Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Today is the last day of photographer Roger Dean's London1to365 project. For every day of the last year, Roger has posted a photograph of a London house number corresponding to the day of the year (e.g. number 200 on the 200th day of the year). He says ' Each of the numbers photographed have caught my eye for some reason, some are elegant, some are funky, some hand written, some carved and almost all of them are grubby however posh they look from a distance'. His journey has taken him all over town, including SE8,  SE13SE14 etc.
286 New Cross Road by Roger Dean

London Urban Legends Talk

Transpontine co-founder Scott Wood put blogging on hold a few years ago to spend his time writing an actual book, among other things. The result is 'London Urban Legends: The Corpse on the Tube and Other Stories', published recently by the History Press.

On Thursday January 9th 2014, Scott will be giving a talk on the subject of the book at South East London Folklore Society:

'London's Legendary Landscape: London's statues and stones have stories stuck to them along with the chewing gum and pigeon poo. Tonight Scott Wood tells tales and dissects legends of the walking statue of Brandy Nan, insulting sculptures, sculptors driven to suicide by a mistake, Hitler’s office for when he ruled London and as much more as he can squeeze in about London’s legendary landscape. Urban legends may not be true but they tell do truths about out what people think and feel about the landscape and landmarks around them.  Scott is the author of London Urban Legends: The Corpse on the Tube, the author of the Fortean London column for Londonist co-organiser and host of the London Fortean Society and ran South East London Folklore Society for eight noisy and chaotic years'.

8pm at The Old King's Head, King's Head Yard, 45-49 Borough High Street, London SE1 1NA.Entry is £2.50/ £1.50 concessions. You can book a place to guarantee a seat. Email nigelofbermondsey@gmail.com to book (facebook event details here).

Monday, December 30, 2013

Light Houses

'About Face' on Pepys Road, photo by Andew Clarke
The Light Houses Winter Wonderland event in New Cross/Telegraph Hill on 8 December was fun, with 23 films being screened in street windows, while people wandered around checking them out (some went further and supplied mulled wine and seats to sit and watch).

The next three were all on Gellatly Road, there were other clusters on Waller, Pepys and Erlanger Roads, among others. Plans are already being made for future events, so if you have a digital projector or can borrow one start thinking about it and watch this space for details. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

'Jack Rags': a homeless man in Lewisham 1917

'Frederick Mark Burton, the renowned "out-door" resident of Lewisham, commonly known as 'Jack Rags' died January 30th 1917, aged 64 years'. Don't know any more about this character, but the photograph of seems to have been issued as a postcard which pops up from time to time on ebay. 'W F Lucas' was presumably the photographer.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Cupid strikes in Peckham Street Art

On the corner of Kings Grove and Queens Road SE15, this piece by Loretto features a commuter running for the train (at Queens Road station) about to be shot by Cupid's arrow. I think the same artist did the 'hung out to dry' pieces in Peckham featured here before.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Music Monday: John Lunn, from minimalist funk to Downton Abbey

New Cross/Telegraph Hill resident John Lunn has become one of the country's most successful composers for TV, commended in particular for his music for Downton Abbey. In September he was awarded his second Emmy for Outstanding Music Composition for his work on the show (he discusses the music here).

In the 1980s, Lunn was a member of 'systems funk' band Man Jumping, who released music on Bill Nelson's Cocteau label, having previously played bass/keyboards in the Lost Jockey music co-operative (whose members also included later ZTT artist Andrew Poppy).

Glasgow-born Lunn has been active in encouraging music and drama in his local community for years, donating his talents for instance to Edmund Waller Primary School and the annual Telegraph Hill Community Production. The latter has featured two operas he originally wrote for Glyndbourne festival, 'Misper' and 'Zoe'. Oh and I once had a go on his theremin!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Brockley Brewery - 'brewed with love in SE4'

Brockley Brewery opened in March 2013 in a former builders' yard in Harcourt Road, SE4. They are now brewing three beers (Golden, Pale and Red Ales) which you can sample in local pubs such as the Royal Albert, the Ivy House, the Dog & Bell and Jam Circus. You can also pop into the brewery and buy some bottles from them direct - they are usually open on Saturdays between 10 am and 3 pm. Look out too for their open days when they give a short tour and explanation of the beer making process.

