August 29th, 2011

Fishy Circumstances


Some of the most visible wonders of the aftermath Jack Layton's death were the chalkings in Nathan Phillips Square, and their outpourings of admiration, grief, and hope.

One person who linked to it observed that this would never happen in Britain. He was thinking it in the context of no politician being sufficiently loved and admired; but I thought it in a different way.

No one chalks here. The sidewalks are too narrow or busy and it is too closely associated with grafitti=vandalism. I am certain I read an article the other year about children out drawing on sidewalks who were fined for public vandalism.

Are there even ever chalkings at British universities to advertise events? I do not remember them offhand; certainly not the way my US undergraduate institution was, the paved paths periodically alive with student government campaigns and a capella concert announcements. The university near where I grew up had yearly chalking competitions, an entire street pedestrianized and densely, elaborately drawn on down its length by competing artists and teams. I spent hours as a child drawing in chalk on the sidewalk in front of the house, transient artwork which faded with passing storms.