Monday, November 20, 2017

Music Monday: Oh Wonder, made in Brockley

Electro/alt pop duo Oh Wonder played a sold out gig at Brixton Academy this month, part of a massive international tour to mark the launch of their second album Ultralife.  Their track Without You has had 44 million views on YouTube. Not bad at all for an outfit who started out putting songs up on soundcloud in 2014 and have recorded both their albums in their flat in Brockley.

Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West recently explained to the BBC:

'Our studio is on a busy main road, on the corner of two bus routes. henever we’d start recording, another bus would go by. We couldn’t do vocals before 10pm... But some buses do sneak in. The album opens with a bus, an ode to the fact that the entire album was compromised by London transport. There’s also a police siren from New York, where we had the same problem with traffic. We could have made our lives easier by going to a studio with soundproofing, but that isn’t us. Our lives are in these songs and it didn’t feel fair to leave the night buses out'

Josephine has also discussed how the song High on Humans on Ultralife was written on the way back home from Brockley Station after an encounter on the tube home from Heathrow with a guy :'covered in blood [with] no teeth, looking sorry for himself.  I tentatively went up to him and his girlfriend and said, 'I just wanted to let you know you'll be fine', Go to the dentist tomorrow, don't panic, you'll be great'. And he was like, 'Oh, thank you so much!'.

'And then this guy opposite us piped up, 'I broke my nose, too!'. And suddenly this whole little carriage was talking about their injuries, which was remarkable.  When I got off the Tube, I was so excited. Chatting to strangers gives you such a buzz because there's that element of fear before you talk to someone. So I walked from Brockley station back to my house, singing into my phone. And I've got this really funny voice note, which is like, 'I'm getting high on humans!' (Josepine had herself smashed teeth and broken her nose in an accident a couple of years ago).

High on Humans joins that select list of songs written on South London public transport - including Bowie's Life on Mars (written on the bus to Lewisham) and The Red Flag (written on the train to New Cross)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Little Richard at Lewisham Odeon (1963 and 1975)

American rock'n'roll legend Little Richard played in Lewisham on at least two occasions.

The first time was on 31 October 1963 as part of an amazing line up that also included the Rolling Stones, the Everly Brothers, and Bo Diddley. But on that Halloween night there were some famous or soon to be famous names in the audience too.  According to 'History with the Beatles' by Bradford E Loker (2009), George Harrison attended this concert  having earlier that day arrived from back with The Beatles from a trip to Sweden and been greeted by thousands of fans. This was to prove to be a fateful day in pop culture history - American TV presenter Ed Sullivan was passing through the airport and on the strength of witnessing this outbreak of Beatle-mania booked them to appear on his TV show, the legendary appearance on 9 February1964 kicking off the 'British invasion' of the US pop charts.

Also in the audience in Lewisham was a 17 year old David Jones, later Bowie: 'After seeing the Rolling Stones perform on the same bill as Bo Diddley and Little Richard at the Lewisham Odeon in October 1963, he was desperate to perform R&B rather than teen pop' (The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie And The 1970s by Peter Doggett, 2011). As was common in those days, the acts performed short sets twice over the course of the evening - according to this advert there was a 6.30 and a 6.45 show

Little Richard's return to Lewisham Odeon in July 1975 seemed to have been memorable though for all the wrong reasons. Mick Farren's review in the New Musical Express described 'The debut date of Little Richard's UK tour at the half empty Lewisham Odeon' as 'little short of a disaster. Possibly the person least to blame was Little Richard himself'.

Support band The Wild Angels were said to 'not score too highly on either originality or technique, but they play with such energetic determination that they more than keep the customers satisfied. They don't leave space for even the most aggro prone ted to start yelling for the star of the show'.

Booing there soon was though as after lengthy delays the back up band took to the stage and played for too long without sight of the singer:  'Before the riot could start the warm up man announced Little Richard. With one bound he was on top of the piano, accepting the adulation of his loyal fans in a nifty one piece, red, spangled creation that showed everyone that after 26 years on the road, his figure was still built to please. It looked as though everything was going to be alright. The band kicked off into a tight, functional 'Good Golly Miss Molly' that was traditional enough to mollify the grease. Then Little Richard sat down at the piano and started to sing. The awful truth became apparent that both his voice and piano were totally inaudible... After a few more tries he finally had to instruct the band to turn down. At least, after that he could be heard, although his voice still sounded as though it was coming from deep under water. From then on, all thoughts of music went straight out the window... At the end, nobody asked for an encore'

Farren concluded: 'Nobody likes to schlep all the way to Lewisham to be let down. For me, it was the second time. The first was the Chuck Berry debacle. That was mainly due to Berry's towering meanness. In the case of Little Richard, the majority of the blame must rest with the people who brought in a potentially top line act like Little Richard and his Band, then saddled them with a Mickey Mouse P.A., joke continuity and a terminally ham-fisted stage operation'.

(I believe the Chuck Berry gig at Lewisham referred to was also in 1975 - when Berry died earlier this year, Boy George tweeted that he 'met him outside Lewisham Odeon in the 70s').

