Between two smallish trees in Clissold Park there is a long length of red twine that somebody (conceptual nature artist or mischievous kitten with a ball of wool) has wrapped round and round many times. It's saying "we are connected in ways that we don't fully understand". It's also saying "imagine a world where red licorice grows from the trees. Yum!" It might also be an advert for the wool shop on Blackstock Road. Or perhaps it's saying "look how fragile is mortality" or "look how fragile is the Arsenal back four when a ball is played over the top".
Walking home along Riversdale Road I see the tall Irish bloke who’s always cleaning and painting his front yard. He’s standing in the road looking forlorn. As I get closer I can see rubbish – papers, bags, crap, clothers – strewn all over the place.
“How are you?” I say.
“Foxes.” he replies. “They can smell the dogshit. What a mess.”
I decide to help him clear up the rubbish. It’s in front of his house and he’s very proud of his place, I know. As if reading my mind he says “I like tidiness. I hate mess like this.”
I find a brown shoe. “It was a stylish one legged fox,” I say. He laughs. I find a copy of Marie Claire. “It was a stylish one legged fox who is into fashion and make up tips.” He laughs again.
I see him later in the day and he waves. He is once more cleaning his front yard.
A while ago (I can’t remember – was it three years or six months?) a wicker sculpture was placed on top of the remains of one of the old trees that had died after the 2003 drought. It seemed to be saying that the tree could continue to have a life after it had died.
Every day my two year old son and I walk through Clissold Park and go up to touch the Football Tree.
“Football Tree!” my son will say. We’ll then both have a quiet think about how great football and trees are, and walk on.
But the Football Tree is no more. The other morning as we approached it as part of our daily pilgrimage, we saw the wicker sphere lying smashed on the ground. Next to it was an iron pole, part of a nearby fairground display. Still fresh in the air was the sense that someone had decided that good stuff was rubbish and had to be ruined. Was this part of the artist’s planned trajectory for the sculpture – to hire a gang of bored and drunk idiots to destroy it?
My son said he wanted to fix the football tree. I told him that it couldn’t be fixed because it was a metaphor for the world’s problems. Or the problems of bored and drunk idiots hanging around in parks at night. Or the England football team’s problems. Or the problems of sentimentalising outdoor installation sculpture
The cherry blossom of Kingsbridge House, on Lordship Road, has gone, blown in the wind towards Seven Sisters Road. Up there amid the concrete they would have been greedily awaiting the annual visit of the pale pink swarms. The wind also trapped a red plastic kite in the branches of a Clissold Park plane tree, like a sliver of raw flesh hanging on thin ribs.
My kids find more blossom at the side of the road on Grazebrook. I explain that it’s probably 40% dog urine but they don’t care, and run down the path with it, letting it fly out of their hands behind them.
The daffodils are out in Clissold Park. Squat dogs round and through them.
“Kaiser! Butch! Over here!” shouts an angry looking man with little hair. The sky over Lower Holloway is golden but greyness is descending as the wind picks up. A blue plastic bag joins us on our walk and keeps pace for a while before blowing up into the branches of a tree.
I was working late the other night when I heard a commotion outside – it sounded like someone trying to kick over a compost bin. Expecting to see some alco-popped adolescents expressing theire distaste for conformist society instead I just caught sight of three foxes sprinting away. They then had a sniff around the bins of number 55 across the road before one of them made that strange foxy yelp-bark and off they ran towards Clissold Park.
I wanted to shout out to them "You’re wasting your time. They’re all vegetarians in Stoke Newington." But it was very late. And I don’t speak foxy yelp-bark.