'Peace, love and understanding in Lewisham'

Wild Brockley chutney at last month's open day

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Transpontine: Word of the Day

Thanks to No Yeah No on twitter for spotting that yesterday's word of the day on dictionary.com was... transpontine.

They came up with a couple of good quotes to go with it:

'There was nothing left but to retreat against the railing, and with my back turned to the street, pretend to be admiring the barges on the river or the chimneys of transpontine  London'.
-- Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Vandergrift, Narrative of the Spirited Old Lady, More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter , 1885

'...he had come straight from a wretched transpontine lodging to this splendid Lincolnshire mansion, and had at the same time exchanged a stipend of thirty shillings a week for an income of eleven thousand a year…'
-- Mary Elizabeth Braddon, John Marchmont's Legacy, 1862–1863

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Question Time in Lewisham Again

Last January BBC Question Time was broadcast from Goldsmiths in New Cross at the height of the campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital. The campaign dominated the night, both outside where there was a demonstration, and inside where the issue was the big story on the programme itself.

A year later, on Thursday 9 January 2014, the programme returns to Lewisham (venue to be confirmed). The hospital has been saved (for now), but campaigners against the privatisation of parts of the NHS hope to keep the issue alive and there are plans once again for some kind of demonstration - watch this space.

If you want to try and get a place in the audience you can apply here, but note it seems to be very much geared towards people actively involved in politics, with the questions applicants asked including the following:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Old Kent Road 1983: A Smash Hits Advert

Like Punk Never Happened- Brian McCloskey's Smash Hits Archive is a great site featuring fortnightly scans of issues of the pop magazine from 30 years ago. This Premium Bonds advert from June 23 1983 features a young woman standing by an Old Kent Road street sign and dreaming of an advance to Mayfair (i.e. from the cheapest to the most expensive property on the Monopoly board). 

Convoys Wharf - critical meeting this week

Deptford is..., which is spearheading local opposition to current plans to develop Convoys Wharfon the Deptford riverfront, is reminding people that a crucial meeting is coming up this week. They say:

'you are probably already aware that the planning application for redevelopment of the Royal Dockyard/Convoys Wharf site has been called in by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, at the request of the developer Hutchison Whampoa.

Recent meetings with Dame Joan Ruddock and planners at Lewisham and City Hall have made it painfully clear that the future of community projects Build the Lenox, and Sayes Court Garden is being put at risk in the rush to meet housing targets. The fact that the planning application for Convoys Wharf offers not a single unit of housing for social rent, with the 'affordable' element on offer being far beyond the means of the capital's key workers, is in danger of being disregarded.

On Thursday 19th December there will be a crucial meeting between the planners, the developer, and the Mayor of London's deputy to discuss the site's heritage. We believe that the fate of the projects will be decided at this meeting, even though the final decision on the application is not expected until next year.

We are therefore urging all our supporters to reiterate their objections, or submit new ones, in advance of the meeting. The 1,400-signature petition on change.org demonstrates the strength of support for our campaign, and we are immensely grateful to those who have helped us reach this number. In truth, however, objections from individuals carry just as much weight - sometimes more - and we are asking for your help in this matter.

We realise that this is an extremely busy time of year, but if you could find a few minutes to assist the campaign in this way, we would be eternally grateful. There is information on the Deptford is...website about how to write an objection, and where to send it, if you need some guidance.

In the meantime we would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year'.

The petition states:

'We, the undersigned, are gravely alarmed at the proposed scale and impact of the current plans by Hong Kong developer Hutchison Whampoa, that will irrevocably destroy the site of Britain’s historic Royal Dockyard and Sayes Court Garden at Deptford by the River Thames in London.

We welcome the recognition of this fact by the inclusion of Deptford Dockyard (now known as Convoys Wharf) and Sayes Court Garden on the World Monuments Fund Watch List for 2014 and the serious concern expressed by English Heritage and many other heritage bodies, Lewisham Council and local community groups represented by Deptford Is.. (www.deptfordis.org.uk) We note that this year is the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Docks by Henry VIII in 1513.

