In the heart of Middle-England-Shire, there’s a village of no particular distinction. At the heart of this village of no particular distinction is the village green. Everyone loves the village green, especially those who overlook it and have watched down the centuries all the children who have played there, the country fairs held there, the bowls that have been bowled there, the cricket stumps that have fallen there, the cups of tea drunk there, the sandwiches and cream cakes eaten there.
It’s the heart of the community and whilst most people are happy to enjoy it by casually rolling out a picnic rug, lying back munching sour cream Pringles, others perceive the village green as the living breathing embodiment of the community. They give it such reverential significance and weightiness that there’s no space in the sentence for more than one word. For them it is The. Village. Green.
But as the village of no particular distinction grows in size, those who have long been perceived to live beyond the village limits and therefore ineligible to enjoy the green space at its heart are gradually, relatively, now closer to the centre of the village than ever before.
The original demarcation for the village boundary has long been superseded by a succession of freshly painted lines; each time the lines are laid down, the circumference of the village grows just that little bit wider, like a thickening waistline. The same people who struggle with the freshly painted lines and are nostalgic for the ancient village boundary are protective of The. Village. Green. and who should and should not be able to use it. They do not feel that The. Village. Green. should be for those who live in the thickened girth of the village but reserved for those who are at its ancient core.
So a compromise is reached. A separate space is created outside the original boundary of the village and called The Municipal Garden. You wanted green space so now you have got your green space, you wanted a game of cricket, now you can play your game of cricket, you can hold your country fairs and play as much crown green bowls as you like. And yes, whilst acknowledging that The Municipal Garden is a positive step towards addressing the needs of the enlarged community, there is something inescapably symbolic in the exclusion.
The. Village. Green. is for us and the Municipal Garden is for you.
But if we are one village of no particular distinction we should all play the same games of cricket and crown green bowls, share the same green spaces. And when I say green spaces I’m talking about the village green, in lower case, with the picnic rug and the sour cream pringles not the one punctured by full stops, capital letters and reverential pauses.