Thursday, November 24, 2005
"What is Happiness?The topic is ‘What is happiness?'Will the upcoming holiday season make you happy? Why or why not? What makes a person happy - material success, achievement of goals, stability and an absence of suffering?I want to look at what different philosophers have said about happiness, from Aristotle to the rather austere Germans to thinkers like Bertrand Russell and John Stuart Mill. Can we make ourselves happy, and is happiness a goal worthing striving to achieve?I will ask for a donation of £3.50 towards expenses, and those who are on lower incomes can pay what they are able. The Rose and Crown, 47 Colombo Street, nearest tube, Southwark. "
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Come & have your say on Brockley Common, Brockley Max, the market & Brockley Cross development
Brockley Cross Action Group’s AGM at John Stainer Primary School, Mantle Road, Brockley, SE4
Thursday 1st December, 7.30 pm - 9.15 pm.
Entertainment by The Strawberry Thieves Choir
Brockley Cross Action Group, PO Box 47615, London SE4 1RT.
Registered charity 1111176
Friday, November 18, 2005
Film-maker Neil Goodwin ('Operation Solstice') is launching a new film club, The Little Tramp' (named after one of Walworth's most famous sons) at the Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton St, SE17, every Tuesday evening from November22nd. 7.30pm start, £3.50/£2 concs.
First up (Nov 22) is 'Normal', Jane Anderson's affecting portrayal of gender dilemmas starring the excellent Tom Wilkinson and Jessica Lange.
Nov 29: Bill Hicks' 'Relentless' and Bob Fosse's 'Lenny', starring Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce.
Dec 6: 'Shadows', the John Cassavetes classic.
For further info call Neil on: 07930 255233.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
This is a green site alive with flors and fauna and I have had many happy hours working there. This is to be opposed from the start (before we have to get the monkey wrenches out) and Rob Whittle, volunteer co-ordinator of the reserve, suggests this:
This is precisely the type of insidious threat that all too familiar to urbangreen spaces and now it has come to ours. The good news is that here issomething we can do about it but it needs doing urgently.
You can voice your disapproval by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org and telling them what you think - it doesn't need to be long.
Alternatively you can write to them at the listed address on page 1 of thePDF by completing the form and posting it.
THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT WE HAVE TO DO THIS BY MONDAY! If you have already responded then many thanks.
More esoteric perhaps is a forthcoming exhibition at The Art House, 140 Lewisham Way- TIME TRAVELLER, promising a retrospective installation of 50 years of Fred Aylward. Close examination of the postcard advertising the event reveals a negative picture of a bald bespectacled man with a spirit level, for yes, some 20 years ago Fred Aylward was "Les" in Vic Reeves' Big Night Out. (but to be fair has done an awful lot of stuff since)
The exhibition runs from 1st to 18th of December.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Long before the emergence of Wicca in the 1950s, Britain's first modern pagan revival was spearheaded by "Kibbo Kift - The Woodcraft Kindred". This group mixed Saxon heathenry with a desire to transform the entire world by developing a group of people who had experienced the whole of human culture by starting at hunter-gatherer level. The parent group - The Boy Scouts - were not amused! Learn abut the group that spawned The Woodcraft Folk and their occult sister group The Order of Woodcraft Chivalry at SELFS..........
Greenwich Mainline & DLR: Turn left from the main exit, walk about 5-10 minutes, the Galleon is on your right, at the cross-roads.
Cutty Sark DLR: Turn left from the station, right when you get to the road, the Spanish Galleon is across the road. Buses: 177, 180, 188, 199, 286, 386.
Order out of chaos, or not
We will be in residence at Open Arts Platform as part of Deptford X, every weekend throughout November. We hope to have a series of guests dropping buy to add their input to the project as well as a few experiments of our own.
If you want to drop by with an instrument, gadget, gizmo, or just yourself, feel free, and visit the above web page to add yourself to the list!
