King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Wednesday, May 2

Crystal Palace Park

Parks all over Britain are places that make Britain such a friendly and homely place. As a child, my local main park was Crystal Palace Park, a large park built up around the ruins of the old Crystal Palace (spookily enough). Nowadays, parks are very civilised places. 20 and 30 somethings can be seen basking in the sun on a day like today, reading a book or enjoying a product of a local bakery for lunch. 30 years ago, the park was more child friendly with swings, roundabouts, see-saws and the occasional witches hat. Crystal Palace Park even had an adventure playground, where you could go and climb about on badly nailed together tower or go running down rope bridges. There was also a large boating lake, and right next to it was the infamous park dinosaurs, and there was even a small city zoo and a children's zoo. For the older children, you had a skateboard ramp (a favourite haunt of my sister as a teenager), the shop where you could chill out with a bottle of Coke, or the concert bowl. Sports were very popular with the National Sports Centre for athletics, and the park was also in the past a racing circuit.

In fact the racing circuit was a very cool mile of tarmac, and considering the proximity to central London, must have been very popular. It was even used in the classic film "The Italian Job" where the 3 "chinless wonders" wrote off the minis, and more famously where someone was "only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!." I found this week's video recently whilst reading about the racing around Crystal Palace Park, and it's actually eye-opening as American beasts take on Ford Escorts. And note who's doing the commentary, who else but the greatest ever voice of Motorsport, Murray Walker.

(yes, I know it says you can't watch it on here, but just click the picture and it'll open in Youtube's page instead)

The park is now very boring. The concerts still go on, but the zoos have both gone. The adventure playground and the skateboard ramp were both victims of the abolition of the Greater London Council in the mid 80s. The motor racing is long gone, being labelled as too dangerous because the circuit was too narrow. The last time I was there, half the park was closed off so we didn't get to even see the dinosaurs.

As a second treat, whilst following the vein of Murray Walker, I also found this collection of his works. Motor sport misses him terribly, as do his fans.