Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cutty Sark - Camberwell Now

Last weekend 40,000 people including both myself and the world's greatest endurance runners ran round the Cutty Sark in the course of the London Marathon. The week before thousands more were in the area for the Tall Ships festival. Since the ship was first put in in dry dock in Greenwich in 1954 it has become an iconic part of the SE London landscape.

The Cutty Sark was built on the Clyde in 1869 and in its heyday transported tea and possibly opium between Britain, China and India. For me, it has an ambivalent meaning as simultaneously a loved local landmark (mile 6 and a bit of the marathon no less); an impressive product of the ingenuity of human labour (my dad did his engineering apprenticeship in the Clyde shipyards, obviously in a later period, so I have a romantic appreciation of their products);  a vehicle of both colonial plunder and global connections.

Some of this ambivalence is expressed in the song Cutty Sark by Camberwell Now from their 1983 album Meridian (1983):

I dream of empire, I dream of sailing ships
A fortune beneath their decks
Heavy with cargo, copper and ivory

I cross the ocean from one land to the next
I trade the space between, I cross the ocean
I trade the space between

Up in the crow's nest or down in the hold
I hear the ocean sing to me
It sings to me of another way of life
I ignore it, I choose to ignore it

I work with chart, compass, latitude, longitude
A world of reference points
To cross the ocean, measure the space between

Still this singing insists and insists
Won't go away, won't leave me be
It sings to me of another way of life
I ignore it, I choose to ignore it
I ignore its melody

Camberwell Now were formed in 1982 by Charles Hayward and others previously involved in influential experimental band This Heat.

Friday, April 14, 2017

New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival 2017

Next weekend sees the start of The New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival, featuring 31 free film screenings in the ten-day period starting 21st April. According to the organisers:

'The festival starts with a bang at the newly refurbished White Hart pub in New Cross, with the screening of comedy-drama Chef, followed by DJs until late. From then on, you have the choice of up to three films per day.

Amongst the many highlights is the outdoor bicycle-powered screening in Telegraph Hill Upper Park, which has become an annual staple in the festival. This year the festival chooses to celebrate the late great Gene Wilder, and promises a chocolatey treat of wonder, with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory showing on the first Saturday in full technicolour. Your pedalling helps to power the film so your attendance is required!

Our second open air bike-powered event aptly takes place on the commuters’ cycle route in Folkestone Gardens. With all those bikes powering the film it had to be the right film choice: Breaking Away is about bike racing, as well as growing up.

Another highlight is Reservoir Dogs, which hits its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. Can you believe Tarantino first hit the big screen 25 years ago? You are invited to dress accordingly for this film screening at one of the new units in Deptford Market Yard'.

Some of the people involved in the Festival have already got into the spirit of things, making a short Deptord Dogs promotional trailer.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Last weekend of 2017 Telegraph Hill Festival

The final weekend coming up of the 2017 Telegraph Hill Festival, plenty of events still to come - see programme for full details. Its open studios weekend, a perfect opportunity to see some local art and nose around other people's houses (go on, admit it). 

I missed the South East London Folk Orchestra (SELFolk) a couple of weeks ago when they played outside at the London Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve on Vesta Road (pictured), but they are back on Saturday 8th April at the Telegraph Hill Centre, Kitto Road, SE14 from 2.00pm-3.00pm. There may be dancing, there will definitely be folk tunes, tea and cake. I took my mandolin along to one of their early sessions a couple of years ago at the Old Nun's Head and have been meaning to go back ever since.

On Sunday 9 April, 11.00am-12.30pm, Malcolm Bacchus of the Telegraph Hill Society will be leading a guided tour of the area focusing on its architecture and history. Meet in St Catherine’s Churchyard. 

