Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dark Monarch

The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art is an excellent exhibition exploring the influence of folklore, mysticism, mythology and the occult on the development of art in Britain. It was first displayed at Tate St Ives last year and has now moved to the new Towner gallery in Eastbourne. There are no plans for it to come to London as far as I know, so if you want to see it you will have to take a trip to the south coast before 21 March, when it closes.

The reason I mention it here is because it includes works by a number of visionary artists associated with South London, including in no particular order:

Graham Sutherland, Cray Fields (1920)

(artist studied at Goldsmiths in New Cross)

Derek Jarman, Sulphur (1975)

(one of a series of super 8 films made when he was living on Bankside)

Austin Osman Spare, The Dawn (1920)
(artist lived in Walworth Road)

The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke - Richard Dadd (1864)
(painted in Bedlam asylum, St George's Fields, Southwark)

Samuel Palmer, The Lonely Tower (1979)
(artist grew up in Walworth)

Damien Hirst - The Child's Dream (2008)
(artist studied at Goldsmiths in New Cross)
Well worth a trip to the seaside, these images don't really do justice to the works, for instance the drawing by David Jones includes an incredible amount of detail as does Gadd's painting.

Friday, January 29, 2010

From New Cross to 'Ampstead

The great London Nobody Sings has been featuring songs from north of the river this week, specifically songs about Hamptead. One of the numbers featured is All Aboard for 'Appy 'Ampstead, sung in 1932 by Gracie Fields:

A quick listen shows that this is really a South East London song, or at least a song about South Londoners going on a day trip to Hampstead. It starts off "can't you 'ear the charabanc coming down the Old Kent Road", then we hear that they're on a "New Cross Bus with the beer and lunch" with a cast of characters including "Blimey Bill from Denmark Hill". The song was written by Albert Chevalier, who also wrote 'Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road' - the tune quoted in the opening bars of this song.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In search of The Deptford Wives

The Deptford Wives is such an obvious pun on the Stepford Wives that it has been used a few times - there was an episode of Radio 4 Sci-Fi comedy Nebulous with this title in 2006, a local band of that name, and a song title by Hatcham Social.

But what I'd really like to find out more about is an 1984 film. The BFI database has some limited information about it, stating that it was made by Bethnal Green Women's Film Collective and sponsored by Tower Hamlets Arts Association. Those involved included Virginia Heath, Zuni Luni, Robyn Forbes, Angela Preece and Stef Heinrich.

It is described as 'Feminist science fiction. Women are forced back into the home under constant surveillance, and find ways and means to rebel'.

Intriguing - does anybody know more about it? Was it actually shot in Deptford? Does anyone even have a copy of it lying around that could be used for a showing?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hole in New Cross

On 22 August 1991, Hole played at the Venue in New Cross, along with Mudhoney. As mentioned here before, Kurt Cobain and the rest of Nirvana were in the audience that night. Some great footage of Courtney Love & co. playing that night has surfaced on youtube, pretty awesome stuff it is too:

More from this gig here and here

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Miles Franklin in Deptford

The Australian novelist and feminist Miles Franklin (1879 -1954) is best known for her 1901 autobiographical novel My Brilliant Career (filmed by Gillian Armstrong in 1979).

She lived for a while in Chicago, where she worked for the Women's Trade Union League, and then spent the First World War in England involved in various feminist projects including Charlotte Despard's Women's Freedom League, based in Nine Elms. She was also recruited to help with Margaret McMillan's Deptford nursery for the children of munition workers and described the nursery in an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 1916:

'Here in Deptford, under the shadow of St Nicholas's flanked by 'The Plume of Feateher' and 'The King's Head', like Scylla and Chaybdis, in the window of one of the humble houses of the locality, is a hand-printed advertisement of a day-nursery where working mothers are invited to leave their babies from 7 am till 7 pm and that there is a doctor in regular attendacne. The signature at the foot of the announcement is 'Margaret McMillan'...

