Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Number 16 Route

Monday 15 June 2009 Victoria Station on a pleasantly warm morning: Linda and I felt proprietorial as we waited among buses we had already sat upon, and noted that we should be passing here frequently in the next few months. The very helpful information man had reassured us that we would get all the way to White City from Cricklewood: the map we had, which he replaced, was out of date (but that journey is not for today).

We headed north from Victoria as we had done before, passing the statue of Marshal Foch which was erected in 1930, in a place where French visitors, arriving at Victoria, could easily find it. It is hard to imagine the modern fighting allies accepting anyone from Europe as Commander in Chief.
We also passed a life-sized sculpture of a ‘Lioness chasing a Lesser Kudu’, commissioned by the Duke of Westminster, by the sculptor Jonathan Kenworthy. On along the shady side of Buckingham Palace Gardens (is this where the Queen will be growing her veg?) to Hyde Park Corner and the War Memorials. This time I’m only going to mention the Machine Gunners memorial because it was so controversial at the time of its dedication: not just because of the nakedness of the Boy David, but because of the quotation on the plinth ‘Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands’ (1 Samuel 21.xi) which did not go down well with other branches of the armed forces.

As we went up Park Lane we noted the remarkable statue of Achilles by the Queen Mother’s Gates and then it was up the Edgware road, again. We realised that we had missed a chance to taste the future, when we noted two ‘green’ hybrid 16s going in the opposite direction. On up through Maida Vale and past St George’s School, with its simple plaque commemorating the murder of Headmaster Philip Lawrence, and so to Kilburn, where Camden is one side of the road and Brent the other. Kilburn Station Railway Bridge has an extensive mural, as well as fine ironwork. The Beaten Docket seemed an odd name for a pub until we discovered that horse racing took place in this (then) very Irish area of London, and a losing betting ticket would be a good reason for a consoling visit to a pub.

The much larger Crown pub signalled our arrival in Cricklewood. Before catching our next bus, we went to Lidl and were generously allowed to use the staff loos before buying Linda a bottle of water.

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