Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Strike against job cuts at Goldsmiths

A good turn out at Goldsmiths College in New Cross today at a rally to mark the start of a three week strike by members of the University and College Union against threatened job cuts.

Goldsmiths UCU say: 'Goldsmiths Senior Management Team (SMT) is planning mass staff redundancies across departments this term, as part of a wider scheme of redundancies to be rolled out over two years. Management has informed us that it plans to cut 52 jobs this year: 20 academics in English & Creative Writing and History, and 32 professional services staff. The survival of courses in the departments of History and English and Creative Writing are in serious jeopardy, and the professional services cuts (to staff in timetabling, student support and other areas) risk causing chaos and harming student experience. 

This is part of what SMT terms ‘The Recovery Plan’: an attempt to use job cuts to improve the College’s finances. Goldsmiths UCU (GUCU) argues this is a bad plan, both in terms of the financial impacts and the injustice of the proposed job cuts themselves. Senior management also claims these cuts are required by the banks due to a deal that was struck with Lloyds Bank and Natwest bank, negotiated by the consultancy firm KPMG, committing to £4million of staff cuts this year followed by £2million next year'.

The strike will continue until December 13th 2021, with daily pickets and teach-out sessions (details here)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

'Close to Me' - Christopher Eccleston and Connie Nielsen in the Rivoli

Channel 4 drama 'Close to Me' is the latest to make use of the Rivoli Ballroom as a location. In the story a fundraising event for refugees in Hastings actually takes place in Brockley Road SE4.  Sometime Dr Who Christopher Eccleston and Danish actor Connie Nielsen - sometime Queen Hipployta in the DC universe - tread the boards and wander through the side bars alongside the dancefloor.

See previous posts about the Rivoli - featuring Kylie, Lana del Ray and many more

Monday, November 15, 2021

Joy Crookes - South London Songs

Joy Crookes at Queens Road, Peckham

Singer Joy Crookes has a new album out, Skin,  and very good it is too. She's been compared to Amy Winehouse, but she has a great voice of her own and her songs are rooted firmly in 2020s London. Joy grew up at Elephant and Castle and her songs reference various South London locations, notably the Elephant itself on the track '19th floor' which bemoans the changes there: 'Lost the tower where my heart is,  Cinema skylines that I don't recognise, Strip the life out of these streets,  It's a daylight robbery'. The song mentions 'Bopping down Walworth Road'

'When you were mine', a single from the album, has a Brixton setting - 'Hand in hand, Coldharbour Lane... Smile with a Brixton shine'.  The Ritzy cinema and Electric Avenue are namechecked and the video is filmed around Brixton market particularly the area near Brixton Rec.


Joy explored these streets on some of her earlier songs. London Mine (2019) is a kind of hymn to multicultural London with a video shot on Walworth Road featuring local faces including tailor George Dyer.  Lyrics include 'Lovers walk Old Kent Road' and Kennington Road is also mentioned.


There are kids playing football at Peckham Town's ground...

...and dancing in the now vanished Elephant and Castle shopping centre.

Another 2019 track, 'Two Nights' sings of 'runnin' through East Street with emotional baggage', and much of the video is shot in East Street market as well as at the Michael Faraday steel box memorial at the Elephant (erroneously believed by some to have once belonged to Richard James/Aphex Twin!)

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Little Amal comes to Deptford

At least a couple of thousand people turned out last Friday (22/10/2021) to greet 'Little Amal' to Deptford: a 3.5 metre-tall puppet of a young refugee girl that has been travelling  8000 km across Europe from the Turkish-Syrian border. Created by the Handspring Puppet Company (famous for The War Horse among other projects), the puppet is the centrepiece of The Walk ' a travelling festival of art and hope in support of refugees'. Deptford was the first stop in London.

The procession made its way down Deptford High Street to Giffin Square, where there was something of a festival arranged by Lewisham as part of its 'Borough of Sanctuary' role. There was a big wheel, various art happenings, and stalls from local community groups such as Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network and the Migration Museum (based in Lewisham shopping centre).

'Migration is not a crime' says Paddington Bear, picked up this bag from Migration Museum stall on the day. 'Disco Against Fascism' badge from 'We Do Good Disco', whose giant 'campotastic' disco washing machine was set up outside the Albany during Amal's visit.

The celebratory atmosphere was in stark contrast to the political mood music last week with the Government continuing with its harsh anti-refugee bill. The hostile environment was highlighted on Saturday (23/10/2021) at Lewisham Hospital where Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network along with hospital campaigners protested against the Government's punitive charges for migrants using the NHS.