See previously on Lewisham Odeon:

Rod Stewart with Paul & Linda McCartney, Lewisham Odeon 1974

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Halloween: the pumpkins after the night before

Maybe not quite so spooky in daylight, but the surviving pumpkins on the  morning after Halloween have their own horrors...

Malpas Rd SE4

Drakefell Rd SE4

Drakefell Road SE4

Asylum Road SE15

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dubious people in Bromley

The extreme right wing group Britain First have called a march in Bromley town centre on Saturday November 4th 2017. The leaders of the group, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, who both live in Penge, have been charged with religiously aggravated assault and as part of their bail conditions have to sign on at Bromley Police station every Saturday at 2 pm.  Boo hoo, they have called on their supporters to come and hold the hands of these 'persecuted patriots'. In recent months the group have struggled to get a hundred people out for their protests, but that's no reason to give them a free ride on the streets of south london.

Anti-fascists - including Disabled People Against Cuts, Stand Up To Racism, Lewisham Islamic Centre, Unite Against Fascism, Greenwich & Bexley TUC, Bromley Momentum, and Bromley TUC - have called a counter protest, meeting at Bromley North  a 12 noon. Details here:

Monday, October 30, 2017

Music Monday: King Krule - more songs about Peckham Rye and Bermondsey

King Krule has a new album out, The OOZ. In a recent Gilles Peterson interview the East Dulwich/Peckham Rye raised artist mentions that he demo'd some of the tracks at Shrunken Heads studio in Nunhead (40 Nunhead Green), and also talks about a recent night out at the Royal Albert in Deptford.  Bermondsey gets a couple of references on the album too, with two short tracks entitled 'Bermondsey Bosom (Left)' and 'Bermondsey Bosom (Right)'.  He played a pop up gig last month at the DIY Space for London in Ormside St SE15, and is now out on a big US/UK tour.

The video for the first single from the album, Czech One, was partially filmed in Elm Grove/Holly Grove off Rye Lane SE15 - with a scene outside the Rye Lane Market entrance. 

We first featured King Krule back in 2013 when his first album came out, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon. We noted his interest in East Dulwich history (he was born in Dunstans Road), and use of Deptford Church Street as a video location.

In the mean time he put out an album A New Place 2 Drown (2015) under his own name, Archy Marshall, with an accompanying book of  poetry and art work by Archy and his brother Jack. The cover shot is of a bench round a tree on Peckham Rye, and the Nunhead Reservoir features in a short accompanying film (still below of Archy at Reservoir)

Monday, October 16, 2017

New Cross Walk-In Centre threatened with closure

There's still a couple of weeks to give your views on proposals to close the NHS Walk-in Centre at the Waldron Health Centre in New Cross. The Walk-in opened in March 2010 and offers appointments with a GP 'for patients who are unable to get an appointment with their GP with a minor injury or medical condition that is not life-threatening but needs to be seen'  ( Unlike most GP practices it is open from 8am to 8pm,
7 days a week, including public holidays.

In its consultation document NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the body responsible for commissioning local primary care services, argues that the walk-in model is not the best for patients: 'The easy access to advice at walk-in centres means that people can avoid registering with a GP. It is important for people to be registered with a GP so they can benefit from care that encourages healthy living, early detection and prevention of diseases and a holistic approach to health'.

They have a point, for instance when you go to the Walk-in the doctors there can't see your patient record so can't judge whether your current health complaint relates to your previous history. It probably would be better if everybody was registered with a local GP and could see a doctor or nurse there when they needed to. But the problem is they can't!

As the consultation paper makes clear, most people are using the Walk-In precisely because of difficulties getting an appointment:

'- 46% said they went directly to the Walk-in Centre because didn’t think they’d be able to get an appointment at their GP practice;
- 33% said they had contacted their GP that day but no appointments were available.
- 5% reported they were unable to get through on the telephone to their GP practice'.

My own experience of a busy SE14 GP practice is that I have given up trying to get through on the phone, to have a chance of getting an appointment I go down there. And when I do get to speak to someone on reception I can rarely get an appointment that week. Most recently I was given a date more than 2 weeks later before a doctor could even phone me and decide whether to offer an appointment. As for weekend appointments for people who struggle to get time off work, forget it. This is not an isolated issue at my practice, nationally there a recruitment crisis with not enough GPs available to fill posts - which translates directly into longer waiting times for appointments.

Although the CCG states that it wishes to 'Improve the provision and access to GP services for all Lewisham residents' it is hard to see how closing a very busy existing service is going to improve access to GP services. The only concrete proposal is to make 'increasing use of the GP Extended Access Service', a kind of overspill facility for people registered with a Lewisham GP and based at Lewisham Hospital. But has this really got the capacity to replace the New Cross service?

In 2016/17, the  New Cross Walk-In saw 29,528 patients. The service at Lewisham Hospital 'plans to deliver around 25,426 bookable appointments per year. In 2018, this will increase to 29,914 bookable appointments'. So that's only an expansion next year of 4,500  appointments. Never mind the fact that the Office for National Statistics estimates that the population in Lewisham will grow by 14.4% by 2024 (source)

It is also questionable whether just offering more appointments at Lewisham Hospital is going to work for people who don't live near to it. The current Walk-In  'is mainly used by people who
live in the north of the borough'. Will they travel to Lewisham?   

