Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dreaming of the London Particular

I'm on holiday this week, beautiful Scotland. Waking up hungry though my mind (or my stomach) is wandering back to New Cross Road. Why can't The London Particular open a branch in the Hebrides? I seriously think the food there is some of the best I have ever tasted. 

(these photos were taken a few months ago, the tables in the summer tend to be busy  attracting the incredulous stares of motorists stuck in the A2 traffic. Yes people sitting outside like they were in Italy or Greece on the New Cross Road)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Subterranean Greenwich: Spooked Out?

[make sure you read to the end of this post for the updates which explain what really happened]

Subterranean Greenwich is (or maybe was) a fascinating site documenting the history and geography of tunnels, caverns and other hidden underground places in the Greenwich and Kent area. It has been posting regularly up until last week. Now it has vanished.

It you go to its address today (http://subterraneangreeenwich.blogspot.co.uk/) you get a 'blog not found' message (no I didn't mis-spell it - for some reason the url has three e's in Greenwich):

Shortly before the blog went down they posted the following 'On 24 July 2012 the Subterranean Greenwich blog was targeted during a five and a half hour assault by the UK Government's FTAC (Fixated Threat Assessment Centre). The attack started at about 9.50am and ended at 3.20pm - with continuous viewing of dozens of blog posts in this time window...

The FTAC is a special unit staffed by both police officers and forensic psychiatrists/psychologists; its main aim is to pre-empt and prevent attacks on high-profile public figures (including the royal family) by obsessed individuals.

It's sad that the government prefers to sneak in via the back door rather than contacting us directly to ask us about our research - which we're happy to discuss. Why we should be regarded as such a threat remains a complete mystery - although it's likely to be associated with the 2012 Olympics, specifically the events in Greenwich Park'.

Previously Subterranean Greenwich had issued the following: 'Statement on 2012 Olympics: Here at SubG we don't really have any opinion one way or the other on the Olympics; it will soon be over. For some time our hit counter has shown intense research on Greenwich Park coming from the secure government Internet backbone; we have unwittingly become involved in Olympic security. Maybe that's inevitable given the fact that we know more about what's beneath the Park than anyone else alive. What would be nice is a donation (official or unofficial) from the Olympics people to help us with our future research - the blog entries on the Park and environs are the fruit of thousands of hours of unpaid work'.

Does anybody know why the blog has now gone? Did the authors just take it down because they were feeling the pressure? Or did the authorities lean on Google/blogger? What was the nature of the cyber 'attack'? A site being viewed many times wouldn't constitute an attack as such, unless it was designed to somehow limit viewing by other people, but maybe there's more to it. 

Targeting a site like SubG in any way would seem a massive over-reaction, if that is what happened. In the unlikely event that somebody was planning an attack on the Olympics events in Greenwich Park they would presumably have done their homework by now. And no doubt the police will have considered such possibilities. Recent posts have covered subjects such as the death of miners in Plumstead in 1817 and dances in the Blackheath cavern in the mid-19th century - hardly a threat to anybody. Let's hope the blog returns soon.

Update 30 July: Google to blame? I wrote this story because somebody sent me an email telling me that the site was down following above posts. My first reaction was to check on google. Searching under 'subterranean greenwich' the result that came up was http://subterraneangreeenwich.blogspot.com/  (3 e's in Greenwich) - this is still the case (see below accessed just now). Following the link still takes you through to the 'blog removed' message. But if you go to http://subterraneangreenwich.blogspot.com/ the blog is there, albeit with no mention now of unwanted attention from security services. Not sure how google can make a spelling error, but was the site there all along? It's still curious, but not suggestive of a conspiracy. Anyway glad to see the site's there.

Update: 31 July 2012, pm - OK have heard back from Dominic at Subterranean Greenwich and here's the real story - some funny business, but more cock-up than conspiracy:

'Originally I made a very silly mistake in spelling "Greenwich" in the blog title - I used 3 "e"s. I only noticed a few months ago, and built a complete mirror blog with the correct spelling title, and updated both addresses continuously. Google grabbed the wrongly-spelled one and indexed it. A few days ago I pulled the plug on the wrongly-spelled one, which is why the blog appears to be down. It's actually fine - just go here:


I'm currently building a brand new home for the blog with a proper domain - it's already up and running, but I'm still in the process of transferring all the old blog posts onto it. You're welcome to go and have a peek. All the posts should be on there within a few days - I'm working several hours a day on it right now.


