Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Zoe Konez - Bones

Zoe Konez, singer with Cat Bear Tree (featured here previously), has a new solo single out this week. The video for Bones was filmed by Gareth Gray at  Antenna Studios in Crystal Palace (where, among others, Florence and The Machine started out rehearsing).

Camberwell-based Zoe will be launching Bones this Wednesday 20th July at The Green Note, Camden, NW1 7AN with 'A Night Of Musical Collaboration With Guests' including Kimberly Anne, Antonio Lulic and Adrian Roye. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

'Superhumans' Paralympics Trailer filmed at Rivoli Ballroom

Channel 4 are the latest to make use of the Rivoli Ballroom in Crofton Park, filming part of the uplifting 'We're the Superhumans' trailer for the Rio Paralympics there.

While Wheelchair Ballroom Dancing is competitive it does not actually feature in the Paralympics but the three minute film includes dancers, musicians and as well as athletes.

Friday, July 15, 2016


A tough day, stumbled into something joyful in Peckham. 

Investigating further, I tried the door - well it said 'Open' - and found myself inside MOCA gallery on Bellenden Road, SE15.  The colourful floral/coral/what was it? sculpture had spread inside over the walls and ceilings - Spiderwall by Bologna artist Francesca Pasquali. On closer inspection it is made up of cobweb dusters - very Arte Povera use of everyday materials, but creating something otherworldy on a day when I wanted to be in another world.

Photos don't really do it justice, so check it out until 30 July. Child friendly too, you can touch as well as look. 

MOCA London is at 113 Bellenden Road, SE15 4QY. OpenThursday to Saturday, 2pm - 6pm

Thursday, July 14, 2016

'Dig that Crazy Beat' - Friday night at The Savoy in Catford, 1960

From the Daily Mirror, 1 October 1960:

'The Mirror drops in for a night out at The Savoy in Catford SE6'

'from Dixon Scott, Catford, Friday Night'

'Lots of hugging - but no kissing! Tell her you love her - but no kissing! Ask her to marry you as you whirl around the dance hall - but no kissing! I dropped in tonight on Britain's unique youth club - the Savoy Social Club, Catford, London SE6. And that name, borrowed unashamedly from the famous hotel in the Strand, sets the tone of this club. 

Apart from the no kissing rule (which surely applies to the Savoy Hotel) the boys must wear a jacket and tie (which they would have to do in the Savoy Hotel, anyway)...tonight is night of the Annual dance. In the main ballroom, where Bobby Johnson and his Orchestra are playing, most of the 600 couples are dancing... dancing... dancing. Downstairs in a smaller, intimate Number Two ballroom, the rest of the Annual Dance's guests "get with it"

The club was originally an ordinary money-making commercial dance hall. Below it was a billiard hall. Five years ago the dance hall owner, Mr Christopher Reynolds thought "What a good youth club this would make". He put his thought into action. The billiards hall was taken over... Listen to Councillor Alfred Hawkins, a former mayor of the borough of Lewisham, which includes Catford:

"We as a council are pleased with this place. So are the police. And any mother knows she can send her daughters her - safely". What a testimonial'.

'Dig that crazy beat! Some of the hop-happy folk swing right into a good time at the club's dance'

Emile Ford, who moved to London from Saint Lucia in the 1950s, had a massive hit with his band (Emile Ford and the Checkmates) in 1959, with their version of  "What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?" staying at the top of the UK singles chart for six weeks.

The upstairs at the Savoy later became known as The Witchdoctor (from October 1965) with bands who played there including The Who (April 1966), The Creation (April 1967) The Skatalites (three times in 1967), Jimmy Cliff (May 1968) and Marmalade (in 1967 and 68) - the excellent Garage Hangover has a long list.

The downstairs was also known for a period as  Mr Smiths, scene of an infamous fight between members of the rival Kray and Richardson gangs in 1966 which left Kray associate Richard Hart shot dead at the back of the club.

