Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Deptford Pudding

Deptford Pudding is apparently a kind of bread pudding with added lemon. The old recipe for it is up on The Great British Cookbook. Anybody tried it or know anything about its history?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

South London Nights Out Dancing: 1954

From the South London Press, 30th April 1954, here's some adverts for going out dancing at the Wimbledon Palais, the Brixtoria Ballroom Club (205 Stockwell Road), Joyce Harrison's School of Dancing at the Peckham Unionist Club (Commercial Way, SE15) and Geoff Holden's School of Dancing (34 St Mary's Road, SE15).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lewisham '77 events

Two events coming up to mark the 30th anniversary of the anti-fascist Battle of Lewisham. First up tomorrow night (October 27th) is a Love Music Hate Racism gig at Goldsmiths Student Union (all welcome) featuring among other things a set by Don Letts.

Then in two weeks time (November 10th) there's a free half day event, also at Goldsmiths in New Cross, with films and speakers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

South Eats London

South Eats London is a new night at the Deptford Arms by the people who used to do the excellently-named Short Skirt Long Jacket. They promise 'the shiniest in new electro, indie and artpop', this week featuring 'Dora Brilliant, the low-fat ghost music of Hong Kong In The 60s and the bubble-like dreampop of Shimura Curves. And its all FREE!' on Saturday 27th October, 8 pm - 1 am at The Deptford Arms, 52 Deptford High Street.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New Cross Stock Car Racing

Stock Car racing is a motorsport based around the premise of using ordinary cars rather than special racing cars. In its early days it seems to have been a chaotic affair of bangers smashing into each other and turning over.

Its local significance is that according to Pete Marsh (from where this fine picture was sourced), the very first stock car race on British soil took place at the New Cross speedway stadium, off Ilderton Road, on Good Friday, 16th April 1954. A 26,000 sell-out crowd attended with as many as 20,000 more were locked out of the packed venue.

The South London Press reported of the night: 'This is not a sport for the statistician, beyond a pure record that a French driver won the final. Thrills and spills are the points that count with the crowd. It gives them the thing they want in speedway, tumbles and accidents without anybody getting hurt... Cars were bumped and rolled over and over with their drivers getting out afterwards without a scratch. Wings were wrenched off as cars jostled for position. The ladies were there , and to show that the female sex give nothing away to the to the men one English girl driver won her heat. Unfortunately she was the centre of a three way crash in the final and never finished' (SLP 21.4.1054).

Two weeks later 48 drivers attempted to 'turn over or wreck each other in their bid for the £50 prize for the winner of the final'. The competitors included East London's 'Oily' Wells, the crowd's favourite on the first night, ex-New Cross speedway star George Craig and two women - 'English girl Tanya Crouch and French driver Michele Cancre d'Orgeix' (SLP 30.4.54). Not long afterwards, Stock Car racing left New Cross for Harringay in north London.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Magda Pniewska

Let's not get too carried away with our New Cross beautiful neighbourhood hype.

Passed this memorial to Magda Pniewska, 26 year old Polish care worker, on the way to work yesterday. She was on her way back from work at Manley Court Nursing Home home when she was shot dead in John Williams Close, New Cross.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kender Street Art

I like these pictures on the hoardings around the building site on the corner of Kender Street, New Cross.

Better still, is it true they're building a new library there (among other things)? Possibly even one that has more than a handful of books and opens a bit more often than the current one in New Cross.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Shoreditch is dead, long live New Cross?

On the back of publicity about the re-launched Amersham Arms, there's been a proliferation of articles in the London papers talking up the area. A piece in Time Out this week declared 'Shoreditch is dead, long live New Cross'. Meanwhile, the Standard declared that 'Something hip is happening in New Cross', printing a picture of Sophie and Ian from Rubbish & Nasty as well as bigging up the Amersham Arms.

The discovery of New Cross is a hardy perennial that seems to crop up on a recurring cycle. A few years ago the Standard published a two page spread on New Cross called 'Welcome to the New Hoxton' (9 July 2004). Around the same time, there was all the music press interest in the 'New Cross scene'. An article in NME (27 October 2005) declared that 'there are a hundred bands, fanzines, DJs and micro-labels doing exciting, inspiring stuff'.

We like to see some acknowledgement that there is life in South East London, but at the same time we don't really want to become the new anywhere else especially if its means the life being squeezed out of the area by rising rents and prices.

