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.
Film night came up in the third encounter. On the way to the paper shop I could see a young man, hooded, sorting through the piles of recycling by the bus stop. As I got closer to him, I could see that he was searching through a bag of discarded books. He looked up and smiled. 'Why do you love it?' he asked. I had forgotten that I was wearing Judith’s “I love Fortune Green” t-shirt. I told him about Janet and her FOFG colleagues and friends and what they had done for the Green. 'I see,' he said. 'Your wife loves Fortune Green and you love your wife.' I mentioned the film nights and he went off enthusiastically to examine the notice boards. What’s not to love about being near the Green? A picnic and Paddington Bear on a big screen in the darkening August sky.
- Ted Booth (Guest Blogger)