Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dip it in Deptford

'The team behind the Deptford Army are launching a new party vibe night at The Bunker Club on Deptford Broadway playing you 80's, 90's and early 00's party hits music, pop remixes, old times hip hop/ DnB and indie n garage!

With the recent opening of Little Nan's Bar next door, the drinking will start from 5pm where you can get Cocktails in Tea pots and Pints of Tiger beer at Vintage prices... (Along with many bottled Ciders, Lagers, Ales, Wines and premium Spirits - ALL at VINTAGE PRICES!)

Drinking continues in Bunker Club with doubles and all bottles at £2.50!!! Little Nan's is Open from 5pm - 11pm (Free Entry)

DIP IT IN Deptford - 11pm - 3am (£3 Entry). DJ'S: Gearoid Hayes (Deptford Army) / Clarissa Decksplains It All (Catholic Girls) / Vinyl Pitchie (Deptford Army)'.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lewisham Hospital Next Steps

After the determination of the mass demonstrations against the threat to services at Lewisham Hospital, and the bitterness following the Government's decision to proceed with the plans, campaigners face a long fight between now and the planned implementation of closures a couple of years down the line.

But the movement definitely isn't going away. While the Council prepares a legal challenge, meetings and protests continue. On Valentines Day there was a protest outside the Department of Health, with 150 people with heart-shaped balloons (similar balloons were also tied to the railings outside the hospital).

Boris Johnson Question Time in Catford, 7th March

London Mayor Boris Johnson will be in Catford on Thursday 7th March to answer questions at People’s Question Time, a twice yearly event where the Mayor and London Assembly answer questions from local people. There will certainly be some questions about his total failure to stand up for Lewisham Hospital. You can apply for tickets here:, and Save Lewisham Hospital will also be organising an event outside the Broadway Theatre from 6 pm. Facebook event

Born in Lewisham, 16th March
The Save Lewisham Hospital campaign is holding a 'Born in Lewisham' event on the afternoon of Saturday 16th March (time TBC). They say:  'If you, your children, your sister of brother, your partner or anyone you know was born in Lewisham Hospital – OR if you're just passionate about saving our hospital – come along and join hands around the hospital! Other activities will be available for families and everyone!' (facebook event)

Direct Action Discussions

As discussions continue about the best way forward, South London Solidarity Federation have arranged a screening of "Running Out of Patience" - a documentary on the 1986 Victoria Nurses' Strike in Australia, followed by 'a discussion session aiming to asses how we can put these ideas of direct action into practice to save Lewisham A&E and end this disgraceful attack on the NHS.. As government pushes through the cuts to Lewisham hospital, we need to meet them with a campaign of effective collective resistance. The campaign to save the hospital has done a fantastic job at showing the government how unpopular Kershaw's plans are, but the whole campaign depends upon the government being reasonable and listening to people's concerns. How likely is that? Hunt has proved that he will not listen to reasoned argument, his department have made a mockery of their own 'consultation' process. The only thing left to do is take action - to prove that cuts at the hospital are simply not an option we will accept. How can we make this happen?'.

The meeting will take place on Monday 4th March at UTROPHIA in Deptford High Street (across the road from the train station), 7 to 10 pm. Facebook event details

Also arguing for collective action, particularly by hospital workers, is the socialist group Alliance for Workers Liberty. Their regular Lewisham Hospital Worker bulletins are worth reading because they are not  just a collection of the usual predictable leftist slogans. They include some detailed thoughtful pieces written by, among others, a nurse at Lewisham Hospital, which highlight the difficult position facing staff. For instance the latest issue discusses the conflict between implementing cuts and health professionals' duty of care to patients:

'within the next few months frontline staff are likely to receive orders to start implementing the cuts. Those orders will be in conflict with our duty of care to patients. When this happens we will be put in a difficult situation. We can either follow management orders and risk losing our PIN, or make a judgement based on the best interests of our patients, defy management and risk disciplinary action. Each of us will have to make a decision. But saying“my manager told me to do it” is no justification in the eyes of the NMC or GMC.... There is no clinical justification for their closure programme; as trusted health professionals we should take no part in it. When you get home tonight we suggest you brush off your old copy of the NMC Code of Conduct or Good Medical Practice and let’s get a conversation going about how we, the staff at Lewisham Hospital, can collectively commit to the highest possible professional standards - regardless of what plans they are cooking up for us in the corridors of power'.

