Friday, June 29, 2012

Quality Comics in Lewisham Way

A pleasant stroll on my 'New Cross and Deptford Radical History' walk a couple of weeks ago, from the Hobgoblin to the Birds Nest and back again. Around 40 people came along, which made the sun come out especially. I don't count a walk or talk like this a success though unless somebody chips in with some new information. So I was pleased when somebody pointed out that a shop in Lewisham Way played a key role in British comics.

Quality Comics was right next door to the Marquis of Granby at 3 Lewisham Way, and seems to have originally been opened in 1975 as Weird Fantasy by Frank Dobson. The rooms upstairs were sublet to Dez Skinn as the base for his emerging comics publishing empire. As Dez recalls, from 1979 he also acquired the shop, renaming it Quality Comics (photos above are from Dez's site).

It was in this period that his Quality Communications launched Warrior magazine as a kind of home grown UK version of a Marvel comic. The 26 issues published between 1982 and 1985 were very influential, featuring among other things the first episodes of Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta

Quality Communications also published the Halls of Horror series from its New Cross office. Not sure how long the New Cross shop/office continued - last Lewisham Way address I have found online for Quality Communications Ltd is from 1984.

Anybody know any more or remember the shop?

Update January 2013 - I came across this advert  for Quality Comics 'home of Warrior' today in a 1988 issue of the comics magaazine Speakeasy, so clearly the shop was still going then.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

London Calling at Tower Bridge

Today they unveiled the 'Olympic Rings' at Tower Bridge. Nearby on the south side of the river by City Hall there's a Joe Strummer phone box art installation. 

The phone box is one of a number across London as part of the BT ArtBox campaign, each decorated by a different artist.  Later in the year they will be auctioned to raise money for Childline. The Joe Strummer one is entitled 'London Calling' and was decorated by the photographer Peter Anderson (who I believe took the pictures of Joe Strummer used in the phone box).

'London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing...

The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river'

What would Joe have made of the Olympics spectacle? Who knows? I'm sure though he would have approved of some buskers nearby. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Music Monday: Pretty Maids of Greenwich

'Pretty Maids of Greenwich' is an old song in the 'don't marry a sailor' sub genre of English folk music. Sussex traditional singer Bob Lewis apparently learnt it from his mother.

You pretty maids of Greenwich of high and low degree
Pray never fix your fancies on the man that goes to sea
For seamen's wives lead careful lives when at their very best
For in my mind in stormy wind they can take but little rest.

Beside the many dangers that are upon the sea
When they are on the shore they will ramble where they please
It’s up and down in sea port town the seamen they do trade
And he that boast he spend the most, he’s a jolly blade.

I give you this advice now as you may understand
It being at the time when seamen come to land
For up and down in Greenwich town they’ll court both old and young
They will deceive, do not believe the sailors flattering tongue

Suppose you have a sailor who sails before the mast
If he’s best of husbands his breath is but a blast
The roaring waves their will have - there’s no man can with stand
And he may sleep in the ocean deep while you are on the land

Suppose you have a captain a person of great fame
And yet there is great danger in sailing on the main
For fate unkind and stormy wind might lay his honour low
And then his wife, with care for life laments his over throw

Give me an honest tradesman of high or low degree
I’ll never fix my fancies on a man who goes to sea
For a trades mans wife is a happy wife if he’s an honest man
He’ll take a share in all the care deny it if you can

In 1981 Tundra (Doug and Sue Hudson, with Alan Prosser) released a remarkable collection of songs linked with Greenwich, including a version of this song. The full track listing of Songs of Greenwich is as follows:

1. Greenwich Park
2. Pretty Maids Of Greenwich
3. The Rambling Sailor
4. Rebellion Of Watt Tyler
5. Admiral Benbow
6. The Greenwich Lovers' Garland
7. Homeward Bound
8. The Blackheath Burglar
9. The Jolly Sailor or The Lady Of Greenwich
10. So Handy
11. Jack At Greenwich
12. I'm Going To Leave Her Shallow Brown 

The album is currently unavailable - find out more at Gonzo's Music Cafe.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

East London Line Murals Tour

Last summer's South East London Murals walk by the London Mural Preservation Society was a great day out. Next week they will be returning to the area with an 'East London Line Walk' by train and foot taking in New Cross, Dalston and various points in between:

'On 30 June 2012 a group of art enthusiasts will be coming together to explore some of the most remarkable and historic murals of East London. Organized by the London Mural Preservation Society (LMPS) and led by LMPS founder, Ruth Miller, this walk will be an opportunity to learn about the origins of these murals, why they were commissioned and the growing need to protect/restore them. 

