Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kate Bush in Brockley

This house in Wickham Road (number 44) was the launchpad for the career of arguably England's greatest singer songwriter: Kate Bush.

She actually grew up in a farmhouse in the similarly named Wickham Lane in Welling, where she famously wrote some of her later hit songs while still a child. She went to St. Joseph's Convent Grammar School (later the St Joseph's Campus of Bexley College).

In her late teens, having already been signed by EMI, she moved to Brockley where she lived in the middle flat at no.44 Wickham Road, sandwiched between her two brothers' flats.

In 1977 she fronted the KT Bush Band in local pubs, particularly the Rose of Lee in Lewisham (now Dirty South), as well as the Royal Albert in New Cross Road (later the Paradise Bar, now back to being the Royal Albert). The following year she released her first album, The Kick Inside, with her first single (Wuthering Heights) going to number one. That was the end of her playing down the pub, and in fact after a tour in 1979 she pretty much gave up live gigs altogether apart from the occasional appearance. Later she lived for many years in Court Road, between Mottingham and Eltham.

Thanks to Fred Vermorel for confirming the address; there are some references elsewhere (e.g. on Wikipedia) to Kate Bush living in Tressillian Road in Brockley - I don't think this is right, unless somebody is clear that she lived there as well as Wickham Road - the latter is definitely correct. By the way, I have heard that another well known musician lived in the same flat after Kate Bush, but not sure who - anybody know?

See Also: Kate Bush - The Brockley Demos - yes, she wrote Wuthering Heights in Wickham Road

A Fox in Vesta Road

When I lived outside of London I used to go hunt sabbing, spending Saturdays in a van chasing round the countryside trying to get between the unspeakable and the uneatable. In all that time I rarely saw a fox, other than the odd streak of red tearing across a field with hounds and horsey toffs in hot pursuit.

In London I see foxes all the time - but rarely one as healthy and comfortable looking as this one, sleeping soundly on the pavement in Vesta Road this morning at about 8 am, oblivious even to me and my dog. I actually thought it must be dead, but then it opened its eyes.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Blythe Hill Festival 2009

With forecasts of snow, summer afternoons in the park seem a long way off. But some people are planning ahead - this from Molly of the Friends of Blythe Hill Fields (a small park in Honor Oak Park off Brockley Rise for the unititated):

'Just to let you know that this year's Blythe Hill Fields festival takes place on June 27th and I am looking for willing participants. Last year was a great success and we are hoping to match it this year. We needs bands, singers, artists, dancers, drummers and entertainers of all kinds. Please put the word out and ask anyone keen to take part to email me at'

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Female Shipwright: 18th century cross dressing

From the London Evening Post, 2 August 1773:

'A few days ago the wife of Mr. Slade, shipwright at Deptford, was delivered of a daughteer. It is remarkable that this gentlewoman is the same person who is not improperly stiled the Female Shipwright; for at the close of the last war, about the year 1759, on account of a love affair, when 15 or 16 years old, she left her parents, whose names were Lacy, dressed herself in man’s apparel, and went down to Chatham, where the carpenter of the Sandwich man of war took her for his servant, with whom she assumed the name of William Chandler. After living some time in this capacity, she bound herself apprentice to a shipwright, served the whole term, and worked at the business two years afterwards; and during this long period no suspicion was had, or discovery of her sex made, notwithstanding the many surprising incidents, illnesses, and hair-breadth escapes that attended her'.

(found at Rictor Norton. ed. "Some Cross-Dressing Women", part of his excellent Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. The National Maritime has recently republished Female Shipwright, the autobiography of Mary Lacy)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Next Uke Box at the Amersham

Brockley Ukulele Group are hosting their next Sunday session at the Amersham Arms (New Cross) on Sunday 8th February. BUG will be doing another Uke Box set (where people call out song requests from a list) and there will also be sets from Jude Cowan (uke-toting 'melodramatic popular song'), Puke (post-punk uke covers) and Strum Pets (boy-girl guitar uke song duo). It starts at 7:30 pm and it's all free.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Invisibles

Here's another Londonist graphic novel: Grant Morrison's The Invisibles. The Invisibles (aka The Invisible College) are an underground movement of time travelling psychic warriors engaged in a centuries long struggle against a conspiracy intent on total control and enslavement of the human race.

