I Went Back to East Hagbourne, and the City was Gone

Today I was reading an article that linked to a real estate listing in England. It includes a video. (DANGER! Ear worm!)

That was fun and cute and all, but it reminded me of a time I lived in a cottage some distance from London. I decided to pay a visit. I fired up Ye Olde Mappe Appe, zeroed in on East Hagbourne, and scanned up Blewbury Road looking for the pub near the brook.

No pub. That side of the road is now occupied by large, modern homes. The solar panels on the rooftops don’t fool me, these are English McMansions.

It makes sense. Nearby Didcot hosts the last super-high-speed train stop before London (at least it did in 1980). If I worked in London, East Hagbourne would be an ideal place to live, although only one of the three pubs I knew still stands. The Fleur de Lis was always the choice of the gentlemanly class in town, and now apparently that’s the only class remaining.

With all this change, I was not certain right away that the place I had called home for a little while still existed. I typed the address into Apple Maps, and was relieved to see it was still there, and a little bit delighted that the pin showed not only the address, but the home’s colloquial name. The cottage still stands.

Beyond the large new homes that line Blewbury Road, the fields remain. The land here is fertile, the rain reliable, and agriculture…

Holy shit Didcot has grown so much, usurping farmland to the point it has almost swallowed East Hagbourne. East Hagbourne also has doubled in size or more; entire neighborhoods of homes that look identical from space.

Compared to Orange County, the growth of Didcot is negligible. Just a little dot among the fields. But we have seen this show often enough to know how it ends. And if I worked in London, I would likely contribute to the destruction.


5 thoughts on “I Went Back to East Hagbourne, and the City was Gone

  1. One of the (my?) peculiarities with viewing (streaming) shows is that it will often send me back to the source material, typically a book. Hulu’s “Pistol” got me to read Steve Cook’s memoir (and listen to a couple of his podcasts), read John Lydon’s, but most importantly (and apropos to this post) reminded me I hadn’t read Chrissie Hynde’s memoir yet, “Reckless.” So I read that too. It’s amazing she’s still alive.

    Just tried reading “Catch 22” (due to a final Jeopardy clue reminding me I hadn’t ever read it) but gave up after 100 pages because it had no plot.

    • Having read your comment again, I honestly can’t argue that “Catch-22” has a plot. But neither does “Reckless”, really. And maybe Yossarian didn’t almost marry Sid Vicious, but they still have their stories.

  2. Catch 22 is a tough read if you’re not ready. There is a metronome ticking, backwards and forwards in time, measured by the number of missions.

    The first time I read it I was a kid, and I was confused until almost the end when I cracked the code. The second time I read it I was shocked that I didn’t remember what happened to Natley’s Whore from reading it the first time.

    It is a story of a society where every vestige of morality has been quite intentionally stripped away. A world where someone could pay to have his own base bombed in the name of commerce. Everyone’s a shareholder. It’s an unfortunate consequence of training people to engage in total war.

    It’s a world where the only sane reaction is to want to get out. But you can’t get out if you’re sane; they need sane people to prosecute the war. And that’s the catch.

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