The Old Seager Gallery
6a Holland House
Every Saturday and Sunday in November (5,6,12,13,19,20,26,27)
12 - 6pm
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Monday, October 24, 2005
KERNEL PANIC (systemspacecitytechnologyangst) is an exhibition running from 29th October to 20th November, Sat & Sun 12-6pm at the Old Seager Distillery, 2nd Floor Atlantic House, Brookmill Road / Deptford Bridge, Deptford, London SE8 4JT. Old Seager Distillery is right by Deptford Bridge DLR and a short stroll from both New Cross and Deptford rail. Here's a map and directions.
The details are: "Kernel Panic brings together digital arts and architecture in a physical and entropic mode: enveloping net art, digital ephemera, computer structures and sculptural installation, the exhibition presents participatory performance, social image making systems and group collaborations together in a pluralistic experience."
Opening the exhbitionis a private view / party on 28th October with music by Man from Uranus and friends, Ninki V, Sculpture "audio tape, circuit bent instruments", and Dogheads and a 'performance' by/from Dædalus. Man From Uranus is far better than his 'joke' name, Sculpture and Ninki V looks jolly interesting too (though I'm not such a big fan of Dogheads, myself).
Friday, October 21, 2005
Southwark Mysteries presents the eighth annual ritual to honour the outcast dead of Cross Bones graveyard.
Halloween Night, Monday 31st October 2005 from 6pm
Upstairs @ The Ship, corner of Borough Road and Borough High Street, SE1
(5 minutes walk from Borough or Elephant and Castle tubes)
admission: £7 (after 7pm); £5 members (anyone attending the AGM: 6-7pm)
Numbers limited to 70. Please come early to avoid disappointment. All attending the AGM (6-7pm) become members and pay only the £5 concession price.
No admission after 7.30. Those arriving later are welcome to have a drink downstairs at the bar and then join us for the procession at 8.30.
6pm Southwark Mysteries AGM – become a member of Southwark Mysteries, hear the full story of Cross Bones graveyard and join the campaign to reclaim part of the site as a memorial garden and people’s park.
7pm Southwark Mysteries Network – meet old friends, make new ones, make your offerings at the altar to the ancestors, and enjoy a drink or a bowl of soup.
On admission, you will be given a ribbon bearing the name of someone buried in Cross Bones graveyard. Please take care of their spirit for the evening, releasing it when you tie the ribbon to the gates of Cross Bones graveyard.
You are also invited to bring your own totems and offerings, including mementoes of loved ones you’d like to remember, for the altar to the ancestors and for the people’s shrine at the gates to Cross Bones. Halloween dress encouraged!
For more details, please contact: email@example.com
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Thursday 20th October, Doors: 8.00pm - 12.15am, Price: £3'
Venue is The Montague Arms, 289 Queens Road, New Cross, London, SE15 2PA
Tel: 020 7639 4923
Nearest Tube: New Cross Gate
Nearest BR: Queens Rd, Peckham
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
with... Neil's Children, The Violets, These New Puritans, The Answerfone, JUNK DJ's , and Greenwich Pirate
At The Venue Basement, 2a Clifton Rise, New Cross, SE14, £4/3with flyer or NUS, 9pm-2am.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
Friday, September 23, 2005
New Cross's premier troubadours Fantasmagoria return to south-east London on Thursday 29th September to gig at the Montague Arms, the dusty old, skeleton strewn, stuffed-animal decorated venue that probably suits their crusty-gypsy-tango-goth sound the best.
No time, but time in the Montague is always fun and no details on cost but they're well worth seeing. If you don't know where the Monty is, (why not?) it's on Queen's Road, SE14, nearest stations New Cross Gate and Queens Town Road, Peckham. Look it up here.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The Gluerooms is one of our favorite local clubs, providing experimental music once a month at the Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, across the road from New Cross train and tube.
This Wednesday, 28th September, they have Craftwork, described as a "performance piece Dr. Polly Fibre (Christine Ellison) creates rhythms, loops and shadows by manipulating sewing machines while producing cloth "manuscripts" from interfacing fabric."
Obfuscator: "Improvised Laptop duo."
