Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Earlier on the jukebox they'd been playing some good music - including Egyptian Reggae by Jonathan Richman - and some terrible music - including Donny Osmond and the Bay City Rollers. The latter reminded me of the strangest encounter I've had in that pub - a couple of years ago I had a drunken conversation with somebody who claimed to have just missed out on fame with the Bay City Rollers as he'd been in a band with them all before they became successful. Must admit I was sceptical, but when I checked later I found that the details (names etc.) he'd given me were all correct. So maybe his story that not long before he'd brought an old friend for a drink in Skehans was also true - none other than Les McKeown himself, former teenage heart-throb and BCR lead singer. What next, David Cassidy in the Hobgoblin?
Well that was Christmas Eve. Not sure of final New Year's Eve plans but I know I'm not planning to spend too much time outside in this temperature. Will probably make it up to Telegraph Hill Park for midnight - if you haven't been there before, there's usually quite a crowd at the park's highest point by the tennis courts watching fireworks going off all over London. Not sure when this started - it's definitely been happening every year since the turn of 2000, but I can't remember whether it was happening before that.
It's also the closing party at Moonbow Jakes in Brockley tonight, sad occasion, New Year's Day will see that place empty.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
'The church of St. Catherine, Hatcham, situated in Pepys-road, New Cross, was practically destroyed by fire shortly after noon yesterday, and the damage, which is partially covered by insurance, is estimated at several thousand pounds. The walls and centre-arches are not seriously injured, and it is hoped that little will have to be expended in their restoration. At half-past eleven the vicar, the Rev. H.J.H. Truscott, visited the church and found everything as usual, but half an hour later he was amazed to see the building in flames. He states that the gas was turned off securely and that the heating apparatus had not been used for a fortnight. This would lead to the belief that the fire was the work of an incendiary, and it has been suggested that suffragists are responsible….
The church occupies a commanding position at the top of Pepys-road, and is a landmark for many miles around. It was erected about 20 years ago at a cost of £18,000 by the Habderdashers Company…
The fire was first noticed from Aske’s school by an employee who immediately gave the alarm. The vicar hurried to the building with the intention of saving the more valuable ornaments and furniture, but the flames were so fierce in the chancel that he was obliged to give up the idea of entering that part of the church. He was able, however, to get into the vestry, from which he removed the registers and church documents to a place of safety….
The sight of the burning church attracted large crowds. The firemen were greatly handicapped in their work owing to the fact that the water had to be pumped a considerable distance up the hill… About 5 o’clock the fire was under control, and when the firemen were able to enter the building it was apparent that the outbreak occurred near the organ… The side chapel was practically intact and also the stained-glass windows, which are situated at the far end of the building. Many of the oak pews in this part of the church had not been burnt.
The vicar informed a newspaper representative that he was convinced that the outbreak was the work of suffragists or of incendiaries. He said “ Last night I noticed two women and a man hanging about outside the church, although there had been no service. I went away for a short time and when I returned they were still there”'.
(Transpontine note - This is the church next to Telegraph Hill Park. I have heard the story of the church being burnt by militant suffragists before. The Times story confirms that this was the view of some at the time, but I have been unable to find any evidence of anybody being charged with this, or of suffragists claiming it. The timing - in 1913 - does though coincide with the period when suffragettes were starting fires in public buildings, including churches. And the fire is reported - with the above photo - in Diane Atkinson's The Suffragettes in Pictures, Museum of London, 1976. The photo is also interesting as the public space where the crowd is standing does look bigger than what is there now - this is where the roundabout now stands at the junction of Jerningham/Pepys/Vesta roads).
Monday, December 29, 2008
A friend (Mick H.) has told me that he used to go El Partido club in Lewisham (8-10 Lee High Road) in the 1960s, a place he remembers being frequented mainly by young Jamaicans as well as some local white mods. King Ossie Sound played out there regularly. Other guests included Jimmy Cliff and the Duke Reid Sound System from Jamaica (both in 1966) and Bo Diddley in 1965.
George Austin recalls at Ska2Soul: 'music was a mix of Ska, Blue Beat and American Soul/Motown. The Club was on two floors, it had a small stage and very low ceilings just the place for live acts. Usually with two sound systems, one on each floor. Upstairs Duke Reid played with his home made sound system tucked away in a small corner, it was a large box, stood about chest height, which housed the amp with a single record deck on top. It had a selection of small lights on the front. The sound was turned down at the end of each record as it was removed and replaced with another disc, a large record box stocked with the latest sounds stood by the side, it's lid open displaying the contents. Speakers stacked up to the ceiling in each open room, pumping out the sound, using about 200 watts. The smell of hash in the air people dancing everywhere'.
