I have never been given to psychogeography and find Will Self and Ian Sinclair unreadable and mystifying respectively, but here I am about to enter their territory.
Two of the most irritating (and rude) questions that we Londoners have to put up with are 'How can you live in London?' and 'Have you thought of moving to the country?' The pleasures of living round the Green may provide a partial answer to these impertinent questions.
Earlier this year, some government think-tank came up with the idea of a tax on houses that were near to public parks. Those who lived in them should pay for the privilege of being able to enjoy the amenities of a nearby green space. “Living near to" was defined variously as 100 or 200 metres from a park. I anxiously paced out the distance from the Fortune Green water fountain to our house, but was then reassured when Gerald pointed out that UK taxes are not hypothecated. The government cannot impose a tax that is specifically designated to pay for Trident, the NHS or indeed a local park.
In terms of Fortune Green, who living round the Green would have been hypothetically liable for this tax? And what would have been the benefits for which they (we) might have been taxed? And to raise another issue, would those who contribute to the Green (and yes, I am thinking of FoFG) be liable for a rebate?
Very few people actually have a view of the Green, just the few houses on Ajax Road, the flat-dwellers above the shops and restaurants on Fortune Green Road and those on the west side of Alfred Court. But a review of FoFG membership shows that people living much further away than that care about the Green. But care what about the Green, precisely? I should come to the point. Perhaps three encounters I have had recently could at least initiate a discussion.
I was walking on the path that leads through the flowerbeds to the drunken telephone boxes when an elderly Scotsman stopped and wished me good morning. He exclaimed on the beauty of “the garden” and I explained how it had got there. 'I just like to sit and look at it,' he said. So I silently thanked the many LOGS volunteers, and Manuel Swaden solicitors for supporting them.
Encounter two was in the Bombay Nights on Fortune Green Road, which along with Abacus sponsors one of the “Screen on our Green” film nights. Janet and I were looking forward to our meal when a young waiter said to Janet that he had seen her watering the trees. 'I look at the Green as I get off the bus,' he said, 'and I love to see the sky and the Green from the restaurant windows.'
Scene on the