Temperatures: "Drums & Bass duo With a bit of synth for people who know they like sound relatively great in volume"
DJ's Body Damage & Possibly Sick and regular house Dj's Tendraw & The Gypsies
The numbers: 8pm to 2am. £3/2 nus entry.
The Line-up is Kimya Dawson of the Moldy Peaches, Strand of Oaks, Debbie from cardiff (one of them, anyway), Truly Kaput "enthralling folk--inspired solo performance of sharply-written and earnestly executed songs", Grip Right Swing Right andToby ( I've no idea where Toby is from).
This is put on by those fine sorts at The Bakery, costs £2, which includes tea but bring money for Breakfast. The venue is The Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton St, SE17, off the Walworth Road, map here, nearest tube and train is the Elephant and Castle or Kennington Tube. Many, many buses pass this way.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
Screenings will be followed by live music "a chaotic mix of music stuff going on/some open mic, some planned, in a smoky café crema style".
Friday, September 16, 2005
Not heard of Little Death but, le Petit Mort, like it, that name promises wry and kinky fun or pretentious nonsense. Who knows? Could help you out with OK Junior either.
Still, it's music, its late drinking on a Saturday night; it's a possible boogie and brush against someone with asymmetrical hair and a pleasing, patterned nylon top. It's what life's all about.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
This short course introduces basic storytelling techniques using traditional tales, and goes on to look at how those skills can be used with historically based stories.
Workshop leaders: June Peters, a nationally renowned storyteller and Rich Sylvester, creator of the “Journey Through Time” Greenwich story walks
The workshop is being run three times, offering a choice of day and time:
Cost:£5 full price, £3 concessions
The workshops are part of the Greenwich Maritime Stories Project run by the Storytelling-in-Hope Club, in partnership with the Greenwich Foundation, which has been researching local, maritime stories.
The climax of the project is Yarns, Shanties and Good Red Herring, a community storytelling performance of these stories in the Admiral’s House at the Old Royal Naval College on Sunday 27 November 2005.
Workshop participants will be offered the opportunity to take part in this performance.
For more details and bookings please contact Pennie Hedge, telephone 020 8699 0675 or email."
Tube station visit record broken
record for visiting all 275 London Underground stations has been broken by 43 minutes. Geoff Marshall, 32, from Epsom, Surrey, and Neil Blake, 31, from Deptford, south-east London, recorded a time of 18 hours, 35 minutes and 43 seconds.
But they finished so late - 0005 BST - that they could not take a Tube home and had to hire a minicab. It was seventh time lucky for Mr Marshall, whose earlier attempts were scuppered by train failures and injury. Taking no chances this time, Mr Marshall spent about six days of practice runs before being joined by Mr Blake.
"We did not break the record that time, but it became something I became obsessed with," he said. "I tried many times before, but not managed it because of the trains or injuring my knee."
It took four months for the Guinness Book of Records to acknowledge the feat.
"We had to send them digital photos with the time on from every station - we even got the driver of the last train we were on to confirm it," Mr Marshall said.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
The blurb says: “The centre piece of the exhibition will be a life-sized replica of a beached prehistoric aquatic animal, known as Ichthyosaur, with relics from the history of the natural sciences spilling from its belly.”
"The work of Jean Henri Fabre, provides the inspiration for Les Necrophores-L’Enterrement. A giant mole, crawling in giant beetles, will be suspended by a noose from the Gallery ceiling.”
"Biological Field Unit, a team of botanists, entomologists and artists will conduct a detailed survey of plant and insect life in the SLG’s Secret Garden. Working from a specially constructed research station, the team will collect, document and display their findings using traditional hand illustration and photographic methods.”
Entry is free; South London Gallery is on 65 Peckham Road, London SE5 8UH. A map and direction is here.
South London Gallery.
All sections of the city has their own spirit, created by history, psycho-geography and goodness knows what else. John has truly been captured by his part of London and will be taking some guided walks around this ‘outlaw borough’ of London.
See and here more of John at the Southwark Mysteries site.
Details of each walk are as follows: each walk in on either on a Tuesday or Wednesday from 7pm. Assemble in the covered area outside John Harvard Library, Borough High Street, SE1.
