Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tupac SE8

Tupac Shakur, corner of Deptford High Street and Comet Street, SE8.

Speedy Auto Service Ltd, Creek Road, SE8 - I like this, anyone know who these people are?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Transpontine Pantomime, today and past

The Pantomime season is upon us. At Greenwich Theatre, Peter Pan: A New Adventure by Andrew Pollard opened last week, and Peter Pan is also to be found at the Broadway Theatre in Catford this Christmas with The Lost Boy Peter Pan (not technically a pantomime): 'The Broadway’s Resident Theatre Company, the award-winning ACTION TO THE WORD bring their brand new twist on J M Barrie’s classic novel to stage this Christmas. With live music, singing and interactive theatre for children of all ages, this alternative to traditional Pantomime is the perfect treat'.

This year's Telegraph Hill Centre community panto is Mother Goose: 'Mother Goose rents her Brockley hovel from money-grabbing Squire Hatcham. Poor Mother Goose. She’s not young, good looking or well off. But Mother Goose is kind, loyal and a dedicated community activist. Oh yes, she is!' Most shows next weekend are sold out, but still a few tickets left for the Friday.

Transpontine Pantomime

Pantomime has a long association with South London, the phrase 'Transpontine pantomime' being used in the 19th century to refer to the shows on the Surrey side (i.e South side) of the Thames, in venues such as the Surrey Theatre in Blackfriars Road and the Vic at Waterloo. 

An 1867 article entitled 'THE TRANSPONTINE PANTOMIMES' noted that these theatres had become the main venues for Christmas panto: 'In the internecine war raging between pantomime and burlesque, the latter has decidedly the best of it this Christmas in the centre of London. Out of the dozen theatres in the heart of the metropolis, only two, Covent Garden and Drury Lane, have produced pantomimes. In the outlying districts, this time-honoured species of winter amusement is in full force, and notably in the three theatres on the Surrey side of the Thames—Astley's, the Surrey, and the Victoria' (Cheltenham Chronicle, 15 January 1867).  

A review of a pantomime at the Surrey in 1866 describes the ingredients: 

 'A sufficient stringing together of nursery rhymes, a little touch of fairy machinery, a lover and a princess, with a rival possessor of magic powers, while a benevolent fairy or an old woman and her cat agree to befriend true love, and in the end are successful, or, if not, bring all the parties into Fairyland, and there change them into harlequin, columbine, and clown, and you have a transpontine pantomime of the present day' (London Daily News, 27 December 1866) 

So familiar was the formula that the phrase 'transpontine pantomime' passed into the language as a metaphor for absurd and knockabout events. So a parade of Chinese soldiers in 1894 was described as thus: 'their drill and demeanour, were suggestive of a show of a transpontine pantomime. (Western Times, 31 October 1894). Similarly the humiliation of the Ashanti king during the British occupation of what is now Ghana was decribed as  'A scene more fit for a transpontine pantomime than one de-signed to impress a conquered foe with the idea of European dignity or British magnanimity' (Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough, 24 January 1896).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Deptford Sounds Today

A couple of interesting musical events in Deptford this afternoon/evening (Saturday 19  November):

First up from 5 pm at Vinyl Deptford (cafe/record shop at 4 Tanners Hill),  there's a progamme of 'live experimental, electronic and improvised music presented by Hither Green's foremost underground label Linear Obsessional Recordings'

Line up includes:

UNNAMABLE TRIO - A new trio brought together for this show, featuring Oli Barrett (cello/electronics) who records exquisite, halucinatory drone, noise albums as Petrels, Linear Obsessional boss, Richard Sanderson (amplified melodeon) and the singular Irish electro-acoustic explorer Michael Speers

RODDART (Daniel James Ross- Live Electronics, Jake Stoddart - Trumpet) - 'Mind expanding duo... Expect mutations and instant transformations and transfixions'.