There was also the Savoy Rooms in Catford (75 Rushey Green), originally a 1950s ballroom and known in the 1960s as the Witchdoctor. At some point the downstairs was named Mr Smiths, and I've also seen it referred to as the Black Cat - a later incarnation? The Rolling Stones, The Who (April 1966) and Desmond Dekker (1969) all played there. There is a delightful poem called The Savoy Rooms by Marie Marshall, in which she recalls being 'thirteen trying for sixteen in the court of the mohair miniskirt'. In March 1966, a man was shot dead in the club in a gangland battle involving members of the Richardson gang (including Frankie Fraser)
I've also seen mention of the Glenlyn ballroom in Forest Hill (15 Perry Vale - later Crystals Snooker Club) - the Kinks, Stones, Byrds and The Who all played there too.
Interested if anyone's got any memories of these or other places - happy to host any scanned photos, flyers or newspaper clippings people may have lying around too.
See related posts:
The Who in South London
The Mistrale Club in Beckenham - 1960s/1970s
The Green Man in Blackheath - 1960s jazz, r'n'b and Manfred Mann
The Fellowship Inn in Bellingham
Soul City record shop in Deptford
Ok, After my post about Brockley where I live, I decided to do one about the soulless, concrete homage to pure capitalism that occupies a rather innocent spot hidden behind Crystal Palace on the south edge of London. Croydon. Where, I am ashamed to admit, I have my design studio.
Kirsty MacColl, whom grew up in Croydon, once added it as number 5 in her top 50 things she hates, adding she hoped it would all be "blown up" someday. David Bowie said in an interview in 1999: “It was my nemesis, I hated Croydon with a real vengeance. It represented everything I didn't want in my life, everything I wanted to get away from. I think it's the most derogatory thing I can say about somebody or something: ‘God, it's so f**king Croydon!’”.
If asked my own quote on Croydon would be along the lines of: "Concrete, Suburbia and Nestle! such an uninspiring combination" or words to similar effect. After such recommendations, I decided it was not worth investigating further, but I did anyway...
Croydon, originally the seat of the Arch Bishop, and an important city in Surrey, was only officially part of London in 1965, when the London boundaries we're widened as the city grew in the post war boom, a previous expansion in boundary in the early 1900s saw areas such as Deptford and Peckham join London from leaving Surrey, so this process is nothing new.
Old Croydon is all but gone. The area was devastated during world war one and two, as it's nearby airfields and munitions factories were targeted. The 50s, 60s and 70s saw croydon reborn as a concrete new town, quickly establishing itself as a center for commerce and trade. Being located on several rail mainlines and it's "new" architecture made it attractive for large multi-national companies to settle there. (Even east croydon station is branded with "Welcome to Croydon, The home of Nestlé", as if you needed further warning.)
Croydon Council, despite being landlocked and with no more than the odd stream, still operate a LifeBoat service, maybe in case anyone should want to rebuild the once heavily used, Croydon Canal, which I'll blog about in the future, as it turns out my own back garden in Brockley was once the site of the Lock Keepers cottage 200 years ago! Unimaginable now!
Croydon's saving graces are it's fun Tram Network, my studio, and 'South End' the most densely populated area for restaurants in the UK. (over 200 in under a mile)I'm perhaps being a bit harsh, Croydon is updating itself, new facilities are being added, it's shopping is a quite good, and less busy, alternative to the west end, offering the same variety of shops and three shopping centers. Ikea is there, which perhaps is its saving grace.
It's other, and to be honest, the reason I don't mind working there, is it is home to the best cycling shop in london. Geoffrey Butler Cycles, a racing and road bike specialist. And where most of my wages end up going!
A compilation released after her death is entitled 'From Croydon to Cuba', and she did indeed grow up in South London in Beech Way, Selsdon, going to Monks Hill Comprehensive School (later re-named Selsdon High School). She started out in a pub rock band, the Tooting Frootis, later re-named The Drug Addix. The latter put out a 1978 EP on Chiswick Records which includes the South-London suburb referencing Addington Shuffle. It was recorded at RMS Studios in Clifton Road, Thornton Heath, which Kirsty later used for some solo material (incidentally The Monochrome Set and St Etienne also recorded there).
Her final album, the Latin-infused Tropical Brainstorm (2000) was also partially recorded in South London, at her long-time collaborator Pete Glenister's studio in Bermondsey.
Kirsty had an ambivalent relationship with her father, the folk singer Ewan MacColl, as he split up with her mother shortly after her birth. But it is clear that the adult influences on her childhood included some interesting people who lived in South East London at the time. Most important was her mother Jean Newlove (married name Jean MacColl), a dance teacher who had been assistant to Rudolph Laban (later the inspiration for the Laban Centre in Deptford). Ewan MacColl and his new partner Peggy Seeger lived in Cromwell Road, Beckenham. Also signficant was Kirsty's godmother, Joan Littlewood, who had founded the Theatre Workshop with Ewan. She lived in Blackheath and used to take Kirsty for walks in Greenwich Park.
An MA scholarship in Kirsty's name was established at Goldsmiths College in 2001.
