Spoilsport

PUBLISHED: 10:25 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:54 06 May 2010

SIR, — Re A. Whiston s letter (Herts Advertiser, January 22). My concern is that if she has her way then something ageless and quintessentially English could be lost to St Albans forever. The sound of children s laughter and babble of happy conversation a

SIR, - Re A. Whiston's letter (Herts Advertiser, January 22). My concern is that if she has her way then something ageless and quintessentially English could be lost to St Albans forever.

The sound of children's laughter and babble of happy conversation as they run up Abbey Mill Lane before entering their school distresses Ms Whiston and she would like it to stop. On Thursday evenings I walk my child home from Watling View School through Verulamium Park and no matter how hard a day I have had at work, my spirits are always raised by the laughter and shrieks of the St Albans School pupils as they exercise in the park, take turns at piggy back and repetition work before doing a Chariots of Fire around the lake. Their work-out ends when they leave the park with a run up the hill to the Abbey Gateway and then several small sprints up and down before entering their school gate.

I am disappointed that Ms Whiston should even suggest that the master, and ipso facto the school, are putting the children at "considerable risk" because of racing cars. I feel exaggerating non-existent dangers is a shoddy way to win an argument and is redolent of our health-and-safety culture which has so far prevented tobogganing, conker playing and now running.

As a long-distance runner, I and my friends regularly end our running session at this hill because it is dead quiet, dead safe and what Ms Whiston has failed to say, a dead end. Indeed, there are no blind bends, corners or crossroads so as a runner I am far safer than when running on country roads. On the rare occasions I see a car approaching, I do as the masters instruct their pupils, I stop and step to one side.

What I find puzzling is why Ms Whiston, living in Orchard Street which has 16 houses all well set back from the lane, should be so distressed. For her to glimpse these children running past Orchard Street or to hear the occasional whistle blowing I believe she would have to open all her windows and lean out of her upstairs window balanced on a highchair. It raise the question what is behind such mischief?

Pupils from St Albans School have run this hill since long before Orchard Street existed. More to the point, was Ms Whiston not aware that when she moved into her house her immediate neighbour, the oldest school in the land, had been there first and for some time? Let's just hope that she does not turn her attention to the bellringers at the Abbey or the choristers rehearsing in the loft as their voices waft over the Orchard.

I hope Ms Whiston does not get her way. These children volunteer after a hard day at school to improve their health and fitness and this should be encouraged, not condemned. The masters, also give freely of their time. More importantly, what a sad day it would be to stifle the sound of children's laughter and enjoyment and replace it with silence. Was Edgar Alan Poe thinking of Ms Whiston when he wrote "who would break a butterfly upon a wheel"?

J. MURPHY,

Dalton Street, St Albans.

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