Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Graham Coxon at Goldsmiths

Ex-Blur guitarist Graham Coxon returns to his old college tomorrow night (22nd June) for a gig along with Lady Sovereign and The Idle Lovers. It all happens at Goldsmiths College Students’ Union. More details at Smiths

Mid Summer Fire

Solstice Sunrise at Hilly Fields, Brockley, 21st June 2005 by Steve Ash.
I shall be writing my thoughts on the Solstice sunrise in south-east London here when I get a moment, it was dead good there.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Records not bought

'beatnik boy' sleeve

The excellent new Saint Etienne album 'Tales from Turnpike House' includes on the sleeve a paen to the joys of jumble sales in Bromley by Jeremy Deller. Deller bemoans the shift from jumble sales to car boot sales in the course of the 1980s as a symptom of the time - 'where once you gave things away to be sold for charity you now sold it for yourself. Everybody was on the make'. Of course this is even more the case with Ebay, where more and more people fancy themselves as traders in the global market place. The car boot sale does at least still have elements of potlatch as well as pot luck, enabling, as in Dellar's youth, 'a parallel education where it became possible to buy books and records at random almost because they were so cheap'.

This morning I went down to the weekly car boot sale at Alwyn Girls School in Southwark Park Road (worth a look if you're in reach of Bermondsey at 11 am on a Sunday). I came away empty handed, but did find a couple of surprizes amongst the ubiquitous Whitney Houston and Phil Collins LPs. The first was a 12" blue vinyl original of Patrick Juvet's oft-sampled disco classic 'I love America'. It was though very scratched and I reluctantly pulled myself away on realizing that I was in danger of succumbing to pure vinyl fetishism (i.e. buying records even if the music is virtually unplayable). The second treasure was the Talulah Gosh 12" EP 'Beatnik Boy'. When I find something like this that I really like but already have I always want to grab somebody and say 'you've got to have this'. I couldn't see anybody nearby who looked like an 1980s twee indie pop afficianado, so that wasn't an option. Should I buy it anyway just to give it a home? Should I buy it and flog it on ebay? In the end, thinking of Jeremy Dellar, I moved it to the front of the pile and left in the hope that some curious passer by might decide to give it a go and in the process be opened up to a whole new galaxy of girls and boys with jingly jangly guitars.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

London Bloggers

London Bloggers is a great resource for finding local blogs, grouping together sites by local train or tube stations. You can see the list for New Cross Gate here. We will get round to checking out and reviewing some of our fellow SE London blogs soon, but check it out yourself.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Film locations - more monster action

Just had confirmation from Lewisham Arthouse that the building was used as a set for the 1992 film Tale of a Vampire. The film, by Japanese director Shimako Sato, features Julian Sands as a vampire hanging out a lot in a library - which is what the Arthouse used to be in the days when there was a decent library service in New Cross (rather than a tiny one opening three days a week). So to recap here's our current list of SE London horror film connections:

- Tale of a Vampire (1992)
- Bride of Frankenstein (1935) - stars Lewisham-born Elsa Lanchester
- Shaun of the Dead (2004) - filmed in Monson Road, New Cross Gate
- Interview with the Vampire (1994) - partly filmed in Deptford, including St Pauls Church
- The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) - partly filmed at Deptford Creek
- Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) - stars New Cross-born Gary Oldman

In terms of other local film locations, we've got Gary Oldman's 'Nil by Mouth' (1997) and Patrice Chereau's 'Intimacy' (2000), both filmed in New Cross and Deptford, and 'Look Back in Anger' (1959) with Richard Burton as a Deptford market trader. Any more?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Camberwell to Ladywell Walk

Last Saturday's 'Magic, Mystery and Hidden History' was a great success, with a packed theatre upstairs in the Brockley Jack for this South East London Folklore Society event, all part of the Brockley Max Festival.

Talks included Alex Hodson on the battles against the enclosure of Sydenham Common and One Tree Hill, Steve Wilson on the Brockley Thing (the origins of the Woodcraft Folk), Chris Wood on the ancient landscape of Brockley, and Andy Worthington on The Battle of the Beanfield. It was all rounded offf with the runic singng of Kate Waterfield

I talked about Brockley Footpath, certainly an ancient track-way and possibly a route between the holy wells of Ladywell and Camberwell. Scott Wood's talk on 'Ghosts and Monsters of Brockley and Surrounds' also had some spooky stories about the same path.