Volume One of the series (The Invisibles: Say you want a revolution, 1995) features various radical and libertarian references including Timothy Leary, de Sade, Kropotkin, Shelley and the Situationists (a key character is named King Mob - named after the 1960s pro-situationist group who ironically used to detourn Marvel comics with radical slogans), not to mention an implicit debt to William Burroughs.

Then of course there are the mysteries of London, into which a young Invisibles recruit is initiated by a wise homeless beggar. The latter rants 'Two Londons there are: there's the one you can see all around and there's the other city under the skin of this. The hidden city, sunless and silent, if you really want to learn, I'll take you there. I'll show you things to make your hair stand up'. Later underground they visit 'the buried London... the city's dark twin.... reached by secret processional ways; obsolete subway tunnels, the cellars of long-demolished buildings, lost stations and stairways'.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Morning Ticket Trap

A regular occurrence, as observed again this morning on a rail journey from Nunhead to Elephant & Castle:

1. It's Monday morning, the busiest day of the week as many people will be renewing their weekly pass. Keep staffing levels low (one person ticket office) to ensure queues build up back to the top of the stairs for both the ticket office and the machine. Make changes to ticket machine so that some categories of tickets cannot be purchased on it, which can be purchased only at the office (*). Remove 'permit to travel' machine so that anybody who gets on a train without a ticket can be fined - even if they couldn't buy one in time to catch their train, despite leaving home early to allow a reasonable time to queue for one.

2. When people arrive at their destination ensure staffing levels are ludicrously high. Place a line of 14 transport police and ticket inspectors at the bottom of the stairs to greet people. This will ensure that the big crowd getting off the train end up being cramped on the stairs for some time while you let them out in a small dribble - hey it's not like they're in a hurry to get anywhere. The best bit is that some of the people won't have been able to buy a ticket, so you can then pull them to one side in front of hundreds of people, fine them and brand them a criminal. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Well I just about avoided this today. Having vowed that if I didn't get to the front of the queue by the time the train came I would take my chances without a ticket, I managed to buy one with seconds to spare. Others weren't so lucky.

(*) - When the train fares went up at the beginning of the month, the options on the ticket machine were changed. You can no longer select a return ticket with the option 'not London' on the machine so the minimum price of a ticket on the machine is more expensive than from the ticket office.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Downham by-election

Ross at Save Catford has written about the forthcoming Lewisham Council by-election in Downham ward. Apparently the British National Party candidate will be Tess Culnane, who Ross shows is a long time associate of some of the most overtly neo-nazi elements on the far right.

Essentials Mix

Lower End Spasm highlights some classic South London grime in the form of a Stop the Deck mix by (the late lamented) Essentials. It starts off with the track Doing it Now and its great chorus:

"New Cross Gate, Brockley, Catford, Brixton way, Deptford, Peckham, Lewisham, 'llow: Stonebridge, Tottenham, Slough - look who's doing it now."

There's also a set by Streatham garage DJ Oneman.

(thanks to Bob from Brockley for this).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Brockley Ukuleles on Location

Corrie and Kate (from Brockley Ukulele Group) entered Bushman's World Ukulele Video Contest with this short film shot last month and featuring them performing an ambitious mash up of early 90s pop hits at locations including Brockley MOT Centre, Hilly Fields and the Brockley Footpath (next to Nunhead Cemetery):

Apparently there may be more to come - read about C&K's Uke Hunts project here.

Coronary Crumpage

I know I could easily fill this blog just with what's happening at the Montague and the Amersham Arms, not to mention the New Cross Inn - and why not? Even if I don't have time to go to more than a handful of the events happening across these places, it's great to know that there's more low cost high quality creativity in the space of half a mile than in many whole towns.

