Autumn

Outside Hendon Magistrates Court the ornamental Fuschia hedge has grown through the railings in a riot of drooping magenta flowers. Getting ready for an Autumnal return to normal, a young worker with a hedge trimmer is squaring it off as a metaphor for a legal system with a limited imagination. He is wearing ear protectors. Less than a metre away from him, the old lady, young couple and small child lined up by the bus stop, are not. Confused bees waver around the cauterised bristling twigs where the flowers used to be. The young worker sweeps them up from the floor. Tidiness before life.

Beside Chili Masala, the small patch of waste ground has some fitful grass bravely trying to compete with a jumble of liberally discarded plastic bottles and beer cans, like a miniature replica of that field at the Reading Festival left full of single use tents. A sole cabbage White butterfly flutters gamely around it showing what life could be about instead.

Outside our flat, bees are weaving in and out of the flowers in the hedge. One blunders into one of the many webs strung across it with a huge tiger striped spider hanging motionless in the middle. Immediately the spider, twice the size of the bee, is on it and wrapping it up in a silk coffin with busy legs moving quickly up and down like a sewing machine. The bee is quickly reduced to future packed lunch in a silk sarcophagus in about ten seconds, and the spider lowers it down out of sight for later, before climbing back up to wait.

Looking down from the top deck of the 83 from the bridge over the wide stretch of tube lines by Wembley Park. A pair of Jubilee line trains snaking slowly round the curve towards the station, framing a line that dives steeply down to an opaque rectangular maw of a tunnel that looks like a portal to somewhere grim.

At the bottom of the hill, the first crane fly of the season. It half flies, is half blown hither and thither, long spindly legs wavering around and small wings whirring frantically. It seems far more alone than it should do.

In the Early Afternoon Twilight…

Signs of seasonal change in the Park as two green tractors, heavy as tanks, make a getaway to the road after slicing down the remaining wildflower blooms in the bee meadows; leaving a dull neatness with a few surviving magenta blooms still glowing beside their tyre marks – delicate survivors.

There is a more pensive air even than last week – when the heavy rains made the footpaths run like creeks, the fresh fall of acorns crunched underfoot in the golden oak tree mulch and the last big socially distanced excercise group spread in a wide circle doing side push ups in the mud, rivulets of rain running down their cagoul hoods and soaking them through; hard to tell if they were there out of commitment or a sentence to community self improvement in adverse conditions.

Today, people walked in ones or twos, or with dogs, and kept an eye on each other as we passed; and the outdoor gym equipment was fenced off again. Two blokes with hoodies – who looked a bit like they had escaped from an Assassin’s Creed game – worked out furtively inside – having got in by limbo dancing presumably.

Among the shops, a man with his shirt off and an angry glare sits with a couple of suitcases full of junk for sale.

In one of the new trees, a large plush tiger, its stuffing whitely exposed along a terrible rent in its back, is jammed between the branches. Although its paws are crossed casually its expression is one of intense humiliation and annoyance.

One of the few survivors of Brent’s year as Borough of Cultures is this mural of local boy George Michael on a cut through to a car park between Winkworths and a Romanian Supermarket. I’m not sure it speaks to anyone and seems to be an assemblage of parts that don’t quite cohere. But, perhaps that’s the message. And perhaps life is like that.

Rather bleak, menacing and obscure mural – more foreboding than celebration.

On the way back up the street, the shirtless guy – now fully dressed – is standing in the middle of the road being honked by considerate motorists and shouting at a bloke trying to drive away from the kerb in a black SUV. With the body language of a man taking charge, he advances to the front of the vehicle, still shouting, and bangs hard on the bonnet. Although he is shouting loudly its hard to tell what he’s saying. After the third bang the bloke in the car gets out annoyed and starts squaring up. “Shirtless guy” retreats a bit then puffs himself up. No words but both of them saying “Yeah? Come on then” as the traffic flows in between. Everyone watches in puzzled bemusement. All that’s needed is a David Attenborough commentary – “the humiliated males make a ritual aggressive display with out-thrust chests and loud cries…” The driver gets back in his car and heads off, not before shirtless guy has given his windscreen another thump – on the other side this time just to be symmetrical.