News

Aiming high: kites on Leopold field

If you walked around the Leopold field a few weeks ago, you may have seen an unusual sight. The field, which is usually locked, was finally open to the public, and some people were flying kites in the freezing cold. Those crazy people were us, and it was good fun until we froze.

Some of us have been living in Chapeltown for over 40 years, but surprisingly enough, none of us has ever set foot on the field before. In fact, we don’t really know many who have. It probably has something to do with the locked gate of this green public space.

You see: somewhere, someone holds the key to that gate. But we didn’t know who it was or where he or she was. Trying to find this someone and get the key was a real quest and a fantastic opportunity to get to know our local community better. After six phone calls to three different numbers, we found out that there was indeed a key, but the padlock had changed…

However, public spaces have a logic of their own, and so when we finally arrived, the gates were open, waiting for us. There’s something in this field. It needs the company of people.

We took out our kites and made some from bin bags, blowing some life into them once more. We held our cups of hot chocolate, desperately trying to get warm when running around was not enough. Some kids from the neighbourhood joined us. We ran and laughed and worked together to untangle the kites’ strings. What a fun community we have! The kites flew high, almost like our aspirations for this site. We told the field we’ll come again at Easter. I think the field liked the idea.

Public space

Shall we fly a kite?
Shall we let it soar?
Let’s use the Leopold field
That’s what it’s for.
How do we get in?
How do we play?
There are locks and fences
that bar the way.

What’s so hard
for the community?
It’s easy, councillors say.
You just borrow the key!
But, where is the key
to the padlock
on the gate
in the spiky fence
that protects the
public green space?

Start with Surestart
but they don’t know.
Try the children’s centre,
they tell you to phone
about the key
to the padlock
on the gate
in the spiky fence
that protects the
public green space.

Try the number:
it isn’t right.
Another number
that’s also wrong.
Third time lucky –
but just voice mail,
so leave a message
about the key
to the padlock
on the gate
in the spiky fence
that protects the
public green space.

They do call back
and tell us who
has the key
to the padlock
on the gate
in the spiky fence
that protects the
public green space.

It’s back to the Children’s Centre
and ring once or twice.
It’s better to visit;
the caretaker’s the man
who has the key
to the padlock
on the gate
of the spiky fence
that protects the
public green space.

He’s sorry to say
that he had the key
to the padlock
on the gate
of the spiky fence
that protects the
public green space,
but now the Council
have changed the padlock
on the gate
of the spiky fence
that protects the
public green space.

Shall we fly a kite?
Shall we let it soar?
Shall we use the Leopold field?
That’s what it’s for.

No, we never found the key
to the padlock
on the gate
of the spiky fence
that protects the
public green space.

We’ve gone shopping instead
and bought some bolt cutters.

Peter Richardson