The East London Line Walk will start off at New Cross station and ends at Dalston with over ten murals being covered on the Overground line. Some of the murals on the tour include the Hackney Peace Carnival Mural at Dalston, The City Garden Mural at Hoxton, The Battle of Cable Street at Shadwell, Surrey Docks Mural at Surrey Quays and Riders of the Apocalypse at New Cross. The walk starts at 11 am and will take roughly three hours with a pub stop for refreshments along the way. This promises to be an exciting afternoon filled with discussions and reminisces, and more importantly a great way to explore your local neighbourhood and parts of London you haven’t seen before. 

We would love for you to join us and bring your friends, and your cameras along. This walk is a guaranteed to make you fall in love again with the quaint, delightful city that London is'. 

Meet at 11am at New Cross Station. Further details from

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Solstice Parade

The longest day was marked in New Cross for the second year running with a Summer Solstice parade around the Telegraph Hill area, with 50 or so people marching from the Telegraph Pub (Dennetts Road), up Arbuthnot, Erlanger, Sherwin and Pepys Roads, and through both bits of Telegraph Hill park.

Marching band in Pepys Road (somebody told me they were members of the Trans-Siberian March Band)

The marriage of the Garlick Man and the Old Nag. The latter costume was made at New Cross Learning (ex- New Cross Library) earlier in the day. The former takes its name from an old name for Telegraph Hill - Plow'd Garlick Hill.

The band on the parade were reinforced by a second band in the top park, with Les Zoings emerging from behind the tennis courts playing the old Italian partisan song Bella Ciao. Then musicians from the two bands joined together and people danced around in a circle. The Magic Roundabout theme tune and Brecht/Weil's Alabama Song also featured.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Peckham Street Art

Hung out to dry? This appeared in Peckham Park Road a couple of months ago (by Loretto).
This piece, also by Loretto,  is in the car park of the Southwark Council training centre in Peckham, next to Damilola Taylor Youth Centre (the very place where Bob Marley once had a kickabout with local school kids)

On the site of the demolished Acorn Estate, Queens Road, Peckham

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brian Hibbard (1946-2012)

Crosswhatfields? reports the death yesterday of actor and singer Brian Hibbard, who was based in Deptford in the early 1980s:  'Brian used to live in Evelyn Street in a house known to friends as The Yellow Duck, which he shared with other actors and performers who were involved with The Albany, as it made its transition from its old building on Creek Road to where it is now on Douglas Way'.

It was at this time that Brian and other formed The Flying Pickets, and as mentioned here before, he wore a Today Deptford, Tomorrow the World t-shirt on Top of the Pops in December 1983. The Flying Pickets had a Christmas number one single that year with their cover of Only You.

Album cover for The Flying Pickets -  Live at the Albany Empire! (1982)

Photo of Brian in a sharp suit, taken in the garden of the Duke in Deptford during that period by Colin Bodiam (from his excellent collection Music in and around Deptford - think he designed the Flying Pickets album cover reproduced above too).

In a 2009 interview with Wales on Sunday, Hibbard recalled the early days of The Flying Pickets and their role in supporting the 1984/5 Miners Strike:

'It didn’t matter that he was lead singer of a group which just happened to be the hottest thing around at that time on television, radio and on tour. He used this new-found fame and the six-strong band’s political beliefs to thrust the colliers’ cause to the fore. It was a move which echoed their past, future and fortune. Brian and company picked the name The Flying Pickets because they had been political activists during previous miners’ strikes.

