Whilst I wait for my energy to return in order to list Up Your Street issue 24 after a month of RAGWORKS and Up Your Street’s involvement in Le Tour de France 2014, I will write about the amazing day in Leyton yesterday.
For over a month I waited for the Borough to show signs of the coming Tour de France down Lea Bridge Road in Leyton E10. I thought that maybe the pavements outwith Bakers Arms might be repaired and flattened so that parents with pushchairs (and they are an increasing population) could walk on the flat. I thought the shops might be asked to pretty up their windows or be given plastic bunting. Not a jot. The Hornbeam by Bakers Arms but post-coded as Walthamstow paid homage to Le Tour by suspending a bicycle in its window, artily of course. One resident along Lea Bridge Road decorated her front with RAGWORKS bunting, balloons, ribbons and everything colourful. That was my place. Nothing else was happening to indicate that Leyton would be show-cased, big-time.
Up Your Street subscribers who live within walking distance of Lea Bridge Road were invited by me to sit on my coveted parking lot overlooking the main road and enjoy the Tour de France over lunch. I scrounged for and gratefully received donations of chairs. I made flags using the significant Tour colours; yellow, white, and red polka dotted material lifted from the RAGWORKS’ bins. I had no green textiles anywhere. I searched in Oxfam at the St. James’ end of Walthamstow market. I trawled Ebay. No luck. I stuck out a mammoth spider-infested rug on my front, collected the pot of carrot and cumin soup made by my French friend, and fell asleep as the home-made bread buns browned off at midnight before the event. The spiders sped away.
I’ve been to the “Mardi Gras” in New Orleans. In the early hours of the morning after the other revellers’ final day of debauchery, drunkenness and heat I watched from my hotel room the clear-up. The streets were hosed down and scraped of rubbish. All was done efficiently. In the morning I was seemingly in a different town all together; such was the transformation. Well, the night before Le Tour de France hit Leyton things started to move in the main road from Woodford to Orient Way. Barricades and signs were left secured on corners. Markhouse Road junction looked great with plastic hoardings. In the morning operatives in motorised machines and orange hi-viz waistcoats were up and down suctioning up every piece of rubbish followed by the manual sweepers. As the day moved on the traffic decreased until 10am. Traffic was then no longer allowed. Before midday volunteers and security guys were striding up and down the road checking everything was ship-shape and greeting householders and passing mothers pushing buggies. The general happiness was evident. The barricades were mounted. Waltham Forest volunteers gave out paper flags especially to the toddlers.
Waltham Forest borough staff had indeed set the scene for one of the greatest shows on Earth. I am grateful.