It's true that FTAC were sniffing around my ankles - very unpleasant. But they didn't pull the (mis-spelled) blog, I did. Why were they interested? Two possibilities - either because they thought Per and I know too much about tunnels in Greenwich Park and are a danger to this week's multiple royal visitors to the equestrian events there, or because they thought my "campaigning spirit" was spilling over into insanity. They're wrong on both counts'.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Reggae Book Talk

Coming up at Kirkdale Bookshop in Sydenham, a free author event on Friday 3 August 2012 at 7 pm:

'We’re delighted that author Noel Hawks will be talking about and signing copies of his latest book Reggae Going International – The Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee Story. He will also play selected tracks from the accompanying CD.

Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee is one of the most prolific reggae producers of the last 50 years, and was Jamaican Producer of the Year from 1969 to 1972. One of the first Jamaican producers to break into the UK charts, he holds the record for the longest consecutive period at Number One in the Jamaican charts with ‘Stick By Me’ from John Holt in 1971.

“So I don’t see the colour barrier in reggae music or any other music. It knows no colour. It comes like the water. What colour would you call water now? Pure!”(Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee)

Reggae Going International is Striker’s story, in his own words, transcribed and annotated by Noel Hawks and Jah Floyd from an illuminating series of interviews, conversations and Q&A sessions that took place over five years.

Noel Hawks is the author of ‘Songs of Freedom: Complete Lyrics of Bob Marley’, helped to compile ‘The Guinness Who’s Who of Reggae’ and is currently working on ‘Jamaican Recordings: A History of Jamaica’s Recording Studios’. He has written on reggae for Billboard, Music Week, Record Collector, Vox and many other magazines and has compiled and written sleeve notes for over 150 reggae releases. He has lived in Sydenham for over twenty years.

The bookshop is at 272 Kirkdale Sydenham SE26 4RS, Tel: 020 8778 4701, mail@kirkdalebookshop.com

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

London Weekend Radio - mid-1980s pirate

London Weekend Radio, later known as plain LWR, was a London pirate radio station in the mid-1980s broadcasting from Sydenham, Catford and Peckham (among other places). I came across this article which has the main story:

'London Weekend Radio started life broadcasting from Lawrie Park Road in Sydenham over bank holiday weekends in 1981 and was controlled by Jonny Haywood (Station Manager) and Keith Green (Engineering) prior to going full time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a basement in Brownhill Road, Catford London SE6 where they were joined on the engineering team by Pat Sinclair and the station amended the station id name tag to simply LWR and broadcasting on 92.5MHz. Unlike many of its counterparts LWR decided to play new pop music between 06.00 and 18.00 weekdays with the evenings and weekends centring on specialist shows.

Many famous names got a good grounding at LWR with Radio Luxemborg's Peter Anthony working under the guise of Oscar J Jennings (who was pioneering REM in 1984), Radio 1 presenter's Pete Tong and Tim Westwood in the lineup that included the late Robbie May (BFBS) on breakfast duty, a daily afternoon show from Paul Stafford (Invicta/Coast AM) now in Australia, alongside Martin James, Ton Tom, Steve Edwards, Ricky King, John Dawson, Perry Daniels, Dave Shirt and Jonny Haywood himself with guest hosts including World Snooker Champion Sir Steve Davis OBE, Legendary Jazzman Roy Ayers, Imagination singer Leee Johns and Brit Funk band Total Contrast.

The station closed temporarily in August 1984 when changes were made to the law giving greater powers of seizure/confiscation to the DTI. A new frontman, Zac re-activated the station which ran till the early ninties when it finally closed down'.

Comments at that article state that original studio was in basement of 25 Lawrie Park Road SE26  with transmitters variously located in New Addington, Pepys Estate (Deptford), Balfron Tower in Poplar, Shooters Hill, and Church road in Crystal Palace. In its later days it had a studio in 42 Gautrey Road, Nunhead SE15 upstairs from Mad Professor's studio (mentioned here before). Intrigued that Roy Ayers might have made it from California to Catford!

Here's the young Tim Westwood broadcasting on LWR in 1984

... and some more LWR extracts:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Music Monday: I'll Sail this Ship Alone

The Beautiful South were from Hull and proud, but seemingly for the video of their 1989 song 'I'll Sail this Ship Alone' they were compelled to head for the Beautiful South London locales of the Rivoli Ballroom and Lewisham Shopping Centre (and indeed Brighton seafront).