Also on Sunday there's the intriguingly named 'Bilingual Cake' from 2.00pm-4.00pm at Telegraph 
Hill Centre - actually a session on raising bilingual children (£3/£1 concessions). In  amongst London's linguistic wealth this should be no big deal, but in the post-Brexit landscape where every two-bit racist feels emboldened to express their views even this can be a target. On the Nunhead Rocks facebook group last week, somebody described a nasty event in East Dulwich:  'I was walking along doing my shopping in Sainsbury's talking to my daughter in Spanish and a lady has shouted at us "speak English". It is very upsetting to experience such a horrible comment in a community I think is more open minded than that'.  I think I would reply in English to a comment like that, probably with some Anglo-Saxon swear words including a reminder to 'mind your own f*ing business'.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

13 Dead and Nothing Said - New Cross Fire Exhibition at Goldsmiths

The death earlier this week of Darcus Howe led to several mentions in obituaries of his role in helping to organise the Black People's Day of Action, a major demonstration called in response to the 1981 New Cross Fire.

Photograph by Vron Ware (Autograph ABP)

By coincidence an exhibition documenting that demonstration is currently on display at Goldsmiths in New Cross, just a few hundred metres from the scene of the fire. '13 dead and nothing said' 'presents a body of photographs taken by Vron Ware documenting the Black People’s Day of Action on 2 March 1981. The images bear witness to an historic moment of community organising and resistance in post-war Britain. In the early hours of Sunday 18 January 1981, a fire at 439 New Cross Road resulted in the deaths of 13 young black Londoners as they were celebrating the 16th birthday of Yvonne Ruddock, one of the victims. One survivor died nearly two years later, bringing the total loss of life to 14.  In the face of public indifference towards and negative media coverage about the loss of 13 young black lives, as well as perceived inaction on behalf of the police to apprehend suspects, hundreds of people met on 25 January 1981 at the Moonshot Club and marched in protest. The New Cross Massacre Action Committee was set up and plans were made for the Black People’s Day of Action on 2 March 1981' in which 15-20,000 people marched from Fordham Park in New Cross into central London. 

Leaflet for the march, announcing the start in 'Fordham Park next to Moonshot Community Centre, Pagnell Street SE14'. The address of the New Cross Massacre Action Committee is given as 74 Shakespeare Road SE24 - this was the office of Race Today, the radical black magazine edited by Darcus Howe.

I have been to a few exhibitions in this space and was expecting more of the same i.e. a few photos hung on the wall. But this is different, a well designed and thoughtful display that squeezes a huge amount of content into this corridor. As well as photographs the exhibition features fascinating archive material loaned by the George Padmore Institute including documents from the New Cross Massacre Action committee, the Metropolitan Police and contemporary press accounts. It also includes reflections on the events from Linton Kwesii Johnson, Paul Gilroy and others.

List of the victims of the fire from exhibition and 'The Declaration of New Cross' made on the day of the demonstration: 'The national authorities in Parliament and Government... ignored the tragedy of the families of the dead and injured':

Stewards Instructions for the day, including the route of the march - it went from New Cross, through Peckham and Camberwell, up Walworth Road to Elephant, over Blackfriars Bridge, down Fleet Street (then centre of the newspaper industry) and into the West End, finishing in Hyde Park.

Relatively minor clashes near Blackfriars led to exaggerated and frankly racist press reports, and the exhibition reproduces some fo the headlines such as 'Black Day at Blackfriars' and 'Day the Blacks ran riot in London' (The Sun).

'What explains the silence that you see in the newspapers immediately afterwards is the fact that – I can't translate this into something polite really – that the deaths of 13 young black people don't matter because the value of their life is lower. And I think that at the beginning of 1981 we were trying to say that these black lives matter, you know? If our children die we feel the same pain that you feel'  (Paul Gilroy, 2015)

Flyer for an event the weekend before the march, organised by the Steve Biko Youth Organisation and featuring Ras Messengers and Jah Shaka, as well as a film about Malcolm X.  This took place at 190 Evelyn Street, Deptford.

I strongly recommend that you try and see this exhibition before it closes. It is located in the Richard Hoggart building that is the main old building at Goldsmiths on Lewisham way. Go into the main entrance and follow the corridor either left or right round to the back of the building where the Kingsway Corridor joins the left and right hand sides of the buiding.  It is free of charge and anybody can freely entered the building seven days a week from 9 am to 9 pm. I believe that the exhibition continues until 14 May, though note that the college is closed over Easter from 13th to 18th of April (full details here)

For more background on the New Cross Fire, see these previous posts:

.Les Back from Goldsmiths discusses the events and the exhibition:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The end of the world comes to Telegraph Hill

There was a strange light at Telegraph Hill upper park (Kitto Road SE14)  earlier this week, with the night artificially brightened with floodlights to create a hyperreal landscape. The reason was that filming was taking place of a new BBC drama, Hard Sun, set in a pre-apocalypse world with only five years left. The series stars Agyness Deyn and Jim Sturgess - did anybody spot them?

