I walk with my youngest son to Finsbury Park. He ascends the slides. He climbs from a rope structure of interlocking hexagons, through a rope bridge, holding on by just one hand. A lexicon of tort phrases pass through my mind: allurement, contributory fault … I have sat at the back of courts as defences have been distinguished on the basis of a parent’s duty, or not, to shield their children from risk.
I show him the running track, hidden behind an odd-shaped duck pond, the edges of the water lapping with discarded water bottles. The tartan is worn; patches of black rubber poke through a crust of red. There is a sign asking runners to pay for use of the track but no-one to collect the money. Teenagers toy with a discarded shot putt. The scene is a testament to the rapid running down during this recession of past generations’ municipal collectivism.
But my boy sees it differently. I explain to him that the track is for running. His eyes widen in anticipation; he thinks of the hours and days he has spent running against his own brother. “You run round it”, he asks … “the whole way round?”