Underneath it is tunnelled with great cellars leading down to the Thames, and legend has it that the smugglers once kept their goods in the stowage. At any rate, the creek where Drake kept his boats is at hand, and misty lore has it that Queen Elziabeth sat under the mulberry tree around which the toddlers sing 'Here we go round the mulberry tree'....

Inside the enclosure, safe from the brewery lorries and brawlers of the public-houses is a charmed land of infants and toddlers in a newly-planted rose gardem, ranging from six months up to four years of age, who practically spend the day in the open air'

Monday, January 25, 2010

King and the Olive Fields

Phil from New Cross-based King and the Olive Fields has been in touch to tell us that they will releasing their debut 10" EP, 'Fireworks', on Monday February 22nd 2010.

The official EP launch party will be on Friday February 12th at the Duke of Uke near Brick Lane, following that they are doing a number of dates including an instore at Puregroove in Farringdon.

As a preview you can listen to/download one of the tracks from the EP, Postcards, here. Lovely in a Magnetic Fields/indie pop kind of a way.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


The links on this site have been woefully out of date, so I have had a bit of an edit. So it's hello to:
A Room of One Zone, good stuff from Deptford Marmoset including joining the wonderful Caroline's Miscellany in the search for the great ghost signs of South London.

Greenwich Industrial History - not only does what it says on the tin, but can probably tell you that that tin was made at Tinmakers & Sons in Woolwich in 1923.

Sydenham & Forest Hill Society - quality rather than quantity at Steve Grindlay's blog.

Swimsuit Issue - New Cross-based feminist blogger, not too much local-specific content, but impeccable politics and music taste.

... and it's goodbye to:

- Someday I will treat you good - Andrew broke his blogging addiction and hasn't posted for over a year. Sure he's up to something, but not quite sure what - move over Miliband, next leader of the Labour Party?

Don't Ask Nothing/Deptford Arts Network - site has vanished, perhaps they have moved on and decided Peckham is the new Deptford? Or, hazard for people doing interesting things in SE London, headed off to Shoreditch thinking it's Hollywood/the Emerald City. It isn't and the wizard is a fake.

The Man from Catford - deleted his blog :-( Have said it before in my sometime historian guise, but hey people blogger is free, unless your blog was so personally embarrassing that it would compromise you for it to exist, please don't delete it. In ten years time (maybe sooner), your seemingly trivial observations about details of life in your ends will be gold dust to somebody.

Kate - another good blogger missing in action.

In the music links I have taken out Moonbow Jake's (closed) and updated Rocklands/Music Tourist Board plus added a few South London-based bloggers including Decks and the City, Rouge's Foam, Punch Brothers Punch and The London Nobody Sings . As for record labels I have left in Angular even though they have left the hood, their New Cross roots are still showing, and added No Pain in Pop.

Friday, January 22, 2010

David Hepher's beautiful tower blocks

Currently on display at Tate Britain gallery is this painting by David Hepher (born 1935). 'Albany Flats' (1977-79) depicts the Bradenham block on the Aylesbury Estate (not the Albany Estate as is erroneously stated in this otherwise informative description at the Tate Website, though they are off Albany Road).

The painting is one of a series depicting tower blocks in South London, with others including ‘Peckham Flats’ (1975–6), ‘Walworth Flats’ (1976–9), ‘Stockwell Flats I’ (1974–5) and 'Camberwell Nocturne' (1984)- below - featuring Habington House, a block on Camberwell's Elmington Estate.
He has said: ‘ I like best to work from council blocks, preferably stained and eroded by the dirt and the weather, where the facial appearance is continually changed by the people who live there, their comings and goings, and the changing decor. I would like to think that the pictures could make people look differently at the flats around them, to see beauty in objects that they normally dismiss as ugly.’
Naturally this put me in mind of South London militant modernist Owen Hatherley, generally appreciative of high rise beauty - though I notice that even he draws the line at admiring the tower blocks on the Aylesbury.

