Thursday, September 28, 2006

Purlieus of Purley

I have moved to Croydon for a few weeks. I am as surprised as anyone to find myself living here (not that I imagine there are legions of folk taking a greater degree of interest in my day to day life than I do myself) and this far south of the Thames is really alien territory for me. If you were to draw a line west from Blackheath across to Clapham South tube station and then over to Hammersmith, anything south of that line as far as Gatwick Airport falls into the great unknown as far as I am concerned.

I’m not even sure if this counts as London anymore. My admittedly not-very-stringent criteria tells me it does: it’s inside the M25, there are no fields separating it from the urban sprawl to the north, there are London buses. However, realistically I don’t think it really is. For a start, there are trams here, which doesn't feel like London to me. One local has already dismissed my contention that we are in little more than an outlying part of London, insisting that Croydon is Croydon, it’s own separate entity and a bustling town in its own right. In fact, I’m sure the locals would object to me referring to where I live as being in actual Croydon, split as it is into numerous smaller neighbourhoods I have yet to master the confines of.

The house is small, and although the predecessor shuffled from this mortal coil at least two years ago it still smells of Old Man. There are still a few Old Man artefacts littered around, including a pantry full of countless tins of sardines which must have been bought in the late nineties, and what looks like one of the world’s first cassette tape players in my bedroom. It is the size of a chest of drawers. The kitchen offers a view over an overgrown back garden towards the Crystal Palace transmitter. Apparently a cat sometimes comes and sleeps in the bushes of the garden. I look forward to meeting him.

5 comments:

LĂ©onie said...

Croydon is strange. Why the trams? It always seems very scary and foreign to me. I think that once I took part in a marketing survey in Croydon which involved having to go into a darkened room and look at toothpaste packaging, so now I feel like it is a very peculiar place where not-normal things happen.

Cleavers said...

East Croyden train station was the bane of my life for a number of months when I lived in *cough* Crawley *cough*. Nine times out of ten, an apparently 'direct' London train would terminate because of the wrong bird poo on the tracks, and we'd have to change - along with the gazillion other people trying to get into London. Apparently they come up with ideas for chocolate there, so it can't be all bad.

Will said...

Creepy Crawley. I was born in Croydon, but I've never quite worked out whether that makes me "a Londoner" or not. I hope it does.

Shane said...

Oh, Huw. Croydon? What is a Croydon exactly? I'm finding this hard to relate to. What do I do with my fond memories and imaginings of Monday (?) dinner parties at Tufnell Park Towers? I feel like I've been verily set adrift, and quite paddlelessly so, too.

But heh, on the positive side - nice tram.

Aidan said...

When working there, I used to sit next to someone who would always get disturbingly worked up about the fact Croydon has a Surrey postal address. He would volubly insist it was South London, and indeed is a London borough for local government purposes, so...
Then again, it's bid for city status several times (astonishingly, without success), so obviously has greater ambitions...
It seems a real half-and-half sort-of a place. The northern half, certainly south London. The souther section, certainly Surrey. Quite what you'd call the New Addington part, I'm not quite sure.
A mistake, probably.