Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cinetopia at the Arthouse

'Cinetopia and Lewisham Art House are reuniting to bring you a second evening of glorious cinematic splendour. So, please bring your friends and join us for a few drinks, a fun film quiz (points mean prizes) and a great mystery film (you won't know what it is 'til it's started). Past Cinetopia evenings have been themed around a wide range of genres from classic comedies to hard-boiled thrillers, including Nine Queens (Argentinian heist thriller), The Shining (epic horror), Adaptation (writers and Hollywood) and Together, (love, sex, childhood and the music of Abba in a Swedish commune). The theme for this event is corruption, cabaret and corporate sleaze.When: Friday 12 June.Where: Lewisham Art House. 140 Lewisham Way, (corner Rokeby Rd) London SE14 6PD. Tickets: £5. Tickets available on the door. Time: Doors open 6.30. Quiz 7.15. Film 8.00'.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Three rivers clean-up

Starting today is a week's voluntary effort to clear up the three South East London rivers of the Ravensbourne system - the Ravensbourne itself, along with the Pool and Quaggy. The Three Rivers Clean-Up is being organised by the charity Thames 21 in conjunction with local groups. The focus is on clearing the Himalayan Balsam, a plant that has taken over the banks of the river to the exclusion of many other species needed for a balanced habitat.

Today and next Saturday they are in Ladywell fields from 11 am to 4 pm, and tomorrow (Sunday 31st) Quaggy Waterways Action Group will be working on a stretch of the Quaggy between Clarendon Rise and Manor Park, in SE13. Other activities are taking place in stretches of these rivers in Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham boroughs. Volunteers are welcome, check the list for detals.

It's great to see these 'lost rivers of London' getting some love and attention, next we need to dig up the River Peck and the River Effra!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Posties and Cleaners

A couple of South London-linked tales of workplace activity... good to see that the threat of recession hasn't cowed everybody:

- Hundreds of postal workers based in Brixton, Stockwell and South Lambeth refused to deliver the BNP's European election leaflets. The Royal Mail drafted in agency staff to get them delivered instead (South London Press29.5.09).

- There is a tube cleaners demonstration next Monday, the call follows: ' JUSTICE FOR TUBECLEANERS - DEMONSTRATE AT CITY HALL MON 1 JUNE 4PM. On Thursday, the London Mayor increased the London Living Wage to £7.60 an hour. Tubecleaners know they won't see this increase without a fight. Despite the Mayor's commitments to a living wage for cleaners on the underground last summer, it took months for the increase to kick in, and some contractors are still refusing to pay even this.Join the RMT picket of City Hall to call for this living wage for all tube cleaners, as well as for free travel to work / sick pay / decent pensions / 28 days' annual leave / an end to third party sackings. Monday 1 June 4pm outside City Hall (on the south of the river between Tower Bridge and London Bridge). Bring banners, placards and noisemakers!'

Kraftwerk in Brixton Market

In this week's South London Press (22.5.09) there's a short interview with Brixton-based Stereo MCs vocalist Rob Birch. I was intrigued by his 'favourite uniquely South London memory': 'Seeing a member of Kraftwerk shopping in Brixton market'. That's got to be up there with Destiny's Child rehearsing at the Elephant and Castle as an unlikely sighting - but as Beyonce's in Greenwich this week, maybe anything's possible.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grow your own drugs

Local natural remedy enthusiasts may want to head down to Baldwins next week to meet James Wong, author/presenter of BBC2 TV series 'Grow your own drugs'. He will be at the shop at 171 Walworth Road at 3 pm on 3rd June 2009.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Buddhist Centre in Walworth

The Kagyu Samye Dzong London Tibetan Buddhist Centre is hidden in an unassuming brick building in Manor Place, SE17 (off the Walworth Road). If you are in the area of an afternoon and want some peace and tranquility, they welcome visitors. The picture is of the shrine room.

The Manor Place building once housed the municipal baths for the area. The Buddhist Centre itself may be moving to a building elsewhere in South East London which they are in the process of buying.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brockley Max Opening Night

Lots of music and other stuff happening at this year's Brockley Max festival, from 29th May to 7th June. The opening night is this Friday with a gig from 4 pm to 8 pm, in front of the Bob Marley mural on Foxberry Road by The Brockley Barge. Line up (subject to confirmation):

4.00pm - 4.15pm J’adore L’amour
4.20pm - 4.45pm Anita Maj
4.50pm - 5.15pm Bad Habits
5.20pm - 5.40pm Room Philip
5.45pm - 6.10pm The Fruitful Earth
6.15pm - 6.40pm The Grey Cats
6.45pm - 7.05pm Brockley Ukelele Group
7.10pm - 7.35pm Samuel Luke
7.40pm - 8.00pm Rock Choir
8.10pm - 8.40pm The Fishermen
8.45pm - 9.15pm Revived Band
9.20pm - 9.50pm This Is Us

