Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Three Feathers & The Old Witch: Two Deptford Fairy Tales

More English Fairy Tales  by Joseph Jacobs (1894) includes a tale called 'Three Feathers' which the author states was 'Collected by Mrs Gomme from some hop-pickers near Deptford' (presumably the folklorist Alice Gomme).

'Once upon a time there was a girl who was married to a husband that she never saw. And the way this was, was that he was only at home at night, and would never have any light in the house. The girl thought that was funny, and all her friends told her there must be something wrong with her husband, some great deformity that made him want not to be seen.

Well, one night when he came home she suddenly lit a candle and saw him. He was handsome enough to make all the women of the world fall in love with him. But scarcely had she seen him when he began to change into a bird, and then he said: 'Now you have seen me, you shall see me no more, unless you are willing to serve seven years and a day for me, so that I may become a man once more.' Then he told her to take three feathers from under his side, and whatever she wished through them would come to pass'.

She uses the feathers to wish for her work as a laundress to be done, and to trick various men out of  their money before the bird man reappears and the live happily ever after.



Another story in the same collection, The Old Witch is also described as 'Collected by Mrs Gomme at Deptford'

'Once upon a time there were two girls who lived with their mother and father. Their father had no work, and the girls wanted to go away and seek their fortunes. Now one girl wanted to go to service, and her mother said she might if she could find a place. So she started for the town. Well, she went all about the town, but no one wanted a girl like her. So she went on farther into the country, and she came to the place where there was an oven where there was lots of bread baking. And the bread said, 'Little girl, little girl, take us out, take us out. We have been baking seven years, and no one has come to take us out.' So the girl took out the bread, laid it on the ground and went on her way. Then she met a cow, and the cow said, 'Little girl, little girl, milk me, milk me! Seven years have I been waiting, and no one has come to milk me.' The girl milked the cow into the pails that stood by. As she was thirsty she drank some, and left the rest in the pails by the cow. Then she went on a little farther, and came to an apple-tree, so loaded with fruit that its branches were breaking down, and the tree said, 'Little girl, little girl, help me shake my fruit. My branches are breaking, it is so heavy.' And the girl said, 'Of course I will, you poor tree.' So she shook the fruit all off, propped up the branches, and left the fruit on the ground under the tree. Then she went on again till she came to a house. Now in this house there lived a witch, and this witch took girls into her house as servants. And when she heard that this girl had left her home to seek service, she said that she would try her, and give her good wages. The witch told the girl what work she was to do. 'You must keep the house clean and tidy, sweep the floor and the fireplace; but there is one thing you must never do. You must never look up the chimney, or something bad will befall you.'

So the girl promised to do as she was told, but one morning as she was cleaning, and the witch was out, she forgot what the witch said, and looked up the chimney. When she did this a great bag of money fell down in her lap. This happened again and again. So the girl started to go off home. When she had gone some way she heard the witch coming after her. So she ran to the apple-tree and cried:

'Apple-tree, apple-tree, hide me,
So the old witch can't find me;
If she does she'll pick my bones,
And bury me under the marble stones.'

So the apple-tree hid her. When the witch came up she said:

'Tree of mine, tree of mine,
Have you seen a girl
With a willy-willy wag, and a long-tailed bag,
Who's stole my money, all I had?'


And the apple-tree said, 'No, mother; not for seven year.'

She outwits the witch, but when her sister tries to do the same without being so helpful along the way she is caught and punished.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Catford Constitutional Club


I finally made it down last week to the Catford Constitutional Club, the pub in what was once the Conservative Club. The decor has a shabby period charm, rather like it was an abandoned outpost of a once powerful political party (OK they still run the country, but they have little presence in Lewisham).  A good place to eat, drink and put the world to rights, and the pub also hosts various comedy, quiz , film and music nights. 

Last Wednesday I was pleased to stumble across a room upstairs full of people playing the ukulele - Catford Charity Strummers seemingly surfing the South London uke wave that also includes Brockley Ukulele Group, Dulwich Ukulele Club, PLUC (People of  Lewisham Ukulele Club) and Goldsmiths Ukulele Society.


