Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve in the Brockley Jack, 1869

The Penny Illustrated Paper, 1 January 1870 includes an article 'Village Ale-House on New Year's Eve' extolling the virtues of a walk in the countryside followed by a drink at the Brockley Jack.

It starts ''There are worse methods of inaugurating the New Year than that of starting out for a brisk walk into the country after a short railway journey which carries the pedestrian to a point beyond the last straggling houses of suburban streets'. The countryside recommended is in Kent around Knowle (assume he means Knole by Sevenoaks) and Chislehurst.

The author goes on: 'Should you wish to return to town by way of Lewisham you may as well take the short cut, and that will lead you through some country lanes stiff with clay; having recovered from which you will, unless you are an 'abstainer', which is scarcely probable, feel that a glass of good ale would not be the worst kind of refreshment. By this time you may have come upon the outskirts of a little village, where, if you are particularly fortunate you may see a labourer, or a tramp, or a wandering tinker; and if, with a laudable desire for information , you inquire of such a person where you can obtain the desired refreshment, he way say' "Why, it's mostly Jack's that people goes hereabout". Should you pursue the subject by any inquiry as to the identify of Jack's, you will learn that it is Brockley Jack's of course; and as "it's close by and precious sharp weather somehow makes yer feel thirsty like' the "price of a pint" cannot be reasonably expected "either to make you or break you; which here you are, with the name wrote on a bladebone" though whether a real bone or not your informant "ain't rightly certain; but it's a big 'un if it is real, that's all".

Now supposing it to be New Year's Eve - or, for the matter of that, almost any other eve in the year - you are not likely to learn much about either Brockley Jack or the great bladebone, because there are so many people in front of the bar that there is quite enough to do to draw beer for them, without answering questions'.

There's still a whalebone in the pub, not the original one as far as I know - or is it? Incidentally old maps show there was indeed a pathway across fields between Peckham and Lewisham and that it followed the course of the Brockley Footpath (still there by the Jack) and Sevenoaks/Ewhurst roads. Presumably this track went further into Kent , and Sevenoaks road is so called because it actually was on the old path to there. Presumably too, the author of this piece came across this track, as the Brockley Jack is directly on it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's hid in 'em - Pantomime in South London

Plenty of Pantomime still going on in South London, with Sleeping Beauty in Bromley, Cinderella in Catford and Mother Goose in Greenwich this year. Here's a couple of historical references:

At Christmas 1852 the Crystal Palace was still under construction at the top of Sydenham Hill (it opened there in June 1854). A preview of its attractitions was though included in the 1852 Christmas panto at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane which featured scenes set in 'The New Crystal Palace and Gardens at Sydenham'. There were fairies representing 'Art, Science, Concord, Progress, Peace, Invention, Wealth, Health, Success, Happiness, Industry and Plenty' and an Imp announced:

'Behold my treasures here, there's nought forbid in 'em,
And all will be revelaed though now it's hid in 'em' [Sydenham, gettit?]

In 1881 the pantomime at the Surrey Theatre, Blackfriars Road, featured music hall star the 'Great' G.H. Macdermott singing the lines: 'Whenever I sees a copper, I always tells a whopper'.

Source: 'Oh, yes it is - a history of pantomime' by Gerald Frow (BBC, 1985).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Turn of the Screw

Tomorrow night (Wednesday 30th December. 9 pm), BBC One is broadcasting a new production of The Turn of the Screw, the very spooky story by Henry James. The music has been composed by New Cross-based composer John Lunn, who was nominated for a BAFTA earlier this year for his music for Little Dorritt, also on BBC.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Eve Party at Lift'n'Hoist

Lift'n'Hoist is a newish social centre in a squatted factory in Walworth. They have a website with details of the various gigs, parties and meetings happening there.

On New Years Eve (Thursday 31st December 2009) they are hosting a benefit party for London No Borders, in conjunction with Siren Sound System, featuring live bands including:

- HEADJAM - dub/metal/punk []
- THE LEANO - hip-hop []
- 52 COMMERCIAL ROAD - alternative/rock []
- CAPTAIN OF THE RANT - acapella/lyrical/punk [http:///]
- NUKEONROUTE - punk []
- LEWIS FLOYD HENRY - one-man blues band []
- JAKE LAWY - a'capella/hip-hop.

