Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lewisham Stop the War Meeting

Lewisham Stop the War have a public meeting tonight (Tuesday 29 June) at the Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13 6BT. The topic is 'Afghanistan: cut the war, not jobs and services'. Speakers include Joan Humphreys from Military Families Against the War. It starts at 7:30 pm.

Monday, June 28, 2010


If you're interested in animation you might want to pop along to the London College of Communications at the Elephant and Castle this week. Located in a bright red container, Southwark Bear (DIY film veteran Clive Shaw) and other students will be hosting free film screenings and workshops, not to mention mint tea and biscuits. It's open from 11 to 5 until Thursday 1st July 2010.

Lewisham Socialist Blogs

Chris Flood and Ian Page were the two Socialist Party councillors for Telegraph Hill ward who lost their seats in the election last month. Along with most of the Green Party councillors in Lewisham they were swept away by people turning out to vote Labour in an attempt to keep out the Tories in the general election, most of whom seemed to have also voted Labour locally (a similar turnout in Southwark saw Labour take the Council from the Lib Dem/Tory coalition).

Anyway they've now moved from the Council chamber to the Blogosphere with the new Socialist Alternative blog - early posts include an interesting one about housing policy, focusing on Lewisham's creation of 'Lewisham Homes' as an 'arms length' body to manage council housing.

Meanwhile Nick Long's Green Socialist blog has a national focus, but he is based in Lewisham and seems to have been involved in the Lewisham People not Profit election campaign.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Albany Gigs, 1972-1980

Another one of Colin Bodium's (Bo) Albany posters, this one a list of acts that played at its old Creek Road location between 1972 and 1980 (click to enlarge photo). Some legendary names from punk/post punk to jazz, and lots of people I've never heard of. Here's the full list:

Abraca; Alien Kulture (Asian punk band), Amba, Alternative TV (great punk band fronted by Deptford's Mark Perry), Androids of Mu (punk/hippy/free festival crossover), Aubana, Au Pairs (post-punk feminist politics), Auto da Fe, Basement Five (black post-punk band from Forest Hill), Big Chief, Debbie Bishop, Bluebirds, The Blues Band, Bongo Danny and the Enchanters, The Box, The Bread and Butter Band, Syd Bishop and the Comedowns, Chelsea (first generation punk band), Chords (SE London mod revivalists), Convent Nuns, Cool Boys, Cool Thrust, John Cooper Clarke (punk poet), Copasetics, The Cortinas (Bristol punk band including 2010 Turner Prize nominee Dexter Dalwood), Elvis Costello and the Attractions (you've heard of him, right?).

Da Garti, Dance Band, Dr Sax, Dire Straits (biggest band ever to emerge from Deptford), Delta Five (female fronted post punk), Drowning not Waving, Early Days, Electric Storm, Executives, Extro 2, Fabulous Poodles (Deptford band that had US hit with Mirror Star), Fashion, Patrick Fitzgerald ('Safety pin stuck in my heart'), Flackettes, Flatbackers, Flying Pickets (acapella band linked to Albany, had 1980s hits including version of Only You), Carol Grimes (feminist singer), Sweet FA, Gusha Band, The Gymslips (all girl pop punk, I saw them once at the Hope and Anchor in Upper St), Hardware, Headline, Hi Tones, 100s and 1000s, Idiot Dancers, Jabba, Jona Lewie, Juice on the Loose.

Kakoullie, Jo-Anne Kelly, Kleenex (Swiss post-punk girl band), Kraze, Leopards, Lonesome no More, The Lucy's, The Lurkers (West London wannabe Ramones), Magnets, Johnny Mars, Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolds, Matumbi (reggae band with Dennis Bovell), Merger, Menace, Merton Parkas (South West London mod revivalists), Misty (UK reggae, saw them once in Luton), Monitors, Mutiny, Nine Below Zero, 90 Inclusive, Naiad, The O.T.S, The Otters, Paraphanalia, The Piranhas (Brighton band, had hit with Tom Hark), Psychedelic Furs ('Pretty in Pink, Presto Clubs, Pressure Shocks, Punters, Psalms.

