Thursday, March 31, 2011

Remembering Rocky

Thanks to Gabz on Twitter (The Come Up) for the reminder that it was ten years ago today that footballer David Rocastle died an untimely death at the age of 33 from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Best known for his time at Arsenal, he also played for Leeds, Manchester City, Chelsea, Norwich City and Hull, as well as England.

He went to Turnham Primary School in Brockley and Roger Manwood Secondary School in Brockley Rise (as did Maxi Priest).

Love to his wife Janet, son Ryan and daughters Melissa and Monique.

Not going to lie though, the greatest moment in my football supporting days was seeing him lose at Wembley in 1988 (Luton 3 Arsenal 2).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Moses Tagoe: a death in police custody (1967)

The recent strange death of Smiley Culture in a police raid continues to raise alarm. Last week there was a packed public meeting in Brixton, and the family-led Campaign for Justice for Smiley Culture has called a demonstration on Saturday, April 16th at 1:00pm from Wandsworth Rd in Stockwell (where David Emmanuel/Smiley Culture grew up) to Scotland Yard.

The campaign has already reawakened memories of many other deaths in police custody in the past.
Doing some unrelated research this week I came across the following South London case from 1967 - what is particularly shocking about this one is that as recently as the late 1960s, 'coloured people' getting 'over-excited' was accepted as a cause of death! The police are going have to try a bit harder in 2011 to provide a satisfactory explanation for what happened in Warlingham, Surrey, on the 15th March.

'A 22-year-old Nigerian student went berserk when a police officer approached him at night in St Thomas Street, Southwark. Fifty minutes later, the man died in Tower Bridge Police Station, the Southwark inquest was told.

The Southwark coroner, Mr A. Gordon Davies, was informed the student was arrested after striking the policeman, PC John Carr, with a heavy brief-case, in the face. Then the student, Moses Tagoe, of Dalyell Road, Brixton, ran away, but was chased - first by PC Carr and then PC Anthony Mercer. Finally Police Sergeant Henry Dowswell arrested Tagoe.

At the inquest Mr Davies told the jury: 'If you are satisfied that there was quite proper force used, and there was no undue violence on the part of the police, the only possible verdict would be Accidental Death. There is no evidence for any other verdict'.

The jury returning an accidental verdict, had been told by Professor Francis Camps that some coloured people suffered from a disease which could lead to a fatal attack when over-excited. Mr Davies said that because the dead man was coloured, the authorities had made a very thorough investigation to ensure that no charge of racial discrimination could be made.

Pointing out that no reason for the attack on the policeman was apparent, Mr Davies said of Tagoe: 'He may have been under some delusion - persecution complex, or paranoia does seem very possible'.

was said by the police to have been writhing on the floor of the police station charge-room, and to have been dead when a police surgeon was called to attend PC Carr'.

Source: South London Observer, 22 March 1967.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Crystal Palace Baseball

Whatever happened to the Crystal Palace Baseball Team? 'at the Crystal Palace the first match of the Baseball Season was played between teams representing respectively Crystal palace and the Remingtons, and the Life-Boat Saturday Fund held its May Day Fete. Needless to say, there were plenty of people on the Sydenham heights...after nine innings had been played, the Crystal Palace team won by 8 runs'(Penny Illustrated Paper, 8 May 1897)
The same issue reports that 10,000 people had attended the races that weekend at Catford Cycling Club . (click image to enlarge)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Anti-cuts March: South London Contingent

Huge turn-out on today's anti-cuts March for the Alternative in London, estimates of up to 500,000 people on the streets: more than one in a hundred of the entire adult population of Britain on one demonstration.

Anti-cuts banner on Camberwell College of Arts

Sticker on a Camberwell cashpoint

The unofficial South London feeder march started out from Kennington Park, and by the time it had reached Westminster Bridge it was at least a couple of thousand people strong. The following pictures were all taken on the South London demo.

The giant Trojan Horse was a big hit - it was later burnt at Oxford Circus

Lewisham Pensioners Forum banner. Other local banners included Lambeth Teachers Association and South London Solidarity Federation.

The South London march crosses Westminster Bridge

More on the South London march at East London Lines.