Anyway here's Kirsty with the Pogues on St Patrick's Day 1988 (at the Town & Country Club in Camden):
Source for most of the above: Kirsty MacColl: the one and only by Karen O'Brien (2004). Incidentally this book includes a photo entitled 'Kirsty... with the Drug Addix at the Venue, New Cross, south London, 1978'. I'm pretty sure the Venue wasn't called by this name until the end of the 80s - previously it was the Harp Club. So presumably this is a mistake - there was also a place called The Venue in Victoria around that time, maybe the photo was taken there.
See also: Suburban relapse; Shiraz Socialist on Kirsty.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The Berlin Wall
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Perhaps of most interest to Transpontine readers, he lives on Brockley Road. In fact the fictional location can be narrowed down further, as we are told that from the window of his home, the Daffodil House, 'he regarded a section of the Lewisham High Road and as much of Tanners Hill as can be seen before it dips past the railway bridge into sheer Deptford'.
J.G. Reeder is a fan of 'transpontine drama' no less, liking nothing more than a melodrama where 'to the thrill of the actors' speeches was added the amazing action of wrecked railway trains, hair raising shipwrecks and terrific horse-races'.
He is also enamoured of his Brockley neighbour, Miss Margaret Belman who he treats to a guided tour of South London: 'They crossed Westminster Bridge and bore left to the New Kent Road. Through the rain-blurred windows J. G. picked up the familiar landmarks and offered a running commentary upon them in the manner of a guide. Margaret had not realised before that history was made in South London. "There used to be a gibbet here-this ugly-looking goods station was the London terminus of the first railways- Queen Alexandra drove from there when she came to be married - the thoroughfare on the right after we pass the Canal bridge is curiously named Bird-in-Bush Road..."'.
As for the neighbourhood, 'if there is one place in the world which is highly respectable and free from the footpads which infest wealthier neighbourhoods, it is Brockley Road'.
Edgar Wallace knew the area well. He was born in Greenwich (at 7 Ashburnham Grove) in 1875 as the child of an unmarried actress Pollie Richards, and then brought up by adoptive parents in Deptford. There is an Edgar Wallace Close in Peckham, where he went to school. He was one of the creators of the King Kong story.
All quotes from The Mind of J.G. Reeder (1925). There is also a second collection of stories, Mr J.G. Reeder Returns, which I haven't read. The Mind of... was made into a film in 1939, as well as as a 1960s TV series.
Meanwhile in New Cross I spotted two painted renditions of the slogan 'Solidarity with the Greek popular uprising' this week, at the bottom of Pepys Road and Jerningham Road. Both have already been removed, but possibly prompted some travellers on the A2 to ponder events in Greece since the shooting dead by police of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos on 6th December.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The first Moonbow Jakes was in New Cross Gate, on the corner of Goodwood Road where the Rising Sun Cafe is now. The (in)famous 2004 Standard article 'Welcome to the New Hoxton', referred to the 'legendary Moonbow Jakes's cafe, the main young artists hang-out where you can sip segrafredo coffee (the best espresso beans from Italy, apparently)'. Well I wasn't a young artist, but I did hang out there, especially when it also had the record shop downstairs. Both had a small but significant role in the New Cross music explosion, as places to meet, chat and distribute/pick up flyers.
The New Cross place was still open when the second Moonbows opened in Brockley, but closed soon after - I believe there were planning constraints in turning the former into a viable bar as well as a coffee shop. The much larger Brockley place with its later evening opening has been a place not only of liquid refreshment but of numerous interesting encounters and occurrences, with music, performance and other events. Our very own Skitster gave a talk there in 2006 on Ghosts and Monsters of South East London, and the year before I gave a short talk there on the history of May Day in South London as part of a Strawberry Thieves May Day event.
Moonbows bravely attempted to extend the decent coffee wave into Catford too. The cafe there didn't last too long, and closed in 2005 - but not before it had been name-checked in a song by local band The Ubernators (then at Haberdashers Askes school I believe). Their song 'Tell it Like it is' starts with the line 'Catford born and Catford bred, no not Lewisham that's what I said' and goes on 'we used to have a gun shop now we're Moonbow Jakes' (Moonbow Catford was indeed in a former gun shop).
People may argue about who does the best coffee in Brockley, as unlike when Moonbow opened we now have a choice. As I like the other places too, I'm not going to compare - my experience is that most places locally with an espresso machine can do a really good coffee (though not always consistently). But one thing that Moonbow has had the edge on is its choice of music - if, like me, you judge a place's music by how many times it plays The Smiths or Belle & Sebastien!
Anyway this is an appreciation, not an obituary, so get down there while you still can - and maybe help keep it open for longer. I am sure we haven't heard the last of Moonbow Jakes.
Download Ubernators - Tell it Like it Is
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It's part of a wider event happening there tomorrow, Find Yourself Lost in the Neutral Zone. There's live bands (including English Martyrs and Social Reform) performance, art, short films, zine stalls and food and drink from 2 pm to 1 am.
