'Camden seems to be one mass of roadworks'

General view of a diversion sign, London.

Camden's roads seem to be endlessly excavated - Credit: PA

We semi woke at 7.45am on Wednesday to shouting in the street, and at 8am sharp, my dawning day was shattered as the house began to vibrate, and the pounding noise from drills, machinery and diggers smashed through our bedroom window.

Yet again, our street is coned off, in what seems like a never-ending procession of apparently "essential" road works.

Luckily, and unlike some people who had failed to decipher the cryptic and contradictory messages on the lampposts, I had moved my car to the far end of the Camden parking zone saving me the indignity, never mind jaw dropping cost, of it being ticketed and hauled away.

In order to fit the “100% fibre broadband”, vast swathes of the street are being cleared of cars for days on end. Next week, I will have a few short hours to grab a new, hotly contested parking space as the banned zones move unstoppably around the neighbourhood.

Laura Marks OBE

Laura Marks OBE - Credit: Laura Marks

Camden seems to be one mass of road works. Whether for HS2, broadband, water or electricity works, our roads are endlessly excavated contributing, as lockdown ends, to the sense of physical as well as metaphorical unpredictability.

I’m no luddite – I see the value in progress, and I know that improvements come at a cost but like so many others, I despair as I try to navigate our inner-city streets.

As I walked along my road this afternoon, having parked miles away, I stopped to speak to Pam, an older neighbour I've got to know this year. We chatted about the road works, we shared our early morning experiences, laughed, and moved on.

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As I turned the key in my door, and closed it rapidly, the shrill drilling hitting dizzy new decibels, I thought about Pam. Whether small inconveniences like road works, or massive crises like the pandemic, our experiences locally are blessed and enriched by sharing them with our neighbours.

So next time I’m waiting for inexplicably slow and utterly unnecessary local four-way temporary traffic lights to change, I will thank my lucky stars that I live in the maddeningly annoying, yet wonderfully community-focused, London borough of Camden.

Laura Marks is founder of Mitzvah Day, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and an interfaith consultant - commongood.uk.com