The pub is run by Antic, who for a while ran the nearby Catford Bridge Tavern ( (formerly the Copperfield/Railway Tavern) that was seriously damaged in a fire earlier this year. I gather the wooden bar in the Constitutional may have made its way from the CBT. 

Unfortunately the current pub tenancy only runs until October 2016, with the building itself (one of Catford's oldest) threatened by redevelopment plans for the area. With a question mark hanging over whether the Catford Bridge Tavern will ever reopen, the area can ill afford to lose another popular pub. There is a petition calling on Lewisham Council/Catford Regeneration Partnership to extend the tenancy. It says: 'The CCC building is part of planned re-development of the Catford Centre/Thomas Lane. The CCC strongly supports efforts to regenerate the heart of Catford however we feel this should not come at the expense of one of its  most historic buildings or a pub that is fast becoming considered a community asset as was its predecessor the Catford Bridge Tavern'.



Thursday, July 23, 2015

Goldsmiths Sayes Court Institute: for 'bona fide artizans and working people' only (1896)

In the late 19th century, the Goldsmiths Institute in New Cross had a satellite 'Sayes Court Institute' in Evelyn Street, Deptford. According to the 1896 Goldsmiths handbook (a copy of which is in the Special Collections archive in Goldsmiths library), the building (pictured)  included a gymnasium hall, reading room/games room and four classrooms.



Membership was restricted to 'bona fide artizans and working people' only, with the benefits including access to Goldsmiths Library and Swimming Bath as well as classes.Use of the building was offered by W.J.Evelyn, who was one of the Governors of the College. Evelyn, a descendant of the 17th century John Evelyn who lived at Sayes Court, bought the site from the Government in 1869 and created what is today Sayes Court park. The building offered for the use of Goldsmiths was a former dockyard building. I'm not sure how long the Institute continued.



The building, also known as Sayes Court Hall, was originally built as a model making facility for the dockyard. It is shown on this 1914 map in the north west corner of Sayes Court Gardens.

1914 Map -source: Sayes Court wikipedia

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

MDC - radical US hardcore veterans at New Cross Inn

US hardcore punk band MDC are playing at the New Cross Inn on 10 August 2015, supported by In Evil Hour, Choking Susan and The Decline.

The band started out as pioneering  Texas punk band The Stains in the late 1970s, with their best known track 'John Wayne was a Nazi'.  They then became 'Millions of Dead Cops', releasing their debut album under this name in 1982.  Later they became known as 'Multi Death Corporation' releasing material in the UK on Crass Records..

I had their Crass records EP back in the day, and the line that has stuck with me - from the track 'Selfish Sh*t' - is 'Socialism for the Rich, Capitalism for the Rest of You'. I now know that they didn't invent it ('Socialism for the Rich, Capitalism for the Poor' is a long standing meme), but I always think of it when I hear about the wealthy enjoying free hospitality while many others struggle to get by.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Linear Obsessional at Lewisham Arts Cafe

From his Hither Green HQ (OK house), Richard Sanderson has quietly and not so quietly been releasing a stream of experimental, improvised and otherwise quirky music on his Linear Obsessional Recordings. But other than his appearances with Blackheath Morris Men he rarely plays out in the Lewisham area.

All that is set to change on Saturday 15 August  (6pm to 8 pm) when Richard is curating an early evening 'concert of improvised and experimental music' at Lewisham Arts Cafe in Manor Park SE13.  Suggested donation £5.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Slam poetry at The Duke

Coming up at the Duke in Deptford on Sunday July 19th (5 pm - 9 pm), Platform 7 present:

'2014 UK & reigning BBC slam poetry champion, David Lee Morgan performing his brand new 2015 Full Edinburgh preview show, BUILDING GOD, 8:00pm [watch David from 2014 here]

With special guest, Bird Radio performing his stunning new album featuring the words of Walter De La Mare, OH! HAPPY ENGLAND (7:15 pm)

Confirmed poetry performance sets by:


Isabel White
Jah-Mir Early
Mell B. Nyoko
Nat Nye
and the inimitable Jazzman John Clarke'


The Duke is at 125 Creek Road, SE8 3BU

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Deptford and Lewisham on film, 1922

The BFI's new Britain on Film Archive, launched today, no doubt has many local treasures among its 25,000 films available to view online. My favourite so far is remarkable film tour of Lewisham in 1922, featuring lots of high street scenes, along with Deptford High Street, Ladywell park and other locations: 'This exquisitely detailed tour of the south-east London borough of Lewisham traverses town centre tramways and the Rivers Ravensbourne and Quaggy, gliding past ornate-signed outfitters and grander edifices like the Chiesman Brothers department store. We visit Deptford High Street and Catford, glimpse women workers leaving a Watney's bottling plant - and schoolboys practising their country dancing'. You can watch the whole thing here. Here's some stills to whet your appetite.