Plus DJs: XTRATS - drum'n'bass, LITTLE MINX - breaks, DJ ALFIE - deep tech house, REPEAT - breaks, DJ SERIFRAT - breaks/hip-hop/d'n'b.

The address is LIFT'N'HOIST, 1 Queens Row, Walworth, SE17 2PX. Suggested donation: £5.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas War is Over

...or at least it was peaceful enough on Blackheath last weekend, by the frozen pond.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hoodoo business in Lewisham

As a birthday present to Transpontine contributor Skister, here's a link to a spooky story partially set in Lewisham. Rooum by Oliver Onions (1873-1961) tells of a man pursued by an invisible runner that can pass through his body. It includes an encounter in the local area: 'we were somewhere out south-east London way, just beyond what they are pleased to call the building-line - you know these districts of wretched trees and grimy fields and market gardens that are about the same to real country that a slum is to a town. It rained that night; rain was the most appropriate weather for the brickfields and sewage-farms and yards of old carts and railway-sleepers we were passing... We were walking in the direction of Lewisham (I think it would be), and were still a little way from that eruption of red-brick houses'.

Health warning - the story starts with some HP Lovecraft-style racism hinting at the exotic secrets of black people: 'something about him, name or both, always put me in mind, I can't tell you how, of negroes. As regards the name, I dare say it was something huggermugger in the mere sound - something that I classed, for no particular reason, with the dark and ignorant sort of words such as "obi" and "Hoo-doo"'. Probably not untypical sentiments for a white writer in 1910 (when the story was first published), but certainly jarring to the modern reader.

Anyway you can read the full story here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rape in New Cross

Terrible news from New Cross, a young woman was raped in the early hours of this morning near to Hong Kong City (which is near the junction of New X Road and Pomeroy Street). For now I will just repeat the story from today News Shopper:

'Police are appealing for witnesses following a rape in Lewisham this morning. A 19-year-old woman called officers after being raped some time between 4.15am and 4.30am close to the Hong Kong City restaurant in New Cross Road. The woman was on her way home and was walking towards the bus stop opposite the Toys R' Us store in the Old Kent Road.

Having noticed two men at the bus stop, she chose to walk to another stop but was followed by one of the men. He dragged her to a wall about 10 feet away from the main pavement where she was raped. The suspect also stole her Nokia N97 mini mobile telephone.

The suspect is described as having tanned skin, with light coloured eyes and possibly a moustache. He was around 5ft 8ins tall, of skinny build, and was wearing a black woolly hat with Crystal Palace and the number 88 written on it. He was also wearing a black leather jacket, dark trousers - possibly jeans - with a belt, black trainers and black leather gloves. Officers from the Sapphire Unit at Lewisham are investigating. Anyone with information should call 020 8284 8380 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111' .

South London French Exiles (1): Martin Nadaud

In the 19th century many French people lived in voluntary or enforced exile in London, including in various parts of South London. So I thought I'd run a short series of posts on some of them, starting with Martin Nadaud:

Martin Nadaud (1815-1898) grew up in the Creuse region of central France, before moving to Paris as a stonemason. He was on the secret strike committee during the first ever French national building workers strike in 1840. In a period of recession, thousands marched behind a banner declaring 'Let us live working or die fighting'.

Nadaud participated in the 1848 revolution, and became the first working class Member of Parliament in the National Assembly. In December 1851 the Republican government was overthrown in a coup. Nadaud was jailed for a month and then ordered into exile, making his way to London early in 1852 where he worked on building sites and lived in lodgings in various places including Soho, Islington, Greenwich, Blackheath and Lambeth. He visited the Crystal Palace in Sydenham.