So at the Monty on Thursday 5th February 'Coronary Crumpage #9 will feature these hot bands: Limeheaded Dog, Indurain, Princess and the Pervert Crumpage #9 compilation featuring tracks by the performers will be on sale on the door for £3. The night's dj set will come courtesy of our very special guest, Gea. Come share the joy'.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lewisham Local History Society

Lewisham Local History Society has a full programme of talks for 2009, starting next week on Friday 30th January with a symposium on 'Roy Porter : A Great Historian'. It features Prof. Vivian Nutton and other friends and colleagues of the social and medical historian who died in 2002. Roy's early days from 1946 to 1959 were spent in the family home in Camplin Street at New Cross Gate and he attended the nearby Monson School. A plaque was unveiled last year at his childhood home.

Lewisham Local History Society monthly talks are held at the Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, Lewisham, SE13 6BT, commencing at 7.45pm unless otherwise stated. Visitors welcome. Donations of minimum £1.00 invited.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

This Friday at the Montague

On Friday 23rd January there's an evening of Music, Poetry and Comedy at the Montague Arms, SE15.
Acts include Jeremy McClintock, Michael Forrest, Radio Revolucion, Tiger Blossom, The Carbon Town Cryer, Mat Dolphin, The Amigans and The Brockley Rise Singers.

The gig is a benefit for CALL (Campaigning Alliance for Lifelong Learning), with entry a mere £3.

Vinyl Underground: Watching the Detectives

Vinyl Underground: Watching the Detectives by Si Spencer and Simon Gane (2008) is very much a self-consciouslly Londonist graphic novel. It talks of 'London, city of mobs and murder, massacres and mysteries' and is crammed full of the kind of references that suggest the authors have spent many hours listening to the Robert Elms show.

Harry Beck's 1931 tube map? Check. Fictitious locations in Phyllis Pearsall's London A-Z? Check. Mention of 'psychogeography of London'? Check. Brooding image of the river? Yes, several, for example: 'countless ghosts, teeming like tadpoles in the murky poison of the Thames'.

The tale features a cool gang of 'occult detectives' and avengers hanging out in an abandoned tube station, tracking down child killers in between DJing at Northern Soul nights in Stockwell. Its plot takes it starting point from the real story of the discovery of a child's dismembered body in the Thames, but the suspected ritual killing turns out to be something else involving London gangsters...

Can anybody suggest other Londonist (particularly South Londonist) graphic novels? By this I don't just mean stories set in London, but those in which the city itself - or a particular location within it - is a key element. Alan Moore's From Hell is an obvious example, as to a lesser extent is his V for Vendetta. But there must be many others.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nunhead to Crystal Palace walk

'On Saturday 31st January 'Walk London' invites you to a leisurely taster of the Green Chain Walks forthcoming extension from Nunhead to Crystal Palace . Generally it follows the disused railway line but diverts to make the most of local landscape, views and, places of interest. The walk is free of charge, starts at 11am outside Nunhead railway station and, is 6.5 miles long. Of course, you may break-off at any time. There are some steep slopes and muddy sections. We'll visit Nunhead Cemetery, One Tree Hill, The Walter Segal houses, Horniman Gardens , Sydenham Hill Woods nature reserve, the site of Upper Sydenham station and, Crystal Palace Park. We conclude at the Café near the Park's Penge Gate. The walk should take 3 or 4 hours and the Walk Leader will give a brief historical commentaries. Experts are welcome to correct him! You can see the route on the web here.'

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Thousand Words at Lewisham Library

'A Thousand Words: Live Literature from South London writer/photographers' takes place at Lewisham Library, 199-201 Lewisham High St, SE13 from 8pm-9.30pm on Tuesday 27 January - free admission.