The Beautiful South in The Rivoli Ballroom, SE4

Lewisham Shopping Centre 1989 - sadly no sign of the Lost Figures of Lewisham,
but check out that Pelican bin
Sorry only copy of the video I could find is poor quality and out of sync, but you get the picture

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ahoy Centre Fundraisers to Cross the Channel

On the 11th August, seven volunteers are rowing from Dover to Calais (about 22 miles) to raise funds for The AHOY Centre on the River Thames in Deptford. You can make donations to one of the rowers, Craig Robinson, here: http://www.justgiving.com/CRAIG-ROBINSON1

Despite living so near to the River Thames, many young people locally barely have a sense of it and very few get the opportunity to be out on it in a boat.  The AHOY Centre runs sailing, rowing and powerboating courses for local kids most of whom have never been out on the water before. My daughter spent some time there via her school and had a great time.

The Ahoy Centre, Borthwick Street, SE8
(picture by Nigel Chadwick at Geograph)

Greenwich Mural Workshop Talk

The London Mural Preservation Society have organised a talk by Steve Lobb, one of the founder members of Greenwich Mural Workshop, about their work over the last 30 plus years. Ruth Miller from LMPS says:

'Greenwich Mural Workshop begun life in the 1970s and have produced murals, in paint and mosaic form, and provided advice about other public art. For the local people of South East London, their work has been part of the surrounding landscape for the last few decades. A couple of pieces from their early years survive in Charlton - the Rathmore benches and the Floyd Road Mural.  We are really looking forward to hear Steve talk about his experiences!'.

Greenwich Mural Workshop were also responsible for the Surrey Quays shopping centre murals, and the Woolwich Tramshed mural (panel below) that was damaged by smoke during last summer's riots.

The event is on Wednesday 25th July 2012, 6:30 - 8pm, The Dogstar (1st floor Upstairs), 389 Coldharbour Lane,  London, SW9 8LQ

This talk is a part of the If Walls Could Speak project which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has involved the restoration of the Brixton Windmill Mural.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Another Rivoli Shoot

We never tire of the seemingly endless film, TV and fashion shoots in the great Rivoli Ballroom in Crofton Park - where after all we have spent some of the best nights of our lives being fabulous. Brian Worley at  P4Pictures took these recently at a 'masquerade ball' themed shoot. Lots more pictures at his site.

 © Brian Worley

 © Brian Worley

Friday, July 20, 2012


Swandown at Dilston Grove (Cafe Gallery) in Southwark Park is an installation to accompany the film 'Swandown' about Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair's journey, in a swan-shaped pedalo, from Hastings to Hackney - a journey described by Sinclair as a kind of mute 'counter grand project' to the Olympics and similar initiatives. It is on until July 29th.

I went along a couple of weeks ago (1st July) to a talk featuring Sinclair and the writer Marina Warner in conversation about the complex mythology of the swan - as both graceful and violent, pure and terrifying, creature of the water and the sky. The many swan names in the river city of London were referred to (and indeed, though not mentioned, there is a Swan Road in SE16 and Swan Street SE1, as well as numerous Swan pubs).

Marina Warner and Iain Sinclair talking in the swan

Dilston Grove - built in 1911 as the Clare College Mission Church, this early concrete building
is now Grade II listed. The church itself closed in 1966. Clare College Mission was a philanthropic
settlement linked to the Cambridge University college.

Among the documents in the exhibition is this 1987 flyer for an appearance by
Sinclair and Brian Catling at Rasp - seemingly a poetry night held at 67 Balfour Street, SE17

Actual swans in Southwark Park

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Diamond Heist Graffiti

Political graffiti spotted at the Post Office in New Cross Road this morning: 'Diamond Heist... why isn't Bob Diamond in Prison?'. There also seem to be quite a few stickers around New Cross attacking the former Barclays Bank boss.

Update: probably should have mentioned that the graffiti was painted on a wall next to the New Cross branch of Barclays bank, shown below.