Each walk lasts roughly 1½ hours and is free.
Here’s a map: http://tinyurl.com/aytty
The theme is “Banbha: Blessings of the Fruit of Autumn”, so bring “along fruit for the feast and any items representing Mother Earth which you wish to place on the altar. These will be returned to you after the ritual.”
"We will be asking for a £5 (£3 unwaged) donation to cover costs."
Avalon in London and a friendly and open group and Jacqui, who runs the group, welcomes any enquires about the rituals.
Contact her on 07711 515017 or join the Avalon in London email list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Avalon_in_London (for announcements only join the list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Avalon_in_London_announcements)
Monday, September 12, 2005
The Wolfganf Bopp, fine and witty gig put-er-on-ers are back at the The Montague Arms this Thursday, 15th September, from 8pm with two bands, each scintillatingly named Envelopes and Objects.
Price: £3. The Monty is on, if you don't know, 289 Queens Road, New Cross, London SE15 2PA. Nearest Tube: New Cross Gate. Nearest BR: Queens Rd, Peckham.
I've now stuck a review of this gig here.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Phantom Black Dogs have been reported for centuries and are still being reported today. Parapsychologists have concentrated upon human apparitions and there is very little consideration of animal apparitions, let alone apparitions of Black Dogs. This talk will consider the extent to which psychological/parapsychological theories of apparitions can explain these phantom Black Dogs?
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
See Steamboy, if you get the chance, and be warmed by south-east London making a fine, first appearance into the wonderful world of Japanese animation.
Monday, August 15, 2005
I've been travelling a lot recently, hence the silence at SELFS and the lack of my own riffs on Transpontine, leaving plenty of room for Neil’s eloquent entries.
Got back from the Isle of Wight last night and I’ve still got the Baltic lands of Estonia and Finland rolling away in my head but a walk home from Brockley station to home last night helped remind me why I’m here in the first place.
(I’m still failing to spot the Beast of Sydenham whilst travelling between Brockley and East Croydon though.)
The floral murals by the cab rank are a cool bit of folk-art, it’s a triptych, painted in differing shades for each section, blue, orange and green and hides fairies, cats and goodness knows what else within the tangled images.
Some of us know this area is magical by looking it up in books, others go out there and create the magic and others walk about and know.
The selection of vegetarian junk-food in the Costcutter, opposite the Brockley Barge is pretty magical too, better than the behemoth Sainsbury that squats by the New Cross Gate train tracks. Brockley, as is often reported at the Wickham Arms, has the densest population of artists in Europe, is there a density of veggies there too (or could you only refer to a ‘density’ of McDonald’s regulars or a ‘density’ of people who prefer thick-crust pizza?)
At the top of Shardeloes Road was a big bloke is a frock. It was a silvery frock that contrasted against his black skin in the twilight and it had am alien luminescence about it.
A similar bloke the same style of frock came out of the corner-shop at Brockley Cross and I spotted a third in the phone box across the road, having a bit of a natter. The outfits were good, though they showed a bit too much of what was underneath when the wind blew against them. I wondered if they’d been locked out of their church, it looked like church-wear and it was Sunday evening, hence the phone call. Or were they Christians from another planet, hopefully nicer than the ones we usually get round here.
As a rule, I’m not really in to church-goers but men in random silver frocks is something a grubby urban streets needs, now and then.
What I do like is food foraging, there’s a untapped larder of wild food in London, especially down in our part, so the kids picking the blackberries that were hanging down over the huge poem that runs along the top of Shardeloes Road was a fine thing to see.
If only I had the camera, and they were nearer the word ‘Eat’, that stands out tall and proud on that wall that would be one of the best photographs ever.
This area is urban but it’s still wild, just ask the foxes, frogs, birds and plants. I get hops coming in a month, bluebells in the spring and plenty of local birds and insects feeding off the pear and apple trees in my back garden. This place is alive, there’s life crammed into every single crevice. We’re part of that, not always the best part, but we’re part of it and that’s good.