Lewisham Hospital is Still Open!

In the mean time, everyone needs to spread the word that Lewisham Hospital remains fully open! It seems some people locally might have misunderstood that services were already being closed down. They are not.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Music Monday: Trelawney

Trelawney, as the name suggests, are a band whose music is born out of Cornwall, but are based in South London,  spread across Brockley, New Cross and Blackheath. They cite their influences as 'including the Associates and Suede, through to more recent bands like Wild Beasts'.

Their song Beast of Black Heath is titled in 'reference to the Beast of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, but also the end of the Cornish rebellion, quelled upon Blackheath (well - officially Deptford Bridge but the plaque is on Blackheath!)'.

As discussed here before, 'in June 1497 5,000 Cornish rebels marched on London in revolt against a new tax to pay for King Henry VII’s planned invasion of Scotland. The rebels reached Blackheath Common and secured Deptford Bridge. It was here they were engaged by the King’s forces, with at least two hundred Cornishmen killed compared with eight of the King's soldiers. The leaders were hung, disembowelled and quartered, with their heads stuck on pikes on London Bridge'.

The plaque on the wall of Greenwich Park was placed there in 1997 when marchers from Cornwall retraced the route of the rebels to mark the 500th anniversary.

Trelawney are playing Power Lunches in Dalston on the 5th March, but hope to get some more S. London gigs sorted soon. More information from:

(if you are a musician/band based in South East London and would like to be featured in the 'Music Monday' slot, please get in touch -

Friday, February 22, 2013

Child Poverty in Lewisham

Clare's Diary has done a good job in using data from the Government and the End Child Poverty campaign's data to show levels of child poverty in different parts of Lewisham and Greenwich. Nationally, 20% of children are estimated to live in poverty, for Lewisham as a whole the figure is 24%. But in some areas it is much higher- in Evelyn ward (Deptford) the rate is 37%, followed by 30% in New Cross, Bellingham and Downham. The lowest rates are in Lee Green (14%) and Crofton Park (15%), but even here more than 400 children per ward are in poverty.

Of course these figures are just estimates based on the official definition of child poverty as the percentage of children living in households earning below 60% of median income before housing costs. This definition sounds rather abstract, what living in this category means for many families in practice is children skipping meals, going without new clothes when they need them (such as new shoes or warm winter coats) or missing out on experiences that others take for granted (such as school trips or holidays).

Child poverty by London borough, source: End Child Poverty, Child Poverty Map of the UK, February 2013
Another dimension of poverty not captured in this definition is overcrowded housing. A recent report No space at home: overcrowding in London  (4in10 Campaign, 2012) found that: 'Overcrowding is on the rise again among London’s children. One in four or 391,000 children are now estimated to be growing up in an overcrowded home – an 18 per cent increase since 2008... Overcrowding is growing because of the chronic shortage of genuinely affordable family-sized social housing. For a generation, governments of all political parties have failed to provide the investment needed to build social housing in the numbers required, and the Right-to-Buy has resulted in more than a third of the Capital’s council housing moving into the private sector. London’s children are suffering the consequences of that social policy failure'.

A 2011 London Assembly report showed that in Lewisham there were more than 4,000 households on the housing waiting list needing at least three bedrooms. The report, Crowded houses: Overcrowding in London's social rented housing recommended building more large family homes. Of course, Councils alone can't build these homes without more Government funding... and that is not forthcoming!

Again, behind these figures are real children sharing beds with their siblings, teenage girls sharing bedrooms with their brothers, nights of disturbed sleep and tired days at school.

With every cut in benefits and wages, with every rent increase, with every housing development approved without enough genuinely affordable housing, the situation for these children is getting worse.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Antenna Studios Cafe

I popped into the newish cafe at Antenna Studios in Crystal Palace a couple of weeks ago. The Studios have been going since 2002, primarily for music recording and rehearsal spaces, but also hosting all kinds of creative activity. The cafe is tucked away in Bowyers Yard in Haynes Lane  SE19 (walk past the indoor market and turn left), and as well as serving food and drink is being used to host exhibitions and fairly intimate gigs.

The next event is the RPM Club, a bring your own vinyl open decks night on Friday 1st March, 7.30-11 pm.

