Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Creative SE1

As Deptford X gets ready to launch on Friday week, it's worth linking to the interview with artist Mark Titchner in Lewisham Life, and providing a pic of his piece outside the Art House foundation by the school on Red Cross way, which bears a stirring communist message in 'Nothing for myself that is not also for others'. In its eerie and deserted nocturnal setting here (indeed i walked past and only realised where it was on doubling back), it looks even more like a cross between graffiti and an advert, appearing from nowhere like on the back of a warehouse. Going back in the daytime tomorrow and risking the wrath of the school by capturing the bold and bright imagery!

For now, there's better pics on his own blog.

While wandering south of Southwark Street I also spotted the excellent looking Jellyfish Theatre next to the school and foundation on Union Street. It is a 'salvaged' creative space that has been developed solely out of recycled materials by two Berlin artists for the Oikos Project. It recently opened to the public and its first play is running until 18 September.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Trip to One Tree Hill, that ‘beautiful and commanding eminence’

It’s frankly embarrassing that it’s taken five years since we moved south-east to visit One Tree Hill in Honor Oak, but I finally took the kids up to one of the area’s summits (not as high as the Horniman and Canonbie Road area, but a different aspect). We go up via the trusted P4 singledecker and walk up Honor Oak Close off Forest Hill Road, and the steps immediately to the right, already to groans about the walking required.

Reaching the central feature of 1TH in the moderne has an immediately cheering effect, stopping the moans and energising them as there’s enough to climb on, jump off and wonder round without it being a playground. I could leave them to it. Most of the park is overgrown wood with almost reclaimed paths and steps but at the top is a clearing and the fenced in Oak of Honor tree itself, an old podium which could have been a bandstand (no! regular One Tree Hiller Jon points out it was a gunpost) and through the gap between two sets of trees hazy, grey but panoramic views to the centre of London. The first shows how the Strata building has claimed the focus while the other captures more of the city north and east, including the ongoing Shard, the ex-NatWest, the Gherkin etc.

One Tree Hill was finally incorporated into a park by Camberwell borough in 1905, but judging from this pamphlet (which also gives us the blog headline) about a great 'Agitation' in the area, this followed a nearby golf club fencing off what had been common land. As the calls to make it a public space grew louder, great crowds descended on the area to break down the fences and reclaim the area. Thereafter it was no doubt promoted as excellent healthy 'perambulatory' fare for post-Victorians living in the mix of properties nearby. It’s frequented a lot less in these more sedentary times, and more of a illicit wood now. There also used to be visitors coming from another train station nearby, the original Honor Oak which was part of the branch line to Crystal Palace, whose tracks beyond Nunhead are untraceable now. But it’s nice to see the park’s original infrastructure being allowed to be slowly absorbed by nature. This was a beacon to commemorate King George’s jubilee in 1935, if the wiki's right, but now it’s toppling and decaying.

Ok, apparently it’s not the actual Oak of Honor tree that Elizabeth I would have seen here but a replacement, apparently.

The path south leads to St Augustine’s church, the back of which is here.

But we went the other way as I thought it might lead to the most southerly part of Camberwell New Cemetery which would be handy for us, but it only leads down to the Brenchley Gardens exit unless you want to go off-track. There’s a triangle of entrances – the church, the Close and Brenchley, but not at its base. So it was time to take flak for the extra walking and parade through most of the cemetery. And in the toilets by the entrance I must say I was enormously emboldened by this instruction, as I’d just forgotten how to urinate all over a urinal.

We’ve walked through the grounds en route from the park many times but I have never before outlined why there’s people buried in the ground (the crematorium next door shows us the other option). I read out badly the masses of Polish and Italian, and Irish names in some sections and thought the star on the memorial denoted a pleasing internationalist/socialist flavour but was actually the military star of the Salvation Army people. Couldnt see the date but imagine it's the 1940s.

There’s also a good friends group with much more detail on this joyous little nook which, like Sydenham Woods and other smaller green spaces in the area, we should really spend more time in. One Tree Hill, not just a shite U2 song and a US young adult TV drama.
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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

My areas

here's a handy hub where i'll be putting all the text and image links on the areas i've lived in London. You've had Balham and Battersea, and now the Bush. Nous still to exposons Crouch End/Hornsey and Limehouse and Crofton Park.

BALHAM - text
BALHAM- images
BATTERSEA - images
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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Music and holidays

We’d finally passed Paris, despite the shatnav taking us round the north and west (Bois du Boulogne is pretty pleasant) even though we were approaching it from the east, and were speeding on south beyond Orleans on the A10. The kids were asleep in their seats and the stereo was keeping us going for a bit longer before we’d pull over into an aire for the night. Some bearded nu-folk was hitting the spot. I didn’t notice early enough that the road was bollarding into one lane yet still presumed I’d be able to get past an HGV – when it became clear that neither that or slowing down in time to get behind it would happen sheer panic set in and we were ready to exit at Grassy Knoll. After we stopped knocking over bollards and earning damages on our hired Campervan, naturally I looked for excuses and ruled that the Fleet Foxes had lulled me into a false arcadia quite impractical for fast nocturnal driving. I switched to some metronomic beats and variable moods and modes straight away.