His periods living in South London seem to have been his most desperate. Recalling the winter of 1855, Nadaud wrote: 'At one point I fell into despair - really a terrible despair. I went and hid myself away in Greenwich, reduced to eating dry bread'. He described the accommodation where lived in a period of unemployment as 'a narrow, dilapidated and often fireless attic room in the little town of Greenwich'. In June 1856 he was living at a temporary address on the Old Dover Road in Blackheath, and in early 1858 in 'an obscure street in Lambeth, sandwiched between a railway viaduct, the archbishop's garden and the slum of Lower Marsh' (Tindall).

However his fortunes were to change in 1858 when he obtained a job teaching French at Wimbledon School under the assumed name of Henri Martin, and moved to live in Wimbledon village. He remained there until 1870, when he returned to France and resumed a political career, being elected as a republican and moderate socialist MP from 1876 to 1889. A station on the Paris Metro was named after him. His experiences in England, including long studies in the British Museum, informed his writing - in 1872 he published in French his 'History of the working classes in England'.
Wimbledon School still stands incidentally, though today it is known as Wimbledon College. Nadaud, who campaigned for secular education as a French MP, is no doubt spinning in his grave as the College is a Roman Catholic secondary school run by the Jesuits!

Source: Gillian Tindall, The journey of Martin Nadaud: a life in turbulent times (London: Chatto & Windus, 1999).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice - On Snow Hill

Today is the Winter Solstice in case you didn't know, and here's a seasonal song to go with it.

Snow Hill is in Greenwich Park. This song was inspired by a talk on Greenwich Park given by Jack Gale for South East London Folklore Society. It was first sung at a SELFS Yule event at the Royal George in Tanners Hill in 2006, and in a few other places since including the Old Kings Head in Borough High Street and most memorably at a Winter Solstice event in Greenwich Park itself.

I have performed the song in various musical incarnations, including my most recent project Half a Person, but originally did so as Neil Transpontine. You can download a demo version of the song here if you wonder how the tune goes.

On Snow Hill

The moon is full, lets bathe in its milky light
Lets make like foxes in the night
I know the ground is hard and its cold outside
But you’re hot enough for both of us, on this winters night

Beneath our feet, long gone lovers lie
The London clay has long since filled their eyes
They long to look up on that patch of sky
That looks down from high, on you and I

Stars are shining above Snow Hill
Reflected like diamonds in the frozen well
Some say the Snow Queen, she waits here still
Waiting until, lovers slide in the snow on Snow Hill

The wind cuts through you like an icy blade
Slicing the last leaves from the trees in the old oak glade
Making a carpet where we can lay till the break of day
It would be rude not to use what the seasons made

Stars are shining above Snow Hill
Reflected like diamonds in the frozen well
Some say the Snow Queen, she waits here still
Waiting until, lovers slide in the snow on Snow Hill

Is anyone interested in getting together in the New Year to sing and play folk/acoustic music with a particular focus on songs linked to South London (covers and new material)? Whether it leads to an ongoing band or not would be open ended, but the aim would be to get at least a few songs together to perform by the time of Brockley Max festival in June 2010. Email if interested, I will post more details shortly.

Spiral Tribe parties in SE London

Spiral Tribe were the best known of the many techno sound systems putting on parties in (mostly) squatted venues and free festivals in the early 1990s. They became media folk devils as a result of their role in putting on the famous Castlemorton festival in May 1992, following which people associated with Spiral Tribe were prosecuted for public order offences, only to be acquitted after a four month trial (the government got its revenge by passing the anti-rave Criminal Justice Act).

The year before, Spiral Tribe put on several parties in South London. According to this list included in a Spiral Tribe zine at the time (reproduced below), these included:

- July 27-28 1991, a benefit party in Deptford
- September 21-22 1991, Peckham party
- October 12 -14, Volume 2 Lewisham

I went to lots of free/squat parties a little later in the 1990s, but didn't go to any of these ones. Does anyone remember where they were or anything about them or other similar events?