'Joan Byrne, Anne-Marie Glasheen and Pia Randall-Goddard will read from their latest literary works and show small, perfectly formed exhibitions of their photography. Is a picture worth a thousand words? Come along; you decide. Joan will read from Dole Days: a memoir of signing on in Peckham. Anne-Marie will treat us to the poetry that inspired the current exhibition of her work on show in the Limelight Gallery @ Lewisham Library that will form the backdrop to the evening. Pia will decide on the night, but expect crafted words'

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Deptford Photography Archive

Local photographer Jane Laine is asking people to donate photographs of Deptford for an archive project. She says: 'Calling all people of Deptford! Your memories are important but a lone print of an old picture is easily lost to the world. So we are launching a digital photographic archive of the area from the last 100 years to preserve these wonderful pictures for posterity.We will be at the Albany Theatre on the 21st and 23rd January from 10.00am to 6.00pm'. Jane is based at Faircharm Studios (B109), 8-12 Creekside, SE8 and can also be contacted at

As a contribution is some recent history - two photographs of the Use Your Loaf Centre for Social Solidarity at 227 Deptford High Street (click on photos to enlarge). A semi-derelict former bakers shop was transformed for a couple of years into a space for cafes, meetings, music and general hanging out. The sign at the front says 'we don't want a bigger slice of the cake, we want the whole bakery'. Use Your Loaf was evicted in September 2004 and the building has been empty ever since. The worry is that the landlord is allowing this listed building to decay so that it can then be demolished without too much fuss - but that's another story which I will return to soon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jean Adebambo

Sad news that lovers rock singer Jean Adebambo has died this week:

Jean was best know for the track Paradise, released on Santic records. It was also featured on her 1983 album, Feelings. She had recently started performing again, singing at Brixton Academy last year.

I met her in her later day job capacity, working as a health visitor in Rotherhithe, and she was a lovely woman.
Here's a couple of tracks to download from the Feelings album (ripped from vinyl, so quality isn't great): Wake Up (mp3); Change (mp3)

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Cross - strip club and library news

Not a good week for New Cross Gate - looks like plans for a new library and health centre have hit the skids, while The White Hart looks like being turned from a pub into a private members' strip club:

Hotel owner wins appeal to open strip club (This is London, 14 January 2009): 'A Hotel owner has won his appeal to open a striptease and lap dancing club in New Cross. An application by the White Hart Hotel, in New Cross Road, to open a strip club on the premises was refused by Lewisham Council in August. More than 100 letters of objection and three petitions signed by 232 residents against the plan were received by the council, including a letter of objection from the police. White Hart owner Ken Linwood won his appeal against the decision at Bromley Magistrates' Court yesterday. Mr Linwood argued the strip club is the only way his business can survive.'

[I guess Lewisham Council could appeal against this - I won't rehearse the previous arguments against the Landlord's plans, if you are interested look at these earlier posts]

Credit crunch throws landmark development into jeopardy, Newsshopper, 12 January 2009: 'A landmark development scheme worth £37m has been thrown into jeopardy after its developer pulled out due to the credit crunch. The New Cross Gate Community Centre is due to be built on a 0.9 hectare area surrounded by New Cross Road, Briant Street, Wynne House, Bower House and Besson Street. Three blocks, including 172 flats, an eight-GP health centre, public library, gym, creche, cafe and pharmacy, are planned to take the place of council housing which has already been demolished. Work on the project was due to begin last July, but no construction has been carried out so far. Now a question mark hangs over the scheme’s future after developer The Rydon Group pulled out, blaming the current financial crisis'.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rupert Sheldrake in New Cross

I've mentioned before about interesting events at Goldsmiths in New Cross, often featuring internationally-known speakers, free of charge and open to anybody who wants to turn up. Goldsmiths publish a regular calendar of events, and it's worth checking this out.

