Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Creating Commons in New Cross

As reported here before, The Field opened last year in Queens Road, New Cross, as an 'experiment in collective local research, education and action' based around doing up a semi-derelict building.

Now the plans for its large garden are taking shape, and people are being invited to contribute to a 'a project to collectively design, fund, build and maintain a new common resource – a public garden in New Cross with facilities to support local self-organised activities, events and projects. This isn't just a community garden! This is an experiment in the act of collectively creating new common space, in negotiating its use, how its run and maintained so it can to meet the diverse needs and interests of everyone who uses it.

After a year of research: consultations, surveys, design workshops and public meetings, we have developed a picture of how the garden of 385 Queens Road can be best put to use. We found, from those conversations, that people in the area want:

- A place for different people in the neighbourhood to come together and meet each other.
- A public place we feel a sense of ownership over.
- A productive garden, where skills relating to food growing, health, environment, resilience and self-sufficiency can be learned and shared.
- A place with the resources to facilitate diverse public events, activities and projects.
- A relaxing outdoor space away from the main road running through New Cross'

Plans include buiding a workshop, glasshouse, outdoor kitchen and covered social area, as well as growing spaces.

For further information and/or to pledge a contribution see:

Monday, March 09, 2015

Music Monday:Jude Woodhead

Forest Hill based Jude Woodhead has a new EP out (available here on bandcamp and on soundcloud). 'Deep Transport' includes five of Jude's own tracks plus a remix of a King Krule track. 17-year-old Jude, who plays keyboards and trumpet as well as producing, is also one of the contributors to the new photography/art/music blog Essy (SE, gettit?). There's a bit of a Burial influence on some tracks, but the soundscape is more diverse than that might suggest. 'Ambient', 'Electronic', 'Hip Hop' are some of the tags that Jude uses to describe his music, I would add 'Cinematic', with samples including a speech from US radical black activist Angela Davis.

Jude's previous EP, last year's Nights in the City, included a couple of SE-referencing tracks - 'New Cross, LEWI' and 'Night Bus. N171'. Another track on that EP, Finger to the Moon, has recently been used as the basis for a track by 'influential in Brockley' grime artist Koder. The track Hand of Gold, which also includes singing from Pia Morris, has been getting played on BBC1Xtra and is included on Koder's new Naked EP. The start of this collaboration was when Koder introduced himself to Jude when the latter was playing the piano outside Forest Hill station!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Rebel Girl - A Kathleen Hanna Disco

The Canterbury Arms in Brixton remains open despite planning permission having been granted to demolish it and replace it with flats. Ian from legendary indie-pop night How Does it Feel? is putting on a series of one-off club nights there until the bulldozers steam in. The next one is tomorrow night (Friday 6th March) and it sounds like a good one: 'Rebel Girl - A Kathleen Hanna Disco':

'That girl thinks she's the queen of the neighborhood

- I got news for you, she is!

'Inspired by the incredible documentary, "The Punk Singer", we'll be playing lots and lots of songs by Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin, plus associated bands, and our usual mixture of indiepop and northern soul. Our guest DJs for the night are Sandy and Karren of Stolen Wine Social. Hurrah! As always, there's a guest list competition. To stand a chance of getting in for free, simply complete this phrase: "I love Kathleen Hanna because..." Best ten win! 

We will play: Bikini Kill * Le Tigre * The Julie Ruin * Sleater-Kinney * X Ray Spex * The Slits * Delta 5 * The Raincoats * Trash Kit * Huggy Bear * Sonic Youth * The Runaways * The Go-Gos * The Shangri Las * The Smiths * The Supremes * Belle & Sebastian * Camera Obscura * Orange Juice * The Ronettes * Allo Darlin' * Dusty Springfield * and loads more'.

Details: Canterbury Arms, Canterbury Crescent, Brixton SW9,  9pm-2.30am. £6 non-members. £4 members, £6 advance ticket. Membership is free from Advance tickets -

I love Kathleen Hanna because... she once crashed at my friend Katy Watson's squat in Brixton (no. 2 Saltoun Road - Katy had interviewed her for feminist paper Bad Attitude). Also because she made a couple of my favourite tracks of all time (Deceptacon and Rebel Girl).