It is noteable that some of the 'scene' landmarks mentioned in the 2004 Standard article have already vanished. Moonbow Jakes, described as the 'New Cross artists' hang out and cafe' has closed, while the Temporary Contemporary gallery in the Seagar Distillery was displaced to make way for the Distillery development.

There's a great quote from Ian McQuaid in the latest Standard article: 'The scene is thriving, they say, partly because it is difficult to get to, meaning that locals are forced to stay local. "It is very insular here," says McQuaid. "They're about to shut the East London line for five years to build the extension. By the time they come back we'll all have sprouted claws and wings."'


Bounty: A Case of Preposterous Optimism is an exhibition on at the APT Gallery in Deptford Creekside, featuring work by 16 artists.

The story of the Bounty, and Fletcher Christian's mutiny against Captain William Bligh, has been mythologised in Hollywood and other versions, but it is also a story very much rooted in local history. The Bounty sailed from Deptford in October 1787, on a journey planned to take breadfruit plants from Tahiti to grow on the slave plantations in the West Indies. Indeed pots for the voyage were actually made at a pottery on Creekside itself, possibly even a pottery known to have stood on the current site of the APT gallery.

There's a couple of free talks coming up at the gallery linked to the exhibition. Next Thursday 18 October 2007 at 7 pm Scott Plear presents 'Don’t let truth get in the way of a good story', focusing on interpretation of the Bounty story in film.

Amersham Arms relaunch party

The launch party for the newly refurbished Amersham Arms in New Cross on Thursday was a good one, with The Rakes headlining. It was a bit of a coup seeing them in a small venue (the pub holds 300), as they now sell out the Brixton Academy (which holds 5000). Unsurprizingly, it was packed.

The Amersham Arms is going to be a real addition to South London nightlife, with something on every night of the week. I know it's been a good music pub for years, but it had got a bit stuck in the rut of late. I was pleased to see that the new owners seem to be going for a diverse music policy, rather than just wall to wall lowest common denominator guitar bands. There's Dubdisco next Wednesday with Don Letts DJing, and Redbricks Festival of Folk next Sunday 21st October. Today (Sunday) would be a good time to check it out if you're curious, with free entry to Sunday Best from 5:00 pm featuring Radio One's Rob Da Bank. If you get there early you might even be able to grab one of the big sofas.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

53 bus

Last Thursday, Robert Elms invited people to tell tales about places along the 53 bus route, from Plumstead, through New Cross and on to Elephant and Castle. People called in with memories of the ruins of the original Arsenal ground in Plumstead, the Plumstead Radical Club, a 1960s mechanised street sign in New Cross featuring a man climbing up and down a ladder, and the Age Exchange reminiscence centre in Blackheath. Not to mention George Dyer, the legendary Walworth Road mod tailor - inevitably Robert Elms is having a suit made for him there . You can listen to it again until next Thursday.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bolivian event in Camberwell

The United Nations recently approved the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world. To celebrate, a Bolivan community group is holding a day of music and dance in Camberwell this weekend. The Bolivian Federation in the United Kingdom event takes place at Synergy, 220 Farmers RoadLondon SE5 0TW on Sunday 14th October 2007 from 1.30pm to 10pm . Ticket £5.00, the proceeds will go to help a Bolivian family in need.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Anubis Returns

Last week a giant statue of Anubis, Egyptian god of the dead was floated down the Thames. The 25-foot fiberglass representation of the jackal-headed god was taken down the river on the back of a cargo ship to Trafalgar Square, before being moved to various locations around the capital.

Basically it's all to promote an exhibition, "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," opening in November in Greenwich at O2. But the veneration of Anubis is nothing new in South London. In 1996 a Roman cemetery was excavated by archaeologists in Southwark in Great Dover Street (part of the original Kent Road). The grave of a young woman included several lamps with images of Anubis, as well as one with a gladiator image, prompting (probably unfounded) speculation that the grave was of a female gladiator.

Pretty Polly of Deptford

Another South London song to add to the list. Pretty Polly of Deptford comes from The Universal Songster (1834). The full version includes spoken interludes, which I haven't included here.

Air—" Meg of Wapping."—(C. Dibdin.)

'Twas at Greenwich fair, I shall never forget,
When my messmates and I were all merry
At the Ship pretty Polly of Deptford I met
Whose cheeks were as red as a cherry.

Her eyes shot a four-pounder plump through my heart,
And though love I had always called folly,
I spilt all my grog o'er a messmate so smart,
While looking askew at Miss Polly.

So I looked like a lubber, my messmates all laughed
While Pardon I asked of Miss Polly.

