The last word
Bridging the gap
The eventful life of Lesley-Ann Jones
Rap royalty at Dulwich College
The local club that welcomes all
ne Ju y/ 2018 Ma
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A practical pirate The East Dulwich author ripping up the rule book
ue Iss 13
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NEWS | 3
Welcome to issue 13 of The Dulwich Diverter Thank you for picking up the May/June edition of The Dulwich Diverter, your free community paper for Dulwich. Our cover star this issue is local resident and author Sam Conniff Allende, whose first novel has just been published by Penguin. It has also been snapped up by the largest publisher in the USA and another company in Russia. Be More Pirate (Or How To Take On The World And Win) is inspired by the Golden Age pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries. It takes their radical strategies and updates them into clear solutions for making your mark on the world today. To
find out more about the book and read our profile on Sam, turn to page eight. We were lucky enough to interview “godfathers of hip hop” The Last Poets, who are set to make a rare appearance at this year’s Dulwich Festival. The iconic collective of black poets and musicians formed 50 years ago in May 1968 in New York. They got together against the backdrop of the black power movement and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Robert F Kennedy and Malcolm X, performing on street corners in Harlem before releasing their seminal first album in
1970. Turn to page 11 to read our interview. Also in this issue, we spent an evening with the Stocken Bridge club, which aims to bring the card game to new audiences. Find out how our reporter – a self-confessed bridge rookie – fared on page 22. Towards the back of the paper you’ll find the usual Diversions pages, with an allotment column from East Dulwich resident Jane Merrick, a recipe from Brick House Bread, our regular Dulwich-themed crossword and lots more. The next issue of The Dulwich Diverter will be the July/August edition, which is published in early July. If you have a story
that you think could be of interest to our readers, please drop us a line at email@example.com – we would love to hear from you. After crowdfunding our first two issues via Kickstarter, we now rely solely on advertising to stay in print. If you are interested in advertising with us, please email us at the same address to find out how we can help promote your business in Dulwich and beyond. Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoy the issue! Mark McGinlay and Kate White
Dulwich Festival celebrates 25 years The Dulwich Festival is back this month with a “celebration” theme to mark its 25th year – and the line-up promises to be bigger and better than ever. The 10-day festival will showcase an array of art, culture and community events, with music, performance and poetry, history and nature walks, funfairs, maypole dancing and more. Some 250 local artists will once again welcome festival-goers into their homes and studios for Artists’ Open House, providing the public with a unique insight into their creative processes. A wide variety of art from talented local creatives will be available to view and buy over the two festival weekends, ranging from watercolours and oil paintings to ceramics, textiles, glass, screen-printing and more. The Last Poets will make a rare and muchanticipated UK appearance on May 20 in front of audiences at Dulwich College. The hip hop and spoken word legends have inspired countless performance poets and musicians with their groundbreaking fusion of poetry and rap. “People’s poet” David Neita will host the event and will lead an intimate discussion with the trio about their lives, from their early days performing on Harlem street corners to their triumphs and defeats, their inspirations and their legacy. It’s an evening not to be missed. Also appearing at Dulwich College is the acclaimed performance poet, comedian, musician and songwriter John Hegley, who will bring his signature wit and fun to the festival with A Potato Show on May 18. John, who likes to encourage audience participation at his shows, is a regular sellout at the Edinburgh Festival and appeals to young and old audiences alike.
Elsewhere, expect atoms and big bangs at John Hinton’s family-orientated show, Ensonglopedia of Science, which will feature a song about science for every letter of the alphabet at Alleyn’s Great Hall on May 15. A circus skills workshop, a festival quiz in aid of local charity Link Age Southwark – which offers support to elderly people in the community – and a children’s art competition are also planned during the festival. The ever-popular fairs will be back at Goose Green (May 13) and Dulwich Park (May 20), providing plenty of free entertainment for all ages. The latter will feature fairground rides, Punch and Judy, a magician and maypole dancing, as well as a dog show. The festival also promises a musical lineup that will appeal to all tastes. Classical fans will enjoy an evening of Purcell, Debussy and Beethoven performed by the renowned Doric String Quartet (pictured above, left)
on May 16 in the atmospheric, 400-year-old Christ’s Chapel in Dulwich Village. Meanwhile, newly restored Georgian mansion Bell House on College Road will provide the perfect setting for a relaxing evening of poetry and music on May 14, with readings by award-winning poets Jane Duran, Iain Sinclair and Rachel Long (pictured above, right). Meanwhile contemporary music lovers will enjoy the return of post-Brexit indie folk band, Joe Innes and The Cavalcade on May 12. Their masterfully offbeat and often irreverent songwriting has gained them widespread praise. Elsewhere, the Ned Bennett Quartet will provide an evening of blue note bossa nova at Copper Beech Café on May 14, while Licence to Ceilidh will invite people to cast off their inhibitions and take to the floor with some tunes at St Barnabas Parish Hall on May 19.
Guided walks will include a tree walk led by Letta Jones on May 15; and an insight into the area’s Georgian heritage from The Dulwich Society’s Ian McInnes on May 13. Join Amanda Greatorex on a tour of local street art ranging from Conor Harrington to Remi Rough to Stik on May 12 and 13; and don’t miss a fascinating local history walk with Dulwich Village stationer Brian Green on May 20. Last but not least, the popular Dulwich Festival food trail will offer culinary delights from a multitude of local producers and retailers across the 10 days. It will include the Romeo Jones supper club in aid of Link Age Southwark at Bell House on May 17. The Dulwich Festival runs from May 11-20. For the full programme, timings and to book ticketed events, please visit dulwichfestival. co.uk
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4 | NEWS
Dulwich Pavilion design shortlist announced Dulwich Picture Gallery and the London Festival of Architecture have announced a shortlist of architects who have been invited to create designs for the second Dulwich Pavilion. Each practice will come up with a proposal for the new pavilion – a temporary, outdoor public events space located within the historic grounds of the gallery that will open in summer next year. An exhibition of the models will be on display at the gallery during the London Festival of Architecture this June. The public will have the chance to vote for their favourite design, before the winning proposal is revealed in July. The main aim of the 2019 pavilion will be to offer visitors a “refreshing welcome and orientation space to set the tone for their visit to the gallery”. More than 150 practices entered the competition and six have been shortlisted. They are Casswell Bank Architects, who have worked with cultural organisations and reconfigured historic institutions; and E10 – a London-based design studio formed around a network of researchers, designers and makers. Also in the running are Flea Folly Architects, who strive to create “enjoyable architecture at even the smallest of scales”; and Pricegore with Yinka Ilori (pictured), whose imaginative upcycling of vintage furniture is inspired by the African influences of his childhood.
Another contender is Whitechapelbased architecture and design studio Projects Office, who are known for their “imaginative, effective spaces
across a broad range of sectors”; and PUP Architects, whose portfolio showcases several one-off structures and experimental projects.
Those on the judging panel for the competition are writer and historian Tom Dyckhoff; Al Scott, director of If_Do, the practice that designed last year’s pavilion; and Jennifer Scott, Sackler director of the Dulwich Picture Gallery. They are joined by the Guardian’s architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright; Tamsie Thomson, director of the London Festival of Architecture; Dulwich Picture Gallery trustee Stefan Turnbull; and a representative from the gallery’s programme for young people. The second Dulwich Pavilion aims to build on the success of the first structure last summer, which was described as “transformational” for both the gallery and the pavilion’s creators, If_Do. It led to global exposure for the practice as well as several awards, including the American Architecture Prize. The resulting new commissions If_Do received have enabled it to triple in size. Tom Dyckhoff said of this year’s competition: “What was thrilling to see was not just the sheer energy of emerging practices across the world, but the diversity in their takes on architecture, from craft to computer design to computer-design craft, from playfulness to heartfelt seriousness. “We’re living in such chaotic, confusing times; what’s astonishing is the confidence and optimism this generation is showing in making sense and giving form to the future.”