Monday, March 02, 2015

Cat Video Film Festival

A Cat Video Film Fesitval on the Big Red Pizzeria, Deptford, on 25 April 2005. Book free tickets here. That is all. 

Yes I know, what has happened to Transpontine? More cats and old photos than radical critique and breaking news! Other activities and projects currently exhausting energy but stay tuned... for more cats and old photos.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Cross Road c.1970

A remarkable picture of New Cross Road in around 1970 by Tony Sullivan.  Much of it hasn't changed, but note on the right on the corner of St James the building with 'A sign is a fine investment'. That is the Pearce Signs factory (featured here before with some photos of the inside of the factory).  Loring House -Goldsmiths student accommodation- now stands on that site.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Music Monday: RIP Paco (Conflict and Inner Terrestials drummer)

Punk drummer Francisco 'Paco' Carreno died last week, at the age of 49. Paco was a key figure in the 1980s anarcho-punk scene as drummer with Conflict, and later in the New Cross music scene.

Picture of Paco from Conflict facebook page
Conflict hailed from Eltham, specifically the Coldharbour Estate. Paco started drumming at the age of 12 with a band called Strontium Dog, and was still only 15 when he joined Conflict in 1981, playing his first gig with them at the Red Lion in Gravesend and shortly after going into Crass's Southern Studios to record the band's first 'House that Man Built' EP (see 'The Day the Country Died' by Ian Glasper).

I saw Conflict many times at their mid-1980s peak, including gigs at the Ambulance Station (Old Kent Road), Thames Poly in Woolwich and the Clarendon Ballroom in Hammersmith. After Crass split up they were the biggest band in the anarcho-punk scene - not many other bands were able to translate the sense of urgency/righteous anger in that scene into a convincingly urgent/angry sound. A key part of that was Paco's skilled and powerful drumming. Of course much of this righteous anger was in the service of animal liberation and hunt sabbing, even though Paco himself wasn't vegetarian!

In the 1990s, Paco was very involved with the Goldsmiths Tavern in New Cross (now the New Cross House) in its wild GMT Lager Daleks phase. He helped put on numerous gigs there, and Inner Terrestials (who Paco joined as drummer in 1996), recorded their 'Escape from New Cross' album in the pub.

Colin Jerwood from Conflict is planning to put on a memorial/benefit gig for Paco's family. Get in touch with him via Conflict on facebook.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Selecta/Decca Depot in Lewisham - 1974

Following on from the recent post about lost Lewisham record shops, here's another local music industry connection. From the US Billboard magazine (26 October 1974), news of a new depot opening at Lewisham for Selecta, the distribution arm of Decca records. Seemingly the depot had recently moved from Southwark. Selecta's address was 125-127 Lee High Road SE13.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Poseurs record shop in Lewisham: 'spinners equivalent of Mecca' (1980s)

The British Record Shop Archive, who put on an excellent exhibition recently about the history of Peckham record shops, mentions a few Lewisham shops on its website:

- Chequers, Lee High Road - 1970s/80s.

- Nicholls Hi Fi, 432-434 Lee High Road, SE12 -1960s?

- Muzik City and Raw Power (1980s) - both in Lewisham model market, reggae singer Winston Groovy worked at the former.

- Diamond Records (1960s) - 199 Rushey Green - it had booths in to listen to the records.

One not mentioned there is Poseurs:

'Desparate disc jockeys have been converging on a shocking pink building in Lewisham... they've discovered the record spinners' equivalent of Mecca - a shop dealing solely in 12 inch dance singles dating back to 1970. Tiffany Lee, a former pirate radio DJ, set up Poseurs three months ago' (South London Press, 17 August 1984).