They met in the late 1970s when actor Brian was offered a job with a theatre company called ‘7’84’ which stood for 7% of the population control 84% of the wealth. “We did a show called One Big Blow... It was a play about a miners’ brass band. They couldn’t find actors who could play brass instruments so they got actors who could sing a bit. We were two tenors, two baritones and two basses who would sing the brass band parts. The contract was initially for three months but it was so successful it ended up touring for two years. We’d spend a lot of time sitting in a Transit van and would sing for our own amusement. I remember one night we were in the West Country and we sang Dream by the Everly Brothers in a bar – alcohol had a lot to do with it – and the whole pub went quiet. We would harmonise our vocals and do numbers we knew would work with our voices. I had a friend in Deptford who knew we were doing it and asked if we would sing at a benefits event. So we had to find a name for ourselves and the bald one Stripe said: ‘I know, we’ll call ourselves The Flying Pickets, as we’d been involved in the 1972 and 1974 miners’ strike action’. I thought we would were going to die on our a**** but people loved it. The response was phenomenal.”

After the show Brian says they all intended to go back to their day jobs as stage actors. But when that tour was suddenly cancelled The Flying Pickets decided to take their band on the road, doing the cabaret circuit with the likes of Alexei Sayle, Ben Elton and Rik Mayall. In 1982 they launched themselves at the Edinburgh Festival and went on to play at festivals worldwide... At their height and having brought out the album The Lost Boys, the country was thrown into chaos when on March 1, 1984, the National Coal Board announced it was to close 20 pits with the loss of 20,000 jobs. When the miners revolted the year-long strike that followed changed the political, economic and social face of Britain forever.

Brian said: “I immediately phoned the NUM headquarters and said: ‘What can we do to support the miners?’ We were at the top of our career, tops of the charts and thought we could help. The Miners’ Strike didn’t need its profile raised but we thought we could maybe use our notoriety, I hesitate to use the word fame as the word celebrity is very over-used. So three of us went up on the picket line at Drax Power Station in Yorkshire and joined the pickets up there.The record company said we couldn’t do it. But I don’t think they knew what they were getting when they signed us. They signed six political animals. We just said, ‘What are you going to do then? Have a picket line at King’s Cross Station to stop us jumping on the train to Yorkshire?’

We did miners’ benefit gigs all over the country, including one at the Parc and Dare in Treorchy where they were hanging from the rafters. We did countless events and mainly had support as did the miners. But there were jibes from some. I remember going on breakfast television and some right-wing supporters having a pop at us saying, ‘Why are you supporting the miners?’ One major store even refused to sell our album because they associated us with thuggery. During our gigs at some point we’d say: ‘Thank you, we are The Flying Pickets – proud to be associated with the National Union of Mineworkers’. There would always be some reaction to it. There’d be some booing from some. It wasn’t a national divide but a class thing. We saw ourselves as the cultural flying pickets that were going to places that weren’t our places of work. When we weren’t picketing a pit we would picket coke plants and power stations. I suppose career wise it was probably detrimental. But that wasn’t the point, we were political animals and we had to go the way we did.”

See also: BBC Wales obituary

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Telegraph Hill & New Cross Summer Solstice Parade

Coming up on Wednesday, it's the second annual Summer Solstice parade to Telegraph Hill Park (report on last year's here):

'20 June is a significant day. It's the Summer Solstice, it's the first day of the Rio+20 summit and it's the Festival of Transition. We'll be celebrating all this in Telegraph Hill and New Cross with a solstice parade and open mic night. As the area used to be called Plow... Garlick Hill, and was covered in gardens, the parade is led by Garlick Man from the top of the Hill. This year, he will be joined by Garlick Woman from the bottom of the Hill.

Come and join us in costume that is green, or has the spirit of plants or animals. Meet at the Telegraph pub Dennets pub from 5.30 (or at New Cross Learning)  Parade sets off from Telegraph at 6pm, around the parks. Picnic in the Top Park weather permitting.A special meal deal is available in the Telegraph if you prefer to eat there.

8.15pm Special open mic night in the Telegraph. Music, poetry, performance on the theme of living differently, living for people and planet. (This open mic event is usually pretty busy so if you want to perform, tell Kev in advance on and get there on time if you want a ringside seat.)'