Monday, December 15, 2008
First up, there's La Roux, featuring Eleanor Jackson from Brixton. She pronounces herself 'totally obsessed with 80s music'. You don't say! The video for their Quicksand single even looks like a Duran Duran pastiche:
Then from Camberwell, there's Florence and The Machine. I've mentioned Florence Welch here before, but the new single Dog Days are Over is particularly excellent, definitely the best track featuring a ukulele this year (move over Noah and The Whale).
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The musicians were also not deterred. Brockley Ukulele Group played a short festive set, including Last Christmas and Fairytale of New York. The Strum Pets (Corrie and Dominic) made their public debut. But all were upstaged by the Santa Claus and his helpers from John Stainer Primary School - Brockley Ukes: the Next Generation.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
In an article in Saturday’s Guardian, writers reflected on the stories behind their favourite works in the Courtauld Gallery. Julia Neuberger selected Camille Pissarro's Lordship Lane Station, Dulwich (1871) . I have mentioned this painting before - the bridge from which it is painted still stands in Sydenham Hill Woods. Neuberger writes:
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Deptford also gets a mention as the site of the Deptford Marsh Clearance Project and later of rioting and looting, while 'Brixton and Streatham are quarantine zones'.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
The Brighton Vigilantes were a group set up at the end of the Second World War to take direct action for the homeless - expropriating empty buildings to rehouse the families of ex-servicemen. In effect they pioneered the post-war squatting movement. As a result of their initiative, the Government gave local councils the power to requistion unused residences. Harry Cowley, who founded the group, was also involved in fighting fascists in the streets of Brighton.
All of which begs the question - what were they doing in New Cross in 1945? The obvious answer would be that at that time you could get a train direct from Brighton to New Cross, so they may have just been passing through on a visit to London. There were housing seizures in London on similar lines to the Brighton Vigilante movement, but I don't know whether this spread to South East London - anybody know more?
Friday, December 05, 2008
'Why do secret societies have such an appeal? What do they believe, and where do their beliefs come from? Freemasonry, Rosicrucian and Neo-Templar organisations, the various offshoots of the Golden Dawn and the OTO - do any of them have any genuine claim to be the true successors to historical movements? Does it matter if they make up their own histories, as well as their myths and rituals? What are the connections, if any, between John Dee, the Royal Society, Aleister Crowley and Wicca? And does the Priory of Sion, star of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and a certain third-rate thriller, actually exist?
Can David Barrett possibly answer all these questions and more in just an hour? Probably not, but he'll have a damn good try. David V Barrett is the author of, amongst others, The New Believers: A Survey of Sects, "Cults" & Alternative Religions, A Brief History of Secret Societies, and the forthcoming Atlas of Secret Societies. He is a frequent contributor to Fortean Times magazine, and has written for many other newspapers and magazines, mainly on esoteric religion and history'.
Thursday, December 11, 2008, 8 pm at The Old King's Head, Kings Head Yard, 45-49, Borough High St, London SE1.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Brown now lives in Stoke Newington, but in the interview he recalls that in the 1980s 'we were rooted in New Cross. Test Department and [UK comedian] Vic Reeves, they were our peers'. In the mid-1980s, he was sharing a house in Nettleton Road with another band, Test Department, who he compares with BoHJ; 'Test Department were incredibly masculine ... and we were extremely feminine. We were about romance, about a Britain that was fading away, contrasted with a reality that was quite dark. But there was definitely a spirit shared. Test Department were polemic where we were quite poetic, personal, romantic, the way we saw things. But then again, personal is political. They were out on tour with the miners during the strike, and you can't get more personal than people's lives being affected like that... It was totally opposite to Test Department, who were in training upstairs being militant. We were downstairs on drugs writing these really weird dirges. It was chalk and cheese'.
In terms of the local scene, Brown remembers 'there was lots of cheap housing in New Cross then, lots of squats and housing association houses, and there was Goldsmiths College too. [Test Department's] Angus was top boy at Goldsmiths, so it was mix of squatters, students, genius guys and general misfits. Vic Reeves was a very informed guy, with this art background and he was a really brilliant musician, very much an improvisor, working with people like Steve Beresford way before he made his hit record. The very first music I made when I came to London was with Brett [Turnbull film maker], Vic Reeves and his girlfriend Lucie Russell, and a guy called George on saxophone. We used to do this beautiful free rolling stuff with this cheap and nasty yellow and black plastic Wasp synthesizer. Of course everybody eventually moved away'.
(Thanks to John at Uncarved for letting me know about this article)
Monday, December 01, 2008
Times have changed... but not very much. Today it's likely to be Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes (saw them filming this off Southwark Park Road earlier in the year) or BBC's 'aren't our security services wonderful?' drama Spooks. Last week's episode featured a chase through Surrey Quays Shopping Centre involving rogue MI6 assassins - I kept expecting them to break off the chase and pop into Tchibo to buy a bargain torch/bottle opener/toolkit combo - very handly for secret agents. Mysteriously in the programme the Shopping Centre had an underground carpark - either for dramatic effect or there really is a hidden subterranean world beneth Tescos. There was also a scene in a car breakers in Deptford where I once went in search of a part for a Vauxhall Corsa.
