Saturday, July 30, 2011

One Tree Hill

If tomorrow (Sunday 31 July) is another sunny day you could do worse than spend an afternoon counting butterflies with the Friends of One Tree Hill - meet by St Augustine's Church gates on Honor Oak Park at 1 pm.
While you're up there check out the oak tree at the top - not the actual Oak that gave Honor Oak its name, but a tree planted in 1905 to mark the opening of the hill to the public.

Give thanks too to the people who fought to make it a public space - seeing off a plan to turn it into a private golf course with riotous demonstrations. The plaque under the tree mentions the Enclosure of Honor Oak Hill Protest Committee which led the campaign.

The concrete platform nearby was the site of a large naval gun put on the hill in 1916 to try and shoot down zeppelin airships.

Some great views over London from the top.

(if you don't live nearby, you can get to One Tree Hill from Honor Oak Park rail station, five minutes down the road; the P12 bus stops at the bottom of the hill on Brenchley Gardens, where you can also park if you're driving)

Utrophia opening party

The Utrophia opening party was lively last night at their new premises at 120 Deptford High Street (having just moved from Tanners Hill).

A big mixed art show with all kinds of different work, I was struck by this fox (couldn't see a label with the artist's name, please comment if you want a credit):

I had loads more photos but unfortunately had such a lively time there and later in the Royal Albert that I lost my camera. It's an old small black digital camera with little financial value, if you happen to have found it let me know!

Seemingly the party last night at the Old Police Station in New Cross was even livelier, with the police turning up to tell the band playing outside to turn off the music.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Common Growth

Common Growth is a new community food growing/garden project in Sandbourne Road, SE4. Tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 30th July) they are a having a free art session, with people invited to come along and paint the sunflowers and other blooms in the garden. All ages welcome, chalk and paint provided. It is open from 2 pm to 5 pm.

The garden is open regularly most Tuesdays from 5 to 8 pm on Sundays from 2 pm to 5 pm. Here's a nice film about an open day earlier this year:

Brockley 3: charges dropped

At the time of the recent royal wedding we reported on the arrest of three people in Wickham Road, Brockley for planning to stage some anti-monarchist street theatre. This week comes news that charges have been dropped against Chris Knight, Camilla Power and Patrick Macroidan. So justice has kind of been done, though we might well ask why they were subject to preventative detention at Lewisham police station when they were not engaged in any criminal enterprise other than planning a protest.

Lewisham police officer convicted

In other news from Lewisham police station, the Newsshopper reports that a Lewisham police officer has been convicted of assault after he 'pulled a man out of a car by his neck' and 'left his victim with red marks and bruising around their neck'. PC Ian Collis was off duty at the time of the attack in Crofton Road, Locksbottom. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 120 hours of unpaid work (hmm... compare and contrast with recent jailing of a student protestor for a year for throwing a stick).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sydenham Maths Dons

Priceless new film from two maths teachers at Sydenham School, explaining how to calculate the area of a circle with a bit of help from some of the girls and Sam Sparro's Black and Gold. Remember kids, 'Pi's the Bad Man'.

*nb Sydenham School is the Lewisham comprehensive school in Dartmouth Road and pretty good it is too, not to be confused with the fee paying Sydenham Girls.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The History and Future of Laurie Grove Baths

The recent Goldsmiths graduate art show provided a rare opportunity for the public to explore the grandeur of Laurie Grove Baths in New Cross.

As stated in a recent planning application (of which more later)'The swimming baths, slipper baths and laundries were designed in 1895-98 by Thomas Dinwiddy, a local architect and commissioned by the Vestry Board of St Paul’s Deptford (the precursor to the Borough of Deptford) under the Public Baths and Wash-Houses Act 1846 following the rapid population growth in the area since 1862, which is illustrated in the map extracts opposite. The building is of Jacobean style with separate entrances, originally for men and women leading to two main pools housed in roof lit double height spaces, each with changing cubicles around the perimeter and balconies above. The pools closed in 1991 before being taken over by Goldsmiths, University of London in 1994'.

Today the building is used for art studio space, but the original features of the baths are intact. Indeed the students are each allocated one of the old changing cubicles to store their gear in.

The building has rich history. The baths could be boarded up for dances and concerts. In 1936, the South East London Dance Band Championship was held there with Black American jazz musician Benny Carter present as a judge - though he declined requests to play 'on account of being much out of practice and not having his instruments with him' (Melody Maker, 11 April 1936). US rock’n’roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis played there in 1964.

In the early 1950s, at at time when black people were banned from many pubs and clubs in the area, the pioneering Anglo-Caribbean Association (which fought against the colour bar) held some of its events there.

