Graffiti Dominates


Rose garden

This morning I dead-headed 24 prolific rose bushes. That was quite a lot of faded blooms. All my life I have understood the preferred method to be to snip off the used stem above the next join. Now, The Head Gardener informs me that current thinking is to break off the spent flower at its base, and leave it at that. Despite the convenient length of my thumbnails, I have had difficulty in doing this without peeling off a bit of the remaining stem. I have therefore cheated somewhat with secateurs.

rose Zéphirine Drouhin

The thornless Zéphirine Drouhin is now rising up the Rose Garden arbour

roses Zéphirine Drouin

opposite Crown Princess Margareta. Being seated between these two most fragrant ladies is a pleasure, indeed.

Clematis and pink climber

I did not neglect the front garden, where a clematis is now joining the pink climbing roses.

After this I dealt with some financial correspondence and posted my replies.

Then came a scanning session of a dozen more of my Streets of London colour slides from May 2004.

High Street Harlesden 5.04

The grey haired man in Harlesden High Street has to negotiate his way between the ladder  outside the boutique and the young man’s backpack. You don’t leave anything unattended in such an area without chaining it down. It was fairly optimistic hoping that the traffic cone would keep a parking space open. Note the graffiti and the To Let board, of which there is always a wide selection.

Honeywood Road 5.04

Honeywood Road’s Dunning’s Bar is not the only Irish establishment we will encounter on this ramble. Maybe some of my readers will be able to translate the Guinness advertisement. If there was once a lovely wood on this site, it is long gone. ‘Toilets are for patrons only’ is a common plea of landlords.

Tubbs Road 5.04

Tubbs Road has its share of graffiti and dumped rubbish. Even before we learned that there were no weapons of mass destruction ready to be unleashed on the Western world within 45 minutes, there were many disinclined to believe Mr Blair; and I suppose Che Guavara’s image will never leave our streets.

Station Approach NW10 5.04

Just around the corner is Willesden Junction Station, Station Approach road. There is something incongruous about an advertisement for The Economist perched upon a wall covered in graffiti. The name of the company, JCDecaux, who installed it has remained intact. Perhaps the can-wielding scribblers thought that was also a graffito.

Pancras Road NW1 5.04

At that time Pancras Road was very difficult for anyone, let alone a pedestrian, to negotiate. The splendid refurbishment of St Pancras Station and the King’s Cross redevelopment was well under way.

Highbury Station Road N1 5.04

A little further into N1 we come to Highbury Station Road, its wall being decorated with the now familiar sprayed scrawl. The Barracuda Pub’s Cock may have been Famous, but Google tells us that the chain is no more.

Highbury Place N1 5.04

I often wonder how graffiti merchants manage to place their messages high up on buildings, but here, in Highbury Place, a convenient fire escape provides a route. Torn posters are all the rage. Chaining bicycles to railings really is asking for trouble.

Fieldway Crescent N5

I do hope this was refuse collection day in Islington’s Fieldway Crescent.

Georges/Holloway Roads N7

Columbian and Chinese establishments in Holloway Road indicate the multicultural nature of this area of North London. Remington on the corner of George’s Road bears the yellow graffiti.

Chillingworth Road N7 5.04

Tommy Flynn’s in Chillingworth Road is another Irish pub.

Madras Place N7 5.04

I do believe Arsenal must have won the football championship in 2004. Madras Place, of course, is one both the many London streets named from our colonial past.

Drayton Park N5 5.04 (Should be 404 in series

These establishments on Drayton Park have not escaped the spray can. There is always a crane in operation somewhere in our capital.

This evening I dined on Jackie’s amazing chicken jalfrezi and egg fried rice, and drank Doom Bar.


  1. I do not understand the need to desecrate a building with grafitti. It must have something to do with a need to be noticed.