Anyone remember any more about it, or other local record shops?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The transpontine people in Exile (1846)

Here's some more 19th century uses of the word 'transpontine' in a South London context. Interestingly two of them feature Westminster Bridge. If the word literally means something like 'over the bridge', we should remember that Westminster Bridge was the only the third bridge to be built over the Thames in London, after London Bridge and Putney Bridge. The original Westminster Bridge, built in the 18th century, was in poor condition by the time of these articles and in fact a new bridge was built in 1862.

At the time of the first article in 1846 the Bridge was evidently closed leading Punch magazine to joke about 'the transpontine people' on the southern shore descending into 'barbarism'

'The Exiles of Lambeth

Lambeth has become a sort of Siberia since the stopping up of Westminster Bridge, for there is now literally no communication between the inhabitants of the northern shore and the transpontine people. All means of social intercourse are completely cut off, and Astley’s Amphitheatre might as well be on Salisbury Plain, as far as there is any possibility of getting to it from any part of Westminster. We have heard of vessels wrecked in sight of port, but here is a place of amusement remaining comparatively empty, with crowds walking within a stone’s throw and unable to get to it.

Lambeth is in a state of utter desolation, and the principal street reminds one of a strada in Pompeii. A civil war might break out and all be over before any one on this side of the Thames could know anything about it. The people are becoming quite isolated from the rest of their fellow subjects, and the interests of civilisation are severely suffering. Already Lambeth is a week behind us in the polite arts, and every day that the blockade continues will send them backward four-and-twenty hours towards the barbarism which it has taken centuries to get out of. We should not be at all surprised at hearing through some circuitous channel that provisional government has been established in the New-cut, and that the whole of the Marsh has thrown off its allegiance. During the stoppage of Westminster Bridge the Lambethites are aliens in geography, not in blood, and we can scarcely expect submission when protection is not afforded (Punch, reprinted in Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle - 6 September 1846)

Chartists on the bridge

The second example is from a report of the great Chartist demonstration of April 1848:

'It would be perhaps difficult to define the precise nature of the political opinions of the Jack Cades and Wat Tylers who swarmed about Trafalgar-square, Parliament-street, and Westminster Bridge, as the expression of their opinions was confined to most discordant yells and sarcastic shouts whenever a band of special constables appeared. And, as these motley groups were marshalled, they presented a somewhat quaint appearance, from the odd jumble of aristocrats and mechanics, making a sort of "Constable's Miscellany." But they, as well as the more practised policeman, did their duty manfully, and promptly silenced the lively vociferations of the rebellious rabble. Soon after one o'clock there was a slight collision, but the multitude at once discovered that they were not to be the master, and the Plebs made a retreat more precipitate than Parthian. The softer sex seemed to predominate, and it really was a marvel where all these women could have come from. They halloed and shouted and jumped about, running to and fro with the most surprising activity; and these chaste Chartists were the most resolute foes with whom the police had to deal.

Lord Frank Gordon, with Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, and some listless Life Guardsmen, were leaning out of a window, but their uniform did not appear to excite what Horace calls the pus of the people half so much as the sight of the more sombre trappings of the police. The decrepid piles of poor old Westminster Bridge could hardly bear at one time the crowds who thronged over its crazy arches. We expected here to have found it rivalling the glories of the Pont d'Arcole; but it more resembled the Pons Asinorum, and was cleared in a most summary manner by the indefatigable heroes of Scotland-yard, who allowed none but respectable and peaceably-disposed persons to pass over; and thus the transpontine passengers soon became as select a field as after a sharp burst with the Quorn or Pytchley'  (Morning Post - Tuesday 11 April 1848)

Some other examples...

'a musical mania seems to have taken possession of the transpontine population'
(Sunday 24 August 1851,  Reynolds's Newspaper)

'The piece is wholly destitute of literary merit, and the acting is of that school which excites the enthusiasm of our transpontine public'
(Tuesday 4 November 1851,  Morning Post)

'The whole action and tone were, in the highest degree, melodramatic, and would have drawn immense applause from a transpontine pit and gallery'
(Friday 21 March 1856 , Elgin Courant and Morayshire Advertiser)

'They came in groups across Westminster-bridge, from the transpontine districts of Southwark and Lambeth” (20 April 1855,  Morning Chronicle  - describing crowds during French Emperor's visit)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An anti-Jewish/pro-Nazi doctor from New Cross: 1943

On Holocaust Memorial Day 2015, the presence of elderly survivors at events at the Imperial War Museum and elsewhere is a reminder that the terrible time of the Shoah is still within living memory for some. Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, others would like us to forget it, or to relativise away the systematic mass murder of millions by reducing it to the status of just another atrocity amongst many.