We also applaud the extensive work carried out by the Sayes Court Garden www.sayescourtgarden.org.uk and Build The Lenox projects www.buildthelenox.org to create two visionary regeneration schemes. These will reinterpret and celebrate the heritage of the area while at the same time creating major new tourist attractions, safeguarding Deptford's maritime and horticultural links, and creating skilled jobs for local people around the birthplace of the National Trust and Deptford Royal Dockard.

We regret the lack of meaningful engagement with the community by Hutchison Whampoa so far; note that at the developer’s request, the Mayor of London has used his powers to take over as the planning authority and further note that Sir Terry Farrell, who is the Mayor's Design Adviser, is also the architect employed by Hutchison Whampoa.

We reject any claims that this scheme will address London's housing needs. With a maximum of 15% affordable housing, just 4% of this for social rent, we believe it will make no significant difference to the capital's housing crisis.

We therefore call on the Mayor of London as the planning authority, Sir Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa as the ultimate applicant and the Secretary of State to revise the proposals with greater sensitivity for their location. We ask them to respect 500 years of British maritime history and 360 years of horticultural history on this internationally-significant site; one which is inextricably associated with Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn, Octavia Hill, Christopher Marlowe, Tsar Peter the Great, and Captain James Cook.'

Good to see that the campaign is continuing to highlight the lack of affordable housing in this area of acute housing need. As I've said before I support the campaign to recognise the history of the site, but it's certainly possible to imagine the developers offering a diluted heritage window dressing to what is essentially a property investment scheme for the wealthy.

Previous Transpontine posts on Convoys Wharf

Monday, December 16, 2013

Music Monday: Elephants and Castles in Jenny's, New Cross Road

So much good music about at the minute that I'm going to do two Music Monday posts today, both of them featuring videos shot in Deptford. As well as King Krule filming from the Birds Nest we have Elephants and Castles (featured here previously) with the video for their new song shot in Jenny's cafe in Deptford (505 New Cross Road). 'The World's Greatest Complainers' is a beautiful slice of midwinter melancholy that reminds me a bit of Kings of Convenience or Turin Brakes.

Music Monday: King Krule on East Dulwich History (& filmed in Deptford)

It's been a good year for King Krule (Archy Marshall), with his debut album 6 Feet Below the Moon released in the summer and getting good reviews. Last week (7 December) he was interviewed on Gilles Peterson's BBC Radio 6 show .

19-year-old Marshall, who went to Forest Hill Boys School and the Brits School in Croydon, talked about his various pseudonymous music projects. At least one of these, Edgar the Beatmaker (which he uses for his more hip hop flavoured work), owes something to local history, as he explains: 'I started reading about the history of the area I grew up in South East London, around Peckham and East Dulwich. I was getting into the guy who created East Dulwich and Peckham and it was a man called Edgar the Peacemaker and he was the first King of England to unite all the kingships, and his brother was a man called St Dunstan and I was born in Dunstans Road'. Yes indeed the first mention of Dulwich comes from 967 when King  Edgar the Peaceful granted Dilwihs ('meadow where the dill grew') to one Earl Aelfheah; Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, was his close adviser rather than brother.

In the interview, he also mentions recording in Bermondsey with electronic music duo Mount Kimbie. In fact later in the programme, Peterson names three albums as the best of 2013, all of them with South London connections: King Krule's, Mount Kimbie's Cold Spring Fault Less Youth and James Blake's Overgrown.

The video for King Krule's Easy Easy shows him towering above the DLR line on Deptford Church Street (so assume he must be on the roof of the Birds Nest pub?). No doubt you can spot some other South London locations in it, including I think scenes around Surrey Docks/Rotherhithe (thought I spotted Stave Hill).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Firefighters strike in South London

There was solid support at South London fire stations for the national strike last night. Firefighters walked out between  6 pm and 10 pm over plans to raise their retirement age from 55 to 60 and increase their pension contributions. There will be another strike between the same times next Saturday night.