(photo of the Savoy ballroom from Alamy)

The site of the former Savoy today, 75 Rushey Green

See earlier post on Mods in South London which has lots of great discussion about this and other venues from that time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wicca talk at Old Kings Head SE1,

Tomorrow night (Thursday 14 July) at the always interesting South East London Folklore Society, at the Old Kings Head off Borough High Street SE1, a talk on contemporary Wicca:

'The past century has borne witness to a growing interest in the belief systems of ancient Europe, with an array of contemporary Pagan groups claiming to revive these old ways for the needs of the modern world. By far the largest and best known of these Paganisms has been Wicca, a new religious movement that can now count hundreds of thousands of adherents worldwide. In this talk, Ethan Doyle White will provide a historical outline of this faith, in doing so examining its beliefs, practices, and the community of practitioners that has developed around it.

Ethan Doyle White is a PhD researcher at University College London (UCL) and is the author of Wicca: History, Belief, and Community in Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Sussex Academic Press, 2016) as well as various other publications on the subjects of modern Paganism and related forms of occultism, and the religious beliefs and practices of early medieval England.

The talk is in the upstairs room of The Old King's Head & commences at 8pm. £3/1.50 concs. email georgehoylefolkmusic@gmail.com to book a place or chance your arm & roll up on the night'

Doreen Valiente (1922-1999 ), one of the founders of modern witchcraft pictured in 1962. She was born at 1 High Street, Colliers Wood.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When we were Kings - Ali tribute night at Goldsmiths

On Thursday night (14 July) there's a tribute night for Muhammad Ali at Curzon Cinema at Goldsmiths in New Cross, featuring a chance to see the great documentary 'When we were Kings' on the big screen:

'On October 30, 1974, perhaps the most famous heavyweight championship boxing match of all time took place in Kinshasa, Zaire: the "Rumble in the Jungle" between champion George Foreman and challenger Muhammad Ali. In historical footage and new interviews, this documentary explores the relationship between African-Americans and the African continent during the Black Power era in terms of both popular culture and international politics, including the brutality of then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko'.

As well as the film, there will be a panel discussion led by Professor Les Back, featuring among others Ben Carrington, who has written extensively about racism and sport. 

Tickets here - all profits will go to Parkinsons UK.

I went along recently to the Muhammad Ali exhibition at the 02 in Greenwich, definitely worth a visit. Among the artefacts included are some evocative posters from the Zaire fight - and a reminder that the event was also used for propaganda purposes by the country's dictator Mobutu, who infamously led a military coup that included the murder of Congolose independence leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961.

Lobby against Lewisham Library Cuts

There's a lobby of Lewisham Council's Mayor and Cabinet meeting tomorrow  (Wednesday 13 July) in protest against cuts to library services in the borough. Another lobby is planned for the following Wednesday's full Council meeting.

Campaigners say: 'Lewisham Council has made a decision to cut £1 million from the libraries budget. The Council’s preferred option is to remove staff from 4 of our libraries: Catford, Forest Hill, Manor House and Torridon Road. The council hopes that these libraries will then be run by local volunteer organisations. Unison, (the library staff's trade union) believes that if these plans are implemented then:

- Professional staff will not be available in these libraries
-Opening times will be reduced
- If there are not enough volunteers, then libraries will close
-Library usage and services to the community will be reduced
- Vulnerable users won’t be able to access library services'.

Action so far has included a strike by library workers on 5th July that closed three of the libraries under threat - Manor House, Torridon Road and Forest Hill, and a march on 21 May that saw hundreds of protestors march to the Town Hall in Catford:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

New Cross Academy finance officer jailed in 'biggest ever education fraud'

Surprized that amongst UK newspapers, only The Daily Mail seems to have picked up on the jailing of an accountant for nine years for the 'biggest ever education fraud' seen in the UK. Sam Kayade was found guilty of obtaining £150,000 by theft and £3.95 million by fraud, and was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on 24 June.