Brockley Ukulele Group also have another uke box Sunday session coming up at the Amersham Arms, SE14 on Sunday 14th June:

All are human

A reminder from Creekside, Deptford:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Occupations and borders

Wednesday night (27th May) sees South East London radicals spoilt for choice. At Goldsmiths College, Lewisham Way SE14 (Room RHB308, Main building, 2nd floor, follow signs), Autonomy and Solidarity are hosting a discussion on occupations. They say:

'2009 - the year of the recession - is also the year of the OCCUPATION. From workers in a Ford factory in Enfield demanding their redundancy pay, to parents in a primary school in Glasgow demanding it stays open, to university students just about everywhere (even Goldsmiths) demanding greater access to education, everywhere it is being demonstrated as a viable tactic.
Whats the potential of OCCUPATION as a tactic for getting what we want? Come find out - open to all students and non students. Speakers from the OCCUPATIONS at: LEWISHAM BRIDGE PRIMARY SCHOOL (SE13), CHARLOTTE TURNER PRIMARY SCHOOL (SE8), LONDON METROPOLITAN UNI (E1), FORD VISTEON CAR FACTORY (EN3). 6:30 pm start.

On the same night at Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton Street, Elephant & Castle, SE17 3AE, London No Borders presents a talk from an activist from No More Deaths (, which gives humanitarian aid to migrants on the US/Mexican border. Plus showing of the 2006 film "Crossing Arizona". 7 pm start.


The usual high quality historical posting over at Caroline's Miscellany, with the latest an account of the death of Mydiddee in Deptford in 1793 - a Tahitian who travelled to Britain with Captain Bligh, dying soon after arriving here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Traditional Interest in Bermondsey

I've been reading the diaries of Kenneth Williams, which he kept consistently from the 1940s until his death in 1988. I must admit I found the younger Williams a more likeable character - there is a lot of self-loathing later on as he struggled with being gay (though apparently celibate for large periods), and he became a Tory.

In his earlier years he was something of a socialist, and does a great put down of a racist acquaintance: 'Lunch. J. was there. Never was she more futile and boring. 'I just don't want to mix or be friends with coloured people...' O dear! She's certainly not depriving them of anything!' (8 March 1960). Unsurprizingly he also expressed strong views about homosexuality being illegal, as it was until 1967: 'Obviously the sex life of consenting adults of same or opposite sex has nothing to do with the State' (14 january 1956 - referring to the Montagu case, and the 1954 jailing of Peter Wildeblood for 'homosexual offences'). There's the odd bit of Polari, the London theatrical/gay slang that he used to famous effect in the radio programme Round the Horne.

There a few memorable put downs of South London places in the diaries, with Croydon being summarily dismissed: 'Went to Croydon with John but didn't like Croydon, so returned straightaway (11 October 1952). In 1953 he was playing in Peter Pan at Streatham Hill Theatre: 'It looks like a great cinema of a place. Oh! Horror. I choose bus - though one can by train from town - because I hate the smells on the Southern Railway, and the grimly smug suburban feeling on those dreary green stations. And all those circumspect men with milk and sandwiches stuffed into important-looking briefcases' (29 January 1953).

However there is one South London location which he was very favourable to . His diary entry of 7 July 1958 states: 'Went to Bermondsey for traditional interest and it was quite fabulous'. The reference is to Bermondsey municipal baths on Grange Road, where the Turkish Baths were a well known gay meeting place.

Source: The Kenneth Williams Diaries (1993).

How evil is the M25?

From Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's novel Good Omens (1990):

'Many phenomena - wars, plagues, sudden audits - have been advanced as evidence for the hidden hand of Satan in the affairs of Man, but whenever students of demonology get together the M25 orbital motorway is generally agreed to be among the top contendors for Exhibit A.Where they go wrong, of course, is assuming that the wretched road is evil simpy because of the incredible carnage and frustration it engenders every day. In fact, very few people on the face of the planet know that the very shape of the M25 forms the sigil odegra in the language of the Black Priesthood of Ancient Mu, and means 'Hail the Great Beast, Devourer of Worlds'. The thousands of motorists who daily fume their way around its serpentine lengths have the same effect as water on a prayer wheel, grinding out an endless fog of low-grade evil to pollute the metaphysical atmosphere for scores of miles around'.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