Raaw, Raincoats (great post punk women's band, later feted by Kurt Cobain), Realists (Deptford new wave, released stuff on Stiff Records), Red Lights, Red Tape, Reflectors, Replicas, Reggae Regular, Rejects, Rubber Johnny, Rudi and the Rialtos, Ruts (great West London punk band), Salt, Jimmy Scott (US jazz singer), Searchers (1960s Merseybeat), Seven Year Itch, Shoot Straight at Right Angles, Silly Boy Lemon, Soul Band, Spare Parts, Spitz Energy (so the poster says, presumably Spizzennergi, famous for 'Where's Captain Kirk?'), Spread, Squeeze (need no introduction - second biggest band from Deptford/Greenwich after Dire Straits), Stagefright, Stan Tracey (Camberwell-born jazz legend), Steel'n'skin, Stone Cold Sober, Strange Fruit, Target, Tea Pot, This Heat (still infuential post punk band from Deptford), Top Hat, UK Subs (Charlie Harper's long standing punk band), Victims of Pleasure, Mike Westbrook Band (influential British jazz composer), Young Bucks, Young Marble Giants (ethereal post-punk, The XX remind me of them).

Anyone remember any of these gigs at the Albany? Or does anyone want to add to the list?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Once upon a time it was a pub

The sad state of the former Deptford Arms, which closed last month after at least 150 years of drinking, socialising, music making, meetings and much more. Will history be made in the bookies that is set to replace it? I doubt it.
While I have previously voiced concern about the potential gentrification of Deptford High Street, to the extent that I would hate to see it become an extension of Greenwich, the equally threatening opposite pole is its social decay whereby public spaces such as pubs are turned over to the crudest ways of extracting money from the poor - bookies, pawn shops etc.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Amnesty Blackheath Bookfair

This year's Amnesty International (Blackheath and Greenwich group) book sale takes place on Saturday June 26th from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

If your reaction to this is 'so what, sounds like a jumble sale with a few books', you've obviously never been. It is a bibliophile's dreamland, a whole church packed with thousands of books. I can only assume there must be a whole load of sympathetic writers and publishing industry types in the area, because you can pick up all kind of proof copies as well as second hand bargains.

Bottom line, if you love books you would be mad to miss this.

The sale takes place at the Church of the Ascen­sion, Dartmouth Row, SE10 8BF (on the right as you go up the hill from Greenwich to Blackheath).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lewsham Cop jailed for Corruption

From the Press Association, 18 June 2010:

A former south London police officer has been jailed for two years for her role in a lucrative car-ringing and drug-smuggling crime syndicate. Former Lewisham constable Hayley Cloud, 27, was paid to access confidential police records as part of the scam. Southwark Crown Court, in London, heard Cloud was "indirectly" involved in the theft of "about a dozen" high value cars, including a Range Rover Sport, a Porsche Cayman and a BMW.

She also organised the theft of a damaged £60,000 Lamborghini Gallardo from a police compound in Charlton, south London. Cloud colluded with her prison officer partner, 34-year-old Ian Cooper, to pass information to a convicted criminal, the court heard.

Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC, sentencing on Thursday, told Cloud: "This was a grave and far-reaching breach of trust on your part, highly damaging to the reputation of the police force."

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Cross resident celebrates 100th birthday in Sainsburys

Feelgood story in today's South London Press about Ivy Osborne, of Arbuthnot Road, SE14, celebrating her 100th birthday in New Cross Sainsburys, where she has been shopping since childhood (not in that store obviously, it only opened about ten years ago). I've seen her and her sister walking around, no idea they were of such venerable age. Local historian me would love to interview them.

