Clissold Park Chainsaw Massacre

Another of the ancient horse chestnuts in the south western sector of Clissold Park, probable remnants of the old Newington Common, has been cut down. I asked one of the rangers why so many of the trees in this area were dying – was it something to do with the fair, which visits two or three times a year and always in the same spot. Perhaps some of the chemicals used in the candy floss making process have been leeching into the soil? Or is it connected to the groundwater problems in this bit of the park? The ranger said that he had wondered about the fair (though not the candy floss connection).Newington_common

Old Tree’s Time Has Come

More old trees in Clissold Park are being cut down. Some of the gnarled horse chestnut trees in the south west corner have seemingy died in the last year and spent the summer without leaves. Now they wear an X and wait for the chainsaw. Two came down last week and another three will soon follow. One of them has purple rangs tied around various branches in some kind of North London tribute the the 70s song ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree’. But everyone fears that the oldest and most beautiful tree, on a little mound in the middle of the park, will soon be firewood.

Old St. Mary’s Kestrel Connection

The little Hawthorne bush that nestles into an eastern corner of Old St Mary’s Church is covered in bright red berries. Beneath it is a sign of local druid activity – a can of Kestrel Superbrew.

The Salisbury, Green Lanes, Harringay

A big beautiful late 19th Century hotel that endured a slow decline into draughty old man’s pub, The Salisbury has been done up in the last couple of years and this has been carried out sensitively and stylishly, unlike a lot of the crude pub makeovers of the last half decade. Many of the old features remain – lovely glasswork, big centrepiece bar, high ornate ceiling and balding 40-something blokes lounging around and talking about football. Not the greatest Guinness in the world but there are usually some nice, though expensive, ales like ESB and Honeydew.

Harringay comes from the Old English ‘Hoering’s woodland enclosure’. A nice article about the difference betwen Harringay and Haringey here.

Edit – It’s been pointed out to me that there is further info for ‘Harringay origins’ enthusiasts at Harringay Online.

A New Underground River?

Amazing news. I’ve recently learned about an underground river that flows from Highbury down into the Hackney Brook Valley. Usually I spot these streams when I see cans of extra strong lager scattered about on the surface, but in this case there was a whole off-licence.

I was buying a few bottles of beer at Highbury Vintners and commented on the strange slope of the floor in the shop, which seemed to counter the slope of Highbury Hill.

“That’s because there’s a river that flows under the shop,” said the owner. “It goes through here and underneath the church.”

I expressed an interest in starting to go to mass, then fiddled about with the real ales before announcing to the whole shop: “I’ve written a book about underground rivers.”

The shopkeeper was not phased. “Bloody Highbury. Everytime I bring up some topic of conversation, one of our customers will go ‘I’ve written a book about that’.”

Kind Hearts and Coronets

Watched this film for the first time in over 20 years. It takes a while to get used to the high 40s RP accents of the main actos, but it’s a gem. Loved the bit where the slightly pissed Canon d’Ascoyne, played by Alec Guinness, says to Mazzini, “the port is with you.” George Lucas must have been an Ealing Comedy fan.

Lost Rivers Project

Today was the last day of the Lost Rivers project with Christopher Hatton School. The session took place at the Guardian Newsroom and the kids made a final artwork of the River Fleet using collage, photographs and sketches as well as making their own personalised booklets. It was a great morning.

‘Never Let Her Slip Away’

This morning I was sitting on the top deck of a no. 19 bus. Around Highbury Corner the conductor started to whistle the tune to Andrew Gold’s ‘Never Let Her Slip Away’. He whistled it from there all the way to where I got off near to the old Penny Black pub on Exmouth Market/Rosebery Avenue (can’t remember what it’s called now – something like Le Cafe Pretentious). I said to him “I haven’t heard Andrew Gold’s ‘Never Let Her Slip Away’ for about 20 years. Cheers for that.”

“Was it by Andrew Gold?” he said. “I just know the tune. I had no idea who it was by.”

“You should listen to it and learn to whistle the intro. It’s got these lovely off the beat organ chrods.”

“Thanks, I will,” he said.