A couple of great tracks coming up featuring Deptford rapper Skeme. But first, a bit about him from his myspace site:

'Hailing from Deptford, South East London, Skeme had a hunger for the mic from an early age. With sound systems like Saxon and Spectra holding jams at the bottom of his road every Sunday getting on the mic was soon became second nature to the ghetto star. Whilst still at primary school the big players allowed him to ride the riddim, which was highly unusual for someone of his young years and MCing became a natural progression, which eventually lead into rap. Skeme hooked up with three fellow local rappers and became part of an outfit aptly named The Money Programme. The crew approached lifelong Saxon member D.Rowe for musical support and guidance and began using Saxons studio to record their hard-hitting material. As always Skeme shone out with his distinctive vocal style and made the wise decision to go solo...

Skeme is currently working with popular garage outfit K2 family, Lethal and Destruction, Passing Trade and award-winning Estelle. Estelle and Skemes track Just Because received major airplay on BBCs 1xtra. Other tunes playlisted on the airwaves of Radio 1, Kiss 100 and Choice are 'Bling Bling', 'Herbman Hustling', 'Turning' and 'UK Bubblers'...

Skeme runs a workshop in partnership with NDC providing the opportunities for the young people in his area to hone their skills as an MC and to improve their lyrical content in the form of a weekly Lyric Writing and MCing session. The workshop is for 14-25 year olds from a deprived area of South London. He also works in close proximity with and is a regular speaker for Love Music Hate Racism (organized by the Anti-Nazi League) using the positive energy of the music scene to fight back against the racism being pushed by Nazi organisations such as the British National Party, National Front and Combat 18'.

This Is London - MAS P ft Skeme & BIG P - 'I'm a bad boy talker from the Deptford blocks'. Coldharbour Lane is also name-checked

Fusion - The Greatest Show featuring verbal gymnastics from Shabba D, Det, MC D, and Skeme. From 2005, 'Give me the ragga, give me the hip hop, give me the jungle techno... and the Twins dem Ragga up on Kool FM'. Got me thinking about the debates still raging about Simon Reynolds' notion of the Hardcore Continuum- the musical line from hardcore through jungle to speed garage, 2 step and grime. This track is in some ways a celebration of that continuum, but it also made me think about how many people tend to ignore UK hip hop when they talk about this, and perhaps underplay the influence of reggae sound system culture (pertinent in the case of Skema with his youthful links with Saxon). Though to be fair to Reynolds himself he sees the birth of the 'Nuum itself as resulting from 'The four-way collision of house/reggae/techno/hip hop'.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Don't let it pass you by

As we've mentioned here before, there are a number of songs that refer to the 1981 New Cross Fire in which 13 young black people died at 439 New Cross Road. Another one to add to the list is UB40's Don't Let it Pass You By (1981). The lyrics include the lines 'You gonna wake up and wonder why, Gone in the blues, Go check on the news, Go listen to political views... New Cross was no gate-crash bomb...Rightful justice must be done!'

Montague Arms Next Tuesday

A night of local music at The Montague Arms (corner of Queens Road and Kender Street) next Tuesday 26th May with 'Girls in Bikinis' presenting The Sense of Amelia, Danny Whitfield, Warpigs, Adam Ashton, The Bertolis, Mr Bowditch plus open mic. £4/£3 concessions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cemetery Life

Brockley & Ladywell cemetery isn't the big star like it's Nunhead neighbour but it is a fine, peaceful place full of wildlife, interesting graves, including anarchist Fernando Tarrida del Marmol (apparently) and one famous absinthe poet.

Like Nunhead, it has it's own friends group, the Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery. They're holding a guided walk on Tuesday 26th May, meet at the Ladywell Road gate at 6.50pm.

Details are:

Nick Bertrand will talk about the flora, fauna and ecological management of the Cemeteries.
A donation from participants is requested, to go to the Creekside Trust, of a minimum of £3 for members, and £5 for non-members of FoBLC.

The walk is expected to last for 2 hours. As this is an “after hours” activity, the cemetery gate will be locked at 7pm, so latecomers can not be admitted.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Natalie Okri

Yes, we all know Britain's Got Talent is a cynical corporate cheesefest, but still 10 year old Deptford girl Natalie Okri done good:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Laila Morse

The trial of the alleged killers of French students Gabriel Ferez and Laurent Bonomo in New Cross last year has thrown up some harrowing details. Apologies for the triviality of noting that one of the accused is said to have climbed up to the window of a flat near to the Sterling Gardens murder scene occupied by the actress Maureen Bass. Bass, stage name Laila Morse, is best known for playing “Big” Mo Harris in Eastenders.