The cafe is currently being managed by Georgina Cook, the photographer best known for documenting the dubstep scene and for her Drumz of the South blog and events. She's written about the cafe as part of her great Valentine's Day love letter to South London.

Georgina has also started Mapping the Palace, where people are invited to share their thoughts, memories, ideas, inspiration, music and more related to the Crystal Palace area. The project includes an interactive Google Map where among other things you can see where Georgina took some of her iconic photographs for Burial.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lewisham Natureman White Stag in Childeric Road

The Lewisham Natureman White Stag has made another apperance in New Cross - on a scrap of wasteland on Childeric Road SE14 (by Fordham Park). Previous sightings have included by the river in Lewisham, on Cressingham Road SE13, by New Cross Gate station, and on the Heygate Estate. Check out Wildcornez for latest news.  

The dear deer was mentioned on Robert Elms' Radio London programme last month. Somebody nominated it as their favourite piece of public art in London, and someone else phoned up and discussed it (mentioning Transpontine - thanks!). The latter suggested that the 'Lewisham Natureman' motif -some of the images also feature the Lewisham crown with a daisy growing out of it - dates back to a graffiti crew in the 1990s. Like to know more about that, though must admit I have my suspicions that the phone call was the work of the artist trying to build up the Lewisham Natureman Mythos!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bubble Matches: the policing of football fans at Millwall and elsewhere

Hot off the press - OK the report has been out nearly a year but I've just noticed it  - Criminalising Football Fans: The Case Against ‘Bubble’ Matches by Peter Lloyd for the Manifesto Club:

'‘Bubble’ match travel amounts to ‘kettling’ on wheels. Travelling fans must be transported on licensed coaches  under police escort, from a designated pick-up point to a designated drop-off point. No independent travel is allowed to the match by car, train, or any other means of transport. Fans often must pick up their tickets on route, for example at a motorway service station at a halfway point. Their freedom of movement is suspended... it fair that the vast majority of supporters, who behave well, should have their freedom to travel to a popular leisure activity curtailed, because of the (increasingly slight) risk that there will be disorder caused by a small number of troublemakers? Bubble match restrictions do not target the minority of troublemakers. Instead, they punish all away fans, and hope to deter the violent minority by doing so. This is surely wrong in principle. Under Britain’s common law, people are treated as innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. People are held to account for their own actions, not punished for the actions of others'.

Examples in the report show that fans travelling to Millwall have been targeted, as well as Millwall fans travelling to away matches:

'For the Millwall match at Leeds on 3 December 2011, coaches had to leave the football ground in London at 5.30am, meeting the police at Woolley Edge Services on the M1 motorway, where pre-paid vouchers were exchanged for match tickets. This was the only place where it was possible to acquire a match ticket, the early kick-off time of 12.30pm added inconvenience for the supporters...'

These tactics make it impossible to do the normal things that people would do when travelling round the country. For instance, what if you were a Millwall fan who wanted to combine going to a Leeds away match with popping in afterwards to see an old friend in Yorkshire? Or if you were a Millwall fan at college in Leeds the only way you could go in the Millwall end at a match would be to travel down to London the night before and then get a 5:30 coach back up.

When police kettle demonstrators my twitter feed is (quite rightly) overwhelmed with outrage. When similar police tactics are applied regularly to thousands of football fans, nobody bats an eyelid. To add insult to injury, football fans are paying for the policing of football grounds through ticket prices - and if the Association of Chief Police Officers had their way they would also be paying for policing of football fans beyond the ground. At Millwall's match at Luton on Saturday I noticed that even Luton fans, no great friends of Millwall's away contingent, chanted 'What a waste of money' when large numbers of police came on to the pitch at the end. They're right and it's their money that's being wasted.

(incidentally this is blowing up to be a big issue right now with Hull City fans facing a 'bubble' for their match next month against Huddersfield - this article quotes one Hull fan: "I live in Huddersfield, so have to come to Hull to go back to a game 10 minutes from my house. Ridiculous!")