Telegraph Hill Festival

I understand that the production company made a donation to the Telegraph Hill Festival, which opened yesterday and runs until April 9th. As always there lots of music, comedy, arts and other events taking place, check out the programme.

Andrew Clarke's sculpture in the grounds of St Catherine's Church, Kitto Road, SE14 as part of the 2017 Telegraph Hill Festival. Thanks to Andrew too for the photos of the floodlit Telegraph Hill Park.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Opposition grows to London Schools Funding Cuts

Government proposals to introduce a new natonal funding formula for schools from next year are expected to lead to big reductions in funding for local schools. Essentially the formula would result in funding being redistributed from schools in urban areas to other parts of the country, with schools in inner London particularly badly hit. 

Teaching unions estimate that funding for Lewisham schools could be reduced by more than £27m over the next two years, equivalent to the salary of 582 teachers.

Source: School Cuts.

Opposition to these plans is growing. Last night there was a packed meeting for Lambeth parents at Sunnyhill Primary School SW16, called by the National Campaign for Fair Funding for All Schools.

Last night's meeting @FairFundLambeth
Tonight (Thursday 16th March 2017), there's a similar event for Lewisham parents taking place at Edmund Waller Primary School, Waller Road, SE14. They say:

'The National Fair Funding for All Schools Campaign is holding a public forum for parents, teachers, head teachers, governors and councillors in Lewisham to raise awareness about the proposed cuts to schools’ budgets. The event will be attended by Vicky Foxcroft MP, Cllr Luke Sorba, Nicky Dixon (CASE Lewisham), Matt Dykes ( National Fair Funding For All Schools Co- Founder), Philipa Harvey (NUT). Other speakers to be confirmed.

Our aim is to build a local coalition of parents, teachers and leaders in support of the National Fair Funding Campaign to stop these proposed devastating cuts. Lewisham parents, teachers, and heads we'd love to hear from you, please join us. This is not yet a done deal as the consultation closes on 22nd March 2017; the government must hear our voices' (event details here)

London schools have generally got better over the last 20 years, and funding has played a significant part in that. More money means more teachers, more support staff and better resources. No doubt schools in other parts of the country could benefit from a rise in funding, but the pot of education funding needs to be increased to enable this rather than taking the money away from London schools.

School funding cuts protest by Queens Road Peckham station, 25 February 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Enter Selecta - 45 RPM night at Telegraph pub SE14

Tonight - and every second Wednesday - it's 45 RPM night at the Telegraph at the Earl of Derby, the pub at 87 Dennets Road SE14. The format is simple enough, bring along a few 7 inch singles - actual vinyl only - and take a turn. Decks will be set up in the back of the pub from around 8 pm. I even had a go myself last time.

my selection at 45 RPM night last time
The pub is under new local management, with a plentiful supply of food and beers (other drinks of course available!).

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Stan Firm inna Inglan at Tate Britain

 Tate Britain gallery is currently displaying 'Stan Firm inna Inglan: Black Diaspora in London, 1960s-1970s', featuring images by 'eight photographers who documented Black communities in London: Raphael Albert, Bandele 'Tex' Ajetunmobi, James Barnor, Colin Jones, Neil Kenlock, Dennis Morris, Syd Shelton and Al Vanedenberg'.

There are a number of outstanding South London images to be seen, including Syd Shelton's photographs from the New Cross/Lewisham anti-National Front protests of 1977...

A smoke bomb in New Cross Road, August 1977 © Syd Shelton

..and Neil Kenlock's early 1970s photographs of the British Black Panther movement, particularly in the Brixton area, including this one of girls with Black Panther bags.

