Sunday, November 28, 2004
Friday, November 26, 2004
Thursday, November 25, 2004
The music clubs of south-London are like mushrooms. They spring up in all sorts of unlikely places and if you go ahead and try them they are often tasty, sometimes mind expanding and occasionally cause you to soil yourself and die. So take care when sampling music clubs and mushrooms.
One of the latest crop is ‘On The Lookout’ which starts its first night in the function room of The Kings Arms, 25 Roupell Street, (the nearest Tubes are Waterloo and Southwark) this Saturday 27th December from 7pm. The Lost Club message board, which I perloined this from, promises “a minimally organised night. Nothing fancy. An open floor for anyone with anything vaguely interesting to say. Music, talks, lectures, discussions, rants etc..”
Certainly playing with be Adrian R. Shaw, whom you can read about here, and a stall by The Meowing Kitten who’ll be supplying ‘uv clubwear’ and ‘one off t-shirts’ and not, sadly, a small furry animals with claws.
They seem pretty hopeful that people will turn up and do turns. If you’re not at the Dog & Bell Pickle Contest this Saturday night, in the Waterloo area and happen to have, say, a thumb piano, accordion or musical saw with you, they may well be pleased to see you.
Loving this place is a sign of my advancing of my years and slowing pace, yes, but also of the maturing of my tastes. The Dog & Bell is a real ale pub, is always has five cask ales on the go, including guest ales and some interesting bottled boozes too. By all the gods that be, I have drunk some fine beer in this place. It has a scruffy and eccentric clientele and an ivy-covered corner in the beer garden. It is a perfect place for a chat with friends over a pint. Perfect.
Time was I wouldn’t have given a toss about the Dog & Bell being south-east London CAMRA’s ‘Pub of the Year 2004’ but nowadays that’s not only that which excited me there, there’s also the ‘Home Made Pickle Contest’ CAMRA are running with the pub on the 27th November.
Do not pity me, though, for that sort of thing is good.
The Cricketers, Greenwich
The Cricketers starts well. It’s pubby, what some people might mistake for ‘dingy’, with three cask ales, toasted cheese sarnies, a book on local history on sale behind the bar and décor doesn’t look forced or contrived.
There are also board games lying around so you can play connect-four or drafts while you drink, which is conducive to the relaxed atmosphere. All of this is good, there are not enough ‘actual’ pubs in the world and lots of brightly-lit, soul-less holes trying to fake it.
The magic at The Cricketers really happens on a Tuesday night, of all nights. The Greenwich Traditional Music Co-Operative get their fiddles, flutes and assorted squeeze-boxes out and start playing traditional English folk tunes.
If that doesn’t constrict your accordion, and I accept that my tastes can lean toward the ‘beardy’, then at around 10pm on this night the bar staff dole out free cheddar and biscuits to go with your beer and music. If that isn’t magical, then I don’t know what is.
The Wibbly Wobbly, Surrey Quays
‘Pub’ is, of course, an abbreviation of ‘public house’, a house anyone can walk into and fill themselves with booze and crisps for money. This place is a barge sitting in Greenland Docks in Surrey Quays but its interior is ‘pure pub’ making it, perhaps, a ‘public house boat’. Anyway, enough of that, there’s a beer-garden that is an adjacent floating platform performing a ‘beer garden’ function.
It’s a site to see, really. One day I dream of taking charge of the pub, having a few beers by my drinking arm, a jar of pickled-onions under my right-arm and cutting the moorings. I would then tour the world, searching for ancient sacred sites and bizarre animals, hither-to unknown to science, on my floating pub. I can see the telly series based on these adventures on BBC3 already. Let it be known that I would like the part of ‘Skitster’ to be played by Emily Woof, if possible.
The Montague Arms, New Cross Gate
The location isn’t promising, the Monty is on the very boundary where bouncy New Cross becomes edgy Peckham and the exterior looks ominous, there’s big black boards with ‘COACH PARTIES WELCOME’ painted on them.
