I love Woodford Square, you meet such characters in there. To think, we almost didn't have the Square to escape to in the middle of Port of Spain, thank you Governor Woodford for having the presence of mind to include this in the re-building of Port of Spain. If it had happened today, the Square would have been sacrificed in favour of some large concrete buildings. This week, my office moved from one end of town to the other. Alas, we're no longer a stone's throw from the Savannah, now we're back in the midst of the mayhem, coping with traffic, downtown vagrants and general chaos. In the almost three years that we occupied the "temporary" office we'd forgotten what it's like to be downtown.
When you're alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go - downtown
When you've got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know - downtown
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?......
If you remember this old chestnut, incidentally released before I was born, you're part of the generation that grew up on Sesame Street with Cookie Monster who loved COOKIE, Big Bird, Ernie and Bert, Susan, Gordon, Bob, Mr. Hooper, Maria and Luis; this is vintage TV. Your parents probably took you to "town" to "shop" and at Christmas time the streets bustling, stores were all filled with imported goodies, new curtains and toys, wonderous decorations and strains of Bing Crosby's White Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
So I've had to face facts, I'm officially middled aged. The first sign of trouble came when sentences started with, " when I wasa child..", don't pretend you don't know what I mean, you do. The next thing was the advent of bi-focals, let's not talk about that. They're black, they're funky and they don't LOOK like split frames, right. Going back downtown has provided a new horror. The dreaded, "comfortable shoe"! God, I wasn't ready for this one, I'm the erk, woman, who stalks around in four to five inch heels every day. Okay I've had bad knees for years but you suck it up and make sacrifices in the name of fashion. being there also means that I spend more time on my feet running up and down between floors and around the building. The first sign of real trouble is now I have to get up and walk around during the day to make sure my joints don't "seize". WTF! Can anyone say WD-40 required!
Look I was traumatised enough when my friends with little kids were critical of Sesame Street, c'mon, you guys grew up on this stuff too, we didn't turn out so bad. Cookie Monster is supposed to eat Cookies, not vegetables, this is taking political correctness too damn far. People get over yourselves, fyi, I smugly reiterate that my generation has better manners than the current one and surely a lot more respect, clearly all this PC stuff is not bloody working. Realising that you're getting older isn't so bad, it's the thought that I have to wear "comfortable shoes" to make the walk to and from the car park, I know it's shallow but it really sucks.
Walking through Woodford Square the other day I had a moment in the aforementioned four inch heels, unbidden, the sound of Petula Clark filled my head, I smiled to myself and admit with shame, I was humming "Downtown", that feel good, camp number. Must have made me walk taller because an older gentleman enjoying the morning air with two ladies, average age about 65, looked over at me and commented to his companions, "what a beautiful specimen, they don't make them like that anymore, perfect", before calling out to me, 'you're such a nice looking lady, don't change anything." Wow, a compliment, the morning grew brighter, the sun peeping through the leaves of the trees, a light breeze blowing. You meet all kinds of characters in the Square, in itself a character. From the people expounding on everything under the sun over at the "University of Woodford Square", the bandstand that comes alive with music at Christmas and Carnival, the Jehovah Witnesses handing out tracts, the Square is a little microcosm of the City. Makes you want to throw back your head and belt out...
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown, things'll be great when you're
Downtown - no finer place, for sure
Downtown - everything's waiting for you
Don't hang around and let your problems surround you
There are movie shows - downtown
Maybe you know some little places to go to
Where they never close - downtown
Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
You'll be dancing with him too before the night is over