Sunday, April 30, 2006

Were-Tigers and Jack-in-the-Green

It’s May Day and time to enjoy traditional working-class customs like getting drunk with a bloke dressed as a hedge.

SELFS-folk have been going along to the Deptford Jack in the Green for two years now and it’s always fantastic fun (see pictures from previous years).

Meanwhile at SELFS we’ll be talking about men in Sumatra who take on the aspects of tigers. “Were-tigers” are a quick and simple way to describe a world of living jungle-shamanism and communication with the cat spirits. I won’t be about, as I did this. Andy Worthington will be introducing. Be nice to him.

8th May: Jon Hare - The Were-Tigers of Sumatra.
Centre for Fortean Zoology member Jon Hare encountered the “were-tigers” while searching for ape-men in Sumatra. This is his first hand tale of living shamanism, martial arts and spirit cats.

South East London Folklore Society meets every second Monday of the month upstairs at The Spanish Galleon, 48 Greenwich Church Street, SE10 9BL. Talks start at 8.00pm and costs £2.50 / £1.50 concessions.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.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Zine Symposium

Went along to The Square Occupied Social Centre in Russell Square on Saturday to see Elephant and Castle Post-Hardcorists Butchers Boy in action. It was all part of the London Zine Symposium 2006, with lots of stalls, chat about zines, DIY publishing,music, a radical Bloomsbury walk hosted by South London Radical History Group, and readings from zines. I caught Kitty Chronic of Chroncicles of a Cheating heart zine (as well as riot grrl band Candy Panic Attack reading some interesting stuff about eating disorders.

Monday, April 17, 2006

We are not afraid of the ruins

Derelict London is one of my favourite photo sites with lots of pleasing images of dereliction and decay. Check out the mournful gallery of dead South London pubs, air raid shelters, and graffiti. The only improvement I would like to see would be a section on buildings we would like to see as picturesque ruins in the future!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Ballad of Peckham Rye

The death this week of author Muriel Spark set me reading her 1960 novel ‘The Ballad of Peckham Rye’. The story tells of the mayhem spread by Douglas Dougal, a trickster figure employed in a Peckham factory but doing very little work. Along the way, it provides a fictional snapshot of south London life in the 1950s, with pubs (the Rye Hotel is mentioned on the first page), dancehalls and lovers fumbling on Peckham Rye. Like William Blake, who had a vision of angels in a tree on Peckham Rye, Spark’s Rye is a place of visions – Douglas manages to draw a crowd by pointing upwards and declaring ‘A new idea. Did you see it in the papers? Planting trees and shrubs in the sky. Look there – it’s a tip of a pine’. Another character sees ‘the Rye for an instant looking like a cloud of green and gold, the people seeming to ride upon it, as you might say there was another world than this’.

Spark also makes use of a local legend about a tunnel linking Peckham and Nunhead, supposedly an escape route for nuns in the time of Henry VIII. The novel features the discovery of a tunnel that stretches ‘roughly six hundred yards from the police station [in Meeting House Lane]… to Gordon Road’ and ‘formerly used by the nuns of the Order of St Bridget’. The excavation uncovers the bones of nuns in the tunnel.

Variations of this story crop in local history accounts, not least on the sign outside the (currently closed) Nunhead Tavern itself. There does not seem to be any real evidence for it, and I wonder whether in one of those folklore loops Muriel Spark’s fictional telling of the legend entered local folklore itself to become the source of some of the later stories. Anyway, good news on the pub itself, it is apparently due to be reopened by the people who run the Gowlett Arms in Peckham, a pub with a good selection of beers and delicious pizza!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Song of the South

'Song of the South' is the working title for a new musical project I have started, aiming to collect, record, perform and maybe even write songs linked to South London locations. My vision is of a floating pool of collaborators chipping in for the odd song or two, gradually building up to a body of work. As a first small step I performed a couple of songs at the Telegraph Hill Festival Blues Night on 25 March at Page Two in Nunhead. I started off with Georgie, a poaching ballad set in Shooters Hill (or other locations, depending on the version), and then accompanied by Juleigh sang modern folk classic The Only Living Boy in New Cross. If you are interested in participating in this project let me know.

Midnight Notes

Radio Noodles is a newish free podcast site. Early stuff posted there includes XChris's interesting 'Night Exploration' recorded on a late night stroll along South London's Walworth Road with Chris reflecting on the night accompanied by the sound of passing traffic and drinkers. It ends up with a nice quote from Maurice Blanchot: "Midnight never falls at midnight. Midnight falls when the dice are cast, but they cannot be cast till Midnight".

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tales of the Fountain

Dave 'Fountain Boy' Fennessy has been in touch having seen our earlier posting about the indie pop club at the Fountain in Deptford Broadway (now Noodle King). It was Dave who put this club on from June 1990 until a year later when, in his own words, he 'completely fell out of love with music'.

The club particularly highlighted bands on Sarah Records, with St.Christopher, the Sea Urchins, Another Sunny Day, Brighter and Heavenly all playing. Dave says that he 'solely supported the anorak scene because they couldn't get gigs anywhere else in London, not even at the Falcon [legendary Camden indie pub]. Bands that nobody liked included Fat Tulips, Strawberry Story, Groove Farm, Thrilled Skinny... I was a big supporter of south London bands but not many fitted the bill - I was keen to keep the music specifically non-rocky and very indie poppy. My fave locals were Screeming Custard who used to pack the place out. We also had Brain of Morbius, Violet Circuit, Moral Panik, Buick Circus Hour'.

Dave is now planning to devote a website to this 'very independent haven for the unloved, the twee, the sick and the ill', doubtless including the night Bob Mortimer stepped in and tried to stop two guys were having a pretend fight. We look forward to it.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Archaeology of the Future

Archaeology of the Future is an excellent site on the history of British science fiction. I particularly liked the pieces on Science Fiction and the Suburbs and on the Greenwich Emotion Map.

Previously at Transpontine we have considered South London horror film locations, but what of science fiction? We've had Dr Who on the South Bank and Chislehurst caves. Then there's The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), where an astronaut returns from outer space harbouring a deadly alien life-form. He runs away and spends a night on a derelict boat at Deptford Creek, before causing havoc at London Zoo and Westminster Abbey. Any other candidates?