Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2 Willow Road

What could be more perfect than walking around Hampstead on a glorious autumn Sunday morning listening to Nick Drake ('And I’m sailing downstairs to the Northern Line / Watching the shine of the shoes')? It was then I saw the brown National Trust sign proclaiming '2 Willow Road'. That's all the sign says, there's no other information. It's like a code. Those in the know know, those who don't don't care. It stirred a memory from years ago that I had wanted to go there (couldn't remember why), combined with a conversation in a pub on Friday night. I had met someone by chance who had read what I'd written about the Alton Estate (what are the odds?). Interested in architecture, we eventually got talking about Ernő Goldfinger. I told him the famous Ian Fleming-Goldfinger story: how neighbour Fleming had opposed Goldfinger's controversial plans for his house – Goldfinger had knocked down a row of Victorian houses to build his modernist vision; Fleming's revenge was to name a Bond villain after him... I know, I've mentioned this before). Anyway, on Sunday I saw the sign by chance, the cobwebs cleared and the light bulbs went off: 2 Willow Road was Goldfinger's house. To modern eyes, nothing remarkable from the outside, it's true, but inside is superb use of light and space. Apparently.

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