It was a filthy wet night, but friends, neighbours, the South Norwood Tourist Board, Crystal Palace Transition Town members and even Captain Sensible himself all turned out on Saturday to celebrate the Sensible Garden and, more importantly, to remind everyone how much they miss local campaigner Robert Gibson.
Gibson has been a driving force behind the Upper Norwood Library campaign, worked hard in establishing the Crystal Palace Transition Town group, including the thriving Saturday market, and helped to clear and plant the Sensible Garden in South Norwood. But Gibson has been missing since he went for a walk from his home in June. Despite the best efforts of the local community and police across southern England, he has not been seen since.
The SNTB and Transition Town staged Saturday’s celebration of their pop-up pocket-sized park named after a punk to keep Gibson’s name – and photograph – in the public eye in the hope of hearing some news of their friend’s well-being.
“With no committees, guardians, ‘friends of’ or anything involving a bureaucratic process, coupled with a militant attitude against anyone fly-tipping, the community has constantly, consistently attended to maintain the garden’s appearance and continue to encourage its growth,” an SNTB spokesperson, officially appointed by no one, said.
“When you pass you may see a few regulars sitting on the benches enjoying lunch, or a glass or two of their favourite tipple. The garden is for use by all to relax and enjoy watching the world go by, whilst safely in the arms of a Sensible environment where all are equal.
“Saturday’s toast was very special, as we raised a glass to Robbie, all wishing his safe return.
“It was Robbie who unveiled the Sensible Seat with the Captain himself, and was instrumental in the hard work and motivation to all who contributed. He immediately understood SNTB and contributed to the whole tone of the garden’s creation.
“It is now four months since Robbie was last seen, but we are all still hopeful and looking forward to more evenings of swapping inspirational tall stories, while drinking a few and above all laughing until it hurts.”
To mark the occasion, a second bench had been given a facelift and was “unveiled” by Captain Sensible – more recognisable as Raymond Burns without his usual shades and beret. For those who weren’t around in the 1970s, as the Captain, Burns was a member of The Damned. He also had a solo No1.
A swift toast, and the assembled group moved off to a local pub to swap stories and get out of the rain.
Because they are quite, well, sensible, really.
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