If you're bored of identifying locations, there's always Eastenders star spotting - I've seen two of the cast around Surrey Quays (Lauren and Shirley).
Saturday, November 29, 2008
But in yesterday's South London Press, the man 'denied supporting the BNP despite his name appearing on the leaked membership list'. He claimed that 'There were plenty of BNP sympathisers where I once worked and they could have put me on the mailing list as a joke. I am not a member of the BNP nor am I a sympathiser of their policies. I still support the Green Party and although my membership has lapsed, I may well rejoin the party in the future.'
This is certainly plausible - I know of left wing activists who have received mail from fascist organisations because somebody mischievously sent their contact details saying they were interested in joining. I certainly hope this is true as it would mean that New Cross can join Deptford and Kennington in the South East London roll of honour of areas without a single BNP member.
In the mean time Bob from Brockley has picked up on this with a post on Fascism Watch: (South) London highlighting some of the apparent weirdoes on the BNP list and the fact that this undercuts the party's claims to be just a bunch of ordinary white folks. I agree with him about the obvious German military history obsessives, but I wouldn't make a big deal of the few self-proclaimed pagans on the list. Most pagans I know are firmly anti-racist and I have known some militantly anti-fascist witches and even odinists. Same goes for Christians on the list, hardly representative of the position of most church-goers.
At Harry's Place, contributor Brett (who obviously lives locally) bemoans the fact that he may have 'voted for a nazi by mistake' in the Telegraph Hill election. Well Brett, maybe you didn't...
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Crystal Palace magazine The Transmitter has identified a couple more novels set in that part of London. A recent one is Karen McLeod's In Search of the Missing Eyelash, set in Penge and Crystal Palace. Of greater vintage is The Young Visiters (sic) by Daisy Ashford, published in 1919 but apparently written by the author when she was 9 in 1890, a comic tale with much of the action set in Crystal Palace, or rather in the Crystal Palace.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Brockley Ukulele Group opened with a short set culminating in a version of Kanye West's Gold Digger - well Mr West is always tirelessly looking for new musical directions so maybe after his current techno fixation he will move on to small stringed instruments of Hawaiian origin.
Next up, Shiva are still at school in New Cross but are already making a fairly awesome racket, covering Klaxons' Atlantis to Interzone and Jimi Hendryx as well as playing some of their own material.
Steve Bowditch did a comic turn in a pirate hat, singing a few seafaring songs like 'In the Navy' and the even ruder Sailor's Blues - opening line 'woke up this morning, with a penis in my hand' (not his). The Optics sang some fine songs - without the tap dancing accompaniment this month - and talented local singer songwriter/guitarist Keith Morkel also performed tracks from his new Moves on Silence cd.
Unfortunately I had to leave before Blue Heat 550, maybe next time...
There's more bluesy action at the Montague tomorrow night - Thursday 27th November - when The Little Devils, Teenage Men and I Scream - U Scream are playing. 8:30 start, £3 in.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The weekend before there was a New Orleans, New Cross 'Acoustic Honky-Tonk jam' (pictured), basically a gathering of passing musicians around the piano (plus guitar, sax, banjo, ukulele and my contribution, the mandolin) working through songs by Johnny Cash (Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire), Hank Williams (So Lonesome I could Cry, Lost Highway) and The Clash (Bankrobber, I Fought the Law). All this plus Train to Skaville. Put me in mind of Bob from Brockley's recent comment (after Jools Holland) about South London as Britain's Mississippi Delta).
- November 29th - Bobby Valentino: 'Hot Club de Paris-style playing Bobby has played with many, many bands, including the Alabama 3 and Billy Bragg. That's his fiddle on the Bluebells Young at Heart' (as established in a famous court case; he was also in 1970s Deptford new wave outfit The Fabulous Poodles). Not to be confused with US R&B singer who has tried to nick his name - cheeky bastard (though maybe unintentionally, your honour)! £6.
- December 6th: another New Orleans, New Cross jam - all welcome, bring your instruments. Free.
- December 11th - The Woodsmen - country-noir-hillbilly blues. £6,
-December 16h - The Delegators - jumping rocksteady/ska. £6.
It's all occurring at 306 New Cross Road in case you haven't been there before.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Terrify evenings of chilling ghost stories, in the safety of the fireside at the Crystal Palace Tavern. We are gathering together our favourite scary stories, and our favourite scary people to tell them - it's Jackanory with a nightmarish twist. Less of a performance, more of a night in the pub the way it should be on a dark Autumn evening. With the haunted tones of Paul Arendt, Chas. Early, Zoe Gardner, Frog Stone, Cicely Giddings, Faultless or Torrance, and others. Warmth, candlelight, dutch courage and the shivers. Join us.