Music Monday: Si Cliff

Brockley based singer/songwriter Si Cliff is launching his debut album 'Memories' this week in New Cross. Si, who studied music at Goldsmiths, recorded most of the album at home - the tracks are largely based around his voice and acoustic guitar, but also feature cello, violin, double bass, flute, drum kit, piano, soprano choir with additional guitars, ukuleles, banjo and other instruments. Two of the tracks were recorded live at the Albany Theatre in Deptford with a horn section and full band, and the gig on Wednesday 20th February at the Amersham Arms will be with a full band and a choir.

There is lots more information on

Here's a short film about the making of the album and featuring Si wandering the green and lovely streets of Crofton Park, as well as on One Tree Hill and (I think) Blythe Hill Fields. You can pick up a copy of the CD for £5 at the Amersham Arms gig on Wednesday - music starts at 8:30 pm, with support including Tom Morley and Steffan Davies.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lana Del Rey in the Rivoli Ballroom

American singer Lana Del Rey is the latest artist to make use of the Rivoli Ballroom in Crofton Park. The video for her new single Burning Desire sees her join the long line of performers pouting in front of the famous red curtains in Brockley.

Others on the Rivoli roll call include:

Florence & The Machine (in 2012 and 2009)
Rumer (2012)
Rihanna (2010)
White Stripes (2007)

Plus these fashion shoots:

Elle (2011)

(to see all Transpontine posts on the Rivoli click here)


Thursday, February 14, 2013

For Lovers Everywhere

Happy Valentine's Day all you lovers and want-to-be lovers. On this day in 1661, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary that he celebrated Valentine's Day and visited Deptford and Woolwich:

'Up early and to Sir W. Batten’s, but would not go in till I asked whether they that opened the door was a man or a woman, and Mingo, who was there, answered a woman, which, with his tone, made me laugh; so up I went and took Mrs. Martha for my Valentine (which I do only for complacency), and Sir W. Batten he go in the same manner to my wife, and so we were very merry. About 10 o’clock we, with a great deal of company, went down by our barge to Deptford, and there only went to see how forward Mr. Pett’s yacht is; and so all into the barge again, and so to Woolwich, on board the Rose-bush, Captain Brown’s ship, that is brother-in-law to Sir W. Batten, where we had a very fine dinner, dressed on shore, and great mirth and all things successfull; the first time I ever carried my wife a-ship-board, as also my boy Wayneman, who hath all this day been called young Pepys, as Sir W. Pen’s boy young Pen. So home by barge again; good weather, but pretty cold'.

Not sure exactly what he was getting up to with Mrs Martha - who I believe was Sir Batten's wife. But seemingly at that time the custom was to choose a friend of the opposite sex to be a Valentine for the day and give them gifts - there wasn't necessarily a romantic/sexual element.

Anyway here's a Valentine's Day treat for 21st century lovers, a 'South London Bass Valentines Disco Special with DJ Controlled Weirdness' , a selection of 'sensual disco, throbbing funk and sexual grooving' first broadcast live on ILL FM on 12th February 2010. A couple of classic 'cockney love songs' alongside the sexy New York grooves.

'Lovers Rock'
 - the legendary reggae label started out in Upper Brockley Road

Save Lewisham Hospital say: 'Send your message of love to Lewisham Hospital! If you were born or have been treated there, or just want to save our hospital, tie a balloon outside the railings of the hospital between Valentines Day and Sat 16th. Take a picture and post on our page and send it into your local paper or South London press. We want to show our hospital is HERE TO STAY. Lets make a spectacular visual no one can ignore!!'. There's also a Save Lewisham Hospital campaign Lunchtime Rally at the war memorial opposite Lewisham Hospital tomorrow (Friday 15th February) at 1PM! For more information go to or phone Lewisham Pensioners Forum on 020 85907869

In Brixton this evening, 'as part of the global One Billion Rising campaign, a range of events will be taking place all over the world in a call to end violence against women and girls. At 4.30pm Brixton’s Ritzy cinema will screen a short film about the issues surrounding domestic violence, Lambeth Rising, made by local film makers, community groups and students. The film screening will be followed by a flash mob dance takeover of Windrush Square at 5.30pm, led by around 25 children from the Wippersnappers After School Club' (more on Brixton Blog)

There are other One Billion Rising events happening locally today at Greenwich Study Centre (1 pm) and at Goose Green Roundabout in East Dulwich where also at 1 pm there will be a ten minute zumba dance flash mob (get there at 12:30 to learn the moves!)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Music Monday: Deptford Days

