Finchley Central is two and sixpence/from Golders Green on the Northern Line/and on the platform, by the kiosk/that’s where you said you’d be mine.
Ask most locals where Church End is and you’ll probably draw a blank. At least since the New Vaudeville Band sang about the pre-decimal journey up from Golders Green in 1966, the locale has been more commonly known after its tube station: Finchley Central, on the Northern Line. It’s suburbia up here: the outer side of the North Circular, surrounded by more Finchleys, Mill Hill and Whetstone, tree-lined avenues of semi-detached homes, with garages, and a Conservative MP. At the very least, that’s how it’ll be remembered: the now abolished constituency of Finchley is most associated with the 32 year occupancy of one Margaret Hilda Thatcher, aka the Milk Snatcher, aka all sorts of crude things. In these pre-election days, the re-arranged Finchley and Golders Green constituency is Labour held, but with boundary realignments is Tory voting, and is a top target seat for old smarmy Eton boy.
Today, the ward is little more than a local shopping strip built along Regents Park Road/Ballards Lane: the top of Gravel Hill shows something of what the older villagey Finchley must have looked like, with some beautiful houses and an olde church, but progress past the tube and it’s supermarkets, grocers, local amenities and of course, charity shops. Our visits to charity shop locales have become somewhat single-minded of late: stripped of disposable income in the latter part of my Masters course, I have to tread very carefully around the fiction sections of charity bookshelves at the moment, occasionally lingering to pick up a bargain in the politics or geography sections. There’s no space in my head for much fiction at the moment, excepting the occasional holiday, but I’ve found that toning down my usually pretty cerebral tastes to something a little more popular helps me to unwind a bit. The which comment feels a little unfair to Ian Rankin, since the Rebus novels that I’ve become immersed in are wonderfully constructed and researched, and the place setting and character-building is probably far more evocative and complete than, say, Umberto Eco or Thomas Pynchon.
Anyway. Finchley was a destination for some Rebus-hunting on this visit. I have to be honest, as with the area itself, all the charity shops are a little nondescript: a fairly decent Oxfam and Cancer Research make up the ‘chain’ constituent, and the always useful All Aboard and North London Hospice are the remainder. You’ll be pleased to hear that I found some Rankin and happily for the charity shop sector, far cheaper than proper bookshops, and with better selection than most dedicated secondhand bookshops (much as I love Skoob). While Finchley is hardly a destination in itself, it’s near our allotment which makes it worth being familiar with its amenities: Subway and The Joiners Arms have already been tested…
Find: Church End, Finchley @ Google Maps
Consume with: a shandy in the Joiners.
Visit: I’d love to have a look inside the Sternberg Centre, which seems to be some sort of Jewish fortress…
Overall rating: three more Rebuses