This week's story came from a creative conversation I had with Duncan Sharkey, who's currently a Corporate Director at Milton Keynes Council. I'm always impressed with his ability to articulate what a place needs to thrive, so this story almost wrote itself... it was a happy collaboration. Hope you like it.
A new home for the bees
“You’re acting weird.”
Carmen parked the car under a lamp post. The light was fading, time speeding up at the end of the day.
“It’s alright chickpea, I want to show you something.”
The frown on her daughter’s face was a rebuke, as fixed as a scar, hardened in the battles of teenage life.
“Nah, I’ll wait here.”
Carmen didn’t reply and marched off towards the end of the viaduct. Rosa wouldn’t last five minutes alone under the arches, a dormitory of cardboard beds, territory marked by angry graffiti tags.
“Mum, what’re you doing?”
The path was more overgrown than Carmen remembered. It was a steep scramble up the mound, through brambles and giant buddleias. She heard Rosa stumble, probably on her mobile, but didn’t look back.
“Come on love, it won’t take long.”
At the top, Carmen steadied her breath and looked around. The view of the city was stunning. The weeds up here were low, more like a wild meadow. It was too late for the sunset, but the purple light glinted on the disused railway tracks.
“It’s going to be a sky-park.”
“It’s already an art gallery and an outdoor gym and a natural habitat for…”
What had the Council ecologist said? A heaven for invertebrates – he’d meant bees, hadn’t he?
Carmen changed tack. “It’s a shortcut into town.”
“It’s just your work. It’s always about you and your work. Why am I even here?”
“Don’t you think it’s a good idea?”
Rosa began tapping a message on her phone. Carmen buttoned her lip, spotted a couple of breeze blocks and went to sit down. Where was that girl’s imagination? Carmen felt inspired. Why didn’t her daughter? Young people could help convince the major players to support it. And they would need all the help they could get to make this happen.
Ten minutes passed. Eventually Carmen said, “The bees need you. We need you.”
Rosa’s forehead loosened.
“I need you…” Carmen began to doubt her conviction.
The glow of the mobile screen reflected on her daughter’s face.
“God, Mum. I posted it on Facebook – 143 likes already.”
Duncan Sharkey is a Corporate Director at Milton Keynes Council