Kayade worked for Haberdashers' Aske's school, based at two sites in Jerningham Road and Pepys Road SE14, from 1997. He continued as a finance officer during a period in which it expanded to become the Haberdashers' Aske's Academy Federation taking over other schools including Malory school in Downham (which became Knights Academy), Monson Primary School (which became Hatcham Temple Grove) and Crayford Academy in Bexley.

The court heard that Kayade began transferring money into a bank account he controlled from 2006 and continued until the fraud was discovered in 2012. It became public knowledge in 2014 when the school took civil action against Kayade which resulted in the court ordering him to pay back funds to the school. However only £800,000 has been recovered. Parents were told in 2014 that the fraud amounted to £2m, with the federation's accounts filed in March 2013 stating that £1,047,788 had been lost through "unauthorised transfers" in 2011 and £924,316 in 2012 (Guardian, 12 July 2014). Now it appears that the full amount may have been twice that. 

£4m over seven years is £570,000 a year - an amount that would comfortably pay the salaries of at least 12 teachers at the top of the salary scale. You have to wonder how any school could fail to notice such a gap in its finances, and at the irony of the Government's Academisation programme premised on the need to bring in private sector business know how to education. Haberdashers academies have been very popular with Ministers - Michael Gove famously sent students off to sleep during a visit in 2012 -  and the schools have one of the oldest business sponsors in the country - the City of London Haberdashers livery company. While sophisticated fraud can be difficult to detect,  a hole in the finances that large would put most schools in a cash flow crisis that would be impossible to ignore. Questions too for the Government's Education Funding Agency which funds academy schools and presumably monitors what they do with the money.

The Haberdashers' Aske's girls school in Jerningham Road in 1905
- the buildings remain much the same today, though there are a few more cars and buses!

Kathryn Williams at Canada Water Library

Really enjoyed Kathryn Williams' gig last month (June 18th) in the theatre space at Canada Water Library. She was performing songs from her Sylvia Plath-inspired album Hypoxia as part of Southwark's Rhyme and Reason poetry festival.

Nice surprise too that she was accompanied on stage by fellow One Little Indian label mates Astrid Williamson and Michele Stodart (Magic Numbers guitarist as well as solo artist). So all in all a lot of hair and some fine harmonies!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

New Bowie Mural in Bromley

A new David Bowie mural was painted in Bromley shopping centre on Saturday, by Marvellous Murals

Bowie may have been born in Brixton, but he grew up as a Bromley boy, living in Canon Road, Clarence Road and then from 1955, 4 Plaistow Grove. He went to Burnt Ash Junior School then Bromley Technical High School for Boys, Oakley Road (now Ravens Wood School)

Dean Tweedy of Marvellous Murals with new Bowie work
The mural is part of a rebranding of the Shopping Centre from 'The Glades' to 'intu Bromley'. By the toilets there is a also a list of Bromley music connections that mentions Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim), Billy Idol, Topper Headon (Clash drummer) and Siouxsie Sioux as well as Bowie.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cush Jumbo - Lewisham's finest

Sad to see the final ever episode of The Good Wife, one of the best programmes on TV in recent years. The last series was enlivened by the character of up and coming lawyer Lucca Quinn, played by Cush Jumbo.  Took me a while to realize that the actress hails not from Chicago, but from Lewisham! Her performing career started off with tap dancing lessons in the 'sham, and she went to Cator Park school then  Brits.

Cush will be starring in a Good Wife spin off series, centred on her character and Diane Lockhart, played by Christine Barinski. So you might not spot her in Lewisham McDeez for a whle.

Cush Jumbo reading to kids at Deptford Park Primary School in 2014


Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Mighty Scheme - Graham Fagen

A couple of weeks ago (12 June) I went to a live performance by Ghetto Priest and Adrian Sherwood at Dilston Grove in Southwark Park.  The event was part of the 'The Mighty Scheme' exhibition by the Scottish artist Graham Fagen, taking place at Dilston Grove and at the nearby CGP gallery in the park.

