diamond geezer

 Saturday, July 24, 2004

Fountain of Strife

They've closed down the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain again. Again. Again. They closed it down on its second day after unseasonably heavy rain caused the area inside the fountain to flood. They closed it down in its second week for what they told us was routine maintenance, but which seemed a bit too quick to be routine. And they closed it down on Thursday because it's dangerous and people keep falling over. It's still closed. It's a bit of a fiasco really.

I visited the fountain with my nephews and niece on what turned out to be one of its few functioning days. The fountain exerts a hypnotic influence on children who are irresistably drawn to remove their shoes and socks and go paddling in the water. After a minute or two splashing about in situ they decide to go for a walk all the way around the fountain, just because they can. Off they splash exploring all the different textures underfoot, paddling through the shallows, wading through pools and climbing mini waterfalls. And it's great fun. And then they fall over. And then they cry.

My niece was the first to slip. She didn't fall too badly and merely got rather wetter than originally planned, but this was the signal for our party to exit the fountain and attempt to dry off. We watched a small boy slip on the granite just a few feet away from us, then quickly pick himself up and continue his circuit rather more cautiously. And then another girl fell over. She'd come down to enjoy the fountain with her posh mother on what must have been the au pair's day off. Thwack, over went the little princess into the water and a few minutes of bawling and sobbing ensued. Such great entertainment, although probably not the serious tribute that was planned.

I'm not at all surprised to hear that three visitors slipped over on Thursday and had to be taken to hospital. Hard rock, running water, excitable children - what did the designers expect? It's sadly appropriate that a memorial to a nasty accident is now busy causing accidents of its own. Diana once said she wanted to have something worthy like a hospital wing named after her. I'd like to suggest that they set up a Princess Di Memorial First Aid Hut here instead. Assuming anyone ever takes a trip again.

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