643 Home, sweet home – part 5

Palmers Green

I thought I had a picture of this one, but you’ll have to make do with my eloquent prose.

Palmers Green is in the north part of London; the Royal Mail calls it N13. Unless it has changed a lot since the 1970s, there are two distinct halves of Palmers Green; north of the North Circular Road (A406), towards Winchmore Hill, the posh part, and south of the North Circular, towards Wood Green, the scruffier part.

Our road, Elmdale Road, was about 20 yards north of the North Circular, parallel with it, and directly opposite a pub which was then called the Cock. I’ve been back there more recently and found that the pub had been renamed, and painted red, and looked very shabby. Elmdale Road seemed to have come down in the world as well.

So let’s forget that and go back to, I think, some time in 1976. We had at last got together a deposit to buy a flat (you really did need a deposit in those days) and looking around we eventually found this converted downstairs maisonette. It seemed pretty presentable; there was one bedroom, a very big kitchen, a decent bathroom, and a really roomy lounge. There was room for everything we owned (which wasn’t much) and a lot more besides. And we had half of the back garden (the upstairs neighbours had the other half) which was as big as we wanted at the time. Leonora joined us in May 1977 and we could set up her cot in the lounge. If we’d stayed there long enough she could have had a bed in there without the room getting crowded.

We had shops, buses, and a church; we got on with the neighbours; the journey to work wasn’t bad, and all in all we could have stayed there for quite a long time. But in fact just a few years later two things moved us on. One was the impending arrival of Debora; the other was more worrying.

You can easily fall out of love with a house, especially when you start finding things wrong with it. In our case, I gradually discovered that the conversion work hadn’t been done particularly well. The plumbing wasn’t good, and the damp course had been breached when a new back door was installed in the kitchen. So, we reckoned, it was time to move on. The mighty inflation of the time had made our mortgage payments pretty derisory, so we saw a chance of moving one step up the ladder, even if it meant moving down-market.

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