Presumably they don't spend their time in New Cross Sainsbury's like me, bemoaning its apparent downgrading and subsequent reduction in vegetarian diversity.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Telegraph Hill Assembly - the Great Skate Debate goes on

A packed hall at Haberdasher's Askes school for Lewisham Council's Telegraph Hill Local Assembly tonight, perhaps up to 200 people present. The Skate Park Action Group (SPAG), Save the Upper Park Campaign and even the Telegraph Hill Dog Strollers facebook group had all mobilised around the question of whether to site a skateboarding facility in the upper Telegraph Hill park (see previous post on this).

The start of the meeting was nominally a discussion of local priorities, but the feedback from the tables was dominated by early skirmishes between pro and anti-skate park campaigners. This included a truly shocking statement from one person to the effect that she would like to see one park for kids and one for adults. The loud cheer this got from some of the crowd showed that behind some of the arguments about the park lurk some nasty ideas about young people being seen and not heard, or preferably not seen at all. The upper park has, fortunately, never just been for adults and young people have as much right to hang out, play and indeed skateboard there as anybody else, whether or not the skatepark goes ahead there.

The main spokesperson for the park campaign was much more reasonable, rejecting the anti-child argument and suggesting that he was not opposed to a skate park but only its proposed location. Indeed he promised his support for a facility in the lower park.

The SPAG presentation was given by a group of young skaters who made a strong case for more facilities for young people in the area and for the joys of skating. They too were clear that they would be happy with it being in the lower park, where there are already facilities for younger children.

It seems the lower park had previously been ruled out because somebody had suggested it wouldn't be possible - but since SPAG, the Save the Upper Park Campaign, councilllors and council officers (including Martin Hyde - Green Space Regeneration Manager) all seemed to agree that it was possible, this can hopefully move ahead quickly. There was even a suggestion that the skatepark could be placed where the basketball/football cage is now, and the basketball/football relocated to the flat area next to the playroom where people sometimes play football now, but which is usually too muddy for much of the year. So possible win win all round, even if doesn't please everybody.

I walked through the upper park afterwards, where bats were flying around in the twilight oblivious to the heated debates down the hill. Hopefully all this controversy will at least make people appreciate what a great place it is.

There's a meeting of the Friends of Telegraph Hill Park on Monday night, 21 June, at 8 pm in the Telegraph Hill Centre, where no doubt the Great Skate Debate will continue.

(OK if you don't live in New Cross/Brockley, this debate about the lower and upper park must seem very strange. Basically Telegraph Hill Park is on two sites at the top of a hill, split by a road. The lower park has a children's playground and closes at sunset; the smaller upper park is never closed and is known to many as the 'dog park' as dogs are banned from the lower park, and many people walk their dogs there as well as picnicing, drinking and watching the sunsets over London).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Green Green Grass of Telegraph Hill

The Telegraph Hill area of New Cross is known for its big gardens, parks and general green-fingered enthusiasm. Interesting then that some locals have taken their horticultural skills indoors. According to a report at This is London today, 'A property in Telegraph Hill, New Cross, was recently raided by Lewisham Police and found to contain 20 fully grown cannabis plants. Officers seized the plants and spoke with the landlord who had no idea the tenants had caused £2,500 worth of damage by using the flat as a drug factory'.

Gulliver of Redriff

A giant Gulliver puppet was the star guest at Redriff Primary School last month (20th May). The occasion was the opening of a new Children's Centre building at the community school on Rotherhithe peninsula, which also featured a procession of children with an Old Father Thames theme and kids doing Irish and maypole dancing.

But why Gulliver? Well in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels we are told that Gulliver lived in Redriff (as Rotherhithe was then written). In fact the book's opening lines are: 'The author of these Travels, Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, is my ancient and intimate friend; there is likewise some relation between us on the mother's side. About three years ago, Mr. Gulliver growing weary of the concourse of curious people coming to him at his house in Redriff...'

Monday, June 14, 2010

Deptford Rock against Racism, 1978

Transpontine has previously featured Colin 'Bo' Bodium's 1970s/80s posters for the Deptford Albany, currently on display there in the cafe. Here's another one that wasn't originally included in the exhibition, from 1978 advertising nights 'presented by the Combination in conjunction with Rock Against Racism' (Combination was a radical theatre project based there).