On Sunday 26th June you can come with us and explore the path itself, setting off from outside St Giles Church, Camberwell at 2 pm and heading via Peckham, Nunhead and Brockley to Ladywell. Ancient taverns may well be sampled along the way.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

You are here but why?

More interesting (and free) events coming up as part of the You are here but why? Festival of Mapping, happening in and around 56a Infoshop in Walworth. Tomorrow (Friday 17) promises a Psychogeography bunfight, while on Saturday at 6 pm there's a talk on gathering free food from the wilds of South London. It's followed by a cafe where you can sample some of the results. Should be good, judging by Mikey's elderflower cordial I sampled last week, made from flowers gathered in Burgess Park.

Last week, Andy Worthington's talk on the 1985 Battle of the Beanfield went well, and he was joined by one of the makers of the Operation Solstice film that documents the events. Then last Friday we had a discussion, 'History No! The Future', about some of our efforts (including Past Tense and Practical History) at using history in alternative ways to challenge the present and shape the future.

There's some cool maps to see in the temporary Map Room at 56a Crampton Street, SE17, including some South London radical history cartography. So get on down before the end of June.

Camberwell Now! (well, this Friday..)

A whole host of SE London alternative music types are performing on Friday 17th in what is described as "A one off contemporary music performance using a wide range of diciplines and attitudes in surprising and unusual contexts"

The Line Up includes ex This Heat drummer/vocalist Charles Hayward, Sean O Hagan (of the lovely High Llamas and sometime keyboard and brass arranger for Stereolab), Harry Beckett (venerable Brit-Jazz trumpeter), Pat Thomas (wild man of piano and cheap electronics), John Edwards (omni-present double bassist), Sharon Gal (vocalist with No Wave noise trio Voltage), Rob Mills, Ashleigh Marsh, Nick Doyne Ditmas and ...er..Chris Cornetto. There's also digital projections by Scopac (who's really known as Rob Flint and is a member of SE London based audio visual ensemble Ticklish).

I happen to know this lot have been practicing hard- so it won't just be an improv/noise explosion but possibly more along the lines of Charles Hayward's fondly remembered "Accidents and Emergencies" interventions.

7.30 - 10.30 PM,
Lecture Hall,
Wilson Road SE5
Tickets £5/£3.50 concessions.

as a curious side note- the organiser of this event is Martyn Simpson who works at the college. Some 22 years earlier, and 250 miles North, Martyn was the lead guitarist in my indie post-punk band "The Euphoria Case"....

On the team

Morning all! Just to announce that I'm now proud to be a member of the Transpontine team. I'm Richard, and I live in Hither Green, so I guess I'll be covering stuff around the Eastern End of the Transpontine remit.

One thing to start me off though. Meridian Line Markers. I'm fascinated by these things- there's one in the tunnel at Hither Green railway station, and one in a paving stone on Lee High Road- both of which seem fairly arbitrary. Are there any other less obvious ones? (like not in Greenwich Park...)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bride of Frankenstein - born in Lewisham

At Transpontine we have uncovered various South London monster connections, incuding most recently Shaun of the Dead.

Thanks to Captain Normal, we can now reveal that Elsa Lanchester, who played both Mary Shelley and the Bride of Frankenstein in the 1935 film of the same name, was born Elizabeth Sullivan in 1902 at 48 Farley Road, Lewisham. She came from an interesting background - her parents, James Sullivan and Edith Lanchester 'were militant socialists, pacifists, and vegetarians who caused a scandal when, true to their free love beliefs, they decided to live together in 1895 without marrying. Edith's family was so outraged that they kidnapped her in collusion with a psychiatrist who committed her to a lunatic asylum. Her cause was taken up by fellow members of the Social Democratic Federation (she had been secretary to Eleanor Marx) and her release was secured when she was found not to be insane'. Elsa Lanchester maried Charles Laughton and moved to Hollywood. She died in 1986.

Dracula has been seen locally in various guises, with Gary Oldman (who played the Count in Bram Stoker's Dracula) born in New Cross, and parts of Interview with a Vampire filmed at St Pauls Church in Deptford. Bela Lugosi himself played Dracula at The Hippodrome, Lewisham in May 1951. We have also heard that the old library building in Lewisham Way (now the Arthouse) was used in one Dracula film, but we don't know which one - any ideas?

