Home » Uncategorized » Don’t be cross when they’re crossing

Don’t be cross when they’re crossing

My first school was Roseberry Infants and juniors at the top end of Pelton village, County Durham, just across the road from the Newfield inn.
As an aside I never thought of the gray and depressing mining village setting I grew up in as a village. I suppose it strictly is, but I guess I have spent too much time wandering around chocolate box rural villages to associate the grimness of where I come from with the term. You may already get the feeling that I am not exactly wallowing in nostalgia for the place I grew up in, and you would be right, I only go back there to see my dad. But there are some things about my past that do make me smile when reminded of them and the school details are important. This was a very busy road junction and someone needed to be in control.
Thankfully there was. The lollipop man – it was usually a man for us – was your friend and companion that shepherded my five to eleven year old self safely across the road with a smile and a wave.
I was reminded of this last week when up in the North East again for the combined reasons for the Great North run and more importantly my grandmother’s ninety-first birthday. It was as I drove up from the Team Valley to see my Nana in the care home she has just moved into, rich fruit cake in tow. Getting there meant driving past the local primary school. I would describe that as pretty much like entering the gates of chaos.
There were small children everywhere, with parents desperately trying to keep track of their various charges as the children randomly moved around in a sort of Brownian motion that I normally associate with small ducklings on a lake. At any moment you felt that some child was going to stray out into the road.
It is so easy for that to happen. Children, no matter how well schooled, are easily distracted. I know from personal experience. When I was about nine I remember leaving school one Friday with Stuart, one of my best friends. We crossed the road at the proper place with the lollipop man and continued chatting way down the road. Suddenly Stuart said a naughty word and explained that had left something in school and need to go back as “his mother would kill him”. I said OK and turned to continue walking and expecting him to catch up. He was still calling after me as he walked into the road and was hit by the car.
I just remember a horrible thumping noise and turning around to see a car with a group of people huddled around the front, hiding what was lying there.
Stuart survived. In fact he was very lucky and ended up with a broken arm and bruises. But it could have been a lot worse and you cannot drive too carefully or too slowly around children.
Back to this weekend and we were stopped in the road by the man in his high visibility jacket, cap and authoritative “Stop” sign. Order was temporarily restored. Children and parents alike were beckoned to – swiftly – cross the road safely with a smile and a wave.
However, maybe people were not crossing quite as fast as they could. This was mainly so that the children could say hello to their protector, and in the case of some of the slightly older children actually have a short conversation. What I think struck me as this man got his job right is that it was not the cars he was controlling, it was the children (and to be fair, the parents) calming them down and introducing some order into the chaos. And then the key final point for me, with all the children across, a glance behind to the drivers with a thanking smile and wave and back onto the pavement waiting for the next batch of charges to collect patiently.
Unnamed lollipop man, I salute you. Fellow drivers, be patient and let him or her do their work.

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