Hepher studied and taught at Camberwell College of Art. There's some pictures of his studio in Camberwell by Pete Marshall here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bold Vision benefit - with Mazaika

Bold Vision's plans for a new community cafe at the Telegraph Hill Centre in New Cross are pushing on, with a benefit night at St Catherine’s Church on Friday January 29th. They say:

'The evening will include a performance of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals (‘The Swan’, ‘The Elephant’ etc.), and appearances by folk singer/songwriter Kat Drake, blues band Little Devils, readings and drama by actors who you will recognise (and not just from Sainsbury’s), accordion and violin duo Mazaika, comic interventions by Phil Nice, and much more (including a Bar). The first half will be child-friendly and last approximately 45 minutes, so bring all the family for this community event and an introduction to some great music.

Tickets available from the Telegraph Hill Centre from 18th Jan (when open) and on the door. The concert is free to under-18s, and to adults on a pay-what-you-can-for BOLD VISION basis! (Suggest £5 +)'.


I am particularly looking forward to seeing Mazaika, who are based locally and have played at Brockley Max etc. but who I keep missing. They are an accordion/violin duo who play Russian and Gypsy music. If you've seen Cronenberg's Eastern Promises - in the top 5 'set partly in Deptford' films ever - you'll be familiar with accordionist Igor Outkine, as he performs in the film. Violinist Sarah Harrison has also played with an outfit called the Hot Club of New Cross - not sure if they are still going, but they sound good. Marc Almond recently performed with Mazaika at Cecil Sharp House:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From Nunhead to the Titanic

When the Titanic sunk in 1912 one of the survivors was a young wireless operator, Harold Bride.
Bride first told his story to the New York Times immediately after the disaster. 'I was born at Nunhead, England 22 years ago, and joined the Marconi forces last July. I first worked on the Hoverford, and then on the Lusitania. I joined the Titanic at Belfast'.

Bride seems to have been one of the last off the ship and spent some time swimming in the sea before being picked up. He recalled listening to the band as the ship went down: 'The way the band kept playing was a noble thing. I heard it first while still we were working wireless, when there was a ragtime tune for us, and the last I saw of the band, when I was floating out in the sea with my life belt on, it was still on deck playing "Autumn"'.

On the rescue ship, Carpathia, he quickly went to work on the wireless, sending messages from survivors.

You can read his full story at the New York Times archive for 19 April 1912. See also the entry on him at the Encyclopedia titanica. Bride was born in 1890, in 1903 his family moved to 58 Ravensbourne Avenue, Shortlands, where there is now a London Borough of Bromley plaque.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Colin Wilson: an outsider in Brockley library

The always excellent Another Nickel in the Machine has an interesting piece on the the writer Colin Wilson. Wilson was feted as a genius after the publication of his book The Outsider in 1956, which popularised existentialism. Soon though the newspapers turned on him when it became known that - shock horror- he had left his wife and child and was living with his girlfriend Joy. Wilson may never have regained his reputation as the English Jean-Paul Sartre, but he has done OK as a writer, publishing continuously ever since, especially books on the paranormal.

As Another Nickel... documents part of the early myth was that he had written the book while sleeping rough on Hampstead Heath and studying in the British Library. This may have been partly true but, as Wilson has subsequently confirmed, the title was conceived in New Cross. In his book 'The angry years: the rise and fall of the angry young men' (2007) he writes: ''By September 1954, the autumn rains had driven me back indoors, and I took a room in the auspiciously named Endwell Road in New Cross, and found a job in the Lyons Corner House in Leicester Square. Joy had now become a librarian in Stanmore, and we were so far apart that I saw her only at weekends having convinced my landlady - a kindly soul named Mrs Harris - that we were married and obliged to live apart until Joy passed her librarianship exam'.