Biggest name on here is clearly Dire Straits, shortly before they moved on from the Crossfields Estate to global stardom. Support Rubber Johnny were, I believe, the Combination house band. A week later (May 25th) Misty and The Ruts played there. The following Thursday's Rock Against Racism benefit featured reggae from Psalms, Patrick Fitzgerald (best known for 'I've got a safety pin stuck in my heart) and punk band Menace. Believe they are still going and released an album 'Live in Bermondsey'.

Note also there was a Brockley Boogie Band!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Walter Rodney remembered in Peckham

Red roses placed in Peckham today in remembrance of Walter Rodney (1942-80), who was killed thirty years ago on 13 June 1980. Rodney was a key figure in Caribbean radical politics in the 1960s and 70s. He wrote a number of influential books including 'How Europe under-developed Africa' and 'A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905'. In 1968 there were riots in Jamaica after Rodney was banned from the island by the Government because of his political activities. After a spell in Tanzania, he returned to his native Guyana where he helped form the Working People's Alliance. He faced intense repression, and was seemingly entrapped by a state agent into handling the explosive device which killed him.

In 2005, palm trees were planted in Peckham square (between the library and the swimming pool) in Rodney's honour. The plaque describes him as 'local resident, historian and global freedom fighter'.

According to Walter Rodney's intellectual and political thought by Rupert Lewis, Walter Rodney came to London in 1963 to study African history at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He also joined a marxist study group around CLR James (who later wrote Walter Rodney and the Question of Power), and spoke regularly in Hyde Park. In 1966 he left to teach in Tanzania. So presumably it was in the 1963 to 1966 period that Rodney lived in South London, though I haven't been able to find any more details. Does anyone know any more?

Linton Kwesi Johnson commemorated him in the track Reggae fi Radni:

The Great Skate Debate

Two rival campaigns are now up and running regarding the question of whether to have a Skate park facility in Telegraph Hill Park in New Cross. On the one hand there's the Skate Park Action Group (mentioned at Transpontine previously) who have been campaigning for a small concrete freefrom skate park in the area, and who believe that locating it in the Upper Park (also known as the dog park) may be the most feasible option. They have secured a promise of £47k funding, but with the condition that it must be spent by March 2011.

Now leaflets have been put out calling on people to 'Save the Upper Park of Telegraph Hill' arguing that locating the skate park there 'would permanently damage this wonderful green space'. Both sides are mobilising supporters to come to the Telegraph Hill Ward Local Assembly Meeting on Thursday 17th June, where the matter will be discussed (it takes place at the Haberdashers' Aske's Jerningham Road site at 7 pm).

For a flavour of the debate see the comments thread on this at Brockley Central (115 comments so far) and the Telegraph Hill Forum (130 comments and counting). Some of the anti-comment is really obnoxious - it is plain that some people would pretty much prefer young people to keep out of the park altogether and also to get off the streets while they're at it. But the discussions about where best to site a skate park are worth considering.

I am generally in favour of the skate park, and would support it going in the top park if nowhere else can be found. But I would also prefer it if it could be achieved without losing any green space, such as by concreting over any grass. There is quite a large tarmac area in the lower park, the main argument against it seems to be that the lower park is closed at night - so why not open it at night? A better option still would be use road space, such as by pedestrianising all or part of Kitto Road outside the church. The main objection to this seems to be that it would take time to achieve the relevant permissions, and therefore the funding would be lost.

Personally I think it's good that kids are playing in the streets, including skateboarding, so I don't entirely endorse the suggestion that a skate park is a good idea because it keeps children off the streets. Clearly though there are traffic and other dangers and it would be good to consider how to make the streets safer for children to play.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Save Goldsmiths Nursery

A campaign has been launched to save the nursery at Goldsmiths College, threatened with closure at the end of September 2010. The nursery currently provides 23 childcare places for students and staff.

