Wonders of the modern world, number nine
A sign of summer (and neighourhood ethnicity statistics). Some look for swallows. In my part of north London, I look for parking spaces. The other day, I was driving south on Gloucester Avenue towards Camden Town and realised I could have my pick of maybe twenty spaces – which means there are now more Americans living in my neighbourhood than even the number of whole house rebuilds going on would indicate.
When the roads become clear and the parking spaces start becoming become free and easy, then I know summer is really here. It means the Americans have begun leaving. ASL in St John's Wood has closed till September. The mothers have taken their children home across the Atlantic to their mothers for the summer – while their investment banker (mostly) husbands sweat a few more weeks alone in the city.
Where the cars go, though, I've no idea. Maybe they put them into storage for the summer. All I know is that it will all be even clearer by the end of next week, when all the private schools will have closed for the summer. Then, the traffic is so light, you could have a half-hour kip in the middle of St John's Wood High Street.
It's always a shock when I go to another bit of London in late July or August. There are cars on the street. And people. What's wrong with them? Don't they have second homes to go to?