Friday, March 25, 2011

March Against Cuts: South London Feeder

Big day tomorrow, the national demonstration against cuts in central London will be the largest of the decade so far. Could be a tell your grandchildren you were there moment, like the poll tax demo in 1990 or the anti-war march in 2003.

There's a South London feeder march meeting up at 11am at Kennington Park, in the North Field next to Kennington Park Place, with supporters including Southwark and Lambeth Save Our Services, Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance, Radical Workers Bloc and the Latin American Coalition Against Cuts. From there people will be marching together to the Embankment to join the main demonstration, set to start at 12 then head to Hyde Park.

If you have, or are, a puppet you could join the Puppets for Protest bloc, meeting 11 am in Jubilee Gardens on the South Ban, behind the London Eye!

Another cyclist killed in Bermondsey

Flowers at the junction of Tooley Street and Tanner Street SE1 mark where a cyclist was killed earlier this week. The 20 year old cyclist was apparently hit by a lorry. As reports:

'That accident took place just a few hundred yards from the locations where two cyclists – university professor David Vilaseca and medical student Haris Ahmed – were killed early last year [see previous Transpontine report]. It is the latest instance of a cyclist being killed by an HGV in Southwark, which for whatever reason seems to attract a large number of fatal accidents to bike riders, particularly in the Bermondsey area.

Two possible reasons for that might be the amount of construction works in the area for projects such as The Shard, and the presence of a massive waste incinerator sandwiched between the railway lines and Millwall FC’s New Den Stadium, with few routes in or out of the site. Roads running under the viaduct carrying railway lines away from London Bridge station are also used as short cuts by HGVs'.

Last month, Goldsmiths graduate Daniel Cox was killed while cycling in East London

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Music at the Old Nun's Head

An all woman line up at this month 'Nigel and Bermondsey and Friends' at the Old Nun's Head, SE15 tomorrow night (Friday 25th March). Acts include

- Charlie Henry: 'Using a loop pedal, a cello, a ukulele, a saw and her voice, she creates rich orchestral landscapes. Fusing spoken word and song she weaves live tapestries of songs and soundscapes in front of the audience's eyes'.

- Verity Flecknell: 'Verity is an indie folk/blues artist setting out to challenge the perceptions of

- Charley Stone: 'a.k.a. the Bonham Carter of Rock, rocks. She is available for hire, for guitar/BVs/bass/keyboard-ish-ness/other random musical things e.g. hoover-thru-wah-wah-pedal. But not for anything else. Most recently she has been performing with Charlotte Hatherley, a.k.a. the Kate Winslett of Rock, at scores of venues across this land and the next, as well as being providing deft bass playing, sexiness and so on for twisted surf band the Deptford Beach Babes. She also is a member of the New Royal Family, whose debut single "Anyone Fancy A Chocolate Digestive?" is about to sell out even before it is released'

8:30 pm in Nunhead and it's all free.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Transmission Cinema in New Cross

Pop-up cinema in New Cross coming soon, including a return to the area of Exploding Cinema DIY film night:

'The TRANSMISSION CINEMA is open for the duration of the Pullit Group Art Show from 25th March to April 9th 2011. In this fully equipped facility we will be taking opposing elements of Art, popular culture and D.I.Y. filmmaking and accelerating them into a high speed collision which we hope will generate the conditions for an underground smash up.

25 March – 9 April 2011, Every Friday and Saturday night, 6 – 11pm. Screenings start at 7.30pm. Admission £5 entry /£4 Concs

At the Bond House, 20–32 Goodwood Road, New Cross Gate, SE14 6BL (next door to New Cross Gate Station)


Friday 25th March: PRIVATE VIEW. Short Films and performance. Free admission.

Saturday 26th March: FILMGATE. Spectacular Live video mixing mashup by Ray Beam and the Shiners.Live bands and DJs.

Friday 1st April: MYSTERY NIGHT. Surprise cult feature!

Saturday 2nd April: OPEN SCREENING. Bring your films on dvd, usb stick or mini dv tape. First come first shown. Big prizes ! Makers get in free.

Friday 8th April: MALDOROR. Rare screening of the cult D.I.Y. Super 8 feature film.
“...this is true underground cinema” Fortean Times.