The College states that it cannot afford to continue to subsidise the nursery at a cost of £70k per annum. The case against closure is set out on this petition:

'On 8th June 2010, parents and nursery staff were told by a member of Goldsmiths College’s Senior Management Team that in 3 months’ time, they plan to completely close the college’s nursery. Staff and Students have asked for an enquiry into the handling of the whole matter. Meetings informing staff and students were only announced with 24 hours notice, resulting in inevitably poor attendance at meetings crucial to the livelihood of many staff and students.

The atmosphere in the Nursery is special; educational, creative, friendly and safe. It is very rare to find the kind of care, support and attention to children that you find at Goldsmiths Nursery. It is a central part of College life, and should be respected and nurtured as such. The kind of care offered enables staff to return to work after maternity leave and students to return to their studies as parents, in the full knowledge that their children will be well looked after, nearby and safe.

If the College is committed to Equal Opportunities and encouraging the best professional women and men in the workplace, then the issue of childcare provision is highly pertinent. The lack of adequate on-site childcare is a classic barrier to women in terms of career development, but, conversely, the provision of high-quality childcare is a valuable incentive. Taking away the Nursery, especially when there is no comparable local provision (and Ofsted ranks the Goldsmiths Nursery as ‘good’) is a shot in the foot...'

A campaign meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday June 15 2010, 2 pm at Stephen Lawrence room, SU building, Dixon Road, New Cross.

Two demonstrations have also been planned, both to take place outside the old Deptford Town Hall building in New Cross Road. The first will be at 2 pm on on Friday 18th June, and the second on Monday 21st June at 9:30 am to coincide with the meeting of the Goldsmiths Senior Management Team.

Further information at the Save Goldsmiths Nursery facebook group

Unfortunately similar closures are happening round the country as cash-strapped colleges cut the soft target of childcare, and the national rhetoric of inclusive education is replaced by a retreat to the old style elitist model of limited access to university.

Meanwhile, Lewisham Council is planning to close eight childminding centres which provide childcare for parents using adult education centres as the Brockley Rise Centre. 26 jobs will go as a result.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hacienda on the Hill

Brockley Max festival finished last weekend with Hacienda on the Hill. Hilly Fields was nice and busy, just like a real festival... I know that sounds patronising, what I mean is that it didn't feel like just a handful of passers-by watching their mate's band. Bumped into a few people (including Bob from Brockley and Scott Wood), sat in the sunshine, heard some good music, what more could you want?

I particularly enjoyed Maracatudo Mafua, samba from Brazil's Northeast State of Brazil - Pernambuco via Brockley.

Seemingly I missed the later restaging of the Wicker Man in the stone circle by Decodance - anybody who was there care to describe it?
There also's a whole page of photos in this weekend's South London Press

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Amsterdam

Following on from last week's British Sea Power song, here's another namechecking Rotherhithe. New Amsterdam by Elvis Costello is obviously about New York, but reflects on its connection with other port cities:

Somehow I found myself down at the dockside
Thinking of the old days of Liverpool and Rotherhithe
Transparent people who live on the other side
Living a life that is almost like suicide

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Beatrice Offor of Sydenham

Tomorrow night (Thursday 10 June), Geraldine Beskin is giving a talk at South East London Folklore Society on 'The Women of the Golden Dawn'. It takes place at The Old King's Head, Kings Head Yard, 45-49 Borough High Street , London SE1 1NA . 8.00pm start, £2.50 / £1.50 concessions.

I don't think I can make it tomorrow, but I wonder whether Geraldine will cast some light on any of the South London connections to the story of this famous order of Victorian occultists.

Transpontine has previously covered the connection between Annie Horniman and the Golden Dawn, as a result of which the grounds of what is now the Horniman museum played host to mystically-minded luminaries including WB Yeats, Golden Dawn founder Samuel MacGregor Mathers, his wife Moina Bergson and AE Waite.