Next week, on the Tuesday 20th January, Rupert Sheldrake is giving a lecture on Morphic Resonance, Collective Memory and the Habits of Nature. It takes place in the Richard Hoggart Building from 6 pm to 7:30 pm (details here). Sheldrake is a controversial scientist often quoted by those inclined to parapsychology and mysticism - I've linked to his site above, so for the sake of balance here's a sceptical view of one of his claims. Whatever your views, this looks like an interesting talk.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brockley Shirt Thieves, 1734

From the Weekly Amusement, February 22 1734:

'On Friday... at Night, five Men mask'd came to the House of Farmer Savage of Brockley in Kent, entered the same, and rifled the House of all the Money and Plate, and took each of them a Shirt, which they said they were in great Want of; they staid some Time in the House, eating and drinking, and then went off with as much Unconcern as common Visitors'.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nunhead Workhouse

Mass unemployment, forcing the unemployed into work... yes it's back to the 1920s. Back then, the unemployed in the Camberwell/Peckham/Nunhead area had to report to the old Workhouse in Gordon Road. As the 1896 map below shows, it was by the railway just north of the Brayards Road junction, on a site that stretched to Consort Road. Most of the buildings are long gone, but part of the site continues as the Spike (currently awaiting eviction by the Council). Its origins seem to go back to 1848 when the Sisters of the Christian Retreat established Nazareth House as a retreat and to provide charity for the Peckham poor. Later it became the Camberwell Reception Centre - a doss-house for unemployed famously featured in the opening scenes of the 'swinging London' movie Blow Up.

Back in the 1920s though, it was the scene of conflict between the 'organized unemployed' and the Camberwell Board of Guardians, as these reports show:

Unemployed Organiser Summoned: Relief Station Incident (Times, March 13 1922)

At Lambeth Police Court on Saturday, before Mr Rooth, Stanley Ernest Dallas, of Church-street, Camberwell, was summoned for threatening two officers in the service of the Camberwell Guardians. Mr Perry Robinson, prosecuting, said the defendant was the organiser of the ‘Camberwell Organized Unemployed’, a body which held Communist principles. On February 3, accompanied by about 50 men, he entered the Nunhead relief station and said he had been informed that unemployed applicants had been treated very badly, and he was going to put a stop to it. When Mr Mills, a relieving officer, told him to make his complaint to the guardians he replied: ‘If you don’t take care there will be trouble. All I have to do is press a button, and then I can have between 500 and 1000 men, and then there will be trouble’. Officers who attempted to leave the station to fetch the police were prevented by the crowd, and when one went to the telephone box he found that the wire had been cut. The defendant denied that any threats were used, and the hearing was adjourned’.

March of Unemployed to Workhouse: Encounter with Police at Camberwell (Times, 9 February 1926)

‘A march took place yesterday of the organized unemployed of Camberwell to Gordon-road Workhouse, Nunhead, one of the institutions of the Camberwelll Board of Guardians, as a protest against what the unemployed considered the unjust scale of out-door relief and the methods of granting it. The demonstrators, to the number of between 300 and 400, moved off in procession from Camberwell Green to the Gordon-road Workhouse. A short, sharp encounter between the unemployed and a strong force of mounted and foot police followed shortly afterwards. Mounted police preceded the men on their march, and when the marchers wheeled into Gordon-road, where the mounted men, reinforced by foot police, drew across the road and barred further progress.

A rush of the unemployed followed, and for a few seconds it seemed probable that an ugly situation would develop. Fortunately, however, the police kept firm control of the situation. A cripple, on crutches, and a little boy were knocked to the ground in the general confusion. Continuing their march, the demonstrators later endeavoured to surprise the police by making an unanticipated rush towards another approach to the workhouse, but again they were unsuccessful.

Arrived at Nunhead Green, a further series of speeches was delivered, in which the police were criticized and a resolution of protest against the conduct of the mounted and foot police was adopted, after it had been alleged that a truncheon had been used by an officer, and that others had ‘taken five of our men down the road’. The police state that no arrests were made’.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday in the Amersham

A busy Amersham Arms last night for the latest Brockley Ukulele Group 'Uke Box'. Once again the most requested song was The Cure's Friday I'm in Love, but there were some new numbers including The Book of Love (Magnetic Fields) and Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones). A man collapsed and had to be carried out in all the excitement - or was it just the beer? Another night there is planned soon - watch out for confirmation of the date.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Cross Sainsburys

Sainsburys is about to start consulting on plans to redevelop the area at the front of its store in New Cross Gate. The plans involve demolishing the petrol station and warehouse stores (Currys etc.) and filling in the gap with street frontage, including shops and housing. This fits in with the New Deal for New Cross proposals to try and create more of a high street feel along New Cross Road, with the front of the Sainsbury's site currently a gaping hole.

