Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bucky & Co.

Interesting Sunday afternoon gig happening tomorrow featuring Bristol band Bucky, as well as Corey OS, Wetdog and Smartypants plus 'Crafting, Tea & Cakes'.

It all happens at The Pullens Centre, Crampton Street, SE17 (map here), 2-6pm.

Monday, July 25, 2005

30 Seconds under Chislehurst

Reading Simon Reynolds' marvellous new book 'Rip it Up and Start and Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984'. Deptford's finest Alternative TV and This Heat both get their dues, along with just about anybody making interesting music in that period. I hadn't realized that David Sylvian and Japan came from Catford - a quick Google search shows that the world's most beautiful man (as he was once described) was born David Batt at Stone Park Hospital, Beckenham, and met other band members at Catford Secondary School.

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).

Convoys Wharf

Thanks to Bob from Brockley for finding an article from the South China Morning Post about Deptford: "Residents in southeast London have mounted a campaign against plans by Cheung Kong (Holdings) to redevelop a 16-hectare site at Convoys Wharf in Deptford into a mixed high-rise residential and commercial complex.The move threatens to stall the Hong Kong developer's ambitions to expand its British portfolio. Cheung Kong and its ports-to-telecoms arm, Hutchison Whampoa, bought the site in May from Rupert Murdoch's News International, the publishing arm of News Corp, for $1.46 billion".

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

Swear / Violets

What are our favourite Angular artistes up to (or should that be post-Angular, as they're now putting out material on other labels)? The Swear are playing at the Six String/Paradise Bar in New Cross on 4th August with Strange Chocolate. Their recent 'repeat it, repeat it' CD EP is available from their site and you can also check out what they sound like, if you've never had the pleasure.

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

"They're all Londoners"

More bombs in London... at the moment a lot of people seem more weary than anything, but as the reality sinks in that we could be in for a long campaign, who knows what forms the creeping paranoia and edginess will take? One possible direction is racism, already being stoked by the British National Party, who used images of the bus bomb in their Barking election leafet, and by the Daily Mail, where Melanie Phillips bemoans 'the disaster of multiculturalism'.

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'.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Save The Hood

No, not a reference to Respect's hilarious "stop the Hoodie Ban" demo at Elephant and Castle, but a plea to save one of South East London's finest community pubs. The Lord Hood in Creek Lane has successfully avoided the gentrification of Greenwich, and remained a fine example of a good community local. OK, it only has one real ale, a fairly nondescript Courage Best, but it is reasonably priced, and unusually for the area has a music license. This means that on different nights you can can go to a disco, hear a jazz group, have a sing-along or (like me) join in with a fine English Traditional Music Session. (not made any the finer by me, I hasten to add) The pub also seems to be a focus of activity for local pensioners ( ie they're not driven out by pricey drinks and loud contemporary music) and there's a feisty Womens' darts team too.

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

Future Sound of SE14

Saturday saw the latest gig from the alumni of Felix's School of Rock at Prendergast School, Hilly Fields, with school-aged rockers taking the stage. Highlights for me were Redrum (average age 9.5) with their versions of Seven Nation Army and Californication, and Unique, who supplemented Audioslave and Led Zeppelin covers with a song of their own.

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

After the silence

Some places have periods of silence all the time. I imagine that, say, Dulwich Village is pretty quiet in the middle of the night. Walworth Road is never quiet, so the two minutes of silence last Thursday for the victims of the London bombings felt quite eery - construction, shop and council workers standing on the streets, and the traffic gradually coming to a halt.

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

On the buses

In the aftermath of the London bombing there has been an almost delirious outpouring of rhapsodic prose about the city and its pleasures. Following Iain Sinclair's Theatre of the City piece, Laura Barton penned a hymn to London buses in yesterday's Guardian, apparently based on a day traversing the capital by random routes. As I sat on the 171 into work yesterday, I read her poetic observation that 'Londoners sail the buses, floating along its surface like the flotsam of the city, each passenger following their mystical routes as if by divination'.

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

Walworth Jumpers

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.