To close the Walk In while there is a crisis in access to timely GP appointments near to where people live will only mean many people won't see a doctor at all - typically the most vulnerable who struggle to travel or who don't want to be seen to make a fuss and demand appointments. And delays in seeing GP leads to delays in diagnosis than can have lethal consequences as the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce has identified.

The  CCG - and the Government's Department of Health - need to sort out GP services before they consider taking away the safety net offered by the Walk-In.

You can reply to the consultation online until 5 pm on 30 October 2017. There will also be a drop-in session at the Telegraph Hill Assembly meeting at, Somerville Youth & Play provision, 260 Queen's Road, SE14 5JN on Tuesday 17 October 6.30pm.

The CCG say  that 'The contract for the Walk-in Centre ends on 31 December 2017 and cannot be renewed. If it were to continue running, we would need to set up a new contract'.  If that is the case they have left it rather late to consult, presumably they must have a contingency plan to keep the Walk-In going, otherwise the outcome would be a foregone conclusion and the consultation a sham.

(The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign is opposed to the closure. They say: The decision to close the WIC looks to us that it was driven by a need to shift resources from a local service to a central one to comply with Department of Health demands based on Jeremy Hunt’s diktat about 8am-8pm GP services, and not by a genuine appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of a current local service in order to replace it with a better local service.  However, we believe Lewisham CCG should not cut current provision without replacing it with at least as good, safe and accessible a service alternative – and better is sorely needed').

Monday, October 02, 2017

Music Monday: Otzeki - Falling Out on the New Cross Road

Yes I know this is not exactly news - Otzeki's Falling Out was released last year on Rough Trade. But the video starts with the message  'Thank you Ziggy for bringing freedom and happiness onto the streets of New Cross' and was seemingly shot outside the William Hill bookies at 174 New Cross Road (near to the junction with Queens Road)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Domino's advert in Fordham Park

A new advert for Domino's Pizza was filmed in New Cross Gate's Fordham Park. 'The Official Food of Squads' features a group of young guys trying and failing to look cool as they wander through the park to a soundtrack of P.Diddy's 'Bad Boy for Life'.

Walking through Fordham Park with Deptford Green School in the background

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Peckham and Nunhead Free Film Festival 2017

This year's Peckham and Nunhead Free Film Festival is already underway - too late if you've missed vampire film Nosferatu being screened in Nunhead Cemetery, but there's plenty more to come over the next week. Highlights include A Plastic Ocean, a documentary about the impact of plastic pollution on marine and human life, showing this Thursday 7th September (8 pm) at Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility off the Old Kent Road, and Raving Iran at Persepolis in Peckham on the following day (5 pm).  On Saturday at the Bussey Building there's all day Afrikans on Film Festival.

Full programme here, all events free of charge.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Music Monday: Ray BLK - Catford soul

There were lots of South London shout outs at Reading Festival last week including East Dulwich's Tom Misch, Croydon's Loyle Carner and in the Lewisham corner Ray BLK.

Nigerian-born and Catford-raised, Ray BLK (real name Rita Ekwere) was the winner of the BBC's Sound of 2017 award (for emerging talent) as well as Best Newcomer at the 2016 MOBO awards. She has been making music for a while, starting out with the Great Expectations inspired Havisham in 2015, but it was last year's Durt EP that really put her in the spotlight, in particular the track My Hood which features Stormzy.

She's followed it up this year with tracks including the latest single, Doing Me, and guest vocals on the Gorillaz album.

My Hood reflects her love/hate relationship with Lewisham- she wrote it after having her laptop nicked, and told BBC 'I was robbed around the time I wrote it and I honestly just wanted to leave. I was like, "I'm getting robbed. My neighbours sell drugs out of their house. It's not where I need to be." The lyrics reference Morleys chicken, the Blue Borough and Deptford's Pepys Estate:

Socks and sliders everywhere and every day
Full English breakfast at a caff, not a café
No, no, baby, we don't let strangers come our way
But you should come to my hood, my hood, my hood
Meet me at Morley's, best fried chicken is in South
I'll show you gangsters, don't you go running your mouth
Mopeds are racing, two AM outside my house, oh yeah, it's loud
But come to my hood, my hood, my hood...

Barely anyone at school after fifteen
We're chasing paper then Blue Borough should be green
I won't lie, finding a way out is our dream
But you should come to my hood, my hood, my hood
Top floor of Pepys estate, we'll show you our world
That building turns you to a woman from a girl

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Pussy Riot in New Cross

Maria Alyokhina, who was jailed in Putin's Russia for her activities with punk collective Pussy Riot, is speaking at the Centre for Investigative Journalism at Goldsmiths in New Cross on Wednesday 13 September 2017.

Maria was convicted in 2012 of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years in prison. Upon her release she helped found Media Zona, an independent media outlet which aims to hold Russia’s justice system to account. She will be talking  about the reach of Russia’s official media in the age of Putin - and how to get around it. She has written a book, Riot Days, about her experiences of the Russian justice system.

The event takes place from 1:00pm-3:30pm,  LG02 PSH Building, Goldsmiths University, 8 Lewisham Way, London SE14 6NW. Admission is free, all welcome.