© Neil Kenlock

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Recent street art: Captain America, Sweets and Ganesha

New piece by Artful Dodger on Peckham Road by Southamton Way junction, a Trump era lamentation featuring Captain America and referencing Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs Robinson too 'Where have you gone, Captain America? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you'. The same artist painted the nearby Carrie Fisher mural

'Money can't buy love, but it can buy sweets, I like sweets' by Dope, on Penge High Street.

Not sure if a statue of Hindu deity Ganesha counts as a street art, but its on Tooley Street SE1 outside the new Lalit Hotel.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Lucifer Over Lancashire - the Pendle Witch Trials

This Thursday night (March 9th 2017), South East London Folklore Society will be examining The Pendle Witch Trials of 1612 - some of the best recorded and famous witch trials of the 17th century.

SELFS host Nigel Hoyle has a rather fine folk music project, The Cunning Folk, and they have written a song about the Pendle trials entitled Lancashire, God's Country.  So I wouldn't be surprized to hear a tune or two on Thursday.

SELFS meets in the upstairs room of The Old King's Head off Borough High Street SE1, from 8 pm. £3/1.50 concs -walk-ups are very welcome however you may wish to email cunningfolkmusic@gmail.com to book a place.

All of which reminds me that the very first post on Transpontine, back in October 2004, was for a SELFS talk (then at the Spanish Galleon in Greenwich), with Kathleen Blackmore talking about one of the last witch trials in England. In 1701 Sarah Morduck was accused of causing a neighbour's illness at Bankside (near the site of the Tate Modern). Even though she was found not guilty, she was beaten up and left for dead.

Oh and happy 60th birthday to Mr Lucifer Over Lancashire himself

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Farewell Steve Wilson

The funeral took place in Beckton on February 10th of Steve Wilson (1955-2017), who died recently after nearly two years of serious illness.

A man of multiple enthusiasms including Leonard Cohen, Crystal Palace FC, and folklore,  it was in the pagan/occult scene that Steve was most active. Among other things he was at various times an Archpriest in the Fellowship of Isis,  Archdruid in the Druid Clan of Dana, and SE London regional co-ordinator of the Pagan Federation, as well as working for a spell in the famous Atlantis bookshop. In his druid capacity, he was involved in the campaign for access to Stonehenge, and as described in this 1996 article in the Independent, helping conduct summer solstice ceremonies at Parliament Hill and watching the 'sunrise at Plumstead Common Burial mound'. I have seen mention of  his involvement too in the delightfully named Plumstead Occasional Druids.

In his book 'Robin Hood: The Spirit of the Forest' (Neptune Press, 1993), Steve mentioned another important campaign from that period, the successful fight to stop the construction of a major road through Oxleas Wood 'where once the King of England and his Queen, along with the Guilds of the City of London, once watched Marian and Robin in their Mayday Revels... By involving ourselves in these battles we can let the spirit of  Robin and his band live on in ourselves'.

I met him through his involvement in the South East London Folklore Society. SELFS was established in the early 1990s (I believe), starting out at Charlton House, and Steve was active in it from early on. In its first incarnation it was primarily a regular meeting (moot) of local pagans and fellow travellers. Although it has subsequently broadened out to include a wider range of folklore, local history and fortean themes, the format of a speaker on an interesting topic followed by beer and discussion has continued down to the present. Steve himself gave a number of SELFS talks over the years, including one on  'Chaos, Conjuring and Combat' at a 1999 SELFS conference in Charlton House ('Thee Event -Thee Last Magickal Conference ov thee So-Called Millennium') and another entitled 'The Brockley Thing' at a SELFS event at the Brockley Jack during the 2005 Brockley Max Festival. The latter touched on another of Steve's interests - the history of the Woodcraft Folk and associated youth groups such as the Kibbo Kift Kindred and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry which he saw as linked to the 20th century neo-pagan revival - and in whose story SE London was an important focus.

Steve was a driving force and frequent MC at similar occultural 'moots' including Talking Stick, Secret Chiefs and The Moot with No Name (which he founded in 2003). He was thus a key contributor to the great London alternative university of esoteric talks in pubs - as well as organising and speaking he could always be guaranteed to have a question at the end of anybody else's talk! The debating and public speaking skills he no doubt first polished at Dulwich College were frequently put to use. He was a big man with a big voice.

