It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Ambivalence on legs

It’s a long, gentle slope along a quiet road above the canal that takes us to the library. The street dead ends at the library, so it’s very quiet. What with the view through the trees to the water, it’s practically idyllic.

Today, however, a roar becomes ever louder as we stroll up the hill. We round the curve and the noise fills the air. That old expression “a wall of sound” becomes reality. The roar and grind and screech is so intense, it feels as if you have to push through it. And every step only makes it louder.

Two burly “workin’ mens” in their orange vests with the reflective tape manoeuvre a large concrete saw. Lift it up, lower it carefully. It whines and roars on the way up, it screams as it moves down, cutting slices through the surface of the street.

I check the small faces. Emily, in the front of the stroller, is enthralled. Malli is mildly curious. Nigel is hopping up and down in excitement, and Timmy is … Timmy is pulling back on the stroller, trying very hard to make us reverse back the way we came. His eyes are enormous, his mouth tight, his steps drag.

“It’s very loud, isn’t it, Timmy?” I holler near his ear.
“NOISY!” he grins. The saw howls. His grin grows crooked, then trembles. “NOISY!”

He’s a study in conflicting responses. Excitement wars with terror, thrill becomes anguish, agony roils into glee.

Emma scoops him up, sets him astride her hip.

“OH! NOISY!!!” His face flickers between beaming delight and wide-eyed terror.

“He’s trembling, mom! His whole little body is shaking!”

Whether it’s shaking with excitement or panic is anyone’s guess.


We are now close enough that the workin’ mens can hear his calls. One of them looks up. He’s not too tall but very wide, squat, burly, red-faced, lots of black hair on his ruddy arms, pants slung precariously beneath the beer belly that overhangs. He stops to wipe the sweat off his face and neck with the back of a grimy hand.


“Ain’t that the truth, kid.” He gives Timmy a second glance, and his squint softens a bit. “You know what? I’m gonna turn this thing off for a minute. Maybe this is too exciting for some of you, huh?” Kindness … it comes wrapped in all sorts of packages.

We head up the hill in blissful peace.


Though it seems not all of us have quite registered the difference…

July 28, 2008 Posted by | outings, Timmy | , , | 10 Comments