I have always been a fan of Prince Albert. I know it is odd, as he does not get much good press, and just sits there, in Hyde Park, watching the crowds come and go.
His work on the Great Exhibition, the big London Museums, the pierced willy stories and Boxing Day make him a rich and varied character. But I am now even more fond of him having spent the last 2 months travelling to and from The Big Smoke by train….
The rail network, having lived in blissful ignorance of my existence all these years, now experiences my transports of delight as it takes just 20 minutes to get me to Victoria Station.
I have moved to South Croydon, and although you may either laugh or sneer, as most do, I am stunned by my new reality. I must be living in blissful ignorance judging by the many negative reactions, but I love this reality: I live in a suburban idyll…. Manicured lawns, not mine, mock-Tudor mansions, not mine, more hills than I knew were ever possible, and I have space.
The move verged on hilarious. Post-divorce I had convinced myself that I had nothing. I had married a man with a large trousseau and signed a marriage contract. (Yikes, I know, and it was binding, which was a relief as most of it was shabby tat), but when the whole shebang was packed up for him and the dust had settled, I felt that there was nothing left. I kept repeating that I had no possessions.
The disavowal of this was large and expensive. Two huge lorries filled with 40 boxes of books, all of my shop, my shoes, my entire courtyard in pots, and several crates of my personal clothes collection later, I own that I have accumulated. I need never buy clothes again.
And it has taken me all these weeks to unpack it all!
I am happy, I love my house, my children are in transports of delight, still, and there are endless meals filled with amusing teenagers.
For me, after 20 years in a house with a paved courtyard, I have a huge garden with a mature fruit garden. I have made a large vegetable patch which is looking rather desultory at the moment. But it has ambition. I have planted artichokes from seed, chard, beets, maize….. And I have a peony bed. I am so excited. My favourite flowers of all time waited quietly underground all through the wrangling of the purchase and then burst up once I paid up.
I finish on this. I feel as though I have been starved of green for the last 37 years, since I left home and went to live in a concrete jungle. Now I see nothing but green, I run in fields and valleys, I lie in bed and the garden is just green. It feeds my soul, my eyes devour the colour, I feel restored by it and it is wild.
I mentioned this to a friend last night who said, “oh yes, I think the only reason anyone watches sport, football, golf, snooker, rugby, all of it, in fact, is for the vision of all that green…”