Three degrees below ...
... said the car dashboard as I drove to tennis this morning. Some of the courts were too frost-laden for play, prompting good natured rivalry for those with only a hint of white sparkle. The sun, low in the winter sky, was a blinding yellow ball, making all other yellow balls little more than a blur and a swish of air. At least, that's my story.
So nice to be on the Heath on a crisp winter's morning. So nice, I'm heading back to end the daylight hours there.
What Dartmouth Park posse?
For the past thirteen years (with a few years off in Delhi for good behaviour) I have lived in a north London house with 'Dartmouth Park' in its postal address. We're not in the Dartmouth Park conservation area - not in the sort of white stuccoed four-storey 1860s terraced house which sells for £1.6 million - but like to feel we're in nodding distance. Still, it's come as a surprise to learn first from 'The Times' and now from Anne McElvoy in the 'Evening Standard' that we're part of pinkish London's biggest socio-political hotspot.
It was only after Ed Miliband's fratricidal triumph that I discovered he was almost a neighbour - he and his partner had bought, yes, a white stuccoed four-storey terraced house at the Heath end of Dartmouth Park Road. Now, says Anne McElvoy, there's a 'Dartmouth Park posse' of Milibands, Kinnocks and associated hangers-on which is giving our area a touch of class.
Well, I've only spotted Ed once, pushing a buggy on the Heath - and have yet to alight (knowingly at least) on a Kinnock. The late Adrian Mitchell used to live nearby - you can still spot the house from the 'Stop the War' posters in the windows. I occasionally see the novelist Julian Barnes making his way up Dartmouth Park Hill. But for such a well-heeled enclave, Dartmouth Park is astonishingly free of celebrity.
Lots of lawyers, a few behind-the-scenes cultural types, not much in the way of famous faces. A bit like the old part of Highgate cemetery (Karl Marx and George Eliot are in the 'new' bit, the Eastern Cemetery), where there's lots and lots of old bones, and almost all remarkably anonymous.
Anne McElvoy, by the way, lives in ultra-fashionable Amwell, where Peter Mandelson once had a flat. Not many know where Amwell is - but it's chic, smart, with wonderful architecture, and easy walking distance from Fleet Street. Let's learn a little more about that posse.
A photo show of Boundary Passage
I've written before about Boundary Passage in Shoreditch - but now I've got my act together and taken a few photos.
It is humdrum, tawdry - and about the last relic of the Jago, the slum that Arthur Morrison wrote about in his classic 1896 novel A Child of the Jago.
Morrison prefaced the novel with a very accurate street map. Boundary Passage is shown as 'The Posties' - running between Old Jago Street (actually Old Nichol Street) and Shoreditch High Street.
In the novel's opening page, Morrison writes of 'a narrow passage, set across with posts, [which] gave menacing entrance on one end of Old Jago Street'. This is the passage through which the young Dicky Perrott runs with stuff nicked from the High Street stalls.
The posts are still there - though whether they are or ever were cannons from Nelson's navy, as some suggest, I rather doubt.
Some of the menace is gone - what was the slum side of the passage is now decidedly up-market.
Though the High Street end is distinctly disreputable. The entrance to Boundary Passage runs alingside a tatty gentlemen's bar.
It's almost an inversion of the past. The slum is now smart - the high street is in disrepair.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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