The Railway Path

Yesterday I wrote of Kevin Lydon’s observation about the pretentiousness of my choice of cinema.  This needs a little clarification.  He thought I should be satisfied with the films on offer at the three circuit cinemas and one fleapit in Wimbledon, or the independent one in Raynes Park.  He had a point.

Today was a very pleasant day for a walk, being warm yet cloudy with a cool breeze.  Perhaps reflective of the change in the weather there was a great deal of scaffolding going up en route.  My walk was to Wimbledon then on to Raynes Park along the railway path which links the two towns.

The railway path is much better surfaced than in my youth; snickets have been opened up to the various turnings off the parallel Worple Road, offering access to their residents and a path through to Worple Road itself; and a high stout metal fence is now in position preventing access to the railway embankment.  The area fenced off from the public has been widened and the wasteland consequently reduced.  Throughout the two mile stretch every available wall or fence is covered in graffiti, the materials for which were not available in the 40s and 50s.

A crowd of lads from a local school shambled along listening to music downloaded on various items of equipment at which my teenage mind would have boggled.

I paused for a while outside the back of my childhood home in Stanton Road, reflecting on the fact that the upstairs maisonette for which my parents cannot have paid any more than perhaps £2 per week, now fetches £1,400 per month in rent.  The railway land at the back having been narrowed and more securely fenced, it is no longer possible there to build dens; light bonfires; weed and flatten areas to make sports fields; or scale the traditional iron railings to mess about on the embankment.  Because Stanton Road is on the ‘right’ side of the railway it is, according to Estate agents, now in West Wimbledon.

On my way back through Wimbledon Chase I was hooted and waved at by a car driver who turned out to be my old friend Dominic Birtwistle.  I had just bought some of the ingredients for the sausage casserole I will make this evening.


Coffee this morning with a friend in SW1, followed by lunch with another in NW10.  I began with a walk to Colliers Wood, mostly through Morden Hall (National Trust) Park and Merton’s Wandle Trail.  The boundary between the two is a modern tramline.  The Wandle is one of London’s lost rivers; the trail being a stretch of wooded land alongside the water.

Most of the people in the congested High Street running through South London past Colliers Wood and on through Clapham must be oblivious of this pleasant walk.  I suffered such oblivion when, as a teenager in the 1950s I regularly walked from Raynes Park to Tooting to visit an art-house cinema. I had the 1/9d for admission, but not the extra few pence for bus fares.  Kevin Lydon, a schoolmate, thought this was pretentious.  When I think of how many unintelligible subtitled black and white films I sat through I’m sure he was probably right.

From Colliers Wood I travelled on the tube to Victoria and on to my friend’s flat in Rochester Row.  After coffee it was off to Harlesden for lunch.

Turning right out of Neasden tube station the contrast between the High Street there and Victoria Street, SW1 was marked.  The wind gusting up the hill on a less rain sodden day would have carried blinding and irritating dust from the commercial recycling depot at the bottom of the hill.  The pavements were so uneven as to be bearing pools of water which it was difficult to avoid.  The older, smaller, St. Mary’s Church with its graveyard seemed a world apart from Westminster Cathedral; and The Burren in Roundwood Road, a friendly Irish pub, humble in comparison with the grand Victorian pubs, such as the Windsor Castle in Francis Street, which are to be found in Victoria.

Victoria’s buildings are mostly enormous; commercial ones usually modern and with walls of glass, residential ones usually older stylish and elegant blocks of flats.  It’s all rather grand and overbearing.  The only large modern building in this part of NW10 is the Magistrate’s Court.  There are blocks of less opulent looking flats, but most dwellings are terraces of small family homes, the older, larger ones often converted into two flats.

Victoria Street is well populated by modern shops, including a large department store, and City Hall itself.  Church Road, the local shopping centre for my friend Norman, is full of small shops which have seen better days and which are constantly changing hands.  Many of these latter shops are run by immigrants, the latest of whom are from Somalia.  The Road has a strong sense of community and the shops are stacked with produce attractive to those who live there.

As a schoolboy I had to walk because I didn’t have the busfare.  As a pensioner I only walk when I want to. Thanks to the Freedom Pass I am able to travel free and freely using any form of transport in the 6 London Transport zones.  This includes overland railways.  It is a marvellous facility which really lives up to its name.

Helpful Passer-By

Jackie tells me that when she went out this morning she encountered a passer-by helpfully picking up all the foxes’ leavings which had been strewn over our lawn (from a neighbour’s black bag!) and helpfully putting all the bits of rotten food into our not yet emptied, carefully packed, recycle bin!  The young woman said she didn’t mind doing it and called upon God to bless Jackie.  What could she say!!


Today’s walk was the Mostyn Road, Kingston Road, Cannon Hill Lane, Martin Way quadrangle.  Passing Rutlish School in Watery Lane I remembered Mick Copleston, my boyhood friend who attended the school during the 1950s.  A contemporary of his was John Major.  In the photograph of the school cricket team which adorned all the newspapers after John Major’s appointment Mick stands next to our former prime minister.

I enjoyed a fry-up at the Martin Cafe.

I bought yet another birthday present details of which must be concealed from a potential reader.

Today being refuse collection day I am going to talk rubbish ( OK. OK. I know, I know…..)

Bin collectors no longer go round to the back of the properties to drag out and empty dustbins.  Those days are quite rightly long gone.  What we do is leave black plastic bin bags out at the front.  This means that the foxes have a field night and the residents and/or unfortunate street cleaners have to pick up the pieces.  In the morning therefore gardens and streets are strewn with food packaging and bits of food even foxes and magpies reject.

Merton’s recycling containers are open plastic bins into which everything is placed together – paper, cartons, bottles, etc., etc.  If it rains, as it has done continuously throughout this month, everything gets very soggy.  It is surprising what the contents of these open bins tell you about the residents.  Newspapers and magazines are one indication of interests, politics and taste; bottles can be very revealing; and it is easy to tell whether people cook or eat precooked food.

What is common to almost everyone in Merton, it seems, is a total rejection or ignorance of guidelines about what to recycle and how to present it.  Cardboard containers are never flattened; tops are left screwed on drinks containers; nothing is rinsed; slices of pizza, chicken bones, rancid vegetables and suchlike are all left in their containers, most of which are of the wrong material to recycle or so soiled as to be of no use to anybody.

This may seem like a rant.  It is merely descriptive.

I am not foolproof either. Each Local Authority has its own requirements, and when in someone else’s home I am often unsure.  When living in W2 in Westminster I faithfully bagged up shredded paper for recycling until we got a notice saying it was not required. I don’t suppose confetti is much use either.

As someone who doesn’t know what happens to this stuff after collection I wonder ‘am I wasting my time trying to to my bit’?  What does happen to it?  How much is actually useful?

Who knows?

This evening we are having Lamb dopiaza from the freezer.  Another one I made earlier.  The rice is courtesy of the Watch Me leftovers from last night.

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It has taken me all this time to realise that I can do what it says above.  For that reason I have left it as it stands.

I started this blog because I had begun to use Facebook to tell about my day. Several friends and family members encouraged me to go further, and Alex Schneidemann told me about WordPress.

I hope to tell anyone who is interested the story of my life, in the present through walking or whatever else happens in the day, and of the past through what is triggered off in my thoughts.  Rambling in two senses of the word.

A diary has always appealed, but it is only in retirement that I have had the time to devote to one, in an age where communication is so easy.