Woody Guthrie in London, 1944

It's the centenary of the birth of the great American singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie, born on 14 July 1912. As far as I know, Guthrie only visited London once, in July 1944. Guthrie had been a merchant seaman on board the SS Sea Porpoise, a ship transporting American troops to Europe. It left Boston on 7 April 1944 and arrived at Newport, Wales on 17 April 1944 with about 3,000 men on board.

photo of Sea Porpoise from Gippetti.com

The ship was torpedoed on 5 July after dropping troops at Normandy beach, and was towed back to England for repairs. Guthrie and fellow folk singer Cisco Houston, who was also on board, were dropped off and made their way by train from Southampton to Waterloo Station (as described in the book Woody, Cisco and Me by Jim Longhi). While in London Guthrie dropped into the offices of the BBC and secured himself a slot on BBC Children's Hour, where he sang two songs "Wabash Cannonball" and "900 Miles" - just a couple of days after being torpedoed at sea. After a brief stay in London, Guthrie got the train on to Glasgow to join transport home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Ludicrous at New Cross Inn

Coming up this Friday 20th July at the New Cross Inn, the first London gig this year by I Ludicrous. The Crystal Palace-supporting indie outfit started out in the  mid-1980s with a sardonic comic style similar to Half Man Half Biscuit or The Fall. 

Their biggest 'hit' was John Peel favourite 'Preposterous tales' ('I once saw the Palace score four goals away from home'). They also did what The Great Wen has suggested may be the greatest football song of all time, We Stand Around (you can watch a whole documentary about them too)

Also on the bill on Friday are Now, Matt Finucane  and Marshall Milk.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Music Monday: Hilly Fields Songs

Brockley Central has noted what I failed to spot before - that the 2010 video for Stornoway's Zorbing single features a shot of Hilly Fields. In fact the white house that the singer is sitting outside early on is on Hilly Fields Crescent SE4. Much of the rest of is filmed around Surrey Canal Road (SE8) round the back of Millwall. You can see the incinerator on Landmann Way and I assume the cafe is J's (corner of Surrey Canal Road and Juno Way), as you can see the outside of it in one shot. The band are from Cowley/Oxford but the song does include the line 'Send my body out to work but leave my senses, In orbit over south east London' - maybe they met at college and one of them's from round here?

Hilly Fields has at least two songs of its own. Nick Nicely's 'Hilly Fields (1892)' from 1982 is a slice of psychedelia now recognised as a cult classic. As mentioned here before, in an interview at the time he said: '"Hilly Fields is a large park in South London, close to where I live. It's a beautiful place. And the area where I live still retains a lot of the atmosphere of the 1890s - all late Victorian houses, really wonderful. All the songs I wrote are situated in this part of London, Brockley. And Hilly Fields... I used to go there a lot in various stages of high, stoned, tripping, and that's where the song comes from. It's about someone who goes to hilly Fields and then disappears.... and that someone could very well be me, tripping out".

Then there's Lucky Soul's Upon Hilly Fields (2011):

Also from 2011 and filmed on Hilly Fields is the video for My Tiger My Timing's lovely Endless Summer.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reflections on the Shard

The laser show to mark the completion of external works at the Shard was a bit of a non-event for South London on 5th July. In New Cross, there were several hundred people gathered in the dusk in Telegraph Hill Park expecting to see lights in the sky, the latest in a long line of spontaneous gatherings there for similar purposes (the solar eclipse 1999, the Millennium, New Year's Eve). But the light show seems to have been more focused on the north side of the building so there was nothing much to see - and maybe we were just too far away. As I said on twitter at the time 'Judging by tonight's Shard show, our rulers are struggling with the 'circuses' bit of the 'bread & circuses' deal as well as the bread bit'. Somebody else joked 'Only just opened & already it’s betrayed its South London roots'.

So to the long list of metaphors attached to the building we migh add another one - that while it is situated South of the river by London Bridge it is oriented more to the City of London on the north bank of the Thames. Or maybe that it represents the spreading of the architecture of wealth and power from the City to an area that for hundreds of years resisted the encroachments of the authorities on the other side of the bridge.

The temple of mammon dwarfing St George's Church in Borough High Street?
(I took this photo last year)

We could also add that it represents a post-colonial shift in the international balance of power, with capital from former British imperial territories (Quatar and China) now shaping the landscape next to the site of the docks where for centuries plunder from across the seas was unloaded.