Deptford Days: Songs Around and About SE8 is a  CD issued in December 2012 by Deep Diver Records. As the title suggests, what links the disparate 24 tracks by different artists is that all the songs have some connection to Deptford (well one of them is actually about Hilly Fields, but that's not far away is it?).  Some people might be surprised that this many SE8 songs even exist, from folk to punk and many points in between. But the breadth of artists is also remarkable, from local acts to some internationally known performers - albeit ones that started out in SE London. The latter category includes Squeeze, Jools Holland, Alternative TV, Hatcham Social, Dire Straits and the latter's David Knopfler.  Not to mention Skinny Lister, currently going down a storm in the States on tour with Flogging Molly.

Here's the full track listing:

Driving through Deptford - Jude Cowan Montague
The Deptford Dip - The Little Big Band
We are the Deptford Girls - Deepway Residential Home Reminiscence Group
As I roved out on Deptford Broadway - Neil Gordon-Orr
Down and out in Deptford - The Phobics
Deptford Broadway Boogie - Jools Holland
Deptford Beach - Deptford Beach Babes
From the Vauxhall Tavern to the Deptford Broadway - Dave Sutherland
Sultans of Swing (original demo) - Dire Straits
Shadow Ships of Deptford - Jason McNiff
Last Tango in Deptford - The Janes Does
In Deptford Town - Tony Lording
Deptford Thrill - The Love Lavas
Hilly Fields (acoustic version) - nick nicely
Deptford Wives - Hatcham Social
Jeudi Soir au Paradise Bar - Flaky Jake and the Steamin' Locos
Friendly Street - Paul Astles with Alan Dunn
If the gaff don't let us down - Skinny Lister
Pretty Betsy of Deptford Town - Louise Baxter
Fun City - Alternative TV
It's not cricket - Squeeze
Deptford Broadway - Ceri James
Banksters Shangri La - The Chilly Dogs
Southside Tenements - David Knopfler

So I know what you're thinking - where can I get a copy? Well the CD is a non-commercial release that has mainly been distributed amongst musicians, friends and families. But there is a plan to press more copies and have a gig based around the album at the Duke in Deptford sometime in April. So watch this space...

In the mean time you can check out one of the tracks on Soundcloud - Shadow Ships Of Deptford by Jason McNiff, based on the poem Ghosts in Deptford by Cicely Fox Smith which we uncovered at Transpontine a little while ago.

...and here's The Chilly Dogz, Banksters Shangri-La


Living down in Deptford Town
With nouveau riche executives
Things seem crazy, churning round
Young turks trading derivatives

Long gone the old Centurion
The Mercury, Nobles, The Broadway cafe
Eels mash and liquor at Manzes pie shop
Knickerbocker Glories at Rossis, No way!

The old geezers spike
At Carrington House
The Edward Street stables
For the rag and the bone
The state cleansing centre
For the flea and the louse
The Art Deco palace
That was Odeon
The Dockers, The Costers,
All of them gone
We now have to listen
To posh gangsters Lah-di-dah
Whilst the rest of us sing
Some old Squeeze song
Deptford is becoming,
The banksters Shangri-La

The cover design by Chiara Brambilla Hall

The album is dedicated to recently departed Deptfordites Jenny Harris, Pete Pope, Brian Hibbard and Garry Stocks.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

A Music Hall Night out in Woolwich 1932

Browsing through some old theatre programmes at Haynes Lane market in Crystal Palace last week, I came across this from December 1932. The Royal Artillery Theatre in Woolwich was converted from the Recreations Rooms of the Royal Artillery Barracks. Damaged by bombs in World War Two, it closed in 1956 and was then demolished (there's a history of the theatre and details of its exact location at the Arthur Lloyd theatre history website).

In 1932 the Theatre lessee was Frank Littler, and the managers were his step-children Blanche and Prince Littler. The latter two were the children of Jules Richeaux, a second-generation French Londoner who had started out running a tobacconist  in Camberwell and ended up running the theatre in Woolwich. When he died, his wife Agnes took over the theatre before marrying Frank Littler. Prince, Blanche and their brother Emile became in 'the 1930s and 40s the most powerful figures in the theatrical world of the West End and Provincial theatre, with almost a total monopoly in producing musicals and pantomime in the United Kingdom' ('It's Behind You'). Blanche later married the music hall star George Robey.