Full details here:’s-official-media-and-how-subvert-it

While she's in the area she might want to check out the painting of Pussy Riot in the Ladywell Tavern!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Red Stage: the 1930s Workers Theatre Movement in South London

Some interesting material in the University of Warwick's digital archive on British Political Theatre 1930s to 1950s, including some newsletters from the 1930s from the Workers Theatre Movement, associated with the Communist Party. As mentioned here before, South London was a focus for this kind of theatre, with performances of agitational sketches and songs given in the streets, at meetings and at shows.

According to 'Class against class: the Communist Party in Britain Between the Wars', (Matthew Worley, 2002): 'Communist theatre groups had begun to appear throughouth the country by the turn of the decade [the 1930s]. In London alone, ten such troupes, including the Red Star Troupe of West London, Red Radio of Hackney, the Red Magnets of Woolwich, the Red Front of Streatham, the Red Players of Lewisham, the Red Blouses of Greenwich and the Yiddish-speaking Proltet, existed by 1931’.

The Lewisham Red Players performed in Lewisham High Street and elsewhere, with their group chorus going:

“There is a word you mustn’t say – revo-lution
All the same it’s on the way – the workers’ revolution
Every day the world turns round - revo-lution
A few more turns, it will resound - revo-lution
It’s coming here, it’s coming there - revo-lution
The ground is tumbling everywhere – the workers’ revolution”.

(source: Raphael Samuel in  Performance and Politics in Popular Drama: Aspects of Popular Entertainment in Theatre, Film and Television, 1800–1976, edited by David Brady, 1980)

The Red Players included in their ranks Charlie Mann,  son of the veteran Communist and trade unionist Tom Mann, the latter who lived in Brockley in the 1920s  (in 1927 his address was 1 Adelaide Road).

Charles B Mann (1905-1989) was editor of the Workers' Theatre Movement journal 'Red Stage', with his address given in the November 1931 issue as 61 Sydenham Park SE26.

Red Stage (November 1931) mentions new groups being set up in Croydon and Woolwich and 'the revival of the Deptford Group',  and open-air 'Red Radio' shows in Bermondsey and Greenwich. The January 1932 issue includes a report from the Streatham-based 'Red Front Troupe, South London' stating that it had 'nine effective members, three of whom are women' and that in November 1932 they had given five shows and set up an unemployed troupe linked to the National Unemployed Workers Movement. The South London 'Red Players' reported that they had helped set up new groups in Croydon, Woolwich and Camberwell and were planning 'full WTM shows in Croydon, Lewisham and Woolwich'. The folowing month's issue (February 1932) includes reports from Red Blouses in Greenwich, Red Magnets (Woolwich) - planning a big show at Plumstead Baths - and Red Players, planning shows in Croydon, Lewisham and elsewhere.

The movement, which argued that 'Our theatre awakens the masses', presented theatre that condemned capitalism and promoted the workers movement, but there were disagreements about the best way of doing this. Within the pages of these publications we see some healthy debate about the role of the theatre and other issues. For instance the Jewish communist theatre troupe Proltet mounted a strong defence of doing performances in Yiddish, against criticism from some in the Party (WTM Monthly Bulletin, February 1933). There was a debate about jazz, with a letter arguing that 'it seems a great pity that, when so  many fine revolutionary and other great melodies are available, it is found necessary to descend to the level of the American jazz exploiters' (Red Stage, January 1932) and a response that to reach the masses it was necessary to use tunes from popular culture - 'jazz brings us nearer to the workers' (February 1932).

A critical review in the Communist Party's Daily Worker attacked the tendency to 'individual self boosting' in the Workers Theatre Movement, provoking a firm response from the Red Players of South London: 'If Comrade Bennett's ideal state is one in which the individual is prohibited from personal expression, then that is not the state we are fighting for' (Red Stage,  January 1932). There is a tragic historical irony that in Stalin's USSR - celebrated by the Workers Theatre Movement - such views could lead to the Gulag in this period.

Red Stage, January 1932 giving contact addresses for the Red Front troupe (16 Buckleigh Road, SW16 and for the Red Players (S. Banks, 22 Campshill Road, SE13)

Music Monday: Vision Crew - 'Coming from the Blue side, that's SE'

Lewisham-based Vision Crew aren't shy about representing the 'blue borough'. The video for their latest release, Forever, was shot at St John's Station, while on their earlier 'Walk the Walk' (built around a haunting piano line) they proclaim that they are 'coming from the blue side, that's SE'.