Photo from LRMN

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Open Mic at Telegraph pub

 The open mic session at The Telegraph at Earl of Derby pub (Dennetts Road SE14) continues to go from strength to strength. It was a full house last week (21st October) with featured act Bolt the Door. They started out with 'Last night's fun' which as well as being a well known Irish Reel it also the name of one of the best books written about traditional Irish folk sessions (discussed here before). They also played a version of the North East song 'When the Boat Comes In'.

The Open Mic at the Telegraph is on every Thursday, if you want to sing/play turn up early and put your name down.

As for Bolt the Door, they've been booked to play in the pub in their own right, playing there on every second Saturday in the month from 6 pm - next one on 13th November.

Monday, October 18, 2021

An Anti-Slavery Speech in Deptford, 1830

In November 1830 one B.C. Challis gave a lecture that was published shortly after as 'The Substance of a Speech on Negro Slavery. Delivered at the Rev. Mr. Barker's Chapel, High Street, Deptford, on Tuesday Evening, 2nd November, 1830'. The whole text is available to read online and while some of the language is archaic, it is a passionately argued case for the abolition of slavery.

Modern historians of slavery are quite rightly critical of a narrative of British 'white saviours' leading the abolitionist fight, and there is scepticism about the motives of some who may have been concerned for instance with wider colonial interests (such as undermining the French in the Caribbean who were arguably more dependent on the slave trade continuing).

It is important to recognise that slaves themselves continually resisted slavery and in this sense were a key driving force in its abolition.  There is an echo of this within this speech, with a reference to the successful slave revolution in Haiti (described as Saint Domingo here): 'Who can for a moment doubt that this great island, under the dominion of a free negro population, situate in the very centre of the West Indies, and contiguous to the large and populous islands of Cuba and Jamaica on the one side, and Porto Rico on the other; who I ask, can doubt that the government of that island, will take every occasion to stir up the surrounding slaves to insurrection?'. The author uses this threat to argue that the abolition of slavery is actually in the interests of the 'white inhabitants' as the alternative is that 'the lives and immense property of the colonists be thus exposed to destruction'.

Some of the specific proposals put forward here seem rather feeble now, such as the suggestion of gradually abolishing slavery by starting with young women (whose children would then be born free).

Nevertheless it is also important to acknowledge that rank and file slavery abolitionists were putting forward what was, in the context of the growing British Empire, a principled and radical assertion of equality and opposition to racism. 

Of course there is criticism of how slaves are treated:  'And, now then ye degraders of humanity ! -the best of your slaves are allowed but one pint of corn meal for their day's allowance, which is no more, and no better, than that which every gentleman's sporting dog has in England. They are flogged - abused and mutilated, whether feeble, decrepid, or lame, - spurred on to a laborious task, in a sultry climate, without encouragement or reward'. 

But more than this there is a recognition that slaves are people with the same rights to liberty as anybody else: ' although the system of negro slavery demands all the force of intellect in its defence, yet it requires only a sense of justice , an universal sentiment of execration, and a determined intention to do unto others , "as we would they should do unto us ”.  It requires I say, only the belief and practice of that one golden precept of our holy religion, to induce us, at once, to hate, to despise, and to abolish it [...] I am sure you must all feel such a just sense of horror at the thraldom, which is entailed upon the black, by his merciless owner, who differs from him only in the colour of his skin, and an anxious desire of breaking their bonds?'. 

At the end of this meeting in Deptford, 'Several resolutions were then read and carried, and a Petition praying the Total Extinction of Colonial Slavery adopted'. Those involved obviously wanted to disseminate the message further as they took the trouble to print it. We are told that it was available in Deptford 'sold by Warcup, Broadway; Ellis, Lower Road' and W. Brown, printer, High Street; also by J. Cole, London Street, Greenwich'.

Barker's Chapel in Deptford High Street, 1839 - I believe location was approximately where the Poundland shop now stands, next to the former Mechanics Arms (now Tomi's Kitchen restaurant). The 
(picture from British Library). The building was replaced by a substantial Congregational Church in the 1860s.

1850 sketch showing the chapel next to pub and railway line

Monday, October 04, 2021

BBNO - new brewery at Mordern Wharf

Out for a bike ride round the Greenwich peninsula last weekend we saw some people drinking at tables next to a warehouse on the riverside at Morden Wharf. So of course we stopped to investigate and had a quick drink - just one, hey we were cycling. 

The site is the new home for South London craft brewery BBNO (Brew by Numbers), moving from previous location in the Enid Street railways arches in Bermondsey - though their taproom will remain open there as well as their barrel store in Peckham. The new site in its early stages of development but  you can already choose from a wide range of beers and sit at tables inside or out. The brewery hosted the Riverside Beer Festival there last month.

