Monday, December 31, 2007

Lewisham Teddy Boy Trouble

The Lewisham Odeon, mentioned in the previous post on David Bowie, started life in 1932 as the Gaumont Palace and was demolished in 1991. In 1956, it was the scene of 'Teddy Boy' trouble, as reported by the Times, Times, 11 September 1956:

‘Police were called to cinemas in London and Liverpool last night to deal with disturbances among youthful audiences as showings of the film ‘Rock Around the Clock’... Police dogs were used to break up a crowd outside the Gaumont cinema, Lewisham, SE, where the same film is being shown. Trouble began during the performance when a youth jumped on the rail in front of the stage, walked along it and chanted ‘Rock – rock – rock’. Others teenagers ‘jived’ in the isles.

30 policemen arrived. One was knocked between two rows of seats when he tried to stop dancing. Police and commissionaires ejected about 50 youths. Six youths will appear in court at Woolwich SE today, charged with insulting behaviour outside the Granada cinema, Woolwich, where the film had been shown’.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bowie at Lewisham Odeon 1973

David Bowie's gig at the Lewisham Odeon in May 1973 on his Ziggy Stardust tour was a life changing moment for some of those who were there. Boy George later recalled:

"The first time I saw DAVID BOWIE performing was on THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST, on TV. Everything changed, and that was basically the end of normality for me. I was obsessive about BOWIE. I saw my first ZIGGY STARDUST concert when I was 13 at the Lewisham Odeon - ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS - and followed him to every concert hall and radio gig. Saturdays and Sundays, and sometimes after school, I'd go to Beckenham on the bus and just stand outside his house and hang out with all the other fans. We'd talk about him nonstop, about his latest records. latest outfits, his boots, his hair. One day we were being quite noisy outside his home, and his wife, Angie, opened the window and shouted: 'Will you all fuck off!' It was the highlight of our year; we were all quite chuffed to be acknowledged."

There's an audio recording of part of the soundtrack and gig at Lewisham (the gig starts at about 6:40 with Wild Eyed Boy/All the Young Dudes/Oh you pretty things:

The day after the Lewisham gig, he moved on to the Winter Fardens in Bournemouth. There's a remarkable Nationwide TV report form this which gives a flavour of the time (not sure if there is any Lewisham footage in the video, most of it is from Bournemouth).

There's a bootleg of the whole Lewisham gig out there too, the full set list was apparently:

Ode To Joy
Hang On To Yourself
Ziggy Stardust
Watch That Man
Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud/All The Young Dudes/Oh! You Pretty Things
Moonage Daydream
Space Oddity
The Jean Genie
Time Width Of A Circle
Let's Spend The Night Together
Drive In Saturday
Suffragette City
Cracked Actor
Rock'n'Roll Suicide
(updated 5 January 2012)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Don Letts in Forest Hill

I have been reading 'Culture Clash: Dread Meets Punk Rockers' (SAF: London, 2007), the autobiography of Don Letts, DJ, film-maker, member of Big Audio Dynamite and general mischief maker. Don grew up in Brixton, going to Christchurch Primary School and Archbishop Tennison secondary, but during the punk period when he was DJing at the Roxy club (early 1977) he 'moved to a grand old house in Forest Hil, built on the second highest point in London' with his then girlfriend Jeanette Lee - later a member of Public Image Ltd and later still co-owner of Rough Trade records. Leo Williams and JR, who were in black post-punk band The Basement 5, lived there and 'Both Joe Strummer and Chrissie Hynde also lived there at different times'.

Letts also mentions 'hanging out with John Lydon after the Pistols' gig at the Nashville. We went back to my house in Forest Hill and spent the whole night talking about reggae music and Jamaican culture'. 'After the shows at the Roxy, Chrissie Hynde, some of the Slits, the Clash, Generation X and the Pistols would hang out in Forest Hill, often all at the same time', while Letts spliced together the super 8 film that would become 'The Punk Rock Movie'. All in all, the house in Forest Hill sounds like a punk powerhouse. Not sure of the address or whether the present occupiers would necessarily want to know if they've read the book which also describes a sad teenage suicide in the house.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

BNP Ballet Groupie: the Lewisham Connection

The papers have been full recently of the story of the relationship between Simone Clarke, English National Ballet dancer, and Richard Barnbrook, British National Party councillor in Barking and Dagenham and the party's prospective candidate for Mayor of London. Among the ironies of this story is that Clarke has a mixed-race daughter and Barnbrook has previously gone on record as saying that "I'm not opposed to mixed marriages but their children are washing out the identity of this country's indigenous people."