Steve was an enthusiastic participant in the annual Deptford Jack in the Green/Fowlers Troop procession, including sometimes taking turns in the toughest job on the day, carrying the Jack - a heavy frame covered in foliage. The photos here are all of Steve in his May Day costume, the two below by Sarah Hannant.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Neil Innes, Desmond Dekker, John Motson & Learie Constantine - in one Lewisham street

This row of houses in Slaithwaite Road, Lewisham has some interesting connections - I believe the white house on the left is number 22, with number 20 to its right followed by number 18 and 16.

I am grateful to 'Kobra' for a recent comment on a post here about singer Desmond Dekker's time in Lewisham:

'I spoke to my Dad about Desmond Dekker as I had some sort of memory that he used to rehearse next door to where I lived in Lewisham. I lived in 20 Slaithwaite Road and the family in number 22 were the Powells. This was back in the 60s and 70s.....now next door the other way at 18 lived Neil Innes of the Bonzo dog doo dah band and Rutles fame.... The Scaffold used to pop in and out all the time with John Gorman and I think Paul McCartneys brother... Lilly the pink... etc....Opposite before I was born I believe John Motson lived too. My family name is Smith and the property was owned by my parents and my Dad's parents I think since before the war...'

Neil Innes, a sometime Goldsmiths student, was a member of the 1960s groupThe Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and also wrote songs for Monty Python. The Bonzos sometimes played with The Scaffold, the Liverpool band that included  Mike McGear (Paul McCartney's brother), Roger McGough and John Gorman.  So its not surprizing that they might have visited Neil Innes, and indeed The Scaffold played at Lewisham Odeon in May 1968, with Paul McCartney and then girlfriend Jane Asher in attendance.

The young Neil Innes
But what of football commentator John Motson? He apparently also lived at 18 Slaithwaite Road in the 1950s, between the age five and 11. His father, the Rev William Motson, was the Methodist minister at the Deptford Methodist Mission, having previously been Minister of Plumstead Common Methodist Church (the family lived in Burrage Road, Woolwich at the time). Whatever his religious affiliations, Motson senior was decidely non-sectarian in football, taking the young John regularly to both Charlton and Millwall games. John Motson went to Ennersdale Primary School in Hither Green, and he remembers queuing to get football legend Stanley Matthews' autograph when he appeared at a shop in Lewisham. 

As Motson recalls in his autobiography, Motty: Forty Years in the Commentary Box (2009), 'On one side lived Ada Smith - I saw Jackie Milburn win the FA Cip for Newcastle on her flickering set in 1951 - and on the other, another Methodist minster called Walter Ridyard; who had been minister of Albion Road Methodist Church in Lewisham, destroyed in the 1941 Blitz and then rebuilt.

The Ridyards 'often offered lodgings to West Indian cricketers when they were playing in England; and Motson remembers 'having tea with Colin Smith, the Jamaican all-rounder killed in a car crash, and also having a conversation over the garden fence with Learie Constantine, the former West Indian captain and fast bowler'. Constantine (1901-1971) was famously described by his friend CLR James as belonging 'to the distinguished company of men who, through cricket, influenced the history of their time' (among other things he won a legal case in the Second World War against a London hotel that refused to let him stay on racist grounds).

So if Motson lived in Number 18 (like Innes after him), and the Smiths were at Number 20 (according to our commenter), then the Ridyards and their cricketing guests must presumably been at Number 16. All of this plus Desmond Dekker popping into number.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

'You can't stamp us out' - Save New Cross post office protest

A good turn out this morning for the protest to launch the Save New Cross Post Office campaign. As mentioned here before, the busy community facility is threatened with closure.

EastLondonLines reports, 37 Post Offices around the country are under threat, with the Communication Workers Union estimating the loss of around 300 staff on top of 2,000 post office workers who lost their jobs in 2016.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Save New Cross Gate Post Office

'On the 10th January 2017 the Post Office Limited proposed to close 93 Post Offices. Among those they wish to close is New Cross Gate Post Office located at 199/205 New Cross Road, SE14 5DH.
New Cross gate Post Office provides a vital service to the local community and beyond, and to lose such services will gravely impact those who need this local post office most. Among those will be pensioners and vulnerable people. This is a high demand, busy and heavily utilised Post Office.
New Cross Gate Post Office is located in a central location in New Cross, at a major public bus interchange, where for local savers there is no alternative banking facilities.  It is used by a wide demographic of ages for postal services, saving, making payments, currency, passports service, as well as many other key services. In this part of New Cross there is no other banking or saving institutions, which adds to reason why the Post Office at New Cross Gate would be a severe loss.
We the undersigned call on Paula Vennells, Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to revoke  the plans to close the vital New Cross Gate Post Office'.