Here's a few clues. DJ BPM says on her myspace that 'walking into a Spiral Tribe squat party in Carnegie Library in Deptford changed my life, it was a divine experience to me (neither joking nor blaspheming)'. The Carnegie library referred to is the old Lewisham Central Library (now Lewisham Arthouse) at the New Cross end of Lewisham Way, which was built in 1913/14 with funding from the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. It closed in June 1991, and was sporadically used as a venue for squat parties until Lewisham Arthouse moved in three years later. I think this party actually took place after the above list was compiled in November 1991, as Steve Spiral recalls:

'Lewisham Library, the venue walls were painted by Mark and Debbie for a week before the party, and the 2 terror strobes and smoke machine were intense and ran all night long. Darren crashed his camper with the rest of the light show in the back the day before the party. Easy to remember this was my 21st birthday party…Saturday 17th November 91'.

There's some great footage of this party, featuring some classic '91 raver moves. The film was apparently shot in the afternoon when not many people were around, as it was too dark to film at night:
He also mentions a separate party at 'The arches Deptford, the venue was arranged by big Alex (dancer for Back to the Planet and co-organizer of the Urban Free Festival in Fordham park, New Cross). This part took place directly after Camelford so must have been mid Sept 91'. This does slightly contradict the list, so wonder if there's some confusion with the 'Peckham party'?

The exact dates aren't really important, but I'm guessing that the Deptford arches party actually took place in July 1991, as I believe that this was the time of the Deptford Urban Free Festival which he mentions, and I have seen somewhere else a reference to Spiral Tribe organising an 'after party' for the festival. No idea where the Peckham party was or 'Volume 2' in Lewisham.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hither Green Spiritualist and Bin Laden

Why is Gordon Brown sending all those troops into danger when the 'war on terror' could have been ended years ago thanks to a Hither Green spiritualist? According to a story in this week's News Shopper (15 December 2009), Angela Bayley's prediction of where 'Bin Laden was hiding in Afghanistan was not taken seriously when she made it eight years ago. But now Angela Bayley says her prediction, exclusively reported in News Shopper in 2001, has been proved true in a US Senate report'. Back then she 'dangled an Islamic charm over a map of Afghanistan to find bin Laden and felt a strong pull to Waza Khwa, in the south-east of the country'.

Bayley has her own theory about what's really going on : 'I don’t believe they want to find him because the longer it is they can’t find him, the more they can blame on him. They have wasted billions of pounds and dollars on a war no-one wants. They are never going to find him and they know it.'

Friday, December 18, 2009

AE Waite at the Horniman

We have discussed before at Transpontine the interesting connection between the Horniman Museum and Victorian occultism, specficially the fact that Annie Horniman was a member and patron of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and that through her Order founder MacGregor Mathers and his wife Moina Bergson (sister of the philosopher -pictured) came to live on the site. WB Yeats was among those who visited and took part in magical experiments.

Another visitor was the occultist/mystic Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942) and his wife Ada Lakeman, known as 'Lucasta'. In fact they were both initiated into the Golden Dawn in a January 1891 ceremony at the Mathers' house, Stent Lodge, in the grounds of what is now the Horniman Museum (source).

Waite (pictured)doesn't seem to have been entirely happy with the ceremonial magic of the Golden Dawn, preferring his own mystical take on esoteric Christianity. When the Golden Dawn broke up into acrimonious factions, Waite started the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross which declared that it "has no concern whatsoever in occult or psychical research, it is a Quest of Grace and not a Quest of Power”.
Waite wrote over seventy books on subjects incuding Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, the Holy Grail and the Kabbalah, but is probably best known today for his part in the creation of the Rider Waite Tarot Deck, with the cards illustrated by the artist Pamela Colman Smith under his direction.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

SE London Green Fair 1986

SE London Green Fair took place over two days in 1986 (21-22 June), starting off with a day of stalls, workshops and music at the Albany, followed the next day by a community festival in Fordham Park, New Cross.

'Greenwich 264' has recently posted a video on Youtube shot at the time by Tim Spencer and it really is a priceless social historical document, opening a window not only on to 1980s Deptford but to the green/peace/left movements of that time.

