An Adult Per­spec­tive of As­sou Square

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - Clau­dia Elei­box

Yes, we will never go back to the days when chil­dren re­ceived a 50 cents spend­ing al­lowance and re­turned home with stom­achs filled with ap­ples and so­das, and their arms full of toys. That was just about fifty years ago, I am as­sured, when Colum­bus Square was flooded with tod­dler ex­cite­ment. I, for one, miss very much the As­sou Square I knew as a child, and I am in my twen­ties.

Of course I was al­ways ac­c­com­pa­nied by my par­ents. And that might well be the rea­son I felt so vul­ner­a­ble as I made the rounds on my own at the most re­cent As­sou Square. The al­most daily re­ports of crime at high noon have not helped. Al­most ev­ery step tan­gled me with some young man with a base­ball cap, a glass of al­co­hol and a silly pickup line. There was com­fort in see­ing po­lice of­fi­cers all around. I think I even saw the po­lice com­mis­sioner in the dis­tance.

Still As­sou Square re­mains no place for chil­dren or lone fe­males. As I wan­dered around with pro­fes­sional in­tent (I mean as a re­porter!) among the milling hun­dreds I was es­pe­cially care­fully when I took out my cell­phone and cam­era.

With icky body odour mixed with the smell of al­co­hol fresh and stale, I re­mem­bered the spe­cial de­lights of As­sou Square past. Now it seemed only the non­stop im­bibers of al­co­hol mat­tered. I lost count of the num­ber of stum­bling men.

A long time ago my big brother made me lis­ten to Ev­ery­body's Free (To Wear Sun­screen), a speech on Baz Luhrmann's 1988 mu­sic al­bum. One line that al­ways stuck with me goes: “You too will get old, and when you do, you'll fan­ta­size that when you were young prices were rea­son­able.” I'm not yet old but the prices at As­sou Square were cer­tainly no fan­tasy; they were any­thing but rea­son­able!

I got the green cot­ton candy I came for, af­ter fork­ing out three coins for a barely there serv­ing. I also wanted a tiara, but all the op­tions were just plain too ugly and sim­i­lar, not nearly flashy enough for the price de­manded. All around me lit­tle chil­dren were cry­ing. Who knows whether the odours were too much for their lungs or whether their mothers could not af­ford to feed them at the square?

There was a crowded bouncy cas­tle that looked quite dan­ger­ous. I saw the small­est toys amaz­ingly priced at $15. The es­pe­cially lucky kids would get just one, most would re­turn home empty-handed, de­spite that their main rea­son for go­ing to As­sou Square was, as was mine in an­other time, “to get a lotta toys”. Some of the dis­ap­pointed may have trav­elled on an over­heated bus all the way from Den­nery. Imag­ine what that can do to a kid!

No need to get into the wild gy­ra­tions by adults on all fours in the mid­dle of the road. The videos are all over so­cial me­dia.The mayor of Cas­tries promised last year a less raunchy As­sou Square in 2018. The afore­men­tioned videos will help him de­cide if he de­liv­ered on his prom­ise.

Flash­ing lights and tasty food is what As­sou Square is all about, but more adult en­ter­tain­ment may have taken over.

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