Monday, 25 July 2011

Hoop Lane

As we returned to our house last night, after a gloriously theatrical  dinner party in Streatham, we stumbled across an empty car, with its hazard lights flashing, abandoned  at the end of our street.

It was still there this morning, rather surprisingly with its emergency lights still flashing. I took a closer look. It was a fancy car; a Mercedes, and was obviously someone's pride and joy. It even had an upholstered tissue box on the back seat! It had a valid permit to park on our street, but had been dumped on double yellow lines, half-sticking out into the road. Its sun roof was open. Haringey Council had slapped a parking ticket on the windscreen.

I 'phoned the non-emergency police. It struck me that no-one who owned a Mercedes would have dumped his pride and joy with its lights flashing and sun roof broken on double yellow lines, half-blocking a road that he had permission to park on. To me it was obvious that someone had broken into the car, started to drive it, and then abandoned it when the alarm system started going off. In any case, something was definitely not right...

Furthermore, with a smashed sun roof, it won't be long before more people try and break in, or the rain destroys all the internal upholstery. Surely its vital that the owners are told that their car isn't safely parked where they left it?

This story isn't really going anywhere, and I suspect I'll never know who the car belongs to, and why it was left where it was. The reason I mention it in this blog is that, when I got in touch with them, the police had not yet been informed about the vehicle, and I suddenly felt incredibly angry that Haringey Council would slap a ticket on the car without contacting the police and reporting the crime which had obviously taken place. I'm sure tomorrow, if the car is still there, they'll simply slap another ticket on it, whilst rubbing their hands together at the thought of all the money they're going to make out of the unfortunate family whose car has plainly been stolen. 

This morning I went to Hoop Lane cemetery, sat beside Jacqueline du Pre's grave and did an hour's composing. It felt like a rather eccentric and silly thing to be doing, but I have come to the interlude movement in my Requiem, which is a solo 'cello piece, written in memory of Du Pre, and I wanted to be inspired. 

...And inspired I was. The music was pouring out of me. The experience was wonderful. The sun was beating down, there was a cooling breeze. I placed a stone on the grave to mark my visit, and then sat on a patch of grass beside a rose bush which has been planted at the spot. It was incredibly peaceful, but for the occasional sounds of someone mowing the grass elsewhere in the cemetery. Because it was so quiet, I became acutely aware of the sounds that normally go unnoticed in a city; the bees collecting pollen from the roses, the sound my pencil made on the manuscript paper, the tip-tapping of tiny insects launching themselves at my computer screen. 

There's a lovely little cafe at the cemetery, so I had a cup of tea by my side. It was a truly magical hour and I came away feeling enriched and very relaxed. 

This evening we drove to Thaxted. It's my father's birthday and he treated us to a lovely meal at The Swan pub in the village. I had halloumi cheese in batter, which is one of the greatest culinary inventions of the 21st Century so far. Nathan ate a lamb kofte, which looked far less appetising! 

We continued to discuss the practice of field burning and the word "kaling."  My parents (like Chris Twell who commented on this blog yesterday) were also unaware of the term, but I was fascinated to learn that, what I assumed was an age-old practice, was actually a short-lived phenomenon, which probably only lasted for about 20 years in this country. My Mother remembers seeing a field burning for the first time in about 1969, and her mother panicking and  insisting they drive to the side of the field to see what was going on. A massive crowd had gathered to gawp, and no doubt wonder how they could extinguish a burning field. Fascinating. And if anyone reading this has any similar stories, I'd love to hear them... 

350 years ago, and Pepys spent much of the day dealing with the fall out of his Uncle's will. Boxes of papers were delivered from Brampton in the morning, and in the afternoon, he was mortified by a meeting with his other Uncle, who had been overlooked...

He went to his father's house, where he found his wife, his mother, his aunt and a veritable gaggle of women gossiping; "a great store of  tattle" he wrote "there was between the old women..."

He left them to it and went to the theatre with more erudite company to see an "innocent" play, The Jovial Crew, being performed... Rather well, by all accounts. 


  1. Some years ago, my parents and I were travelling to my Aunt's & Uncle's in Bilton near Rugby. The route was rural via Spratton. A field was alight to our left. As my Father hit the accelerator pedal, so the flames reached the edge of the field and when I turned round, they had spread over the road we had just driven on. Not a nice memory!

  2. Straw burning was stopped for numerous reasons. It was often dangerous if it got out of hand especially during the dry summers. It would spread to hedges and other fields resulting in a very overstretched fire service. Bits of burning straw were carried by the wind causing damage in homes if windows were open as well as leaving bits of black smut on ledges. But one of the main reasons it was banned was because of the smoke pollution damaging the air quality. (I think it was an EEC ruling). The farmers would burn the straw because the soot would do the soil good and also kill off diseases. You stop one practise and create other environmentally unfriendly alternatives because the farmer probably adds more fertiliser and sprays. Our family bale the straw and we believe the stubble left rots down and provides nutrients to the soil.

  3. how annoying about that car - I'm incensed on your behalf too!