Saturday 9th April: EXPLODING CINEMA. The legendary D.I.Y. collective presents a night of
no-budget cinema and stunning optics.'

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Justice for Smiley

The campaign to find out what really happened to Smiley Culture, who died during a police raid last week, takes a step forward on Thursday

The Justice for Smiley Culture campaign will be having its first Public Meeting on Thursday May 24th, 7 pm to 8:30 pm at Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton (entrance on Acre Lane). The organisers say:

'The family have asked it to be known that the meeting will start on time and that they will not want a long protracted meeting. They are still in the process of grieving they will want the meeting to be concluded early. To all those in attendence they ask for your support, prayers, patience and understanding.The meeting will provide an update and details of the next steps for the campaign. One Love - No Justice No Peace'.

Nice tribute to Smiley from Maxi Priest at his myspace site today:

'Stunned, shocked and sad! These are some of the words to describe how I felt when I heard of Smiley Culture's death and how they said he died.

Smiley, a close friend of mine, who like me grew up around sound systems died a few days ago. I shook my head in total disbelief, and for hours I refused to believe it. He was more than just a reggae icon, more than a phenomenal deejay, he was a musical pioneer, but more importantly, Smiley was a great friend to all of us. Those who knew him could tell how articulate and intelligent he was, someone who would think outside the box, had a keen eye for business, and made a significant contribution to this world through his music. Smiley is a legend and respected worldwide.

In thinking of Smiley, I couldn't help but go back in time to when we wrote songs together like Caution with Asher Senator and Paul Robinson. Paul and I also recorded the song "Festival Time", which paid tribute to the good old times and the good old days of which Smiley was a huge part of….

Things we used to do
Things we used to say
Sunday morning I rise bright and early
Getting ready for a festival time
Smiley Culture, Tippa Irie they are coming
Philip Levi, phone and say him soon come

We are gonna meet, meet the sound
We hold the mike,, crowd gather 'round
Put on the show fi please the crowd
Everybody them baul out loud

Festival Time is here....

Smiley and I had similar cultural backgrounds, similar goals and visions for innovating reggae music, and much of this played out in our early days with Saxon Sound system, which was the foundation for our musical career as young teenagers.....times I will never forget.

Smiley was popular across the country and the people loved him, I remember in the early days of our career when we made many appearances together, they loved his spirit, his captivating charm, his musical talent and the way he worked his Caribbean heritage into his music. He was a breath of fresh air, and always motivating others to do their best. I can't count the amount of times he would start and end our conversations with an inspirational quote or reciting a scripture from the Bible.

The music industry has lost a genius and I like all of you have lost a great friend. To his family and friends, I extend heartfelt condolences. May God comfort you through this difficult and challenging time. To his fans and music family….stay strong and look out for each other.

Rest in peace my friend! We miss you.

Jah Bless,
Maxi Priest'

Like Smiley Culture, Maxi Priest started out with SE London's Saxon Sound System (he went to the now closed Roger Manwood Secondary School in Brockley Rise)

Strike and occupation at Goldsmiths

Lecturers at Goldsmiths College in New Cross have been on strike today as part of a national strike against changes to their pension scheme. Last night students occupied the Deptford Town Hall building, where Goldsmiths management offices are based. The occupation is in support of the striking lecturers, as well as to build momentum for this Saturday's anti-cuts demonstration in London.

Nelson looks down on David Cameron - everyone to Trafalgar Square this Saturday!

Some lecturers who didn't joint the strike attempted to hold tutorials in the nearby Cafe Crema instead. They were asked to desist by the Cafe, who wanted to show their support for the strike.
More on the dispute, including photos of the picket line, at the Goldsmiths UCU site.

The redecoration of Deptford Town Hall put me in mind of my late friend Paul Hendrich, who researched the links between Deptford and slavery, as represented in the Town Hall statues.

Peckham Street Photography

© Emma Jane Richards

Emma Jane Richards has been undertaking a street photography project in Peckham and there are some outstanding images. This one is taken through the window of The Greyhound pub. More on Facebook and Flickr

Sunday, March 20, 2011


If you've been in solitary confinement or trekking in the Himalayas recently you might not have heard about Meateasy. So just so you know - it sells burgers above a pub, get over it.