Having spent much time at ground level by the Shard building site from day one though, it also represents to me the results of a huge effort of collective human labour. The workers in their helmets have come from all over the world to raise this building from the ground. The product of their labour is (among other things) a hotel that most of those who built it will never be able to afford to stay in. The working conditions of those employed by Mace have been the focus of protests at the Shard (including last May Day), as like other construction companies they have used the ruse of employing through agencies to get round national agreements on pay. Nevertheless there has been something awe-inspiring in the sight of the skill and ingenuity of hundreds of people creating a landmark.

Love it or hate it, in a world city this a world building. It doesn't so much symbolise globalisation as embody it - built to an Italian design by workers from Britain, Ireland, Eastern Europe, Africa and elsewhere, funded by wealth created in China and the Middle East. We could follow the chain further - the migrant workers creating the wealth in Quatar (last year 161 construction workers from Nepal alone died in Quatar), the various other parts of the world from where construction materials for the Shard were sourced... It makes the Tower of Babel look like a little local building project.

The Shard among the ruins? Will this be the sight visitors to the city will see in hundreds of years time,
like that bit in Planet of the Apes where they stumble across the Statue of Liberty?
(picture actually taken on Neckinger Street in Bermondsey, where buildings are currently being demolished)

Some have criticised the practice of projecting too many metaphors and symbolic meanings on to the Shard (e.g. see Nick Barron's comments). They have a point, but architects and developers don't build a giant glass pyramid without being very aware of its symbolic dimension, and those who see it every day on the skyline can hardly help reflecting on what meanings it conveys beyond its functional purpose.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Summer of '84: Reggae & Hip Hop

Back in July 1984 there was actual sunshine in South London, and some fine music too.

Reggae Sunsplash

On 7 July Capital Radio sponsored a Reggae Sunsplash festival at Crystal Palace football ground.

'Crystal Palace had its biggest crowd for years at the weekend - but not for football! Instead, 28,000 music lovers enjoyed a six-hour feast of reggae, featuring both Jamaican acts and homegrown talent at Selhurst Park. Reggae Sunsplash came to town - and brought some of the hottest weather this summer with it. There were rastas in shorts, toddlers with dreadlocks, bare-chested punks and skimpily-clad females providing a vivid splash of colour. The park itself was jammed with bodies - sitting, reclining or dancing to the sounds coming from the massive stage'.

'Police deliberately kept a low profile, turning a blind eye to the widespread use of "sensimilia" (marijuana) which is part of the Rastafarian faith. But the high quality of the performances needed no stimulants' (Jaswinder Bancil, South London Press, 13 July 1984).

The line-up included the Skatalites, Aswad, Black Uhuru, Sly & Robbie, Musical Youth, Dennis Brown, Leroy Sibbles and King Sunny Ade, plus DJs David Rodigan and Barry G.

Breakdown Spectacular
1984 also saw the spreading influence of hip and electro culture in the UK, with the release of the film 'Beat Street' and the popularity of Morgan Khan's Street Sounds compilations. Amidst all this the South London Press put on a two day 'Breakdown Spectacular' at the end of July at the Albany Empire in Deptford. It was enthusiastically promoted by Jaswinder Bancil  who announced 'Attention, all B-Boys and Girls! You have been invited to the most comprehensive celebration of hip-hop seen on this side of the river... For two nights at the Albany, rappers, scratchers, mixers, breakers and poppers will rub shoulders and gain the chance to win super prizes - including Phillips beat boxes, Nike trainers, records and much more. Any crew will be allowed to get up and challenge the skills of the Broken Glass posse from Manchester'.
He later reported that 'Hundreds of youngsters from all over London' joined the 'hip hop celebration nights at the Albany Empire' on 27 and 28 July. There was New York DJ Whiz Kid, graffiti art from Dean and Dolby D and  'crews, individual performers and B-girl posses - all popping, locking, cracking and breaking to great effect' (SLP, 3 August 1984).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Two folk nights in New Cross

Coming up at the Hill Station Cafe (Kitto Road, SE14) on Thursday July 12th,  'A night of americana roots music by canadian band Broken Down Suitcase' supported by Toma Banjanin, lead singer of london band Canaan Land. £5 in, details here. I saw Broken Down Suitcase last year and they were really good.