It does all beg the question of why nobody thought of this when the store was built in the 1990s. Putting the car park at the front rather than behind Sainsburys meant that people without cars have always had a long walk to do their shopping, let alone the perilous trip through a dark and empty car park to visit the cashpoint late at night.

The leaflet put out by Sainsburys does mention some public facilities, but with qualifications - 'possibly a nursery or community facility', 'potentially a new station'. If it's the latter lets hope that it isn't going to mean another lengthy closure of parts of the service from there.

Sainsburys have set up a website for the consultation - but there's nothing on it yet (they promise there will be from January 23rd). There will also be a number of exhibitions:

Friday 23rd January, 12 to 8 pm , Sainsburys;
Saturday 24th January, 12 to 8 pm , Sainsburys;
Wednesday 28th January, 2 to 8 pm, Electric Empire, 182 New Cross Road;
Thursday 29th January, 2 to 8 pm, Telegraph Hill Centre, Kitto Road.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Winston Groovy

Jamaican-born reggae singer Winston Groovy has been recording songs since he moved to London in 1969, with releases on the Trojan and Pama labels among others. Although he has had hits under his own name, his best known song is probably Don't Make me Cry - a worldwide hit when covered by UB40 in 1983.

According to this interview, when he first moved to London he 'settled in Lewisham, "near the hospital", where he met up with Laurel Aitken, who promptly took him to the studio where they recorded ' Island In The Sun'... These were very busy times for Winston as hit record followed hit record and a live show was not a proper live show unless Winston Groovy appeared on the bill. But "just to keep going!" he still had to work regularly in Trojan's Muzik City record shop in Lewisham and Pama's record shop on Peckham Rye'.

I believe he still lives in South London, and according to Mel Wright's Rock Around Lewisham (published in 1990), he was at one time living in Brockley's Shardeloes Road.

Anyone got information about the Trojan and Pama shops mentioned here?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Scottish Martyrs Memorial

The most striking monument in Nunhead Cemetery is undoubtedly the memorial to the Scottish Martyrs. It is not a grave marker, but a memorial to five political radicals - Thomas Muir, Fyshe Palmer, William Skriving, Joseph Gerrald and Maurice Margarot - who were transported to Australia in 1794 for sedition.

Muir was a friend of Thomas Paine, and indeed one of the charges levelled against him was that he had distributed Paine's The Rights of Man. He later escaped from Australia and joined Paine in France, before dying in 1799. Like the others he was involved with the Society of Friends of the People in Scotland, an organisation devoted to parliamentary reform. Gerrald and Margarot were not actually members of this group, but were arrested at their Convention in 1793, which they were attending as delegates of the like-minded London Corresponding Society.

When the Chartist movement with similar aims took off from the late 1830s, its supporters sought to commemorate their predecessors. It was decided to raise funds for two memorials, one in Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, the other at Nunhead. The latter was unveiled in February 1851, its location seemingly chosen as a prominent London cemetery, rather than because of any particular South London connections.

However, Margarot at least was certainly familiar with Southwark. He was part of a deputation sent by the London Corresponding Society to meet with the Southwark Friends of the People in 1792. The latter was established at a meeting at the Three Tuns Tavern in the same year.

The story is told in 'The Scottish Martyrs' by Wally MacFarlane, a pamphlet published by the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Resonance FM Free Concerts

A couple of free events brought to you by the folks at Resonance FM:

Friday 9 January at 8pm: What links the Indian Mutiny, Leon Theremin, Donna Summer and the alluring whiff of WD-40? Find out in a live concert of machine-music curated by Resonance FM's Ed Baxter. Featuring Sarah Angliss, Da nWilson, Ben Barwise, Xper.Xr and special guests.