Holocaust Memorial Day at Imperial War Museum SE1 today
(photo by Barbara Miller on twitter )
Meanwhile anti-semitism certainly hasn't gone away. Only two weeks ago, four people were killed in an attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, and this week the neo-nazi Golden Dawn won more seats in the Greek general election. At the 'softer' end, old anti-Jewish conspiracy theories get recycled all over the place and tolerated on the left as well as the right. Last summer in Lewisham, a supposed radical community activist took to twitter to denounce the 'Jewish Lobby' that 'controls [the] media' and 'UK government'. Was he disowned by his political party? Nope.

The role of Britain, along with Russia, USA and other allies, in helping to defeat the Nazi regime in the Second World War shouldn't obscure the fact that there has been a strong current of anti-semitism in Britain for the best part of a thousand years (witness the infamous pogrom in York in the 12th century).

I recently came across a story from the Second World War of a doctor from New Cross being court martialled for pro-Nazi outbursts:

 Yorkshire Evening Post - Friday 02 April 1943

'Captain William John Mitchell, R.A.M.C. (29), formerly in practice as a doctor in the New Cross area, London, appeared at a court martial at Broadstairs, Kent, to-day, on three charges alleging conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline. It was alleged that in a public house the man said. "I give you a toast. We will drink to the health of Sir Oswald Mosley." When the licensee's wife declined, it was alleged he said, "Why not? He's a wonderful man. If you have cancer, a doctor would cut it out. That is what the Germans are doing to the Jews in Germany. Germany is a most cultured nation." 

The second charge alleged that in another public house, accused said, "Hitler is doing the right thing having the Jews put out of the way. Churchill is hand in glove with the Jews, and not fit to be Prime Minister. Mosley is the man for that job." 

In court, Mitchell said, "I am convinced I am the victim of Jewish persecution. No punishment in the world can erase those views from my mind".

Mitchell also claimed that the Beveridge health proposals - that became the National Health Service - were a Jewish plot: "I know in this country the Jews are trying to get control of the medical profession. The system outlined in the Beveridge Report is merely a system to make the medical profession this country safe for Jewry."

The court martial dismissed Mitchell from the service (Hartlepool Mail - Friday 07 May 1943) and I am not sure what became of him,  other than a press report I found from 1949 of Dr. William John Mitchell of Queens Road, New Cross being charged with a motoring offence (Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 09 September 1949).

Intriguingly another New Cross doctor of a similar name stood for election for the National Front in 1979, as discussed at Transpontine previously: 'Dr Robert Mitchell, who has a surgery in Queens Road, said yesterday he would advise his patients against mixed marriages only if asked for advice. He also believed in repatriating black people. Dr Mitchell polled 1,490 votes when he stood as National Front's Parliamentary candidate in Deptford last year'. Lewisham Labour Councillor David Townsend said 'We must take an urgent look at how a doctor with such appalling views can be allowed to practice in such a racially sensitive area as New Cross' (South London Press 22 April 1980).  Captain Mitchell referred to above would have been 65 years old by 1979, so could have still been around. He has a different first name, but could these two Mitchell nazi doctors from Queens Road be related?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Isle of Sheppey talk at Goldsmiths

I know there's a few Isle of Sheppey enthusiasts out there, so thought I would share this poster I spotted at Goldsmiths in New Cross for a talk by Professor Len Platt on 'The Isle of Sheppey: culture, identity and the representation of place'.

