to not be able to take a tumble now and again? Jeez. Why deprive the children of some pleasant fun just because they could get hurt? By that sort of logic, no child should ever attempt bike riding, or swimming, or soccer, or... ugh. Criminy. I tell my kids to watch where they're going, being careful of themselves and others, and then I hope for the best. That's what parenting is, sometimes. Bleh.

    Public art, especially interactive public art, is somethng to maintain and cherish. That's so idiotic.

  6. Hm, I should add that this is coming from someone who lives in Portland, OR, where there are TONS of public fountains to splash and play in. The only thing that forces the city to turn them off is incliment weather that could damage them, and severe droughts.

  7. With a bit of luck (LOL!) the weather will stay nasty, like it is today, and no one will want to play around that fountain.

    I would have thought warning people not to stick their heads into plastic bags was enough... and everyone could work out other dangers for themselves.


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