At the end of the eighties my father and mother, my brother and
sisters and myself, all newly arrived from Dublin, were settled in
Bedford Park in a red-brick house with several wood mantlepieces
copied from marble mantlepieces by the brothers Adam, a balcony,
and a little garden shadowed by a great horse-chestnut tree. Years
before we had lived there, when the crooked, ostentatiously
picturesque streets, with great trees casting great shadows, had
been anew enthusiasm: the Pre-Raphaelite movement at last affecting
life. But now exaggerated criticism had taken the place of
enthusiasm; the tiled roofs, the first in modern London, were said
to leak, which they did not, & the drains to be bad, though
that was no longer true; and I imagine that houses were cheap. I
remember feeling disappointed because the co-operative stores, with
their little seventeenth century panes, were so like any common
shop; and because the public house, called 'The Tabard' after
Chaucer's Inn, was so plainly a common public house; and because
the great sign of a trumpeter designed by Rooke, the Pre-
Raphaelite artist, had been freshened by some inferior hand. The
big red-brick church had never pleased me, and I was accustomed,
when I saw the wooden balustrade that ran along the slanting edge
of the roof, where nobody ever walked or could walk, to remember
the opinion of some architect friend of my father's, that it had
been put there to keep the birds from falling off. Still, however,
it had some village characters and helped us to feel not wholly
lost in the metropolis.
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