The free event on Tuesday 10th February, 4:30 to 6:00pm will feature Len Platt reading from his new work 'drawing on literary, historical and sociological cultures' with a focus on 'the cultural representation of the Isle of Sheppey from the late sixteenth-century to the present'. It takes place on the top floor of the Education Building, which is just up from the library on Dixon Road SE14. Members of the public are welcome - contact

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hobgoblin to re-open as Rose Inn

The Hobgoblin pub opposite New Cross Gate station has been closed for refurbishment, and it looks like it will be reverting back to its former name of The Rose Inn. I believe the pub owners had to pay an annual fee to the owners of the Hobgoblin brand, Marston's, for the use of the name - and let's face it the Hobgoblin name is a bit 1990s isn't it?

Update 26 January 2015:

The Rose Pub & Kitchen (to give it its full name) opens on Thursday 29 January 2015 at 6 pm, complete with 'pizza from the wood burning oven'. They're also advertising for kitchen porters. It's under the new management of Urban Pubs and Bars, a company set up in 2013 by the founders of Realpubs, Malcolm Heap and Nick Pring.  They also run the Whippet Inn in Kensal Rise and the Old Ship Inn in Hackney.

Monday, January 19, 2015

London Bus Strike- South London Picket Scenes

Thousands of bus workers went on strike for 24 hours last Tuesday (13 January) as part of a campaign to end pay inequality across the company's bus network. 18 bus operators across London pay different rates for the same jobs, with a disparity of over £3 an hour.

There were pickets at all 70 bus garages, including across South London.

Pickets at Norwood garage
Pickets on New Cross Road (photo from @Joe_Dromey)

But the liveliest picket seems to have been in Camberwell, where the presence of a mobile sound system helped create a party atmosphere:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Peckham 33-45-78 RPM

'Peckham 33-45-78 RPM' is an exhibition celebrating the history of record shops in Peckham presented by The British Record Shop Archive. It is open at 91 Peckham High Street (next to the Peckham Space) and runs until January 29th, 11 am to 6 pm, including weekends - free entry. 

I had a look in yesterday and they've got some great material, with photographs, bags and other memorabilia from some of the 25 or so record shops that have been based in the area at some point over the last 50 years.

Red Records (86 Rye Lane), Reed records (Parkstone Road, off Rye Lane, Maestro Records, 61 Rye Lane)

Advert from Black Music magazine, May 1975 including on right 'Intone Records & Tapes', 48 Rye Lane:
'Rockers dub King Tubby's style. Pre-release and Import Soul'. Intone was run by sound system operator Lloyd Coxsone. DJ John Peel made regular visits to Intone to source reggae tracks for his radio show. The British Record Shop Archive say that reggae 'DJ David Rodigan (MBE) is known to have sold records out of the railway arches in Peckham' and the famous reggae store Dub Vendor, later situated at Clapham Junction, was briefly based in Peckham. Earlier, in the 1950s, Harry Tipple's newsagent in Peckham Park Road had a sideline in Jamaican 45s which you had to make an appointment to see.
Woolworths - the Rye Lane store was one of many across the country where people bought chart hits

Sound Ville Records, Rye Lane Market - reggae singer Winston Groovy once worked there, going on to manage the Muzik City shop in Lewisham Model Market
 If you've got any memories, photographs, flyers or anything else relating to Peckham record shops or related music scenes, the (Peckham-based) British Record Shop Archive would like to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Folk on the Water

Folk on the Water is a night of music coming up this weekend on the Minesweeper boat moored at Deptford Creek. They say:

'After the wonderful event we had in November at the Minesweeper in Deptford Creek we thought we would have another! For your pleasure, on the evening of Saturday 17th January 2015 starting at 8pm, we have a lovely line up of talent.

To kick things off we have the wonderful Gemma Khawaja, Norfolk based singer of traditional folk songs.

We shall then proceed to Garry "The Slide Guy" Smith, one of the best slide guitarists you will ever hear. He is that good. We're not laying it on too thick: he is amazing.

The 1st headline artist of the evening is Robin Grey. Robin is a great folk singer who draws from traditional & contemporary influences to make genuinely likeable original pieces & reworkings of traditional favourites. We are delighted to have him and his band join us on the boat. He is a rising star so catch him now!