The pub in question is the Goldsmiths Tavern in New Cross, currently closed for refurbishment and due to be relaunched in May as the New Cross House. Meateasy is a temporary 'pop up' restaurant run by people who usually run the Meatwagon burger van. It does sound quite buzzy and I am tempted to pop down to one of its Friday night music sessions featuring the likes of Joe Muggs and Kongo Sound System. Trouble is being a vegetarian for nearly 30 years means that I'd rather put tabasco in my eye than eat there.

The place has been glowingly reviewed in The Metro and The Standard (Sexy feast: the most popular burger joint in town). Today it made it into the Independent on Sunday with the kind of condescending opening paragraph that makes me want to shout out loud: 'It's New Cross – a part of London I can't really identify, never mind find. Is it east or south? Isn't it one of those places without a Tube station?'. Is it too much to ask that a journalist could write about something in South East London without starting with a variation on omg where is it/will I get murdered?

Anyway Meateasy is due to close on April 16th but wouldn't be surprized if it popped up again more permanently.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Is it me you're looking for?

This poster on a noticeboard in Bermondsey Street made me smile - as you will see if you click and enlarge the image, the tear off slips on the bottom all feature lyrics from Lionel Richie's Is it me you're looking for?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Smiley Culture Update

The strange death of South London MC Smiley Culture (David Emmanuel) in a police raid continues to raise concern. Today more than 200 people attended a press conference at Karibu Education Centre in Brixton, with family and supporters. There's an excellent report by John Eden at Uncarved (John also has some great old music press stories from the 1980s). Seems it was something of a sad reunion for other former Saxon sound system MCs including Papa Levi, Asher Senator and Tippa Irie, gathered together to recall their fallen comrade.

I recommend watching this press conference all the way through, there's some incredible memories and contributions from friends, family and community activists.

The police story that Smiley Culture stabbed himself through the heart when he went to make a cup of tea while police were searching his house just sounds incredible. It is theoretically possible that a vulnerable person under stress might want to harm themselves - but even if that was the case here it would suggest a shocking failure by the police to exercise their duty of care. As someone said today 'what kind of madness is this that they're trying to tell the people?'.

There is going to be a follow up public meeting on March 24th, probably in Brixton but venue to be confirmed. This is a campaign that isn't going to go away until the family get answers.

Among the speakers from the floor today was the brother of Sean Rigg, who died in the back of a police van at Brixton Police Station in 2008. Here's a short film about him and his family's campaign for justice.

Social Centre Plus - Deptford Tributes

I went down last night to Social Centre Plus, the new 'community anti-cuts space' in the occupied Job Centre on Deptford High Street. I support what they're doing and thought I should go along for their first open day, but must admit I was half expecting it to be just the usual suspects from the smallish pool of Lewisham activists.

So I was delighted to walk in to a big buzzy space with a more diverse slice of the local population than I've seen in one room for ages, kids, pensioners, radical students, old Deptford faces and all. Must have been 100 or so people coming in and out while I was there. A great start with a lot of potential to create some interesting situations.

Deptford Tributes

Showing at the Centre last night was Deptford Tributes, a film by Amanda Egbe & Rastko Novaković first shown in the Deptford X festival in 2009. It follows the river Ravensbourne upstream from Deptford Creek to its source at Keston Ponds, with some great footage filmed while wading in the water. Some of the locations are very familiar to me, such as the Creek, Ladywell Fields and Keston, but it also explored some of the more hidden parts of the river, channelled between concrete round the back of industrial estates in Catford for instance. It also includes interviews with SE London historian Terry Liddle and Julian Kingston - a local boat dweller who lives and keeps bees on Deptford Creek.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Smiley Culture

Reggae MC Smiley Culture (real name David Emmanuel) died yesterday in as yet unexplained circumstances during a police raid in Surrey.

The South London MC went to Tulse Hill School (as did Linton Kwesi Johnson, and indeed Ken Livingstone) and was originally known as 'Culture Smiley. So named because of his refusal to chat 'slackness' in his rhymes, but renamed Smiley Culture by his management, David Emmanuel was a popular DJ with the Deptford-based Saxon sound system run by Lloyd 'Musclehead' Francis and Dennis Rowe' (Paul Gilroy, There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack, 1987).