NEWS | 5
Mozart’s comedy opera comes to West Dulwich Mozart’s light-hearted tale of love and deception, Così fan tutte, is coming to West Dulwich this summer. It will be performed by the Dulwich Opera Company, which was launched by local residents Loretta Hopkins and David Fletcher. Following the opening night in SE21, they will be taking it to nine further venues across the country. Così fan tutte is a delight to perform, Loretta said. “The story is outrageous and the music is just incredible. It’s perfectly formed and it’s an amazing piece to do because all the characters have this incredible journey and you can totally relate to their responses at the end.” David added: “It is a comedy and you very often see quite silly productions, but this performance really does make you sit up and think. There are funny moments definitely, but it makes you think as well.” “One of the reviews said it leaves you wondering what happens once the curtain goes down; what is going to happen next to these characters and where do they go from here?” Loretta added. The performance will be set in the 1930s – a decision David said will help audiences connect to the action more. “Updating it from when it was originally set makes it more relatable,” he explained. “You’re not lost in wigs, crinoline and frills.” Loretta and David are both opera singers and each have roles of their own in the production, which they first performed back in 2016 with just two shows.
Loretta is playing Fiordiligi – “one of the sisters who gets duped horribly” – while David will take on the role of Guglielmo, who enters into a wager, disappears and returns in disguise. Two new cast members will join the production: soprano Honey Rouhani, who
will play Despina, and Robert Barbaro, who will take on Ferrando. They will also have a lighting designer on board for the first time. The audience will watch the opera in a horseshoe formation with just three or four rows of seats, ensuring an intimate performance where everyone is close to the
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action and setting it apart from big theatres where viewers are often a long way back from the stage. Asked why she and David decided to set up Dulwich Opera Company, which they launched back in 2014, Loretta said: “We wanted to provide opportunities for young singers like ourselves, rather than a place where you’re expected to sing for free. “We wanted to be the kind of company who pays people and supports them in their ambitions to have an operatic career. “Through that we realised we could bring opera to audiences who are really underserved. So obviously we will be coming to Dulwich, but we’re going out to new venues across the country too, some of which have never had opera before. “We’re going to a place called Holmfirth in Yorkshire in September and the whole community’s already just buzzing, because they don’t have live opera there. They’re already building a pop-up Italian restaurant that’s going to happen around our performance. “It’s amazing what it’s doing to bring the community together. That’s so exciting for us, that we can make things like that happen. We can only hope to keep doing that really and to find more places to really bring opera to a local audience.” Così fan tutte will be performed at All Saints Church in West Dulwich on June 16. Tickets are available now from dulwichoperacompany.org.uk
6 | NEWS
Photo by Alexander McBride Wilson
On a high note St John’s church on Goose Green is set to stage a free afternoon of music, featuring performances by choirs and musicians from the local area and beyond. The line-up will include the St John’s and St Clement’s school brass band, who will play an eclectic mix of music ranging from Purcell to Emeli Sandé. Themes from Star Wars, Game of Thrones and favourites from musicals will also feature. The St John’s church choir will sing a couple of songs from its regular Sunday repertoire plus some well-known folk songs; while Koruso, Southwark’s community choir (pictured left) will perform music ranging from Bach to Bacharach. Talented pianists Sian and Seamus Conlon will perform classical pieces by Mozart and Bach along with themes from films including Vertigo and Taxi Driver and jazz music.
Meanwhile Bellenden School’s talented steel pan band Royal Steel will put in a rousing performance; and the Elm Singers – a long-established small choir – will sing a delightful selection of English folk music, madrigals and more. Speaking of the event, the church’s Sue O’Neill said: “St John’s invites everyone from the local and wider community to come and enjoy Music by the Green, our community open day. “There will be excellent and varied music to listen to, fun activities for children plus cake, a barbecue, Pimm’s and more to enjoy. We’re looking forward to a thoroughly good time.” Music by the Green takes place on May 13 from 1.30-5pm at St John the Evangelist, 62a East Dulwich Road, and is free to attend.
Free films go on show The Herne Hill free film festival is back this month, with a series of screenings ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to cult classics. This year’s event runs until June 1 and is partnering with the Norwood and Brixton Foodbank. It aims to raise awareness of the vital work the charity does to bring food and support to those in need in the local area. Films will include Little Shop of Horrors, which tells the story of a nerdy florist who finds success and romance with the help of a giant, man-eating plant. It will be shown at Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses on May 13. This will be followed by the rarely screened Stranger in Paradise at the Prince Regent pub on May 17. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Guido Hendrikx’s fifth release, it looks at the politics of immigration in Europe. Children will enjoy watching Paddington 2 at Rosendale Primary School on May 18. Packed with feel-good moments, slapstick humour and marmalade-based mishaps, it is set to be a popular screening at this year’s festival. Watch a performance of Get Out at Brockwell Lido on May 19 and see the acclaimed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri projected on to a giant inflatable screen at Judith Kerr Primary School on May 25. The festival’s Short Film Night returns for the sixth year at the Prince Regent on
May 24, promising an “eclectic evening of cinematic wonder”. A series of shorts will be screened and talent from SE24 and beyond will share insights into their films with the audience. Instrument of Change, a documentary about street pianos that features Herne Hill’s frequently tinkled ivories, will be shown on May 27 at an evening of film and live music in Herne Hill Station Square.
Another musically minded evening follows on May 29, with a screening of Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell. The film explores the life and the strange dreamy music of experimental cellist Arthur Russell. Featuring interviews with his family, friends and colleagues alongside archive footage and drama reconstructions, the film is a compelling and emotional portrait
of the renowned musician. Aged 16, Russell ran away from his rural home in smalltown Iowa to find himself and discover late 1960s progressive America – first in a Buddhist commune in San Francisco and later in New York City, where he spent time with Beat artists and poets such as Allen Ginsberg. The festival will celebrate London History Day with new film Beyond the Photo at the Prince Regent on May 31. Directed by Cathy Hassan, it comprises individual stories recording the realities of black British people’s lives in the 1970s. It features interviews with the family of community leader Olive Morris and civil rights activist Darcus Howe. Historian Dr Robin Bunce offers valuable insights into the turbulent decade. For the festival finale on June 1, acclaimed documentary Being Blacker, which tells the story of renowned, Brixtonbased record shop owner Blacker Dread, will be shown at the Railway Tavern. Following the screening, the director, cinematographer and producer Molly Dineen will take part in a Q&A and there will be a wrap party at the venue’s regular reggae, ska, soul and funk night. Food donations for the Norwood and Brixton Foodbank will be gratefully received at all screenings and collections at every film will be donated. For full details of this year’s line-up, go to freefilmfestivals.org/hernehill
Sporting success The under-12 netball squad at James Allen’s Girls’ School (JAGS) in Dulwich is celebrating after winning the county championship for the first time in the school’s history. JAGS qualified for the Surrey Schools’ Netball finals, which took place this spring at Wallington High School for Girls, after
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finishing undefeated in the preliminary rounds earlier this year. The girls secured the title of Surrey champions after a hard fought 6-4 win in the final against Guildford High School, who had beaten them 4-3 during the round robin stage of the competition earlier in the day.
The teams matched each other goal for goal in a tight first half, which ended all square at three goals apiece. After a positive half-time team talk, the girls took to the court determined to reverse the previous result and outscored their opponents 3-1 in a tense second half to claim the county title.