Ladywell Park Cascades

Children playing in the River Quaggy

Bray & Bray opticians, New Cross Road

Chiesman Brothers department store, Lewisham High Street

Munro & Co Drapers, 141-143 Deptford High Street



Sunday, July 05, 2015

American Football on Peckham Rye

Peckham Rye today was its usual summer smorgasbord of physical culture. There were runners, boule players and, on the Independence Day weekend, American footballers from London teams Olympians and London Blitz



Australian rules, Gaelic football and soccer are also available in SE15.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sound systems in New Cross & Deptford

Tomorrow (Sunday 29 June 2015), Unit 137 reggae sound system will be out in New Cross, set up next to New Cross fire station in Queens Road, with BBQ and Rum Bar. Free entry, 1 pm - 6 pm. See Facebook event details


More reggae sounds on 18th July  with The Deptford Dub Club returning to The Duke, 125 Creek Road SE8, with special guests the Roots Garden Sound System from Brighton. 




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

'Working Illegally': Detention Centre film in Deptford



Coming up next month - Thursday, July 23rd,  6:30pm - at Goldsmiths Students Union (Dixon Road SE14), South London Anti-Fascists present a screening of the film Working Illegally that  'exposes the ever increasing phenomenon of coerced labour in detention centres...  Told primarily through detainees' testimonies, based on original research by Corporate Watch, this film offers critical insight into the labour that maintains the UK detention estate, as well as a general introduction to the immigration detention system'

 This will be followed by a discussion with former detainees and related campaigns, with speakers including:

'Aderonke Apata- formerly a detainee at Yarl's Wood and currently fighting for asylum, has despite the abhorrent treatment she has faced, been extremely active in condemning and challenging the politics of deportation. See an interview she did with Novara Media here

Standoff Films- someone from the organisation will introduce the film and join the discussion afterwards. From their website: "Our documentaries seek to uncover unsettling realities by hearing from those most directly affected by the social and political situations we examine."

Movement for Justice by any Means Necessary- MFJ have been at the forefront of recent efforts to challenge the existence of deportation centres, in particular Yarl's Wood. Organising a number of demos at the centre, including one upcoming on the 8th August.

The Anti-Raids Network- The resources that ARN have compiled over the last couple of years, and make readily available on their website, have been invaluable to local communities and activists resisting raids. Also successfully mobilising against various UKBA/Immigration Enforcement initiatives including Operation Centurion'.

Suggested donation £2/£3. More info and Facebook event details here.

Note - this event was previously scheduled to take place at Deptford Cinema, but venue has been changed

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cornelius Cardew in New Cross, and a ballad of East Street

'Cornelius Cardew (1936-81): a life unfinished' by John Tilbury (Copula, 2008) is a monumental biography of the radical composer by one of his closest collaborators. Its 1100 pages document in close detail Cardew's musical and political life, cut short at the age of  45 when he was hit by a car in East London.



Cardew became involved with the musical avant-garde in the late 1950s, working for a while as an assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne. He helped introduce the work of American and other experimental composers into British musical circles. For instance in in July 1963, Cardew was involved in organising a Little Festival of New Music at Goldsmiths in New Cross with performers including John Cale (later of the Velvet Underground), Enid Hartle, Fred Turner, Griffith Rose, Robin Page, Tomas Schmitt and members of the Fluxus group George Macunias and Emmett Williams. Two concerts, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, including pieces by La Monte Young, Nam June Paik and Williams' 'Counting Song', which consisted of him counting the audience.

In 1966 Cardew joined the improvisational group AMM, founded the year before by  Lou Gare, Keith Rowe and Eddie Prévost  (Prévost had been to Addey and Stanhope school in Deptford, and been introduced to percussion in the 19th Bermondsey Boy Scouts marching band).