The 2nd headline artist of the evening is local hero Andy Hankdog. Andy has run nights in pubs in South London for many a moon: his Easycome is a staple of the Nunhead & Peckham scene. He is a great singer & performer in his own right & we would like for you to hear him.

This party will be held on the Minesweeper on Deptford Creek. There is a suggested donation of £5 to pay the artists & contribute to the upkeep of the boat. If you want to come but feel you can't run to a fiver we don't mind: just give what you feel like is a fair concessionary rate'.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vanished City: London's Lost Neighbourhoods

Coming up at South East London Folklore Society next month, a talk by writer Thomas Bolton - 'Vanished City: London's Lost Neighbourhoods':

'London is in a state of constant transformation, layer upon layer built up over centuries of destruction and reconstruction. There is so much change all around us that we scarcely notice it, but among the areas now vanished and forgotten are some of the city’s most famous, and infamous, neighbourhoods.

These include the most feared neighbourhood in the Western world, London’s first Olympic Park, its first port, the original Grub Street, a high society spa resort, an occult square, a landscape of ancient, mythical kings, a notorious slum, and the streets stalked by the first London serial killer. Through these streets crowd the Earl of Essex, Christopher Marlowe, Charles Dickens, Alexander Pope, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Aleister Crowley, Greta Garbo, Fu Manchu, the Ancients of Norton Folgate and the possessors of 8,000 unidentified corpses'.

Tom Bolton is the author of London's Lost Rivers, A Walker's Guide (2011).

The talk is on Thursday, February 12 at 8:00pm upstairs in the Old King’s Head Pub, The King’s Yard, 45 Borough High Street SE1 1NA.  Entrance is £3/1.50 concs. To avoid disappointment you can email to book in advance.

(facebook details here)

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Crisis Book Sale at Telegraph Hill Centre

There's a book sale this Saturday 10 January, 2 pm to 5 pm, at the Telegraph Hill Centre, Kitto Road SE14 5TY. Lots of books at bargain prices in aid of homeless charity Crisis

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A school trip to Lewisham Arcadia (1905)

Just over a hundred years ago, children from the 'dingy streets' of Southwark went on country outings to 'the Londoner's idea of Arcadia' - Lewisham!. This report from Gloucester Citizen - (Saturday 8 July 1905) describes a trip from Lant Street County Council School, Borough (now Charles Dickens Primary School) to meet their counterparts at Plassy-Road School, Catford, for 'cricket and other sports' at Ladywell Recreation Ground.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Anti-fascists in Walworth Road and Lewisham in the 1930s

A couple of examples of 1930s militant anti-fascism found searching at British Newspaper Archive:

Fascist Offices Attacked in Walworth Road, 1933

'A crowd of 200 men, some of whom asserted they were Communists, attacked the Fascist local head-quarters in Walworth Road, London, SE, today. Stones were thrown, upper windows in the building were broken, and after a pitched battle in the doorway with Fascist defenders the men were scattered by a charge of mounted police' (Sunderland Echo, 27 March 1933)

Fascist Meeting in Lewisham, 1935

'A scene at a Fascist meeting at Ringstead Road, Lewisham, on Saturday night was described at Greenwich Police Court yesterday. Richard Henry Holmes (19), labourer, of Bishops Buildings, Thames Street, Greenwich, and Henry Charles Wallace (24), foundry hand, described as a Blackshirt, of Westerdale Road, East Greenwich, were each fined 20s for insulting behaviour.

Constable Southam said that the meeting was orderly until question time. Then a lot of heckling broke out. The crowd, numbering about 250, began to surge forward. In the centre he saw two men fighting. Wallace, who pleaded guilty, said that he was trying to quell the disturbance when he struck. Seeing Holmes standing behind with his fists raised he lost his temper and hit him' (Western Daily Press, 13 August 1935)

See previously:

South London Anti-Fascists at Olympia, 1934
Fighting Fascists in Peckham, 1937
Fighting Fascists in Deptford Broadway, 1933

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Korean Wonder Juggler of Ladywell (1889)

Sometimes when you're browsing in the archive for something, you stumble across something else entirely. This advert for 'Draterson Okaro, the Corean Wonder' of '43 Ladywell Park, Lewisham' was published in The Era, 29 June 1889. Only a few lines, and I haven't been able to find anything else about them, but you can't help but feel that there's a whole untold story there of how a self-styled Korean 'Marvellous Equilibrist and Balancer, Stick and Ball Manipulator, Juggler', with 'Splendid Costumes' and 'Two Year Engagement with the Celebrated Japanese Troupe' came to be living in Ladywell.