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8 | BOOKS
How to be more pirate SAM CONNIFF ALLENDE’S FIRST BOOK IS A PRACTICAL AND PIRATICAL CALL TO SOCIAL CHANGE THAT HAS WON HIM A BOOK DEAL WITH PENGUIN BY KATIE ALLEN
A pirate walks among us. You may know him from his seditious laugh. Or from the skull and crossbones lining in his jacket. Or perhaps it’s the twinkle in his eye that says, “I am here to shake up everything.” Because everything needs shaking up, says Sam Conniff Allende, author of new book Be More Pirate. “I really believe in radical change and I think it’s what’s required and I don’t think there’s much time left,” he says. “I think we all have to do what we can.” Be More Pirate is a practical and piratical call to arms for social change. It’s both a manifesto and a guidebook to breaking the rules – from making small changes in your own life to disassembling the unfair way the world is run. It is inspired by pirates – specifically the Golden Age of piracy, which took place between about 1690 and
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1725. These pirates were not just the rum-swigging, pillaging, peg-legged marauders of popular imagination, says Sam. Rather, he argues, “they were also pioneers of collective action and social, political, racial and almost every other kind of equality.” And, he says, we could learn a lot from their outlook on life today. It’s a challenging idea, he acknowledges. “Most people’s association with pirates is [Peter Pan villain] Captain Hook. “The reason that these guys don’t share the same places as other working class heroes or exist somewhere on the spectrum from civil rights [campaigners] to suffragettes is that they were so seditious. They didn’t just threaten civil society and ideas – they threatened economics and formative capitalism and the ownership of power.” According to Sam, the pirates of the Golden Age lived in a time that
was unsettlingly familiar to today. Run by a “self-interested and selfserving establishment”, the world was wracked with ideological warfare and stacked in favour of the elite. It was no wonder then that rebels of an oppressed younger generation – many former professional sailors – turned pirate, and in so doing not only kicked against the system but trialled different, fairer ways of living, from non-hierarchical systems on-board ships to giving all members of pirate crews – even women and non-whites – a vote. And as for those peg-legs, Sam’s research shows that 200 years before the UK introduced workplace compensation, pirates often received a payout when they were injured, and were even kept on board the ship as cooks or in other roles when they could no longer fight. It’s an interpretation of the past that Sam argues has been oppressed
PICTURED ABOVE: SAM CONNIFF ALLENDE Photo by Lima Charlie
by those in power. “It’s one thing to threaten forms of social conduct. But it’s another to threaten the base, so they were absolutely consigned to the worst parts of history.” So how can we “be more pirate” today? Sam believes the Golden Age pirates’ lessons – in terms of breaking rules to create the life you want and a better, more equal society – are more pertinent than ever. The book is full of ideas both big and small to “question, challenge and go beyond” the rules that are oppressing you and others, he says, from emailing your boss to improve your work situation to swapping from Uber to a driver-owned alternative to setting up your own business. These are all ways to “mutiny”. He also gives examples of a range of mutineers to inspire would-be pirates, varying from courageous teenage rebel Malala Yousafzai to the mischievous twosome who took
BOOKS | 9 on Simon Cowell’s monopoly of the Christmas number one slot with a successful campaign to get Rage Against the Machine to the top of the charts. He is proud that since he started sending out proofs of the book, 10 people have got in touch to say that they have quit their jobs. “It means a great deal to me, because it’s 10 people having belief in themselves.” But he is also keen to stress that mutiny doesn’t necessarily mean chucking in your job, citing the example of a man he met who had both a clock-watching boss and a passion for fermenting. After reading the book, he was inspired to start coming into work later, without permission – giving him more time for his hobby. It was “a massive deal for him. And now he’s done it – he’s liberated and happy and feels really empowered. So I do not mind if [your mutiny] is as small as chutney-making.” Sam has spent his career challenging the norms of the way things are done, beginning with running raves and managing bands. One of his earliest successes was setting up a creative agency called Don’t Panic, which began with him designing flyers in his bedroom and went on to win awards. He later founded another awardwinning company, an ethical agency called Livity. It’s a “more than profit” creative network that reinvents the idea of the marketing agency by
involving young people, often from disadvantaged backgrounds. He is now a non-exec director at Livity in addition to other freelance mentoring, coaching and speaking roles. His initial idea for writing a business book was inspired by his career and his work with young people. “I began the book as a metaphor about change, because I’ve worked in the space of trying to encourage change and help people start their own things and do stuff and have rebellions in a positive way and so it’s an extension of that. “But it began as a distraction for me because I was stepping out of this business/social enterprise [Livity] that I had been running for years.” His first attempt was “the most boring book on earth” – until the young people he worked with “pointed out that I should just speak like I do to them”. “And I realised it was a book for them,” he says, “for the generation that I care about, not the generation that I think needs to step back a little bit.” He had already taken to heart Steve Jobs’ quote, “I’d rather be a pirate than join the navy”, while at Livity “we’d referred to ourselves as pirates for a lot of years, never knowing anything more than that they were rebels or underdogs”. He headed to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich to research the pirate lifestyle further, which is where his deeper ideas about social change
and pirate role models evolved. Writing was something he’d always wanted to do, but it was also a daunting prospect. The book, which was penned in the cafés of Peckham and Lordship Lane, took him about a year to complete. He recalls that “I got my P45 from Livity the same week that [my daughter] Frida was born and the same week I had my deadline.” He then pitched it to Penguin, agenting himself, and sourced all the cover quotes from modern-day pirates he admires, such as Martha Lane Fox and bigwigs at Twitter and YouTube. The book has now been snapped up by the biggest publisher in the USA and international offers from other publishers have followed, including one in Russia. “I had no idea it was going to get the reaction it does, and the response is way out of anything I thought it would be,” Sam says. In true pirate style, he even flyposted Penguin’s offices on Vauxhall Bridge Road to promote the book, a stunt that saw Richard Branson praise his “unique approach to advertising” in a tweet to his 12.6 million followers. He has been invited to speak to the unlikeliest of candidates, including AdWeek Europe, Google, Facebook and even the RAC. Responses have varied from brands who want to change, if only to placate their Gen Z workforce, to the big company that “literally shut me down” in the middle of his rabble-rousing talk about professional mutiny.
I REALLY BELIEVE IN RADICAL CHANGE AND I DON’T THINK THERE’S MUCH TIME LEFT
But he is sure that his ship is steering the right path. “The tyranny of the white 60-year-old male who is in a position of power all over the world, who’s holding on because his pension is close – that space has got to shift,” he says. “I think there are a lot of people who want to make change.” A south Londoner born and bred, Sam is now living in East Dulwich with his wife and two daughters. He is very fond of the community spirit in the area: “I am grateful to East Dulwich in a way I can’t really describe,” he says. “I moved into our house on a sunny day and it was like moving into a Richard Curtis film. They just embraced us. Now we’re friends with everybody on our street. In life, certain things are invaluable, and that sense of community is one of them.” And are there any local pirates he admires? “I don’t think the story of Lordship Lane gets enough credit,” he says. “How on earth have we got this high street that doesn’t have a Sports Direct and another Costa and this, that and the other? “Whoever is fighting to keep a sense of independence and small business on that high street is doing a great pirate job.” Be More Pirate costs £9.99 and is out now. The Dulwich Diverter has five free copies to give away. The first five people to email email@example.com mentioning “Be More Pirate” will win.