As described by Graham Bell (complete with some classic 1980s glasses!) the themes of the event were International Year of Peace and green campaigns around Transport. He mentions the launch of a campaign called Commuters against Polluters and the proposed East London River Crossing (a threat to Oxleas Wood, it was finally cancelled in 1993).

Across the event we see stalls and local activists of the time - Jeanette Prior of Deptford CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) with a 'One Missile is too Many' banner; the Anti Apartheid movement, Dorothy Shipp of Lewisham United Nations Association; Ron Wye, London Cycle Campaign ; Kevin D'Cruze, Lewisham Peace Council; Micheael Prime, Lewisham Greenpeace Supporters Group; Tim Wright, Lambeth Friends of the Earth; and a short interview with Peter Tatchell ('I'm here because I'm a socialist and i think green politics is really important'). There's also a Brockley Bean stall - a vegetarian shop/cafe in Coulgate Street at the time.

Musically there's Irish folk from Goats Brigade, Grange Lunchtime Band, Barflies, Childeric School Steel Band, Lewisham Lizards (doing 'Cajun Two Step') and a reggae sound system from Catford Link. The famous Dewdrop Inn can be seen in the background in the park scenes. All this plus a beer tent, face painters, clowns, jugglers, inflatables and animals from Stepping Stones Farm in East London.

Apparently there was a similar event the year before, at Goldsmiths and in Fordham Park. Does anyone know if it happened again?

There's a bit in the first part of the film where Catherine Maguire leads a workshop in the Albany on 'Creating Your Own Future', asking people to envisage the world they would like to live in in the year 2000. Did your dreams come true?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Urban Screen at the Albany

Urban Screen is a monthly film night at the Albany (Douglas Way, SE8), with a format of an indie feature along with shorts by emerging talent (mostly local). All followed by Q&A, a drink and some film biz networking.

This week - tomorrow in fact - they will be showing Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS plus Brazilian short TARANTINO’S MIND. As it's a festive gathering there will also be wine and mince pies (Wednesday 16 December, 7:30 pm, £5 entrance)

Last month Deptford-based film maker Destiny Ekaragha was featured. Her film TIGHT JEANS was included in the London Film Festival, and was inspired by a man in very tight jeans in Deptford High Street!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Brockley Mess

Some kind of aliens/snow people/monsters have taken over the garden at Brockley Mess for the festive period. Well, whatever they are it's the cutest Christmas installation spotted so far this year.
Inside there's an exhibition of paintings by Brixton-based artist Martin Grover. There's a picture of Brockwell Park ponds, but I was particularly taken by the large scale paintings of 7" singles.
What lifts them above straightforward reproductions of record sleeves off the production line is that they are actually paintings of specific individual objects with their own histories. So one record has the handwritten name of the girl it used to belong to on the label, while this copy of Thin Lizzy's Whisky in the Jar has a stamp from the record shop on the sleeve: 'Whymants Records, 1050 London Road, Thornton Heath'.

Oh and the coffee and cake was very nice too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brockley's most famous fascist

Brockley Central this week features a plaque on a local house. It reads simply 'Henry Williamson, writer, 1895-1977, lived here, 1902-1920. Presented by the Henry Williamson Society'. The writer is best known for his novel Tarka the Otter, which for many of those familiar with the film version must make him seem just a cuddly nature writer.

In fact, he was pretty much a life-long fascist who was denying the Holocaust up to his dying day. A quick google trawl using the terms "Henry Williamson" and "Hitler" will tell you all you need to know, if you can bear to look at the loony neo-nazi sites across the world that continue to sing Williamson's praises.

A member of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists in the 1930s, he visited Germany in 1935 to attend the National Socialist Congress at Nuremberg. He wrote of Hitler as 'the great man across the Rhine whose life symbol is the happy child'. A regular contributor to the BUF paper, Action, he was briefly interned as a nazi sympathiser on the outbreak of war. While some British nazis hid their pro-Hitler position behind calls for peace with Germany, Williamson was unapologetic. On September 24, 1939, he wrote that Hitler was 'determined to do and create what is right. He is fighting evil. He is fighting for the future'.