PLASTIGLOMERATE - Thomas Tyler - Tape Loops and Electronics 'dense, tangible structures of sculpted noise

SEAN DOWER (Bow Gamelan/Death Magazine 52/Sonofapup) presents new work exploring "intervention into systems of autogeneration"

JAMES O'SULLIVAN 'Probably the most inventive electric guitarist on the scene at the moment, O'Sullivan comes at the guitar from a new angle, with extended techniques and bricolage, he explores the physical weight of the instruments heritage with dynamism and wit' 

Admission is a suggested donation of £5

Deptford Dub Club

Later at the Duke (125 Creek Road SE8) from 8 pm to 12:30, Deptford Dub Club return with regular DJ Soft Wax joined by guest David Katz: 

'David is an internationally renowned author and broadcaster on all things reggaematic; he’s also a wicked selector. He can be relied upon to present upbeat, up tempo selections for your dancing feet. 

They will be joined by the fabulous Laura Trombone, who will be gracing us with her space echo pedal work again...  joined on clarinet by the accomplished Jas. We will also be enjoying the distinctive vocal stylings of Ras Darun and Ant’one Setondji.

David will have some of his excellent books available at a specally reduced price too, he’ll sign and dedicate them as required' 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

'Pride, Prejudice and Peckham' - John Beckett, from Labour MP to Nazi apologist

I have been peering again into  the murky waters of the history of the far right in South London.  One of the more depressing specimens is John Beckett (1894-1964).

After the First World War, in which he served, Beckett joined the left wing Independent Labour Party and following a period as a Hackney councillor he became the Labour MP for Gateshead in 1924, and then for Peckham in the 1929 General Election. He seems to have created some dischord such that in the 1931 election three Labour candidates stood against each other, all of whom lost to the Conservative candidate as a result (draw what contemporary lessons you like from that...)

'Pride, Prejudice and Peckham'
'This time... it is the Socilaists who have quarrelled, and they have quarrelled so violently that they are bringing into the field not two candidates, but three. Mr John Beckett - who created disunity at Gateshead, where he was once returned with a majority of more than none thousand - came to Peckham in 1929. He seems to have created as much disunity there'
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 22 October 1931
Beckett subsequently moved rapidly to the right, and in 1934 joined Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF). Beckett became the BUF's Director of Publications, editing its paper, but after falling out with Mosley founded the even more openly anti-semitic National Socialist League with William Joyce. Joyce, from Dulwich, ended up being executed for his role as Hitler's 'Lord Haw Haw' propagandist. Beckett, along with other nazi sympathisers, was interned from 1940 to 1943 - for some of the time in Brixton Prison. After the war he resumed his fascist activities with the British People's Party before dying in 1964. His son, the writer/journalist Francis Beckett, later wrote about him in the book 'Fascist in the Family'. 

For those intrigued/horrified by the politics of left-right crossover - in which sometime leftists co-operate and ultimately become indistinguishable from the extreme right - the case of Beckett and some of his associates is a salutary lesson. Among his comrades in the British People's Party were Ben Greene, a Quaker pacifist and former Labour candidate, and St John Philby (father of Russian spy Kim Philby), another former Labour supporter who converted to Islam and helped the Saudi family to power in what became Saudi Arabia - before standing as a fascist candidate and being locked up for a period in the Second World War. What a bunch of eejits.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I am Human - Precarious Journeys

Coming up next weekend at Goldsmiths in New Cross:

Trace the precarious journeys of refugees as they navigate the perils of land, sea and a deadly human landscape riven by geopolitical failure on an unprecedented scale. Documentary filmmaker Professor Sue Clayton presents a multimedia installation responding to three perilous spaces that refugees fleeing conflict to the UK must navigate: the sea, the national border and the camp.

Featuring original music composed by Brian Eno, a soundscape of voices, the throb of tides, motorways and the human heart, visitors will be invited to interact with three short films activated by movement.

Opening event on Friday, 18 November. At 7pm Professor Clayton will give a talk introducing the work and situating it within her documentary filmmaking practice and her recent experiences helping children escape the Calais 'Jungle'.