In 1932, the baths hosted unemployed demonstrators. 130 marchers from Kent taking part in a national hunger march arrived in Deptford 'accompanied by police. Two thousand unemployed met them at Woolwich, and marched with band playing to Deptford Town Hall'. The marchers ‘all wearing red rosettes in their caps’ were put up at the Borough Hall, Laurie Grove, being given dinner, a mattress for the night and free use of the public baths. The next morning they 'joined the main body of unemployed at the Broadway and, nearly 2,000 strong, set off for Hyde Park, headed by a drum and fife band. They marched along Queen’s Road and Peckham Road, accompanied by a large force of foot police, several mounted police, and preceded by men with collection boxes’ (South London Press, 28 October 1932).

The building even has its own ghost legend: 'Peter Powers grew up in the baths, his father was the last official manager, and he lived in a small flat in the building between 1969-87... Peter told us that during the eighteen years that his father managed the baths numerous members of the public - even several police officers - witnessed strange phenomena. Almost always at night, these included lights coming on suddenly, doors opening or slamming for no reason. The said 'poltergeist' was affectionately known as 'Charlie' because he was given to whistling the tune 'Charleston.' Three members of staff left because of Charlie's antics, two without giving notice. We've not seen anything of Charlie but as Peter has told us his antics were usually confined to night time and Sundays' (Goldsmiths history of Laurie Grove Baths).

Old picture of pre-Goldsmiths swimming pool:

The baths are recalled in 'Sundays we wore white', Eileen Elias' reminiscences about a New Cross childhood before and during the First World War. As a pupil at Aske's Girls' School she went swimming there regularly, but didn't have very fond memories: 'The local Baths at Laurie Grove were within walking distance of our school. They were huge ugly buildings, with forbidding marble portals, through which we went, in an orderly queue, sniffing the peculiar smell of chlorine. I was wary of the Baths. I didn't like the muffled shouting and screaming that you heard on the way to the changing cubicles; I didn't like the claustrophobic feeling of undressing on slippery wet duckboards in a little wooden cubicle with curtains over a stable-door; most of all I didn't like the first moment of coming out onto the tiled verge and catching a glimpse of that expanse of water below, grey-green and faintly rippling , and cold, cold, cold like the North Sea'. It's interesting that in 1978 she saw the buildings as ugly, as many people regarded Victorian buildings in the post-WW2 period.

The water for the baths was pumped from its own well, and held in a storage tank at the top of the building. Last weeks this was opened to the public to raise awareness of the plan by Goldsmiths to turn it into a permanent art gallery space. Planning permission has already been secured (see the planning document, which has lots of interesting background information about the building), but the funds haven't been.

The water tower today (above) and as it might look if it is converted to a gallery (below):

The baths were not just a place to swim, but a place to wash at a time when many people didn't have running hot water in their homes. Up in the water tower, there is a roller mechanism which is believed to have been part of the system to wash and dry the large numbers of towels used in the baths.

Inside the water tank:

I haven't really done justice here to the work in the exhibition, suffice it to say that much of it was excellent. I was particularly struck by Smoke, an installation by Eun Hye Shim

Monday, July 25, 2011

Utrophia opens in Deptford High Street

We reported a little while ago that Utrophia were having to move out of their art/music/performance space in Tanners Hill.

They now have new premises at 120 Deptford High Street, with 'The grand unveiling and opening show' taking place next Friday July 29th (7:00pm - 10:00pm). They promise 'A big group art show, some performances, good times, good times, damn good times. Free entry'.

This is the former Job Centre building that was recently squatted as Deptford Social Centre Plus.
Facebook event details here

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Colorama film night

I went to Colorama a few weeks ago, a DIY cinema at 52-56 Lancaster Street SE1 (off Borough Road). It is a squat but they seem to have come to some sort of understanding with the landlord, and they have installed an impressively makeshift bank of cinema seating.

They've got lots of films coming up including tomorrow night (Sunday 24th July) a showing of radical Italian director Elio Petri's 'social schizophrenia' trilogy:

6pm Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto / Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (110mins)

8pm Talk by Alberto Toscano and discussion

9pm La classe operaia va in paradiso / The Working Class Goes to Heaven (109mins)

11pm La proprietà non è più un furto / Property is no Longer Theft (120mins)

Admission Free, further information about the films at Full Unemployment Cinema.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Cross Festival

The New Cross Festival, in Fordham Park, takes places in Fordham Park on Friday 29 July and Saturday 30 July. On the Friday evening, and all day Saturday, there will be a free programme of dance workshops and performances, live music, sporting activities in the form of the New Cross Olympics, arts and crafts, food stalls and more. Here's the schedule:

Friday 29 July

04:00pm Carnival Arts, Samba, Soca Workshops
07:00pm Community Musicians

Saturday 30 July

10:00am Carnival Arts, Samba Percussion, Soca Workshop
12:30pm Carnival Procession
02:00pm Circus Skills, Ivorian Dance, Arts & Crafts
03:00pm Fireromantics (local band)
03:30pm Griot Chinyere – African Storytelling
04:00pm Ivorian Dance Performance & Magic Book Theatre
04:15pm Open Mic Spot, Vietnamese Fan Dance
04:30pm New Cross Olympics
05:15pm A3 Dance Troupe, Pocket the Clown
05:25pm Vietnaese Lion Dance, Millwall Football Session
05:40pm Woodpecker Youth Club Performance
05:45pm Raie the Band (local soul/blues band)
06:45pm Tug O War & Competition Winners’ Presentation

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tinie Tempah on Old Kent Road

Nice to see Tinie Tempah talking up the Old Kent Road in the Guardian at the weekend:

'Life is good when you're Tinie Tempah. The Plumstead-raised artist – otherwise known as Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu Jr – has won a tonne of praise for uniting the disparate music scenes of grime, underground rave and radio-friendly pop without selling any of them out. He's had two No 1 singles, a No 1 album and two Brit awards. One of the fringe benefits of fame is that you get to discover new experiences in eating. Born in London to Nigerian parents, Tinie has always appreciated his food.

Nigerian food is a fundamental part of his life. It's what he grew up with and it builds up the palate because it's packed with flavour. "Nigerian food is lots of flavour, lots of tomato purée, rice, yam, beans… it's a whole load of stuff, really good." His favourite would be pounded yam with egusi soup, a savoury soup with meat and spinach which exists in countless variants across West Africa.

He has a couple of favourite Nigerian restaurants, both on the Old Kent Road in south-east London: the classy 805 and the more home-style Presidential Suya Grill. They're both family-run businesses, friendly and personal. Presidential, in particular, is one of those places where you feel like you're in Nigeria, he says. "There is a real nice atmosphere. When I come back from travelling the world, I do like to go there and chill. It's humbling."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday Morning at Laban (review)

I spent many happy hours at Laban in Deptford when my daughter was attending the very popular Saturday children's classes there, but until last week I'd never actually been to a performance by adult dancers.

I greatly enjoyed Sunday Morning, a dance piece choreographed by Hagit Yakira. It was a Tuesday night, but in keeping with the Sunday Morning theme free coffee and croissants were provided in the foyer.

The piece explores childhood memories and family relationships, the frozen moment of the posed family picture interspersed with harmony, tension, and sometimes violence.

Here's a short film of the four dancers (Takeshi Matsumoto, Orley Quick, Cornelius Joubert and Hagit Yakira) rehearsing Sunday Morning.

What this film doesn't do justice to is the Laban itself, its main theatre a great performance space with a fantastic sound system. I'd never heard Bob Dylan's Don't Think Twice it's Alright (which features in Sunday Morning) sound so good as it did through their speakers. The piece also featured some beautiful live guitar courtesy of Tom James Scott

Next to Deptford Creek some of the finest dancers in the world are studying and performing in one of the best buildings in London. Try and get along to one of their events if you can and don't be intimidated by the supposed difficulty of some contemporary dance. As Suzanne Moore wrote yesterday of an event elsewhere 'With dance I start off making narratives and then I relax and just see sculpture and bodies and relationships and sex and joy and fear. Nothing is more exciting' (Guardian, 16 July 2011). What's not to like?

For information on forthcoming events check the Trinity Laban website. Next up from the 26 to 29 July is the end of year showcase from the post-graduate students.

(for some earlier history, see this previous post on John Cage and Merce Cunningham at Laban)

Update: here's some more news on the graduate shows at Laban: 'Trinity Laban’s graduate shows will feature MA dancers and choreographers performing daring and risk-taking new work at Laban Theatre from 26-29 July. Some of the finest dance pioneers will perform across four evenings, including choreography and performances by multitalented dance artists Parisian Emma Zangs and Argentinean Mariana Marquez... Each night will present an individual showcase of inspirational, thought-provoking and cutting-edge performance confirming Trinity Laban’s presence at the forefront of contemporary dance. Although performances at Laban Theatre start at 19.30h, events, installations and showings will arise around the dance buildings from 18.30h releasing dance performance from the often restrictive nature of traditional venues. Tickets are £6 (£3) and can be booked by calling 020 8463 0100 or by visiting'. Some of the performances are for over-18s only.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Restless - World War Two Deptford

Restless (2006) by William Boyd is a great read, a tale of wartime espionage and its reverberations many years later. Much of the action takes place in the USA and Oxford, but at one point in 1942 the main character has cause to visit Deptford for reasons I won't divulge for fear of spoiling the plot:

'The next morning on the wireless she heard the news of the raids on Rotherhithe and Deptford - whole streets flattened, an entire housing estate evacuated, blocks of flats burned out and destroyed... She read of a charitable-trust estate in Deptford - three blocks almost totally destroyed, a direct hit on one, Carlisle House - 87 people feared dead... Eva caught a bus to Deptford the next day and went in search of Carlisle House. She found the usual fuming moonscape of dereliction: hills of brick rubble, teetering cliffs of walls and exposed rooms, gas mains still burning through the tumbled masonry with a pale wobbly light'

I believe that Carlisle House is fictional, though of course there were many real life scenes like this in Deptford during the war. At the BBC WW2 People's War archive, Daisy Purkiss recalls life in Deptford at that time:

'If we were caught in the street during a raid... we ran for the nearest shelter. We always ran for cover if we were outside. In Deptford High Street there was a bomb shelter under a big shop- Burton’s, a clothing shop. Everyone out in the High Street when the sirens went off ran for that, and stayed down there until the “all clear” sounded. Most of the raids were at night, and in the morning on the way to work we could see what the bombs had done . The did a lot of damage - knocked down buildings, shops and everything, but Burton’s was never knocked down. There were some American troops in the area and they used to help with clearing up the bomb damage. By the time the war ended most streets around Deptford and Lewisham had buildings missing where the bombs had landed'.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Changelings - the sound of 1976

A nice slice of South London sound from 1976 - Elevator by The Changelings. I don't know anything about this band, but this was posted on youtube by 'Harry' who used to run a venue in Greenwich in the 1970's called "Harry's Bar" at the Bricklayers Arms. He says:

'The Changelings were a young South London based band who played a few gigs in Greenwich and Deptford in the 1970s including one at the Albany Empire in Creek Road where they appeared as Spread (after the Giraffe who did the splits and then died, don't ask me why, these were strange days indeed). I once promoted them as a support act to John Cooper Clark at a strike benefit gig at Goldsmiths College in New Cross London. The soundtrack is a rare demo penned by Neil Bonel. The photography is copyright to me and was carried out at the Queen's House, Greenwich'

Anyone know anymore about this band?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Woolwich Early Closing Riot 1859

Do you enjoy having a weekend? Or leaving work some time between 5 and 6? Indeed, do you enjoy football and other sports which only really took off once people had enough free time to go and watch them en masse? Then give thanks to your ancestors who fought for shorter working hours. One aspect of this was the Early Closing Movement of the 1850s, where shops were persuaded to limit their opening hours. Some more enlightened employers went along with this on the basis that giving workers longer breaks might make them more productive (see this account of the movement in the USA); others needed a bit more persuasion, as this example from Woolwich demonstrates. Sadly the gains of the 19th century are gradually being undermined in the age of full Sunday opening and 24 hour supermarkets - where are the ghosts of Alfred Rickards and Frederick Cable to come to the aid of shop workers today?

The Early Closing Riot At Woolwich, To the Editor of the Draper and Clothier.

Sir,—Allow me to call your attention to a very unusual occurrence, which took place at Woolwich on Friday night last, and which was thus noticed in some of the London papers on the following Monday:—

"Two young men of respectable appearance, named Alfred Rickards and Frederick Cable, the former an assistant to Mr. Brangwin, draper, of Powis-street, and the latter in the service of Mr. Vant, draper, High-street, were placed at the bar, before Mr. Traill, charged with being concerned with others not in custody in riotous proceedings, and committing damage to the amount of £10 to the premises of Mr. Stone, draper, Alma House, Powis-street, Woolwich. It appears that, with few exceptions, the drapers of Woolwich recently agreed to close their shops at eight o'clock, and handbills were issued to that effect. The complainant, Mr. Stone, declined to close his premises until nine o'clock, and consequently he had been much annoyed every night by the assembly of numerous drapers' assistants and other persons, who threatened violent measures, unless the early closing movement were carried out by Mr. Stone.

It was proved by the evidence of the prosecutor, Mr. R. Barleymow, and other witnesses, that between the hours of eight and nine o'clock on the previous night a mob of more than 200 persons assembled in front of Mr. Stone's shop, and kept up an incessant yelling. The prisoners were actively engaged in the mob, and the prisoner Cable was seen to extinguish a lamp over the prosecutor's window, and also to raise his hand as though in the act of throwing, and immediately after a plate glass front window, value £10, was smashed. By the timely arrival of the police further damage was prevented, and the prisoners were taken into custody. In reply to the magistrate, it was said that others of the mob were known, and could be apprehended. Mr. Traill commented in severe terms upon the disgraceful conduct of the prisoners, and stated that recent events would lead to the conclusion that employers were expected to submit tacitly to the will of the employed. He should remand the prisoners, in order that the other offenders might be apprehended, and for the attendance of the other witnesses; and he considered the offence was of that nature, that he should send the case to the sessions for trial. The prisoners were then admitted to bail."