Headliners for six nights in December 1932 were 'the wireless stars' Alexander and Mose, a 'black face' duo made up of comedians Albert Whelan and Billy Bennett - who also appeared on the programme under their own names. Other acts included The Juggling Demons, Angela Guilberte ('The Singing Accordionist'), Rogers and Lascelles with Ann ('The popular dancing trio'), Wheel & Whoa ('comedy cyclists') and Val Vett ('Rag-Time, Rag-Picking Rag-Painter').

The programme tells us that the 46 tram to New Cross and Brockley went to the door of the theatre, and also advertised the forthcoming pantomime, Dick Whittington.

Programme printed at the Perfecta Press, 154 Camberwell Road, SE5.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Utrophia - last few days? (or maybe not)

Utrophia has been running as an art space in the old Job Centre in Deptford High Street since July 2011 (for a short period before that the building was squatted as Deptford Social Centre Plus).  Utrophia has been expecting to close some time soon to make way for a planned new pub, provisionally called The Job Centre, and run by Antic London. But at the moment things are in a state of flux, so it may or may not be there a little while longer...

Matt Rigsby Smith from Utrophia has been selling off many of his possessions in a temporary shop there, 'Matt's Cool Things'. There's vinyl, comics, badges, badminton racquets and much more... and probably not much time left to buy it. The shop will be open tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday, 12 noon to 6 pm, with a planned shop closing party on the 16th February. 

Utrophia, who were previously based on Tanners Hill, are looking around for other possible sites locally. Meanwhile no date has been set for the opening of the pub, and some have questioned what's up with Antic. There are actually a number of different companies under the Antic brand, two of which have gone into administration in the last year  - The Black Ant Company and Antic Ltd. The latter's pubs, including The Royal Albert (New Cross Road), Brockley's Jam Circus, and The Tiger in Camberwell are up for sale.

But seemingly Antic London is still expanding - as well as The Job Centre, they are also planning new pubs in Woolwich, the Walworth Road and elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Folk Festival Film

Last October the Amersham Arms in New Cross hosted the London Folk and Roots Festival. While most of the action happened downstairs, Acordes Urbansos filmed some of the participating artists singing upstairs and have now put out the film '16th Folk Room'.

Michele Stodart upstairs in the Amersham Arms
It features the Kilkawley Family, James Burton, Hankdogs, The Galleons, Lucy Kitt, The Bara Bara Band, Josienne Clark, Lorraine Wood, Troubador Rose, Michele Stodart (from The Magic Numbers), Pete Greenwood, Maggie Jane Rose, Indigo Earth, Winston Skerritt, Jack Day and Joe Wilkes.

Pete Greenwood singing with the lights of New Cross station through the window


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Convoys Wharf Latest Plans

The plans for the redevelopment of the Convoys Wharf site on the riverfront at Deptford have been the focus of a lot of discussion and community organising in the last year. Key issues include how much social housing will be included in the development, the impact on schools, health sevices and traffic, and whether the development will truly reflect the historic nature of the site as the  location of the Royal Dockyard.

In a couple of weeks developer Hutchison Whampoa will be putting on a public exhibition to display their latest masterplan proposals for Convoys Wharf. The exhibition will take place over a two day period:

Thursday 28th February (3pm-9pm) at Charlotte Turner School, Benbow Street, Deptford, SE8 3HD


Saturday 2nd March (10am-3pm) at The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford, SE8 4AG

Monday, February 04, 2013

Music Monday: Cat Bear Tree

Cat Bear Tree are an up and coming South London all-girl trio, featuring Zoe Konez (guitar/vocals), Claudia Mansaray (bass/vocals) and Sarah Smith (drums/vocals).  They describe their sound as 'angular, harmony-driven, indie punk-pop' with impeccable reference points including Sleater-Kinney, Warpaint and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Their energy really reminds me of the old New Cross/Angular Recordings scene (was that really nearly ten years ago?) when the likes of The Swear, The Violets, Art Brut (and later The Long Blondes) were playing out at the Paradise Bar (now Royal Albert) and other local venues.

They are based around the Camberwell area, and have played out at local venues including the New Cross Inn, The Windmill (Brixton), Cavendish Arms (Stockwell) and just last week The White Lion in Streatham. And of course they have done the obligatory Heygate Estate photo-shoot!

