The MP and peer who once lived at this address throughout the war until the sixties would be picked up some mornings by a chauffeur in a black Bentley, awaiting His Lordship in the empty street. After writing his speeches and attending to correspondence with the political bigwigs of the day at home, he would totter down our path and be carried off to the House in style.

More recently, just before New Year a lorry of men from McNicholls pitched up, cursing each other in Slavic tongues, their picks and grinders rattling and hot tarmac bubbling in the back.

South London’s fine ash, beech and oak are being lost to disease and Honda Civics and we are inheriting the hammering of paving slabs for a new arboretum of sign poles – 18 black uprights along our road of 150 yards. After years of middle-class finger-pointing at terse public meetings and bottles of Tescos red poured at residents’ committees, nothing could halt the advancing cash rash of Lambeth’s Controlled Parking Zone.

Within days, Denmark Hill’s commuters and Kings hospital workers will find themselves with extra huffs away from our door mat. Long have they left their wagons here with screeching alarms that competed with immigrant parakeets; greasy takeaway foil and McDonalds cardboard is shoved underneath and Red Bull cans are spiked on railings, delightfully revealed on Saturday mornings outside this panoramic sanctuary of mine. For us residents to re-gain our car space after a trip out, the positioning of wheelie bins has been imperative. Black, plastic and rumbly, they stood like useless sentinels with the result that new visitors would simply barge them aside or shove them sandwiched between bumpers. Requests to reinstate them afterwards were met with icy stares and on one occasion, with spectacular Anglo-Saxon vernacular.

Be off with you travellers! .. soon displaced like refugees, transmigrated where no white lines nor restriction notices or pay and display daleks vie for resident status in our precious green belt.

Better still, do us all a favour – leave your veichael outside your own domain and pedal the 2 miles instead.

The Zone is coming soon to a kerb near you. And I will again be able to park my French jalopy alongside my English terrace.


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