Maureen Bass is the sister of actor Gary Oldman, so presumably like him grew up in Monson Road, SE14. She also starred in Oldman's film Nil by Mouth. If I recall correctly, early in the film she utters the immortal line about smelling 'like a rat's crawled up my arse and died'. She is one of several members of the Eastenders cast to be spotted out and about locally.

Save old Hither Green Cinema

Schools, swimming pools, social clubs, ballrooms, glue factories and now...

From This is Local London. Full story there.

RESIDENTS are fighting to save a former cinema from demolition and want it turned into a community centre.

The former Park Cinema, in Hither Green Lane, Hither Green, was built in 1913 and was used as the Kids Korner nursery until two years ago.

Now the property is lying derelict and its owner is seeking planning permission to demolish the building and transform it into a four storey high block of flats with commercial space on the ground floor.

But residents are angry the building, which was used as a cinema until 1957, might be lost forever and are urging Lewisham Council to save the building.

So far more than 100 signatures have been collected for a petition and campaigners would like to see the cinema used as an arts and community centre.

Campaigner Max Calo, of Mount Pleasant, Hither Green, says there is a lack of social facilities in the area.

The 40-year-old said: “It’s a crucial site in Hither Green and a corner stone of the community. If we take that away we burn any hope of regenerating the area.

“It’s a purpose built performance place in a crucial area so why not try to rescue it?”

An application to convert the cinema into flats, preserving the building’s shell, was granted by the council in 2007 but the development was eventually abandoned.

However, acting on behalf of the building’s current owner Abdul Hamid, from Ilford, architect Jerome Lejeune, of Agenda 21 Architects, says he doesn’t think preserving the building’s architecture is appropriate in this case.

The news story give a link to the Hither Green Hall blog, which appears to be just starting out.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May Queens

The crowning of the May Queen in the London area is an ancient custom that goes back at least as far as.... er... the Victorians. Actually, there were May Kings and Queens before that but the practice seems to have died out until John Ruskin and others revived it as part of an attempt to recreate a romantic vision of Merrie England as a counter-point to the urban reality of slums and industrialism. In the process the figure of the May King was largely squeezed out and the age of the May Queen was lowered, typically being a young girl rather than a young woman.

I'm not aware of any 2009 May Queens in inner South East London (correct me if I'm wrong), you have to go further out to the suburbs to find them. In Wallington this year, 'outgoing May Queen Zoe Bird helped crown the new Queen Rhianna Deonarain and her prince Lisa Bird. Meanwhile in Sutton Katie Staniford was crowned May Queen and was star of a procession lead by a piper, which began at the Salvation Army offices, went up Throwley Way and back down the High Street'.

There was also a May Fair and May Queen procession in Petts Wood - where this year's May Queen was crowned in April. Elsewhere at Hayes in the Borough of Bromley 'A trio of May queens were handed their crowns during a ceremony signalling the start of spring. Bethany Porter, 10, became queen of Hayes Village, 12-year-old Rosie Bridger was crowned queen of Hayes and Chloe Martin, 11, became queen of Hayes Common at a ceremony on April 11. The queens will now take part in the London May Queen parade on Hayes Common and the Hayes Village Fair later this year'.

Over west, Richmond has been having a May Fair since 1970, complete with 'live music, maypole and morris dancers, a tight rope artist, comedian and... the yearly crowning of the May Queen'.

Spooky Underground

At South East London Folklore Society this Thursday (14th May), Alan Brooke & David Brandon are talking on 'The Haunted London Underground: What Lies Beneath?: The London Underground late at night has a haunting atmosphere with its labyrinth of subterranean tunnels, passages, disturbed burial grounds and whatever might lurk down there. Workers on the Underground have often reported strange incidents such as unexplained noises and sightings of people' that had reputedly died years earlier. This talk draws on material from The Haunted London Underground (published by The History Press, 2008) and explores the various stories and accounts of supernatural activity'.

SELFS meets at The Old King's Head, Kings Head Yard, 45-49, Borough High St, London, SE1 1NA. Talk starts at 8:00 pm, entrance is £2.50.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cafe Crema Films

Cool French films at Cafe Crema in New Cross on Thursday nights this month. Missed one of my favourite films last week - Cocteau's La Belle et la Bete - this week (14th May) it's Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, a musical starring Catherine Deneuve.

The following week (21st May) it's The Lemon Tree, a recent Israeli-made film. Then it's back to France the following week with Deneuve again in Belle de Jour.

Tickets (£6) are available at the Cafe anytime or turn up on the night if you're feeling reckless. Ticket includes polenta or homemade cake and a glass of wine. Arrive at 7.30 for food; film starts at 8.15.