I went back today to check out the exhibition in full. Its centrepiece is a four screen film and video installation 'The Slave's Lament', featuring Ghetto Priest singing Robert Burns' anti-slavery song of that name accompanied by strings. In the dark, cool space of the ex-church it is beautiful and mesmerising. 

The only other object in the church is a haunting rope tree, with its echoes of lynchings. Fagen is interested in the relationship between Caribbean history and Scottish identity. Burns, central to the latter, not only wrote about slavery but planned at one point to move to Jamaica. Ironically if he had succeeded it would probably have been to work on a slave plantation. He couldn't afford to make the trip, and then found success as a poet which made his escape from a precarious financial position in Scotland unnecessary.

Outside is one of Fagen's neon works 'Come into the Garden and forget about the war', while there is a series of connected work in the CGP gallery just across the grass. 

Tomorrow - Sunday 26th June - is your last chance to see this exhibition - both galleries are open from 11 am to 5 pm, admission free.

Natural Anarchy - Graham Fagen

Monday, June 20, 2016

Brexit, lexit and Lewisham: why I am voting 'Remain'

Political divisions arising from the EU referendum are shaking all political parties, and a little earthquake has rumbled the Lewisham left with a split in 'Lewisham People Before Profit'.  The group seems to have originally adopted a position of not taking a position on the referendum, but then 'People Before Profit decided at a special meeting on Wednesday 25th May to abandon it's previous "no policy" stance on the EU in favour of actively supporting the Leave campaign' (LPBP website). Among those who resigned as a result was Nicholas Long, the party's parliamentary candidate for Lewisham East in the last General Election. He is a supporter of 'Another Europe is Possible' which argues for a Remain vote on a left wing basis.

The row also seems to have precipitated the departure of another prominent member, the controversial Ray Woolford, who announced on twitter that he had resigned because of the way 'the EU vote was called and key activists forced out!'. Not sure if they've made up since, but Woolford is actually a keen advocate of the Leave campaign.

The precise details of this aren't really relevant, but this is a small local episode in the wider tragi-comedy of the 'Lexit' campaign - those on the left who are arguing for a vote to leave the European Union. By no means all the left beyond the Labour Party is supporting this position - the remains of the SWP following its 2013 rape allegation crisis and splits are pro-Brexit, while some of its more thoughtful ex-members take the opposite view (see for instance respected activist Jonathan Neale's passionate call).

Not sure I believe that the sky will fall in whatever the referendum result next week, the rich will still be getting richer, the poor will still be poor, there will still be housing shortages and refugees will still be dying in the Mediterranean. I can see why some people think it's not worth voting at all. I certainly don't think the EU is some paradise of peace, harmony and human rights, it is quite right to criticise, among other things, its approach to the thousands of deaths of migrants trying to reach its shores. It has played a highly dubious role in the imposition of austerity in Greece, even if technically this relates to the country's membership of the Eurozone common currency rather than the EU as such.

However, I can't see how any of this will change by leaving the EU. In the UK it is precisely the political forces who are most anti-refugee and pro-privatisation who are leading the Brexit campaign and likely to benefit from a Leave majority. In any event, the current state of global capitalism is not the result of a conspiracy by institutions like the EU - a go it alone UK would still be tied into all the other international relations of the market and its crises, like every other country in the world. The notion that a vote against the EU represents some kind of vote against 'neo-liberalism' seems to be a delusion, and as the referendum approaches its real political content has increasingly become about immigration, immigration and immigration.