FREE (a hat will be passed around), 8pm - 9.30pm, Thursday 27th November (then 4th &11th December) at Crystal Palace Tavern, Crystal Palace Road. Further details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, November 21, 2008
There will be a free public concert on Saturday 6th December (8 pm) at Myatt Garden School, Rokeby Road, SE4 and open air singing the next day along the south bank of the Thames from 11 am to 1 pm at various points including Tate Modern and City Hall (call them on 07940 539 393 on the day to find where they are).
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
It now seems that there are 102 BNP members in the SE postcodes areas, a worrying number but my earlier point about their lack of significant presence in London remains. Yes Deptford is a BNP free zone, and there is only 1 each in New Cross and Walworth. Further out there are larger clusters though - particularly in Eltham. Complete breakdown is as folows:
SE1 (Bermondsey) - 5
SE2 (Abbey Wood) – 1
SE3 (Blackheath) - 6
SE4 (Brockley) -4
SE5 (Camberwell) – 6
SE6 (Catford) - 3
SE7 (Charlton) -2
SE8 (Deptford) – 0
SE9 (Eltham) – 17
SE10 (Greenwich) - 2
SE11 (Kennington) – 0
SE12 (Lee) – 1
SE13 (Lewisham) – 2
SE14 (New Cross) -1
SE15 (Peckham) – 5
SE16 (Rotherhithe) - 5
SE17 (Walworth) -1
SE18 (Woolwich/Plumstead) - 7
SE19 (Upper Norwood/Crystal Palace) - 4
SE20 (Anerley/Penge) - 6
SE21 (Dulwich) – 1
SE22 (East Dulwich) -2
SE23 (Forest Hill) – 6
Some interesting as well as dubious comments to earlier post and also over at Brockley Central. One suggestion is that after the initial turmoil, the BNP might benefit from the fuss if they can present themselves as victims - there was a member on the news complaining about living in a 'fascist state' (oh my aching sides - read some history) - never mind the fact that it seems likely that the list was originally published by one of their own in a faction fight between wannabe fuhrers. The BNP are also getting lots of publicity, and will try and use the stories about teachers, police officers etc. to show that they are full of upright members of the community (actually there are only a handful of members named for any particular job).
There is some risk of this, and we certainly can't rely on the BNP continually shooting themselves in the foot. Still at least their opponents now know where to look out for them.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
See also BNP in South East London Update.
Monday, November 17, 2008
So who was behind this hoax? A comment to our earlier post has pointed us in the direction of a children's charity called 'Global Angels' - the suggestion seems to be that the idea was part of a marketing exercise for a music event the charity planned last year at the London Eye - close to the supposed sightings - called '360 degree revolution in Kindness'. I am not sure whether this ever actually took place - I can't find any reference to it other than as a planned event (e.g, in this article from 2006).
If you go into the Angel of the Thames website and view the source code (in Internet Explorer go to 'view' and then select 'source') you will be able to see the following in the keywords section: 'globalangels, 360, apparition, spooky, sightings, sighting, london eye, revolution in kindness, angel on the thames'. David Grant, who supposedly saw something while filming, is a sponsor of the charity, hosting its launch at the private bank Coutts & Co.
So, case closed? I think so, but it's not necessarily the end of the story. Thanks to some uncritical reports in the press, the story of the Thames Angel is now out there, perhaps being passed on as folklore by people unaware of its dubious provenance. Perhaps too, the tale will shape people's perceptions so that they interpret unusual experiences/hallucinations by the Thames as sightings of an Angel. So don't be surprized if future sightings crop up and the story develops a life of its own.
What about the ethics? The charity appears to be raising money for some worthy causes and I guess a prank is relatively harmless. On the other hand putting deliberate lies into the public sphere should not be taken lightly - I think when people do stunts like this the least they should do is hold up their hands and publicly acknowledge what they have done to prevent these lies becoming a matter of record. So come on Global Angels, come clean!
Oh yes and the Brockley connection... Global Angels was founded in 2003 by Molly Bedingfield, with her offspring Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield on the board. The family used to live in Manor Avenue, Brockley, indeed it was here that Daniel recorded his best selling debut album. More intriguingly the Bedingfields seem to have been members of the Pentecostalist Hillside Church - perhaps not averse to encouraging a literal belief in the tangible existence of Angels!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Most noteworthy for Transpontine the pub identified as the Number One is of course The Montague Arms, SE15. There are some good photos of the interior, including the penny farthing bike and various stuffed animal heads. Peter Coyle has been landlord since 1967, as well as drummer in house band 'The Two Petes'. He recalls that Paul McCartney once visited in the 1980s: 'He'd met Jim Davidson on the plane and, after Jim had told him about the pub, he insisted they come straight from the airport. Paul got up and played loads of hits'. Wow so now we know that an ex-Beatle, Mark E. Smith, Nick Cave, Shane MacGowan, the Gang of Four and... er... myself have all been on that stage.