According to Complex magazine (June 2017): 'Meet Vision Crew, The South London Grime Bandits - There's something in the water down in Lewisham, South London, because the Blue Borough has been funnelling a plethora of music acts making their voices heard. Penetrating with devastation akin to the Wu-Tang Clan, Vision Crew is a collective on the rise: established in 2014, Ezro, Pascall, Tyzz, Whackeye, Goldie and DJ Kay C are a group of close friends, made up of emcees, producers and DJs taking their ends to higher heights'

Sunday, August 20, 2017

SE London Women Against Rape - Lewisham demo, 1980

I found this browsing at the interesting digital archive of feminist magazine, Spare Rib. The July 1980 issues records a 300 strong march through Lewisham on May 10 1980, called by South East London Women Against Rape - a group set up 'by Lewisham women after some of them had become involved in helping a woman who had just been raped. They had been shocked not only by the rape but at the harsh and unsympathetic treatment the woman had receivd at the hands of police and doctors'. The group contacts were given as Gill Chambers and Linda Stewart at Deptford Women's Centre, 74 Deptford High Street, and feminist singer Frankie Armstrong was also mentioned as being involved. The photo shows placard reading 'Stop Crimes Against Women Now', sadly as relevant in 2017 as it was in 1980.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sound System: Dave Randall talk at Rye Wax

Coming up tonight (15 August 2017) at Rye Wax in the Bussey building on Rye Lane Se15, a Q&A with Brixton-based musician Dave Randall (Faithless, Slovo) about his new book 'Sound System: the political power of music':

'Musicians have often wanted to change the world. From underground innovators to pop icons, many have believed in the political power of music. Rulers recognise it too. Music has been used to challenge the political and social order – and to prop up
the status quo.

Dave Randall explores what makes music so powerful. In his talk, he’ll look at examples ranging from Beethoven to Beyoncé and pose the question: how can we make music serve the interests of the many, rather than the few?

Dave Randall is a musician and activist. He has contributed to multi-million selling albums and toured the world playing guitar with Faithless, Sinead O’Connor, Emiliana Torrini and many others.
Dave will be taking your questions and selling his book on the night'

7:30 start, admission free.

More information

Monday, August 14, 2017

Music Monday: from Versailles to Peckham Rye with Kele

'From the palace of Versailles
To the streets of Peckham Rye
You craved the dizziest of heights
But were caught out at the lights
The streets been talkin'

So starts Bloc Party singer Kele Okereke's new solo single 'The streets been talkin'. A new acoustic direction for Kele with an album to follow in October. Don't know what signfiicance Peckham holds for Kele, but he was recently interviewed in his 'new South London home', saying “I needed a change of scene. I couldn’t walk around Shoreditch without bumping into someone I knew. I was fed up with the grey and people vomiting in the streets. I wanted some green and some anonymity, to insulate myself from that world".  Welcome to the green and lovely transpontine streets!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

318 New Cross Road - a little shop on a big day, 13 August 1977

The currently empty shop at 318 New Cross Road, next door to the New Cross House, was an important location in the 'Battle of Lewisham' forty years ago this weekend, when anti-fascist demonstrators confronted the far right National Front as they marched from New Cross to Lewisham.


The shop, most recently 'The Allotment' which closed earlier this year, had been empty too in 1977 when, shortly before the demonstration, it was occupied in the name of the Lewisham 21 Defence Committee. This was a campaign to support local young black people arrested in  police raids as part of an 'anti-mugging' operation and whose march through New Cross in July 1977 had been attacked by the National Front (the arrest of NF members on that day in turn prompted the NF to call their 13 August demo). As the local paper the Mercury reported (4 August 1977) the Alcoholic Recovery Project was due to move in:

'Squat  shock at a shop for charity

Squatters have taken over the new home of a charity for alcoholics. The squatters, members of the Lewisham 21 defence committee. took over an empty shop in New Cross Road, New Cross, last week.They broke in and cleared the place up to serve as campaign headquarters. But when they heard the shop was to become a centre for Lewisham's Alcoholic Recovery Project, the squatters said they would leave… shortly.

The project, a council-adied charity, had been negotiating the lease of the property for four months and was preparing to move in next week. It wants to use the shop as a reception area where alcoholics could go to receive advice and encouragement. The present owners of the property, Courage Breweries, sent a representative to speak to the squatters. He said "we will pursue our normal course of action was squatters, which is to go through the legal channels".

But it would take at least six weeks for the court order to go through, and the defence committee is prepared to "leave quietly". Members have agreed to get out after August 13, the date of the National Front demonstration in New Cross. The house is close to where the Front is due to congregate.

The committee is "defending" a number of young people charged with conspiracy to steal and loitering. It was named after the original 21 picked up in dawn raids by police on May 30'.


With the NF assembling in Achilles Street by Fordham Park, the shop overlooking Clifton Rise was a perfect place to act as HQ for anti-fascists on the day of the demonstration. It was probably for this reason that the police raided it on 13 August, sparking the first clashes of what was to be a long and violent day. According to the Mercury (18 August 1977),  at ten past noon police 'moved in to evict SWP squatters occupying a shop opposite Clifton Rise. An incident that lit the fuse for an explosive timetable of violence.... The SWP were occupying a derelict shop next to the New Cross House pub. Police broke down a door and evicted the squatters, arresting 7 people and taking a quanity of propaganda and banners' (not sure whether all those arrested were members of the Socialist Workers Party,  press reports from the time tended to label all the militant anti-fascists as SWP when in fact they were members of many groups and none - though the SWP did play a significant tole in the demonstration that day).

