About Me

"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The small pleasures of autumn

Today's brief autumn pleasure: being seven years old again on Clapham Common.

The walk back from the Venn Street sorting office, bright morning sunshine, clutching latest eBay mistake under arms, saluting the crows and applauding their intolerance of the plump pigeons trespassing on their rightful bounty of stale mother's pride.

Dodging the young mums with their large babies and tiny dogs, sidestepping the late-for-work brigade legging it to the tube, dodging the 88 bus driver's determined attempts to soak all pedestrians by aiming at the biggest puddles.

In this late september, low angle sunshine, gleaming treasures reveal themselves on the too-green, dew-drenched grass. They are big fat conkers, left to rot since  few boys can be bothered to collect them these days it seems. I am incapable of passing without aiming a kick at one. And then another. And them I am seven again, but really I am Jimmy Greaves. An even plumper conker manifests itself a yard ahead of my right toe. I swerve and chip the little ballock expertly, it flies, curving a fabulous arc over the park bench, and then slamming itself, with a satisfying "dank-e" into the gleaming black door panel of a range-topping Audi parked on the north-side.

I turn on my heel and walk away, head down, fast, in case anyone had noticed.

Monday, 3 September 2012

I stood on Battersea Bridge and wept

Well, not quite. To say I felt sick and sad at heart would be more accurate, looking again at that magnificent stretch of the Thames as it sweeps around from Wandsworth Bridge to Chelsea Reach.

Early winter evenings with a low sun and some cloudscape, the view west here can be astonishing - the Thames is still wide enough at this point to seem like a truly great river, and not the wealthy playboys' amenity it seems to become upstream of Teddington.

That view, to my mind, was only slightly compromised by the towers of the World's End estate in the 70s, or by the silly Costa Brava look of the 1980s folly Chelsea Harbour.

But since the mid-90s it's the south bank that has offended most, as great lumps of riverside residential development  emerged like diseased teeth from the mudbanks of Vauxhall,  Battersea and Wandsworth. The view - sorry about this cliché - has been yuppified.

Immediately to the east you get Norman Foster's offices and the same practice's doughnut shaped building, which are each elegant and interesting buildings.

But to the west, all hell. The hideous Wimpy-style townhouses of Morgans's Walk  set the tone (I remember when it was still the crucible factory, somewhere around there Nick Drake was photographed for the cover of Five Leaves Left). Battersea Church Street. Up the fucking junction, remember?

Beyond the beautiful church (thank Christ, it is still there), there is an unbroken row of show-off, stupid, ugly, shiny projects, none of them in itself quite as foul as the stuff at Vauxhall - but in a way their lumpish, mean-minded, stupid inadequacy is all the more offensive than that brash turbo-yuppie nonsense on the site of the old pleasure gardens.

Worst of all, though, is how it affects the view from the bridges. Cannot help feeeling that old Whistler etc would have wept blood.

September song

The new school term begins here.
Oh, September!

And the depths of idiocy to which Cameron's goons will descend becomes all the more dimly apparent.
Turn out to be even deeper than that trough in the Pacific.
Goon no 1, our minister for immigration, is that Damian I see? Mr Green, you have just shattered the hopes of 2,000 odd students, you twit, you twerp! You have shat from on high on the hopes of many, including those at London Met who have spent the last three years trying to rebuild a seriously damaged reputation, and they were more than succeeding.

Worse, you've also damaged the chances of this country's higher education system attracting large numbers of fat-fee-paying boys and girls from south east Asia, Russia, Brazil, India, Africa etc!

Silly Mr Green, but you are only bowing to the inevitable diktat of this curiously awful government, apparently so modern and liberal and smart and clever, yet actually just another quickly-stamped pvc mask crudely fitted over the face of good (that is, bad) old fashioned English class-and-race-based bigotry.

M Green has found another easy way of reducing the net immigration statistic.

As someone far cleverer than me said recently, for pity's sake, stop! We need these people. We should rejoice in the knowledge (oh, so heavily rammed home in all those rather sickening Olympic things about London being a world city etc etc, yeuch) they want to come here. In 20 or 25 years we will be begging them to come and live in our shabby, cold, poor, shitty little country!

Oh London? a world city? The world certainly likes to come here, then it gets ripped off by dubious cockerneys in their tour buses and their duckws and their taxis, by their filthy hot-dog stands and their shittly railways and undergrounds and all those ghastly restaurants in the so-called West end (Angus steakhouse still serving up charred gristle and chips in 2012, 40 years on? What?)