And s othe coach-parties should come. Along with the Brockley Stone Circle, the ruins of Lesnes Abbey and the wonky dinosaurs of Crystal Palace Park, the Montague Arms is one of the seven (or more) wonders of south-east London. The interior is full of old naval equipment and trinkets and stuffed animals and human skeletons watch you are you enjoy your ale. Think of an old, dusty museum that had been opened as a pub without clearing out the exhibits.
One of the family who run the pub, they may not be related but them seem like one big family, collected old psychedelic projectors so on the stage, there’s a stage, one can often enjoy illuminations of zodiacal signs and other strange beasts.
And of the stage, well, many have performed there, local music clubs such as Fear of Music, the Lost Club and Throbb put on interesting and eccentric music there but, good though many of them are, none of them can beat the house entertainment.
I know not his name despite seeing him often. When the coach parties come to the Montague Arms on a Saturday night they, and any locals who potter in, are entertained by a blind organist who does ‘interpretations’ of both current pop songs, classic tracks and other surprises. This may be more than one evening rolled into one by my, frankly, harmed and faulty mind but in one sitting I have heard ‘Closest Thing to Crazy” by pony-loving Katie Mela-woo-warr, David Bowies ‘Life on Mars’ and the hymn ‘Jerusalem’ all played on a moog, often in a jaunty oompha style. All of these are interspersed with abuse hurled at the bemused Dutch and German coach parties and offers to let someone from the audience to get up and sing to the locals.
It’s very much like Bill Bailey when he performs Cockney versions of rock songs but real and performed by someone with south-east London engrained into them. In, remember, the strangest looking pub you will ever sit in. And according to this page and this page on the UK Cabaret Records website, not only has he been doing in since 1972 but he’s also had four live albums out of him and his mates insulting the big-haired tourists of yesteryear and mingling Beatles songs with Hawkwind. The man’s a dangerous genius.
It’s both Yule and my birthday in December. Have you enjoyed reading this? Those records must be out there somewhere. You know what to do.
Which is fantastic, thank you, all comments and reviews are welcome at Transpontine but I do feel the wrong end of the stick was grasped, if only slightly, of that particular piece. While the Spanish Galleon and The George Inn are two good pubs that have strange and magical meetings in them, SELFS and WiccaUK, and the Fox on the Hill is a Wetherspoon’s pub where people discuss the Northern Traditions over their wether-burgers and cheap pints of Summer Lightning, these are pubs where magical happening take place and not, strictly speaking, pubs with a sense in south-east London that have a sense of magic about them.
Though another group I am jolly fond of, ‘PSI in the Pub’ used the Fox on the Hill for a discussion on parapsychology and it has a slightly pagan Fox shrine at the front and a totem-pole nearby so maybe this particular member of the Wetherspoon’s chain is touched by some manner of magical influence.
Anyway, I digress. As far as I know, no magical or paranormally inclined groups meet at the Wickham Arms in Brockley, (if any do, please let us know) and while it’s a nice pub that has plenty for the Karaoke fan, I’m afraid it does not hold too much of a spell over me.
Which is what I want to talk about, Arthur Machen once said that he found “the average church, considered as a house of preaching, is a much more poisonous place than the average tavern;” and I would agree with the Welsh git as far as a pub, a good pub, a place where people gather, talk, live their lives, love their loves and eat their salt & vinegar crisps is a sacred space.
Particularly these three pubs, which are the first of seven pubs in south-east London, that I think are magical:
The Greenwich Union, Greenwich
(Click any pub names in this ramble to obtain less bias details, the address and how to get there.)
While the Union is often frequented by the braying, moneyed and preening end of Greenwich’s community, not to mention cursed some pretty banal live musicians, the spell of this place is worked by the beer. Raspberry beer, properly brewed lager that shows one why the damn stuff caught on in the first place, Chocolaty stout and many other interesting brews are sold there. They are tasty and yet not a gimmick.