Last year's Garlick Man in Telegraph Hill Park, photo by Bridget McKenzie (more here)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kit and Cutter Singers Night

Another great night Kit and Cutter night coming up tomorrow, the occasional folk+ night at the Old Nun's Head. Details as follows:

'With a passing nod to the hetroglossic Ulysses, for Bloomsday it will be, this month we have a multiplicity of voices arrayed for your delight. It's singers night, and who could be a more apt guest than a resident of the legendary Singers Club, Co. Monagan's Oliver Mulligan. And in the firm belief that different traditions speak to one another we are looking forward to welcoming African singer and kora player Mosi Conde.

Mosi Conde is a Djeli Deni (young griot) from Guinea Conakry’s leading musical family: Sekouba ‘Diamond Fingers’ Diabate & Mory Kante are his uncles, Sona Diabate the founder of Les Amazones de Guineé is his aunt and friends like Salif Keita and Alpha Blondy have been inspired by Mosi's family. Mosi Conde creates music that excites & delights, his virtuoso skill evident throughout. “We griots are born in music, every family plays together. Music is our life”. With Radio 3 & BBC World Service airplay as well as Colourful, Resonance Fm and Regional BBC, Mosi Conde is making his mark on the vibrant global music scene. And where better to catch him than in our intimate little venue..

Oliver Mulligan is from Co. Monaghan where his style and many of his songs were learned in the 1950s from local and family singers. He attended Fleadh Ceóil sessions throughout Ireland in the 1960s, becoming All-Ireland champion, and adding a wider range of material including Gaelic songs from the West. He now lives in London where he is a veteran of both the Irish community sessions and the traditional clubs and was a resident of Ewan MacColl's Singers Club for ten years.

The Other Singers Not to be a bloody hippy about it, but when we first went to folk clubs we fell in love with how it wasn't like a gig where you just sat and watched the musicians. It seemed to be much more of a communal thing where everyone was involved. Everyone was allowed to give a song or a tune, and when they did it wasn't important how perfect their pitch or whatever was (though more often then not they would turn out to be a wonderful singer) but about the act of someone participating, being part of the dialogue, of allowing something to happen through them that was beyond themselves. It was like Brecht or something, only no one had had to come up with the idea. So to foster this a bit more in our club there will be extra emphasis on floor singers this time round, with more of the evening given over to YOU to add to the general marvellous babble...

K&C SINGERS NIGHT, Saturday 16th June, 7.30pm, Old Nuns Head, SE15 3QQ, £5

Thursday, June 14, 2012

South London: Behind the Scenes of the Universe

In his entertaining shaggy-dog tale of a book 'The London Adventure or the Art of Wandering' (1924), Arthur Machen (1863-1947) mentions having 'some mission to execute in waste portions of the world down beyond the Surrey Docks. I took an omnibus at the other end of London Bridge and went, I think, by way of Tooley Street, into something unshapen that I had never visited before; into places that might have been behind the scenes of the universe; bearing, indeed, much the same relation to the ordinary London view as do the back of the backcloth and the backs of the wings to the gay set that the audience admires from the stalls. Everything was shapeless, unmeaning, dreary, dismal beyond words; it was as if one were journeying past the back wall of the everlasting backyard'.

Machen's whole point is that even here 'in this arid waste', his spirits were lifted by an unexpected fig tree , 'a veritable verdant mountain'. But his rather snotty attitude to South London is fairly typical of many writers on the matter of London in that period, and indeed in most periods. Still the idea of South London as 'behind the scenes of the universe' is not entirely inaccurate, since it was certainly true in Victorian and Edwardian times that much of the wealth which enabled Westminster and the City of London to flourish was created in or travelled through the factories, workshops and docks of  East and South London.

If London is a theatre, the eyes of writers may generally have been on the stage of royalty, 'high culture'  and parliament, but it is precisely 'behind the scenes' where the work is done that sustains the illusion.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

History Corner: Syndicalism in Catford 1912-13

The period before the First World War is sometimes referred to as the 'Great Unrest' as the status quo of Edwardian Britain came under attack from suffragettes, Irish nationalists, and striking workers - in 1912 for instance there were major strikes in London on the docks and amongst tailors in the East End and West End.

Within the workers movement there was intense debate about the way forward. Was the answer to get workers representatives elected to Parliament, as the emerging Labour Party argued? Or was a more radical party committed to abolishing capitalism required? Another current, the syndicalists, argued that political parties were not the answer at all. Rather workers should organise at the point of production, and their industrial organisations would eventually take over the factories, workshops and offices to usher in a classless society.

