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Sober and Disorderly

November 9, 2015


About thirty years ago, My Dad, who died back in 2011 – had the following letter published in the Ealing Gazette.

He was joking.

To The Editor,


Once again I bring to your notice the chaos existing among pedestrians on the streets of Ealing.

Last Saturday, I found my path obstructed by people who were standing to hold conversations.  (This is illegal.)  Others were moving slowly with prams and shopping trolleys.  Others were approaching me, using the same section of parliament.  The result was a chaotic mess of conflicting movements.  This is a recipe for violence.

I propose that the authorities establish a walking rule of keeping to the left at peak times.  There can be two lanes, fast and slow.  No stopping should be allowed except in designated locations.  People wishing to change their direction should give an appropriate hand signal.

It will take time for people to become accustomed to the new arrangements.  Until then, Pedestrian Guides can be used to enforce the new regulations.  This is a good opportunity for people sentences to Community Service.

Let us restore tranquility to our streets!

Conrad Brunstrom

My brother anthologised this letter, along with a varied selection of Dad’s more endearing strangenesses, in a little book which was published about a year after he died.

Except that this week I’ve discovered that Liverpool – the very city where my Dad was born and bred IS ACTUALLY GOING TO DO THIS.

Here – look.

Yes, thirty years on, they’ve decided that my Dad was actually on to something and his suggestions for pedestrian management need to be implemented.

Part of me feels a kind of uncanny thrill that my Dad (and namesake) has had this sort of belated recognition.   And part of me feels very very afraid.  Because what if this is just the beginning.  What if every other bizarre idea that my Dad ever saw fit to express actually gets implemented?  A very strange world beckons.

Will the British Croquet Association suddenly announce that from now on the game is only to be played on bits of waste ground with a large bottle of Teacher’s Whisky positioned right next to the central peg?

Will Dad’s sinisterly imagined Church of Self -Revelation come to be and start knocking on doors?

And if everyone starts believing that my Dad was right all along about everything then will the World Health Organisation suddenly announce that scotch eggs and bitter beer actually contain all you really need to live a surprisingly long and healthy life?

You see – I still love my Dad, and I miss him a bit every day.  But a world in which my Dad has supposedly been proved right about things – a world in which my Dad is actually taken seriously…  is a severe (if belated) test of filial devotion.


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