Here's a few pictures (sourced via twitter) from local picket lines:

Forest Hill Fire Station (from @MattWrack)

Beckenham (from @MattWrack)

Southwark Fire Station - facing closure by Boris Johnson
on 9 January 2014  (@savesouthwark)

Friday, December 13, 2013

A teacher remembers Mandela's visit to Brixton

Graham Jameson (on the right in above picture), who some of you may know from his time as head of Edmund Waller Primary School in New Cross, recalls the day in July 1996 when he took children from Walnut Tree Walk school in Kennington to meet Nelson Mandela on his visit to Brixton:

'The picture I was looking for showed most of Nelson Mandela rather than just the top of his head. It also showed me shaking his hand. But I can’t find that. What we do have here is Mandela bending down to speak to Fola from my then school, Walnut Tree Walk in Lambeth. It’s a shame about the other one, but actually this is a better picture because it shows how Nelson Mandela was always a man of the people and especially a man for the children. On that same morning he’d been leaving the Dorchester in the official car to take the short drive to Brixton Recreation Centre. A friend and colleague of mine had taken a group of his children, from what would now be called a PRU, up to the hotel to waive as the car passed and Mandela stopped the vehicle and got out to talk to them. I couldn’t help thinking of those long and brutal years on Robben Island where he didn’t see his own children and never heard the sounds of children’s voices.

The flowers you can see that Fola has just presented to Mandela’s daughter, Zenani, are in a bouquet in the colours of the ANC that I got made up by a florist in Kennington. The florist had asked me if they were for someone special. Fola’s mum, Benedicta, was so proud of her and she was beautifully turned out. The same couldn’t really be said for me, though the tie and waistcoat did belong to my dad, a man whose sartorial facility I failed to inherit.

When it came to my turn to shake hands I found myself saying: “Welcome to Brixton, sir” –a greeting both brief and anodyne. Frankly the emotion of that meeting was so overwhelming that I couldn’t trust myself to say anything else. After he’d spoken to the people in the line-up (lead by Heather Rabatts in the white outfit) he and Prince Charles (on the far left of the picture) proceeded into the Centre. There were other people waiting to be presented inside but to get there he had to pass a crowd corralled behind a barrier. They were wild with enthusiasm, many shouting “Madiba, Madiba.” Mandela recognised an old comrade and, again ignoring protocol, walked across and embraced him. As he got into the Centre our children were playing their batucada instruments to welcome him. Of course he went over to them to thank them. One of the children said “Why are you crying?” to me and I could only blurt out: “Don’t look at me, look at him.”

Generally I’m with Bob in Subterranean Homesick Blues and ‘Don’t follow leaders/Watch the parkin meters’ but what was so clear that day was here was a man whose moral authority came not from populism but from a sort of nobility. When I think back on a longish career, I sometimes muse on failures and disappointments and ask myself what it all meant. Then I think back to that day with its transcendent feeling of hope and human affirmation and a little light of meaning goes on in my head'.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

South London Misty Mornings

Beautiful sunrise this morning, here's a few shots I found on twitter:

Peckham Rye in the mist from top of 78 bus (my photo)
Shooters Hill by James Morrow (@jimbo341)

Woolwich Arsenal by Major Draper

The Shard by @alexbrowna
Finally from yesterday an actual misty morning Albert Bridge

by HappyTaylor3050

'I dreamt we were standing
By the banks of the thames
Where the cold grey waters ripple
In the misty morning light
Held a match to your cigarette
Watched the smoke curl in the mist
Your eyes, blue as the ocean between us
Smiling at me...

Count the days
Slowly passing by
Step on a plane
And fly away
I'll see you then
As the dawnbirds sing
On a cold and misty morning
By the albert bridge'

(lyrics by Jem Finer)

Transpontine Christmas Trees

Peckham Square

Waterloo station

My favourite so far - a 'tree' made of books made of trees in Goldsmiths library- the sharp eyed
may  spot Derrida's Of Grammatology, Jameson's  Postmodernism and Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks
contributing to the festive cheer!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Cross and Lewisham Local History Talks

New Cross Local History Group meets regularly (usually every third Thursday of the month) at New Cross Learning (next to Iceland on the New Cross Road). Their next talk, on Thursday 12 December (6:30pm), is on The London Christian Endeavour Convention of 1914 and the World Convention of 1926'.