The Alcohol Recovery Project did move in to the shop later and remained there for at least the next twenty years.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Remembering the Battle of Lewisham weekend

I went along last week to the launch of  What Are You Taking Pictures For? an exhibition of photographs documenting the events of 13 August 1977,  a day of riotous demonstrations against the far right National Front often referred to as the 'Battle of Lewisham'. There are some great images and archive material, so do get along and take a look. The exhibition is open from 9 am to 9 pm for all of August in Goldsmiths Kingsway Corridor in the main old building on Lewisham Way.

This weekend sees a whole series of events to mark the 40th anniversary, organised by Goldsmiths in partnership with Lewisham Council, the Albany and Lover Music Hate Racism. All events free unless otherwise stated, full details here:

Friday, 11 August 2017

Spirit of '77: protest poetry and song
A night of protest music and poetry featuring Attila the Stockbroker, Robb Johnson, Mark ‘Mr T’ Thompson, and more.
6:45 - 11pm | The Stretch, Goldsmiths SU | £5 in advance, £7 on the door

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Walking the Battle of Lewisham
Historian Dr John Price leads a history walk taking in key locations from the Battle of Lewisham.
11am - 1pm & 2 - 4pm,  Goldsmiths.

Spirit of ’77: Protest films
Screening of newly rediscovered documentary, AUG 13, produced by the Albany Video Project chronicling the events of the Battle of Lewisham. Followed by 'The Depiction of Blackness', a new film by Nacheal Catnott. Screening followed by a Q&A with the film-makers and DJ set from Lezlee Lyrix. 7 - 11pm, The Stretch, Goldsmiths.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Battle of Lewisham plaque unveiling
Lewisham maroon plaque unveiled on Clifton Rise in New Cross (by New Cross Inn), gathering point for anti-fascists on the day. 12pm |Further information
Battle of Lewisham 40th Anniversary Community Festival,
from 1 pm to 6 pm at the Albany, Deptford, including:
DJ sets
Featuring Rock Against Racism co-founder, Roger Huddle, and the Deptford Dub Club’s Soft Wax joined live by Tim from Top Cats (South London's favourite Ska band ) and Setondji Spirit.
1pm – 6pm | FREE
Goldsmiths presents a history of the Battle of Lewisham, including rarely seen photographs, first-hand accounts, and community led designs for a new public mural
1pm – 6pm | FREE
Food, drink and local organisations presenting their work. Including Indian street food from Hulabaloo, Love Music Hate Racism, The Word Bookshop, Bookmarks, Lewisham Anti-Racist Action Group, Lewisham Local History Society and Lewisham Pensioners Forum.
1pm – 6pm 

Remembering the ‘Battle of Lewisham’ panel discussion
Hear first-hand accounts and explore the contemporary relevance of the Battle with Dr John Price, John Rees and John Lockwood.
2 pm, the Albany
The legacy of Rock Against Racism panel discussion
Roger Huddle, Co-founder of Rock Against Racism
Rhoda Dakar, lead singer of The Bodysnatchers (performed at RAR/ANL carnival in Leeds with The Specials)
Saskilla, Grime artist (performed at Love Music Hate Racism events)
Zak Cochrane, Love Music Hate Racism

4pm , the Albany 
Battle of Lewisham 40th Anniversary Gig
Love Music Hate Racism presents a night of rebel music to mark the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham. With live music from Afro B (Hit track ‘Juice & Power’), IQ (Afro Beats), YGTV & Guests (Hosted by Saskilla), & Smokey Joe (Beat London Radio).
7 – 10pm, £10

John Price launches the photography exhibition at Goldsmiths

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

And Did Those Hooves in Ancient Times

An interesting talk coming up at South East London Folklore Society this week - Thursday 10th August 2017 - looking at all kinds of magickal and folkloric aspects of the goat. No less than 'a journey through goatish manifestations by way of Snowdonia, Avebury and Crouch End: Alexander Keiller's Pan worship, daimonic encounters, haunted abandoned rail lines, and cough syrup hallucinations'.

The speaker is the erudite and quietly influential Gyrus, 'a writer based in south London, obsessed with animism, altered states, depth psychology and archaic revivals. Creator of the journals Towards 2012 and Dreamflesh, and author of North, an epic cosmological history.'

The talk takes place in the upstairs room of The Old King's Head, just down the road from London Bridge, across which Cilla Black and Cherie Blair walked goats for charity not so long ago. Also only five minutes away from Queen Elizabeth Street SE1 where in July 1944, a Nazi rocket destroyed The Goat Public House, killing 18 people. I am sure there must be lots of other local goat connections... any ideas?

Entrance is £3/1.50 concs, in King's Head Yard, 45-49 Borough High Street, SE1 1NA (facebook event details here)

Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks dressed up for the Pagan goat dance in Dragnet (1987)

Monday, August 07, 2017

Music Monday: Joel Culpepper

SE London soul singer Joel Culpepper has been getting lots of attention recently on the back of his new Tortoise EP. He was on Gilles Peterson's BBC 6Music show a few week ago and gave a shout out to Lewisham.

His collaborators on the EP include legendary Chicago house producer Roy Davis Jr. (responsible for garage anthem Gabriel), with whom he has written 'Afraid to be King', newly released as a single this week and already getting lots of airplay from Lauren Laverne and others.