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CULTURE | 11
When the revolution comes WE CHAT TO HIP HOP LEGENDS THE LAST POETS AHEAD OF A RARE UPCOMING APPEARANCE AT THE DULWICH FESTIVAL BY EMMA LOVE
Even if you’re not familiar with groundbreaking American spokenword collective The Last Poets, the chances are you’ll have heard their verses somewhere before. Over the past five decades, their lyrics have been sampled by everyone from Snoop Dogg to 50 Cent and Dr Dre, and they have influenced generations of hip hop and soul artists with their gritty, straight-talking, often rallying political poetry that tackles heavy-hitting subjects such as gun crime and racism. Yet, while they have often been labelled “the godfathers of hip hop”, the ever-shifting poetry collective hasn’t released any new material together for more than 20 years – until now. Two members of the core group, Umar Bin Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole, along with conga drummer and percussionist Donn Babatunde, are back with a new album titled Understand What Black Is and, in a rare appearance, they will be in conversation as part of this year’s Dulwich Festival. It’s all a far cry from when Umar and
Abiodun first met at a college in Ohio back in 1968. The Last Poets, including Abiodun, arrived to perform and Umar was working at the college as a security guard. Abiodun refused to sign in at the gate. “I pulled up my khaki jacket, showed him my gun and said, ‘You either check in, or you check out,’” recalls Umar of their initial heated exchange. “I watched the group on stage and it messed me up. I knew I wanted to do what they were doing so we sat down afterwards, cut down the rhetoric and started talking properly.” Soon after, Umar was fired from his job for being one of the organisers of a riot – “the black community were tired of the police humiliating our fathers and grandfathers so we protested” – and decided to leave Ohio for New York, where the group was based. “I pawned my sister’s record player for 25 dollars so I could pay the bus fare; I arrived in Harlem with 22 cents and a couple of poems in my pocket.” His performing initiation was a week later at a Catholic school. “I read three of my own poems and the group asked the crowd if I was good enough to join The Last Poets. The nuns were turning red but the little white kids
loved it,” he says. The group’s big break came two years later, when record producer Alan Douglas came to Harlem to hear them perform and persuaded them to make a spoken word album. When it finally came out in 1970, the eponymous album, which is considered to be the first hip hop album ever made and featured the iconic track When the Revolution Comes, became a huge overnight hit and reached the top 30 in the US album chart. “Boom: it took off just like that and we sold 500,000 copies through word of mouth. Suddenly the record company was saying, ‘This stuff can work, this whole hip hop sound could really be something.’ So we changed the industry more than many people realise.” As much as the delivery of their rhyming poetry was a precursor to hip hop, it was also their message, born out of the black civil rights movement, which really struck a chord at the time. “We talked about loving one another and standing up against police brutality; we were trying to uplift the black community,” says Umar. “People would come and see us
PICTURED ABOVE: UMAR BIN HASSAN
WE TALKED ABOUT LOVING ONE ANOTHER AND STANDING UP AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY
perform in Harlem, in Brooklyn; everybody loved The Last Poets because we were poets of the people. We had that connection with the community that a lot of groups simply didn’t have.” A year later in 1971, their second album, This is Madness, was so controversial that it landed them on President Nixon’s Counter-Intelligence Programming list. By the mid 1970s the group had begun to splinter (the first time Umar left was in 1975) and by the end of the decade they had split completely. Yet even though they weren’t together their lyrics could still be heard, sampled by NWA (100 Miles and Runnin’), Notorious BIG (Party and Bullshit) and Public Enemy (Tie Goes to the Runner), among others. Over the years several members made albums individually, but for Umar and Abiodun, it wasn’t until the early 90s that they seriously started writing poetry and working together again. “I went to Abiodun’s house and said, ‘We still got something to say to the kids. We have to take our crown back; no one can do spoken word like we can.’”
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12 | CULTURE Realising that they would need a congo drummer, Donn Babatunde, whom they both already knew, seemed like the obvious choice. He has been playing with them ever since, interpreting their words and creating rhythms to emphasise their message, which is as relevant today as ever. The pair started collaborating with artists such as Common (Umar appeared on Grammy-nominated track, The Corner) and Nas, which introduced their rhymes to a whole new generation. “We love groups such as Wu-Tang Clan. Whenever we meet them on the streets they come and hug us and show their respect,” says Umar. “What we don’t like are those hip hop artists who talk about bitches in the hood and killing other brothers. We weren’t about that; we were always trying to bring the community together rather than terrorise it. “I think things are going to change though, with artists like Kendrick Lamar,” he adds, citing the rapper who won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for music (the first non jazz or classical artist in history to win). “Apparently he’s a big fan of The Last Poets so I think we’re going to meet him soon.” The pair are also keen to encourage new talent: Abiodun hosts weekly open house poetry readings to constructively critique and nurture upcoming poets and teaches creative writing at Columbia University in New York City. Right now though, all their focus is on the new album. Produced by British funk jazz artist Ben Lamdin (also known as Nostalgia 77) and Prince Fatty who specialises in reggae, it’s a marked change for The Last Poets. “The producers said, ‘Let’s try some reggae’. It’s something different and kind of cool,” says Umar. The title track, Understand What Black Is, was written in an effort to define black (“It is not a colour, it is the basis of all colours. It is not a complexion, it is a reflection of all complexions called humans”); and another track – North, East, West, South – pays tribute to Prince’s 2003 album of instrumentals, News. “That poem took me about a year to write, then I heard the News album and the musicianship was amazing. I was left wondering if it was jazz, classical, rock or maybe something new but all those images that I write about came to me from listening to that album,” says Umar. And, while he says the album draws on each of the group’s individual personal journeys, as always with The Last Poets, there is also a deeper message to be heard. “We’ve put some of the lessons we’ve learned into this album, but at the end of the day all of us are human beings: gay, bisexual, black, white; everyone just wants to be loved, appreciated and respected.” The new album, Understand What Black Is, is released on May 19. The Last Poets: Celebrating 50 years event takes place at Dulwich College on May 20. To book tickets, go to tinyurl.com/ thelastpoets
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PICTURED: ABIODUN OYEWOLE (TOP) AND DONN BABATUNDE (BELOW)
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14 | DULWICH PEOPLE
Read all about it FORMER FLEET STREET JOURNALIST TURNED AUTHOR LESLEY-ANN JONES DISCUSSES TAKING TEA WITH DAVID BOWIE, AMONG OTHER MEMORIES BY LUKE G WILLIAMS
From having tea with David Bowie at the age of 12 to being kidnapped by Ozzy Osbourne and sharing a house with Raquel Welch, journalist LesleyAnn Jones has certainly led a varied life. But then Lesley-Ann is no ordinary journalist. A Fleet Street legend, the former Sun, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday columnist, interviewer and features writer has seen it, done it, got the metaphorical T-shirt and then some, during an eclectic career that has also featured successful forays into novel and biography writing and broadcasting. When I meet the longtime Dulwich resident in the Crown and Greyhound pub it’s ostensibly to talk about the release of the paperback edition of her acclaimed biography Hero: David Bowie, but our conversation soon strays well beyond this to encompass her career as a whole. A witty and entertaining conversationalist, Lesley-Ann possesses a rich mine of anecdotes involving pretty much every celebrity
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you could ever mention, but her down-to-earth nature and the playful twinkle in her eye means she avoids coming across as a name dropper. She also retains a charming sense of incredulity when recounting many of her stories, almost as though she can’t quite believe they ever happened. Devoid of self-importance, she is able to perfectly encapsulate the absurd and surreal nature of the celebrity world she has observed for so long in one telling soundbite about her time spent living with Raquel Welch: “It was slightly weird, thinking about it. But you only really know that it was weird when you’re out the other side.” Appropriately enough, her Bowie biography has brought LesleyAnn’s career full circle, for it was the influence of the iconic rock star which drew her towards journalism in the first place. “I first met David Bowie when I was five,” she explains. “My schoolfriend Lisa’s mum, Hyacinth Money, was a photographer on a local paper, the Beckenham Record. She is Indian and passionate about Indian music.