There is one group of people who are going to be immediately affected in a negative way by a Brexit vote and that is people from other EU countries who have made their lives in this country, doing all the usual things like working, falling in love, sending their kids to the local school. I can think of many neighbours, friends, work colleagues etc. who this applies to, not to mention lots of people working in essential services (like this Dutch GP in Lewisham). I am sure they would not all be kicked out the day after a referendum, but they will be living with insecurity and ultimately if the same rules were applied to them as to people from other parts of the world (based on an income of £35,000+), around 80% of them would not qualify (see 'What Happens to EU Citizens Living in the UK If We Leave?' by Joseph Finlay). While some have hailed anti-EU sentiment as some kind of working class rebellion, the actual working class includes a high proportion of migrants, not to mention the descendants of previous generations who were born outside of the UK.

This applies more so in London than anywhere else in the country, and out of basic solidarity with my neighbours I have decided to vote to remain. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Limonious Night in New Cross with Paul Gilroy, Dr Lez Henry, Charlie Dark and more

Following the recent exhibition at the South London Gallery of work by Jamaican reggae/dancehall record sleeve artist Limonious (featured at Transpontine recently), there's a very interesting sounding event tomorrow night in New Cross with some great speakers and music:

'One Love Books in conjunction with Sound System Outernational (Goldsmiths) and The Wire invite you to SHOULDER MOVE, an evening of talks and music in memory of Jamaican artist Wilfred Limonious

Saturday 11 June 2016, 6pm–3am @ The Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, London SE14 6TY,, 6–8pm, guest speakers

- William 'Lesley Lyrix' Henry (Introduction)
- Christopher Bateman and Al 'Fingers' Newman ('In Fine Style: The Dancehall Art Of Wilfred Limonious' presentation and book preview)
- Paul Gilroy ('Labels, Album Covers and the Black Public Sphere')

8–10pm, break for England vs Russia (Euro 16)

10–3am, Sound system session with Virgo High Power Discotheque

Selectors Al Fingers and Charlie Dark playing LPs and 45s designed and illustrated by Limonious

Saturday, June 04, 2016

NHS 'Bursary or Bust' Protest

Student nurses, midwives and associated health professionals marched in London today against Government plans to scrap bursaries for NHS students and replace them with loans. Protestors sat down and blocked Waterloo Bridge during the demonstration

Outside St Thomas Hospital
(photo from @LondonNurse2015)

Sit down on Waterloo Bridge (photo @NHAparty)

Waterloo Bridge (@LondonNurse2015)

Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich National Health Action Party banner
(photo from @cambsmeridian)
Speakers include Vivienne Westwood:

photo from :@TheUniPaper

Unison says that 'the net result will be

- Student nurses, midwives and other vital NHS staff graduating with nearly £50,000 worth of debt.
- Fewer potential health workers entering training due to the burden of debt (especially when the starting salary for many of them is relatively low).
- That in turn will lead to universities being worse off (as fewer students take their nursing courses) and potentially even the end of some nursing courses altogether.
- And rather than this cut saving money (as the government claims), few health workers will repay the entirety of their student debt over the course of their working lives – and the burden of additional agency staff (and overseas recruitment costs), thanks to a continued and worsening nursing shortage, means this ham-fisted attempt to save money will end up costing the taxpayer more money'.

Dizzee the ginger tom comes to Brockley

As part of the burst of new street art associated with this month's Brockley Max festival, Kirstin Wood (@kirstinpainter) has painted Dizzee the ginger tom on the hoarding in Crofton Park - corner of Brockley Road and Sevenoaks Road SE4. Dizzee has apparently appeared before in the Surrey area where Kirstin lives.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Prince, Ali, Maxi, Marley Murals

New Prince mural in Camberwell on Daneville Road next to GX Gallery:

Maxi Priest on shutters of Goldstar Office Furniture, Honor Oak Park, SE23:

Bob Marley by Brockley Station, painted last year by Dale Grimshaw to replace nearby Marley street art on demolished building.

Of these three singers only Maxi has a strong local connection - born and raised in Lewisham, he went to Roger Manwood School in Brockley Rise and  started out with Saxon sound system. Marley played a few times in Peckham, and I guess Prince did play at the 02 in Greenwich so that will have to do for his South London credentials!

