Greenwich Wildlife (2)
Dave’s back garden is clearly Greenwich’s equivalent of Longleat. Maybe not as exotic – but certainly as varied. And it’s got me thinking.
You know, I’ve been pondering a lot recently about the idea of middle and recent history. We don’t record what is happening now, because it’s ‘normal’ – everyday. Which is why trying to find (especially) middle-term history is so hard. No one bothered to save it at the time.
The context I was originally thinking in was in respect to architecture – there are NO old pictures of my street of which I am aware, for example, (though some snaps may exist in individuals’ photo albums, I guess) and we have virtually no records of stuff that happened in, say, the early 20th Century – save the big events, like the 1933 Pageant. It was all – well – workaday, so no one thought to preserve it.
I’ve started taking pictures, saving memorabilia (only in a small way – don’t worry – I’m not going to end up like one of those strange hermit-y people you see on Life of Grime…) and I urge you to do the same. Hopefully at some point we’ll have a Heritage Centre that could actually take all our stuff for historians of the future.
Dave’s garden may LOOK like it only has common animals in it, but think about it. At one point in Greenwich, wild boar and wolves must have been ‘common animals.’ Dave tells me that the ‘sparrowhawk’ (he’s not sure whether it’s actually one or not) was seen quite often for a short time in 2006 and then disappeared.
We are gaining and losing wildlife all the time. The urban fox, which many consider an absolute bane while others love to spot, is one such. Dave tells me that even in the year or so since the Lovell’s Wharf development began, the fox, which was a regular sight in his garden a street or so away, has disappeared. This picture was taken a couple of years ago. He doesn’t see them now.
So what I’m saying is, I guess, that we mustn’t take our heritage – whether it’s wildlife, buildings or everyday customs – as a fixed given.
When I’m going through old material it’s the memorabilia – the snaps – the lecture notes – the emphemeral leaflets – that give me the real insights into Greenwich’s world. I have dozens of books about Henry VIII and the Old Royal Naval College. I have virtually nothing about “real Greenwich” – especially in the 20th Century. The shy foxy gentleman below may be ‘common’ now – don’t suppose he always will be…