The Era - Saturday 29 June 1889

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Two Minutes Left

Richard Sanderson of  experimental/improvised music label Linear Obsessional Recordings put out a call recently for tracks for a compilation album with only two rules: 'that the works had to be exactly two minutes long, and that at some point in the recording process a microphone should have been used'.

The outcome is 'Two Minutes Left', a collection of 87 tracks from all over the world, released this week. The tracks, as Richard says, 'are as diverse as it's possible to imagine- from full, immaculately produced studio works to hissy smartphone recordings- and throughout there are things to remind you that you're listening to real people in real places - birdsong, pets, breathing, conversation, and the location recordings run from the electrobabble of a Shanghai cab ride to the near silence of night on the Argentinian Pampas, to the sounds of the pub or a football match. In between are some gloriously recorded musical vignettes by some of the most extraordinary musicians around... it seems to me to be ultimately a celebration of being human, and a celebration of friendship and collaboration'.

'Two Minutes Left' is very much an international collaboration, but it also has its roots in South London, with Richard and the label based in Hither Green, and several of the tracks featuring local sound recordings. Richard's own Hither Green track, recorded in his back garden, is a reminder of the ubiquitous South London aircraft noise as well as capturing bird song. Birds - this time parakeets - also feature in Neil Gordon Orr's '120 Seconds Over Ladywell Fields', based on recordings of running round Ladywell athletics track. A music session in the Ladywell Tavern, with the Mixed Porter band playing Officers' Polka, was recorded by Kayleigh Shepherd on her

There's a recording of Blackheath Morris Men practicing at St Marks Church Hall in Greenwich, and a track from Brockley-based minimalist guitar ensemble the Broca Ensemble.

You can listen/download the whole thing here

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Postman's Park

Postman's Park in the City of London (north of St Paul's Cathedral) is famous for its 'Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice', opened in 1900 with plaques commemorating people who died saving the lives of others. I was there recently and spotted several South Londoners:

Alexander Stewart Brown of Brockley, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons
Though suffering from severe spinal injury the result of a recent accident died from his brave efforts to rescue a drowning man and to restore his life, October 9, 1900
(seemingly he had been injured when thrown from his horse and carriage at junction of Brockley Road and Ivy Road, and then while recovering had rescued a man at Boulogne, only to contract pneumonia and die)

David Selves aged 12
Off Woolwich supported his drowning playfellow and sank with him clasped in his arms.
September 12, 1886
Mrs Yarman wife of George Yarman, Labourer at Bermondsey
Refusing to be deterred from making three attempts to climb a burning staircase to save her aged mother
Died of the effects, March 26, 1900
William Fisher, Aged 9,
Lost his life on Rodney Road Walworth while trying to save his little brother from being run over
July 12, 1886

Richard Farris, Labourer
Was drowned in attempting to save a poor girl who had thrown herself into the canal at Globe Bridge Peckham
May 20, 1878
Leigh Pitt, Reprographic operator
Aged 30, saved a drowning boy from the canal at Thamesmead, but sadly was unable to save himself
June 7, 2007 - the only recent addition to the memorial

The Memorial  is a significant location in Closer (2004), the Mike Nichols film which  stars Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Natalie Portman.  The latter two visit it, and it's not giving too much away that Portman's character shares a name with one of the women featured - Alice Ayres, who died in Union Street, Borough, SE1 in 1885.

