Well, that didn’t quite go according to plan.
The trip was spectacular – Thank you, Ip-Dip study tours! – but I didn’t bring my own laptop and every evening I tried to go to Meynell’s room to borrow his I was waylaid by glasses of whiskey and fabulous conversation. I know, I know. It’s a burden.
New plan: I’m going to go through my notes from the trip and post something about it every day until either a) I run out of observations or b) something else tremendously exciting happens. The last week has been quite the eye-opener, providing lots of opportunities to learn about children’s lives within different cultures, and ways that we (as playworkers and as human beings) can explore those differences together.
That process began as soon as I arrived.
Once we’ve landed and checked in, I drop by bag by the closet and open a window. Four floors down, two boys play with a football.
This street is narrow, cobbled, curving back towards the main road. Opposite me a woman wipes down her balcony, dipping a blue checked cloth in and out of a red plastic bowl of soapy water, and she is one of the many people who seem to live here in apartments above the shops, hotels and restaurants here. The boys kick the ball against a a closed shutter which rattles loudly with each strike. They pass it to one another, play keepy-up. One holds onto it for a long time, and the other smacks it out of his hands, then runs after it as it rolls down hill. I take some pictures. I take some video.
Finally I realize that the it is the behaviour of the adults that I find so striking. A large group of grown-ups passes them on their way to dinner, moving like a school of fish around two rocks. A dishwasher with a box emerges from a basement kitchen and one of the boys stands to the side to let him pass, briefly chatting with him.
These adults do not challenge their right to share in this public space, do not tell them to take their ball inside or keep the noise down. A waiter emerges from a fancy restaurant and runs towards them, his white apron flapping. This is it, I think, then watch as the waiter runs straight past them and into a shop opposite. One boy kicks the ball to the other and it goes wide, striking a large planter of flowers outside the fancy hotel, and other falls to hug his knees, laughing.