COUNTRY ESTATE (LONDON)
It’s nice, sat here quietly in the sun in my own garden. You wouldn’t think I’m on a huge council estate said to be one of the most deprived in the country, let alone the London Borough of Croydon.
My little spot is pretty much shrouded from the neighbours’ prying eyes by trees and greenery on all sides, many of them sprung up from the woodlands that used to be here before the estate was built in the early 60s.
Mind you, it’s about to change soon. Audrey, a nice elderly West Indian woman living at the bottom of my garden – (sorry, that makes her sound like a vagrant pixie - not in my garden but in the house backing onto it) has been complaining about my row of pine trees blocking out her light. I said we’d see about it months ago; but frankly we’ve not got the dosh to pay for it – at least a grand we need and that would mean more debt. Still, I do see her point; but in our defence, those trees were there long before she was. When this terrace was built, it was the last row of houses before the open countryside; even had a path along the back with a gate leading out to the grassy ridge and a lovely view. Or so my next door neighbour tells me, she’s 95 and has lived here since New Addington was built.
Then they put up this new row of houses behind our gardens, right on top of us, with only a couple of feet between! The path and back entrances to our terrace were done away with, so the people who lived here before us, who had bought the house under Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ law, (lucky beggars, we had to beg borrow or steal money to buy it off them or we’d have been homeless, and we’ve been broke ever since) planted these leylandii to give them a bit of privacy.
Lovely trees they are, so green and healthy, they’ve grown so high, after a few red biddys you can almost imagine they reach the sky (that’s the poet in me coming out. Don’t worry. It don’t happen often).Still, they’ll have to go, to get old Audrey off our backs. Don’t want her having a heart attack with the stress.
Yes, it’s lovely sitting here pondering, kindle in hand (I ain’t ‘arf modern!) and an ice cold drink in front of me on the table.
I’m using my new green and white stripey parasol and two padded seat cushions picked up at a boot fair recently (a fiver for the brolly and 50p for the two seat pads). They’re lovely on our poor old bums, these plastic chairs can play havoc with the undercarriage.
I reckon they’ve got beans on toast for tea again next door; the strangely appetising aroma of toast is wafting through the gap where the wind blew most of the fence between us down two or three years ago. Neither of us can afford to fix it, and anyway it’s handy when their kids kick a ball over; they can just pop through the hole without disturbing us; that is if they can find it amongst the long grass and weeds. The blackberries really do well here, spiteful sods. Nice kids they are.
Not that the garden’s looking too bad, him indoors had a couple of days off work and we found time to have a bit of a tidy up, hence the relax in the sunshine. Over 30 degrees it’s been today. Gawd knows what that is in real money, but I can tell you it’s bloody hot!
That toast smells really nice, homely – I wish I didn’t have to cook tonight; mind you, the new family two houses down are having curry again. Now I like a good bhuna Balti or marsala myself, but I do wish they wouldn’t share the bouquet with us every bleedin’ day, it’s getting a bit much, especially in this heat. But what can you do? If I mention it to her I’ll be accused of racism. We get all sorts put up here you see, with the Home Office Immigration Department so close in Croydon. Still, I expect the loud-mouthed cow who lives two doors down from Audrey and backs on to the new people will soon be complaining: she won’t be so polite, just shout abuse over the fence like she does when that big dog next door to her keeps barking: ‘For fuck sake shut that dog up before I come round and poison the bastard meself!’ Does us all a favour actually as the owner usually takes him indoors after that.
Oh Christ there goes that lot in the newbuilds having a ding-dong. Blimey, their language gets riper as they get older. He’ll kill her one day, you mark my words. They live at the bottom of my mate’s garden. Their house looks right into her daughter’s bedroom; they had to fork out for new blinds to stop their pervert son looking in. They’ve planted trees there now too. They’ll be tall like ours soon, then I suppose the nutter and his tart will be complaining about their rights to light too, Which by the way don’t actually exist. I looked it up. Same as our rights to peace and quiet of a Sunday afternoon.
This chilled wine is really hitting the spot. I love a pinot with ice in it. I might even treat myself to a shortbread if we……hang on a minute. There’s a kiddie screaming the place down next door to the newbuilds : ‘Let me in Mummy mummy let me in’. Pitiful it is. She’s gonna have a sore throat in the morning at this rate. Now she’s screaming louder and bashing and kicking the door. She’ll break the door down if they don’t hurry up and let her in. Now there’s a bloke swearing at the top of his voice. I bet it’s the same lot, but apart from the F words I can’t make out what he’s on about as he’s got a funny accent. It’s making me uneasy now. I’ll just give it a few more minutes then call the social workers about it. No kid should be locked outside like this, especially in these temperatures. I bet she’s not even got a hat on let alone sun cream. Something similar happened there once before, so it seems to be becoming a child protection issue,, as they say at the school where I work.
Oh well the boy next door but one to me has come home from school now, I can hear him bashing away at his drumkit. Better than beating the shit out of other people like most of them seem to do round here. And drowns out most of the sound of that bloody dog woofing. Again. No rest for the wicked – but at least they’ve let the kid over the back in I think, all I can hear now is hysterical sobbing from inside. So I can leave well alone. Again.
My hydrangeas are not looking too clever this year, but the geraniums are colourful as usual. You can always rely on a geranium. And lavender, English lavender that is, not the French kind, that dies after five minutes and hardly any scent. Shame the sodding snails and slugs ate all my petunias. A tenner they cost me. Waste of money,
I expect the police helicopter will be over shortly, I wonder who they’ll be after this time.
Evenings like this you can almost forget you’re in Croydon. I’m gonna miss them trees.