Dewi Evans lived a comfortable life by any standards. He worked in local government and lived in a quiet part of town. On the weekends he would stand on the platform of Newtown station, and patiently note down engine numbers from nine to five before returning home to a cooked dinner of faggots, peas and mash. As pleasant as his life was, Dewi was nagged by a feeling of discontent. He couldn’t put his finger on it until one day he watched a documentary called “March of the Penguins”.
An epic tale of triumph over adversity it tells the remarkable story of Emperor Penguins and their annual trek across a bleak wilderness to find a place to breed. Everyone is now familiar with the selfless torture the males endure to protect the eggs. Standing hundreds deep as the Antarctic winds pummel them mercilessly they have to switch position constantly to ensure none of them are exposed for too long. The environment is so harsh that left outside the pack an individual would soon die.
Every second of their lives is devoted to this one simple task. Keep the egg alive. In the spring the eggs hatch and the females return with food for the now hatched young. And so it goes, generation after generation millennia after millennia. Dewi watched the film and slowly it dawned on him. One idea gradually crystallised in his mind. “Stupid bloody birds”. All that effort and for what? To survive so they could do it all over again the follwing year. That’s it. Not a single second to spare in a life of unremitting hardship. Head down, breed, get cold, die and lie on the ground rotting because no other creature is stupid enough to go all the way down there just to eat a dead penguin.
Dewi got to thinking that his life wasn’t fantastic but at least he could do a bit of train spotting at the weekends. He even had enough spare cash to buy a blue-ray player to watch a documentary about some useless penguins and their crap life. At that point he decided a celebration was in order. He would erect a monument to spare time. Eventually after ten long years of struggle Dewi managed to get a United Nations resolution passed. In July 2010 Francesco Bandarin was appointed UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture. His first act was to order that every town with a population greater than 20,000 should have a street name inspired by the concept of spare time.
As he was the architect of the resolution Dewi immediately lobbied Newtown council to dedicate a street. In 2011 they changed the name of Hitler Avenue to Frolic Street. Hitler Avenue had never been a popular choice as it was a legacy of Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement prior to the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. Look closely and you will find a Goebbels Drive in Dagenham and an Eva Braun Close in Arbroath. In late 2011 the resolution was revoked after the culture committee realised only one street had been renamed at a total cost of 18 million dollars worldwide. Frolic Street stands alone in its celebration of our ability to take a bit of time out if we want to. Unlike those stupid penguins.