Friday 16 January at 8pm: The Resonance Radio Orchestra live in concert; plus a live coding circuit building competition with Nick Collins (SussexUniversity) versus Nicolas Collins (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), vying for the annual award of the "Nic(k) Collins Cup," an exquisite ceramic vessel commissioned from Devon potter Nic Collins(no relation).

Both at: Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH just by Oval cricket ground's West Gate (Oval tube, Vauxhall rail). Part of the exhibition Felix's Machines . Admission Free.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Blessed Love Studios, SE5

Blessed Love Studios in Camberwell (Lomond Grove) is a music project with a particular focus on working with young people in South London. Check out their downloads page to hear some of the hip hop/reggae/grime produced there by the likes of Skullgang and Jahmai. They've also started a blog with an interesting overview of UK Bass Culture 1977 to 2008 and its interface with punk - complete with an accompanying mix of mash-ups involving everybody from The Skatalites and The Clash to Dizzie Rascal.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

1960s Ska & Soul Clubs

Further to my post last week on South London mod clubs, John Eden pointed me in the direction of the flyers section of George Austen's great Ska2Soul site. George has reproduced a collection of 1960s flyers from South London clubs playing soul/ska/rocksteady, including: - a 1967 flyer from the Ramjam Club in Brixton, with artists including The Skatalites and Geno Washington. - a flyer for a Duke Reid sound system 'Night of Happiness' at 42 Carmenia Road, Balham, SW17 in 1966. - A 1968 flyer for the Mistrale club at Beckenham Junction, where PP Arnold played in October. - a July 1966 flyer from El Partido, 8 -12 Lee High Road, with one night featuring Duke Reid plus The Groove and the other an All-Nighter with The Partisans, The Tea Set and 'London's Top Sound' Soul Sound. All for 50p (1o shillings). The example I've reproduced here is for a 1968 night at the Amersham Arms in New Cross, with Little Lee and the Savoy Sound offering 'ska, soul and Tamla Motown'. Little Lee apparently also ran the Rock Steady Discotheque at Mistrale in Beckenham. As always memories of these places and people actively welcomed. See also: Mods in South London; Deptford Soul City.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Twelfth Night 1414

Tonight is Twelfth Night - with tomorrow being the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas (the Feast of Epiphany). Unfortunately, unlike in medieval times, most of us will be back at work already rather than waiting until after the Twelve Days are over.

The Christmas period in medieval times - and indeed later - was associated with the custom of Mumming, with people dressing up in masks and disguises, visiting neighbours, parading, and performing plays.

In January 1414, a plan was put in place to use mumming as a means of overthrowing the state with a focus on Eltham Palace, where the royal family was spending Christmas. The abortive insurrection was associated with John Oldcastle, a former friend of King Henry V, who had embraced the doctrines of the Lollard movement and been imprisoned as a heretic in the Tower of London before escaping. The Lollards criticised the wealth and corruption of the Church, anticipating the later Reformation.

In 1414, it was proposed to use a Twelfth Night Mumming as a cover to seize the King and his brothers at Eltham Palace. However the King was tipped off and returned to London. When the Lollard supporters gathered in the following week in St Giles Fields (near to the current Soho area) they were routed and many were exectued.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cafe Crema in January

Cafe Crema are restarting their Thursday night film and food sessions this week.

On January 8th at 8 pm they are showing Babette's Feast, a movie that will certainly get your appetitite going - luckily the £6 entrance fee includes homemade brownies/carrot cake and polenta or a glass of wine.

On Saturday 10th January at 8 pm, Cafe Crema is hosting a benefit for Medical Aid for Palestians featuring the 'lazt mulled wine blues' of Tina Pinder with 'Fine quality songs from this velvet-and-gravel voiced guitarist/pianist'. £4 admission.