And they are all brewed up the road in Charlton. When it comes to beer it is best if one drinks local and acts mental. Avoid the fiddly food, though.
The Sun & Doves, Camberwell
Again, this pub/bistro is toward the ‘trendy’ and ‘a tad over-priced’ end of the spectrum but it makes it just for the art on the walls, which is often ‘loopy’ and the garden. The garden sits in three different sections and one could easily hide in some parts. There is a totem pole in the centre, at least there was the last time I was there, that is made up of eyes, each one slightly more open than the last. I like to sit in the sun there, pint in hand, watching this eye open (and then close) before me.
That might be a combination of drink and heat-stroke though.
Moonbow Jakes, Brockley
Moonbow Jakes makes a good intermediary between the ‘swanky’ pubs and bars and the more beardy, old man venues we shall be encountering in the next couple of entries. There are three MJ’s, one in Catford, which I’ve never been to, one in New Cross with a record shop in the basement and the one I am concerned with here, the Brockley Moonbow Jakes.
Part café/bistro during the day, with newspapers, coffee and comfy sofas, at night this place takes on the air of a scruffy bar with beer, wine, live music and pastry products. It captured my heart the night that I and my Transpontine fellow-conspirator Neil New-X drank very large bottles of beer whilst being harangued by an insane New Zealander who was hosting a poetry night at the bar that night to get up and do some poems ourselves. We had no poetry, I had a few things I had written for a party Clare B and I were having later in the week, blessings to go on presents and the like, and I volunteered those. The compare said ‘yes’, bought me another very-large-bottle-of-beer and I managed to totally avoid making, what would have been, my extremely drunken live poetry debut. There were too many poets booked anyway.
I think that story, while utterly pointless, touches on some of the things that are good about south-east London and, indeed, life itself.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
On December 3rd the first step towards reclaiming The Venue as somewhere worth going to will take place when Angular Records hold their first birthday party and tenth event in the bar there. The line up's not confirmed yet, but as it will be a release party for The Long Blondes 'Giddy Stratospheres' single, the appearance of Sheffield's finest might be expected. Definitely not to be missed.
Souk is the weekend party at the end of a week long ‘Islamic Awareness Week’ taking place this week at The Globe Theatre on Bankside. The word ‘souk’ means ‘market’ or ‘bazaar’; the one in Marrakech is a labyrinth of fabrics, spices and hands trying to drag you in their stall. The Globe souk, on Saturday 27th November and Sunday 28th, between 10am and 6.30pm, will have “contemporary arts which draw inspiration from Islamic traditions. Visitors will be able to see how work is produced and buy from the stallholders.”
Unlike Marrakech, this souk will probably not have anyone offering sweaty tourists “herbal viagra for the men and woman, every night, yes” or snake-charmers coming at you with bloody big pythons shouting “photograph!”
I still miss the place.
The Globe will also have storytellers from the Khayaal Theatre Company telling tales from all over the Muslim world that celebrate the connection between the market-place and story telling. Of a more serious bent are the lectures taking place over each day, including subjects such as: “The Concept of the Hereafter in Islam”, “Islamic Calligraphy”, “Art and Alchemy” and “Music and Geometry”. You can find the whole program here.
The whole event is free to attend, which makes it worth stepping in just to see the inside of The Globe.
Jeff Cloke on ‘resonation’ and Tony Moore on cello are PANE who say this on their website: “The work proceeds, not through points in time, but through moments in space. We do not 'make music'; the music is simply the sounds the audience listen to when they put themselves in the frame of mind to be music listeners”.
Meanwhile, violinist Angharad Davies, who is also on the bill, creates: “beautiful, a delicate and ethereal evocation of ghost tones” and then “grittier exercises in roughly bowed drone harmonics” according to this website.