In 1984/5 he had two groundbreaking hits: Cockney Translation and Police Officer. Dotun Adebayo recalled yesterday:

'My pioneering generation of black Britons wanted our own MCs, just as lovers rock a few years before had given us our own reggae singers. Out of that grew a much more vibrant and entertaining expression of second-generation black Britons based around the Saxon Sound System in Smiley's end of southeast London.

It was at a Saxon dance in Deptford in 1984 or 1985 that I first saw Smiley perform his cockney anthem. And you know, for the first time in my life I relished in being black and British ... and was proud of it. And it wasn't just me. I could see the same feeling in the 500 or so other youngsters in the place'.

Schooltime Chronicle is all about his time at Tulse Hill, which is name checked a couple of times in the track:

(I have the 12" of this somewhere, will dig it out and post the lyrics later)

See more at History is Made at Night

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dusty in Deptford

An article by Lois Wilson in this month's Mojo magazine (April 2011) reveals that Dusty Springfield used to spend time on Saturday's searching through the soul records at Dave Godin's Soul City record shop in Deptford High Street.

As reported at Transpontine previously, the shop at 21 Deptford High Street was the first specialist soul shop in Europe when it opened in 1966, and remained there for a year before moving to Covent Garden. This would have been at the height of Dusty's career - she was the best selling female singer in the world in 1966.

(thanks to Colin Bodiam for spotting this)

Deptford Social Centre Plus

Last weekend, the former Deptford Job Centre offices were occupied with a view to turning the building into a 'community anti-cuts space'. The occupiers say:

'We have occupied the disused Deptford Job Centre as a response to the brutal cuts to public services being carried out at both a local and national level. We aim to clean the place up and convert it into Social Centre Plus: a new public space for members of the local community here in Deptford and the surrounding area, that we can share, contribute to, and create a truly social building and a hub of local opposition to the cuts programme. This is a self-organised space, run by people from a variety of backgrounds and we are not in any political parties'.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 16th March) they will opening the doors for an open day with a programme including:

'12-2pm Lunchtime café: bring your own food or share some of ours

6-7pm Open doors: come in for a cuppa and a chat, before…

7pm Short films: a selection of short films about the recent history of Deptford and its surrounding area. There will also be an evening café with more food.

8pm Hollywood blockbuster: the cinema night will end with a fantastic, brand spankin’ new Hollywood film!

Any questions, come and knock on the door or email us at

Check out for updates.

See also report at Crosswhatfields?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Music and Films at the Old Police Station

Interesting night coming up next Friday 18th March at the Old Police Station in New Cross (114 Amersham Vale, SE14), with three films, two bands and two live soundtracks.

Two of the films document 117 Lewisham Way, a Victorian villa demolished a few years ago and known in its last period as 'The Elephant House'. The films were made by David Aylward and Tom Scott-Kendrick, who will be accompanying the films live as Rabbit, the musical duo who often rehearsed at 117 Lewisham Way. The building was home to the South East London Synagogue for a period in World War Two (see earlier post).

The other film is George Lucas's 1971 movie THX1138, starring Robert Duvall. Music will be supplied by Ampersand.

The evening runs from 8 to 11 pm, with the show starting promptly at 8:45. And it's all free!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

St George the Martyr x 2

Opposite the Church of St George the Martyr in Borough High Street there's a painting of the church, in a kind of Van Gogh style, on a telecoms box.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Kate Bush 1979

Kate Bush's Brockley days have been covered at Transpontine before, living at 44 Wickham Road and playing at local pubs including the Rose of Lee (now Dirty South) and the Royal Albert. Recently a great 1979 documentary surfaced on Youtube all about Kate Bush preparing for her first big tour. The 'Convent girl from Bexley', as she is described, talks (at about 3:30)about her first singing appearance in public 'about two years ago in a pub in Lewisham, and I was so scared, I really was but once you're up there it's different you just forget all about it because they're there to see you and you have to give it to them... Considering it was a pub and we were totally unknown, they were very good, they were very respectful. It was good, yeah'

She is also seen rehearsing with her band at Wood Wharf Studios in Greenwich, with some great shots of the undeveloped riverfront (at 9:45): 'Every lunchtime after leaving her dancing practice physically drained she'd drive across the Thames to Greenwich to rehearse the music, at Wharf studios - the best available place with the right facilities for just running though the songs time and time and time again'.