Sadly for South East London, ballet groupie Barnbrook is from Lewisham. He was apparently born in Catford, and has boasted: 'I am a Streetleader for my local Council, which involves removing graffiti, antisocial behaviour and other forms of vandalism from South East London'. I believe that Lewisham is the only local Council in SE London with a Streetleader scheme, so assume that Barnbrook has been living in Lewisham until recently - although he now claims to be living in Barking & Dagenham, as required of a local councillor.

The racist BNP now seems to be targeting parts of Lewisham, particularly in the Downham area. Its London website recently boasted that 'The British National Party was out in force in south Lewisham last weekend (24/25 November 2007) as over 50 members put out around 25,000 leaflets urging local residents to vote for the party and our Mayoral candidate, Richard Barnbrook, in the GLA elections next May'.

As documented at Stop the BNP, the party are currently having some welcome internal disputes with splits, expulsions and accusations of illegal activity. Since the recipients of the leadership's bullying tactics have been other BNP members, our sympathy is limited. But we should bear in mind that organisations like this show some of their true colours in their internal dealings, and only wait the opportunity to apply similar, or worse measures to their real opponents. We might note for instance the history in Germany of the Nazi SD (the Security Service of the SS). 'Its initial task had been to spy on Party members, and thus to give the SS an ascendancy over the regular Party apparatus' (Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jersualem: a Report on the Banality of Evil) - soon its officers including Reinhardt Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann were rounding up Jews and others for extermination.

Check out Lewisham Anti-Racist Action Group for local plans to oppose BNP. And watch out for tutu wearing nazis in your area being followed by doe-eyed ex-porn film directors, er sorry streetleaders.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Deptford Odeon

This fine Art Deco building is the Deptford Odeon cinema, designed by George Coles in 1938 and sadly demolished in the 1980s. I believe it was on the corner of Deptford Broadway and Church Street. The photo is by Seadipper at Flickr.

It is amazing that buildings like this can be allowed to just disappear, so it is heartening to hear that progress has been made in the campaign to have the Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley listed by English Heritage. According to comments at Brockley Central, English Heritage may already have listed the ballroom, if not an application has certainly been submitted by people anxious to prevent its redevelopment.

If you are a facebook user, check out the Save the Rivoli group.

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Cross Xmas 1884: the Fun, the Frolic and the Mirth

Plenty of Pantomime action across South London this Christmas, with Aladdin at the Broadway Theatre in Catford, the Tinderbox at Deptford Albany and further afield Peter Pan in Bromley.
Nothing in New Cross itself, unlike in 1884 when 'the Great National Xmas Fair and South London Healtheries' took place in New Cross Public Hall. For 6d admission the attractions, as advertised on this poster, included Athletes, Juggling, Circus, Knife throwing, Swings, Theatre, Pantomime, Aunt Sally and Marrionettes.

Another poster for this event, held in the British Library's excellent Evanion collection of theatre memorabilia, provides more detail promising "Grand circus including the choicest gems of equestrian art! The most accomplished athletes and gymnasts! the most amusing, funny & grotesque clowns! the clever stud of trained horses and ponies! in fact the best circus in or out of London. … A Richardson's show! - on a scale not attempted in England for the last 50 years, the Grand Spectacular Pantomime entitled 'Harlequin Black Eyed Susan or the Black and Blue-Eyed Captain', supported by well-know London artistes...Burlesque, Comedy, Drama!". All this plus The Crown Minstrels ('a talented troupe of Negro Minstrels, Manager Mr. J. De Voye'), 'Phantasmagoria, or ghost illusions. Under the able direction of Mr. J D Humphreys' plus 'Peculiar dwarfs', 'Giant Ladies', elephants, leopards and performing camels. In short 'The Fun, the Frolic and the Mirth'.

I'm not sure where in New Cross the Public Hall stood, but the poster stated that for this event it was enlarged to hold 20,000 people. Also I have no idea what 'South London Healtheries' denotes. Any information/ideas welcome.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Xmas Card of the Year

My Favourite South London Christmas Card Award 2007 goes to this one received at work from the friendly architects at Cottrell & Vermeulen, a practice based in Iliffe Street, SE17 (near the Elephant and Castle) - think that's where this photo was taken.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Live at the Montague Arms

I mentioned WMFU's collection of London songs last week, looking around its archive I find that as a public service they have also uploaded for your listening pleasure recordings of 'The Two Petes', legendary house band at the Montague Arms in New Cross since the early 1970s. Included is an unbelievable medley of Macarthur Park with 70s instrumental popcorn which really does have to be heard to be believed, not to mention a cover of Neil Young's After the Goldrush 'in a club style' as Vic Reeves used to say.