Many pre-war fascists kept their heads down after the war, but not Williamson. When Oswald Mosley launched his Union Movement after the war, Williamson wrote for the first issue of its journal. In The Gale of the World, one of his final works published in 1969, Williamson puts forward the view that the Holocaust never happened, specifically that deaths in concentration camps were caused by diseases brought about by the destruction of all public utility systems by Allied bombing.

Williamson was born born in 1895 at 66 Braxfield Road in Brockley. In 1900 the family moved to 11 (now 21) Eastern Road, Brockley, where the plaque stands. He went to Colfe's school. But he moved to Devon in the 1920s and never returned to live in South East London, so I would be quite happy for other parts of the country to take credit for him - or rather the blame.

Friday, December 11, 2009

SE London music blogs

As you will have gathered if you've ever checked out my music blog, I'm interested in thinking, talking and arguing about music as well as listening to it. Some of the more interesting dance music thoughtists are also in the SE London zone, so though I'd mention a few here.

Peckham's Rouge's Foam is an ambitious exercise in 'excessive aesthetics', check out the brilliant and exhaustive overview of Burial's music which has got everybody talking in the past week (well everybody who likes that sort of thing, and I do).

Meanwhile Decks and the City is the place to go if you wonder what a theory of Peckham Soca Aerobics would be like.

No Pain in Pop is the blog of the New Cross-based label/promoters, featuring lots of interesting new music.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Deptford Albany Posters Exhibition

There's a nice exhibition in the cafe at Deptford Albany (Douglas Way, SE8) of posters advertising gigs there in the early 1980s, designed by Colin Bodiam ('Bo'). Posters featured include The Flying Pickets...

The Raincoats (legendary post-punk band), who played at the Albany in December 1981. The poster says 'first week of music', presumably this was just after the new building opened in Douglas Way. The old Albany Empire in Creek Road was demolished to make way for a road widening (as well as being damaged in a suspected fascist arson attack).

Dr John, with local support The Electric Bluebirds:

Mary Wells (the poster says 'Detroit to Deptford'):

Jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim:
'World Music Hits Deptford' with gigs by dub poet Michael Smith, Rico (ska trombonist who teamed up for a while with The Specials. I saw him a couple of times in the early 1990s playing in Mingles, a pub in Brixton's Railton Road) and Bobby McFerrin (best known for 'Don't Worry, Be Happy')...

Other posters on display advertise gigs by Squeeze, Richard Thompson, Martha Reeves and Defunkt. No sign of the Lee 'Scratch' Perry & The Upsetters poster shown in the latest New Cross Gate Post. The exhibition runs until Christmas Eve.

Colin Bodiam was born in 1945 and grew up in Blackheath. At one time he was the music critic for IT (International Times). His biog, displayed at the exhibition, also mentions 'other activities in the early seventies including supplying rock stars at Underhill Rehearsal Studios in Blackheath Hill (A Ziggyfied David Bowie: 'it's not for me, it's for the band")'. The posters were mostly printed by silkscreen in a room at the Pink Palace on Crossfields Estate. Mark Knopfler helped print an early poster for a gig by Dire Straits, using 'feminist enclave See Red Women's Workshop'.

Colin also has an amazing collection of local music photos at his Myspace site, including a 1970s Dire Straits photo shoot in Greenwich and more recent, this photo of the Dire Straits plaque unveiling on Crossfields Estate last week. Bo is pictured, I believe, holding an early Dire Straits poster in between Mark Knopfler (left) and John Illsley (right) from the band.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Dance in Hilly Fields

Keren'Or's Spiral of the Inner Space performed by the Hilly Fields stone circle there at Brockley Max in June this year:

Keren'Or is a Laban trained dancer (the name is Hebrew for Ray of Light - keep up kabbalists!). There's also footage of this dance at Laban in Deptford.

It's getting towards the Winter Solstice, is anybody planning to watch the sun rise by the stone circle this year? I did it once - you have never been alive until you've watched the new born sun rise over Lewisham! I know some people were up there for the Summer Solstice this year, come to think of it just a few days after the Spiral of the Inner Space dance there .