Although, as a resident, I may regret exceedingly that such an occurrence has happened, I must call your attention to one point in Mr. Traill's observations, which, I think, is open to some question. He says that recent events would lead to the conclusion that employers were expected to submit tacitly to the will of the employed. Now, I should submit that, however true the observations of the worthy magistrate may be as to other trades, —such as the building, the brick making, &c.,—they can have no possible reference to the drapery trade, especially to the proceedings in this case. Here the drapers had agreed to close their shops at a particular hour, and, with few exceptions, there was no dissentient. The assistants had nothing to do with the movement; it was the idea of the employers themselves, and I much regret that, so laudable as it was, it did not meet with universal approbation. So far from the employers being expected to submit tacitly to the will of the employed, in this case it would appear that they did all in their power — and I am sorry that they went a little too far — to assist their masters. Seeing what was the wish of the majority of the trade in the matter, I was much surprised that Mr. Stone should resist their proposal; but as many able letters have appeared in your Magazine respecting the early closing movement, I shall be glad if you will insert this communication, showing, as it does, that masters and assistants are, as a fact, using all means in their power to bring about a more healthy state of affairs. Your obedient Servant,

A Woolwich Draper. Woolwich, Nov. 15,1869.

P.S.—After my letter was sent (viz., on the 21st Nov.), Rickards and Cable, together with two young men, named Roger Langstaff, secretary to the Woolwich Early Closing Association, and John Hellard, a printer, appeared before Mr. Traill, to answer summonses charging them with aiding and abetting the riot. After the evidence I have already reported to you had been repeated, and some further matter had been brought forward on behalf of the accused, Mr. Traill said it was clear that damage had been done by a riotous assembly, with whom the prisoners were acting. He discharged Dangstaff and Hellard on bail, and decided to send Cable and Rickards to trial; but subsequently the prisoners offered an apology, and to pay for all damage, and were discharged upon bail for their future good conduct'.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Schooltime Chronicle

Smiley Culture has been dead now for three months and the circumstances of his death remain unexplained. The Campaign for Justice for Smiley Culture are doing a sterling job keeping up the pressure for answers, as well as raising the wider issue of deaths in custody.

Smiley Culture's Schooltime Chronicle (1986) was a 12" single released on Polydor records. In my view it's not one his best tracks musically, but it is all about going to school in South London - specifically Santley Primary School in Clapham and Tulse Hill Comprehensive School (as did his friendAsher Senator and, previously, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Ken Livingstone).

Lyrics in full:

Big request to Miss Crane, Headmistress off Primary School. And massive respect to Mr Evans Principal of Secondary. Wherever they may be./

Me junior school was Santley, me secondary Tulse Hill. If I could turn back the hands of time I would be going to them still. Yet to miss couple day dem deh time it was a thrill./

So don't be like me a fool, Youth man go to school, youth man go to school, don't be like me a fool. And tek in dem ya style ca you know culture rule. This ah me school time chronicle. Me school time chronicle Lord /

As a youth in Primary School me used to play marble, conkers, football and even scrabble. The youth that used to lose would always grumble. But tru dem know how me stay dem hav to humble. When play time done teacher blow the whistle. Me come from behind prickle just a kiss up dimple. And me reach a classroom feeling comfortable. So me never used to give the teachers too much trouble. Still the worse time inna me school chronicle. Might sound funny now but to me was terrible. Me did a run down the stairs holding on not to stumble. Should of guessed somebody spit on the staircase handle. Before me coulda say elyak hear the whole school./ El el el el Smiley's got the fever. We're gonna tell the teacher. Injections all over. Can't say we never told ya/

Me school time chronicle. Me school time chronicle Lord /

Ner na ner na ner na Smiley's got the fever. Injections all over. Can't say we never told ya/

Me school time chronicle. . . /

Now to start secondary say it was pure trouble. Cause every school I wanted to go to was full. Stockwell Manor Kennington all had too much pupil. So for Tulse Hill Comprehensive I had to settle. I heard the big boys there were very brutal. But when me reach on dem handle me respectful. With me blazer, shirt and tie me did well official. Every day was the same nice and simple. But the worst thing throughout me school chronicle. El.... was the dinner it was terrible. And every lunchtime this is how the cooks would grumbled/

"I tell you Smiley in our days in school, All we got was a bowl of 'Gruel'. And when we were finished or even before. We'd be going up asking for more". 'MORE' I'm cool! But don't be like me a fool. Youth man go a school. Youth man go a school. Don't be like me a fool. Cause I don't want you to come turn out like me. A hard working raggamuffin M.C. Get intelligent and now run the country. Listen to your teacher go to school weekly. And take little time and think wisely. About your school time chronicle.