Current opening hours - Thursdays and Fridays (3 pm - 10 pm); Saturdays (12 noon - 10 pm); Sundays (12 noon to 8 pm)

Monday, September 20, 2021

Music Monday: Broadside Hacks

Broadside Hacks is a new 'London-based collective committed to the celebration and perpetuation of folk music', with a great new album out, 'Songs Without Authors Vol.1'.  The collective have been doing a folk session at Skehans (Kitto Road SE14) and a video for one of the tracks - Willie of Winsbury by Katy J Pearson & Maudlin - was filmed at the Rivoli Ballroom in Crofton Park. 

Some of the performers have previously been more associated with 'indie' acts such as Sorry or Goat Girl - the latter's ex-bassist Naima Bock contributes one track. They say: ' The marvel of Folk music is, in our view, its ability to find relevance in all times and places, while remaining essentially local. Broadside Hacks believe the old songs can still be relevant – that in the ancient melodies and words about past times can be found truths about today. If you want proof, revisit one of the albums that introduced them to folk – Liege and Lief – and hear songs that could be drawn from today’s headlines, about honour killings, about class, about lives forced into certain directions for want of the choices wealth brings. In 2021, to so many people folk just means “someone with an acoustic guitar”. Songs Without Authors is not that: it is music rooted in a place that has grown to encompass something universal'.


Monday, September 13, 2021

Croydon racist protest outnumbered

A small far right anti-refugee protest in Croydon was outnumbered by opposition on 4th September. Only around 20 racists got it together to turn up at Lunar House (Home Office UK Visas and Immigration HQ), where they complained about being let down by the no shows and being surrounded by anti-fascists numbering between 150-200.

Far right protest on right of picture, anti-fascists on left

'Croydon resists racism... Look around you. Croydon is not full, in fact the only thng it is full of are empty buildings! Yet still people are living on the streets. Our community has the resources to look after refugees alongside people who already live here' 

London Anti Fascist Assembly banner


Sunday, September 05, 2021

Dub London - nights of raving

'Dub London: Bassline of a city' closed last week at the Museum of London, a small exhibition documenting the impact of reggae sound system culture in the capital. Exhibits included a speaker stack from Channel One sound system, photographs and a vinyl selection provided by London reggae record shops.

 Naturally, South East London featured prominently, with references to the New Cross Fire, the Battle of Lewisham, Jah Shaka and Lewisham's Saxon Studio International sound system.  There was a film of Mad Professor in his Ariwa studio - currently in White Horse Lane SE25, previously in Gautrey Road SE15 (where the recently departed Lee Scratch Perry visited and recorded in the 1980s).

Photo of Saxon Sound in exhibition - taken at Lewisham Riverdale Centre in 1982 it includes Maxi Priest (also Lezlee Lyrix now Prof. William Lez Henry)

My favourite bit was a wallpaper of flyers, many of them from Saxon parties in the 1980s. Lots of South London venues featured in this including:

The Eve Pool Club, 13 Upper Brockley Road Parade

Lewisham Boys Club, 1-9 Horton Street SE13 ('A Saturday Night Jamboree' in May 1982)

Deptford Crypt [St Pauls Church], February 1982 with Saxon, Young Lion and 'Revolutionary A1 sound from Lewisham'.

Club Harmony [aka Harmony Hall], Childers Street, Deptford - Fe.b 1982 'Night of Raving' with Saxon and Sir Coxsone Outernational 

New Moonshot Club, Fordham Park SE14, July 1982 with Saxon and Nasty Rockers from Brixton

51 Lewisham Way - 'Night of Cool Runnings' in March 1982

Dick Sheppard Youth Centre, Tulse Hill SW2

Temple 62, Railton Road SE24 ('Wanna have ah Nice Time? STEP-it down ah Front Line!' with Saxon and Front Line International in 1983)

Late Night Cruise on a boat from Greenwich Pier (the MV Swanage Queen) in June 1982

22 Clyde House, Sumner Road, Peckham

Would be great to hear memories of these nights and others like them.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Extinction Rebellion back on Blackheath - if not now, when?

As part of this month's Extinction Rebellion 'Impossible Rebellion' in London, some supporters have been camping out on Blackheath, as they did in 2019 and as their Climate Camp predecessors did back in 2009.

'If not you, then who? If not now, the when? Demand Climate Action'

'Let's nurse the earth'

'Welcome to Blackheath Camp', a Greenwich XR leaflet, and a flyer promoting demonstration against Silvertown tunnel on 24 September. 

Noticeboard at site with some interesting local history details - the Palatine refugee camp on Blackheath in 1709 (German refugees from war with France); the Women's Suffrage Pilgrimage on Blackheath in 1913 and George Wilson, the 'Blackheath Pedestrian' whose attempt to walk 1000 miles on the Heath in 1815 was scuppered by magistrates.

The camp on Blackheath and associated protests in London demanding action on climate change are expected to continue until end of week beginning 30 August 2021.