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Fowler's Troop Winter Schedule

If you are in Greenwich covered market tomorrow (Wednesday 9/12/09, at 6pm) you may come across University of Greenwich drama students performing a St. George and the Dragon play tomorrow, including some English folk dances which they have learnt with advice from members of Fowler's Troop, Deptford's very own morris dancing side.

Fowler's Troop will be doing their own start of season tour this Sunday 13th December in Deptford, staring off at The Dog and Bell, Prince Street, from 12 to dance at 12.30pm, before moving on to The John Evelyn, 299 Evelyn Street, at 1.30pm then back to The Dog and Bell again at 2.30pm.

On Boxing Day they will be joining the Blackheath Morris Men on their traditional Boxing Day tour, scheduled to start at the Princess of Wales, Blackheath around midday.

They will be joining the Lions Part on the 3rd January for their Twelfth Night celebration around Bankside (timings to be confirmed).

Finally on Plough Monday (11th January) they will be touring around the Royal Hill area of Greenwich in the evening.

Dorothy Dene - New Cross Eliza Doolittle?

Ada Alice Pullen (1859-1899) was one of several sisters from an impoverished family in New Cross whose faces stare out from pictures in art galleries across the world. Of these the most famous was Alice, who renamed herself Dorothy Dene, and was the main model for the painter Frederic Leighton (1830-1896) from the early 1880s onwards.

Dorothy Dene was the model for Leighton's The Bath of Psyche, now in Tate Britain, as well as other celebrated paintings inlcuding Clytie, The Last Watch of Hero and The Captive Andromache. Leighton encouraged Dene in her ambitions to be an actress. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: 'Her performance on stage was apparently disappointing, but it has been suggested that Leighton's attempts to model and promote a working-class girl from south London as a classical tragedienne.... were the inspiration for George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (first performed 1913)'.
Dorothy came from a family of ten - her father Abraham Pullen was a mechanical engineer. Four of the family posed for Leighton - Edith Ellen Pullen sat for his Memories; Hetty for Simothea the Sorceress and Farewell; and Lena in a number of paintings including Sisters Kiss and The Light of the Harem (source: The Dictionary of Artists Models).

Monday, December 07, 2009

New Cross V2 Plaque

A new plaque was unveiled last month (on the 25th November to be precise) to commemorate the 168 people killed when a V2 rocket landed on the Woolworths store in New Cross, 1944. Iceland now stands on the site. Brockley Central and Caroline's Miscellany have both posted recently on the disaster (see also this earlier Transpontine post on associated folklore). This week's News Shopper has a good article on it.

Above the new Lewisham Council plaque you can see the earlier commemorative plaque put up by Deptford History Group in 1994.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Fairytale of New Cross

Somebody had to write a song called the Fairytale of New Cross, and Greg McDonald has. Here he is performing it on Xfm earlier in the year:

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Jack Scroggins: New Cross Cock of the Walk

Jack Scroggins (born John Palmer) was a famous British boxer in the days of bare-knuckle fighting. According to The Sportsman's Magazine of Life in London and the Country, 1845:

'John Palmer was born, December 1st, 1787, near New-cross, Deptford. It should seem, that as Hercules in his cradle betook himself to serpent strangling by way of prefiguring his future monster-destroying propensities, so Jack was pugilistic from his cradle; and although not an ill-natured lad, was continually fighting the boys of New-cross, till his victories were so numerous, that he was considered as the cock of the walk'.

He moved on to be a servant in Kilburn where he diversified into scrapping outside pubs, joined the Navy, and then moved on to a famous boxing career. By this time he had gained the nickname Jack Scroggins: 'In height only five feet four inches, in weight hard upon 11 stone, "his appearance when stripped" say Boxiana, "is not unlike the stump of a large tree, and from his loins upwards he looks like a man of fourteen stone"'.

Scroggins was big news in his day - 30,000 people came to a field outside Hayes to watch him fight Ned Turner in 1817 (I guess many of them couldn't see very much of the fight). William Hazlitt wrote about him, mentioning that he was known variously as the "All-conquering Scroggins", "the invincible Scroggy" and the "Little Napolean of the Ring".