When I got home I also saw that, unsurprisingly, the Brazilian Jazz Hippies that live above us haven’t got round to building their sweat-lodge at the bottom of the garden yet.
It’s good to be home, for now.
This month they have bands redcarsgofaster, "giving post-rock a much-needed post-punk kick up the arse", they say and This Et Al, the slightly less encouraging (to me) "Smithsian melodies with an ethereal shoegazing aesthetic" though it you've ever wanted to look at Morrissey with a bright-red 'Mickey from Lush' bob then this may, or may not be, you're lucky night, you 30-something indie kid, you.
The Wolfgang DJ's play "twisted rock n roll, retro grooves and bleak disco" and the venue is the sacred ground of The Montague Arms, 289 Queens Road, New Cross, London SE15 2PA. Nearest stations: New Cross & Queens Rd, Peckham.
Entry is £3, doors, 8.00pm – 12.15am, if you need to know anything else, email Wolfgangbopp here.
Also on Thursday night from 8pm, also £3 and also something I've not made it to yet (so all reports gratefully recieved) is the Camberwell music night Echo Chamber at the Funky Monkey, 25 Camberwell Church Street Camberwell SE5 8TR (Buses 36, 136 and 171 from New Cross).
Appearing is Mark Pilkington's new muscial thingy Raagnagrok, who're a "synth 'n' sitar sounds" duo as well as the band Striplight, whom, Mark has found out through diligent research, style themselves as "Noir-wave angular artsters" though perhaps are more like "Jangly indie shouty popsters".
The night will also feature Petris and DJ and MCing spots from the resident resonance trio of Sculpture/Dan Hayhurst, Clive Graham and Richard Thomas. Go on!
Friday, August 12, 2005
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Former great train robber Ronnie Biggs is apparently seriously ill in Belmarsh prison. Why is he still being kept in prison several years after he voluntarily returned to Britain? He is old and sick and obviously no threat to anyone. It seems he is being punished not just for the audacity of the original robbery in 1963 and subsequent escape from Wandsworth Prison but for making the authorities look stupid in all the years on the run in Australia and Brazil, for the crime of obviously enjoying himself including making ropey records with ex-Sex Pistols.
Biggs once saw a bit more of South London than the inside of the hospital wing of Belmarsh. After escaping from Wandsworth, he hid in Dulwich, Bermondsey and Camberwell before making his way to France. Legend has it too that the robbers celebrated their success with a drink in East Dulwich at The Cherry Tree pub (now called the New Hamlet Inn, opposite the train station).
Image is from Stencil Revolution
Tags: Ronnie Biggs; East Dulwich; Belmarsh; London
Saturday, August 06, 2005
There is a certain irony in the Deptford riverfront at Convoys Wharf being bought up by a Hong Kong based property company (see below), since the existence of Hong Kong as a business enclave came about as a result of the activities of an organisation closely linked with Deptford - the East India Company.
I was reminded by my holiday reading of W.G. Sebald's 'The Rings of Saturn'(1998) of the Opium War, a British government war for drugs in the nineteenth century: 'In 1837 the Chinese Government had taken measures to prevent opium trading, whereupon the East India Company, which grew opium poppies in the fields of Bengal and shipped the drug mainly to Canton, Amoy and Shanghai, felt that one of its most lucrative ventures was in jeapordy... In the name of Christian evangelism and free trade, which was held to be the precondition of all civilised progress, the superiority of western artillery was demonstrated, a number of cities were stormed, and a peace was extorted, the conditions of which included guarantees for British trading posts on the coasts, the cession of Hong Kong, and, not least, reparation payments of truly astronomical proportions'.
As Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak notes in her 'Critique of Postcolonial reason' (1999), the East India Company was 'the first great transnational company', establishing the British Empire in India and forming the state in its image: 'The governments of India were the Company's governments, the army the Company's army'. The Bengal famine of 1770, which wiped out one in six of the local population, can be viewed as the Company's famine.