In 1968 Cardew began an Experimental Music class at Morley College in Lambeth. Many of those attending  'were later to form the nucleus of the Scratch orchestra' including Michael Parsons, Howard Skempton, Carole Finer (a lecturer at London College of Printing and later at Camberwell College of Art) and Psi (Peter) Ellison (who for 'some months... squatted in a clothing shop in Deptford'). The Scratch Orchestra's approach to music was playful and inclusive (see Stefan Szczelkun's participant account) but this was soon to be rejected by Cardew as he came under the influence of the 'Maoist' Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist).

The last ten years of Cardew's life were dominated by his involvement in this group, and musically he turned away from experimentalism towards didactic political song aiming to put across the party's line to the masses through vehicles such as People's Liberation Music. His earlier collaborators were denounced as bourgeois in texts such as Stockhausen Serves Imperialism.

In October 1975, Cardew started an evening class at Goldsmiths, 'Songs for our Society', its participants including 'composer Howard Skempton (occasionally), a homeopathic nurse, a lady on day release from a mental hospital, a young German called Holger, a retired railway worker' and others. Afterward 'the class would adjourn to a nearby pub, usually the Goldsmiths Tavern, occasionally the Marquis of Granby, and there would be a further two hours of intense political discussion'.

One outcome of the class was a gig for prisoners at Brixton Prison Medical Wing in 1976, where a band including Cardew, Eddie Prevost and Keith Rowe treated the audience to songs including Up and Over the Wall and The Ballad of George Jackson - the latter written and sung by a member of the class, Jim Ward, who recalled it as 'rather strong.... with its references to racist pigs and fascists in the prison service'. Later, in June 1981, Cardew organised a concert at Goldsmiths to commemorate the deaths in the New Cross Fire that year, though as Tilbury recalls there some controversy about the event being used to push the party line.

Cardew and his comrades were frequently in conflict with the police - he was arrested in the anti-National Front 'Battle of Lewisham' in August 1977, and in another anti-NF demonstration in Camberwell in 1980. In the latter case, Cardew was already on a suspended sentence following a previous arrest,  and he was jailed for a month in Pentonville after an appearance at Newington Causeway Magistrates Court.

Cardew's song/piano piece 'Four Principles on Ireland' was inspired by another local confrontation. According to Tilbury, it  'related to a demonstration in East Street market in South East London in 1972. The Party comrades who were leafleting were "brutally attacked" by the police and several received prison sentences' - Cardew's subsequent song was based on the leaflet.



For me the devotion of Cardew and others to the tiny maoist sect seems rather tragic. Their sectarian, dogmatic rhetoric had little impact other than contributing to the image of radical leftists as ridiculous fantasists - their grandiose sounding front organisations such as South London Revolutionary Youth and South London People's Front no doubt inspired the 'Tooting Popular Front' of late 1970s sitcom 'Citizen Smith'. One of the more comic touches in Tilbury's book is a reference to Cardew taking part in 1980 in a delegation to Germany as part of the 'Stalin Youth Brigade'- at the time Cardew was 44 years old and the other 'youth' delegates were aged 33 and 'mid twenties'!

While Cardew may have been on the right side of history in fighting against fascists in the 1970s, he was also an apologist for mass murderers like Stalin and Mao, and you have to wonder what atrocities he would have been capable of countenancing if his unlikely fantasy of the party taking power had been realized. No doubt other kinds of radicals - denounced as social fascist  - would have been first against the wall - a 1972 letter talks of  'Revisionism, Trotskyism, Anarchism, Reformism,Terrorism, the Labour Party etc' as lines to be struggled against: 'isolate them and wipe them out, so that we can achieve the necessary unity to go forward'. Those with the wrong musical line would probably also find themselves having to 'work harder with a gun in your back for a bowl of rice a day' (to quote the Dead Kennedys 'Holiday in Cambodia'). In 1977, the party's Progressive Cultural Association published an infamous 'Punk Rock is Fascist' article in its journal Cog and Wheels. I'm sorry but give me The Clash any day over Cardew's late period songs such as “Revisionist Somersaults And The Opportunist Opposition”

Friday, June 19, 2015

New Cross Independent Label Fair


'Let's celebrate summer and sunshine one of the longest days of the year! On Saturday the 20th of June we're calling out to all you record collectors and music enthusiasts. New Cross Inn transforms for ONE DAY ONLY bringing you a handful of London's finest independent music labels.

