Build a Castle

15 January 2013

Chrissy writes...

Recently Martin has been taking Byron and I out to do some detached work with him on the corner of the Colville estate. We write a question on the pavement in chalk and invite passers-by to add to it with their thoughts. Last week the phrase was: “In 2013 I hope to…” I spoke to a few people who had seen the statement with Byron and Martin a few days before and wanted just to talk more about their hopes. What a privilege, that people would share their ambitions, their dreams and plans. Boys wanted to play in tournaments, young people wanted to improve on last year’s achievements, the majority though were longing for deeper change – for peace on the streets, happy homes, for a relief from the financial burdens, the draining exercise of counting pennies and worrying where the next meal for their children was coming from.There was a sad sense with these last dreams that this was actually just a futile pie-in-the-sky dream – of winning the lottery – not quite based in reality but still an infinitesimally small possibility seen in stories of other people. My favourite hope though came from a very young girl who promptly chose a pink chalk and attempted to write “For people to build a castle”.

How utterly profound. They say that children can see and sense what adults spend such energy in hiding from themselves and others and here she seemed to express the scope of people’s feelings whether she meant to or not. A castle. A hope for something huge, spectacular, safe and ultimately from an adult perspective based in dreaming not reality. One man stopped Martin for a long time and I heard him say words to the effect of hope is futile, a waste of time and energy. I think both Martin and I fundamentally disagreed; because hope, be it in things achievable or in massive dreams like castles is tinged with a memory of joy, is fuelled with a belief that life can change, that there really can be something more. It is hope that pushes people on, keeps us trying, keeps people alive. And maybe there won’t be a massive Disney-style castle built in the middle of Hoxton but people’s dreams, once realised can most surely resemble castles – painstakingly sought after and built up, amazing and wonderful. So I hope for the castles and I hope our work out there in Hoxton will be encouragement to others.

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