    1. It’s about making a statement … so yes, being noticed. I do not believe that most graffitiers want it to be taken as art. Banksey did not start out that way. It is more about making a mark, I think. Hard to comprehend if you live in a nice place with no festering buildings praps ;…

      1. Some of the graffiti I encounter is on the sides of train cars as they roll through town. Some of it is amazing. But mostly we see gang “tags” that serve to mark a territory. That type can be frightening.

        1. Wholly the wrong sort of statement and sad that it is still relevant. If we stepped right away from that ghetto mentality, that separatism how much would be different?

          1. People have to feel worthwhile for the gangs to disappear. Unfortunately, my country doesn’t always recognize those most vulnerable to the lure of gang life–until it’s too late.

          2. That is the case here if the ‘improved’ shooting statistics (all gang related) are anything to go by – ‘only’ 3 deaths last months is apparently cause for celebration

          3. Nananoyz I’m in Boston this year but mostly I live among the cattle in Le Cantal, France and I come from Oxford, England.

  2. Such a contrast between your lovely garden and the graffiti-covered urban neighborhood.
    I often wonder, too, how the graffiti markers get to some high and out of reaches places to spray their messages.
    I love the sitting (and viewing) nooks in your garden.

    1. I gather the high places are part of the showing off to their own tribe. If it looks impossible to have accessed, it’s what we might call a feather in one’s caps (there must be a street-slang equivalent for that…   and it wouldn’t use terms like “one’s”!!!)

  3. Thanks for taking us to the streets, Derrick! The photo with the grey-haired man would make a great writing prompt. As for the Zéphirine Drouhin, it’s perfection!

  4. The Irish is complicated. Rough interpretation is “You can’t tell someone black is white”. The word for word translation is odd. More like “it’s not possible to put the black into white on him”. It’s an idiom so difficult to explain but its like saying you can’t fool someone. Did a bit of research. Any Gaelic speakers feel free to correct.

  5. The contrast from well manicured garden to disenfranchised streets is great really. It’s good to record the profane with the beautiful I always think. I didn’t know that about roses – I still do it the old fashioned way….. oh dear!!

    1. Many thanks, Pauline. The contrast is life. I think maybe we are meant to let the roses wither so they break off more easily. I don’t think I’ll be doing that

  6. Clipping is immeasurably preferable to tearing though I think the idea is to snap off the flower without breaking the stem or you might get die back 🙂 I like to take the stem to the next leaf bud that is facing the way I want it to go. My friends likes to take it to the next leaf with five leaflets…:)

    My neighbour parked a large wardrobe in front of my rose and blocked all its sun. There are all sorts of ways to be anti social. They are the people who uses f words and c words as weapons so I said nothing at all.

          1. The wardrobe is already in a state of dilapidation, the latest storm also damaged it further so nature is giving me a hand there 🙂 No, it’s true I never thought of doing anything myself. As you know, I am philosophical. It takes all kinds to make a world. How else can we discriminate between good and evil?

  7. Wondering re:the difference between an Irish pub and any other in your country….the taller tales? (I’m close to half Irish…:))

    We cut off some dead blooms; the plant flourished. But severed stems remain as eyesores. I’m back to hand-removal. Pretty rose ladies–and such a way to offset the uglier realities such as often-noxious graffiti.

      1. I don’t think that’s all: they serve more “typically” (perhaps stereotypically?) Irish drinks, like Guinness, probably have Celtic music playing, pprobably have green décor, and shamrock motifs, etc. etc.

  8. With that ceremoniously lovely chair between Zéphirine Drouhin and Crown Princess Margareta you might conduct a sideline of aromatherapy sessions….

  9. Wow, what a contrast between your garden and the other photographs. I love the roses and the way the chair sits in between the treillis. Lovely post despite the dire later images

  10. Graffiti on inhabited houses is not nice! I don’t mind art or murals on abandoned houses but this makes me sad, Derrick.
    You made me chuckle how we may never see the end of Che Guevara’s legacy. 😀
    So, Jackie left food for you to eat while off with her sisters? This was very thoughtful of her! 🙂

      1. Tubbs Road is a route I occasionally use myself to bypass one of the through routes (I’m not a Londoner, for the understanding of some readers), so the name leapt out at me when I saw the sign.