From 1600 until 1782 the East India Company stores were based at the Stowage site on the river at Deptford, the location for the new Millennium Quay housing development. One thing that hasn't changed over the centuries is the ownership of large chunks of the Deptford riverfront by multinational corporations - from the East India Company, to Rupert Murdoch's News International to Cheung Kong, who recently bought the Convoys Wharf site from Murdoch.
Friday, August 05, 2005
In October there's a huge amount of music and other stuff happening in New Cross and elsewhere as part of 'Artful - a non conventional convention of entertainment and exhibition'. We will be posting more details of events as they are firmed up, but check the Artful website for updates.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
But the best vaguely South London story concerns Pere Ubu. In 1978 the Cleveland band staged the UK launch of their LP Dub Housing with an 'Ubu Mystery Trip' with ticketholders transported by bus to a secret location - the freezing cold Chislehurst Caves in the London Borough of Bromley. The Caves are well worth a visit, if you can take some of the guide's more lurid tales of Druid sacrifice with a pinch of salt. They have been variously used as an ammunitions depot (World War One), a mushroom farm (between the wars), an air raid shelter (World War Two), and a venue for gigs and parties - Jimi Hendrix played there in 1966, and Pink Floyd the following year. As a film location they have been used for Doctor Who (The Mutants - 1972), Insemenoid, Bliss, Neverwhere and Randall & Hopkirk (deceased).
Cheung Kong holdings seem to be in the vanguard of global waterside gentrification - developing luxury accommodation in areas previously reviled by the wealthy because they were full of dockers, sailors, mudlarks and other vanishing urban types. The same company has been involved in similar developments in Vancouver as well as in Hong Kong itself. The interesting Hong Kong anarcho site In the Water obviously knows the company well:
'Hong Kong, with our physical and political environments governed by a ruling class of unrepresentative, unaccountable bureaucrats, and the overriding economic decisions controlled by corporate giants with names like Hutchison, Cheung Kong, and Sun Hung Kai, organisms that will live for decades longer than you and I could ever dream...In our Hong Kong, too, some humans rule and others are invisible. The demolitions continue, the harbor 'reclamations' continue, West Kowloon is commercialized in the name of culture, Mong Kok is smashed for yet another mega-shopping mall, the land and the people are erased until neither land nor people matter, and until... until what, then?'. Sounds familiar.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Meanwhile The Violets have gone one better on their site - you can hear what they sound like and what they look like, with a video of their Mirror Mirror single.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Obviously this is an insult to the 7/7 dead, who included people from Poland, Italy, Israel, Turkey, Afghanistan and many other places. Anyway the BNP's ethnic purism is actually very close to the ideology of the bombers, leaving aside the fact that the last bombing campaign in London was carried out by an ex-BNP member, David Copeland. There has always been a link between the Islamist far right and their European counterparts, going right back to the mutual admiration of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Third Reich.
The Daily Mail might want to distance themselves from the BNP, but how could the monoculture they dream of be imposed except by ludicrous patriotic propaganda, repression and ethnic cleansing? My street in New Cross would be pretty empty once they'd driven away my French, Portuguese, Brazilian, West Indian and African neighbours, and I'm not sure that many of the 'White UK' remainder would want to take any kind of citizenship oath to Queen and Country. Count me out for a start.
Anyone would think that London's diversity was dreamt up by some committee in the 1980s. In fact, London was created and has always been sustained by constant migratory flows, a fact that has often been celebrated. In 'London belongs to Me' (1945), Norman Collins wrote:
'And the people. They're London, too. They're the same Londoners that they have always been, except that from time to time the proportion of refugees has altered a little. At one moment the doubtful-looking newcomers are the Huguenots. At another the Jews and it is the Huguenots who are the Londoners wondering whatever London is coming to. They're all Londoners - the French and the Italians in Soho, the Chinese in Limehouse, the Scotsmen in Muswell Hill and the Irish round the Docks'.
Tag: London Bombing
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
All of this is endangered by a proposed property develpment which will result in the demolition of this great bit of 1930's pub architecture, and its replacement with more soulless overpriced wine bars and bong shops (probably).