Spring Heeled Jack

Steve Ash gave a great talk to South East London Folklore Society on the Spring Heeled Jack phenomenon. In 1838 panic swept through the villages on the edge of London, with people apparently being accosted by a mysterious figure in a cloak able to leap great heights to avoid capture. A servant girl in Forest Hill was frightened out of her wits by a creature in a bearskin; horses panicked after Spring Heeled Jack lept over Streatham High Road...

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

Camberwell Shows

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.

Subterranean Sonic Women Artists take Greenwich

I've waited ages to write that headline and finally....I CAN! This came over the email today:
Local women tunnel under the Thames
Local Greenwich women are filling the Greenwich Foot Tunnel with sound on Saturday 16th July 2005. They have been working with London sound artist Jo Lucas to produce a sonic journey called 'Tunnel of Time' through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. The project was set up by the Greenwich based media arts organisation Independent Photography. The installation brings together ambient sounds and spoken word by the artist and women created through intimate discussions amongst themselves.
A collage of voice and sound is immersed within the environment of Greenwich and woven together with 5 women's tales of fear and faith. The project explores a fragility and power within private experience that is often overlooked. The installation will run from 12pm - 6pm, with information, refreshments and a short presentation by the artist and women at 5pm at the tunnel entrance in Cutty Sark Gardens.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hannah Baneth

Bob from Brockley notes the passing of Hannah Baneth, post-war Jewish refugee and Deptford housing activist, among other things.

6 X 6 at Six String Bar

6X6 is a mini-music festival happening at the Six String Bar (formerly Paradise Bar),460 New Cross Road this Saturday 16th July. It starts in the afternoon (3 pm) and goes on until 11 pm with a diverse range of musical talent including THE CROWD, NEBRASKA, CHARLIE BROWN and DEVIL IN MISS JONES . DIGITAL SNEAKERS will be showing their documentary film 'Rocklands - Live In New Cross' featuring Twisted Charm, Angular Records, Art Brut, Bloc Party and many others. All this plus DJs, pub price booze and good company. I will also being doing a short talk about Deptford Fun City, and probably playing a short set of Transpontine tracks (maybe a bit of ATV, This Heat, Band of Holy Joy etc.).

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.

London healing

Avalon in London are holding an impromptu ritual of healing and protection for London, and all her inhabitants, and to celebrate her vibrant life force. They will be meeting at Cross Bones Graveyard at the north end of Redcross Way, close to Borough tube station, at 7.00pm on Friday 15th July.

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

London belongs to me

Transpontine crew all believed safe and sound after yesterday's madness, though Skitster apparently went through Edgware Road station not long before the blast. Met somebody this morning who had been on the top of the bus that got blown up - after the explosion she looked round and most the seats behind her had disappeared along with the people on them. So it was no surprize when they said today that 13 had died on the bus, rather than the 2 originally announced. Miraculously she got away with perforated ear drums and shock. Some of the people on the bus had earlier been caught up in the bomb at Edgware Road a full hour before. This in itself calls into question the story of the super-efficient emergency operation swinging seamlessly into action, though who can say if any course of action would have made any difference by that stage.

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.


