“Yah. And Clementine knows somebody who can get us on the Mahiki guest list.”
Welcome to the neighbourhood.
I have moved. Or, rather, a couple of months ago I moved. This was the first conversation I heard in my new area, spoken by a couple of 17-year-olds on a bus. It is, I think it is safe to say, sufficiently more upmarket than the delights of Tooting, where I was previously residing.
There, I walked to the tube station and looked smart. Here, I wear the same clothes and look like a hobo. I walk past two schools on my way to the station. I’m sure anxious mothers are already ringing the police about the scruffy looking man who walks past at a set time every day . As opposed to scruffy men driving by in their 4x4s. That’s quite alright.
I quite like it around here.
This isn’t to do with any kind of aspirational stuff about moving to a better area and polishing my driveway every day in the hope of getting an invite to the country club. And if, in the unlikely event I have a daughter any time soon, I’m certainly not bloody well naming her Clementine.
No, this is more to do with the general niceness of the area and the house, which I’ve managed to find myself renting through good fortune and I love to bits the people who’ve made this possible.
The area has a lot of green bits and pieces. This is important to me. I grew up in Devon. I’m used to see cows outside my bedroom window. Trees were a given, not an optional extra. Tooting wasn’t big on trees, although we did have some fox cubs living in our back garden, which were cute. A pain, but cute.
So, the new place has trees. And also grass. Never underestimate the importance of grass. Just as a rug ties a room together, so grass ties a neighbourhood together. So, yes, trees and grass and plenty of wildlife roaming around.
There are also rather quaint churches and long bits of grass and trees for people to walk on, all of which seems somewhat of a novelty in London. There’s even a village green where the local pub team play cricket every Sunday. Cricket! On a village green! That’s probably even better than my Devon village has managed for a while.
Then there’s the house itself, which is lovely and has a garden, which also has grass and is big enough to plant things around the side of the grass. For a while now, I’ve been wanting a garden to plant stuff in. Ok, so the house at Tooting had one, but you had to negotiate the fox piss and the garden itself was a little, well, untended.
So, now I have a garden, and I’ve planted stuff in this garden (in addition to the other stuff already planted), and I’ve now found I’ve become one of those people who actually welcome rain in the summer because it’ll do the garden good.
Not that my attempts at becoming the next Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are overly spectacular. I think the birds ate my lettuces. I’ve managed to kill half the beans. I’m not sure if my parsnips are alive or not. But the onions are very happy, and the leeks are coming on nicely, and I think I should get a decent amount of potatoes. If nothing else, I should be able to make a nice stock come the autumn.
I’m also planning on getting more adventurous. There’s already parsley and chives, so I may well create a herb section. And I have squash seeds ready to bring on. I quite like the idea of being able to pick my meal out of the garden.
Oh, bugger it. I clearly am moving towards the aspirational end. I’m still not calling my bloody daughter Clementine though.
I quite like it here. In fact, scratch that. Despite not having a 4×4, a posh accent, or snappy Paul Smith suits, I really like it here. Even if all the 17-year-olds can get onto the Mahiki guest list. They can have their minor royals. I’m quite happy with my vegetable patch.
 There are a lot of young families in the area and the mothers are, well, a tad overprotected. The other day, while walking to work, I hear a scream a little way in front of me, as a mother caught up with her errant child who had wandered off ahead of her. “Don’t you ever go off out of my sight like that again,” she admonished. “You saw what happened to that little girl on the news [I presume this was Madeline McCann]. Anybody could take you, that man over there could take you.”
Thanks for that. I just happen to wear jeans and T-shirts or the like each day rather than suits, and now I’m a child-snatcher. I appreciate the mother’s point, I’d rather she picked somebody else to make it with.