St James Hatcham Building, St James', London SE14 6AD. Runs from Friday 18 November to Sunday 20 November. Free entry, booking advised for opening night - here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Lewisham Refugee & Migrant Network Fundraiser

A fundraiser for Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network takes place this Saturday 19 November at The Ivy House, Stuart Road SE15. The family friendly event from 1 to 5 pm includes music from the LRMN women's choir, South London Songsters and others as well as a cake sale and raffle prizes. Further details on facebook.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

United Kingdom: David Oyelowo & Rosamund Pike in the Rivoli

'United Kingdom' is a new movie starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, based on the true-life interracial romance between Seretse Khama (first president of Botswana) and his wife Ruth Williams. The couple first met in London in the 1940s, and the film seems to have used the Rivoli Ballroom as a location for some of their courting scenes

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Robin Hood Ballads at South East London Folklore Society

Coming up tomorrow (Thursday 10th November 2016) at South East London Folklore Society, Bob Askew will be given a talk on 'Robin Hood Ballads: The ‘Real Robin Hood’?

'The Robin Hood Ballads are the source for the core stories of the Robin Hood figure that we know today. They have been sung, recited and read for centuries; long before people wrote novels, or made films and TV programmes. Do the ballads depict the ‘real Robin Hood’, a different person to the English hero that we know so well today? Bob will trace the development of the Robin Hood story, and look at the many ballads about him.

Bob Askew is a lifelong lover of folk songs. He is particularly interested in the folk songs of his native Hampshire, and has researched the singers of these songs. He has also explored the life of George Gardiner, the Edwardian folk song collector, who noted over 1000 songs there. He writes articles, and gives talks on Hampshire Folk Songs. His interest in Robin Hood Ballads was provoked by the fact that seven different Robin Hood ballads were noted in a small area of Hampshire in 1907'.

The talk starts at 8pm in the upstairs room of the Old King's Head, King's Head Yard, 45-49 Borough High Street, SE1 1NA. Entrance is £3/1.50 concessions,  email to book a place or chance your arm and roll up on the night.

I don't think anyone's ever claimed Robin Hood as a Londoner, though his tale has featured in transpontine festivities

On May Day 1515, Henry VIII and the Queen ‘rode a Maying from Greenwich to the high ground of Shooters hill, where as they passed by the way, they spied a company of tall yeomen clothed all in Green’. The staged pageant included ‘Robin Hoode’ leading a band of 200 archers. ‘Robin Hoode desired the King & Queene with their retinue to enter the greene wood, where, in harbours made of boughs, and decked with flowers, they were set and served plentifully with venison and wine, by Robin Hoode and his men, to their great contentment, and had other Pageants and pastimes’ (Stow, 1603). 

Likewise on the 25th June 1559 there was a special performance for Queen Elizabeth I at Greenwich of ‘a May game’ featuring a giant, St George and the Dragon, Morris dancing, Robin Hood, Little John , Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, and the Nine Worthies of Christendom. 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Van Gogh in South London

As a young man, the artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) spent a couple of years living in London. Thanks to his practice of sending regular letters to his brother Theo and others, we know quite a lot about his time here including his movements across South London. The complete letters are available online courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum.

Van Gogh drawing of 87 Hackford Road - rediscovered in 1973
(source: wikipedia)
It was in the summer of 1873, while working for an art dealer,  that he moved to lodgings at 87 Hackford Road, Stockwell.  He wrote of it: 'I now have a room, as I’ve long been wishing, without sloping beams and without blue wallpaper with a green border. It’s a very diverting household where I am now, in which they run a school for little boys'. The 'diverting household' was the house of Ursula Loyer and her daughter Eugenie. A year later, Van Gogh declared his love for the latter, and when rebuffed the heartbroken artist moved  with his sister Anna to new lodgings  at the Ivy Cottage 395 Kennington Road - the house of John Parker, a publican. While he was staying there, the landlord's daughter Elizabeth Parker died of pneumonia, as mentioned in an April 1875 letter to Theo:

'I’m sending you herewith a small drawing. I made it last Sunday, the morning a daughter (13 years old) of my landlady died. It’s a view of Streatham Common, a large, grass-covered area with oak trees and broom. It had rained in the night, and the ground was soggy here and there and the young spring grass fresh and green'.