'It don't mean I'm in love' was produced by Jimmy Hogarth, who has worked with Duffy and Amy Winehouse among others. The video features Blackheath and the LP Bar in New Cross Road - and an implicit message that when a guy say 'let's take it slow' he actually means 'I can't commit as I have a string of women across town'.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Horns of Taurus over New Cross Gate

My current favourite phone app is SkyView (I have only used the free version so far). Essentially an astronomy aid if you point it at the night sky it will tell you the names of the stars, planets and constellations that you can see. But of course the stars are still there during the day, it's just too bright for us to see them - other than the sun.  And SkyView does work in the day by showing what is currently invisible to the naked eye, enabling you to create some striking montages.

Here's Virgo over the old Deptford Town Hall on Sunday afternoon...

.... and Taurus over New Cross Sainsburys.

During a dull moment at work I did actually point it at my keyboard and spot that the international space station was currently in line with the middle of it - but I'm not going to subject you to that photo!

Monday, July 31, 2017

What are you taking pictures of? - Lewisham '77 photo exhibition

As mentioned here before, there's a whole series of events led by Goldsmiths coming up in next couple of weeks to mark the 40th anniversary of the 'Battle of Lewisham'  when, on 13 August 1977, the far-right National Front (NF) attempted to march from New Cross to Lewisham town centre, leading to violent clashes with counter demonstrators and the police.

For the whole of August there will be a photography exhibition 'What are you taking pictures for?' in the Kingsway Corridor  of the Richard Hoggart Building at Goldsmiths (that's the main old building on Lewisham Way):

'For the first time, photographs documenting the events of 13 August 1977 are exhibited alongside ephemera and newly discovered archive material. This exhibition brings together striking images featured in radical photography journal Camerawork and rarely seen photographs taken by some of the most important photographers documenting life in Britain in the late 70s.

Featuring work by Mike Abrahams, Peter Marlow, Chris Schwartz, Syd Shelton, Chris Steele-Perkins, Homer Sykes, and Paul Trevor.

Opening event with drinks reception: 6pm on Thursday, 3 August. All welcome'.

Image below by Chris Schwartz, I think this is New Cross Road taken from Clifton Rise - building on left is New Cross House, the car place (The Motor Way Centre) opposite is on corner of Laurie Grove is now the Word Bookshop. Banners visible include a couple of anarchist ones ('Struggle' and 'Anarchist Black Cross - Oxford Group') and 'Socialist Challenge' (newspaper of the International Marxist Group).


Thursday, July 27, 2017

They Will Have to Kill us First - Mali music movie in Catford

Coming up at Catford Constituional Club on Sunday 31 July 2017 (7:30 PM - 10 PM), Catford Film are showing 'They Will Have To Kill Us First',  Johanna Schwarz's feature length documentary about Mali's musicians and their struggle to survice and perform under Islamist rule which banned their music. The event, which is being screened in support of of Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network ,will include an interview and Q+A session with the Director at the end of the film. Admission is free, but let them know at their facebook event page if you are planning to come so that they have an idea of numbers.

Synopsis of film:

'Islamic extremists have banned music in Mali, but its world famous musicians wont give up without a fight. They Will Have To Kill Us First tells the story of Malis musicians, as they fight for their right to sing. With a specially commissioned soundtrack from some of Malis most exciting artists, the film features musicians: Khaira Arby, Fadimata Disco Walet Oumar, Malian superstar Amkoullel, Moussa Sidi and introducing Songhoy Blues.

Music is the beating heart of Malian culture, but when Islamic jihadists took control of northern Mali in 2012, they enforced one of the harshest interpretations of sharia law in history: They banned all forms of music. Radio stations were destroyed, instruments burned and Malis musicians faced torture, even death. Overnight, Malians revered musicians were forced into hiding or exile where most remain, even now. But rather than lay down their instruments, the musicians are fighting back, standing up for their cultural heritage and identity. Throughout their struggle, they have used music as their weapon against ongoing violence that has left Mali ravaged. They Will Have to Kill Us First sees musicians on the run, tells the story of the uprising of Touareg separatists, reveals rare footage of the jihadists, captures life at refugee camps where money and hope are scarce, charts perilous journeys home to war-ravaged cities, and follows our characters as they set up and perform at the first public concert in Timbuktu since the music ban'.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Elle Fanning in Brockey?

Walking past Brockley Social Club yesterday I noticed that there was a film shoot in progress. Quick bit of investigation - OK I looked at the sign on one of the vehilces - and it transpires that 'Teen Spirit' is the movie in question. Directed by Max Minghella, the film stars US actor Elle Fanning

According to Hollywood Reporter: 'Teen Spirit tells the story of a shy Eastern European teen who dreams of pop stardom to escape her small town and shattered family life. With the help of an unlikely mentor, Violet (Fanning) enters an international singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition. Fred Berger (La La Land) is producing alongside Brian Kavanaugh-Jones under their Automatik banner, while Jamie Bell, who helped develop the screenplay with Minghella, will executive produce'.

The Social Club has been used a location before for its 1970s decor. I saw some filming there last year which I think was for the TV series Guerrilla, starring Idris Elba, which also has scenes shot in Deptford High Street.  I assume on this occasion it is standing in in this film for an East European small town drinking den.  

