Who Owns The Street Corner?


If you meet with your friends on the corner of Vine Street and Maple Avenue…under the street lamp, at 5:00 in the afternoon…and spend three hours talking about this and that…and then go home…have you committed any offence?

If you went to the meeting tanked up on booze and waving shotguns around…and if your talk involved attacking Parliament House…well you probably have. You can expect to see Mr. Plod, the magistrate, and the inside of the Cold Water Hotel shortly.

If, however, you were peaceable, passably dressed, and drank nothing more than cappuccinos from the local McCafé…you were probably fully entitled to be there.

The reason I bring this up is a current controversy that seems to revolve around a car enthusiast’s meeting that takes place a few miles south of my house. It has been at a highway petrol station of a Saturday night, and has attracted hot rod and custom owners for several months now. I visited it myself in February and found it to be a fun thing to do.

The original organisers are angry at another group of enthusiasts who wish to run a similar event on the same site upon a more frequent basis. Heated exchanges have passed on social media. Currently it is uncertain whether it is going or not going – fortunately it is close enough to home that I can run down there tomorrow night to see. Winter’s not the best weather but there is a warm food service area there and it is worth the price of the petrol and a cuppa to go there.

I can’t say whether anyone has canvassed the opinion of the owners of the land  – the BP petrol company – to see what they say. I can see it as an advantage to them to have a hundred cars show up to fill up and get a coffee, but if there is bad blood as this occurs they may wish to have no part of it.

Ah well – it shows, at least, that the car scene is as close to politics and the schoolyard as any other aspect of suburban life.

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