Wilson spent Christmas Day 1954 in his room 'dining on egg, bacon and tinned tomatoes... and that afternoon headed a page in my journal: "Notes for a book The Outsider in Literature", followed by the words: "To show that the outsider is evidence of a particular type of moral development that has its finest fruit in the Christian tradition"... In the local library I had discovered an excellent section on the mystics, and I had been reading Jacob Boehme and Saint John of the Cross. Within an hour I had sketched out the whole book'.

In his autobiography 'Dreaming to Some Purpose', Wilson states that the exact address was 31 Endwell Road and that 'Brockley Public Library had the best collection of the mystics in London - most of them in the reserve section in the basement'. Before the book was published he had moved back across the river, but evidently the local library had almost as much of a role as the British library in the conception of his best known work.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Brockley in the Telegraph

The Brockley Christmas fair and a certain local ukelele group get a mention in the Telegraph's gardening section this week (14 January), with Matthew Appleby writing:

'I ran a pop-up garden shop in up-and-coming London suburb Brockley recently. We sold the dream ticket of secondhand books, local photo cards of Brockley in the snow, cupcakes, and slug and weedkillers. Only the chemicals failed to shift. This retail offering may sound like a health and safety nightmare, and indeed one child complained about tinfoil in their fairy cake, but the event had a lovely community feel, with a ukulele band, Santa and mulled wine on offer. We used a cute baby as bait (my idea) and gave the proceeds to charity (not my idea).

However, no-one bought any garden products. Maybe it was the time of year. Maybe the trendy Brockley-ites want to do it for free. Maybe the seeds and grow-your-own thing is now so embedded that no-one thinks they need garden chemicals any more. Maybe they are all organic and self-sufficient. But I doubt it'.

Local allotment holders might also be interested in the item in this same column on a new company setting up private allotments to compete with the 'socialist system' of council-run allotments - apparently 'Allotments used to be for pensioners and the poor. Now they are for the middle classes'. Discuss.

Incidentally, has anyone else noticed the over-use of the term 'pop-up' everywhere for anything vaguely temporary? Someone sticks a few pictures on a cafe wall and now it's a pop-up gallery; or in the example above, a stall in a Christmas market is rebranded as a pop-up shop.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chicken Run

That dreadful Tory poster is on the Old Kent Road among many other places - you know the one, 'we're going to cut everything, but may just stop at your throats'. There are many spoofs out there (see for instance Liberal Conspiracy), but I'm not sure if anybody else has remarked upon the remarkable resemblance between David Cameron and a chicken - more specifically Ginger from Chicken Run. Are they by any chance related?

South London French Exiles (2): Emile Zola

The great French novelist Emile Zola lived in the Queen's Hotel in Upper Norwood from October 1898 to June 1899 while in voluntary exile during the infamous Dreyfus affair. Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French Army, had been falsely accused of spying, largely as a consequence of the widespread anti-semitism in ruling circles. Zola famously came to his defence by writing an open letter to the French President, "J'Accuse" and as a result was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for criminal libel. It was to avoid this that Zola fled to London, where he remained until the death of the President and the withdrawal of the threat of prison.

Zola led a lonely existence in Norwood, his whereabouts concealed from all but trusted friends. His visitors included the French socialist leader Jean Jaures, Yves Guyot (a prominent Dreyfusard), J H Levy of the Personal Rights Association, and the novelist Octave Mirbeau.

Zola spent his time working on his novel Fécondité, cycling and taking photographs of the local area, including the following one of the Crystal Palace.

Interestingly when Zola had visited London five years previously he was deemed sufficiently a literary celebrity to be honoured in one of the regular grand fireworks displays at the Crystal Palace. Along with the 'Ascent of two Large Balloons, bearing torches and Aerial fireworks' and and 'Aquatic Forest of Floating Trees of Fire' the 23 September 1893 display included a 'Fire Portrait of Emile Zola with motto "Welcome"' (Patrick Beaver, The Crystal Palace: a portrait of Victorian enterprise, 1986).