“At the time David Bowie was running the Arts Lab in a back room at The Three Tuns pub on Beckenham High Street. He’d invited the Lithuanian sitar player Vytas Serelis to perform one Sunday afternoon. “Vy wanted us to see a sitar and took us along. I didn’t even know what a sitar was, but there was David Bowie – and Marc Bolan too. I had no idea who they were at the time. “Later, Space Oddity came out when I was at school in Bromley. David was living in Beckenham, having also been to school in Bromley. I truly believed that I was destined to meet him. “My friend Natasha and I found out where he lived. We’d get the 227 bus from Bromley Market Square, the very square he’d written about in his songs, all the way to Beckenham. We’d walk up Southend Road to his house, Haddon Hall and we would doorstep him! “We’d hang around and knock on his door. His wife Angie used to answer the door, and would give us signed photos of David. I said to Tash, ‘We’ve got to keep coming because one day she’ll be out and he will come to the
PICTURED ABOVE: LESLEY-ANN JONES Photo by Lima Charlie
door himself’, and it happened. David Bowie asked us in for tea.” For Lesley-Ann – a self-confessed “odd kid” who had been off school for nearly a year after a burst appendix developed into the serious illness peritonitis – Bowie’s otherworldly image proved a transformative influence. “He was so unusual,” she explains. “He was a sort of champion of freaks and misfits. Meeting him just made all the pennies drop at once for me – I knew I had to grow up and be with people like this, work with people like this, and live their lifestyle. “I mean, he had a silver ceiling. My home was net curtains and crocheted toilet roll covers – very normal and ordinary. His existence was so different from mine.” Aware she was “not musical at all”, Lesley-Ann found a further source of inspiration in the form of her father Ken, a footballer who turned to sports journalism after injury ended his playing career. “The only thing I could think of doing was what my dad had been doing,” she recalls. “Sport wasn’t really
DULWICH PEOPLE | 15 on my agenda, but I thought, ‘I could write – I could go on the road with bands and write about them.’ “So that was my intention, from the age of 12. And from that day on, I started writing furiously. I must have written millions of words since that light-bulb moment – I was on a mission.” Lesley-Ann’s first step on the ladder was working at Capital Radio as “what you’d now call an intern”, assigned to the late DJ Roger Scott. “I learned a lot,” she says. “I went all over the world on interview assignments with him. He would record interviews – with Bruce Springsteen, who was his great idol, or Billy Joel or Elton John or whoever – and the deal was that I would take notes and then write the interviews up and place them in magazines and newspapers. That’s how I started.” From Capital Radio, Lesley-Ann moved to Chrysalis Records, where she worked as assistant to legendary art director John Pasche, creator of the most famous rock logo in history – the “tongue and lip” motif for The Rolling Stones – during the label’s 1980s heyday. “We had Blondie, Spandau Ballet, Special AKA, Fun Boy Three, Leo Sayer, Pauline Black, Ultravox. The artists used to come in all the time. We were in the art department on the top floor and it was party central. It wasn’t like going to work. We’d dress like we were going clubbing every day.” In 1984, Lesley-Ann was propelled
to national attention when she was hired by the fledgling Channel 4 to co-host their flagship rock music magazine show Ear Say, alongside DJs Nicky Horne and Gary Crowley. “Someone said I should go for an audition. I wasn’t bothered, but did it for a laugh, and they chose me. I then had a weird Warholian 15 minutes of fame. “Back then, there were only four channels – so if you were on television, it was a really big deal. Everything you did was on the front of The Sun. You couldn’t go for a drink with someone without it being reported that you were getting married to them. “I went from complete obscurity to this moment in the spotlight, which was very odd. The exposure led to Kelvin MacKenzie, The Sun’s editor, calling to offer me a column which was a girl-about-town, what-I-didlast-night-type thing – a precursor to the Tara Palmer-Tomkinson era.” A move to the Daily Mail followed, an institution which, in retrospect, Lesley-Ann does not view with much affection. Nevertheless, during her time there, she accrued a raft of unforgettable interviews and experiences within the music industry. “There weren’t many people I didn’t go on the road with – Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bowie, The Who,” she says. “I also became friends with those people in a way that journalists can’t anymore because there are too many others involved – agents, publicists, promoters, record company people
– all those careers were in their infancy then. “I became obsessed with music at every level,” she adds. “I didn’t just buy the albums, I memorised the studios they were recorded in, who made the tea, who drove the cars, all the info on the sleeve notes. It became my world. It still is.” After the birth of her eldest daughter, Lesley-Ann went to work for You magazine, the glossy Mail on Sunday supplement. “In those days it was more like the Sunday Times magazine. It became a bit lipstick and tights in later years,” she says. “You magazine’s editor, the late Nick Gordon, wanted me to move away from music. His brief was, ‘Go anywhere in the world, and find extraordinary people doing ordinary things, or ordinary people doing extraordinary things.’ “I said, ‘Well I’ve got this baby…’
I WENT ON THE ROAD WITH ELTON JOHN, DAVID BOWIE AND THE WHO
and he said, ‘Take her with you! It’s no skin off my nose.’ So I did. I went everywhere, from rehab clinics to war zones.” Chatting to Lesley-Ann, it strikes me that she’s a survivor. The heyday of Fleet Street has long since passed, but she has continued to thrive – post the Mail on Sunday she has also written for outlets including the News of the World and the Sunday Express, while penning biographies of Naomi Campbell, Freddie Mercury and Marc Bolan among others. Oh yes, and she’s raised three children and battled through the travails of divorce and skin cancer surgery somewhere along the way too. One constant in her life – for the last 17 years at any rate – has been Dulwich, about which she is rhapsodic. “We moved to Dulwich in 2001. It’s got everything you imagine when you think of a London village. It’s lovely, it’s safe, it’s quaint. It’s a very family orientated place – we’ve had a very full life in Dulwich.” And the next stop on the Lesley-Ann Jones rollercoaster? Her memoir, titled Tumbling Dice, which I fully expect to be packed with the “filthy gossip and farcical yarns” for which she has become renowned. I for one can’t wait to read it – and you should check it out too. After all, the full story of when Ozzy Osbourne kidnapped her and what it was like being Raquel Welch’s housemate are tales best told by the wonderful Lesley-Ann Jones herself.
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16 | DULWICH IN PICTURES
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DULWICH IN PICTURES | 17
Artists open their doors BY ELIZABETH RUST
During the two weekends of the Dulwich Festival, local artists will welcome the public into their homes to show their work. They include Sue King, who lives near to East Dulwich Station on St Francis Road. You will know you’ve reached her home when you come to a light blue door with glass panels reminiscent of a watercolour painting in blue, yellow, green and orange hues. Look through the window to see colourful hanging glass stars – she sells these for £10, donating all proceeds to the charities she supports, Breast Cancer Haven, Dimbleby Cancer Care and The Art Room – and knock on the door for a warm welcome. Sue has taken part in Artists’ Open House since 2007, when she says the guide book was really thin, unlike the thick tome of today that features more than 250 artists who are opening their doors. Sue was an interior designer for 20 years, but in 2000 she went on a glass course at Central Saint Martins and “got the bug”. She’s been working with fused glass ever since. Fused glass, she explains, differs from stained glass because all the glass melts – or fuses – together to make one coherent piece. Her creations include dishes and platters in a variety of bright, transparent colours, made using a kiln heated up to 800°C in her back garden. New to Artists’ Open House this
year is duo Roy Joseph Butler and Leo Crane. In December 2016, they launched Figuration, a life-drawing community. Their home in West Dulwich, above Majestic Wine, is where 10 artists who are actively participating in their community will show their work. Expect to see pieces from artists who sell their work regularly and others from artists who have never exhibited before. Roy and Leo met in 2013 at a lifedrawing workshop. Roy was the artist’s model and Leo was among the artists drawing. Since launching Figuration, Roy now draws and Leo models. They explain that the ethos of the community is centred on eliminating barriers and “putting across that life drawing is for anyone”, which is why they decided to learn each other’s craft. Leo has always drawn. In 2011 he did a master’s in animation, and before then he worked at Dulwich Picture Gallery where he was good friends with the late Ingrid Beazley, who he says helped him with one of his animations. Up until recently, Roy worked in sexual health. Roy and Leo admit that life drawing might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if anyone is inspired to join their community, they should sign up for a workshop. They say: “Bring a friend, get a drink, settle in and don’t put any pressure on yourself. And just have fun with it.” Ebony Manderson trained as a classical painter, but would now describe herself as a mixed-media artist. Her work is not quite a painting; it’s a crossover to sculpture, but still something that you can put on your wall. Inspired by nature, Ebony likes to watch nature programmes and read nature books. She then creates pieces that are reminiscent of the landscapes that a bird might see from above. This is her second year showing her work with Artists’ Open House. Last year she was based at The Florence in Herne Hill, but this year she will be welcoming visitors to her studio on Kirkdale, where 20 of her pieces will be on display. The 2018 Artists’ Open House takes place on May 12-13 and 19-20. Some artists are open for one weekend and others for both. For full details and timings, visit dulwichfestival.co.uk/ artists-open-house
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18 | DULWICH IN PICTURES
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20 | ART
Appreciating the arts THE ARTS SOCIETY DULWICH HOLDS LECTURES ON TOPICS RANGING FROM MARC CHAGALL TO THE FIRST HABITAT SHOP – AND ALL ARE WELCOME BY ELIZABETH RUST
A year ago John Payne happened upon an Arts Society Dulwich leaflet at the Wash & Dry on Lordship Lane while doing his annual duvet cleaning. An evening art lecture about Marc Chagall caught his eye, and although he had never been particularly engaged with the artist’s work before, a week after the lecture he found himself at a Mayfair gallery exploring Chagall’s art further. A week after that, he travelled down to Kent to see the 12 windows Chagall decorated at All Saints’ Church in Tudeley. “You often get a spark from one of these lectures, which takes you off exploring in a direction you just wouldn’t have thought of otherwise,” John says. The Arts Society Dulwich is a membership organisation that holds lectures from October to July on the second Thursday of every month at James Allen’s Girls’ School.