Expect a wide variety of musical genres, some of the freshest vinyl LP's, 45's, tapes, CD's, fanzines and exclusive merchandise whilst also getting the chance to chat with the friendly label staff. Guest DJ performances from Dom Servini & Scrimshire (WahWah45's)Tom Central (KeepUp! Records) & Charo (WotNot / HoxtonFM).

Starts 12pm –5pm. Free Entry. Indoors / Outdoor seating for sunshine boozing. Cocktails & Cheap Beer all day. Featuring:

Accidental Records
MïLK
Mukatsuku Records
NXRecords
Rocket Girl
Slowfoot Records
Spotty Vinyl Records
squareglass
Unwork Records
Upset The Rhythm - http://www.upsettherhythm.co.uk/
Wah Wah 45s
WotNot - http://music.wotnot.tv/

After all the daytime excitement, from 7pm twe're putting together a great line up of live music.

Performances from:
Slowcoaches
Tense Men
Gloss Rejection
Ruiners

Follow the link below for more info on the evening event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1591081154482265/

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

South East London Giants - Australian Rules on Peckham Rye


If those four-in-a-row posts on Peckham Rye are a mystery to you,  you need to check out Australian rules football. The oval pitch on the Rye is the home of South East London Giants, our local Aussie Rules team. They have two men's teams and a women's team, and still have over a month left until the end of the season -  so there's still a chance to catch them in their remaining home fixtures on 4th and 11th July

So all you summer football-bereaved Transpontine sportists, why not head down to offer some support?

Peckham Rye has an important place in sporting history. It was one of the first locations for Gaelic Athletics Association sports in London (see: Low Lie the Fields of Peckham Rye), and also one of London's first athletics clubs: Peckham Athletic Club, formed in the early 1870s, gave rise to both Blackheath Harriers and South London Harriers - two of the capital's longest established clubs. So good to see Australian Rules Football being added to the mix.



Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cyclist deaths, 1914 and 2015

Cyclists lay down in the road and blocked traffic on Monday night in Camberwell, to mark the death on 29 May of Esther Hartsilver. Esther , a physiotherapist at Kings College Hosptial, was killed when hit by a lorry while cycling close to the hospital in Denmark Hill. She was the sixth cyclist killed on London's roads this year.

photo from report in Independent

Sadly, the death of cyclists on our roads is not new. I recently came across a similar tragedy from a hundred years ago, with a Lewisham cyclist being killed by a hit and run driver  in Baring Road, Lee. The Daiily Mirror reported:

'Search for Owner of Car That Was Driven Off After Fatal Collision.

 '...the police were still without a definite clue to the motor-car which was involved in a fatal collision with two cyclists at Lewisham on Saturday night and failed to stop after the accident. The cyclists were Mr. Harry Tyrell, of Lewisham, and Miss Caroline Wells, who lives in the same road. Mr. Tyrell was fatally injured and Miss Wells badly hurt. Shortly before the collision a policeman saw a man and woman cycling from the direction of Bromley towards Baring road, Lewisham. A little later he saw a dark-coloured low, open car, with two men in it, proceeding in the same direction. The car had a powerful head light'. (Daily Mirror,Tuesday 14 April 1914).



Lets hope we don't have to wait another hundred years for the roads to be safe for cyclists.

Friday, June 05, 2015

1915 London Tram Strike in New Cross

A hundred years ago this week, tram workers in London were sacked for going on strike and sent off to war. The London tram strike was prompted by the rising cost of living - the 7,000 strikers demanded a 'war bonus'.  The response of the employer, London County Council (LCC), was to sack all men of military age, telling them to volunteer for the armed forces.

The strike of drivers and conductors started out on Friday 14 May as an unofficial walkout at the New Cross depot - now the bus garage on New Cross Road - and soon spread across London (Sunday Mirror, 16 May 1915). The strike united workers from two rival unions - the London and Provincial Union of Licensed Vehilce Workers (known as the "red button men" ) and the "blue button" Amalgamated Union of Tramway Vehilce Workers'  (Daily Mirror - Monday 17 May 1915).

