My attention today was turned to Morden Park. Although it brightened up later, the morning was a good ten degrees colder than yesterday, blowing a gale, overcast, and occasionally drizzling.
Instead of circumperambulating (I just coined that) the park, I decided to ramble across it. This proved beneficial, although on what I thought was my return journey a discarded sweatshirt I had seen earlier alerted me to the fact that I was going in quite the wrong direction. I did an about turn and soon had the mosque (see post of 18th. May) in my sight, telling me I was on the right track.
I was to have a series of meetings. The first was with a scantily clad couple sitting on the grass attempting to have a picnic. Especially as the woman was wearing a strapless sundress I told them they were stalwarts. They were already regretting their decision and said they wouldn’t be staying long. Although the young lady declined to be photographed she did say I was welcome to write that I had ‘seen the mad couple’. On the far side of the park, at Morden Park House, a beautiful building which is now the Registry Office, a wedding had just taken place. The bride, also in a strapless dress, was, despite the danger of goosepimples, looking very happy and very lovely. The photographer, much more suitably clad in a warm coat, periodically dived into her bag to change lenses, advising her subject not to get cold. Some chance, I thought. I didn’t ask if I could take a picture.
Abutting the park itself is a now derelict former GLC (Greater London Council, an earlier governing body) sports ground containing disused tennis courts and cricket nets which are still used by young Asian men. Apparently there had been a long-running battle between the Council, who wanted to sell the land for a golf driving range, and the residents of Hillcross Avenue who opposed the plan. I was therefore amused to see a man with a golf club with which he was driving a tennis ball for his dog to chase. As I caught up with him and began to chat we realised we had met back in the real winter in Morden Hall Park. Then he had been smoking a pipe which he has recently given up after 40 years. His moustache was still nicotine stained. Further on I discovered that there is a Council-maintained nine-hole golfing range in the park. The man practising his putting whom I engaged in conversation told me that the masses of parked cars on a roped off section of the grass were occupying a supplementary carpark for Wimbledon tennis.
Seated on a wooded path cuddling her pet dog was an elderly woman I had met before. I asked her where were the treats she was usually feeding to Woody. She had forgotten them. This tiny animal is a Chihuahua/Jack Russell cross. (My attempts at spelling Chihuahua were so abysmal that I had to resort to Googling dog breeds beginning with C.) She had had 5 rescue dogs before, but was not allowed to adopt another because of her age. Given that she is in her eighties, this was clearly reasonable. However, this elderly person manages a fairly brisk daily walk with a rather fortunate little companion, the only substitute she would tolerate for her late husband of 60 years. As I shook hands with her on departing, I realised she was quite arthritic. Answering a private advertisement she had had to travel to Wales to obtain Woody. It wasn’t only Woody who was to be disappointed this morning. The woman’s grandson attended Hatfeild Primary school which lies alongside the path. At playtime he likes her to wait by the wire fence so he can see the dog. On this day she was late. (My spelling of Hatfeild is correct. It is the name of a landowning family who once occupied the area. I am grateful to Jackie for this information as she often has to tell her work colleagues that a number of streets have not been similarly named in error.)
Enclosed within an overgrown copse at the entrance to the former schools sportsground is a derelict house. This once attractive building, for as long as we have been in Morden has been seemingly securely boarded up and covered in graffiti. I have often wondered what it looked like inside; whether it was GLC staff accommodation; and whether it might be for sale. Today the thick plywood coverings had been removed from the ground floor windows and doors. It is now full of rubble, some of which someone has used to smash their way in.
As I left the area a cheerfully optimistic young Asian came through the broken down fence, through which I always gain access, wielding a much-used cricket bat. Other, traditionally attired couples were quietly making their way along the path for their regular trips to the mosque.
For ‘us tea’ I made a sausage and gammon casserole. It went down well with an excellent Cotes du Rhone – Terres de Galets 2011. The wine was from Sainsbury’s; the meat from Lidl, equally as good as anyone else’s finest.
As a footnote I might add that when it became defunct the GLC handed over its property to local Councils. The burden of maintenance then fell on the recipients. In that manner Beauchamp Lodge Settlement, the charity mentioned in yesterday’s post, received it’s eighteenth century building from Westminster City Council at a peppercorn rent of £1.00 per annum. Eventually, being unable to afford the considerable maintenance, the Committee, through the intervention of Anne Mallinson, was able to purchase the building, sell it on, and move elsewhere. This did prevent the building from becoming like the house in the former sportsground.
P.S. On 17th March 2015 the derelict building was to feature in the T.V. programme ‘Homes Under the Hammer’