diamond geezer

 Saturday, July 29, 2017

9 Hendon
The Municipal Borough of Hendon was one of the larger pre-1965 boroughs, running up the eastern side of the A5 from Golders Green to Edgware. Today it's the western strip of the London borough of Barnet, embracing one arm of the Northern line, and a relentlessly residential zone. I've chosen to visit the suburb of Burnt Oak, one of the London County Council's cottage estates, to which my great-grandparents moved between the wars. My great-grandmother died a few months before I was born, but I can now say I've stood outside and admired the shrubs in her garden. I think a poem is in order.

Ode to Burnt Oak



Clusters of cosy cottages in brick, with arched porches in pairs.
Others timber-framed, but all built to last, on green thoroughfares,
A planning masterstroke,
In Burnt Oak.

Streets of homely low-rise, with character, and three bins outside.
A lady in a floral pinny emerges with watering can and pride,
Gives her baskets a soak,
In Burnt Oak.



Down Watling Avenue, several shops brim with cheap glitzy bling.
Sparkly vases and huge silver lampshades are clearly 'the thing'.
It's hardly bespoke,
In Burnt Oak.

Bejam and Budgens are long gone, now global fare substitutes,
Indian veg, Afghan seafood, Romanian meats and African fruits,
Okra and artichoke,
In Burnt Oak.

The grimmest of passages leads down steps and alley to the Saturday Market.
A rat nips out, across the space where if you had a car, you'd park it,
Disappears at a stroke,
In Burnt Oak.



At Abbots Road Allotments St George's flags wilt, while sunflowers soar.
An old man waters his cabbages alongside runner beans galore,
Gives his onions a poke,
In Burnt Oak.

Himalayan balsam clogs the brook on the green, but mind your shoe.
The hand-painted sign planted alongside reads '...Mind the doggy do-do',
To warn the townsfolk,
Of Burnt Oak.



Watling Park is CCTV-enabled and central, with copious green space,
But kids all cluster round the equipment - their imagination's not ace.
One's having a smoke,
In Burnt Oak.

Empty foreign lager cans float in the culvert, the rosebeds look depleted.
Grandma's brought a kite, but the breeze is light so lift-off is defeated,
How softly she spoke,
In Burnt Oak.



A headscarfed beggar kneels outside Tesco, pleading and glum.
A small child whirls round a stuffed toy on a string, ignored by Mum,
Best not provoke,
In Burnt Oak.

No pubs were ever built on the estate. If alcohol was their bag
All the rowdier types bundled into The Bald Faced Stag,
Now boarded and broke,
In Burnt Oak.



Schools out, so scooter boy has crop circles shaved into his hair.
His mum climbs into a pipe under the main street and hides there,
Presumably for a joke,
In Burnt Oak.

Sirens blaring, a fire engine forces a learner on manoeuvres to stop.
Striding across the green, clutching plastic coffee from a corner shop,
Comes some bloke,
From Burnt Oak.



Nets twitch where great gran lived for thirty years or more,
That's her wonky fence, her red roof, and surely the original door,
Where she slept and awoke,
In Burnt Oak.

Neighbouring Colindale is increasingly covered with matchboxy flats,
But lacks the character and allure of spacious pre-war habitats.
It does not evoke
Burnt Oak.


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