Thomas-a-Becket - No room at the inn?

Walking up the Old Kent Road today I noticed that another famous London pub is no more. The Thomas-a-Becket (on the corner of Albany Road near Tesco's) is now occupied by the office of a 'Property Consultant' - seemingly a landlord - with an art gallery upstairs. The site has been a place of refreshment for hundreds of years - Chaucer refers to pilgrims to Becket's shrine in Canterbury stopping off at St Thomas a Watering for a rest. This refers to the crossing of a stream near where the pub stands. In the past few years it has hosted a restaurant and bar, but no more refreshments there for the time being.

The building has a number of iconic connections. In the early 1970s, David Bowie rehearsed on the 2nd floor with the prototype 'Spiders From Mars', while James Fox trained in the first floor boxing gym for his part in Performance. Henry Cooper trained there and bizarrely Dave Prowse (the original Darth Vader) is selling photos of him meeting Muhammed Ali there. John Martyn also did a photoshoot there. Way back in 1888, a suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders was arrested after 'leaving a shiny black bag at the Thomas a Becket public house' containing 'a very sharp dagger, a clasp knife, two pairs of very long and vary curious looking scissors, and two preservers'.

We can only hope that the building itself will survive, unlike the recently demolished Gin Palace nearby.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Deptford Fun City - back on the streets

'Deptford Fun City: a ramble through the music and history of New Cross and Deptford' is back in stock at Morph Music. 64 pages of sonic and social history for only £2.50. Morphs is in the basement of Moonbow Jakes cafe, 275 New Cross Road (tel. 0208 691 9977). You can also order the pamphlet online at Past Tense Publications.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Happy Birthday Greenwich Pirate

Friday night was the first birthday party for Greenwich Pirate zine. The Montague Arms in New Cross was packed out. Free Repeater were a bit too epic indie for my tastes, but Snow White were a long fringed noise riot, reminding me at times of Sonic Youth in some of their thrashier moments.

You can read more about the Pirate crew in this recent interview in the South London Press.


Yesterday's official re-opening of Telegraph Hill Park in New Cross included a 'Kidstock' showcase for local bands graduating from the Brockley-based Felix's School of Rock. The idea is that kids are taught to play together and then form bands to play a gig at the end. So we were treated to early and pre-teen bands like Mint, Van and The Growth Spurtz bashing out cover versions of Green Day, Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine, as well as some of their own songs. It was cool but also slightly unsettling - can 9 year olds really be so alienated to sing 'Teen Spirit' with deadpan conviction or write a song called 'You're born, you live, you die?'. Apparently so.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Maxi and Mistri

'Why you are WRONG about Maxi Priest' is an interesting post over at Uncarved, where Jon Eden attempts to reclaim the only reggae star named after Max Bygraves from the charge of being just a diluted crossover sell-out. Maxi Priest was born in Lewisham and started out with south-east Lewisham's Saxon Studio International sound system. He went to the now closed Roger Manwood Secondary School in Brockley Rise, as did the late Arsenal and Leeds player David Rocastle (and presumably Ian Wright too as Jon says he went to same school as Maxi).

Over the years Saxon has functioned as a finishing school for emerging reggae talent - as well as Maxi, Smiley Culture, Papa Levi, Tippa Irie and DJ Mistri all performed with them. The latter, famed for a thousand car stickers, 'was born in St Giles Hospital and raised in Camberwell & Deptford, South London... His first public experience as a disc-jockey started with Saxon Sound System at the age of 17... Mistri studied drama & dance at Goldsmiths University, and ballet, jazz and contemporary dance at Laban' (in New Cross).