Proponents of this idea - the best known of whom was Tom Mann (pictured) - formed the Industrial Syndicalist Education League, and published a newspaper 'The Syndicalist & Amalgamation News'.  Reports in this paper show that South East London was one of the areas where these debates were raging.

In December 1912, a Sunday night meeting at the Catford Clarion Club saw 'a large and enthusiastic audience assembled to hear an address by Guy Bowman on Syndicalism. Local enthusiasm had recently run high on the subject of Syndicalism. Previous lectures had centred around the questions of parliamentary action, and Syndicalism, Direct Action, and Sabotage'. The meeting was chaired by 'Comrade Richardson'. The syndicalists presciently criticised a form of socialism as top-down state management, with Bowman arguing at that meeting that this 'would lead the workers into a worse form of tyranny that at present, as at the head of each department of industry we should have a politician comfortably fixed in a job of which he knew no more about than the average chairman of a trust does about the industry form which he draws his profits' (The Syndicalist, January 1913).

Another meeting was held in the same place a few months later - 'The Syndicalist' report by 'Richardson' states that: 'The room was full at the meeting of the Catford Clarion Club on March 9 to listen to a lecture on Social Democracy. Owing to indisposition Guy Bowman was not able to attend, but from the enthusiasm accorded Nefydd Roberts this did not militate against the meeting. In a fighting speech lasting about an hour our "Bobs" put the Syndicalist position so convincingly as to carry the audience entirely with him. He showed how parliamentarianism had led workers up a cul-de-sac. The sending of men to a middle class environment so put them out of contact with the workers as to cause them not to represent the workers at all. He held up to ridicule the Socialists of the docketing type who regard mankind as so many units to be classified out of existence'.

'His constructive criticism was as strong as his destructive. The workers' great need was to unite in militant industrial organisations. Sabotage, the Irritation Strike, and all other means to train the workers to intelligent organisation were shown to be indispensable. The moral objection to these methods was well shown by reference to Lafargue's "My right to be lazy". The case was so strongly put that although the chairman appealed for opposition, it was not forthcoming, This should promise well for linking up of our Catford friends with the ISEL' ('The Syndicalist', March-April 1913)

The same issue also reported meetings at the Morris Hall in Clapham and in Walworth, with Olive Strong writing a report of Dave Armstrong's syndicalist speech at the latter.

I don't know where the Catford Clarion Club was, but the Clarion movement was a national network of socialist clubs (which incidentally included the Clarion Cycling Club).

Tom Mann and Guy Bowman (who spoke at the December 1912 Catford meeting) were among those jailed in 1912 for Incitement to Mutiny after calling on soldiers not to open fire on strikers. Mann went on to be a leading figure in the Communist Party and the National Unemployed Workers Movement, and later in the 1920s was living in Brockley (in 1927 his address was 1 Adelaide Road). His son Charlie Mann was involved in radical theatre troupe Lewisham Red Players in the 1930s

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Whoopi in Deptford

In May 1984 Whoopi Goldberg was on the verge of international fame, though she didn't yet know it. In October '84 her one woman stand up show started on Broadway, where she was seen by Stephen Spielberg and asked to star in his film The Color Purple, released the following year.

But in May she was trying out her material in London, in no less a venue that the Albany Empire in Deptford. In the audience that night was Angie Le Mar, who was inspired to take up comedy herself:

'When I was 14, I attended a Whoopi Goldberg show at the Albany Empire, and was totally blown away. At that time, there weren't any black female stand-up comics in the UK, so Whoopi became my mentor, inspiring me to become the first one. Her show was very hard-hitting. She made no apologies for her humour or the controversial topics she covered, which I thought was incredible. As Whoopi's career progressed, her versatility, combining stand-up comedy with acting, again inspired me to do both, rather than make a choice between one or the other' (Independent, 20 November 2006).

(poster by Colin Bodiam from his fine collection of silk-screened posters)

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Stewart Home Live in Peckham

Writer Stewart Home is heading a series of readings/performances at the Hannah Barry Gallery in Peckham next Tuesday 12th June (7 pm start). Others on the bill include Katrina Palmer and Iphgenia Baal. Admission is free.