Do your bit and sign the online petition
Hot-footed it from there to the Six String Bar, where I said a few words about Deptford Fun City and played a few SE London classics (including June Brides 'Every Conversation, plus a bit of This Heat and Carter USM). Couldn't stick around for the bands, but Charlie Brown looked good from their sound check. Maybe next time...
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
The day before, the London bombers' comrades in Iraq blew up 20+ children in a working class quarter of Baghdad. Hardly anybody mentions them, and nobody mentions the blood on the hands of some of those leading the silence. Never mind Iraq, who now remembers the civilians blown to bits by NATO in 1999 on a train at Grdenicka in the former yugoslavia?
As a humanist and internationalist, I don't value London lives any higher than anybody else's, but I recognize that there is a (self-centred) emotional charge to death on your doorstep. A city is daily traversed by millions of individual paths intersecting with each other. It is the fact that we can plot our own paths crossing those of the dead that reminds us of our vulnerability and enables us to idenitify intimately with the victims.
After reading acres of coverage of the London bombings, the detail that finally brought a tear to my eye was buried in a report of the life of Shahara Islam, killed on the no.30 bus. It wasn't the face of the pretty young muslim woman staring from every front page that got to me so much as the fact that she regularly stopped off at Patisserie Bliss at the Angel Islington on the way into work, just as I did every day for the three years I worked there.
Back to work after 120 seconds- bury them and be silent. The much vaunted stiff upper lip, business as usual attitude is wearing thin. It's one thing to say we're not going to let a few bombs stop us getting on with our lives, its another to order people to carry on as if nothing has happened. As Jon Eden at Uncarved experienced, most people weren't given the choice of not immediately returning to work.
After two minutes of silence, two minutes of critical argument with our friends, colleagues and neighbours would be a start. Why is the world in this state and what are the alternatives? Do we just have to accept living in a permanent state of global low intensity war? Discuss.
As Iain Sinclair wrote last week 'Random acts of terror are finite, the money wheel never stops turning'. Business as usual means more of the same. No thanks.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Sinclair and Barton are in a line of double decker flaneurs. In 'The Nights of London' (1926), travel writer and journalist HV Morton included an essay 'To Anywhere' with the starting premise that 'Strange things happen now and then if you just take the first omnibus and sit there long enough'. He describes a journey that ends with him getting off the bus and wandering through a park by cricket matches, a political meeting and open air dancers. Only as the night closes in as 'Lovers drifted slowly under the moon' does he ask a policeman ''Where am I?'... He looked at me suspiciously, and replied: 'Peckham Rye''. Must have been a number 12.
See also: A Delaware County writer recalls a trip with a Deptford bus driver.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Philip Hoare's 'England's Lost Eden - adventures in a Victorian Utopia' is a fascinating exploration of the overlapping milieus of spiritualism, millenarian religion and utopianism in late-Victorian england. Of most interest to transpontinians is his account of the so-called Walworth Jumpers, a split from a group known as the Peculiar People who had a chapel in Gravel Lane, Kennington (they were later known as the Plumsted Peculiars- presumably they moved). There were rowdy scenes in a railway arch in Sutherland Street off the Walworth Road in 1871-2 as curious crowds gathered to watch the jumpers' ecstatic dancing, leading to them being compared to the similarly inclined Shakers in the US. After facing similar hostility at premises in Salisbury Row, Lock's fields (under the current Aylesbury Estate) and another railway arch near Waterloo, Mary Ann Girling and her followers moved to Hordle in the New Forest where they lived communally while waiting for the end of the world. The 1881 census record a number of south londoners still living with them, including the unusually named Emma and Elizabeth Knuecheles, the latter a 14 year old born in Camberwell.
In and around the New forest in this period there seem to have been various experiments in different ways of life, from the plebeian to the aristocratic, encompassing various combinations of dress reform, Bible communism, vegetarianism and celibacy.
Back in South London, we also hear of Captain Alfred Wilks Drayson, a spiritualist who claimed to have 'witnessed fresh eggs, fruit and flowers descend from the ceiling' of his quarters at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and who held seances with John Ruskin (then living in Camberwell) and Arthur Conan Doyle. Peculiar people, one and all.