The band have an EP out soon, and have already had a track played by Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music. So catch them quick... might not be playing in pubs too much longer. You can listen to some more at  and check out their facebook page (they also tweet @catbeartree).


Update 6 February: Cat Bear Tree are playing at the Freedom: Pussy Riot Punk Prayer Commemoration Concert at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen on 24 February, along with Midal Fall, Au Palais and Skinny Girl Diet: 'On 21 February 2012, members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot performed a "punk prayer" in a Moscow church for which they were arrested, detained for several months and eventually sentenced on 17 August 2012 to 2 years imprisonment. With two of the three members remaining imprisoned (Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha“ Alyokhina), SHATTERJAPAN and POPULAR have collaborated to bring you a whole evening of entertainment, including people from the international music, film and political worlds, to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of the punk prayer performance and to celebrate freedom of expression'.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Fight goes on to Save Lewisham Hospital

Hundreds of people gathered outside Lewisham Hospital last night in the aftermath of health secretary Jeremy Hunt's announcement in Parliament on the future of emergency and maternity services. Hunt had been forced to acknowledge the strength of the opposition to cuts and modify the recommendations put to him by the Trust Special Administrator he appointed to review South London health services. He stated that the Accident and Emergency department would now be downgraded rather than closed, retaining the ability to admit some patients who need to be taken into hospital. But in real terms this still means that there will be no full A&E at Lewisham with potentially devastating implications for the wider hospital. 

According to BBC Health Correspondent Nick Triggle: 'The official line is that the plan to change it to an urgent care centre has been stopped by ministers who have listened to concerns. But make no mistake the A&E - currently classed as a major type one unit - is still being downgraded. The plan may only mean a quarter of the patients using the unit are affected as the rest will still be able to get the treatment they need from the service that emerges from the reorganisation'.

'But the absence of those quarter, who will end up being treated at nearby hospitals, will have a profound impact. They will be the sickest, most life-threatening cases who are ferried to hospital in ambulances. Without them Lewisham will not need its critical care unit and perhaps a host of other associated services. Hospitals are complex organisations. Removing one thing has a ripple effect across the rest of the hospital. The plan means Lewisham starts to move away from what many would associate a hospital to be'.

'Instead, it will focus much more on planned care, such as knee and hip replacements, and non-emergency cases. Only those who are at no immediate risk will be taken to Lewisham, this could include the elderly person who has had a fall and needs a little supervision to someone who has twisted their ankle'.

Hunt also decided to go ahead with the 'downgrading' of maternity services at Lewisham which again amounts to a virtual closure. There would only be a midwife-led unit on site rather with no consultant obstetricians. Midwives do a great job and many women choose to give birth in these midwife-led units as a kind of half way house between home birth and hospital birth. But they usually do so because they have decided they want to be close to emergency clinical  back up if there are complications. That wouldn't exists in future at Lewisham.

In real terms both the degraded 'A&E' and remaining maternity services would eventually wither on the vine and could then be fully closed on the basis that people weren't choosing to use them anymore. Lewisham Hospital would just be a place where people go for minor operations and no doubt it wouldn't be long before somebody said it was too expensive to keep a whole site just for that, why not just close it down and sell off the land?

Outside the hosptial last night, campaigners were clear that the fight to save Lewisham Hospital will continue. This is a financially driven cut, not a clinically-led attempt to save patient lives, and Hunt's decision is a political one. Lots of debate is now going on about what to do next, with speakers last night putting forward a range of ideas from legal challenges and political lobbying to direct action (e.g. occupations and work-ins to prevent closures). The actual closure of services could take two to three years, clearly the Government hopes that opposition will fade over that time. But possibly the strongest ever local movement against NHS cuts isn't going to melt away.

Check Save Lewisham Hospital for campaign updates. Forthcoming events include:

Friday 15 February, 1 pm - Lunctime rally for hospital workers and community campaingers to discuss the next steps, at the war memorial opposite the hospital.

Saturday 16 February - 'Born in Lewisham event' for people born in, or who gave birth, in Lewisham Hospital. Further details to be confirmed.

Every Tuesday, 7 pm - Save Lewisham Hospital weekly campaign meetings at the Waldron Health Centre in New Cross.