Saturday, August 20, 2022

Falkor the Dragon spotted in SE14

Wolfgang Petersen, director of the Neverending Story, died last week. Is that why Falkor the dragon was flying over New Cross yesterday? 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Swimming at Birchmere Lake, Thamesmead

Going for an outdoor swim at Thamesmead hasn't been top of my bucket list, but when the opportunity arose this weekend for a dip at Birchmere Lake I thought I would give it a go and I am glad I did. PTP Coaching, who run the lake swimming at Beckenham Place Park, were putting on sessions with support of Peabody to try out the lake with a view to possibly making it an ongoing swimming venue in future.

The lake is mainly used for fishing at present, but it is a big body of water with plenty of room for swimmers and anglers to co-exist. Yesterday there was a 500m swimming circuit completely separate from the area where people were fishing, with lifeguards and a sloping entry point for easy access to the lake. On this very hot day getting in to cold (actually lukewarm) water was a treat, and this could definitely work as a regular swimming spot. With outdoor swimming become increasingly popular there is a need for more such places - at present apart from Beckenham Lake and the lidos (Charlton, Brockwell Park, Tooting Bec) there is very little in South London. 


Saturday, August 13, 2022

Malcolm Hardee sets himself on fire as a teenage DJ

The famed South London comedian Malcolm Hardee made his name in the 1980s, including opening The Tunnel comedy club next to the Greenwich entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel and then Up the Creek in Creek Road, Greenwich. He went on to the run The Wibbley Wobbley floating pub in Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, near to which he sadly drowned in 2005.

Born in Lewisham Hospital in 1950, Hardee grew up in Grover Court, Loampit Hill SE13. By all accounts he had quite a wild youth of petty crime interspersed with DJing under the name Wolfe Hardee. This story from the Daily Mirror (30 October 1968) feature 19 year old disc jockey Wolfe Hardee of Blessington close, Lewisham, whose party piece was dowsing his clothes in methylated spirt and setting himself on fire.

'The next number from DJ Wolfe is a real sparkler' (Daily Mirror, 30 October 1968)

One of his DJ gigs in this period was at Club Tighten Up above the Ordnance Arms in York Road SE1 (later the Jubilee Tavern), a dance club sponsored by the staff association from the nearby Greater London Council building - as mentioned here.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Music Monday: Saint Jude 'No Angels'



Forest Hill based Saint Jude (Jude Woodhead) has been putting out music for a few years now and gradually getting more attention in terms of critical interest, radio plays on BBC6 Music etc. A couple of his tracks have over  a million plays on Spotify. I am sure it's only a matter of time before he goes to the next level and I wonder whether the breakbeat driven 'No Angels'  is going to be the song to do it. It certainly should be, and comes with a great video featuring scenes around SE23, Corsica Studios and elsewhere.

The music and video are partly inspired by Covid 19 urban wanderings, as explained at Slow Dance:

 '“The message in ‘No Angels’ is about more than lockdown specifically,” Jude says of the track. ‘Community and solidarity is the most important thing, and will always be in conflict with the forces of capital and money.’ With knowing nods to sonic movements that are so deeply associated with the capital’s working class neighbourhoods, the track’s chorus hook says it all in its simplicity: “you say the money doesn’t matter too much / you say the love for your people is enough.” Savage Messiah, Laura Grace Ford’s graphic novel about London outcasts and psychogeography within the city, provided inspiration during the single’s incubation period'.

Friday, August 05, 2022

Bethlem Museum of the Mind/Bethlem Gallery

The Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham (Monks Orchard Road) is one of the world's oldest mental health institutions. Starting out near Bishopsgate in the City of London in the 13th century,  it moved to Moorfields in 1676, and then to St George's Fields in Southwark in 1815, now site of the Imperial War Museum.  It moved again to the spacious grounds of Monks Orchard in 1930. The word 'bedlam' derives from its name.

It has in short been a place of much suffering and some healing over many years, a history that is covered in the Bethlem Museum of the Mind located in the hospital's former admin building.

The stairs to the museum are guarded by two statues which for centuries adorned the gates to Bethlam at its former locations.

The museum  aims to record 'the lives and experience and celebrates the achievements of people with mental health problems' as well as providing an overview of the history of their treatment, much of it cruel.

The well lit and contemporary designed museum also features original work by artists and former patients such as Richard Dadd and Louis Wain (famous for his cat pictures), while the Bethlem Gallery on the ground floor is an exhibition space for art by current service users.

On my recent visit I took part in a community Cyanotype Workshop Drop-in at Bethlem Gallery with Melanie King. The technique involves laying objects on solution treated paper and exposing in sunlight, leaving images behind. In my example below this included a fern, a feather, some Chinese coins and a small Kuan Yin figure.

Mad Pride sticker on Bethlem car park sign

The Museum/Gallery is free and is open Wednesday - Friday, as well as some Saturdays  (check website for details).


Tuesday, August 02, 2022