Me go a P.E. everything PHYSICAL. Touch a Science Lab me ramp with pure CHEMICAL. We did leve me R.E. because me mind BIBLICAL. Inna Maths everything was MATHEMATICAL. But down ah Computer Studies me did well DIGITAL. Inna English everything was ALPHABETICAL. It might sound like history but it's not HISTORICAL. That me only left school with one O'level

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wonders and Tales of SE17

Coming up at East Street Library (168 Old Kent Rd) next Thursday 14th July, Chris Roberts will be giving a talk on 'Wonders and Tales of SE17: urban legends and ghost stories of Walworth, Elephant and Camberwell'. The event runs from 6 pm to 7:30 pm and admission is free.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Power, corruption and lies

The scandal at News International took a local turn yesterday with the arrest at Lewisham Police Station of Andy Coulson, ex-News of the World editor, ex-Director of Communications for the Government and personal friend of the Prime Minister.

Actually the local angle goes a lot deeper, and perhaps a lot murkier. Coulson lives in Forest Hill near to the Horniman museum. Just over a mile away is the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham Road, SE26. In March 1987 Daniel Morgan, aged 37, was found murdered in the Golden Lion car park with an axe in his head. Morgan (pictured below with his children) was a private investigator who lived in Warminster Road, Norwood. He ran a company called Southern Investigations with an office in Thornton Heath High Street, along with his business partner Jonathan Rees. I suspect we're going to be hearing a lot about the latter over the next few weeks.

There have been several police investigations into the murder, the most recent one of which collapsed in pre-trial hearings in March 2011. The police have however officially acknowledged, at a Metropolitan Police Authority meeting in March, that 'police corruption was a debilitating factor' in the first investigation into Daniel’s murder. That investigation was run from Catford police station. According to the Guardian, one of the Catford officers assigned to the case was Detective Sergeant Sid Fillery. He failed 'to tell his bosses he moonlighted for Southern Investigations', and indeed after leaving the force he later took Morgan's place in the company.

Daniel's family have argued this from the start, and continue to 'invite members of the Metropolitan Police Authority to consider the implications of the evidence available to them from the earliest stages, i.e. that:

• Daniel was murdered because he was about to expose corrupt links between police officers and organised criminals in South East London.

• Daniel’s place in his private investigators company had been taken over by a member of the original murder inquiry, former Detective Sergeant Sidney Fillery'.

You can read more about this at Sydenham Town News. Exactly who killed Morgan has never been established. Various business associates, former and serving police officers have been arrested over the years, but none have been convicted. It is not being suggested that anybody named in this article was party to his murder.

Rees and the News of the World

So what's the connection between this and Coulson? There is of course no direct link between him and the terrible crime. But if the Guardian is to be believed he is isn't too far removed at all from that murky world where informers, criminals, corrupt police officers, private investigators and indeed journalists intersect and exchange cash and information. A world which may have done for Daniel Morgan, or at least prevented his killers being brought to justice.

The Guardian has established that the 'News of the World paid £150,000 a year to man [Jonathan Rees] who obtained information from corrupt police and illegal sources'. They suggest that his unorthodox career with the News of the World was put on hold when he was arrested in 1999 and later sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. According to the Guardian, Rees had been 'hired by a man who was getting divorced and wanted to stop his wife getting custody of their children. Rees came up with a plan. Aided and abetted by yet another corrupt police officer, DC Austin Warnes, he arranged to plant cocaine in the car of the unsuspecting woman, so that she could be charged, convicted and smeared as an unreliable parent'. Warnes was a Bexley Health police constable. Interestingly Plumstead 'celebrity gangster' Dave Courtney was also charged in relation to this plot but was acquitted, as discussed by none other than Frankie Fraser. For Dave Courtney's version of events, see here.

Meanwhile ex-Catford Detective Sergeant Fillery was arrested in 2003 and charged with charged with 15 counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possessing indecent images. He was later convicted.

Critically in 2005, when Coulson was at the News of the World, Rees - now out of prison - began to be paid by the paper once again to do some of its dirty work. What's more, the Guardian this week disclosed 'that it had passed to a senior Cameron aide information about the News of the World's links to the detective, Jonathan Rees'.

