Monday 8 November 2010
When I tell you that we (Linda and I, Mary being in New York) took a bus for the short distance between the end of the 119 and the start of the 468, you may begin to have an inkling of how foul the weather was. Still, the 468 has a certain nostalgia value, as it is the extension of the 68, the first ever ‘return journey’ we made, from the Number 2 route, back in spring 2009.
At least the Swan and Sugarloaf pub where this bus starts, still exists. We have met a number of bus stops that have outlived their pubs. And we were onto our third bus of the day by 12.30, destination Elephant and Castle.
As we went through Croydon we noticed the many empty office blocks. Linda mused that people do not seem to have grasped that offices are over: a meeting room, a laptop with skype, some secure computer file storage and there you are. But we also passed the Clock Tower with its excellent Museum and war memorial, and admired Croydon Council’s poppies, everywhere (pic).
Along that busy bit of road that goes past the back of the Whitgift Centre, we spotted a chilling notice on the central reservation railings: ‘people have been killed on this road USE The SUBWAY’. Heading out of Croydon, apparently straight for the Crystal Palace mast, where our day began, we wondered whether the handsome boarded up and scaffolded houses were being refurbished or merely prepared for demolition, and the web does not provide an answer. It may all be over by the time you read this. They may also have sorted out the worse-than-useless cycle lane along Wellesley Road but I doubt if the UK Border Agency’s HQ will have vanished. The Croydon Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre is also along here.
We were interested to see on the bus stops that the X68 comes along this road, in weekday rush hours, with ‘no set down until Waterloo’. Do they lock the doors, we wondered. Perhaps we shall find out if we reach the X buses.
Selhurst Park Stadium reminded us that, sadly, Crystal Palace is at the bottom of the Championship at the moment, something else that we hope may have changed by the time you read this. (and lo! they are third!) The we passed Spurgeon’s College, training people for Christian missionary work before moving on, through large and well maintained houses, and past a street called ‘Biggin Hill’ which could be very confusing. St Joseph’s College, with its substantial grounds, led us to Knights Hill and Knight’s Hill Woods, and so into Tulse Hill. The street names were rather George Eliot, as we were into the Deronda Estate, but some of the shop names were equally entertaining, and the various Caribbean Food shops were also interestingly named, amongst them the Patty King, the Trinishack and the Divine.
The bus was pretty full, with lots of people upstairs, as we reached Brockwell Park, then Ruskin Park, where Andrew and the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble sometimes perform in the summer, and then King’s College Hospital and the Maudsley.
As we passed Camberwell Green, we remarked upon a number of religious establishments: a former pub has become an Islamic Centre, the All Nations Church says that it is the Garden of Success, and the Power Church International announces itself as a ‘Place of Divine Solution’.
The housing stock along here ranges from the rather forbidding public type to pleasant and leafy private houses
We were also held up by a rather unhelpful Halford's lorry attempting a turn where none was possible
On a more secular level, the Christmas decorations were up (I’m not sure if they had been there since last year) but not lit. Presumably by the time you read this, such things will have been swept away by the austerity police.
Newington Library was a confusing name for North Londoners, but Linda pointed out that Newington Butts and Newington Causeway were here too.
We also passed a sign to the Chaplin Centre, named for a former resident, but nothing more exciting than the Council offices for environment, parking and so on, before reaching Elephant and Castle, with the continuing road works, and the end of our journey at 13.35.