An adult hand with a black glove holding a child's hand with coloured woolly glove, with road edge and cars behind

The school run (That’s funny)

Another morning done.
Now breathe.

They survived the gauntlet for another day.
Your nerves, less so.
Head pounding, eyes sore, throat raw.
Hands on edge – are they shaking?
Standard morning.

Somehow you got them to wear their coat and gloves.
It’s chilly. Those fancy Gruffalo ones. Each finger a puppet. He loves it. 
And your chest still melts when he actually wants to hold your hand. 
And then when he’s a step ahead and you’re trying to get across this fast bend
Zoom… zoom…

Tick, Tick.

Cars barely there for a second before they’re at your feet. 
The streets full with the roar and snarl of engines, and towering thunder of tonnes of metal.
You’re straining your ears, scanning for threats. No radar, no intel, no traffic lights. 
You sure this war on cars
Is a fair fight?

Cause these little conscripts
four year old foot soldiers
get precious little back up, 
Get sent up 
over the top, every morning 
OK, we can go, go on!, NONONOWAIT you grab for his coat.
That feeling in your chest again.
It’s chilly.

Now breathe.

Yes, yes, yes.
“Yes, you’re right to be concerned.”
“Yes, and you see all this progress we are making?”
“Yes, and don’t you know we have to bring people with us?”
“Yes, and you know there’s no money?”
“Yes, your kids can do their bit and walk to school.”
And you manage a thin smile 
And nod and keep wondering when
this fear and stress and the invisible cage which our children must wear every day as they step outside 
could dissolve 
into joy and play 
Into collecting sticks and pirates and fairies and running and hiding and “Dad wait there we’re going by this way on our own”
Into freedom? 

Ok. Nice. One day.
And so we know we’ve got to wait.
And wait.
And wait. 

These things take time. 
So get in line. 
A line which shuffles backwards. 
A line which leaves another generation to choke and bleed and die, all while being told that there is no money.
That’s funny. 

So while yet more luxury SUVs stroll into our streets. And while we wait 
and wait 
and wait 
at the side of the road, gripping little hands, breathing in poison and deafened by the noise,
we watch 
while hundreds of thousands and millions of pounds of progress are driven past in front of us. BMW, Mercedes, Tesla, Volvo, Range Rover.
Rolling over the tarmac red carpet
our city manages to keep finding the millions for.

To invite these glazed cages into our streets
for free, 
stored in our public spaces 
for free, 
and to roar, snarl and thunder, for free, in front of our children. 
While they 
are not.

How much longer will we stand at the side and wait,
and wait, 
and wait?

There’s no money? 
That’s funny.

— Sam Wakeling, 2023

Thanks to Fehinti Balogun for ideas about funny money.