The News of the World and David Cook

The Guardian also reported this week that then News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks was 'summoned to a meeting at Scotland Yard where she was told that one of her most senior journalists, Alex Marunchak, had apparently agreed to use photographers and vans leased to the paper to run surveillance on behalf of Jonathan Rees and Sid Fillery, two private investigators who were suspected of murdering another investigator, Daniel Morgan, when the latter was a partner of Rees's in the firm Southern Investigations. The Yard saw this as a possible attempt to pervert the course of justice. Brooks was also told of evidence that Marunchak had a corrupt relationship with Rees, who had been earning up to £150,000 a year selling confidential data to the News of the World. Police told her that a former employee of Rees had given them a statement alleging that some of these payments were diverted to Marunchak, who had been able to pay off his credit card and pay his child's private school'.

A Guardian investigation suggests that the focus of this surveillance was Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, who was subject to the 'News of the World physically following him and his young children, "blagging" his personal details from police databases, attempting to access his voicemail and that of his wife, and possibly sending a "Trojan horse" email in an attempt to steal information from his computer. The targeting of Cook began following his appearance on BBC Crimewatch on 26 June 2002, when he appealed for information to solve the murder of Morgan, who had been found dead in south London 15 years earlier. Rees and Fillery were among the suspects. The following day, Cook was warned by the Yard that they had picked up intelligence that Fillery had been in touch with Marunchak and that Marunchak agreed to "sort Cook out"' (Guardian, 6 July 2011). Fillery and Rees were later acquitted of all charges relating to Morgan's murder. Cook was actually heading the latest investigation into this murder, while apparently being targeted by the News of the World.

If it is officially established that Brooks and Coulson knew about Rees working for the NOTW, and that Cameron had been warned about this, then all are in deep trouble. At the very least it would mean that Cameron was only a couple of degrees of separation from a man convicted of being involved in a plot to frame a mother as a drug dealer.

Is the story that Brooks has hinted is still to come out related to this sordid affair? No doubt we will find out soon enough.

[Brooks should know all about Rees, Fillery and the Morgan murder - after all she was editor of The Sun when it carried an article by Mike Sullivan in 2006 which discussed much of the above and stated that 'Daniel, 37, is thought to have been silenced to stop him exposing a crime network involving corrupt police officers. The investigation into his murder was allegedly nobbled by bent cops and crucial evidence destroyed'] Updated 10 July 2011.

Update 19 July 2011 - as predicted in the original post, the Rees/Marunchak/Coulson triangle is gradually becoming central to the investigation, and by implication drawing in Cameron who seemingly hired Coulson despite being warned about this. With senior figures resigning at New International and the Metropolitan Police, Daniel Morgan's murder is becoming Banquo's ghost in this Shakespearean spectacle. Though to be more precise it is not Morgan's murder which is directly linked to this, so much as the News of the World's possible interference in its investigation through targeting the head of the police investigation, David Cook. In developments in the last week: 1. David Cook has announced he intends to sue News of the World; 2. Ed Miliband has raised the issue of Cameron being warned about Coulson's links with Jonathan Rees'; 3. Daniel Morgan's brother has described the News of the World actions as 'disturbing and sinister'; 4. The Independent has reported that police want to question Marunchak and Greg Miskiw, his former colleage at the News of the World and partner in a vodka import business; 5. The Guardian has queried the role of Dick Fedorcio, director of public affairs for the Metropolitan police, in the Marunchak/Cook affair; 6. Marunchak was apparently working for the Metropolitan police as an interpreter alongside his day job as a journalist (further details of all these below).

From the
Daily Telegraph, 13 July 2011: 'A former Scotland Yard detective plans to sue the publishers of the News of the World for allegedly hacking his phone while he was investigating a high-profile axe murder. David Cook is considering legal action against News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of News International, for making him a target as he investigated the death of Daniel Morgan, who was found with an axe embedded in his head in a car park in south London in 1987'

The Guardian, 13 July 2011: 'In the Commons, the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, asked: "The information showed that while he was editing the News of the World Andy Coulson had hired Jonathan Rees, a man jailed for seven years for a criminal conspiracy and who made payments to police on behalf of the News of the World. Can you tell us what happened to that significant information that was given to your chief of staff?"

From the
Newsshopper, 14 July 2011: 'The brother of murdered private eye Daniel Morgan says the News of the World’s (NotW) alleged interference in the police investigation is “deeply disturbing”. NotW staff are accused of harassing detective David Cook in 2002, while he was investigating the murder of Mr Morgan, as a favour to one of the suspects, Jonathan Rees. Private eye Mr Rees, aged 57, worked as an investigator for NotW from 1993 to 2000, and was reportedly re-hired by Andy Coulson, the newspaper’s former editor, in 2007. Speaking to News Shopper, Mr Morgan’s brother Alistair said: “These claims the News of the World intervened in the investigation are deeply disturbing and sinister.”... Alistair Morgan, aged 62, from Islington, and his mother Isobel Hulsmann, aged 83, are calling for the government to launch a judicial enquiry into the investigation of Mr Morgan’s death'.

