Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rainbow roundabout

Rainbow, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

This is a scene from our street from two weeks ago on Queen's Day, a day when the Dutch celebrate the birthday of an ex-Queen, in what is basically a National Day.

A tradition in Amsterdam is that people are free to sell anything (within existing food health and safety laws) on the streets and in the parks of the city, especially the children. These children will often sell off the toys and games and books and clothes they have grown out of, to generate money to buy more toys or to give to charity. They will also play musical instruments, organise games and even predict your future. Great fun it is, espcially in our neighbourhood, where there are also circuses, marching bands, fun fairs and musical performances.

James and Harry were here and enjoyed themselves very much and James especially enjoyed going into town later to see some rock bands playing.

Just after Queen's Day, the local council was due to start work on placing a fountain in the street, a modern fountain but one which replaces the original which was removed in the 1930's. They did not start as planned on May 1st, because it poured with rain, but were there the next day in the bright sunshine, making a lot of noise, digging up the road and the pavements to make room for what was needed to be done. They worked for three days and in that time, they have blocked the road off to traffic and made it quite difficult for cyclists and pedestrians to get through.

A week later, after my return from Rome it was the same as it was when I had left. No more work. Typical, it seemed, as the authorities often dig up roads and leave them a while before the real work begins. Maybe something to do with planning. But then... yesterday afternoon a letter from the council. In this letter, they explained that due to delays in another nearby project and due to the fact that the traffic situation was so confusing, they will delay the continuation of the project to late-June or even late August. In the meantime, they WILL put the road and pavement back. Amazing! No apologies. No explanation of how much it will all cost. No explanation about how they could have started last week, already knowing that the other project was facing delays. There was a number to phone. I phoned it to speak to this project leader, as I was invited to. But, no, the project leader had taken the afternoon off (well it WAS nice weather and he could expect an angry reaction) and will be back on Monday (apparently). What an example of incompetence, spending and wasting other people's money is very easy apparently. Not so very important on a world scale, but indicative of the way things go.


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