Elle Fanning in 20th Century Women (2016)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Music Monday: Peter Perrett 'How the West was Won'

'How the West was Won' is the new solo album from Peter Perrett (Domino, 2017).

Perrett is best known as the former lead singer of The Only Ones, responsible for one of the greatest songs of the punk era 'Another Girl, Another Planet'. He  was born at Kings in Camberwell in 1952, and after being kicked out of boarding school ended up at school in New Cross: 'My first school was called Bancroft’s on the edge of Epping Forest. I got a scholarship to go there because I was brainy. I got expelled from there when I was 15 and then went to Haberdashers’ Aske’s in New Cross. One of my classmates was [Cockney Rebel singer] Steve Harley – called Steve Nice back then. He was one of the only two people who were into Dylan; the difference was he was a skinhead and I was a longhair'.

After The Only Ones split up in 1981, Perrett 'vanished from public view. Sequestered in a crumbling gothic house in Forest Hill that he fortified against police raids, Perrett took and dealt heroin' (Alex Petridis, 2007)). I believe this house was in Manor Mount, SE23.  Perrett once told Mojo Magazine that while living here 'On two or three occasions we had the police living opposite us, for a period of months. I mean, they spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on operations to bust us, and they got close on a couple of occasions. Luckily, we lived in a fortress, it was impossible to get in. We’d watch them try and break the door down but the door was at the very top of a steep flight of stairs. So, they would have to try and run up the stairs, and they could never get full contact on the door with their battering ram – it just used to slide off'. Barney Hoskyns mentions that in this period he visited Perrett 'in his huge decaying home in Forest Hill, though my efforts to help him... were wholly in vain' (Never Enough: a way through addiction, 2017). I think Perrett later moved to Norwood.

The new album is not dissimilar to The Only Ones output of nearly 40 years ago- songs of love as a metaphor for addiction and vice versa, performed in a world weary tone. But this time underpinned by a note of defiance as a survivor; as he sings on 'Something in my brain':

'Just like the experiment with the rat,
He could choose food or he could choose crack.
Well the rat he starved to death
But I didn't die, at least not yet'

Sunday, July 16, 2017

I Want Your Love

'I want your love' - tape on metal box, Peckham Rye/Nunhead Lane junction.
But are they referencing Chic or Transvision Vamp?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Music Monday - Tom Misch - South of the River

Tom Misch has a new single and it is a proper transpontine neo-soul anthem entitled South of the River. It has a bit of a disco feel to it including a nice violin line from Tobie Tripp as a one man Philly string section and a fusiony keyboard solo from Rob Araujo (which put me in mind of Joey Negro's Universe of Love)

The East Dulwich multi-instrumentalist and producer is definitely going places, headling venues like Somerset House when he hasn't even released a full album yet. Tom Misch has though put out lots of great material on his soundcloud site, collaborating with artists including Loyle Carner and Carmody. If you like this track check out his 'Beat Tape 2' and more recent 'Revere' EP.

Update 24 August 2017

There's a great video for this song now, stcitched together from clips made by Misch enthusiasts from around the world. The Catford cat gets a look in...

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Green Onions and Red Lion - healthfoods, vinyl and coffee in Clifton Rise SE14

Tucked off the New Cross Road in Clifton Rise SE14, Green Onions has been going for about 18 months offering a great combination of healthfoods and vinyl.


Out front there's vegan goodies, gifts and all the tea bags...

Head to the back though and there's racks of vinyl from Spotty Vinyl Records... some great finds to be had for all you crate diggers, with new stock every week.

I was sorely tempted by a couple of disco 12"s, maybe next time. Don't think they had this soul classic though...

Green Onions is open every day, including until 7:30 pm Monday to Friday, so handy for popping in on the way to or from New Cross Gate if you're commuting.

Also in Clifton Rise you can now get a really good coffee (not to mention plenty of food) at the new Red Lion Coffee Company. I know there's no shortage of cafes in the area, especially up near Goldsmiths, but lets just say coffee quality can be variable if you are as fussy as me.

Red Lion is on corner of Clifton Rise and Batavia Road near to Fordham Park.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Music Monday: Mirage - 1980s Brockley Brit Funk

There was food, music, books and sunshine to be had in Crofton Park earlier this month (3rd June 2017) with stalls along the main road as part of  Croftest in the Brockley Max festival. Some fine soul and house music was being played by the sound system outside First Glance hair, with the DJ announcing that one track was by a band from Brockley in the 1980s - Mirage.

Naturally that got me curious...
Mirage were a brit funk outfit who released Summer Grooves (backed with Love and Devotion) on Flamingo Records in 1980 (see discogs entry). It was produced by Colin Green at Trident studios in Soho. I don't think it was a big chart hit but has been recognised since  - it is included on Joey Negro's fine collection Backstreet Brit Funk (Z Records) and was used as the signature tune for the Radio One Roadshow for some time.

Another single, As From Now (backed with Luckiest People) was released on Copasetic Records in 1981.
I can't find out much more about them - Morris Michael was keyboardist in the band and wrote the songs,  I believe he is still recording/performing as Mo Michael though these days he plays the blues.

Does anyone know anymore about the Brockley/Lewisham connection to this band?