I got into conversations with no less than five separate strangers about wisteria this weekend, which I think is a sign that I’m getting old (alongside the general creakiness and muscle aches and realising that people born in the year 2000 are legal adults now.) One house in London Fields with fragrant torrents of flowers falling from its walls in Hackney seemed to attract a fan club: one lady told me it’s the best she’s ever seen it, another was talking about how in an anime she’d been watching, wisteria was used to kill dragons. I took a lot of photos. There will be pictures.
It feels like it’s been a good spring for blossom. I’m trying to assemble a 2023 blossom retrospective photo essay, and found that I’ve taken no less than 440 photos of the stuff. There’s a lot to sort through (and still more to come in the rolls I have at the lab, I’m sure)—and then there’s the bluebells and the wisteria too. On Friday, the eve of the Bank Holiday weekend, I took a walk from Old Street to Covent Garden to go for a swim, managed it surprisingly fast, and felt warm throughout—summer is knocking on our door. (A shame Holborn gyratory is still a death trap.)
It’s also a good spring because there was an election, and in Surrey Heath, the area where I grew up, the Tories lost control of the council. I cannot stress enough how astonishing this is. It used to be the joke in Camberley that you could put a blue rosette on a penguin and it would get elected—now Surrey Heath is in the hands of the Lib Dems. There is, rightly, a lot of anger at decades of venal incompetence, underfunding, and decay. Let’s hope this carries through to 2024 and we can have a Portillo moment with Michael Gove.