Pickets at New Cross depot (Daily Mirror, 17 May 1915)

The trams were the main source of transport for many workers to the Woolwich Arsenal, and it was reported that  'The New Cross men have made an offer to the L.C.C., which has been refused, to work cars each day to Woolwich for war munition workers without pay. The one condition was imposed — that the Council should allow the men to travel free'  (Liverpool Echo - Tuesday 18 May 1915)

Some trams did run to Woolwich:  'Extraordinary scenes were witnessed in South London yesterday morning as a  result of the tram strike. Heavy rain had been falling since an early hour, and thousands of people waited at different points in the hope of getting omnibuses, but the majority were doomed to disappointment. At New Cross, where cars labelled ' War munitions workers only" were running to and from Woolwich, great resentment was occasioned when only those producing Arsenal passes were allowed to board the cars'  (Newcastle Journal, 19 May 1915).  Strikers picketed the New Cross depot throughout the strike.

New Cross Road in the strike, by the depot (Sunday Pictorial, 16 May 1915)
On the last day of the strike, 'At New Cross about 1,200 strikers attended the Hatcham Liberal Club, when a resolution was adopted expressing confidence in the joint committee of the unions and determination 'to fight to a finish'.  One speaker complained that what was started a a 'strike' had now been made a 'lock-out' by the Highways Committee of the L.C.C. The men were advised to go back in the belief that their grievances would be dealt at once, but the L.C.C. were really taking the place of the Government by insisting on conscription' (Birmingham Daily Post, 1 June 1915).  The Daily Herald also reported 'a meeting in the Five Bells, at New Cross, the storm centre of the tram-men's strike'  (Daily Herald - Saturday 22 May 1915)

The strike took place at a time of increasing social tensions. In the same week there were anti-German riots in different parts of the country, in which shops run by Germans (or those with German-sounding names) were attacked, including in New Cross and Deptford:  'One result of the riots is a severe bread shortage. Near New Cross Gate so many bakers’ shops have been smashed that the police had be called yesterday to regulate the crowd which surged round the only shop in the neighbourhood where bread could be obtained' (Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 17 May 1915).

Monday, June 01, 2015

Music Monday: Steven Ball - Collected Local Songs

Steven Ball's Collected Local Songs, released in February, is an album that is as local as it gets in terms of Deptford. Ball describes it as 'a collection of songs of quotidian and local reflection, mostly constructed from everyday language, observations, overheard conversations, encounters, signs, community notices, announcements, phrases from historical texts about Victorian social life; from around and about the neighbourhoods of Deptford and New Cross in South London; using simple compositional structures, recorded with minimal instrumental setting'.

Reviewing it in The Wire (April 2015) , Sukhdev Sandhu described it thus: 'a drifting, sometimes aleatory assemblage of signs and signals encountered in South London's Deptford and New Cross. Ball sees the city as plunderphonic terrain, and this music is built up from layers of centrifugal texts... Memories, fragmented and not always lucid, act as bulwarks against capitalism's amnesia. The city is battered but not down for the count'.

The first track, Beautfiul Shoes, conjured up images of 'walking and falling'..

'across Creek Road
and then down the High Street
into Douglas Way
Amersham Vale
Amersham Grove
right into Edward Street
left down the High Street
across Creek Road
into Watergate Street
up to the river
and back down
Watergate Street'

'Deptford Flea Market interlude' includes sampled sounds from down the market.

I believe Steven Ball will be releasing some more material shortly via Hither Green-based Linear Obsessional Recordings.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

'Reclaiming our University' at Goldsmiths

Tomorrow at Goldsmiths in New Cross, Goldsmiths UCU (lecturers/academics union) is hosting a 'Reclaiming Our University' conference. They say:

'The marketisation of Higher Education has radically undermined the idea of the university as a public institution – gearing institutional priorities towards what is financially profitable rather than socially and culturally worthwhile. In this context of intense competition between universities for students and research funding, there has been a dramatic growth of capital projects, advertising budgets and Vice Chancellors pay. Meanwhile students face a huge debt burden, and staff, a working environment characterised by unmanageably high workloads, stress, inequality and insecurity... We want to protect and develop Goldsmiths and Queen Mary as a places that deliver innovative and radical teaching, that support independent and critical research, treat all its staff and students with respect and are committed to social justice'.



