Friday, March 05, 2010

New Cross Sun, Snow & Slavery

Wish I'd had a better camera than my phone with me tonight to capture the glorious sunset in New Cross, looking west down Queens Road. When the Red Hot Chili Peppers sang 'the sun may rise in the East but at least it settles in a fine location', I'm not sure they had in mind a great golden ball sinking over Peckham.

While we're on the subject of scenic South East London, here's a few photos taken in Telegraph Hill Park during the January snowfall. The pond was iced up except for a perfect circular hole in the middle...

... leaving an abandoned Christmas tree stranded on the ice

Meanwhile Olaudah Equiano had acquired a white wig. This monument to the anti-slavery campaigner was made by children from the nearby Edmund Waller Primary School in 2008. It didn't find universal favour amongst those wishing to preserve Telegraph Hill in aspic as a museum of Victoriana, but it's a nice bit of folk art and quite right that he should be commemorated locally.

In his famous memoir 'The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African by Himself' he recalls being forced into slavery at Deptford on a ship bound for the West Indies:

'In pursuance of our orders we sailed from Portsmouth for the Thames, and arrived at Deptford the 10th of December, where we cast anchor just as it was high water. The ship was up about half an hour, when my master ordered the barge to be manned; and all in an instant, without having before given me the least reason to suspect any thing of the matter, he forced me into the barge; saying, I was going to leave him, but he would take care I should not. I was so struck with the unexpectedness of this proceeding, that for some time I did not make a reply, only I made an offer to go for my books and chest of clothes, but he swore I should not move out of his sight; and if I did he would cut my throat, at the same time taking his hanger. I began, however, to collect myself; and, plucking up courage, I told him I was free, and he could not by law serve me so. But this only enraged him the more; and he continued to swear, and said he would soon let me know whether he would or not, and at that instant sprung himself into the barge from the ship, to the astonishment and sorrow of all on board. The tide, rather unluckily for me, had just turned downward, so that we quickly fell down the river along with it, till we came among some outward-bound West Indiamen; for he was resolved to put me on board the first vessel he could get to receive me....

Thus, at the moment I expected all my toils to end, was I plunged, as I supposed, in a new slavery; in comparison of which all my service hitherto had been 'perfect freedom;' and whose horrors, always present to my mind, now rushed on it with tenfold aggravation. I wept very bitterly for some time: and began to think that I must have done something to displease the Lord, that he thus punished me so severely. This filled me with painful reflections on my past conduct; I recollected that on the morning of our arrival at Deptford I had rashly sworn that as soon as we reached London I would spend the day in rambling and sport'.

1 comment:

Clare Griffiths said...

The sun was gorgeous last night, unfortunately I was in my car at the decisive moment so I missed being able to snap it.