Meanwhile the next Lewisham Local History Monthly Talk is on William Gladstone, the Liberal politician who was four times Prime Minister: 'The Grand Old Man of British politics was MP for Greenwich from 1868 to 1880, when the constituency included Deptford. Dr. Windscheffel, Senior Lecturer in history at Royal Holloway, University of London, will relate Gladstone's sometimes troubled relationship with our area'. Friday 13th December at 7.45pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13 6BT.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Nicky Crane, Jobs for a Change 1984 and other nazi attacks

The crowd at County Hall on June 10 1984 (photo from Tony Hollingsworth on flickr -
I believed he was one of the organisers of the event)
On June 10 1984 the Greater London Council, on the verge of being abolished by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, put on the 'Jobs for a Change' festival by County Hall on the South Bank. I was one of the estimated 150,000 who went along, with the line up including Billy Bragg, Misty in Roots, Mari Wilson, Hank Wangford, Gil Scott-Heron and Ivor Cutler. The biggest draw was The Smiths - it was the fourth and last time I went to see them, and in less than a year they had gone from being third on the bill at the Lyceum (where I saw them supporting the Gang of Four) to becoming the focus of something like mass hysteria.

Morrissey, GLC Leader Ken Livingstone and Mari Wilson at Jobs for a Change
(photo from the excellent UK Rock Festivals site)

Socialist band The Redskins played too, and while they were on stage a largish group of neo-nazi skinheads stormed the stage and attacked people in the crowd. Although the fascists were massively outnumbered by the festival goers, many of the latter fled in panic. Indie kids were never known for their streetfighting skills! I wasn't very handy either but I did end up with a group of punks, anarchists and Red Action members chasing the nazi boneheads round the South Bank, and who knows in the scuffles that day I may have had an encounter with the late Nicola Vincenzo Crane.

Jobs for a Change 1984 poster
An interesting article by Jon Kelly at the BBC News Magazine recalls that among the fascist skins that day was Nicky Crane (1958-1993): 'As The Redskins, a socialist skinhead band, played, Crane led an attack on the crowd. Around 100 fascists began setting about the audience closest to the main stage... The neo-Nazis were beaten back by a group of striking Yorkshire miners, invited to steward the event by Livingstone as a solidarity gesture, and members of the militant far-left group Red Action. Crane was not cowed, however, and after regrouping his forces, he charged a second stage at the other end of the park where the Hank Wangford Band were playing. This time, however, the anti-fascists were better prepared. Militants grabbed empty cider bottles to use as improvised weapons. As the anti-fascists fought back, Crane broke away from the main battle. "He was busy attacking the rest of the crowd, on his own, stripped to the waist," says Gary [an anti-fascist present]. As Crane tried to make it over a barrier on to the stage, he was knocked over by a Red Action member. He escaped the furious crowd by using a female left-wing activist as a human shield, according to witnesses. As the violence subsided, anti-fascists confronted another skinhead in the crowd. His Harrington jacket was unzipped to reveal a slogan on his T-shirt. It read "Nicky Crane", in tribute to the young man's hero. Given the carnage Crane had just instigated, the left-wingers had little sympathy for his admirer. The skinhead was set upon and beaten'.

By this time Crane had become notorious for his role in a string of racist and other violent attacks. Born in Bexley and growing up in Crayford, by the late 1970s he was living in Plumstead and working on the bins - and had become Kent organiser for the Hitler-worshiping British Movement. Kelly describes some of the events he was involved in, including two major attacks in Woolwich:

'The skinhead gang marched in military formation down the High Street clutching iron bars, knives, staves, pickaxe handles and clubs.There were at least 100 of them. They had spent two days planning their attack. The date was 28 March 1980. Soon they reached their target - a queue of mostly black filmgoers outside the Odeon cinema in Woolwich, south-east London... The Woolwich Odeon attack of 1980 was described by a prosecutor at the Old Bailey as a "serious, organised and premeditated riot". After their intended victims fled inside, the skinheads drilled by Crane began smashing the cinema's doors and windows, the court was told. A Pakistani man was knocked unconscious in the melee and the windows of a nearby pub were shattered with a pickaxe handle. In 1981 Crane was jailed for his part in an ambush on black youths at Woolwich Arsenal station. As the judge handed down a four-year sentence, an acolyte standing alongside Crane stiffened his arm into a Nazi salute and shouted "sieg heil" from the dock'.

As Kelly mentions Crane was gay and by the mid-1980s was being spotted out at London gay clubs such as Heaven. To start with he continued his involvement with the far right but in 1992 he not only came out as gay on a TV programme but renounced his previous nazi beliefs. The following year he died from AIDS.