Alice Ayres,  Daughter of a bricklayer's labourer
Who by intrepid conduct saved 3 children from a burning house in Union Street Borough at the cost of her own young life, April 24, 1885

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brixton Socialist Club at Canterbury Arms (1978)

The Canterbury Arms in Brixton is facing demolition, to be replaced with flats. Its great back room has seen some amazing nights, in particular in recent years the legendary indie pop club How Does it Feel?.

Found in a copy of the Leveller magazine (December 1977?) here's listings for the Brixton Socialist Club at said pub in January/February 1978. Acts performing there included folk singer Leon Rosselson, socialist feminist writer/historian Sheila Rowbotham and 7:84 Band (from the theatre company named from the statistic that 7% of the population owned 84% of the wealth). There was also a benefit for the club at Lambeth Town Hall featuring radical avant-rock band Henry Cow.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Radical posters and stickers in New Cross

I reckon New Cross must be the epicentre of radical postering/stickering in London. Yesterday I noticed this audacious piece of subvertising at the bus stop opposite the Marquis of Granby, in the style of a Metropolitan police ad:

'We've pointlessly targeted cannabis users in Lewisham, while other people legally drink their drugs.
Enforcing Westminster's crime concerns in Lewisham #ACAB'

Other examples I've spotted this year include:

Greek anti-fascist sticker in New Cross House

German antifa/anti-Deutsch sticker by Marquis of Granby


London Antifascists

'Good night Loyalist Pride'

'Stop EDL' and Polish anarchist sticker in Fordham Park

Pogo Cafe
(Hackney vegan cafe, closed last year)

Ishiguro in Sydenham

There was an article in the Guardian last week about the author Kazuo Ishiguro in which he recalled writing his 1989 novel The Remains of the Day (later filmed starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson) while living in Sydenham.
'I was then 32 years old, and we’d recently moved into a house in Sydenham, south London, where for the first time in my life I had a dedicated study. (I’d written my first two novels at the dining table.) It was actually a kind of large cupboard on the half-landing and lacked a door, but I was thrilled to have a space where I could spread my papers around as I wished and not have to clear them away at the end of each day. I stuck up charts and notes all over the peeling walls and got down to writing...

On my first Sunday off I ventured outdoors, on to Sydenham high street, and persistently giggled – so Lorna told me – at the fact that the street was built on a slope, so that people coming down it were stumbling over themselves, while those going up were panting and staggering effortfully. Lorna was concerned I had another three weeks of this to go, but I explained I was very well, and that the first week had been a success...

I'd consumed a substantial amount of “research”: books by and about British servants, about politics and foreign policy between the wars, many pamphlets and essays from the time, including one by Harold Laski on “The Dangers of Being a Gentleman”. I’d raided the second-hand shelves of the local bookshop (Kirkdale Books, still a thriving independent) for guides to the English countryside from the 1930s and 50s'
'When Ishiguro  first became a public figure he suffered greatly from  stereotyping by critics and reviewers, who.... nicknamed him the "Shogun of Sydenham" (Kazuo Ishiguro by Barry Lewis, Manchester University Press, 2000)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

New Cross Speedway Programmes

 The New Cross Stadium stood next to the old Millwall FC ground in New Cross on the land now known as Bridgehouse Meadows. As covered here before, it featured greyhound racing, stock car racing  and speedway. Here's a selection of New Cross speedway programme covers




July 1963
The stadium closed in 1969 and was demolished in 1975.

Programmes from the huge collection of speedway memorabilia on sale at ebay by G.Williams Sporting Memorabilia. Click images to enlarge.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Gramsci Way SE6

There aren't too many streets in London named after Italian communists, but in Bellingham SE6 there is a little slice of Lewisham dedicated to Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), who died following eight years in jail as a prisoner of Mussolini. Gramsci Way is a cul-de-sac off Randlesdown Road.

I understand that 'Red Rector' Father Paul Butler, now of St Pauls Church in Deptford, was instrumental in getting the road so-named when he was Vicar at St Dunstans in Bellingham - the vicarage of which is in Gramsci Way.

Antonio Gramsci
Any other ideas for Italian communist street names - Malatesta Mansions perhaps, or Bordiga Boulevard?