We know that he visited Dulwich Picture Gallery, writing on  4 August 1873) 'I had a nice day last Monday. The first Monday in Aug. is a holiday here. I went with one of the Germans to Dulwich, an hour and a half outside L., to see the museum there, and afterwards we walked to a village about an hour further on. The countryside here is so beautiful; many people who have their business in L. live in some village or other outside L. and come to the city every day by train' (L. is of course London). Exactly a year later he returned to the Gallery with his sister Anna (see note)

After a period in Paris in 1875, Van Gogh also spent much of 1876 living in England, in Ramsgate and then Isleworth. It was during this period that he visited the Gladwell family in Lewisham, who lived at 114 Lee High Rd.  It was a sad occasion, as he wrote from Isleworth (18 Aug. 1876) 'Yesterday I went to see Gladwell... Something very sad happened to his family: his sister, a girl full of life, with dark eyes and hair, 17 years old, fell from her horse while riding on Blackheath. She was unconscious when they picked her up, and died 5 hours later without regaining consciousness. I went there as soon as I heard what had happened and that Gladwell was at home. I left here yesterday morning at 11 o’clock, and had a long walk to Lewisham, the road went from one end of London to the other. At 5 o’clock I was at Gladwell’s.  I’d gone to their gallery first, but it was closed'.

Harry Gladwell was a friend of Vincent's who he had met  while working in Paris. It was his sister Susannah Gladwell who had. Gladwell's father, Henry Gladwell, ran a gallery in Gracechruch Street in the City of London. The six hour walk from Isleworth to the City and then to Lewisham is around 30 km. His route from the City would have presumably been across London Bridge and then down the Old Kent Road, through New Cross and up what is now Lewisham Way. 

Van Gogh wrote home in October 1876:  'One of these days, perhaps, I’ll go to London or Lewisham again', and soon he did. In Isleworth Van Gogh worked in a school and was sometimes sent by its headmaster, Thomas Slade-Jones, on errands such as collecting school fees. He wrote to his parents in November 1876: 'It is already late, and early tomorrow morning I must go to London and Lewisham, for Mr. Jones...I must be in the two remotest parts of London: in Whitechapel - that very poor part which you have read about in Dickens; and then across the Thames in a little steamer and from there to Lewisham'. He added the next day 'I started this morning at four o'clock, now it is two. I have just passed through the old cabbage fields - now for Lewisham. One sometimes asks, how shall I ever reach my destination?'. Wonder where the cabbage fields were? I guess the 'little steamer' crossing could have been at Woolwich.

Later that month he was back in Lewisham again, this time visiting the Gladwells at the end of another long journey: 'I left here at 4 in the morning, arrived at Hyde Park at half past six, the mist was lying on the grass and leaves were falling from the trees, in the distance one saw the shimmering lights of street-lamps that hadn’t yet been put out, and the towers of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, and the sun rose red in the morning mist – from there on to Whitechapel, that poor district of London, then to Chancery Lane and Westminster, then to Clapham to visit Mrs Loyer again, her birthday was the day before... I also went to Mr Obach’s to see his wife and children again [314 Brixton Road]. Then from there to Lewisham, where I arrived at the Gladwells at half past three. It was exactly 3 months ago that I was there that Saturday their daughter was buried, I stayed with them around 3 hours and thoughts of many kinds occurred to all of us, too many to express'. 

Van Gogh mentioned his friend Harry in a letter in December 1877:  'I hope he’ll be able to go to Lewisham at Christmas. You know that painting by Cuyp in the museum here, an old Dutch family, when he saw that he stood looking at it for a long time and then spoke of ‘the house built on the rock’ and of his home in Lewisham. I, too, have memories of his father’s house and will not easily forget it. Much and strong and great love  lives there under that roof, and its fire is in him still, it is not dead, but sleepeth'.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Leon Rosselson at New Cross Folk Club

Good to see that the recently started New Cross Folk Club at the Amersham Arms is going from strength to strength. This Sunday November 6th (7:30 pm) they are hosting veteran radical singer Leon Rosselson - probably best known for his Diggers anthem 'The World Turned Upside Down' which has been covered by Billy Bragg, Dick Gaughan and Chumbawamba among others.
The club meets twice a month, with forthcoming guests including Robb Johnson and Stick in the Wheel.

Friday update from Andrew, New Cross Folk Club:

'Leon Rosselson has had to cancel at the last minute on health grounds. However in a stroke of luck which is almost unprecedented in my life, Leicester protest folk superstar Grace Petrie has agreed to play instead. Make no mistake this is incredible good fortune. I had been hoping to book her next year and now she's playing on Sunday'.