Kelly's implies that it was Crane's increasing identification with the gay scene that led him away from the homophobic far right. That may be true, though Crane certainly wasn't the only gay man in the British neo-nazi scene in the 1970s and 80s. Another key turning point was doubtless in 1990, when Crane got a taste of his own medicine when he was knocked unconscious by Anti Fascist Action activists in the vicinity of an Irish demonstration in Kilburn. A mostly wasted life, but at least he doesn't seem to have died a nazi.


Nicky Crane: The secret double life of a gay neo-Nazi by Jon Kelly, BBC News Magazine, 6 December 2013

Gerry Gable's comments on this article at Searchlight

John Eden's article on Crane from 2004 (in case anyone thought that the BBC article contained anything really new)

Malatesta's blog

(I note from Wikipedia that Crane also used to sometimes frequent The Bell, a gay pub in Kings Cross I sometimes went to in late 1980s, so maybe our paths crossed there too)

Music Monday: Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir Charity Single

Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir (recently renamed from Lewisham NHS Choir) have had quite a year and a bit. Last Autumn they made it to the final of BBC's The Choir: Sing While You Work. Then, with maternity and emergency services under threat, the choir supported the campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital. They performed on the Save Lewisham A&E track with Lewisham rapper Question. With the Hospital saved (for now), they have relesed a charity Christmas single in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and local healthcare charities.

A Bridge Over You mashes up Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water with Coldplay's Fix You. You can buy it here. The video features scenes shot in Lewisham Hospital.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Light Houses Winter Wonderland

Free film on the streets of Telegraph Hill/New Cross tonight (Sunday 8 December, 5-8pm), with New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival putting on a Light Houses Winter Wonderland special: 'a world of cinema and moving image projected in people's front room windows... 25 venues will be screening a dazzling range of films, shadows, animations and other moving images through their windows for the delectation of our ambling audience'. Map below, further details here

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Fowlers Molly Dancers in New Cross/Deptford

Molly dancing is a kind of Morris dance that was traditionally associated with out of work ploughboys over the winter. Fowlers Molly Dancers have revived this in South East London, and their first tour of the season is tomorrow, Sunday 8th December, with music and dancing in New Cross and Deptford.

They will start from the Royal Albert 460 New Cross Rd, with the aim of dancing at 12.30, moving on to the Little Crown,495 New Cross Rd, for about 1:30 pm, and finishing off around 3:00 pm at the Dog and Bell, 116 Prince St, Deptford.

Other tours will be on Boxing Day in Blackheath as guests of Blackheath Morris and Sunday 5th January at the George Inn, Borough as guests of the Lions Part for Twelfth Night.  The final outing is the Plough Monday tour in Greenwich on 13th  January.

Nelson Mandela House and other London anti-apartheid traces

The movement against apartheid inspired and mobilised people throughout the world. The ending of that racist system was a great victory, even if today the poor in South Africa are still facing repression (such as the massacre at Markikana mine last year). At the peak of the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s, streets and buildings across London were named after Nelson Mandela and others involved in the struggle - mostly by Councils who were denounced at the time as 'loony left' for so doing.

So while Nelson Mandela has gone, the memory of him and the wider movement will be preserved on the streets of the capital for decades, possibly centuries, to come. In South London there is Mandela Way SE1 off the Old Kent Road, home to the post sorting office and Tate store.

photo from IanVisits

There's a Mandela Street SW9, off Brixton Road towards the Oval (Mandela famously visited Brixton in 1996). There's also Mandela House in Pendrell Street SE18 and of course (the fictional) Nelson Mandela House tower block in Peckham, home to the Trotters in 1980s TV Sitcom 'Only Fools and Horses'!

The Pelican House development in Peckham is on the site and retains the frontage of a Council building that was named for a while as Winnie Mandela House. Nelson Mandela's former wife is a more controversial figure, though you could argue that while Nelson doubtless suffered terribly in prison he was able to retain his saintly image by not having to be as involved as Winnie was in the messy and violent business of dealing with police massacres, armed resistance and informers on the streets of Soweto in the 1970s and 1980s.