I do enjoy a bit of experimental string, me. The performance costs £5 / £3 concessions and, what’s more, it starts at the particularly civilised time of 3.30pm which may mean that local punters can be home in time for the Antiques Roadshow.
I’ve not been to the Open Arts Platform on Hales Street, off Deptford High Street, yet but I believe I shall soon. From 19th November to 3rd December they are having an exhibition dedicated to Noises, “Noises you don’t even notice. Noises you filter out and dismiss as simply noises…” I'm sure you get the idea. The exhibition is offering the potentially synesthesiac delight of “21 artists [who] deal with the idea of NOISES without using sound.”
Saturday, November 20, 2004
The cafe is also holding music nights. Saturday November 27th promises Sundown Sinners with their 'sweet country ska' plus acoustic open mic slot, while on December 18th it's Belleville described as 'a mighty soul voice plus guitar/harmonica and sampled beats'.
Events start at 8 pm, with the cafe open from 7, with entrance only £3 including a hot meal. Call Chris for more info: 07905 961 876.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
This month the music is by Petri Huurinanen, Stephen Moyes, Stuart Fisher & Evrah, although I'm not sure if their playing individually or as an improv group or both, Sculpture: audio tape and circuit bent instruments and Liberation Jumpsuit an Altern8 tribute are to be confirmed.
Even though I'm not sure if some of these are musical acts or artistic installations, the Glue Rooms are good, you should go.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
A young New Cross-based band have entered the Xfm Rock School competition. The Only Hopes have recorded a version of The Pixies classic 'Gigantic'. You can hear it and the other entries here, and will be able to vote for you favourite track at the weekend. Marianne Auvinet Gould (12), Billy Gordon-Orr (12) and Connor Cobby (14) stand to win music equipment for their schools (Bacon's College and Askes), as well a chance of a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo.
Monday, November 15, 2004
Twisted Charm (sounds from venus/mars); The Dirty Pins (northern fuck-off punk); Gosha Valentine (cyclic arts) and Spinmaster Plantpot (ranting poetry remedy against insomnia). It starts at 8 pm and costs £3 on the door(£ 2.50 with badge).
Then there's the launch party for Greenwich Pirate fanzine issue 2 on Monday 22nd November at the New Cross inn, 8 pm - 2am, and all the following for free: The Fucks
The HCD, Lovells Wharf and Bogus Gasman.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
A fantastic free event at the Festival Hall on the South Bank today where a couple of hundred young people from local schools took part in Space is the Place, a tribute to the music of intergalactic visionary Sun Ra. There was a brass section in Anubis headgear, blue robed drummers, and Egyptian and Cosmic Angel dancers, all co-ordinated by Kinetika Bloco. I loved the very notion of school kids being exposed to the cosmic utopian visions of Sun Ra; you're never too young to learn that 'If you find Earth boring / just the same old same thing/ come on and sign up with Outer Spaceways Incorporated'. I noticed Robert Wyatt was in the audience, but decided against making a prat of myself by saying 'wow, you're the incredible Robert Wyatt'.
There are more free events happening in the same venue this week as part of the London Jazz Festival, including some improvisation from Clearframe tomorrow - Monday 15 Nov. - at 5.30 pm, featuring Deptford's own Charles Hayward (see the 6 Nov. posting at this site for more about this outfit).
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Thursday, November 11, 2004
DaDaDa: Strategies Against Marketecture is an interesting exhibition at Temporary Contemporary, an art space in the Old Seagar Distillery opposite Deptford Bridge DLR station. It includes work by Chicks on Speed, DAT Politics, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, ROR (Revolutions on Request) and others, with a general theme of DIY appropriation of the ruins of popular culture. According to the programme "Some see spaceships in tea cups, insects in shopping carts, pagans in Tesco, erotic eruptions in videogame consoles and wonderful weird druid songs in polyphonic ring tones. Others dance to a different tune, recorded on makeshift instruments in a bedroom all their own"
I particularly liked Christopher Dobrowolski's toy size landscapes with mutant cassette and turntable soundtracks and the 3D Jesus picture with a twist. Oh and watch out for the whistling cup! It runs until 21 November 2004, open from Friday to Sunday 12-6pm (admission FREE).
