Down by the Edgware Road, on a tiny oasis of unmown grass about a metre square, amid a desert of concrete and asphalt, bright wild flowers play host to a bee and a butterfly as the traffic grinds past. It looks like a tiny sliver of hope.
The rewilding of our back lot, and that of many others along here, where the grass is now as high as a doberman’s eye, has led to a local insect revival. A few years ago I’d have cursed the miasma of aphids tickling my face, but now `I see it as a blessing.
Outside Asda, a newly erected sign points Westwards to “The Nordic Quarter”. This is vaguely in the direction of Queensbury which, last time I looked, was completely bereft of Vikings.
As a result of one of our downstairs neighbours moving out, the front hedges, handsome beech ones, well over head height, have began to grow across the front path, narrowing the way in and out and I find myself thinking that I wouldn’t mond too much if it just kept going and sealed us off from the main road, with the only way in and out via the overgorwn alleyway at the back.
Down by Sainsbury’s a pimped up Ford Focus, Kermit the frog green with red hub caps, low slung body and tinted windows, speeds towards the turn in towards Halfords and blasts its horn at a guy already half way across it – hoping he would jump back or forward, or at any rate get out of its way. He does neither. Instead, he just stands stock still and looks witheringly at the car; holding his ground and forcing it to slow and go round him. It revs up and speeds through the car park, farting a backfire of annoyance as it does.
Just as I am sitting on the bus thinking that the rapidly accelerating gentrification of West Hendon -old tutti putti social housing cleared for solid expensive flats built like fortresses, a smattering of cleaner neater shops and restaurents weeding out the old dusty jumble of plumbers, old fashioned looking hairdressers, boarded up supermarkets, grocery places with tired looking veg and filthy signage – will have done for the Martens that have roosted in the eaves of the above shop flats on the North side, they come screaming gloriously into view and your heart can’t help but leap and soar with them.
Along Roe Green there is now an electronic sign that monitors traffic speed. The limit is 20mph. As vehicles approach their speed is flashed back at them. Those within the limit are shown their speed in green and given a “Thank You”. Those going above 20, get it in red. Above 25mph and they get a “Slow Down” message. There is no enforcement, just a nudge to doing the right thing. What I’ve noticed is that cars tend to follow the example of the car in front. To some extent this is a physical as much as a psychological thing. If a car in front of you is doing 18mph, you can’t really go faster without crashing into it or overtaking. So, you get a string of vehicles all doing the right thing and all getting a thank you. Then you get one that zaps past at 22mph, gets flashed red and ignores it. Cars behind tend to follow on, red, red, red. Some particulary cussed souls actually accelerate, just because they can; and doubtless congratulate themselves on how free and rebelious they are being.
In the Park, as an acknowledgement of the heating climate, people now go out and shade bathe.
I’m not sure how spooked to be that the neatly arranged van parked up by the builders working on the house vacated by our local Kippers, who have presumably moved on to a whiter place and taken their spray cans and flags with them, has an upright fire extinguisher between the seats in the cab, topped be a decapitated dolls head. It looks like it is pretending not to be alive.