There are also four UK streets named after Steve Biko, the anti-apartheid activist killed in police custody in 1977. One of these is Steve Biko Lane in Bellingham, which was visited recently by his son Nkosinathi Biko (pictured below) as part of a Phoenix Black History Month event.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

London Bookshop Map

The London Bookshop Map has mapped 110 independent bookshops in London, with those south of the river including Bookseller Crow (Crystal Palace), Kirkdale Bookshop (Sydenham), Review (Peckham), Rye Books & Chener Books (East Dulwich), 56a InfoShop (Elephant and Castle), Book Mongers (Brixton), Dulwich Books, Herne Hill Books and more. You can also download a phone app of the map from the site.

Like an Old Dead Tree

The damage from October's storm wasn't as bad as some feared, but running round Hilly Fields at parkrun* it was sad to see some fallen landmarks.

*Hilly Fields parkrun is a free timed 5k run every Saturday morning at 9 am, with a regular attendance of 80 to 100 people of all levels of ability. On 21 December there will be a Santa themed run for those who don't mind dressing up and there's an extra run on Christmas Day too! See also report at Go Feet running blog.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

South London People's Assembly in New Cross

South London People's Assembly is happening this Saturday at Goldsmiths in New Cross. They say:

'On Saturday 7 December, hundreds of people will attend the ‘South London People's Assembly’ at Goldsmiths' College to discuss alternatives to the government’s austerity programme and a plan of action to oppose it. They will be joined by nationally known speakers including Independent columnist Owen Jones, writer Jack Monroe aka A Girl Called Jack and campaigner-comedian Josie Long.

The event is organised by the ‘South London People's Assembly’ - a movement aiming to bring together all those South Londoners opposed to public spending cuts. Other speakers include leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett, John McDonnell MP, General Secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) Billy Hayes, poet Zita Holbourne, Deputy General Secretary of the NUT Kevin Courtney, Lee Jasper from Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC), Lindsey German from the Stop the War Coalition and comedian and disability campaigner Francesca Martinez.

The December 7 event includes almost 20 workshop sessions led by leading local campaigners such as Save Lewisham Hospital’s Dr Louise Irvine. The informative and interactive workshops are an opportunity for people to plan and build resistance locally through sessions such as How to save the NHS, Challenging the Austerity Story, The Battle for Education, Alternatives to Austerity, Disability and Resistance, Austerity and Racist Scapegoating and practical sessions on banner-making as well as live performances.

South London People’s Assembly was formed following the inaugural national People’s Assembly Against Austerity in June 2013, an event attended by 4,000 people and sponsored by all the major trade unions alongside community and campaigning groups. Since then local People’s Assemblies have sprung up across Britain and packed meetings have been held in cities like Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton, Newcastle, Nottingham. 800 people attended a People’s Assembly in Manchester.

Lia Korn, Secretary, South London People’s Assembly, said: ‘The government's austerity program is pushing many thousands of people into a life of poverty and suffering. The coalition are deliberately seeking to destroy the welfare state while fostering a culture of blame and division – “skivers versus strivers”.

People are being forced to turn to food banks while welfare is slashed. Young people’s futures are bleaker than ever and the sick and disabled are denied Disability Living Allowance – their means of living a dignified and independent life - by unqualified ATOS employees. Austerity is not making people’s lives better – it’s making things much worse.

It's not right that the poor are having to pay for the financial crisis while the rich continue to get richer - the Tories have reduced the top rate of tax by 10% - yet our political leaders insist on attacking ordinary working people while their spin machine tries to convince us that that this is in the best interests of our country.

The People’s Assembly is saying that enough is enough. If you live in South London, and you're against what this government's doing, please join us at South London People’s Assembly on 7 December. We want it to be your Assembly, so come and make your voice heard.'

South London People's Assembly is on Saturday 7 December, 10am – 5pm at Goldsmiths' College, New Cross. Tickets are available for £5 advance / £10 on the door / Concessions are free (JSA/ESA/Income Support). To buy tickets or for more information see www.southlondonpa.org


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Students occupy Goldsmiths in support of staff strike

Students at Goldsmiths are occupying the Deptford Town Hall building on New Cross Road. In a statement issued last night they say:

'Tonight over 100 of us are occupying the offices of Goldsmiths University management, in solidarity with our lecturers and university staff who have been forced into striking for the second time on 3rd December over a 13% pay decrease in the past four years.