Steve talked through some of the different explanations that have been put forward - was it all a prank played on gullible peasants by toffs? Was it mass hysteria linked to the stresses of urbanisation and disease? Was there some paranormal content? In true Fortean style, the mystery resists any single explanation.
Next SELFS on Monday August 8th features another dark creature of the night, with a talk on the folklore of the Black Dog. Upstairs at the Spanish Galleon pub, Greenwich, prompt 8 pm start.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Lots of interesting and free art stimulation to be had in Camberwell last weekend. The Summer Show at Camberwell College of Art had some really good work. Our favourites were Hanna Park's melancholic sketches of London bus life (example here), rendered very poignant by recent events. Other Londonist work included a sound recording made in the Dragon Wok Chinese restaraunt opposite the college, and Cui-Li Zhang's exploration of traffic lights and other street signs, incorporating a video clip of New Cross Road, tapestries of signs and a fake aquarium of plastic fish and miniature signs. Its finished now, so look out for next year's show - for now there's still time (until 17 July) to see Saskia Olde Wolbe's short film 'Trailer' at South London Gallery, a short story to lush shots of cinema interiors and tropical flytraps.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Its free before 5 pm (bar is open from mid day) after 5pm it's £4 / (£2 with a Music Tourist Board card/NUS). Come and hang out, watch/meet bands, play pool, read/write zines, watch visuals.
They say: 'Please bring flowers and ribbons to decorate the gates, poems and London songs, objects that symbolise London to you, messages to be tied to the gates etc, bring candles to honour the recent dead, bring your love and your longing for change, bring your courage and your creativity, bring your passion for the city that opens her arms to all... Cross Bones Graveyard is an unconsecrated graveyard, dating back to medieval times, which holds the bones of the prostitutes and paupers of The Liberty, who were denied burial in consecrated ground or were too poor to afford it. The graveyard was closed in 1853 but was unearthed during the building of the Jubilee line. Each year a Halloween of Cross Bones graveyard event is held by John Constable and The Southwark mysteries and vigils are held there each month to honour the outcast dead. Over time it has become a place of deep healing and of hope for a better and more compassionate city, the city that is stirring beneath our feet as we walk her streets'.
A description of a previous London protection ritual has been posted at the Dragon Environmental Network site.
Friday, July 08, 2005
Lots of schmaltz on the radio about indominatable London pulling together, spirit of the Blitz etc. Some of this a bit bogus, judging by the actions of hotels putting up their prices to take advantage of captive customers unable to travel home. Nevertheless there was obviously lots of mutual aid, and its interesting that in times like these people affirm their connection to the place we live in rather to than the imagined community of the nation - London not England.
It's over-dramatizing things to compare the situation today to the Second World War when millions were slaughtered on all sides, but it is notable that London was appreciated in similar ways in the 1940s. I recently picked up an old copy, from a Walworth Road charity shop, of HV Morton's 'London', a series of sketches of pre-war London life published in 1940. It has a touching hand written message in the front saying 'Another war time birthday. Here are happy memories of our beloved London. Just Chubb 11.6.41'. The book itself is full of London pride: 'London, once so aloof and so vast a mystery, has, in the anxiety of these times, become comprehensible in her danger, and Londoners by the thousands have ceased to be merely lodgers in London, and have found a new importance as helpers of London'. Similar sentiments can be found in Norman Collins' 'London belongs to me' (1945) and Noel Coward's London Pride: 'Ghosts beside our starlit Thames, Who lived and loved and died, Keep throughout the ages London Pride'.
Too soon for me to write much about the politics and to be honest I've found some of the internet comment a bit irritating with people trying to slot events into their favourite conspiracy theory (including usual anti-semitic crap) without waiting for even the basic facts to become clear. Suffice it to say that mass murder in London is no more, but equally no less tragic that mass murder in Iraq, whether carried out by Islamo-fascists or Imperial armies. Neither justifies, or even explains, the other - we need a world without both.