Dire Straits also rehearsed at the same Greenwich studio in the late 1970s - this documentary also seems to have been filmed there:

Thanks to Clive Shaw for spotting this.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Lewisham Keep Our NHS Public - meeting this Thursday

A new group has been formed locally to campaign against changes to the National Health Service:

'We recently formed Lewisham Keep Our NHS Public as a local branch of the national campaign (see ). KONP is a broad based, non party aligned campaigning organisation that seeks to defend the NHS as a publicly owned and publicly provided service that stays true to the founding principles of the NHS as a service that is equitable, comprehensive and free. The NHS is under threat, as never before , from Andrew Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill which aims to transform the NHS into a competitive market where "any willing provider" can bid against NHS organisations to provide health services, allowing the for-profit private sector to take over large swathes of our health service'.

They are having a public meeting this Thursday, March 10 (7:30pm - 9:30pm) at the Saville Centre, 436 Lewisham High St, SE13 with speakers including John Lister of London Health Emergency; Dr Jackie Davis, co-chair NHS Consultants@ federation and Doris Smith, chair of Lewisham Pensioner's Forum. The aim of the meeting is both to inform people about the threat to the NHS and to plan actions as part of the growing campaign against the bill.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Deadboy - Brock Lee Riddim

Deadboy is a South East London bassnik who has put out some great tracks over the last couple of years including If U Want Me and U Cheated. As an oblique tribute to SE4 he has also made Brock Lee Riddim. Extolling the local area in an interview last year he said: 'it’s lovely here in the summer, there’s something tropical about it, probably the amount of trees and the parakeets.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Lewisham Drift

From Trinketization - this is on tomorrow (see also Facebook event):
Lewisham Drift: a Collective Futures Event

Thursday 3 March 2011, 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Laurie Bath Hall CR Goldsmiths, Laurie Grove, New Cross.

'The Arts Committee from the Goldsmiths Library Occupation will facilitate a workshop on banners, placards and slogan-making for the “Lewisham Drift” to take place in conjunction with future demonstrations in London (e.g. 26 March). You are invited to bring a selection of your favourite quotations from books, films, songs, etc. We will use the technique of detournement to turn the quotations into slogans that respond to the current situation of crisis and cuts. During the workshop John Hutnyk will talk about the first two issues of The Paper and of current modes of collective knowledge production as forms of resistance.

After the workshop we will bring the slogans into the streets, visiting places that are significant for people struggling against the cuts in the area. With the Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance we will visit the New Cross Library, which will be soon privatised, and the St James Family Learning Centre which will be closed down at the end of March. With Prof Les Back we will visit other locations in New Cross that have been sites of resistance during the past century. During the drift we’ll read some texts together, and music will be played by students from the Goldsmiths Music department, but feel free to bring your own favourite instrument.

The Lewisham Drift / Rehearsal for a Demo is intended as an attempt to open the University to its surrounding area, creating the possibility for a set of connections to take place in a collective (hopefully near) future'.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

MC Eksman - Ruff Neck Cockney in Brockley

MC Eksman (real name Kevin Forrester, born 1980) is one of the world's foremost drum and bass MCs and he comes from Brockley (he is also a University of Greenwich graduate). Not only that but he has a great rhyme about driving through the streets of SE4 and in that familiar 'young black man in decent car' routine, getting pulled over by the police. Herbz mentioned here is another South London MC.

Too much undercover police on the streets
On the beat, stopping me, giving me bare grief

I'm a Ruffneck Cockney
Driving through Brockley
See a police car
Policeman want stop me

regular stop and search
step outside your car please
turn the ignition off
give me the car keys

police officer, woah that's harrassment
where you coming from, I said a Drum and Bass bashment
where was the bashment? Down in Stratford,
where you goin now I'm droppin Herbz back to Catford...