We’re living in strange times.
No matter which way you look at it (and I need to stop watching/reading the news as it’s too apocalyptic for my head to deal with), right now it feels like we’re pretty much screwed. Life, as we know it, has fallen off a cliff.
The advice is to stay in and avoid everyone and everything.
Apart from I live in central London, in a little flat, and although it’s not even been three days of guidance to avoid the pubs, bars, theatres, restaurants and any other place of fun, I’m crawling the walls.
I’m sure I can’t be alone in this thinking?
Perhaps it’s because when you live in the capital you put up with a poky place on account of the lifestyle benefits? Stripped away, there’s not too much to do. Apart from lick the walls, which I think is probably against the law.
So I’ve sat, minute after minute, longingly looking outside. Watching the clouds and the birds freely go about their business.
And then it dawned on me.
There are car park spaces outside my window (and part of my building). Car park spaces which didn’t even have cars in them.
I sat and mused and looked some more.
What a waste, I said to myself, as I watched the sun pour itself into a corner of tarmac.
I sat and ogled the car park some more, and before I knew it my little feet had found some light and energy and had me running down the stairs and into the car park which was ablaze with sunshine and
fresh outside air.
I looked about and noticed a tree coming into bud, lolling on the corner of the car park I was about to claim as mine. Admittedly, it’s not my space (mine is the one next to it), but nobody parks there and what a waste.
In that moment my plan was born: I even said it out loud as I scraped my toes marking out the boundary of my bar. Here, I said, is where my Car Park Bar shall be.
With a lightness and happiness, I hadn’t felt in days, I ran to Bargain Madness (surgical mask and gloves firmly on) and picked up two wind chimes, a sun catcher and two packs of LED solar powered fairy lights.
An hour later and the bar was ready for business. (Note, when I say business, I don’t mean business as in that normal sense, I just mean I can now get cold beers from the fridge!) Obviously, you need a lot of fairy dust and imagination for this to work, but you gotta go along with me.
So I was about to crack open a beer…and then I realised it was only 12.10pm. Now, if I had a friend with me, or if I was on holiday that would’ve been fine. But, you know, daytime drinking on your own has got to have some boundaries – so I figured I’d wait.
Anyway, as it so happens that was the Monday night when Boris was about to announce the “avoidance” of all fun places and so the Car Park Bar was boycotted in favour of a farewell drink at the local pub, because who knows when we can go out next.
So Tuesday rolled around and along with it the first night of “avoidance” and sadly rather than Monday’s sunshine, grey and gloom scattered my tarmac corner. However, I wasn’t going to be deterred, I had my camping chair at the ready and a chilled bottle of Sol with a slice of lime.
Sitting there in my Car Park Bar, I felt acutely aware that many of my neighbours would think I am a sad alcoholic.
And that made me feel sad.
And then I wondered if I was.
And then I tuned into the wind chimes which were twizzling and twinkling in the wind. I made a little video and sent it to my friend.
“I love it,” she replied, “it sounds like champagne glasses clinking together.”
Her comment made me smile.
I sat there longer, an hour in total (just the one beer – which I think is good), and I realised a number of things from this time.
- This is the first time I have ever used the camping chairs. Before now they’ve been shoved under the bed never to see the light of day. This means I had no idea a) how comfy they were b) how useful having a beer holder in the arm would be. This means camping chairs are ideal temporary Car Park Bar furniture.
- I’ve never been a wind chime person, but wind chimes are amazingly therapeutic to tune into. When you sit and concentrate on listening, and I mean really listening, you can hear so much. Not only could I hear the tube, but I could hear so, so many birds flapping and chirping. It made me feel present, like really present in the here and now, right now.
- Pretending something is more than what it is takes a giant leap of imagination and rose-tinted glasses, or as I prefer to call it “childs-eyes”. If I was a child again, I could find a million uses for a cardboard box. My making the Car Park Bar feels like I’m channelling my childish imagination and scooping myself off into that fairy tale land where anything is possible.
- The more you look, the more you see, and the more you can do. My Car Park Bar has so much potential and I’m so excited. Not only have I ordered an Insect Hotel to hopefully attract more things for me to look at, I’ve also started plotting out a “Fence Garden”. Obviously, I’m being fancy there, because all I mean is I’m going to train some vines and plants over the fence, but you know calling it a Fence Garden sounds so much grander, so much more fun, so much more than what it is.
And I’ve realised now how much the terminology we use affects our mood and the ways we think about what we do.
And that’s desperately important.
I may be a sad individual sat in a camping chair in a car park, but to me, with my fairy lights and wind chimes, I’m sat in a magical Car Park Bar where the sun shines and life is a fairy tale.