The event forms part of the Minstrel & Chronicle exhibition.

Address in Unit 91, Copeland Road Industrial Estate, 133 Copeland Road, SE15.

Friday, June 08, 2012

New Cross Radical History Walk tomorrow

Some more details of tomorrow's free radical history walk from New Cross Gate, one of a series around London organised by Past Tense publications.

'The walk will start from the Hobgoblin at 2 pm, and will be go in a circular route to end up back at New Cross Gate after about an hour and a half. Main focus will be on New Cross Road/Deptford Broadway/Deptford High Street, we won't be including the Deptford riverside area on this occasion  - previously we've found it's a bit much to try and include the whole New Cross and Deptford area in one walk.

In terms of "radical history", we will be mainly be looking at places associated with different radical movements and people in that area - Chartists, the General Strike, Suffragettes, anti-fascists, socialists etc. Some new research findings will be shared, including the New Cross radical who got Karl Marx involved with the First International, and a coffee house in Deptford where anarchist meetings took place in the 1880s.

No doubt we will end up in the pub discussing the Secret History of Our Streets programme on Deptford!'

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Becoming Nancy

Becoming Nancy (2012) by Terry Roland is a coming of age/coming out novel set in late 1970s East Dulwich, where the author himself grew up.

The main character, David Starr, is growing up gay, listening to Blondie and preparing to play Nancy in a school production of Oliver. This is a pre-gentrification East Dulwich, with social life centred around places like the 'Lordship Lane Working Men's Club' (presumably a fictionalised Dulwich Working Mans Club which was at 110a Lordship Lane until 2001) and the Crystal Palace Hotel where the mods hang out (the real pub being the Crystal Palace Tavern). Various lost shops get mentioned like Chelsea Girl in Peckham and Follett's record shop in Lordship Lane - in real life the author has recalled in respect of Kate Bush that 'when Wuthering Heights was number one, I ran all the way to Folletts record shop in East Dulwich to copy the lyrics down off the back of the album cover'.

One key chapter 'A Moment of Unity' is set in the 1979 Rock Against Racism carnival in Brixton: 'Brockwell Park is awash with punks, Rastas, hippies, students and all sorts of homosexuals, male and female, under a seemingly endless canvas of azure sky'.

There were actually two big Rock Against Racism events in Brockwell Park in this period - on 24th September 1978, the bands included Aswad, Sham 69, Misty In Roots and Elvis Costello and The Attractions.  A year later on September 2nd 1979 the line up was Aswad, Stiff Little Fingers and Verdict.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

History Corner: Leslie Large of Lewisham & The Vegetarian Cyclists (1880s)

Some notes on the SE London origins of the still existing Vegetarian Cycling & Athletic Club:

'The Vegetarian Cycling & Athletic Club can trace its origins back to 1887, the year of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. In September of that year, Leslie Large of Lewisham, an enthusiastic worker in the Vegetarian movement and a keen cyclist, placed notices in a number of periodicals inviting other Vegetarian cyclists to contact him with a view to forming a Vegetarian Cyclist's Club.

Their objective was to provide a means of contact between Vegetarian cycling enthusiasts and to seek to prove, by the yardstick of athletic competition that Vegetarians could easily hold their own against their meat eating counterparts.Through the Spring and Summer of 1888 a series of Club runs and social events were held and the membership built up steadily until over 100 names were on the roll.

The first formal meeting was held on October 9th, 1888 at the Central Vegetarian Restaurant, St. Bride Street, London and this was followed by a meeting on February 9th, 1889 at the Appletree Vegetarian Restaurant, 34 London Wall, when Leslie Large was elected as the first Secretary and Arnold F. Hills, a wealthy industrialist became the first President. The name of the Club was confirmed as the Vegetarian Cycling Club. Reports from those early days are few but it is evident that VCC racing cyclists performed competently if not outstandingly.

Henry Light, a founder member who was elected Captain in 1890 soon became the main driving force behind the Club and under his direction standards of performance of the VCC men improved steadily. 1896 saw the VCC achieve its first outstanding success when Jim Parsley of Peckham won the prestigious Catford Hill Climb, the country's top event, in record time. The VCC were cock-a-hoop at this major breakthrough and held a dinner in Parsley's honour... In 1896 the green and gold triangular badge was introduced. Sadly, the same year, Leslie Large while on a visit to Edinburgh died of diptheria just as his dreams were becoming a reality'.