A looser connection is with the painter Beatrice Offor, born on the 21 March 1863 at Peak Hill Villa, Sydenham.

She attended the Slade School of Art and befriended Mona Bergson and Annie Horniman . They shared a studio together in Fitzrovia.

To what extent Offor herself shared her friends' occult leanings I do not know, but certainly some of her paintings suggest some kind of interest, even if only in the associated imagery. The bottom painting is entitled the 'Crystal Glazer' (don't know the name of the top painting.

Offor lived in Tottenham in later life, and died in 1920.

Her family seemed to have been quite interesting all round. She was one of ten children born to George and Emma Offor, though not all lived for long. Her brother William died as a baby before she was even born. A George Offor of Peak Hill Villa (presumably Beatrice's father, or possibly a brother) was listed in 1887 as a member of the Shelley Society.

Peak Hill, for those who don't know the area, is just around the corner from Jews Walk, where Eleanor Marx lived and died.

Goldsmiths Trust School Takeover Abandoned

We reported here last year proposals for Goldsmiths College to lead a Trust to take over managing two secondary schools and a Sixth Form College in New Cross. It appears though that this is no longer on the cards, at least according to this press release from campaigners against it:


Staff at Addey and Stanhope School have been officially informed that Goldsmiths University has withdrawn its support for the proposed “Goldsmiths Trust” of Addey and Stanhope, Deptford Green and Crossways schools.

This news - confirming rumours that have been circulating for the last week - represents a significant victory for the joint campaign of trade unions, students and parents that have opposed this damaging Trust.

Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham NUT Secretary, said: “This is tremendous news for everyone who supports comprehensive education. The Trust was always a half-baked idea. Its supporters were never able to show how a Trust would really benefit education. It would have taken staff out of Council employment and would have been a significant step towards the break-up of Local Authority schooling in the borough. We hope that we can now work together to strengthen genuine partnership between schools, not a divisive Trust”.

Des Freedman, UCU Secretary at Goldsmiths, said: “We are delighted that the proposers of the Trust have finally seen sense. We hope that they will continue to demonstrate their support for comprehensive education and not be swayed by the false promises from the Conservatives for more Academies”.

The “No Trust in the Goldsmiths Trust” campaign – backed by the NUT, UCU, ATL, NASUWT, GMB, and UNISON unions in Lewisham, along with Goldsmiths Students Union, Defend Education In Lewisham and ‘Hands Off Lewisham Bridge’ – organised a number of meetings and lobbies as well as street leafleting to highlight their opposition to the proposed Trust.

Campaigners are now moving on to oppose another school takeover. Lewisham Council have opened a consultation proposing that Merlin Primary School in Downham is taken over by Haberdashers' Aske's Knights Academy - just like Monson was taken over by Haberdashers Aske's Hatcham Academy. For further information, contact: Martin Powell-Davies, 0794 6445488.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Rockabilly against Racism at Cafe Crema

Coming up on Saturday 19th June, it's the CafĂ© Crema music festival at 306 New Cross Road: 'Rockabilly against Racism, Folk against Fascism, Bluegrass not Blackshirts (and some other sounds too) mini-festival, in the garden and indoors, 2pm 'til midnight. Union Canal String Band, The Henry Brothers, Reverend Jim Casy, The Lucky Strikes, All The Queen's Ravens, The A Train, Tina Pinder, The Flaming Czars, DJ Johnny Clash, DJ Fancy Girrl, DJ Nigel. Profits will go to Hope not Hate. Tickets £6/£5 advance (from the cafe)'.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Bridget Riley

There's a new Bridget Riley exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. One of the great South London artists, she was born in Norwood in 1931, studied at Goldsmiths in New Cross (1949-52) and later taught at Croydon College of Art. Apparently she also had a revelation at Peckham Rye that she should start her art practice with drawing:

'One evening in the autumn of 1949 I was walking up and down Peckham Rye station. It was dark and wet and I was trying to decide what to do. I was coming to the end of my first term at Goldsmiths School of Art and was feeling upset and frustrated. I had arrived anxious to make a start, to find a firm basis for the work that I hoped lay ahead. It seemed that I was unable to get to grips with some of the real problems of painting, which I felt sure existed but which I could not even begin to identify.