Also coming up this next week is the free closing party for Soup of the Day at 'Shamleys' a subverted toy shop art thing in Brixton Village Market. The party on Thursday 18th November, 6 - 9 pm will include an open mic for performance and music by dj anoianoid and others.
You’ll hear plenty more about it in these (web) pages, rest assured.
The next night we know about is ‘Throbb Night 3’ on Friday, 12th November. It promises to be an interesting and particularly bilious evening going by the bands and their descriptions I just got over the interweb: ‘Sid Viscous (acousticy and violiny bile)’, ‘The Breakfast Club (Eighties Bile-Thrash Wrongness)’, ‘ODDJOB (Indie-Blues-Bile)’, ‘Jacknife Kid (Hooky Rock Bile)’ and ‘The Dirty Pins (New Cross Punky Bile)’.
So, for £3 one can be positively awash with music, and bile, from 9pm to half-past midnight in a spooky yet charming New Cross Gate venue. What more could you want?
You want the address? Ok, the Montague Arms is on the corner of Queens Road and Kender Road, New Cross Gate/Peckham way. Here’s a map.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
It's either free or three pounds, depending what even site you look at, and the next one, on 25 November from 8.30pm, has Paul Taylor performing his Trombone Poetry. The idea being to combine music and poetry, I quote the website here: "music frames poems; poems shape music". Topics covered during the performance are, apparently, "jazz, drink, urban life and sopranophobia".
Which is something, I think, we can all relate to. Other acts are on, providing poetry and eclectic sounds, interested parties can email the organiser, Jazzman John, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right, that's more than enough jazz.
It’s the Story-telling in Hope group, who put on monthly story telling sessions in Bob Hope’s bar. The cost is £5, £3 concessions. I’ve been to some good nights of theirs in the past and it’s a good way to fill your brain with magical ‘stuff’ to defend yourself from the assault of Monday morning. The group delivering these stories is Zipang, the ‘Breath of Life’.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Then the neighbours complained about the noise, the place closed down and re-opened without its music licence so it could still stay open until 4am and play records as loud as it fancied but no live music was allowed which was a bit of a kick in the teeth all round.
But the DIY culture is like moss: green, furry life growing on the greyest of places and now Minxy, head pixie at Rocklands, forwarded this our way:
“Pass it on friends! Only just got this!
PARADISE BAR MEETING WEDNESDAY 10TH NOVEMBER 7PM GO AND GET YOURSELVES A TOP QUALITY VENUE I catch the bus outside the Paradise Bar, and it's out on the road pick-up / drop off / meeting point and I have never noticed this sign.
It obviously wasn't meant to be read, so hats off to Gus for having a sharp eye
I believe that the new management want to be on the side of the alternative community, so it could be good news..”
Sharp-eyed Gus reports:
“I was just walking past the Paradise t'other day, when I noticed a small sign on the wall outside. I went up and had a look, and lo, the new management are holding a public meeting about the future of the place. Now, I may be a cynical old git, but it reminded me of the similar tactics the council employs when they want to knock down a nursery and sell the land to Tesco - I believe they're legally bound to inform the public of the development, and so a small sign on a lamp-post and some small print in the local newspaper tends to suffice as their 'public announcement'. The fact that one has to get up on the step and stand a few inches from the sign to read it may mean that the new management don't really want 'the public' to attend...
But as I say, I could just be talking out of my arse. Anyway, the meeting is tomorrow (Wednesday, 10th of November 2004) at 7pm, presumably within the Bar itself. I thought you might like to know.
Don't let them turn it into another swanky 'plonk lounge' - we need all the live music venues we can get!”