Meanwhile tonight (Wednesday) at the Amersham Arms in New Cross, there's a 'Folk Me Hard' night with Slow Wolf, DU Bellows and Last of the Barstools.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Panel Borders in Brockley

Panel Borders is the comics show on Resonance FM, presented by Alex Fitch. In the recent Brockley Max festival he brought together people involved in comics and living in the Brockley area for a conversation at The Talbot, including:

 - Kieron Gillen (Marvel Comics' Uncanny X-Men - he recently set a Mr Sinister scheme in Greenwich Park);
- Sarah Gordon (The Peckham House for Invalids); 
- Howard Hardiman (Badger, The Lengths); 
- Simone Lia (Fluffy/Please God, find me a husband!); 
- Gary Northfield (Derek the Sheep in the Beano) - children's comic illustrator operating from a studio at the Old Police Station; 
- Woodrow Phoenix (Nelson); 
- Julia Scheele (69 love songs, illustrated).

You can listen to it here, with some interesting reflections on the local area and how people have used SE London scenes in their work. Funnily enough in view of my post last week on Quality Comics/Weird Fantasy Comics in Lewisham Way, some of the panellists mention that place too.  Woodrow Phoenix recalls that his first tips in lettering comics came from Weird Fantasy Comics, from Garry Leach (Warrior/2000 AD etc) who used to live in Crofton Park and now lives in Forest Hill. Alex Fitch chips in 'V for Vendetta originated in New Cross'. 

Woodrow also mentioned another lost local comic shop - Skinny Melinks at 66 Loampit Vale.

Lots more to follow up from this programme, but I was particularly interested to hear about Howard Hardiman and Sarah Gordon's The Cooperage, set in Deptford and Brockley (image below)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

An Italian Harpist in Deptford (1870s)

'Street Life in London' was written by Adolphe Smith with photographs by John Thomson. Originally issued as a magazine in 1877-78, it was then published in book form, and features some of the earliest documentary photography of  Victorian street life.  You can now view the whole book courtesy of LSE Digital Archives, and it is remarkable seeing what people actually looked like as opposed to what we are used to imagining as Victorian dress from countless films and TV dramas. 

There are several photographs from Clapham Common (Thomson was living in Brixton at the time), and from Lambeth. The one below features a young Italian harpist from Deptford, though it is not clear where the picture was actually taken.

Smith writes: 'Other children come over to England to join their families, or the more enterprising members of their families, who have found out how to make money in our midst. The Italian harper, whose photograph accompanies this chapter, belongs to the latter class. His parents have long been established in England, and have a regular home at Deptford. From this centre various members of the family radiate in different directions, frequenting the sea-side in summer, and the cities and large towns in winter. One of the daughters plays the fiddle admirably, and the young son is equally skilful with the harp. He has only been in England about two years, and can already speak English fluently. He is described throughout the neighbourhood, where he is known to every one, as a charming boy, whose amiable disposition, modest bearing, and musical talents ensure him success wherever he may present himself. It would be absurd to treat this youth in the light of a mendicant. His clothes are ample, neat, and clean, his purse well-filled, for his earnings almost equal those of a skilled artisan, though he is but a boy, and he has far more right to public support and sympathy, in exchange for the good and simple melodies he brings to the doors of the poor, than, for instance, the great majority of singers who lower the taste and degrade the morals of the audiences at our Music Halls'.

Adolphe Smith, sometimes known as Adolphe Smith Headingley, was a socialist journalist who took part in the 1871 Paris Commune. As discussed here before he later earned the displeasure of Jim Connell, who wrote The Red Flag in New Cross Road, for changing the tune his song was sung to.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Enclave: new Deptford art project

Enclave is a new art project in Deptford, launched last month by a team that includes Anthony Gross (also behind the Old Police Station and the former temporarycontemporary in the Seager Distillery in Deptford). Its opening show, Artist Urban Action,  includes a number of separately curated exhibitions running in parallel to each other in a strip of spaces in Resolution Way (running along the railway track opposite  Deptford station).

It is considerably more ambitious than most previous art projects in the area. For a start it is in a new building, part of the complex that also includes the Deptford Lounge and the new Tidemill school. And the work featured is not, on the most part, from locally based artists. There is some outstanding international work, my personal favourite being this caged bed and accompanying images by Czech artist Eva Kotátková:

I also enjoyed Taus Makhacheva's film The Fast and The Furious. It documents her 'infiltration' of the all-male illicit 4x4 racing scene in Dagestan in a vehicle covered in fur (sourced from second hand markets).