A copy I had made of Van Eyck's Man in a Red Turban had been included in my portfolio submitted for entry to Goldsmiths, and this had probably helped me to get a place. Competition was stiff. People were still returning home after the Second World War and had priority in further education. These were men and women in their thirties who, delayed only by the slow pace of demobilisation, came directly from active service. They were overjoyed to be back in civvy street and to have the chance of making a life as artists. Coming straight from school, I counted myself lucky to be there. But this cultural climate did not diminish the challenge of what to do at Goldsmiths. On the contrary, it intensified it, as it became clear that this problem was felt by many of us in different degrees.

Excerpt published in Evening Standard, 10 May 2010, from 'Bridget Riley: From Life (£15), a catalogue published by the National Portrait Gallery to accompany the exhibition.

Bridget Riley, Blaze 4, 1963

Friday, June 04, 2010

Brockley Max- forward to Hilly Fields!

Good night last night in the Ladywell Tavern with Brockley Central hosting a night of music as part of the ongoing Brockley Max festival. Evening started with a few songs from Deptford via Goa balladeer Rupert, then a set of June Brides/Wedding Present indie pop via Eltham from Tracey's Love. Even as I write I am listening to their demo CD, specifically a song called The Girl with Amsterdam Eyes about nearly being run over by a cute cyclist.

With a sound like that they just have to playing at How Does it Feel to be Loved? soon, and indeed they are, on 24th June at Jamm in Brixton. Incidentally at How Does it Feel's club night at the Canterbury Arms in Brixton this evening they are having a Meat is Murder special, playing the entire said Smiths album to mark the 25th anniversay of its release.

Next up at the Ladywell Taven last night was jazz singer Andrea Mann, playing a solo set with her gorgeously rich voice accompanied by piano. She started with a Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and ended with the pub whooping for an encore.

Unfortuntely we had to leave before The Madding Crowd played, but not before saying hello to Darryl from 853, Brockley Nick, Moira Max, Ceri James, Mark Sampson and Moonbow John.

The latter is involved in plans for the Brockley Max finale this Saturday June 5th - Hacienda on Hilly Fields no less, with loads of music, games, theatre and children's actvities from noon to late. Not sure whether the vibe will be Hacienda (Manchester night club), Hacienda (Spanish estate) or Hacienda (situationist image of an abundant utopia - 'the Hacienda must be built'). Hopefully a bit of all three!

My first time in the Ladywell Tavern since it was refurbished, seems like a good pub. My only complaint is that I couldn't see the picture of the Ladywell that used to hang in the pub (that is the actual local well after which the area is named). A few years ago I took a group of people on an epic history/mythology/pyschogeography ramble from Camberwell to Ladywell which finished up in the pub, and coming across the picture was a fitting end to the adventure. Maybe it's still in there somewhere.

Ghosts in Deptford by Cicely Fox Smith (1921)

Cicely Fox Smith (1882-1954) was a poet and writer on ships and sailings. Her poem Ghosts in Deptford was published in her book 'Roving: Sea Songs and Ballads' (published in 1921). Not sure if this was actually written as a song, but I guess it could certainly be set to music - though I think I would probably drop the verse about 'chinks' and 'dagoes'!

If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as very well they may,
A man might find the night there more stirring than the day,
Might meet a Russian Tsar there, or see in Spain's despite
Queen Bess ride down to Deptford to dub Sir Francis knight.

And loitering here and yonder, and jostling to and fro,
In every street and alley the sailor-folk would go,
All colours, creeds, and nations, in fashion old and new,
If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as like enough they do.

And there'd be some with pigtails, and some with buckled shoes,
And smocks and caps like pirates that sailors once did use,
And high sea-boots and oilskins and tarry dungaree,
And shoddy suits men sold them when they came fresh from sea.

