Hartham road is a right angle. It is neither perpendicular nor parallel to the almost straight Hillmarton road, which joins Caledonian and Camden road to be the south side of a triangle. Same as Hartham road joins the beginning of Hillmarton road and the end of Hungerford road, which flows into Hillmarton road again forming this time an imperfect quadrangle, only cut in two by a cul-de-sac called Freegrove road.
|Hartham road at its beginning from Hilmarton road.|
London planes and cherry trees crown the pavements and get dressed and undressed as time goes by. Some of the trunks have eaten the bricks on the fences; they look like gigantic swollen gums breaking through the bricks. Some owners have decided to rebuild the fences a step forward, so you can see - in inverse proportion - the aging of the bricks and the movement of the trees. Some trees even have a private altar so they can preach to the pedestrians walking by. Acacias or black locusts can be seen at some front yards, even an exotic loquat at the upper part of the road. You could also find some palm trees, avocados and olive trees – I have even seen a kentia and a Swiss cheese plant or two, all the latest, of course, through the bay windows of the Victorian Houses, trying to reach out for fresh air. Interesting people, that try to grow tropical plants inside their homes, live at Hartham road. The English always dreaming overseas, beyond the cloud. Imagine their back yards, the secret gardens that could be found at the other side of the gates of moss and screech; the glass ponds, the liquid willows, the stone benches. But let’s go back to the street.
Not much happens at Hartham road apart from the spring and the autumn, bringing both seasonal colors to the dun-bricked street. Time in Hartham road hangs like dried clothes from the line. I remember once having breakfast on a Saturday early morning in front of the kitchen window, the sun already shaving the top leaves of the trees, when I saw a man dressed in night, walking up the street with a severe drunk pace but still maneuvering his mobile phone with one hand. When he got to the house opposite my position, he felt that he needed to urinate – he hesitated around ten seconds and then started to look for his fly with the other hand. When he got to find his penis, he pulled it out to the cold, then opened the fence to the yard without taking his eyes from the little screen, stepped into it and next to the cherry tree, he peed until he was satisfied. It took him the time it took me to finish half of my warm coffee and a bite of my toast, his phone kept him busy all the time. When he finished the piss, he forgot to put back his willy, stepped out of the yard and, leaving the gate opened, continued his walk at the same pace up the street.
I should not skip telling you about the golden light that coats the air in the afternoon from the month of February until early November. The sun rays get lower than the clouds before the sun sets, and transforms the shriveled branches into Chinese silhouettes in the winter, and filters through the green leaves creating a bit of fresh air in the long summer afternoons. And that is a great moment for contemplation.