The other South London pub included is the Charlie Chaplin at Elephant and Castle. I went there once for a drink on my way to the Ministry of Sound - not one of my top pubs but undoubtedly in the rough category! In that immediate locale I prefer The Rockingham Arms, a Wetherspoon's pub where only this week I sampled a range of cheap Polish beers.
Along the way the authors also reflect on themes including the joys of the jukebox, pubs in the movies and the 'pre-emptive death-knell' for the pub. Yes, pubs are closing at an alarming rate, but 'there's still plenty of places out there that defy the prevailing 'anti-pub' forces - all you have to do is look for them and then cherish them'. Locally its not too late yet for the White Hart and the Walpole Arms - threatened with being replaced by a private members strip club and a hotel respectively, but in New Cross and Deptford we have lost the Arrows (Pomeroy Street), the Royal Archer (Egmont Street), the Dewdrop Inn (Clifton Rise) and the Duke of Albany (Monson Road). The sharp-eyed reader will notice a photo in the book of another local casualty, the recently closed London and Brighton in Queens Road.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Consultation is now open, with a planned decision date of the 6th February 2008.If you would like to comment on this application please send an email to planning@lewisham gov.uk, including the Application Number (DC/08/70131/X), your name, address, comment and reason for interest.
The Walpole dates back to at least 1881 and seems to have originally been known as the South Eastern Distillery (until around 1915). The pub featured in a case at the Old Bailey in 1884 when a man was convicted of using dodgy counterfeit coins at the Centurion, the South Eastern Distillery and the Royal Albert. There is still some nice Victorian tiling inside. As well as food and drink, the pub has hosted music sessions and at one time a Polish night.
It might not be my own favourite New Cross pub, but the thought of another pub disappearing from the area makes the heart sink.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Linebaugh's current concern, as outlined in his new book The Magna Carta Manifesto, is with the history of the commons, and the ongoing struggle to defend and even extend collective access to the means of susbsistence, production and reproduction against enclosure and privatisation.
I liked the way Linebaugh - an American in London for a short visit - managed to weave two New Cross places into his talk. He mentioned the Hobgoblin pub, noting that in the first English version of the Communist Manifesto the opening lines were translated by Helen Macfarlane as "A frightful hobgoblin stalks throughout Europe. We are haunted by a ghost. The ghost of Communism" (later translated as "A spectre is haunting Europe. The spectre of Communism"). Incidentally Helen Macfarlane's 1850 translation appeared in the journal The Red Republican, edited by the Deptford-born radical Chartist George Julian Harney.
He also mentioned the Viva Zapata cafe on Lewisham Way, referring to Zapata's role in the 1910 Mexican revolution - one result of which was Article 27 of the Mexican constitution which provided for ejidos or common land and water. This right was taken away shortly before the 1994 introduction of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the USA, Canada and Mexico - which in turn sparked the 1994 Zapatista uprising.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sister Brides Carried from Church: a 'Dark' man to bring them luck
'Three months ago, whilst visiting a public-house in Greenwich, Mr Charles Lawrie of 8 St Alfege Road, Charlton, became friendly with a man of colour who played the piano and sang in the saloon bar. Bearing in mind his marriage in the near future to Miss Annie Leach of 12 Finch House, Church Street, Deptford, whose sister, Miss Caroline, was also being married at the same church, and at the same time, to Mr Thomas Wentworth, of 100 Warwick Street, Deptford, Mr Lawrie cultivated his friendship with the musician, Mr George Williams, and asked him if he would play at the double wedding reception. This he agreed to do, and suggested, too, that as a token of 'good luck' he should carry the bride from the church to the waiting car.
And so, on Saturday, when the double wedding took place at St Alfege's Church, Greenwich, he fulfilled his promise, carrying the brides across a pavement crowded with cheering people...
Mr George Williams appeared in the recetn Drury Lane production of 'The Sun Never Sets'.
Interesting story, suggests a number of things - a superstition about 'dark' men bringing good luck (I have heard of this in relation to New Year's Eve, but not in relation to weddings); black people in South London being treated as something of an exotic novelty (otherwise why report this in the local paper?); an example of a local black musician making a living in the 1930s from a mixture of West End shows and playing in the pub (would love to know what pub, but the story doesn;t say). The original story does include a photograph, but my copy is too poor to reproduce.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Grace Pailthorpe (1883-1971) worked at the hospital as a medical officer in 1917. She later became a psychoanalyst and a member of the British Surrealist Group with a particular interest in the unconscious and automatic writing. Her work in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London was praised by Andre Breton; image below is entitled 'March 7 1937- 4 (Sandbumptious)'.
Next door to the ambulance station at no. 1a is a tattoo parlour – Tribalize – run by Andi Bone.
