Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hackney in the Fall

London Fields: looking golden
Yesterday I had cause to pass through Hackney, for possibly the first time since I left and certainly the first time since the disturbances.

I had to come into 'Town' (as we country mice call it) for work. Usually I let the train take the strain, but there were one hour delays reported, so I was forced to jump in the car and hammer down the A12.

My mental map of the capital is so hard-wired around Hackney that I almost had to come through there to get to where I was heading - Hammersmith. I know how to get to Hammersmith from Hackney having driven the route many times. I just couldn't picture another route - I am a satnav-less driver by choice and like to think that I can get anywhere by innate road sense and judicious use of a map.

Anyway, my chosen route took my right past the end of our old road. What would you do? I couldn't resist driving past our former flat, feeling guilty in case anybody spotted me in the car.

Despite reports that it is now London's, or possibly the world's coolest street, Wilton Way was reassuringly scruffy, and had parking issues that I don't remember from when I lived there. So it's not just our street in Colchester where you move your vehicle at peril of ever regaining a parking slot.

The street, and Hackney did look lovely in the autumn sunlight. And I was particularly pleased that the buyers of our flat hadn't done much to the exterior. It's not that it was a monument to our exemplary taste or renovation skills, more the fact that after living there for more than 10 years, I was slightly embarrassed that I'd never got round to fixing the dodgy doorstep or replacing the battered front door.

And neither have they.

Given that they seemed to be young, trendy things, with a design background, I was also delighted to see that they had rather ugly Venetian blinds hanging in the front windows. I know it's sad that I noticed these things. At least I got round to hanging curtains, and put up the curtain rails that would have allowed them to do the same. Maybe curtains, like carpet, are a sign of getting old man!

On the way back I also popped along to London Field to use the facilities - it's a long drive back to Essex. Navigating by public loos is quite a skill too - call it satlav if you like.

The park, as always, looked lovely, and was full of the usual mix of dog walkers, late lunchers, parents with kids, and fixed wheel cyclists. I don't know what I expected really. It was the same old Hackney. Maybe I was anticipating some scars following the riots, but there were no obvious dents in the borough. It's so careworn generally, that it is hard to notice any. Plate glass has been replaced, bus stops rebuilt, paving slabs replaced and life goes on.

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