Maxi Priest played on Jamaica Unlimited's 'Rise Up', recorded to support the Reggae Boyz Jamaica team in the 1998 World Cup. There's an interesting article discussing this whole phenomenon, 'Lions, Black Skins and Reggae Gyals' on the Goldsmiths site.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Help required for local festival

Help is required for some of the nights of the Brockley Max festival, which is in full-cry at present, check out the me at or Moira (the grande-fromage of the festival).
The line-up for the closing night is:

Comedienne Charmain Hughes has been shocking, charming and winning audiences with visual puns and verbal slapstick. Mixing sharp observation with joyful flights of fancy of surrealism - this is comedy with heart.Chris Lynam the infamous iconoclastic clown and unstoppable titan of humour with the multi-faceted operatic diva Kate McKenzie in Eric The Fred.
SOAN ALONE Martin Soan, Time Out comedy award winner 1991, reveals characters from history, literature, the world of the unknown and some that are not known at all, places, objects and an array of various animals. Sometimes it’s surreal, sometimes it’s just silly; colour, mood and music all coming together at an alarming rate to leave you feeling “What’s coming next?”.
Also Ska Daddy – Who’s the Daddy”, a dynamic mix of imaginative retakes of classic ska standards with contemporary material - to end the festival with as bang. Also raffle prize draw. (advance tickets from Moonbow Jakes and Toad’s Mouth Too)
Joining in is fun and rewarding and you could make friends.

Magic, Mystery & Hidden History

The South East London Folklore Society have put on a program of talks on Magic, Mystery and Hidden History for the Brockley Max Festival. Those taking part either live in or around Brockley or have something to say about this part of south-east London. This set of talks will run from 3pm to 7.30pm on Saturday June 11th at the Brockley Jack Theatre, above the Brockley Jack pub, Brockley Road, Brockley, SE4 2DH.

A map can be found
here, directions are at the bottom of the page.

Magic Mystery and Hidden History is also part of the excellent festival of mapping
YOUR ARE HERE but why?

The event is free. The running order below is, like all things, subject to change. Please contact
SELFS with any questions or to reserve yourself a place.

3.00pm: Doors Open

3.10: Alex Hodson: Down With the Fences: The Battles against the Enclosure of Sydenham Common and One Tree Hill.
Local people have a 400 year history of fighting to preserve open space against development and destruction. Some they lost... but some they won!

3.30: Neil Gordon-Orr: Brockley Footpath - an ancient track-way?
South-east London Historian Neil Gordon-Orr traces a possible sacred path to and through Brockley.

4.00: Break

4.15: Scott Wood: Ghosts and Monsters of Brockley and Surrounds.
SELFS organiser combines two of his favourite things in a talk on supernatural beasties in south-east London.

4.35: Steve Wilson: The Brockley Thing.
In the mid 1920s The Woodcraft Folk broke away from the Kibbo Kift, Britain's first modern working class pagan group - over "The Brockley Thing". What was this thing? What sort of thing was it?

5.10: Break

5.30: Chris Woods: Merriton and Brockley - The town in the marsh and the clearing in the wood.
A possible prehistory of the landscape of Brockley and Deptford Bridge from the Iron age to the Middle ages, "common greene" to Brockley Common.

6.00: Andy Worthington: The Battle of the Beanfield.
The local author of “
Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion” remembers, twenty years on, the events of the Battle of the Beanfield, the bloody end of the Stonehenge Free Festival.

6.30: Break

6.45: Kate Waterfield: Runa Megin.
Kate Waterfield discusses and performs pieces from the Runa Megin; an evocative exploration of the musical possibilities of ancient runes is rich with echoes of an Eastern European folk heritage and an experimental "extended technique" vocal approach.

A "musical delight to the ears" says Pentagram Magazine and who am I to argue?

The Brockley Jack is served by Brockley Station, Honor Oak Park Station and Crofton Park Station.

From Honor Oak Park Station turn left and walk to end of the road. Turn left at the traffic lights into Brockley Road. The theatre is situated 500 yards on your left. (Approx 10 minutes walk).

From Crofton Park Station turn left out of the station, then cross the road at the pedestrian crossing. The Jack is 200 yards on your right. (Approx 2 minutes walk).

Buses: 171, 172, 122 and P4 (stop in front of the theatre).

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Battle of the Beanfield

Next Tuesday (7th June 2005), South London Radical History Group will be looking back 20 years to the infamous 'Battle of the Beanfield'. Brockley writer Andy Worthington, author of 'Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion', will be talking about this infamous police riot when the state was mobilised to put a stop to the Stonehenge Free Festival, which a year earlier had attracted thousands of people. A film of the events, 'Operation Solstice', will also be shown.

It all takes place at the the Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton St Walworth SE17,
7.30pm, Admission Free. Its only 5 minutes from the Elephant and Castle (see map here

This event is part of the YOU ARE HERE BUT WHY? Free Festival of Mapping