Update 3 July 2016:

The Prince mural in Camberwell, by Artful Dodger, now features Muhammad Ali:

Monday, May 23, 2016

Music Monday: Ricky Chohan, Brockley's up & coming Punjabi pop star

So I was having my hair cut at the great KR Barber Station in Brockley last week and I met this guy in there for the same reason as me, talking excitedly about the fact that Dillian Whyte had just posted a clip featuring the boxer listening to his song.


I asked him about it and he told me that his name is Ricky Chohan. He works at an estate agent in Brockley Road and is maybe not a fully fledged pop star yet. But his new track 'Do Akhiyaan' ('two eyes') has a high quality video (plainly not filmed in Lewisham!) that has been viewed more than 300,000 times in its first few weeks. So watch this space...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Save Lewisham Libraries demo today

There's a demonstration today (Saturday May 21st) to opposed proposed cuts to Lewisham Libraries. As part of a £1 million cut to the libraries budget, Lewisham Council is proposing to remove staff from four local libraries - Catford, Forest Hil, Manor House and Torridon Road. The council hopes that these libraries will then be run by local volunteer organisations.
While this may be possible, the evidence from previous experience is that what remains, despite the best efforts of volunteers, is a diminished service with reduced opening hours and a declining stock of old books.
The demonstration today assembles at 12 noon in Limes Grove next to Lewisham Library and then marches to the town hall for a rally with speakers. Unison members in Lewisham libraries will be striking today to join the protest

The Save Lewisham Libraries stall at the recent London Radical Bookfair,
held at Goldsmiths on May7 2016


Friday, May 20, 2016

Alison Goldfrapp & Idris Elba at the Rivoli

Yet more Rivoli Ballroom action.  Alison Goldfrapp held her 50th birthday party at the Crofton Park ballroom this week. Not too many photos around of this private event, but seemingly there were plenty of balloons...

photo by @misshoney333

Brockley Central noticed that the Rivoli also features briefly in the video for Dance Off by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - yes that is Idris Elba in SE4.

Elton John was spotted using the facilities at the Rose (previously the Hobgoblin) in New Cross Road this week. 

Elton in The Rose - full story at Newsshopper

 Been a while since he was spotted in the Rivoli, but he did shoot the  video for his 1983 song 'I guess that's why they call it the blues' there.

Elton John in Rivoli Ballroom

Monday, May 16, 2016

Celebrity street art in Deptford and Hackney

 Deptford High Street has some famous visitors' albeit only in 2D representations.
Jim Hendrix (I think):
Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia meet John Lennon and Yoko Ono:

Nothing quite as grand as the Frida Kahlo mural I saw last week by Hackney Wick station:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dora Project: Nazi terror in Germany & SE London

Last weekend coming up for the Dora Project at Peckham Platform (in Peckham Square by the library). A very interesting exhibition  that 'combines art, WW2 London and early rocket engineering' it has been put together by artist Françoise Dupré in collaboration with Rebecca Snow. Essentially it documents and displays the links between the Nazi V2 programme - which entailed slave labour in a concentration camp and the death of thousands in rocket attacks - and later US and Russian space exploration. In particular, after the second world war Nazi rocket engineers played a key role in the Apollo programme:
'DORA PROJECT connects two sites of terror: London and Mittelbau-Dora Nazi Concentration Camp in Central Germany. V2 rockets were assembled by slave labourers in an underground factory in Mittelbau-Dora where more than 20,000 inmates died. Between September 1944 and March 1945, V2 attacks on London killed around 2500 Londoners and destroyed homes and families'.

Mapping the connections between slave labour and rocket attacks

Wernher von Braun, architect of both the V2 rocket and the Apollo programme

Commemorating SE London victims - a list of V2 attacks in Lewisham

As this exhibition combines my local history interests and my previous time in the Association of Autonomous Astronauts, it couldn't have been more me. Dora Project closes on 15 May