Once upon a time there was a dutiful resident of the leafy and much cherished Hampstead Garden Suburb where the architectural integrity and Conservation Area is protected by the ‘iron grip’ of the New Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust with its vigilant wardens looking out for transgressions.

Anyone who ‘steps out of line’ is dealt with mercilessly.  Is it any wonder, that in the main, the Suburb has changed little since Dame Henrietta Barnett first founded it in the early 20th Century?

Here is a tale of a Suburb resident who tried, as hard as he might, to obtain planning consent for a swimming pool in his back garden.  You would have thought that this would have been a ‘shoe-in’ application or, put it another way, a ‘slam dunk’.  Not in this semi-rural enclave though.  Consent was turned down many times and the resident became so fed up that he decided to build the pool anyway.

Quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the pool was the order of the day, without disturbing anyone, and he continued to use the pool never thinking any more about it.  Until, that is,  November 5th when the next-door neighbour decided to have a firework party.

That would be have been alright – except for the rocket which landed on his next door neighbour’s garden shed (the man who built the illicit swimming pool).

That would have been alright  – had the firework not set fire to the garden shed.

That would have been alright  – had the shed not housed the gas cylinder bottles for the BBQ which the next door neighbour used in the summer and which started to explode.

That would have been alright  – had the bags of chlorine, for the illicit swimming pool, not been next to the pressurised gas bottles that subsequently ignited this otherwise perfectly innocent substance and turned it into a caustic and acrid chlorine gas cloud that was similar to that used in the First World War to poison the enemy troops.

And, that would have been alright – had the Ambulance and Fire Brigade not decided to evacuate 200 houses, not only in the offending street, but in the immediate area.

When the sleepy residents were being ‘hoiked’ out of their homes in their pyjamas by burly firemen the obvious question was asked ‘what is going on and who caused this ruckus?’

Needless to say the offending resident, with the illicit swimming pool, was vilified for this deed and eventually sold the house since he couldn’t stand all the unwanted attention.

Moral of the story:  you can run from the authorities, but you can’t hide from the ‘Lord Above’.

Written by Trevor Abrahmsohn.
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