The incident of colossal misjudgement indicated that, even more so than at the campsites, music played a central role in the petrolhead’s dream journey up and down France. We were able to connect my partner’s iPod Touch to the stereo and I’d bought the usual raft of CDs; there was also the music accompaniment of the ‘shut up and watch’ DVDs for the kids – more than enough to spur us on as we guiltily clocked up 2,300 miles, speeding up gaia’s autogeddon. Got the soma? Right, let’s go.

Emerging as key was the playlist my wife compiled for the four year olds, a bit of Justin Bieber, Alexandra Burke ft Flo-Rida, Eliza Doolittle, bit of Jacko (it’s true, kids love Jackson, especially Thriller era), a bit more Bieber, Tinchy, JLS and other curios. The kids knew of and were into this stuff beforehand but after 10 days they were really into it, conclusively pointing to top-down parental direction of taste. It was fascinating to see how my wife was sometimes more into the selection, egging them on to their slight bemusement and, if she was driving, having to be told to calm down. Not all of her selections worked – the slick 50/60s vibes of the insouciant Doolittle passed them by a little, but at certain times we’d frequently have to fend off the plaintive requests of ‘can we have Justin Bieber’ from the back. When we relented, wide beams appeared on their faces. The Biebs is highly bland, high school musical fodder without the programme vehicle, so it was apt breaking news that he’s going to be the lead in a biopic about … himself. Get thee to North Korea, you superannuated twat.

At our first site, Lac Laouzas in the Haut Languedoc, neither parent or auntie or uncle were willing to fight for floorspace with the eurocampers the one time my daughter wanted to cut loose on the dancefloor. We preferred more staged occasions, for example back at our pitch when we compelled them to dance as they might in our lounge back home but this time for the benefit of their auntie and uncle. However, attempts to put musique pour les adultes on did not quite work – if I’m trying to enforce the vibe for an album of Carlton Paterson’s dubs in among the pitter-patter and clatter of clutter that is the self-catering camping holiday, then it’s not going to work. By the time the kids had finally settled down and the right ambience arrived around 10pm, music was frowned upon in the first site, bar a bit of auto iPod.

(neither child could be pressed into entertaining for the benefit of adults)

The top fives then
TWINS (yes I know there’s two of them and they should have 10)
Justin Bieber ft Ludacris - Baby
Alexandra Burke ft Flo-Rida – Bad Boys
Mr Vegas – Heads High remix
Original Scooby Doo theme (off George’s iPod)
John Williams – Jaws theme (with augmented melodrama supplied by the adults)

Eliza Doolittle – Pack Up
Justin Bieber ft Ludacris – Baby
Any Abba
AR Rahman – Jai Ho
– Pojo Pojo (off an old Café Del Mar)

Kowton and Narcossist Fact mix 60
Link - Amenity
Mr Vegas – Heads High rmx
Fleet Foxes – Blue Ridge Mountains (despite the inducement to crash)
Actress – Always Human

Summing up the continued greater focus on the kids, on the second site, a municipal place at Lac Salagou further down Languedoc, we did get genuine, unchoreographed musical joy outside of the main mode, that slightly sterile milieu of playing recorded music to help us concentrate while we drive the machine. The café nearby had live jazz-funk cover bands on that really caught their attention and compelled them to dance, and we filmed great takes of our daughter posturing like a mini-Jagger with a Micky Channon whirl and the boy working more martial moves with a bit of pre-breaking thrown in.

(generic holiday shot, at Les Falaises d'Orque en route to Clermont l'Herault)

Nevertheless, the auto is my principal space where I get some sonic intensity now, despite the contradictions of being strapped in and it really being subordinate to the far greater focus of actual driving. The volume button is close to hand for the big moments, flicking between tunes easy, and the kids are firmly part of this experience – we liked a bit of Scratcha on Rinse en route to nursery before the signal went when they got the licence, and they are mostly past the music meant solely for babies and toddlers (they did enjoy an audio of George’s Marvellous Medicine as we wound back up through Burgundy hoping to find a suitable site before dark). When a rock tune comes on, I forget I hate the bombast and we’re all going for it like the bohemian rhapsody scene from Bill and Ted. It’s something I don’t think we had in my family growing up, music as a focal point for shared experience (parents did not have a record collection and it was mostly sterile chat on Southern Counties Radio), but the early signs are there’ll be none of that vacuum this time.

I look forward to the date when I can formally bequeath them my record collection (complete with nineties/naughties shit dance filler) in a pointless but nonetheless symbolic handover ceremony and they can do the musical direction. Until then, altogether now: 'baby, baby, baby, ooh/baby, baby, baby ooooh/wont you always be mine?'.
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