Thursday, 20 May 2010

Primrose Hill - an appreciation

As much as I welcome the arrival of something like warm weather, I feel jealous that I’m going to have to share my nearest green space lovely Primrose Hill with many more of my fellow-Londoners.
While there is a mixture of housing, the area is most readily associated with expensive homes. Consequently Primrose Hill, in the northwest of the capital, often finds its way into the media as the home of celebrities.
But the London park itself is a free amenity enjoyed by all. Since my retirement I have climbed the hill – it’s about a 15 minutes walk from my home – at least two or three times a week.
For six months a year I share my exercise with dog walkers and pram pushers. But as soon as summer approaches, Primrose Hill’s attractions – less rugged than Hampstead Heath but more character than Regent’s Park – bring out the throng. I just hope the drummers give it a rest this year.
Standing on the brow of the hill yesterday looking out over the London panorama, I was reminded of stages in my life I associated with the park.
Perhaps at 16 or 17 years old I remember crossing Primrose Hill at dawn. I was walking from Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in Soho with a friend back to his flat to sleep in his armchair. We had been stunned by Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. Watch this YouTube clip and you'll understand why.
Twenty or so years on I was married and shepherding my two young children up Primrose Hill to a Guy Fawkes night bonfire and fireworks display. Sadly this event has since been scrapped.
And now at 65, I’m back on the hill. The view is even more impressive – the London Eye and skyscrapers joining St Paul’s Cathedral among notable landmarks.
Primrose Hill has been an inspiration for musicians as diverse as Loudon Wainright III, Fatboy Slim, Madness, and Blur.
As Keats might agree heard melodies are sweet, but Primrose Hill's own unheard song is sweeter.

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