There is a blue plaque for Zola on the hotel in Church Road, Upper Norwood (close to Crystal Palace triangle). A collection of Zola's photographs of the area has been published by the Norwood Society.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lewisham Communists, 1926

This photo of Lewisham Communist Party members was taken in 1926. It is featured on the cover of 'Communism in Britain, 1920-39: from the cradle to the grave' by Thomas P. Linehan (2007). I found another, smaller version of the same photo online in which you can see that as well as the main banner ('Communist Party Lewisham Group, 1905, 1917, Workers of the World Unite'), they are carrying red flags with hammer and sickles.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Alexander Wolfe - New Cross Rembrandt Dealer?

From The Sunday Times, 10 January:

'...Alexander Wolfe was a lead singer without a band after their keyboard player left to sign a multi-million-pound solo deal. What was to be spectacularly good news for Jamie Cullum left Wolfe wondering where next to turn. Then he remembered the artwork he had inherited from his French grandfather. The small lithograph of an elderly beggar seeking alms, produced in 1630, had been hanging on the wall in his bedsit in south London for more than a decade. It was a precious treasure: the only link to a family he never knew and, by his own admission, “the only thing of value that I owned”. However, it was also the passport to his dreams.

Wolfe took it down, wondering what it might be worth. “And on the back there was a letter to an ancestor of mine from the painter, who gave it to him as a gift. And it was signed ‘Rembrandt’.” At auction, the print fetched £9,000. Within days, Wolfe had gone out and bought everything he needed to bring his music dreams to life...

Says Wolfe: “It was hard to let the painting go, because it was my only connection with my French family, but there was no real point in hanging a Rembrandt in a bedsit in New Cross. I justified it as selling art to make art.” He adds: “I never knew my French grandfather. We only met once and he died when I was 14, but I owe my career to him.” With his new equipment, Wolfe set to work to make Morning Brings a Flood, a beautiful album with echoes of Nick Drake, inspired by an artistic vision. “The idea was to make a record about darkness and light,” he says. Recorded over the course of a year, much of it in his own home, Wolfe played almost all the instruments — guitar, bass, piano, drums, sitar, organ, harmonium and glockenspiel — and produced it himself'.

The album was recorded in New Cross - at his twitter feed, Alexander describes himself as 'the only French lord in New Cross'!. Here's his song Teabags in Ashtrays:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cous Cous at Café Crema

Thursday night film screenings are back at Café Crema (306 New Cross Road) with the licenses all sorted once again…

This week on January 14th they are showing Abdel Kechiche’s ‘Couscous’, a portrait of the French-Tunisian community in the French port of Sète. 'Basically an ensemble piece, it pokes into the lives of the two extended families belonging to a separated, 60-year-old immigrant shipworker, Slimane (Habib Boufares). When unemployment hits, it is the grain and red mullet dish his estranged wife so lovingly prepares which he hopes may prove the central selling point of a new restaurant he plans to open on a reconditioned quayside barge'.

Film plus polenta, or sweet cakes and wine, all for £6. Doors 7.30pm; film starts at 8.oopm.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chew Lips

London electro-popsters Chew Lips are launching their debut album, Unicorn, later this month. Clash reports that the trio 'formed almost exactly two years ago, playing their first show at a friend's party in the fashionable New Cross area of London'. In fact, singer Tigs and James Watkins were living in New Cross when they started out, with the remaining member Will Sanderson in Dulwich. Don't know if they're still in the 'hood, but that's enough of a SE London connection to get them on Transpontine.

Here's the video for their single Salt Air, released last summer:

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Young London Artist Awards at Sydenham School 2010

There's an opportunity to see some exciting work by young South London artists later this month at Sydenham School.The Young London Artist exhibition and awards on Friday 29th January 2010 (6:00-7:30 pm) will feature work by 46 A-level students, including live cooking of Eritrean cuisine, large sand installations, live video feeds linked to CCTV, painting, sculpture, photography and much more.