We concur; see you there.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Not me, you understand, but someone who felt sufficiently delighted by the act, or the thought of the act, to write it on a metal fence down Shardeloes Road in New Cross. I have to pss it most days and it snags my mind whenever I pass. Presumably this refers to the former E17 singer and celebrity Brian Harvey, not the Computer Science author or American motorbike enthusiast.
I think what makes this bit of graffiti my favourite in New Cross in the glee in which it is written and the sheer animal brutality of the words. Look at Brian Harvey, as the anonymous New Cross street artist would suggest, you probably would not have Brian Harvey ‘make love’ to you, neither would you ‘tumble’, ‘tangle’ or ‘share a moment of passion’ with, in my own opinion, Brian Harvey. ‘Rutting’ is for the noble stag, ‘bonking’ is for fluffy-bunnies and ‘romping’, that favourite tabloid pseudonym for sex, is what teddy-bears do in the woods after a boozy picnic in mid-Summer.
One would ‘mate’ with the bull-terrier like Brian Harvey, the ‘act’ being pinned down perfectly in the statement.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth began in 1981 mixing art and ritualistic occult practices, deconstructing language, sexuality and the sacred. John's presentation will summarise a history of the network and its practices, focusing specifically on his own involvement and experiences.
Upstairs at The Spanish Galleon, 48 Greenwich Church Street, SE10 9BL. Talk starts at 8.00pm and costs £2.50 / £1.50 concessions.
13 Dead (nothing said)
Thanks to Jon Eden and the wonders of the global blogosphere, a CD landed on my doormat the other day featuring a wonderful 1981 reggae track by Johnny Osbourne '13 Dead and Nothing Said'. This is one of a number of tracks recorded at the time inspired by anger at official indifference to the deaths of 13 young black people in a fire at 439 New Cross Road (others included Linton Kwesi Johnson's epic New Crass Massakkah).
Jon's excellent Uncarved blog is worth checking out for lots of dub stuff and and much, much more.
Nine Worlds is a group of people 'who are interested in exploring experimentally the mystical/shamanic aspects of primarily indigenous European traditions, with a largely Norse focus'. They are meeting from 2 pm on the last Saturday of each month at the Fox on the Hill, 149 Denmark Hill.
Meanwhile WiccaUK are back at The George Inn, Borough High Street, SE1 on Saturday 13th November from 2pm blunt. It’s an informal moot without a speaker that is “open to all with an interest in Paganism, Witchcraft and the Occult.” Best way to get there is to head for the ‘Borough High Street’ exit in London Bridge tube station. Look out for the WUK sign to find the room they're in, which is usually the first room on the right as you come down the court yard.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
The meeting takes place on Tuesday 23 November, 7-9 pm at The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8.
A riverfront tower block of flats is being transformed into luxury apartments with prices starting at £230,000. Private developer Berkeley Homes has now begun work on converting Aragon Tower, on the Pepys Estate, Deptford, following its sale by Lewisham Council for £10.5m.
With five floors being built on top of the existing 24 floors, the scheme will be the capital's tallest refurbished private residential tower to date. Standing at 300ft in height, The Z Apartments will comprise 158 two-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom penthouses with split-level layouts and views of Canary Wharf, Greenwich and the River Thames.
Mark Dickinson, operations director of Berkeley Homes, said: "Deptford is already proving popular with the young and fashionable, so we're looking forward to the launch of what we believe will provide buyers with the most spectacular residential scheme in Deptford to date."
Lewisham Council will use the sale of Aragon Tower to finance a £7m leisure centre, which will include a swimming pool, on the Sundermead Estate, behind Lewisham Shopping Centre, Lewisham. This is the same Lewisham Council which is planning to close down the existing swimming pool in Lewisham, having just spent millions on its refurbishment. The sale will allegedly help fund £4m of affordable housing on the Pepys Estate or the surrounding area. Oh really?