About the March of Progress

About the March of Progress
March of Progress
Side road & trees towards Dandenongs c. 1920, photo by Sir Robert Gibson (1863-1943) via State Library Victoria

A harbinger of the March of Progress knocked on my door the other day. She’s a Real Estate agent, and apparently, she’s “very good friends” with my neighbours, though she didn’t specify which ones.

Seeing as she’s selling the house next door, I guess she thinks I know which neighbours she knows very well. She wondered if I’d be interested in selling mine, and it’s got me thinking about the march of progress.

We’re an older, established suburb, and a lot of people are dying or moving into residential care. There’s a lot that’s happened in the street in the last couple of years.

It’s Getting Noisier

Each time a house sells, there’s a period of at least six months of renovations as the new, younger demographic doubles the house size.

I’ve already complained about the erosion of silence in public spaces, and in my garden, and now I’m losing it in my house with the constant sound of construction.

Not to mention the constant traffic noise.

I can barely hear the birds anymore, though happily, they’re still here.

And with more regular parties, I’m in the demographic that tuts and says “that’s not music, that’s just noise!” Which, to be honest, I kind of enjoy. Even my radio station plays crap. But worse than that, one of my favourite make-out songs is now the background to a tv commercial for a paint brand!

It’s Getting Busier

With the increase in house size comes an increase in car numbers. One for Mr, one for Mrs and sometimes one for spare. Or maybe it’s a dressy going out car.

Am I allowed to be irritated because people are adding extra rooms but not extra on-site parking? I’m glad my car is small because driving up and down the road is getting tight.

There’s More Concrete

Well, not literally concrete, I was remembering that song Big Yellow Taxi (the Counting Crows version).

But open space is getting smaller. Extensions to buildings, new sheds/garages and some car parking. It’s changing the local ecosystem so when it rains there’s nowhere for the water to go. And when the sun comes out, there’s no escaping it, except by turning on your air conditioner.

One of the grimly humorous elements is that I’m near a National Park, and my land is on the border of the strict heritage and vegetation protection zone. Should my new neighbour be inclined, they can bulldoze the house and garden and build almost to the edges of the land, but I cannot extend any further than the existing construction.

The Animal Population is Changing

The old guy that used to let his pigeons out at 7 am and 4 pm is gone, and so are the pigeons. I think he lost heart when his new neighbours went through Council to force him to get rid of them because they didn’t like pigeon shit on their roof. (Can’t help asking why they bought the house then).

There are more lonely dogs whining, howling and barking at the mailman during the day. We have more cats visiting, and there are more foxes at night.

Even the bird life is changing, with natives more reliant on seed and introduced species moving up the street as the native plant life is removed. I’ll be interested to see what the goanna population looks like when the weather really starts heating up.

The Human Population is Changing

I know it’s kind of obvious, but with older people moving out and younger people moving in, the tone of the street is changing. The incomers aren’t around enough to connect with their neighbours or other people in the street, so the basic level of non-specific politeness is declining. The little things like letting someone pull out in front of you, or a little wave to acknowledge that someone who didn’t have to give way to you did.

A bit like living in a multistory apartment block where the tenants change every six months and you can’t be bothered getting to know anyone because they won’t be there long.

Winding Down

I never thought I’d end up being the one complaining about the march of progress.

I generally think that the march of progress is a “good” thing. If I was born a mere three decades earlier than I was I’d be dead by now, that’s how much I appreciate technological progress!

But I chose to live a simple life on the outskirts of the City amongst the trees, with the birds, in peaceful tranquillity. It’s disconcerting that the City is overtaking my small corner of quietude. And I can’t do anything about it.

Except move further out.

Maybe I’ll give that agent a call.

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