On Saturday 28th January the campaign will be publicly launched with a demonstration outside the Post Office from 10 am to 11 am. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Robert Dellar Memorial

Writer and mental health activist Robert Dellar sadly died last month (December 2016)  just after his 52nd birthday.  Robert was one of the founders of Mad Pride, which brought a new defiant energy to the mental health service users in the noughties, putting on punk gigs and festivals as well as  protests. More recently he was active in its successor, the Mental Health Resistance Network, campaigning in particular against the increasingly punitive benefits regime for people with mental health problems and other disabled people. 

Dellar was one of the editors of the book 'Mad Pride: a celebration of mad culture' (2000) and published an autobiography 'Splitting in Two – Mad Pride and Punk Rock Oblivion' in 2014. He put out numerous fanzines and for many years edited the newsletter of Southwark Mind (later Southwark Association for Mental Health). 

The wake for Robert, who lived in New Cross, will take place next Tuesday 24th January at the Ivy House pub (Stuart Road) at 2.30 pm, following the funeral service at Camberwell New Cemetery at 12.15. People are invited to donate to the costs of the funeral and party/wake.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia Mural in Peckham

There's a new Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia mural in Peckham, 'The Rebels' Princess' was painted by Artful Dodger yesterday just a few days after Fisher's death. It is located on the outside of the former Walmer Castle pub.

The same artist has done another Star Wars themed piece near to Peckhamplex Cinema, showing Prime Minister Theresa May as 'Grand Admyaral' with little Boris Johnson on her shoulder.

Artful Dodger previously used the Walmer Castle site last October for this 'Gentrify This' piece.

Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia has previously been stencilled on Deptford High Street, not sure who by - this photo was taken last May 2016.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Franco Rosso RIP - director of Babylon

The film director Franco Rosso, best known for the classic sound system movie Babylon (1980), has died (see John Eden's obituary). Born in Italy in 1942, he attended Camberwell College of Art and was working at the Albany in Deptford along with the film's co-writer Martin Stellman when they conceived of a film based around reggae sound system culture and young people's experience of racism.

As discussed at Transpontine before, the film makes extensive use of South London locations including St Paul's Church in Deptford and Deptford High Street, with many local young people taking part as extras.

A 2010 interview marking the film's 30th anniversary recalls a lost era of  horses on the High Street: 'One particular anecdote reveals how unlensed life in Babylon life really was – the scene when Forde’s character Blue is chased by police onto Deptford High Street - which had to be re-shot when a pony bolted down the street mid-scene. A pony! Standard practice in Deptford in the 1970s, apparently... where rag-and-bone trade totters would leave their nags grazing outside their tower blocks. The totters controlled Deptford and had to be paid off for use of the alleys where the crew filmed' (30 Years on: Franco Rosso on why Babylon's Burning, Indepedent 11 November 2010)

Martin Stellman has also mentioned that Rosso lived in Lewisham during this period: 'this church where he lived, in Lewisham, had a blues every Friday, and it used to drive him mad because of the bass, yeah? Jah Shaka used to play there as well; it was literally at the back of his garden. Don’t get me wrong: Franco also made a documentary about dub poet LKJ, so he was very simpatico to the subject. He only hated the noise because he had kids'.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Meerkats of Nunhead Grove

As in previous years, a couple of houses in Nunhead Grove SE15 have brightened up the area with their Christmas decorations. Favourite feature for me is the Christmas hat wearing meerkats.

The display put me in mind of Les Back's excellent piece about Christmas lights, Fairytale of New Addington: 'At the heart of this story is an ordinary miracle. In contrast to the glitzy consumerism of the supermarkets and shopping centres that profit from Christmas, this is a spectacle of community — a gift given for free in hard times'