Cafe Crema is at 306 New Cross Road London SE14 6AF.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Lewisham Bridge Protest

The tents have been up for over a week now and it's all looking very jaunty . The "Hands Off Lewisham Bridge" protest is holding a march and rally this Saturday, 9th May, from 12.00pm. "Bring banners & balloons" says the flyer that came through our door.
Assemble opposite Lewisham Bridge school, Elmira Street, and march . There's then a rally at the Clocktower, Lewisham High Street, at 12.30pm.
As the previous post and discussion highlighted, issue here isn't just the closure of Lewisham Bridge primary but the broader disorganisation of education in the Lewisham / New Cross area.

Don't think details are final yet, contact 020 8314 7487 or (doing the usual anti-spam thing with the '@') to confirm details.
Balloons need to be utilised much more in protest culture, me thinks.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Prohibition in New Cross

British drinkers were lucky to avoid the prohibition period experienced across the pond, but there were those here who campaigned for something similar, with one leading anti-drink campaigner being based in New Cross. In 1910, the American Prohibition Yearbook reported that 'The National Prohibition Party of England is an aggressive force in British agitation. The President is Bert G. Baker, the Secretary HW Goldsmith, his address being 96, Gellatly Road, New Cross, SE. The official organ of the party is The Prohibitionist, now in its eleventh volume. From its press comes a constant succession of timely and telling leaflets and printed argument advocating the complete abolition of the manufacture as well as the sale of liquor in the British Empire'.

Number 96 Gellatly is directly opposite the pub - now called Skehans - no doubt a source of irritation to HW Goldsmith!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

May Day Jack in the Green

May Day last Friday saw Deptford Fowlers Troop out on their annual Jack in the Green procession, this year taking in streets and pubs around the South Bank, Bankside and Borough area. This picture was taken in Union Street, SE1. As I walked down the road I noticed a few people standing outside Jerwood Space looking over at the procession to see what was going on - among them was Jude Law. Perhaps next year he can be persuaded to don green foliage and join in.

Here's some nice footage from the people at SE1:

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Dancing in the Anerley Gardens

I came across this card in Southwark Local Studies archive, advertising dancing at Anerley Gardens in Penge. Anerley Gardens were open from 1841 to 1868, next to Anerley station, and featured a hotel, tearooms, a maze and a bandstand. Oddly Anerley is spelt as Anerly - presumably the spelling had not yet been standardised.

A contemporary visitor described Anerley Gardens as 'prettily disposed, with every imaginable device to make a visitor prolong his stay. The old Croydon Canal runs at the end of the grounds, and is kept well stocked with fish; there are few resorts more calculated than this to afford innocent recreation and healthy enjoyment' (Adams's Pocket descriptive guide to the environs of the metropolis).

Sorry about the quality, it's a scan of a photocopy of the original. The full text says: 'Admit Two to Anerly Gardens, Archibald Hinton. Dancing every Evening in the Gorgeous Al Fresco Rotunda. Fireworks by Jones of Camberwell. As the Gardens are so crowded on Mondays and Saturdays this Order will not be Admitted on those days. This Order is available Every Evening (except Mondays and Saturdays) until June 30th , and not after. Return Crystal Palace Tickets are available at the Anerly Station. Trains from London Bridge to Anerly Quarter past every Hour'.

Archibald Hinton was the owner of the Anerley Gardens from 1860, having previously been the proprietor of the Highbury Barn in Islington. The Anerley Arms pub was built on part of the site.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Next Uke Box

Brockley Ukulele Group's appearance at the soon-to-close Shunt Lounge was a lot of fun. A Thursday night at London Bridge attracts a mixed international crowd with everyone from Hoxtonite students to bank workers ripping off their ties, all of them determined to kick start the weekend early. So it was quite a messy night (in the positive sense of the word) with lots of dancing and singing along. As the Ukebox format is for people to shout out the number of the song they want to hear from a list, it got quite rowdy with groups of people chanting their songnumber or writing it on signs to get noticed above the shouting.

Shunt was great as ever, it was the 23rd of April and they celebrated St George's Day in Catalan style. La Diada de Sant Jordi is lovers' day in Barcelona, with lovers exchanging gifts of roses and books, so at Shunt they had roses and books out on the tables. Only one more week to go at Shunt London Bridge, after which they are moving for a while to a warehouse in Bermondsey Street. I am sure they will do a good job there, but the labrynthine railway tunnels of London Bridge will be sadly missed.

BUG are in action again at the monthly Sunday Uke Box session at the Amersham Arms in New Cross on May 10th.