At the bottom of Highmeadow Crescent, with its wide triangle of grass and trees a concentrated site for a multitude of ant civilisations – and therefore a happy hunting ground for swallows all Summer – a dark curved shape slices neatly towards a gutter and – for a moment – it seems like Summer has come early. But the shape is not so curved, and the slice is not so neat: more the bob and weave of an urban scrapper than a swallow’s smooth, electrifying elegance. A sparrow hoping to pass and not quite getting away with it.
On a, now rare, visit to the top deck of a bus; as we crest Kingsbury Road and London lays before us – Silver Jubilee Park dropping away steeply, all new leaf and shaggy un-mown grass – the Shard is visible in the far, far distance, pointing heavenwards like a blasphemous finger; 2 parts Ministry of Truth to 3 parts Eye of Mordor. Precise proportions may vary.
The Parliament of crows is back. All gathering in unvanquishable number in the tops of trees opposite the vaccination centre, looking like they are waiting for something.
Vapour trails are snaking back, slashing the sky like a duelling scar. The “good news” in the papers that demand built up during the lockdowns will fuel a feverish recovery – as those not ruined by it will splash out in a reckless consumerist binge – is rather like someone with cyrrhosis of the liver celebrating a partially successful spell in rehab by getting a round of drinks in.
All along the Edgware Road, disused light industry, clapped out retail or faded car show rooms are giving way to intense high level construction of swish new flats. As part of the grand new Sainsbury’s redevelopment – turning a substantial slice of its car park into the footprint for a block of flats handily placed for its supermarket, almost like a retail tied cottage – they have grubbed out all of their ornamental greenery, leaving a desert of stumps and bare earth in front of the posters that proclaim its pledges to go zero plastic and carbon by 2040.