Thursday, 11 March 2010
Up The Garden Path (and what you might find there...)
I was out and about in Longley Road, Tooting this lunchtime when I noticed a couple of interesting garden paths. Now I know that's the sort of opening line that if used at a party would ensure you'd have a nice quiet evening all by yourself but it did raise the question in my mind as to the status of the humble path, not something I'd really spent much time on before (and I can't think why...)
The examples that I found down a single road seem mostly to have been created to a specific formula and method, with a tile 'carpet' being laid into a concrete base. Most of the others haven't survived and have either been covered over or torn up, but these ones struggle on showing how difficult it is to maintain that highly desirable 'house coming out to greet you' look over any length of time. Tiles fade, crack, lift in frosts, succumb to subsidence, face an unequal struggle with mould and weeds and generally start to look a bit tatty. Of course that's when Faded London likes them best but really you'd have to admit that their glory days are pretty much behind them at that point.
I don't think it helps that the fine old family houses they serve are now divided up into flats although it could be a double-edged sword. Would a single owner have lifted them in the 70s and put down something more modern, like the neighbours? Or could it be that having an absentee landlord means that they are willing to leave the paths there for as long as possible, even if they're not going to maintain them?
The most successful survivors seem to be the paths based on solid blocks of colour - mini-mosaics that retain the layout and the depth of colour - but the most interesting are those that use tiles with patterns or designs on them. You know there's no chance of finding replacements for those tiles that have given up the ghost and been rubbed bare and once these paths get past a certain point you know it'll only be a matter of time before they're gone for good
So although I'm willing to accept that they may not be the most exciting of objects I do have to admit to finding them quite appealing and more than worthy enough for a brief acknowledgement and a salute before any final appointment with a pick-axe and a small skip.