Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Lewisham Swift Talk

Tomorrow night (Thursday 22 February) at Lewisham Town Hall there's a free talk by swift expert Edward Mayer about swifts and enhancing urban biodiversity, including what can be done locally to create swift-friendly environments.  The event is courtesy of Forest Hill & Lewisham Borough Swift Group in partnership with Swift Conservation and Lewisham  Council (free tickets here)

Personally the very fact that there is such a thing as group of people locally focused on this fine bird gives me a good feeling.  Swifts make a mockery of our human borders, migrating freely between Africa and Europe. Watching them in the west country TIm Dee observed: 'To watch their combing of the matted air is soothing. They don’t seem to be feeding, they don’t seem to be on their way anywhere; they are at rest in motion. They have flown from Bristol to Southern Africa and back to Bristol without touching anything, carrying nothing, never perching, never landing, never tired' (The Running Sky).

They also fly at incredible speed: 'The highest migration speed recorded for swifts over a long distance is (a plainly wind assisted) 650 km (404 miles) per day… Measured by tracking radar, the flight speed of swifts on spring migration was 10.6 m (35 feet) per second, which, if maintained over 24 hours, would be 916 km (569 miles) per day. The fastest human runner, Usain Bolt, clocked 12.4 m (41 feet) per second' - but of course he only kept this up over 100m! (Charles A Foster, Being a Beast).

Monday, February 12, 2018

Funeral Farewell to New Cross Post Office

Protestors gathered in the rain on Saturday 10th February for a funereal farewell to the New Cross Post Office, due to close this week and be replaced by a counter within a local convenience store.

From the Press Release:

'From 15 February, New Cross Gate post office services will be run as part of a One Stop shop nearby. New Cross Gate Crown post office is the third London Crown post office to be axed under plans unveiled last year to sell off a total of twelve Crown post offices. Earlier this week campaigners and councillors went to Downing Street to hand in a petition against the closure signed by 3,000 people.

Kirsten Downer, local campaigner said: “We’re concerned about this downgrading of services. There will be fewer counters in the new shop, and vulnerable people will have to queue past lottery tickets and alcohol. There are no guarantees of a long term service under a private provider – up the road in Deptford post office services are in the back of a shop which has since closed, and it looks like a junk shop. How can it be right that the Post Office, a government company with a duty to act in the public interest, can pay its CEO £600,000 while lecturing local communities about the need to cut costs?”'

Among other things, there will be a loss of the free cashpoint at the post office, compounding the previous loss of cashpoint at the adjacent ex-Barclays Bank.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Elvis Costello at Deptford Albany with Squeeze

In August 1980, Jools Holland played his last gig as keyboardist with Squeeze at The Albany in Deptford. In fact they played three nights at the venue (12,13,14 August), a deliberate return to their roots at a time when they were riding high commercially and selling out much bigger venues than this one, which Danny Baker characterised in his NME review of the gig (reproduced at Elvis Costello Wiki) as follows:

'For those — and there are some — who've never been to the Albany Empire and are ignorant to the venue's overwhelming size, maybe the following local joke will illuminate: a fella goes to the Albany and opens the door. "Can I come in?" he asks, and the bloke behind the desk says, "Only if I come out." (NME, 23 August 1980). This was in the Albany's original location on Creek Road - badly damaged by fire in a suspected right wing petrol bomb attack  in 1978, it was in limited use until new building was built in Douglas Way in 1981 (see here for picture of new building under construction).

The gigs featured support acts including Alexi Sayle, John Cooper Clarke and 'mystery' act  'Otis Westinghouse And The Lifts' who were in fact Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Elvis Costello also joined Squeeze for their encores (pictured below):

Review from Smash Hits, 4 September 1980