Taus Makhacheva, The Fast and the Furious

Another highlight is the Centre of Attention's News of the World exhibition, featuring 'Berlusconi Pasolini' a film piece by Italian artist Angel Vergara. It juxtaposes footage of Pasolini discussing the mass media with images of Berlusconi struggling on the floor after being knocked down by protesters.

'Berlusconi Pasolini' by Angel Vergara (detail)

If I could have taken one work home with me it would probably have been Dolly Thompsett's remarkably detailed car strewn landscape Endless Highway, seemingly painted on a resin coated linen curtain fabric. It is included in The Seven Lamps (in Enclave 8),  curated by Bella Easton and Iavor Lubomirov.

Endless Highway by Dolly Thompsett (detail)
@ Lubomirov-Easton

The exhibition runs until July 15th and is open Friday to Sunday, 12 - 6 pm. I recommend taking a look - I'm sure you will find something to catch your eye even if contemporary art isn't your thing, You can also get coffee and cake there, though I haven't  yet sampled the produce.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Amersham Road Doorway

More New Cross street art - a doorway to another dimension on Amersham Road

(thanks to Mark D. for the photo)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Americans in Nunhead 1889

I spent Monday night in the small Resonance FM studio on Borough High Street with no fewer than four Americans. Host Lewis Schaffer had me as a guest on his 'Nunhead American Radio' show ('The only radio program for Americans living in Nunhead'), along with compatriot co-host Lisa Moyle, fellow comedian and ex-New Cross resident David Mills, and New York visitor Beth McGregor - plus the non-American Ed Hammond from Nunhead's Voice.

Anyway got me thinking about Americans in Nunhead, and as it's the 4th of July today will share this from 1889 - seemingly the first time Nunhead  made it into the New York Times ( 6 July 1889). Not a particularly exciting tale of the time 'The Massachusetts riflemen won another victory at the Nunhead range today, defeating the London Rifles, with a score of 1068 to 1025'. As mentioned here before, the rifle range, as well as the Nunhead FC football ground, were on the site of what is now the Haberdashers Aske's sports ground (St Asaphs Road/back of Ivydale Road)

Conrad Williams: Doing it for the South East

Yes I know there's lots of business, politics and general razzmatazz tied up with the Olympics, not to mention London becoming a militarized zone with missiles on Blackheath and at Oxleas Wood (as confirmed yesterday).

But in case you've forgotten there's also thousands of people from all over the world coming together to run, swim, play and generally push the human body to its limits. Among them is Lewisham's Conrad Williams, who has been confirmed to take part in the 400m and 4x400m relay.

Williams, who lives in Hither Green, played basketball at Blackheath Bluecoat school and got involved in running when he stumbled across a Kent Athletic Club training session at Ladywell running track..

He's also as far as I know the only Olympics hopeful who has tweeted about training to Old Skool garage and 'Love lewisham market no place like south'. Yesterday he confirmed that he will be 'doing it for the south east'. Go Conrad!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

More Deptford Street Art

Spotted this at the weekend on Deptford High Street by the station - knight on a bike.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Bus, NHS and Workfare Protests

On June 22, New Cross bus garage was shut down by the London bus workers strike in support of a bonus for Olympic Games working comparable to other transport workers. Pickets were outside the garage and judging by the endless beeping were getting plenty of suppport from people driving past.
(picture from East London Lines)
Workers on some bus companies were stopped from striking by court injunctions, but a few days later  (on 27 June) buses were delayed at some of these by demonstrations by strike supporters. This included the London General bus depot on Mandela Way, SE1 - buses for the 1, 453, 507 and 521 routes operate from there. 
(picture from Willo31)

South London Healthcare Trust went into financial meltdown last week, with the Government threatening to put it into administration. NHS Trusts don't sell stuff, apart from some privileged services to private patients, so if they are losing money it generally means that they are not getting enough funding to provide health services. And/or, as in this case, they are paying millions of pounds out each week to private companies for the use of buildings built under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme.

Socialist Party supporters protested outside Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich on Saturday, proclaiming 'Scrap PFI, cancel the debt'.

Next weekend (Saturday 7 July), there will be another anti-workfare protest at Blackheath Holland & Barrett shop, meeting at 1 pm  (see reports of previous actions here). Further details on facebook.

[update 7 July - the Blackheath protest has been cancelled after Holland & Barrett announced yesterday that they were pulling out of the workfare scheme].