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It has around 120 members who come from all walks of life. John for example is winding down from a career in human resources and there are also teachers, doctors and nurses to name a few. Members range from those who are well versed in the arts to others who simply want to come along and learn about something new for an hour in the evening. Each lecture costs £9 or for the entire series of 10 lectures it’s £49. Joint membership is £95. In addition to their impressive programme of talks, the society also organises visits to historical places around London. This year they went to the Postal Museum, where they rode an underground railway that was used to distribute post across London, and also enjoyed a guided tour of Somerset House and the Courtauld Gallery. The Arts Society Dulwich is part of a national society, The Arts Society – a network of 90,000 people worldwide united by a shared curiosity about the
arts and artistic heritage. All lecturers are vetted by the national society, meaning that the calibre is high. David Trace is treasurer of the society and has been a member for three years. His children found out about the society and bought him and his wife, Desrae, who now happens to be membership secretary, membership as a Christmas present. Although his wife is artistic, David wouldn’t classify himself as particularly talented. What he likes is the variety of lectures. For example, in October there was a talk on Greek and Roman architecture that explored some of Europe’s earliest structures. Stravinsky and the Ballet Russes were discussed in February, including an exciting story about The Rite of Spring ballet in 1913 that saw theatregoers flooding the street to protest about the unsettling music they heard. Then in March there was a lecture on the first Habitat shop in Chelsea with Caroline Macdonald-Haig, who
PICTURED ABOVE: DAVID TRACE, HELEN TYNDALE-BISCOE AND JOHN PAYNE Photo by Lima Charlie
worked with Terence Conran during the designer’s illustrious career. Next on the list is a talk in May that will celebrate the Royal Academy of Arts as it turns 250 years old. In June they’ll take it back a couple of hundred years with a lecture about the book of hours, which was used during prayer in the Middle Ages. And in July they’ll conclude the series with a talk about JMW Turner, who revolutionised 19th century painting. Helen Tyndale-Biscoe is the society’s secretary. She’s been a member for five years, since her friend invited her along for a lecture. As a practising artist who paints landscapes, she is much more interested in the fine art lectures, rather than the ones on decorative art, but she finds all of them very good. Her favourite so far this year was on the women artists of the Second World War, which was given by art historian Magdalen Evans. It focused on women who were part of a scheme
ART | 21 called Recording Britain, which saw artists commissioned to document British life and landscapes in the anticipation of any devastation that might happen due to enemy bombing in World War Two. Only a few women were part of the scheme – the most well known being Dame Laura Knight – but it resulted in 1,500 watercolours, produced by 97 artists including Sir William Russell Flint, Eric Ravilious, Charles Knight, Rowland Hilder and John Piper. Some of the paintings produced for the series were displayed in the National Gallery, and exhibitions of the work took place when the gallery’s permanent collection was relocated to Wales during the war for safety. The gallery’s then-director Kenneth Clark had at first wanted to move the paintings to Canada, but Churchill famously told him: “Hide them in caves and cellars, but not one picture shall leave this island.” One of the artists Magdalen discussed during the lecture was Phyllis Ginger. Her 19 commissioned paintings, some of which are still hanging at the V&A and Imperial War Museum, have been published in three of the four Recording Britain books. Her paintings include scenes of Catharine Place in Bath and the Council House in Bristol. Eleanor Durbin, Phyllis’s daughter, was at the lecture. Reminiscing about Phyllis’s work, Eleanor said that even towards the end of her mother’s life, she still sketched her fellow “inmates”
as she called them, in her last year at a care home. John says that having someone who was related to one of the artists discussed at the lecture really brought it to life. “We can walk around galleries to look at pictures, and then move on to the next one, but when someone takes a picture and points out the
symbolism and context of what these odd figures around the edges mean, that makes the difference.” So is the society welcoming of new members? “Of course!” David says enthusiastically. He admits that they’re of an older Dulwich crowd, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from coming along to hear a lecture. “John’s very good at organising
PICTURED ABOVE: THE LONDON APPRENTICE BY PHYLLIS GINGER © Phyllis Ginger estate
refreshment beforehand, alcoholic and non-alcoholic,” David says, adding that the lecture theatre at JAGS has a “lovely, buzzy” atmosphere. “We’re really making an effort to make sure everyone feels welcome.” To find out more about The Arts Society Dulwich, visit ddfas.org.uk
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22 | BRIDGE
Take me to the bridge THE STOCKEN BRIDGE CLUB IN WEST DULWICH AIMS TO BRING THE CARD GAME TO NEW AUDIENCES. OUR REPORTER WENT ALONG FOR A GAME BY LUKE G WILLIAMS
“Most bridge articles start off by saying, ‘Bridge is a game for old ladies with twin sets and pearls and old folk with grey hair in a retirement home,’” jokes Zeb Stocken, whose eponymous club Stocken Bridge has been educating and entertaining Dulwich card players since 2003. “We’re trying to bust that reputation. We’ve got a younger crowd than people might think and I’d love to encourage even more younger people to come in.” Having attended one of Zeb’s Tuesday evening sessions in the function room at The Rosendale pub in West Dulwich, I can attest to the fact that the age and gender range of his eager pupils is refreshingly mixed. The atmosphere at the club is also incredibly warm and inclusive – for which huge credit must go to Zeb, whose self-effacing charm and good humour, allied with his youthful spirit, permeate the room as he circulates expertly, dispensing pearls of wisdom and bridge bon mots to the 12 tables of four players each.