But you know, British sailors for trifles don't stand,
And Polly forgave me so sweetly,
That I asked, when the fiddler struck up, for her hand,
For at dancing I can jig it featly;

But while we were footing it, 'twas love, I suppose,
Though she smiled, I was all melancholy,
For right I went left, jibbed, and trod on her toes,
Missed stage, and came down with Miss Polly.

So we called 'Jack's alive,' and I footed away,
And came in for a kiss of Miss Polly.

So my heart struck its colours, but don't go to think
I struck only because she was pretty;
I found she'd a heart that could part with the chink,
When distress came athwart her for pity.

She was none of they vixens who scratch out your eyes,
Tip you faintings, and all that queer folly,
Could work at her needle, make puddings and pies
And wa'n't that a charming Miss Polly ?

So she blushed her consent, and a license I bought,
And next day I married Miss Polly.

Friday, October 05, 2007

South London Spooks

No, not MI6 at Vauxhall. We're talking the supernatural/imaginary/anomalous phenomena for which there is a perfectly rational explanation - take your choice, or in true Fortean style keep open the option that all or none of the above may be true.

Any way, on 11th October South East London Folklore Society presents Patsy Langley talking on Ghosts of South London, with a particular focus on Borough and surrounds. 8 pm at the Old King's Head, Kings Head Yard, 45-49, Borough High St, London, SE1 1NA, £2.50 / £1.50 concessions.

Not sure if I can make it due to being treble booked, so I will throw in my own tale now. One of my neighbours in New Cross thinks they've got a haunted piano, or a house haunted by a ghost that is partial to tinkling the ivories. There was the time she thought her daughter practicing the piano, but she was actually in another room; the time she heard the piano being played in the night; the time everybody in the house was sitting down to dinner and they all heard some strange piano music (described as like fairy music). They live in a Victorian terrace on a busy road, so you could explain it as neighbours' noise, passing car stereos, or a hallucination. If you want to explain it by something else, why pick on ghosts (spirits of the dead), rather than say aliens or fairies? I guess that's folklore, the stories we tell to make sense of the things that don't appear to fit in with our habitual way of seeing the world.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lewisham '77 Conference - November 10th

30 years after the mass anti-National Front protests in New Cross and Lewisham, Lewisham '77 is holding a half-day conference on November 10th 2007 at Goldsmiths College in New Cross (1 pm start, admission free). The conference will provide an opportunity both to remember the events of 1977 and to reflect on their significance for today. It will include a photographic exhibition, videos, and an interesting panel of speakers including:

-Professor Paul Gilroy - sociologist, ex-Goldsmiths lecturer and author of Ain't No Black In The Union Jack and The Black Atlantic;
- Balwinder Rana and Ted Parker - veterans of Lewisham '77 and the Anti-Nazi League;
- Martin Lux, author of Anti-Fascist: A Foot-Soldier's Story;
- Dr William(Lez) Henry - former Goldsmiths lecturer and South London reggae DJ, author of What the Deejay Said: A Critique from the Street.
- speakers from Lewisham Anti-Racist Action Group (LARAG) and No One is Illegal.

Check the Lewisham '77 website to keep up to date with details.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Amersham Arms to reopen

After being closed for refurbishment for the summer, The Amersham Arms is set to re-open in New Cross on 12 October. The people behind The Lock Tavern in Camden are the new owners.

Those who worried that the pub might lose its musical character under new management can relax . It will include a 300 capacity live venue, Sunday carvery, gallery upstairs, smaller live stage, and late license from Thursday - Saturday.

Events in the first month will feature Ross Allen , Alice McLaughlin, FourTet, They Came From the Stars I Saw Them, Hatcham Social, The Gluerooms Halloween Special, Twisted Charm, Don Letts, MaryAnne Hobbs and loads more.

Save Cafe Crema

Cafe Crema in New Cross Road is apparently facing eviction by its landlord, Goldsmiths College. The Cafe is a popular student hangout, also known for its film shows and other events.

I'm not sure how imminent this threat is, or whether it extends to the other shops in that stretch, including Prangsta and Rubbish & Nasty. It does highlight once again the role of Goldsmiths as a major property owner/developer in the area - over the past 20 years or so it has expanded to take over a Church, former primary school, former Town Hall and the Laurie Grove Swimming Baths. It would be a shame if it now used its wealth/power to close down one of the few points of interest in the anonymous traffic corridor that is New Cross Road.

Supporters are asked to pop down to 306 New Cross Road to sign a petition. Inevitably there's also a Save Cafe Crema group on Facebook.