The prize will be judged and awarded on the night by Grazyna Ciuksza, the schools learning officer at the Horniman Museum, and Tara Page, a lecturer in art and design education at Goldsmiths College. Some of the work being produced is of degree standard and will be worth checking out whether or not you have connections with the school - all visitors are welcome.

Sydenham School is located in Dartmouth Road, London SE26 4RD. It is a comprehensive secondary school for girls, with a mixed sixth form (Hillsyde) combined with Sedgehill and Forest Hill schools.

Murder in New Cross and Thornton Heath

A 19 year old who was attacked last April in Sandford Street, New Cross, has died after being in a coma for eight months. Johnson Ndjoli died on January 5th from the injuries he sustained when he was shot, stabbed and run over by van. In November 2009, two brothers were jailed for 35 years for his attempted murder. Dwight Callender, aged 23, of Mercator Road, Lewisham, and Derrell Callender, aged 20, of Leybridge Court, Eltham, were said to have been part of the 'Shower Gang' and to have carried out the attack following an argument with Ndjoli's friend Mohammed Turay, who was also injured.

The New Year started with a murder in Thornton Heath, where the family of the victim have criticised police handling and press coverage of the crime. The Deslandes family run the Newton Arms pub in Thornton Heath. Their account is that after an argument at a New Year's Eve party, a man was ejected from the pub and came back later with a gun. 34 year old Darren Deslandes was shot dead, and and his 25 year old brother, Wintworth [Junior] Deslandes, remains in the Critical Care Unit.

The Sun, however, reported that 'Two men shot after a New Year party are believed to have taken part in a Wild West-style shootout. One man in his 30s died from gunshot wounds and the other, in his 20s, is critical after the gun battle in Thornton Heath, south London'. In the press release (reproduced in full at Black Looks) 'The Deslandes family formally demand a full apology from the Sun and a full retraction of the cruel lies they have spread about the Murder of one innocent, law abiding young man and the attempted murder of another . Wintworth and Leline have a third son, James, age 13. He witnessed the Murder of his eldest brother. His other brother is fighting for his life and his parents are irreconcilably devastated'.

What this case shows is that the magic words 'Operation Trident, the force's black-on-black gun crime taskforce, are investigating', along with innaccurate press reporting, can create complacency and indifference amongst the wider community. There is an unspoken assumption that anybody who gets shot was probably involved in gangs, maybe even deserved it, and that nobody else should worry or even care. But people with no involvement in violent crime can get killed if they argue with the wrong person, try to break up a fight or go to the aid of a friend. And even when the victims are involved in gangs, it remains a tragedy for their families and for all of us that young lives are being wasted.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

This year's Telegraph Hill Community Production will be Stephen Sondheim' s 'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street'. Registration/rehearsals are taking place this weekend (9th and 10th of January) at St Catherine's Church at the top of Pepys Road.

In case you haven't been to one of these before, the Community Production usually features a cast of a couple of hundred children and adults, with two months of rehearsals miraculously resulting in a generally high quality weekend of performances during the Telegraph Hill Festival (13th and 14th March). So if you live in the New Cross/Brockley and fancy a sing song, check out the Festival website for details.

Did squatting save Victorian London?

In his book 'A Summer in the Park: a Journal of Speakers' Corner' (Freedom Press, 2004), Tony Allen puts forward the view that 'squatting saved Victorian London'. His argument is that 'Government Housing policy of the late 1960s was to knock down the crumbling grandeur of London's inner city Victorian terraces and replace them with tower blocks and housing estates. They placed CPOs - Compulsory Purchase Orders - on the old property and then spent years moving the tenants around and gradually trashing and tinning up the voids'. Many of the empty properties were squatted, and subsequently squatters and remaining residents joined forces and campaigned against Council demolition plans.

'By 1979 the policy was finally changed. "Renovate the Victorian terraces and divide and rule the squatters". The more articulate and organised of the squatters did a range of deals with the various councils and ended up living as co-ops or council tenants on controlled rents in the renovated Victorian terraces. It may not have been a deliberate anarchist policy, but nevertheless the squatters of the seventies saved Victorian London'.

