Heroes from Finchley

In Others
August 22, 2009

Wandered the grounds of Avenue House in Finchley today. Another lovely place not very far from my home which I’ve never been to. The grounds contains among other things a huge twisted tree that reminded me shudderingly of Green Noah, demon tree, from the Lucy Boston books – above is a pic of it I’ve borrowed from their website.

The house was left by Henry ‘Inky’ Stephens to the people of Finchley for their enjoyment – what an awesome idea! There’s a museum dedicated to him in the house, but unfortunately it wasn’t open today. He invented indelible ink, which is an achievement to be proud of – here’s a Radio 4 programme about him.

Only another nine days to go of this project, and I’m already starting to wonder what I’ll do when it’s over, and to think about what I’ve gained from it. One gain I didn’t expect: it’s made me less anxious about the thought of moving house. I’ve been saying for a while that I’d start to think about moving when my novel was done, but I find the thought of choosing somewhere to live quite scary, especially as I’m hoping to do that mortgage thing so it would be a *commitment*. Every area has its downsides. London is close to cool stuff, but dirty and overcrowded. Other cities are prettier but far away from my friends. Rougher areas are cheaper, in nicer areas I’d have to put up with a much smaller place. There’s nowhere that I feel really enthused about, nowhere that calls to me saying “I am your natural district, come and be here.”

But weirdly, spending some time really exploring the places that are 10-20 minutes away from my home either on foot or by car has made me feel optimistic. Hendon is nowhere special, but if you start looking there are a lot of great places to visit round here: beautiful parks, nice cafes, a cool cemetery, retro shopping and an architecturally interesting university campus. Surely the same would be true of most places – the UK is a tiny country, after all, and it’s been continuously inhabited for more than 5,000 years. There’s nowhere that doesn’t have *some* history, some interest, even some beauty. Finchley has the house of the man who invented indelible ink. Pretty much wherever I go there’ll be something to be proud of.

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