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I have come armed with only the most basic knowledge of the game, culled from the Ian Fleming novel Moonraker, as well as unhappy memories of teenage attempts to play with schoolfriends that left me confused and frustrated. Yet under Zeb’s adept and watchful guidance, I soon find myself in the swing of things and enjoying immensely the friendly company of the rest of my table, which consists of rookies with a few weeks of tuition behind them. In no time at all I find myself picking up the rudiments of bidding, partnership play and all the other wonderful quirks of the game. A couple of hours later, as the clock strikes nine, I’ve experienced bridge glory and disaster in fairly equal measure, my heart is pumping, my palms are a little sweaty and my mind is buzzing with bridge jargon. My enjoyment of the evening delights Zeb, but does not surprise him. “Bridge definitely has an addictive quality,” the 45-year-old tells me when I ask him to pinpoint the game’s unique appeal. “It’s a bit like golf in a way – it’s
one of those games you can never be perfect at, whatever level you’re at. Even if you’re a top player there’s always something more to learn. You’re always making mistakes and there’s always something you’re striving to get better at. “It’s also very social. The partnership dynamic [for the uninitiated, a game of bridge requires two teams of two players] gives it that extra pizzazz – you’re only as good as your partner and you’ve got to bring out the best in your partner. “It also tickles the grey cells and it’s a very clever game. It works in a sort of magical way. When bidding you’ve got a limited vocabulary you can use yet you’re able to pretty accurately gauge the level of your partner’s and opponents’ cards. It’s a brain tickler.” One of the most remarkable features of the evening is Zeb’s ability to supervise and teach at all 12 tables, as he busily circulates the room, dropping hints, instruction and advice with barely a pause for breath. “It’s quite intense,” he admits. “You have to keep the plates spinning in all directions. People marvel at the fact I
PICTURED ABOVE AND RIGHT: PLAYING THEIR CARDS RIGHT AT STOCKEN BRIDGE CLUB Photos by Tristan Bejawn
can visit a table and then return a few minutes later and say, ‘Ah, yes! You should have played the ace of spades!’ and then move on to somewhere else. “It seems a hard thing to do, but once you’ve played tournament bridge it becomes a lot easier. You’ve got to concentrate, of course, but it’s a buzz, having lots of tables all at the same time and zooming around. It’s a real buzz – usually by the end of a Tuesday night it takes me quite a while to get to sleep.” Given the impressive level of his enthusiasm and expertise, it’s no surprise to learn that bridge has been part of Zeb’s life since childhood, while his family are also steeped in the game. “In the small puddle that is bridge, the Stocken family are reasonably well known,” he says. “My dad was the chairman of the English Bridge Union for quite a long time. “Growing up, we lived in the middle of nowhere in Yorkshire. We played all sorts of card games and board games and then – to keep us quiet I think – our dad introduced us to bridge when I was about seven and my oldest
BRIDGE | 23 brother was about 12. “We started going to Doncaster Bridge club when I was about 11, which was quite a serious bridge club. We played a lot of tournament bridge during my teenage years – we’d always be going off to some tournament or other during the weekends and holidays. “My older brother started playing in the under-25 junior squad for England. I also started doing that with another of my brothers when I was about 15. I played one match for England against the Essex Seniors – I’m not quite sure if that counts as an England cap or not!” After a hiatus from the game during university and a spell working in market research (“on the phones and on the streets with clipboards asking people questions about oven handles and things like that”), Zeb moved to London in 1996 and began working at the renowned Andrew Robson Bridge Club, which at that time was based in Chelsea. “Andrew Robson is the big cheese of bridge in this country,” Zeb explains. “I worked there for five years. It went from being a small sideline to a thriving place – 30 tables on a Tuesday morning sort of thing. “I left in 2001 to do my own thing and work on some bridge projects of my own. I lived in Brighton for a yearand-a-half, then came back to London because you can’t really earn any money in bridge in Brighton. “I started teaching bridge at the
Crown and Greyhound initially in Dulwich Village in 2003. I also set up a little club in Blackheath. In September 2009 we moved the Dulwich club to The Rosendale. “As well as Dulwich and Blackheath, I do private lessons all over the place, organise bridge weekends in the country and I also have a separate company running bridge holidays with my sister. Both my brothers are bridge teachers, my mum and dad come and help on our bridge holidays – so we’re all doing the bridge thing.” The level of preparation and expertise underpinning Zeb’s teaching is highly impressive, as is the professionalism of his set-up, which includes invaluable colour help sheets, booklets and Stocken Bridge
branded paraphernalia. “I have 15 different courses,” he explains. “The increments of standards in bridge are very multiple. Within the room you were in on Tuesday night there were all sorts of levels of bridge ability there. “The Rosendale is very much a teaching club. Some clubs are for playing – a case of ‘eyes down, come and play competitive bridge’. But we are very much a teaching club – it’s about social, fun bridge. “The course on a Tuesday night is a beginners’ course. It’s supervised play, so people come in at any standard and we get them playing with others of their ability and offer hand over the shoulder advice as they play. “On Wednesday morning I have
a different sort of session at The Rosendale, which involves some competitive bridge with a lesson. And on Wednesday afternoon I have the same as Tuesday night, which is supervised bridge.” If you’re keen to get involved, it couldn’t be simpler, as Zeb explains. “We have three terms a year, which follow the pattern of school term times. We’re closed during the holidays. “At the beginning of each term at The Rosendale I have an open evening, and following on the next week we start the beginners’ course. “I need a group of four or more to run a course. If you’re a group of four friends who want to come in and play you can come in at any time and we’ll get you going, even if it’s halfway through the term.” Above all else, the warm welcome and laidback atmosphere Zeb lovingly cultivates is his stock in trade. “The aim is to make it fun – then people come back. One rotten apple at a bridge table can drive people away and they’ll never play bridge again if, say, someone’s been mean to them. So we police things to make sure that doesn’t happen. “We definitely aim to make it friendly – we want people to learn bridge and get better, but the main thing is that they have a good night. It’s a social thing and it’s only a game.”
BRIDGE HAS AN ADDICTIVE QUALITY AND IT’S VERY SOCIAL
To find out more and get in touch with Zeb, go to stockenbridge.co.uk
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HISTORY | 25
Troubled times A RECENTLY REDISCOVERED DIARY HAS GIVEN A FASCINATING INSIGHT INTO LIFE AS A DULWICH TEENAGER DURING WORLD WAR TWO BY JESSICA GULLIVER
Though not a homogenous entity, it’s still easy to view the teenage years as a universal rite of passage, regardless of where and when and who. It is a time of rebellion, identity-forming and seeking some sort of social acceptance. Today’s teens have social media to contend with, as well as studying for exams, applying for university and apprenticeships and getting ready to join the world as adults, among many other challenges. But it’s hard to imagine them continuing their days of school, college and work while bombs rain down, while air-raid sirens sound out; or seeing friends and having a social life amid constant curfews and blackouts. However, not so long ago this was the daily reality for youngsters in Dulwich in World War Two. The street names were the same, the commute into town was similar. But day-to-day life was something quite different. A few years back, Duncan Leatherdale believed he was carrying out his duties as a grandson when he offered to transcribe on to his spanking new laptop his grandmother’s recently rediscovered teenage diary. What started as an expression of love soon turned into something more – a book in fact, called Life of a Teenager in Wartime London, which gives a fascinating insight into the lives of teenagers during World War Two. It looks at young people’s experiences in the capital during this time, including his grandmother, who lived in Dulwich. Glennis kept her diary for the first six months of 1943 and it’s printed in full at the back of the book, with a foreword by Glennis herself. Born in February 1924, Glennis Leatherdale and her family moved from Kennington to Dulwich when she was very young. Her childhood home was on Croxted Road and her father ran a chain of bakeries. His combination of baked goods and business sense paid for her brother to attend Dulwich College and for Glennis to go to what was then Dulwich High School followed by Streatham Hill High School. Glennis was 15 when World War Two broke out. She decided not to flee to relatives in New Zealand or to join her school, which had evacuated to Brighton. Instead she stayed in London. Aged 17, she completed a course in shorthand and typing at Pitman College and got a job at Barclays bank on City Road, the first female ever to work there. She later trained to become a physiotherapist at Guy’s Hospital and travelled in every day from West Dulwich. She remembers one particular journey into London Bridge where
