Monday 26 October 2009
Linda and I spent a little time around Clapham Centre, including the by now traditional use of facilities in Debenhams, formerly Arding and Hobbs, before finding a bus stop with no clues except the number, but were reassured when the bus rolled up, ready to start, after about five minutes. Another single decker, more's the pity, but we headed off past St Mark's Church and the edge of Spencer Park where the Memorial stands for the Clapham Rail disaster.
We zoomed along, with Wandsworth Common first on one side and then on both, autumn colours vibrant on this lovely sunny day. We passed the Wandsworth Saturday School, part of a network of private tuition places around the Home Counties, and then, more interestingly, a Blue Plaque for Thomas Hardy, who spent three years here in 1878-8. Here are some poems, if you're in the mood.
After Tooting Bec Station and the King's Head Pub (Henry VIII in later, fatter years their choice of head: hard to believe he was ever the best sportsman and handsomest Prince in Europe) we enjoyed slow traffic along the Upper Tooting Road. I say enjoyed because the sari shops were glowing with autumnal colours ready for Diwali, and the jewellers and food shops were pretty colourful too.
Next came Tooting Broadway Station with its statue of Edward VII, erected 1911, the year after his death.I wonder if they had to move it while they built the station (opened 1926)
The Wimpey new build of St George's Quarter seems to have come to a halt, and we swept on, past various Nelson and Trafalgar references in street and pub names, to reach Colliers Wood Station, and then follow the River Wandle for some way (did Nelson really fish for trout in it as the reference sites seem to say? It was his brother who became Earl of Merton, by the way. There's a good biography of him here if anyone doesn't know about him)
Meanwhile a young woman with two dogs had been on the bus, politely asking if she could move to the back. The retired greyhound behaved like a perfect lady throughout, but the younger boxer was deeply nervous and miserable, Eavesdropping revealed that he had only been on a bus three times before, and the first twice she had had to get off as he was panic stricken, so mere whimpering was a great improvement.
We passed both the Polka Theatre and the New Wimbledon Theatre (Pamela Anderson to be the Genie in Aladdin this Christmas!) before looping round the Shopping Centre (called wittily Centre Court) into Sir Cyril Black Way and the final stop at 12.15, just 40 minutes from Clapham.