From the
Independent, 17 July 2011: 'Detectives investigating phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World are keen to question two former senior journalists at the newspaper. Scotland Yard officers have been told the two, former executive editor Alex Marunchak and deputy news editor Greg Miskiw, were both key figures linked to the use of private investigators to access confidential information... Mr Miskiw is known to be a close friend of Mr Marunchak, a former crime reporter and senior executive at the NOTW. The two reportedly had mutual business arrangements including the importation of vodka from Ukraine. Mr Marunchak, who left the newspaper in 2006, claims to have been appointed as a special adviser to Ukraine's UK embassy in 1999. Mr Marunchak is said to be a friend of a private investigator called Jonathan Rees who was employed by the NOTW to help provide reporters with illegally obtained confidential information'.

The Guardian 19 July 2011 - 'The search for the truth about the ties that bind Scotland Yard to News International is now likely to focus on the role of one man: Dick Fedorcio, director of public affairs for the Metropolitan police... MPs will want to know whether Fedorcio's close working link with Brooks influenced the Yard's decision to take no action when they discovered that a News of the World executive, Alex Marunchak, had apparently used the paper's resources to mount surveillance on a senior officer, DCS Dave Cook, acting on behalf of two men who were suspects in a murder investigation being led by Cook. Fedorcio was present at a meeting when DCS Cook and his commander, Andre Baker, confronted Brooks with details of the surveillance, which could have been regarded as an attempt to pervert the course of justice'.

Daily Telegraph, 19 July 2011: 'It also emerged last night that Alex Marunchak, a former executive editor at the paper, was employed by the Metropolitan Police for 20 years as a translator. Between 1980 and 2000 Mr Marunchak, a second generation Ukrainian, combined his day as job as a journalist with working as a part-time interpreter for Scotland Yard when they arrested suspects from Russia and Ukraine'.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Sydenham Arts Festival - Film Night

Lots of music, theatre, film and much more still to come at Sydenham Arts Festival over the next ten days or so.

On Sunday 10th July, 8 pm, there's a Short Cuts Film Night at The Woodman Pub (110 Kirkdale, SE26 4BG). It includes an animation by Clive Shaw soundtracked by Jude Cowan (still above).

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Ladywell Shelter

This 'Shelter for 700' sign is on the road bridge on Ladywell Road, opposite Ladywell station. It's mentioned in a few places online where it is described as a World War 2 bomb shelter sign. But is it? These were usually painted on a white background with a big 'S' for Shelter (see New Cross example here).

I wondered whether it might be more recent, e.g. a homeless shelter from Crisis at Christmas or similar. Does anybody know for sure? And where was the shelter? Presumably somewhere towards Lewisham High Street.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Kit and Cutter

A great night at the Old Nun's Head last Saturday, with another evening of folk from Kit and Cutter.

Headliner was Thomas McCarthy, with his Irish Traveller songs. A fine voice, and some great songs (check out his album, Round Top Wagon).

A Kit and Cutter banner - 'Go down you blood red roses, go down' (it's an old sea shanty):

From New York City, the Dust Busters old time string band certainly kicked up the dust in Nunhead, prompting a sudden outbreak of footstompin' dancing.

They are planning more nights in the autumn, do try and get along, the quality of the music is always outstanding (check their facebook page for details).

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Strike in Lewisham & Greenwich

Deptford Visions has some photographs of the picket line outside Lewisham College (Lewisham Way) during the national strike on June 30th. Good to see strikers with their 'fair pensions for all' placards being joined by a contingent of students in 'Flying Pickets' t-shirts.

In Lewisham 50 schools were closed by the strike (out of 89) and many others were only partially open; in Greenwich 47 schools closed, 24 partially opened and just 15 fully opened (see report in Newsshopper).

According to Martin Powell-Davies,'There were ten different picket lines outside Lewisham schools and several PCS and UCU pickets as well. £155 for our hardship fund was collected from the picket line outside Crossways Sixth Form! We got our message out early to London via a live interview for LBC radio from the picket line at St.Matthews Academy. From there, NUT members made their way to Lewisham Town Hall and then up to Charing Cross before marching over to an already packed Lincoln's Inn Fields' (photo below by Martin shows part of the Lewisham National Union of Teachers contingent on the march).

(let us know if you have any other South London strike stories)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Bubbles in Dulwich Wood

Nice film by Sam Craven, mainly shot in Dulwich Wood. Sam has entered it to the Stones Throw Video competition. Music is Flowers by Dudley Perkins (from California rather than SE London).

Dudley Perkins - Flowers from Sam Craven on Vimeo.