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My street

We live at the Western edge of Central London. Our house, a former artisan’s cottage, sits on an old gravel pit, conveniently sited between a wine warehouse and a branch of another well known, specialist wine merchant. The street is lined with trees further up but our stretch seems to have fewer. It was probably once a quiet residential road but because it links a major route into the city from the West with a fashionable shopping street at the other end there is a constant, two way flow of traffic.
We had three charming neighbours until two years ago when the old lady next door moved to another part of the country to be near her family. Her house was sold and gutted before being sold for the second time. It has now been a shell for nearly two years! Many of the houses in our street are rented for short periods so getting to know one’s neighbours is not always easy.
Apart from vehicular traffic, there is also much pedestrian traffic during the day, in part because of the comprehensive school of fifteen hundred pupils further up our road. At the week ends the school children give way to shoppers and tourists, many of the latter hopelessly lost as they look for famous West London land marks nowhere near here! There is a pub almost opposite the school which is popular in the evenings, particularly at week ends, holidays etc.
Ever since we arrived 14 years ago the Council has urged the residents to: ‘Love The Streets You Live In’. These words are displayed on their refuse carts and in many other prominent places throughout the borough. Easy enough you might think until about three years ago rubbish from the office building three doors from our house used to appear on the pavement every Saturday night, only to be collected the following Monday.  A notice outside the offending building warning of fines of ‘up to a maximum of £50,000’ for ‘unauthorised’ depositing of rubbish on the street during daytime seemed totally ineffective!
Consequently, after complaining for two years I suggested to the Sanitary Department that it was impossible to ‘love the streets I lived in’ since ours resembled the worst Brazilian ‘favelas’ with detritus being left twenty metres from our house for two days each week. Weekend visitors to the area treated this as a rubbish dump. Consequently, pizza trays, milk cartons, half eaten chicken wings, apple cores, orange peel and burger wrappings as well as any other unwanted refuse collected to form a fetid, smelly heap during the two days. After more than three years of being unable to love the street I lived in, the rubbish disappeared! Why it took so long I’ll never understand. Could it have been my letter?
If this sounds like an old man’s rant, it certainly is but then what else can I tell you about “My Street’?
©Julian Nokes
29 03 10


Julian Nokes, 01/04/2010