More at the VCAC website. The Catford Hill Climb is an event that Catford Cycling Club have been organising since the 1880s (see their history). It is held at Yorks Hill in Kent.

(image reproduced from Classic Lightweights)

Leslie Large placed an advert in the Vegetarian Messenger, August 1888 which provides some details, including his address in Hither Green:

'Cycling. - It is proposed to from a London Vegetarian Cyclist's Club. Qualifications: Abstinence from flesh-food and riding a machine. Objects: To collect (and diffuse) information concerning the number and doings of akreophagist cyclists in all parts of the country, and to arrange runs in congenial society for local members (London. S.E.). Badge: Small silver letters, "V.C.C." It will be ready shortly; device, cost about 3d. per set. No subscription will be necessary if the editor of V.M. and other kindred journals will kindly insert notices as required. Any necessary trifling expenses are to be borne by the hon. sec. or any who voluntarily help. It is suggested to hold runs monthly on Saturday afternoons, alternately with shorter trips by moonlight on some other evening monthly. Picnicing in suitable places is recommended, with, if necessary, a tea party at some inn. The hon. sec. intends to forward on Saturday a parcel of meal bread and biscuits to some convenient station, in readiness. Fruit, &c., to be obtained in the neighbourhood as wanted. To facilitate the formation of the lists, which, if all join, will prove most valuable, all who are qualified (ladies as well as gentlemen) are requested to send without delay their addresses and any useful particulars of the kind of machine they use, the favourite distances, achievements, &c., to Leslie Large, 1 Cambridge Terrace, Hither Green, Lewisham' (this and other adverts reproduced at International Vegetarian Union website).

I love the idea of sending a parcel of vegetarian snacks ahead to make sure the cyclists can eat! Also note the word 'akreophagist' as an alternative to vegetarian - that never caught on, not sure it's even in the dictionary.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Music Monday: Blue Rose Code

Blue Rose Code is singer/songwriter Ross Wilson. His first single, the doubled a-sided 'Whitechapel/Love', was released on Crystal Palace-based indie label Ho Hum Records, and he is currently finishing off his debut album 'North Ten' due for release by the lablel in early autumn.

Originally from Edinburgh, Ross now lives in Brockley and says 'I love it here, notably Nunhead Cemetery (complete with the Scottish Martyrs memorial), Telegraph Hill park, Hilly Fields, all the green bits (we've got two dogs and I like to run). But then the Brockley Mess, Hill Station cafe, all the junk shops and the endlessly cheerful community spirit is what makes it feel very much like home already (i've only been down here three months)'.

Among the musicians he has been working with on the album is famous bassist Danny Thompson, well known for his work with Pentangle, John Martyn, Richard Thompson and many others (didn't realize until I checked his biog that Thompson actually started out in the 1950s playing in a big band at the Locarno Ballroom in Streatham - he grew up in Battersea).

Ross Wilson/Blue Rose Code with Danny Thompson

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Rumer at the Rivoli

Singer Sarah Joyce, better known as Rumer, has played at everywhere from Glastonbury Festival to the White House. Now she has joined that band of luminaries that have also played or filmed at the Rivoli Ballroom in Crofton Park, following in the footsteps of Kings of Leon, Florence and the Machine, Tina Turner, S Club 7 and the Brockley Ukulele Group among many others.

Her 'Live at the Rivoli Ballroom' set was featured on Channel 4 last week, and in the next few weeks you can watch the whole thing there. Here she is singing the Hall and Oates song Sara Smile.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Hot Chip in Charlton House

The new video for Hot Chip's Night and Day was filmed in and around Charlton House, the Jacobean mansion built in the early 17th century and now owned by Greenwich Councl

The film was directed by Peter Serafinowicz (who among other things voiced Darth Maul in the later "Star Wars" films), and stars Terence Stamp,  model Lara Stone and comic/musician Reggie Watts.

Seemingly some kind of dance ritual in is going on in Charlton House, summoning space visitors. Unfortunately it all goes wrong and the spaceship crashes into a block of flats on Charlton Road.