Thursday, May 28, 2015

London Urban Legends at Brockley Max

Brockley Max Festival starts tomorrow, lots of  arts and music coming up over next couple of weeks, starting with the usual opening night music event by Brockley station. You can check the programme for full list of events, for now just want to highlight an event next Monday June 1st (8 pm) at the Ladywell Gallery behind the Ladywell Tavern.

Former Transpontine contributor and London Forteanist Scott Wood will be giving a talk on 'London Urban Legends: The Hidden Insult and Other Stories'. Ladywell-based Scott is the author of 'London Urban Legends: the corpse on the tube' (History Press). Admission is free.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Music Monday: Skinny Lister - Down on Deptford Broadway

Skinny Lister pictured outside The Birds Nest on a return visit earlier this year
(photo by Brian Rasic)
Skinny Lister have come a long way since starting out in South London in 2009 and playing early gigs at the Ladywell Tavern, Birds Nest (Deptford) and Jam Circus (Brockley). Since then they've toured the USA, Australia, Europe and Japan, playing at numerous festivals.  Their first album 'Forge and Flaggon' (2012) featured the track  'If the gaff don't let us down' with its chorus of  'we'll sail away tomorrow, back to dear old Deptford Town'.



Their second album, released last month, is called 'Down on Deptford Broadway' and the album title features as a line in one of its songs, 'Six Whiskies'  - a tale of a drunken stumble through London.



I'm really enjoying the album, a mixture of folk-punk stomps that recall The Pogues and calmer moments, such as 'What can I say' sung by Lorna Thomas (video filmed around Hastings).



Thursday, May 21, 2015

A deer jumps through a window in Lewisham

A hundred years ago today, a deer jumped through a window in Hither Green Lane:

'Deer in a Lewisham House

A deer, which had apparently escaped from some park, on Friday jumped through the window of a house in Hither Green-Lane, Lewisham, occupied by Mrs. Perren and her daughter and did considerable damage. Chairs and tables were smashed, and a good deal of glass and china broken., The police were informed, and after barricading the window a sergeant and constable, with two other men, entered the room The animal appeared be mad with fright, and it  took the men some time to secure it with a rope'.

Gloucestershire Echo, Saturday 22 May 1915

Yes, this may have been the original Lewisham Stag


Monday, May 18, 2015

Peace meetings in First World War Lewisham

Opposing the First World War was a difficult business, with harassment from the authorities and from pro-war mobs. In 1916, Nellie Best of the Women's Anti-Conscription League was jailed for 6 months for deterring recruiting, and the Lewisham Borough Peace and Anti-Conscription Council passed a resolution demanding her release (Daily Herald,15 April 1916).

Sylvia Pankhurst, the radical socialist and suffragist, was active in the anti-war movement, as a key figure in the Women's Suffrage Federation/Workers Suffrage Federation (after 1917 name change)/Workers Socialist Federation (from 1918). The WSF was particularly active in the  East End of London, but sometimes south of the river, as this report of a 'GREAT PUSH" FOR PEACE' (Daily Herald, 6 October 1917) demonstrates: 'The Workers' Suffrage Federation's " Great Push" for Adult Suffrage, Socialism, and, above all, for Peace by Negotiation, held on Saturday, September 29, in Greenwich and Lewisham, where all the speakers met with good reception. Men in khaki and wounded soldiers from the local military hospital took Peace leaflets and bought the Workers' Dreadnought. A good collection was taken...  Volunteers for these parades should write to Miss Sylvia Pankhurst, 400, Old Ford Road, Bow, E3'.

Sylvia Pankhurst
A planned meeting the following month by the pro-peace Fellowship of Reconciliation received a more hostile response. Those opposing the war were likely to be labelled as pro-German as the headline to the following article from the Nottingham Evening Post (9 November 1917) makes clear:

'THE KAISER’S FRIENDS. PACIFISTS REBUFFED AT LEWISHAM.