Then there are some quite fine Victorian terraced houses - numbers 3 to 41 were originally known as St James Place and like other lovely buildings on this road are somewhat overshadowed by the sheer weight of traffic passing by. St James Cottage at no.41 dates from 1827, these houses at the western end of this row(numbers 7 & 9) were built in 1842:
On the opposite side of the road, the petrol station is at the start of New Cross Road, followed by the magnificent Carlton Cottages:
These white painted houses date from 1829 and have classical columns with seashell detail - or to be precise they are decorated with an 'Ammonite order'. According to this site ‘The Ammonite Order was originated by George Dance, who used it first on Boydell's Gallery (Shakespeare's Gallery) in Pall Mall (1789). The Order comprises fluted pilasters, the volutes in the capitals of which are in the form of ammonites, geological fossils consisting of whorled chambered shells resembling the horn of Jupiter (Amon) in shape’.
Somebody who lived at no.8 a couple of years ago did a whole Carlton Cottages myspace site of photos of their life there – looked like they had quite a party!
Between these houses and the Kender Street junction, it is mostly Lewisham council blocks – Hutchinson House and Romney Close. Confusingly, Lewisham doesn't start at the beginning of New Cross Road, but at the Pomeroy Street junction, so numbers 1 to 15 New Cross Road are presumably in the London Borough of Southwark.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
In terms of our core area of New Cross, Deptford and Brockley there’s not much to report, with the films included mostly mentioned on Transpontine before, including Shaun of the Dead, Spider, Once a Jolly Swagman and Intimacy. In relation to the latter though, James has identified no.2 Alpha Road as the house used for a great deal of sex. The only film he mentions that I wasn’t aware of is Five Seconds to Spare (1999), where Ray Winstone has a recording studio in APT arts on Deptford Creekside – and ends up dead in the Creek.
Unsurprizingly there are numerous film locations listed for Greenwich, the area around the South Bank, Bankside and Borough Market (including all those Bridget Jones scenes).
I watched Mona Lisa (1986) recently so knew some of it was filmed in East Dulwich , but the author has done the legwork and notes that Bob Hoskins buys flowers at 286 Crystal Palace Road (on the corner of Goodrich Road) and then tries to visit his daughter at 16 Darrell Road. I wasn’t aware that in Last Orders (2001), the exterior of the pub is The Wishing Well Inn in Bellenden Road (the interior is the Larkhall Tavern in Clapham – now converted to flats), while Michael Caine’s butcher shop is 194 Bellenden Road – now Lucius and Richards.
I must rewatch the Children of the Damned (1964) now that I know it features the Bermondsey Street tunnel. And I was delighted to discover that in the original Italian Job (1966), Michael Caine delivers the famous line 'You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off' in Crystal Palace park (you can see the TV transmitter behind him).
But things are never as they seem in the movies. A car chase in ‘Lewisham’ in I Believe in You (1952) was actually filmed in Latchmere Road in Battersea, while in Janice Beard 45 wpm (1998) a ‘Rotherhithe’ scene is actually Pensbury Place in Vauxhall.
Equally South London locations can double up for other places. The back streets of ‘Soho’ in an An American Werewolf in London (1981) are actually around Clink Street, SE1 (the scene where Jenny Agutter pushes through the police cordon is on the corner of Clink Street and Stoney Street). Passport to Pimlico was not filmed in Pimlico, but in a street built for the purpose on a bombsite in north Lambeth –where Copeland House and Ferrybridge House estates now stand. Most far fetched, at least in terms of geographical distance, Reese Witherspoon’s ‘Harvard’ speech in Legally Blonde was actually filmed in the Great Hall of Dulwich College! Oh and the door to The Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is under the railway bridge at 7 Stoney Street, SE1.
Then there are the continuity distortions, where areas several miles apart are made to look adjacent. The book gives many examples, including The Sandwich Man (1966) with Michael Bentine, where Dulwich Park SE21 is apparently sandwiched between SW1 and Green Park, W1.
No book of this kind can ever be really comprehensive. In terms of New Cross and Deptford for instance, he hasn’t picked up on some locations featured previously at Transpontine, such as Interview with a Vampire and the Quatermass Xperiment. He documents the Thamesmead locations for A Clockwork Orange and the concrete subway at Wandsworth gyratory, SW18, where a tramp gets beaten up in the same film. But he doesn’t include Nettlefold Hall in West Norwood, also used in the film.
Still there’s more than enough here to fuel a thousand conversations in the pub or round the water cooler.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Montague Arms, 289 Queens RdLondon SE15 2P. £6/£4 with flyer, doors 8pm.
The following night (Friday 7th) there's Tweet Tweet! at The Bunker Club, 46 Deptford Broadway - evidently an indie/old skool hip hop/everything else request night.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Fantastic-sounding night of indie-pop coming up at The Windmill in Brixton Hill (Blenheim Gardens) this Thursday night.
How Does it Feel presents: Pelle Carlberg - formerly of Swedish indie popsters Edson and the singer of "Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls". With support The School, Arctic Circle and The Noughts And Crosses Band - the latter promising 'a sugarsweet whirl of perfect pop with melodicas, recorders, brass, ukulele, marching drums, and vocal harmonies'. Sounds good, wish I could make it but otherwise engaged...