And there'd be stout old skippers and mates of mighty hand,
And Chinks and swarthy Dagoes, and Yankees lean and tanned,
And many a hairy shellback burned black from Southern skies,
And brassbound young apprentice with boyhood's eager eyes,

And by the river reaches all silver to the moon
You'd hear the shipwrights' hammers beat out a phantom tune,
The caulkers' ghostly mallets rub-dub their faint tattoo —
If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as very like they do.

If ghosts should walk in Deptford, and ships return once more
To every well-known mooring and old familiar shore,
A sight it were to see there, of all fine sights there be,
The shadowy ships of Deptford come crowding in from sea.

Cog, carrack, buss and dromond — pink, pinnace, snake and snow —
Queer rigs of antique fashion that vanished long ago,
With tall and towering fo'c'sles and curving carven prows,
And gilded great poop lanterns, and scrolled and swelling bows.

The Baltic barque that foundered in last month’s North Sea gales,
And last year's lost Cape Horner on her sails,
Black tramp and stately liner should lie there side by side
Ay, all should berth together upon that silent tide.

In dock and pond and basin so close the keels should lie
Their hulls should hide the water, their masts make dark the sky,
And through their tangled rigging the netted stars should gleam
Like gold and silver fishes from some celestial stream.

And all their quivering royals and all their singing spars
Should send a ghostly music a-shivering to the stars —
A sound like Norway forests when wintry winds are high,
Or old dead seamen's shanties from great old days gone by,

—Till eastward over Limehouse, on river, dock and slum,
All shot with pearl and crimson the London dawn should come,
And fast at flash of sunrise, and swift at break of day,
The shadowy ships of Deptford should melt like mist away.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Margins Music at the Albany

Good night promised at the Albany in Deptford on Saturday (5th June), with Dusk & Blackdown presenting their recent album Margins Music live for the first time. The album could loosely be described as an aural portrait of contemporary London life, encompassing dubstep, grime and South Asian musical flavours. To make it work live, they will be working with a band including British Asian musicians and singers and grime MCs (including Durrty Goodz and a special guest). All this plus some specially commissioned film.

Details here.

They have been in rehearsals at the Albany for the last week or so, as Martin 'Blackdown' Clark writes at his blog: 'I didn't know Deptford before... but it's an amazing place in the epic sunshine, as it has been this week. Bowling past the African shops selling snails as big as a grapefruit or through the bustling second hand market full of clapped-out guitars, piles of shoes and busted stereos on a Wednesday, makes me think I couldn’t have found myself in a more suitable place to try and build a Margins Music Live project'.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Black Skin, White Marx?

Two mighty radical intelligences are to be encountered in New Cross this Friday, with Goldsmiths Centre for Cultural Studies presenting Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (University Professor and Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University, USA - theorist of the subaltern and the post-colonial subject) and Professor Fred Moten (Professor of English, Duke University, USA - poet, writer on jazz and thoughtist). The two will be speaking on 'Black Skin, White Marx?' in dialogue with Karl Marx (sadly unable to be present) on 'issues of race, critique and the possibilities for a radical politics to come'.

It takes place on 4th June 2010, 1pm - 4pm at the Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre
Goldsmiths in New Cross. All welcome - you don't need to be a Goldsmiths student - and admission is free.

This will be heavy, your head will probably be spinning afterwards but if you come away without some things to think about I would be very surprized.

Rihanna at the Rivoli

As discussed here before the Rivoli Ballroom in Crofton Park has seen many famous faces on its stage and dancefloor - White Stripes, Florence and the Machine, Tina Turner, S Club 7, Kylie Minogue, even Brockley Ukelele Group! Now, thanks to Justin Lee Collins' Good Times show on Channel 5 being filmed there, a few more can be added to the roll call. Last week's had Meat Loaf playing darts, the show going out on June 7th has Mary J Blige singing. And pictured here, sitting in the side bar, is none other than Rihanna.