A meeting under the auspices of the Fellowship of Reconciliation at Lime Hall, Lime-grove, Lewisham, to be addressed by Mrs. Swanwick, was cancelled at the last moment yesterday owing to the presence of a large and hostile crowd. Cheers were given for the "Boys in Khaki" and the Lads in Navy Blue,” and several of the promoters of the meeting were rather roughly handled. An impromptu patriotic meeting was held outside the hall, at which a resolution was passed in favour of refusing to allow any more peace meetings to be held'.

'Mrs Swanwick' mentioned here was presumably Helena Swanwick, the first Chair of the Women's International League, an organisation set up by pro-peace suffragists (she was also, incidentally, the sister of the artist Walter Sickert)

Helena Swanwick - stopped from speaking in Lewisham, 1917

Ken Weller's book 'Don't be a soldier!' The radical anti-war movement in north London 1914-1918 is an excellent account of this period. As the name suggests it is primarily about north London, though he mentions the WSF making  'occasional forays into the transpontine wastes of South London'!. Wish I had the time to research a South London version.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Folk on the Hill

Tonight - Friday 15th May at the Hill Station Cafe (Kitto Road, SE14) presents 'Folk on the Hill', with live music from Byron Biroli, Harry Dickson and Pigeon Heroes. Entry is free/donation, food and drink available.

Here's Pigeon Heroes in the Goldsmiths Music Studio, New Cross Road:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Nepal earthquakes

Various initiatives have been going on locally in response to the disastrous earthquakes in Nepal. The Hill Station Cafe in Kitto Road SE14 collected donations for an emergency airlift:


Tomorrow (Friday) there's a film night Nepal benefit at the Kagyu Samye Dzong Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Spa Road, Bermondsey: http://www.london.samye.org/programme/all-events/new-calendar-event-56/

Monday, May 11, 2015

Muddy Waters at Goldsmiths 1968

This poster popped up recently on Twitter (@salvatorRosa) - legendary blues artist Muddy Waters playing at Goldsmiths College in New Cross, November 29 1968. Also featuring Otis Spann (playing with Waters), British blues guitarist Gordon Smith (who has played with Kevin Coyne among others) and Mike Kean's Dusty Blues Ensemble.



However, as somebody in comments has pointed out, the image in the poster appears to be John Lee Hooker rather than Muddy Waters! Awkward...

John Lee Hooker

Muddy Waters (left) as he actually looked in 1968
(pictured at Hammersmith Odeon)

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Recent Sydenham Street Art

Some recent Sydenham street art.

This is off Sydenham Road (by the car park near the Co-op/Lidl)


The kingfisher and fox are on hoardings on Sydenham Road, replacing the lemurs that used to be there.



Thursday, April 30, 2015

Yeats in London

We are coming up to the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats - he was born in Sandymount, County Dublin on 13 June 1865.

Yeats spents some very formative years in London, and next month at South East London Folklore Societu. Yeats authority Niall McDevitt will be giving a talk on 'Yeats in London'.



As mentioned at Transpontine before, there's an interesting connection between W.B. Yeats and the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill. He also visited Madame Blavatsky in Norwood, and spoke at Southwark Irish Literary Club. Hopefully there will be some more South London connections

Wednesday, May 13th 8:00pm, The Old King's Head, The Kings Yard, 45 Borough High Street, SE1 1NA

Talk starts at 8pm. £3/1.50 concession

To be sure of a place you can email nigelofbermondsey@gmail.com to book



Monday, April 20, 2015

Reptilian terror in Peckham Rye



A reptilian monster is lurking in the depths of the lake on Peckham Rye, terrorizing passing wildfowl... or not. This terrapin seems to be just chilling out on a wooden island floating on the lake. I wonder how did terrapins become established in the park - were they deliberately introduced or did someone just abandon their pets?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Burn the Sea at Deptford Cinema

Tomorrow night at Deptford Cinema - Amakino present Burn the Sea 'an evening of documentaries about migration and the Meditteranean border'. The Cinema is at 39 Deptford Broadway and the films start at 7:30pm.


Very topical - this image was released by Amnesty this week, who say: 'The ongoing negligence by European governments of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean has contributed to a more than 50-fold increase in migrant and refugee deaths since the beginning of 2015 compared with last year... As many as 400 migrants are feared to have died off the coast of Libya in recent days'