Our objective is simple: to escalate. UCEA, the negotiating body for universities, refuse to re-enter negotiations, citing lack of money. This simply isn't true, there is a 2 billion pound surplus in the sector. We'd suggest that if managers are looking for savings, they should start by looking at their own salaries. The university sector has the biggest pay disparity of all public sectors, with the gender pay gap widening with every new government policy of marketisation.

We also send our solidarity to other occupations around the country, and encourage other campuses to join in. We're aiming for Deptford Town hall to remain closed on strike day tomorrow and we encourage everyone to join and support the picket lines around campus. There will be a meeting at 8am inside the occupation, all students and staff are welcome!'

There is a D3 Occupation facebook page here.

The occupation comes as staff at Goldsmiths and other universities take national strike action over pay. Goldsmiths UCU (University and College Union) say:

'On Tuesday 3rd December lecturers and support staff at Goldsmiths will be taking strike action for the second time this year and we would like to make clear our reasons for this. For the fifth successive year UCEA, the employers organisation, have made an offer to increase pay by 1%, well below the current rate of inflation. In effect both lecturers and support staff have seen their incomes fall by 13% since 2008.

Over the same period, student fees have been increased to £9,000 a year for home students and upwards of £11,000 for international students. Thanks to successful recruitment and the acknowledged high quality of degree courses at Goldsmiths the University has managed to maintain a healthy operating surplus, some of which has been invested in improving the state of the teaching accommodation. Sadly this has not been extended to investing in the majority of the staff all of whom make a substantial contribution to the success of Goldsmiths.

While salaries of lecturers and support staff have declined in real terms, the same cannot be said of the Warden who has recently been awarded a 9% pay rise and benefits from a pension contribution far in excess of the annual salary of most support staff. We would like to congratulate him on his success in helping secure the place of Goldsmiths in a global marketplace but would remind him of the contribution to this of everyone who works here. A few crumbs from the top table wouldn't go amiss'.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Music Monday: Richard Sanderson

Richard Sanderson is an important figure in the London improvisational music scene, not to mention a member of the fearsome Blackheath Morris Men. For the past couple of years he has been releasing some interesting sounds on his digital label, Linear Obsessional Recordings, and he has now put out a new album of his own, Air Buttons.

He says: 'These pieces were recorded at home in Hither Green, usually on Friday afternoons when the housework was done and before the kids came back from school. As with my previous album of melodeon improvisations the instrument was recorded in three different ways – using footpedals (wah, distortion and pitch change), pushing it through contraptions made with Audiomulch software on my laptop, or augmenting it with other sounds – in this case, field recordings and a wind-up gramophone. The gramophone was recorded with a contact microphone (made by Jez Riley French) attached to the needle, or to a toothbrush. “Above The Breakers” was played on pre-WW1 one-row melodeon, all the others were played on a D/G Hohner Pokerwork. The title of “Flim Flamingo” was suggested by Gary Widdowfield.. “Velux Doppler” was created from two field recordings- one of Beckenham Parish Church Bells, the other of the rain falling on the roof window of my bedroom. The field recordings on “Shade” were made in my garden...  For my Father'.

You can download it here, choosing your own price. Other South Londonist sounds on Linear Obsessional Recordings include Hannah Marshall's album of cello improvisations, Tulse Hill.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

World AIDS Day - 1500+ living with HIV in Lewisham

Today is World AIDS Day, so a good point to recall that 'more than 1,500 people are known to be living with the HIV infection in Lewisham – that’s one of the highest rates in the UK. And many more are likely to be infected without knowing' (Lewisham Council)

In fact, 'The rate of HIV infection in Lewisham is 7.8 per 1,000 population with the average for London at 5.2 per 1,000. This is the 8th highest prevalence in the UK'. 

Things are much more positive than when I worked in HIV/AIDS in the early 1990s. In those days an HIV diagnosis was felt by many to be akin to a death sentence.  Today there are good medical treatments, but they work best when people get diagnosed early. And the most recent figures (for 2011) show that 35% of HIV infections in Lewisham were diagnosed very late. 

Free HIV tests are available at any GP surgery in Lewisham and at sexual health clinics. Go to NHS Choicefor more information.