Towards the south-east edge of Greenwich, in a region that once may have been part of Blackheath, lies a village of Eltham. From the surface it looks very nice indeed.

Patios and front porches remain unwalled, with a fair number hosting tarp-covered scooters. It appears that the village is neither inhabited nor raided by kleptomaniacs.

Reality sinks in when walking around the village. The first thing you notice is the constant lack of silence. Anywhere even remotely close to the train station, one cannot escape a chronic blare of heavy traffic. The ever-present thrum originates from a major bypass, which feeds on the proximity to Blackwall Tunnel. For a Finn: imagine living next to Länsiväylä, with a 24/7 rush hour, and you get the idea. (There's also a surprising amount of air traffic, as if the place required an insurance against momentary lapses of automotive cacophony.)

The second is that above all, the whole place feels compressed. Eltham village must have been once a very desirable place to live in, to cram that many people into so confined spaces.

There is one final observation I made in Eltham. While it is certainly a place of well-off families, it's not abundantly so. Cars are not the expensive models - in general. Houses are neatly maintained but not lavish - in general. And as already pointed out, the plots are tiny - in general. Walking around the village, one sees the occasional corner plot with a lavish mansion, usually with a Jag or Bentley parked in front. These uncanny locations have one thing in common: they are nested in very special spots. As you approach (and pass) these plots, you will soon realise that right at these spots the overall noise level from the heavy traffic somehow gets muted. If this is a result from urban planning, it is a work of a disturbed genius.

In Eltham, the properly rich occupy the quiet places, while everyone else gets to drown in the noise.