Friday, December 04, 2009

Love Music Hate Racism in Brixton

Tomorrow night (Saturday) is the second of two South London Love Music Hate Racism nights at the Windmill in Brixton. Line up includes Piney Gir, Caitlin Rose, Donna Macioca and Erin. £5 entrance, further details here.

Greek Uprising meeting at Goldsmiths

On 6 December last year, 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot dead by police in Athens, sparking several weeks of demonstrations, riots and occupations across Greece.

To mark the anniversary Goldsmiths Autonomy and Solidarity Society are hosting a meeting 'Merry Crisis - The Greek Insurrection of 2008', featuring Ed Emery. Ed is 'a writer, musician and translator. He has written widely on Italian autonomism and Greece as well as translating texts by Toni Negri and Dario Fo, amongst others. He founded the Red Notes series of books and pamphlets and The Free University'.

The meeting takes place on Thursday, 10 December 2009, 6:15pm - 8:00pm in the Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre at Goldsmiths, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London, SE14. All welcome.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pirates to the rescue?

I noticed that on Galaxy FM (99.5) at the weekend they were broadcasting appeals for people to donate food, clothes and other stuff to people who lost their homes and belongings in last week's fire in Peckham.

Five local 'pirate' radio stations (or as they prefer to call themselves, community radio stations) jointly broadcast the appeal. They invited people to drop off donations at Uppercuts Barber Shop on Nunhead Green, Maestro Records in Rye Lane and the Real McCoy clothing shop in Brixton - evidently many responded. This was part of an impressive display of community mutual aid which saw local people, and indeed council workers volunteering their time, coming together to respond to the fire.

The local press have picked up on the story this week. The South London Press had the headline 'pirates to the rescue', while the Southwark News has the full story, in terms of actually giving credit to the stations involved - Lightning, Galaxy, Vibes, Genesis and Ontop FM.

Anyway makes a change from they usual Ofcom-led nonsense media tales of criminal radio operators disrupting the airwaves.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Amersham Arms Film Night

As discussed here before, there might not be a proper cinema anymore in the borough of Lewisham, but there's still a strong film culture. Latest to launch a film night is the Amersham Arms in New Cross.

They're starting out next Tuesday (8th Dec.) with two films. At 8 pm it's Moonwalker (Michale Jackson movie), followed at 10 pm by Stir Crazy

It's free, plus buy one cocktail get the second for £1 all night long.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Lewisham is for Lovers

Nice stencilled graffiti on derelict fruit and veg shop, corner of Lewisham Way and Tyrwhitt Road (photo from Andrew K Brown at Flickr).

Yes, Lewisham is for lovers and as today is World AIDS Day just a gentle reminder to all you lovers - be safe out there.

Local HIV advice and testing is available at:
  • Alexis Clinic, Lewisham Hospital. Open Mon - Friday 9-5pm. Tel: 020 8333 3216.
  • Downham Clinic, 7-9 Moorside Road, Bromley, Kent, BR1 5EP. Mon – Thursday 2 – 8pm, Friday 9.30 – 12 noon, and 2 – 5 pm. Tel: 020 3049 1825. click to map;
  • The Primary Care Centre, 1st Floor, Hawstead Rd, Catford SE6 4 JH, Mon - Thursday 11am - 8pm, Friday 2 - 8pm. Tel: 020 7138 1700. click to map;
  • Sydenham Green Health Centre, 26 Holmshaw Close, Sydenham SE26 4TG. Daytime entrance Holmshaw Close, Evening entrance Sydenham Road, Mon – Thurs 2 – 8pm, Fri 2 – 5pm, Weds and Saturday mornings 9.30 – 11.30 am. Tel: 020 7771 4620. click to map;
  • Waldron, Stanley Street, New Cross, London SE8 4BG. Mon – Thurs 11am – 8pm, Friday 11am – 5pm. Tel 020 3049 3500. click to map.