diamond geezer

 Sunday, February 05, 2012

Diamond Street Camberwell/Peckham, SE15
This is the closest Diamond-named street to the centre of London. That doesn't mean you'll ever have been, indeed it's likely you've never even been close by. We're south of Burgess Park on the North Peckham estate, along Southampton Way, in the middle of one of those large swathes of the capital where people merely live. Had the Cross River Tram ever been built then services would have glided past the end of Diamond Street, either at one end or the other depending which southeast option had been built. Instead this road lives out a meagre existence in relative anonymity - a ragbag of modern flats and houses - and no more than two minutes walk from end to end. I had high hopes for some feature of interest as I approached, with a tall narrow segmented tower block rising in the general area, but no, that was on the adjacent Southampton Way Estate. Diamond Street was merely a brief link road, with the majority of flats along its length opening out onto some adjacent more important thoroughfare. One especially modern block, screened behind grey railings, is only five years old (I know this because satellite images on Yahoo Maps still show it as currently under construction). Nobody's bothered to add a balcony to these flats, not even a small one, because you just wouldn't. There are some proper terraced houses on one side of the road, numbers 2-26, although in fairly utilitarian brick. Most have a lacklustre attempt at a self-supporting porch, and a nasty black patch above the front door where either water or smoke has been leaking for years. All the so-called gardens are hardstanding for cars and wheelie bins, and while there is a patch of grass verge across the road, somebody's dumped a mattress on it plus the packaging in which the replacement was delivered. There are plenty of laybys for cars, just as in Diamond Street's Stonebridge namesake, and also a couple of pairs of speed humps (which a passing fire engine has to take inappropriately slowly). As I pass the flats at the top end of the road, I spy a pair of pink marigolds at work in the ground floor window. On reaching Chandler Way I turn and look back at Diamond Street, and sigh, and wonder how I'll ever be able to write 400 words about it when I get home. But never fear, because every street in London's interesting in its own way, even (alas) this one.
[streetmap] [streetview] [street name] [street photo]

Diamond Close Goodmayes/Chadwell Heath, IG3
Out in the deep morass of East London, in the part they prefer to think of as Essex, lies the only bejewelled cul-de-sac in my Diamond list. I was convinced I'd travelled out at least as far as Barking and Dagenham, but fractionally not quite, this is still the outer reaches of Redbridge. This turns out to be important. The Becontree Estate begins a couple of streets away, once the largest housing estate in the world, but Diamond Close avoids architectural similarity by being much later infill along the border. Most of the roads around here are straight or gently curved, but the roads on this 80s development are deeply sinuous, presumably in an attempt to cram in as many new houses as possible. These are streets where builders live, and aerial fitters, and Kelly who runs Kelly's Big Baps which she runs from a mobile burgervan she keeps parked up round the back of the house. It's the sort of area where shaven-headed blokes walk past in shirtsleeves, even when it's midwinter and bloody freezing, and where drivers are proud to affix an English Democrats sticker to their rear windscreen. You'll find Diamond Close near Crystal Way, just past Sapphire Close. It's a curved dead end, very short, with mighty evergreens at one end and a fence plus bin store at the other. The bins are "Private for use of flats only", which means none of the residents of Diamond Close can use them. They all live in the nine houses down the opposite side of the close - a staggered row of sturdy late 20th century brick with shallow-sloping roofs. As house number increases so the front garden space grows, from 100% parking space at the lower end to 50% fenced off lawn at the higher. It's parking nirvana here, to be frank, and if an entire amateur football team turned up for a barbecue in their sporty GTIs there'd be plenty of room for all. It's also precisely the sort of road where I'd expect a cabbie to live... so it comes as no surprise that in one of the nine houses one actually does. Owner-occupied, satellite dish-enabled, trim, tidy, and above all neighbourly, that's Diamond Close. I'd expect Boris Johnson to clean up along here in this year's mayoral elections - just a hunch, but I bet I'm right. And a heck of a lot of Outer London resembles Diamond Close. Ignore the suburbs at your peril.
[streetmap] [streetview] [street name] [street photo]

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