Freaky Friday

Sorry, that's the only subject line I could think of for hese two south-east London event. Maybe 'Fine Friday' or 'Fab Friday' would be more positive, these are both cool looking events, but, what the heck, everyone's heard of 'Freaky Friday'.
Anyway, I digress, in New Cross this Friday (8th) Fresh Films at Cafe Crema, 306 New Cross Road, are hosting an event called 'Rats and Roses' where they will be screening animated shorts from the 10th Brief Encounters Short Film Festival.
First up is Jo Jo in the Stars’, The description of this award winning film is: ‘The heart wrenching tale of two unlikely lovers; Jo Jo, a silver plated trapeze artist and the nameless hero who worships her'.
This is followed by 'Dog Years’, winner UK Film Council audience award, ‘Ben, 39, castrated mongrel, needs love. GSOH essential’, as well as London Fields are Blue’ and a film called ‘The Curse of Geoff’.
The films will be followed by music from George Leitenberger, singer songwriter and composer of film scores for cult german films of the 80s: including La Fuente Verde;Glasnost Junkies;Night Comes Falling.
Now, if you're like me and you've never seen or heard of these films, Cafe Crema helpfully lists George's influences and sound as "Bob Dylan, Tom Waites, Jacques Brel….Beautiful guitar, bittersweet ballads…drink and dream"
The cost is £5.50, including a meal, and Cafe Crema can only reserve a total of 5 tickets over the phone. To reserve tickets phone 020 8320 2317 during cafĂ© opening times Mon-Fri 9.30-6.00.
Oops, actually, the Kosmische night is on Saturday 9th July, Friday 8th at the Corsica Studios, (Unit 5, Farrell Court, Elephant Road, SE17 1LB), which is under the arches of Elephant & Castle station, just off the top of Walworth Road is:
Friday July 8th - Shortwave Films 8pm till 2am, Entry £4/£3 concRunning order: Short films/videos by emerging talent from 9pm till 10pm Bands on stage from 10:30pm Following on from the films we have live music courtesy of Battant, Crack Village and The Hands. Battant are Chloe, Mole and Tim. Formed in November 2004, they produce a flurry of pop-dripping rampage. Laptop, drum machine, keyboard and electricguitarcomebass gang-bang the twisted corners of Chloe's mind as she spits out convulsively addictive mutterings. Quick on the path to success, these three will not stop til they've reached the far corners of Everywhere.First release is out on Firewire July 11th. Wait for it... Crack Village are building an enthusiastic and loyal fanbase with their irreverent brand of hip-hop, mixing in live brass, human beatboxing and punk rock attitude together with electro and breakbeats. They will be showcasing material scheduled for release on MAKE SOME NOISE RECORDS. The Hands are a crack four-piece playing wired-pop in the finest tradition. Formed 18 months ago, the quartet from south east London have taken inspiration from the everyday to create a quintessentially English sound. Built from keyboard, guitar, bass and drums, the songs go from thoughtful to throwaway in a beat: love, loss, work and play all feature in the big sound of their short stories. Joining the dots between audio and visual will be resident DJ’s Rob Wray and John Reynolds. Visuals come courtesy of Digital Mass.Email for guest list. For more info visit who can be contacted on 0778 869 2137
On Saturday, Kosmische, kraut-rock to the masses, are demonstration their exquisite taste by hosting their nineth Birthday party at Corsica Studios, Unit 5, Farrell Court, Elephant Road, SE17 1LB, which is under the arches of Elephant & Castle station, just off the top of Walworth Road.
The line-up is:
Fine Finnish drone-rocked Circle, Jean-Herve Peron of Faust (with guests), Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom (DFA synth genies), Amal Gamal Ensemble (Shock-Headed Peters/Cyclobe/Guapo/Alabama 3) and the always fab Now.
They also promise "Kosmische club djs, Barry 7 chamber, whacked-out films, liquid lighting by Lightning Rod from Bubble Vision, strangeness and surprises."
there are only 2 ways to get in:1. buy a ticket for £12 from WeGotTickets or email with the subject 'put me on the list'. It's £15 on door and you'll need ot be on the list.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Planet of the Apes, SE24

The search for obscure South London film connections continues. Further to our list of transpontine horrors, we have uncovered a link to the Planet of the Apes cycle in the personage of Roddy McDowall, who played chimp good guy Cornelius in the original movie (as well as several other simian parts in the follow ups). He was born in 1928 at 204 Herne Hill Road, London SE24.

It has also been brought to our attention that the photo we reproduced from the 1935 film Bride of Frankenstein features not one but two South London monster impersonators. As well as Lewisham-born Elsa Lanchester as the Bride in question, Frankenstein himself was played by Boris Karloff (1887-1969), born William Henry Pratt in Camberwell.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Spirit of '77

Tipped off from The Fall Message board about a gig on Saturday-

"The Phobics, are playing on Saturday 2nd July at The Birds Nest pub on Deptford Church Street, SE8 at 9pm. 2 sets of old fashioned Punk Slop - think Ramones meet Buzzcocks where The Dead Boys and the New York Dolls frolic.

They're a very friendly bunch. And it's absolutely free!

To get an idea of what fun to expect, look here:"

Do check out the site- It warms the cockles to know that people are still doing this kind of "old school" punk, as opposed to the later Exploited style rubbish...

I'd be there, if it wasn't for the fact I'm morris dancing in Northampton....