Cafe Crema is at 306 New Cross Road, London Se14 6AF (079o5 961 876/ 07905 552 571).

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Sunday Night Uke Box

Brockley Ukulele Group present their next Sunday Night Uke Box on the 11th January.

If you haven't been before, the format is that people call out numbers from a list of songs which the band then perform - last time at the Amersham Arms in December this included everything from Cameo's Word Up to The Fairytale of New York.

It takes place at the Amersham Arms from 8:30 pm onwards, and admission is free.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Telegraph Hill Threepenny Opera

A radical turn for this year's Telegraph Hill Community Production - a weekend of performances in the Spring of the Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil.

If you want to take part come along to St Catherine's Church, Pepys Road, SE14, on Sunday 11th January from 2 pm to 2:45 pm (registration for nursery/primary school children is at the same time on the previous day). Don't be put off by the word 'audition' - unless you are going for one of the lead parts, it's pretty much all comers welcome, and you don't need to live strictly on Telegraph Hill either - there's usually people from across New Cross and Brockley.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tate Modern as Disaster Shelter

'It has been raining for years now, not a day, not an hour without rain. This continual watering has had a strange effect on urban sculptures. They have started to grow like giant tropical plants, and become even more monumental. To stop this growth it has been decided to store them inside, among the hundreds of bunk beds which, night and day, receive refugees from the rain. Turbine Hall/2058/London'.

The current installation in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, TH.2058 by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, imagines the building fifty years hence, in use as a shelter from some kind of catastrophe that has also mutated artworks - hence the large scale reproduction of pieces such as one of Louise Bourgeois's spiders. Meanwhile clips of various science fiction movies (including Planet of the Apes) are screened at one end of the hall, while the bunk beds have appropriate books such as Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Megacities by Mike Davis (when the exhibition opened these were liberally scattered around the hall, but so many of them got taken that the last few copies are now attached to the beds).

In the accompanying book, the artist points to the previous transformation of the building from a power station to a gallery:‘what happened to this space is in fact some kind of science fiction. A hundred years ago it’s impossible to imagine that the people working there could conceive of what it would become. This shift says more than any other about the art inside the building. So I though this was also a strong starting point. And then to imagine that there was one shift and what could be the second? And so I was imagining possible futures, something set firty or a hundred years in the future’.

The curator, Jessica Morgan, links the installation to other stories of drowned London: 'London has been subjected to near constant fictional attack over the last century. Destroyed or under siege in nov­els and films, it has been the victim of fire and invasion, but perhaps most frequently, of flooding. Many such tales of dev­astation were inspired by the very real London flooding of1953, which resulted in the construction of the Thames Barrier. While others, some of which precede this event, are influenced not only by documented events but also by the Ur-myth of the bib­lical flood and the accompanying notion of a cleansing of excess or evil- a dystopia common, it seems, during the In­dustrial Revolution.

In Richard Jeffries's After London; Or, Wild England (1885), a Victorian tale of industrially inspired gloom, London is retributively submerged in compensation, it would seem, for the woes of the new commercialism and its accom­panying toxic effect. Jeffries writes of this flood: 'Upon the surface of the water there was a greenish-yellow oil, to touch which was death to any creature.' Sidney Fowler Wright's Del­uge of 1927 is similarly influenced by scepticism in industrial and technological development, and his bleak vision has the whole of England reduced to a few small islands after an un­explained storm. The better-known J.G. Ballard's The Drowned World (1962), a prescient tale of solar radiation causing the polar ice caps to melt, depicts a flooded, tropical London of the future, the experience of which leads the inhabitants to regress to a pre-civilisation mentality... Even more recently Kim Stanley Robinson and Stephen Baxter have both envisioned the capital submerged in Blue Mars (1997) and Flood (2008) as the city continues to come under a watery, literary attack'.

TH.2058 will remain in place at Tate Modern, Bankside SE1 until 13 April 2009.

See also V for Vendetta.