I recently popped back home. Define home? We can have several places we think of as home, can’t we? But I think that the place you grew up will always register as ‘home proper’. For me, that’s a small town in the far north western suburbs of London. It’s right on the border, with a small part of the town actually seeping into Hertfordshire. The rest of the town, that part sitting within the borders of Greater London, still has a county address though. Middlesex, which was abolished in 1965, lives on today only in postal addresses and through a few other ceremonial titles. Which is a shame, as the county is a truly historic Anglo Saxon creation, its name deriving from the territory of the Middle Saxons.
I took the photo above on my recent trip. That is where I lived from 1979, aged 6, till 1993. The window on the top left, the only one fully visible, was my bedroom. Beneath it used to be a garage, but I see that has been converted into a room. Which is a sensible thing to do – I’m pretty sure that increased the property’s value considerably. My folks sold it in 1995. Zoopla tells me that it sold again in 1997. Those buyers clearly like the place, they’ve been there ever since. How have house prices fluctuated over the years? The house increased six fold between 1979 and 1993. Since then its gone up five fold. Investing in property in London has been a bit like printing your own money over the last few decades.
My stroll around Northwood was a short one. I had other places to be. It was long enough to confirm that more things had stayed the same than had changed. Sure, the high street was missing some banks, a stationers and a few other establishments. But coffee shops and chain restaurants have swooped in to fill the gaps. And Jimmy, the local oddball, was still faithfully manning his spot outside the tube station, grinning inanely at everyone and everything. Just as he was when we first arrived in the late 70s.
I’ve had an itch for a while to go and check out how Northwood is doing. I hadn’t walked around the town since at least 2004. Perhaps a little further back still. But truth be told, I feel no connection to the place anymore. None at all. It could be any suburban town. It’s just I happen to know every square inch of it.