    1. One of my design tutors at art college, the Cuba-born Tony Evora, is the man who turned the famous Che portrait photograph (by ?Alfred? Korda) into a graphic, so you can thank/blame him for the “legacy”. It enabled the image to be printed on every college kids’ T-shirt in the 60s (these days, the effect has a new name: if you have a digital imaging software, look in the “effects” or “image” menu for the “Posterize” option [reducing grey-scale images to solid black or white]. Derrick* could probably make a Che-style portrait of a member of his family).
      * who, as mentioned above, hasn’t got enough to do. I’m sure all you fellow-followers could make equally useful suggestions to fill an empty life: come ON, guys!

      1. How interesting. Around these parts, most wear the Ché image with a large ban symbol around and over it (circle with a diagonal bar). It didn’t help that a few years ago the Cuban government released some of his documents showing that in addition to his hatred of artists, musicians, and gays, he had no use for blacks.

  11. That Rose garden Arbour looks fantastic, seated between the fragrances must be really relaxing and a pleasure.
    I always enjoy all your pictures, they are vivid and informative.

  12. I find graffiti are sometimes artisitic and sometimes much less so. I recall posting about some wonderful street art in Bethnal Green a while back but often graffiti will just add to the air of urban decay. Interesting to learn about the new thinking on dead-heading … I think that’s my usual approach, though it wasn’t borne out of any theory on my part, I just found it faster!

          1. I was thinking you’d probably done so much dead-heading the ‘old way’ that you’d become very nimble at it, whereas the new way has maybe required a different action with the secateurs that takes thinking about before it becomes second nature – hence a reduction in speed. Though I’m sure there’ll be plenty of practice opportunities this Summer 🙂

  13. Painted murals are one thing, but graffiti is harsh to the eye and plain garbage of destruction. Love your roses, so full and gorgeous.

  14. Ah! The roses are stunning Derrick – so pleased to see them and, as said above, what a contrast to the London streets. As you say such is life!

      1. .. beautiful Derrick.. The rain is not doing our blooms much good in these torrential downpours.
        There is good graffiti art and bad.. I do not think this has done the building justice .
        Wishing you a lovely rest of the week

  15. Fashions in gardening change – my advice is (a) do what Jackie tells you and (b) stick to the way you know.(c) avoid jokes about gatherings of three women – it worked for Shakespeare but it won’t work for us – which is why I didn’t do it.

  16. I wonder the same as you, how the graffiti ‘artists’ manage to place their offerings in such awkward and seemingly inaccessible places. A total mystery. Maybe they wear stilts. 😕

  17. The harp sign in shadow, on the Chillingworth Road pic, s particularly arresting and intriguing. Almost a shame to give the game away!

  18. I love the roses, as I can’t grow them in my own garden (too much shade and clay). I managed to kill an entire garden that was shipped to me – except weird shade-loving lilies. However, I’ve had tremendous luck with a clematis, bought end of season last year – for the container, no less. It’s got two main branches and is going gangbusters.

    I won’t comment on the graffiti, except to say that even kids who aren’t in gangs can’t seem to resist the lure of a spray can. Our graffiti (and vandalism in general) has been reduced since a particular family moved away. The mother met her husband when he was a gang member. They aspired to give their family a better life, but their children glamourized their cautionary stories. Stupid kids would look down on a family living in a trailer park, but thought druggie thuggie young men made the best friends. After they moved, sometimes a fancy old car or two would drive slooowly by the house, but that’s ended.

    1. Thank you, J B. We find that hellebores love shade, seem to grow in any soil, self-seed, and flower for a month or so in early spring. I’m pleased that your graffiti is reduced.

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