More about these records here. I haven't been down to the pub on a Sunday afternoon for a while - are they still going strong?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Earl Grey and The Tea Ladies

I didn't managed to stay for the whole show at the Pullens Centre (Crampton Street, SE17) yesterday, so missed Bucky and Butcher's Boy. But in addition to sampling cake and mulled wine I did get to see Earl Grey and the Tea Ladies and enjoyed their versions of film themes played on trombone, trumpet and accordion. As well as 'Moon River', 'The Good, the Bad & the Ugly' and 'The Godfather', they finished off with an instrumental version of 'Anarchy in the UK'. Afterwards there was a few short films, including Chris Jones stalking pigeons and crows in Burgess Park.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Folk Yule

A good night of story and song at South East London Folklore Society's Folk Yule on Thursday night, upstairs in the Old Kings Head by London Bridge. Music included Richard Sanderson's electronic settings of folk songs such as Hares on the Mountain, complete with some fine bird song samples; Hawthorn Well singing Twickenham Ferry; and me singing a couple of south london songs - On Snow Hill, about Greenwich Park, and The Old Kings Head about, well, that's self explanatory (see Transpontine Sound, my embryonic music site). There was also a story about a Christmas tree by Penny Hedge and some entertaining anglo-saxon riddles from Sarah Rundle.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lewisham Rail Crash

Fifty years ago, on the 4th December 1957, 90 people were killed in the Lewisam Rail Crash just outside St John's railway station. In thick fog the 4.56pm Cannon Street to Ramsgate express collided with the stationary 5.18pm Charing Cross to Hayes train. The impact brought down the Lewisham to Nunhead railway bridge, which collapsed onto the first three carriages of the Ramsgate train. Last week's Newsshopper includes people's memories of the event, and there was a memorial service at St Johns Church.

Last month was also the 40th anniversary of the Hither Green rail crash on 5 November 1967, in which 40 people died.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bucky & Butchers Boy

Festive Sunday afternoon fun this weekend at the Pullens Centre, Crampton Street SE17 (near Elephant & Castle) with a gig featuring Bucky and Butchers Boy. All this plus cake and short films!
Sunday 16th December, 1 to 7 pm.

Pan's Labyrinth at Cafe Crema

One of my favourite films is being shown next week in New Cross at Cafe Crema, where South London Solidarity Federation/Class Acts presents Pan's Labyrinth. Guillermo Del Toro's Oscar-winning fairytale for adults is set in Spain in 1944 at the end of the civil war where the conflict between Francoists and the last anti-fascist partisans is mirrored in a young girl's encounters with good and evil in the underworld.

Wednesday 19th December 2007 at 7.30 for food, 8.00pm for film. £4 including veggie food at The CafĂ© Crema 306 New Cross Rd SE14.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More London Songs

WFMU is a New Jersey-based freeform radio station, a bit like London’s Resonance FM. On its blog, David Noades has posted a remarkable collection of London songs – a mixture of music hall, comedy and other ‘light entertainment’ gems mostly recorded in the 1960s and 70s. It’s the kind of stuff that you would only find by trawling through charity shop vinyl and listening to some dreadful records – actually a lot of the tracks he posts are dreadful but strangely compelling to Londonists, crap cockernee accents and all. Among the transpontine numbers are Dick Emery’s Bermondsey (‘outside the pub on a Saturday night you can take part in a heavyweight fight’) and a version of Lambeth Walk by 60s TV hostess Monica Rose (thanks to Bob for spotting this one).

As a further contribution to this collection, I have just posted a Youtube clip of the strange spectacle of Fozzie Bear singing the music hall number Wot'cher (Knocked Em in the Old Kent Road) on The Muppet Show complete with Pearly King outfit! American child star Shirley Temple also sang this in the 1936 film Little Princess (clip also on Youtube).

Wotcher (Knocked 'Em in the Old Kent Road)

Yes, it's Fozzie Bear singing the South London music hall classic on The Muppet Show!