The example he gives is North Paddington/North Kensington, but does the theory hold true for South East London? There are certainly housing co-ops in Victorian terraces to this day in New Cross with origins in the squatting movement (e.g. Nettleton Road), and indeed many houses in Telegraph Hill area were squatted in the 1970s and 1980s - when I stripped the wallpaper in my house I found some great old squat punk graffiti including a picture of a punk with a mohican and 'The Exploited' . This was a period when middle class taste was for new-built housing away from the inner city. I am one of many ex-squatters living inVictorian housing round here - some in co-ops and housing association properties, some who got cheap mortgages when not many people wanted to buy Victorian terraced houses, and/or when Housing Associations were buying people out of their tenancies by paying for them to put down deposits on houses.

So if Tony Allen is right there are a number of levels of irony here - the good burghers of the conservation areas partially owe the survival of the Victorian fabric of the city to a bunch of punks and anarchists. And conversely the latter inadvertently paved the way for the (re)gentrification of the inner city.

What do people think?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Deptford Urban Free Festival

I can't do justice to the Deptford Urban Free Festival in one post, so will return to it shortly, but suffice it to say that from 1990 to 1995 there was an annual full-0n festival in Fordham Park, New Cross that attracted tens of thousands of people from all over London. It wasn't some municipal music do, but a proper free festival bringing the spirit of Stonehenge and Castlemorton into town for the weekend complete with loads of bands and sound systems. It was too good to last, in the climate of the post-Criminal Justice Act crackdown on open air raves and festivals Lewisham Council refused permission for it to continue in 1996. I was lucky enough to be there for several of them.

To get things started here's some footage by Nigel Smith of the 1991 festival:

Then from 1993, here's New Cross-based (and internationally known) band Test Department playing:

From the same year, here's Brixton-based RDK Hifi sound system:

More to come. Bring on the memories...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Cross Care Home Seeks Bagpipe Player

This is London reports that the Manley Court Nursing Centre, a care home in New Cross is looking for a bagpipe player for piping in the haggis on Burns Night (January 25). I do actually have a bagpipe chanter, but have never managed to get more than a few notes out of it. If you can do better, you could call the Centre on 0845 600 4622.

The Centre is in John Williams Close, off Cold Blow Lane.

Monday, January 04, 2010

New Year's Eve in Telegraph Hill Park

New Year's Eve was celebrated as usual in Telegraph Hill Park (top park), a couple of hundred people drinking and watching the fireworks exploding over London - the view of the main London display now newly obscured by the Strata building at Elephant and Castle. The other new development was the number of people launching Chinese lanterns in the park - no doubt prompting a rash of 'UFO sightings' across the capital. It was a full moon and a very clear night until just after midnight when there was a sudden snow shower sending everyone home with snow in their hair.

See also: New Year's Eve in Telegraph Hill Park, 31 December 2012

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Twelfth Night on Bankside

The Lion's Part put on their annual Bankside Twelfth Night celebration today. There was the usual arrival of the Green Man by boat...

... followed by wassailing outside the Globe theatre, not forgetting my favourite polar bear costume.

All of this plus a St George Mummers Play, this year featuring lots of topical lines about banks and the recession ('the banks have taken the money, and now we're all toast").

Friday, January 01, 2010

Dead Santa fails to abolish Brockley poverty

Christmas photo special - Brockley graffiti artist bemoans Santa's failure to abolish world poverty ('Xmas has come - Why am I still poor?'). But maybe the answer is to be found in Deptford, where this shocking photo from the church of Santa Claus (or St Nicholas) suggests that Santa may actually be dead!

Santa photo from Laura W. on facebook; Brockley graffiti on Foxwell Road on site of demolished Maypole pub, Brockley's own Democracy Wall, previously graffiti'd here and here.