a rocket landed very near her train. Passengers could see that houses had been hit and people were being rescued, some alive, others dead (putting the Southern service today into perspective somewhat). One day she had just left West Dulwich when she saw a flying bomb heading towards her home. Her house was missed, but the bomb hit and destroyed the home of a good friend and the mother was killed. There were good memories too. Her New Zealand cousins gave their boyfriends Glennis’s family address and it became their base for the war. They were in the Navy and when off on operations they never knew if or when they’d return, but it was a lot of fun when they did come back to the Dulwich house, dancing and singing
PICTURED ABOVE AND LEFT: GLENNIS LEATHERDALE AND THE HOUSE AT CROXTED ROAD
around the piano. The “Blitz spirit” galvanised Londoners, unifying people in the war effort. Glennis spent a lot of time studying in the cellar during nighttime raids, learning anatomy with a real skeleton – there were no plastic imitations in those days. London was the largest city in the world in 1939, and one of the Luftwaffe’s main targets during the Blitz. From September 1940 the city was bombed for 57 nights in a row and then almost daily until May 1941. About a million buildings were destroyed or badly damaged, and more than 20,000 people killed. Glennis’ diary starts on January 1, 1943. There are many entries about hair washing (quite a big deal as shampoo was rationed from 1942), bad colds and nasty coughs, films seen at the London Pavilion, restaurants visited in Leicester Square. We read of her empathy for the families of killed soldiers, her teenage self-consciousness about being overweight and her stress about studying and revision. The mundane life of the teenager is contrasted with the brutality of war: “We lost 22 aircraft last night – doesn’t do thinking about,” she wrote on January 18. “This afternoon we had pathology and theory three-month test.” Then there are the startling daily tragedies, such as this one on January 20: “Thirty small children were killed when a school was hit and Surrey Docks were set on fire.” It was a school in Catford, hit when many of the children were eating lunch in the dining hall. There is a lot of talk about boys and Canadian soldiers she meets while cycling in Surrey with friends. On February 10 she wrote: “Len is in the RAF now and I rather hope I renew his acquaintance. What I remember of him is quite promising.” The diary is prosaic, wonderful and insightful and is social history at its best – what was life in London like for teenagers during the war? How did they commute? How did they entertain themselves during blackouts? What was it like being a teenager living through an air raid? How did they learn about what was happening in the war itself without the immediacy of rolling news and constant updates of social media? What did they eat? What were the fashions and what trends did they adopt? Thanks to 15-year-old Glennis deciding to record her life during six months of World War Two, we are given a glimpse of what life was like in Dulwich during this tumultuous and traumatic time. Life of a Teenager in Wartime London by Duncan Leatherdale is published by Pen and Sword and costs £19.99.
THE DULWICH DIVERTER
26 | DIVERSIONS TO THE GARDEN 1
TO THE KITCHEN 1
Sourdough French toast TRY THIS TASTY BRUNCH-TIME TREAT FROM LOCAL BAKERY BRICK HOUSE BREAD INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4)
4 thick slices of sourdough 4 large eggs 2 tablespoons whole milk 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 2 teaspoons caster sugar 1 pinch salt
On the allotment BY JANE MERRICK
Strawberries take all the early summer soft fruit glory, but I have always preferred the tarter gooseberries and currants, which are also reaching their peak in June. I have a few redcurrant bushes on my plot, most of them grown from cuttings of their mother, a variety named Rovada. I also have one whitecurrant, called Blanka; and a pinkcurrant, Gloire de Sablon. Soft fruit bushes are incredibly easy to maintain – plant bare root bushes in winter, adding composted manure, and protect from birds using netting as the fruit ripens. Take hardwood cuttings of currants in winter – I cut several stems from each bush every year and plant them in the soil nearby, before replanting them a year later in their final position, once they are established. While all soft fruit should, in theory, be netted robustly, birds and squirrels don’t tend to notice the white and pinkcurrants as much as the red, meaning you can take your chances without netting. This is much easier for harvesting, and looks more attractive. With the gooseberries, it’s a different story. Our site, alongside Cox’s Walk, is popular with grey squirrels, which unfortunately adore red varieties of gooseberry – if I don’t fix netting over mine there are none left. I grow Hinnomaki Red, and this winter planted its paler cousin, Hinnomaki Yellow. If I win my battle against the birds and squirrels, I make a delicious summer dessert by very gently cooking 200g of topped and tailed gooseberries with 10g
THE DULWICH DIVERTER
To serve Smoked streaky bacon Summer berries Maple syrup Illustration by Jessica Kendrew
For my money, this is the perfect weekend brunch dish. It’s got the lot. It’s sweet, salty, smoky and with the addition of the berries that are just coming into season, it has a sharpness that balances it all out. It’s a mainstay on the menu at our bakery café in East Dulwich, and also something we eat at home a lot as it’s our son Ludo’s favourite breakfast. Using good sourdough is important as it won’t fall apart, even after a good soaking in the egg mixture. Our go-to loaf for this is our Country White. METHOD
Cut four slices of sourdough around 1.5 inches thick and set aside. Crack the eggs into a flat-bottomed bowl or dish big enough to take a slice of the sourdough, then add the milk, vanilla, sugar and salt. Whisk together to combine. Dunk each of the slices of sourdough into the egg mixture, pressing down and then releasing so the bread soaks the egg up like a sponge. Flip the slice over and then repeat on the other side. Do the same
with the other three slices, then set aside. This should use up most, if not all of the egg mixture. Fry the bacon in a large non-stick pan, transfer to a dish and keep warm in a low oven. Add a knob of butter into the same frying pan and cook the egg-soaked slices of sourdough in batches of two. Fry each side for a minute and then flip over and fry for another minute. After this time press down on the top of the bread with a fork. If you see any liquid egg bubble up, flip over again and fry for longer. If not, transfer to another dish and keep warm in the oven while you fry the other slices. To serve, place a slice of the sourdough on a plate and then drizzle all over with maple syrup. Arrange your berries and bacon on top, then drizzle a bit more syrup over. Brick House Sourdough Bakery & Café is based at 1 Zenoria Street and is open seven days a week. Follow the team @brickhousebread and visit brickhousebread.com
of caster sugar (if you want to retain that distinctive sharpness – more if you want it sweeter), just enough for the sugar to dissolve but not so the fruit turns into a pulp, and remove from the heat. Then boil 400ml of double cream and 50g of caster sugar in a pan, until the sugar has dissolved, and stir in the gooseberries. Leave the mixture to cool, pour into dessert glasses, and place in the fridge until chilled. The soft fruit harvest comes too late for our annual plant sale at the Nunhead Cemetery open day in May. This year, it is on the same day as the royal wedding, but we hope we can tempt people away from the TV with our tomato, brassica and chilli plants, herbs, cakes and biscuits. Visit the Dulwich Horticultural and Chrysanthemum Society stall at the Nunhead Cemetery open day, May 19 from 11am-5pm. When she’s not on her allotment in East Dulwich, Jane Merrick is a freelance writer for the Independent, the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Times. Follow her on Twitter @janemerrick23 and read her blog at heroutdoors.uk
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DIVERSIONS | 29 TO THE GALLERY 1
TO THE BOOKSHOP 1
Interior of a Tavern
The Empty Horizon
BY JESSICA GULLIVER
This work by Adriaen Brouwer was painted circa 1630 and shows a rowdy tavern interior, where peasants sing, drink and smoke. A 17th century viewer was meant to recognise this as unruly behaviour and, to emphasise the point, one man is even depicted urinating against a post.
In spite of their “low” subject matter, tavern scenes like these were highly popular among the Dutch middle classes. Although Brouwer is little known today, in the 17th century he was a highly popular artist. Rembrandt owned six of his works, while Rubens had 17.
Illustration by Peter Rhodes
TO THE PAST 1
Brouwer was best known as a painter of tavern scenes, depicting figures, drinking, smoking, gambling and fighting. Many of his paintings have a moral lesson, but he was also a brilliant painter of emotions, such as joy, pleasure and rage. He died young in 1638, aged just 32.
This painting will be discussed as part of a lecture titled Drink, Debauchery and David Teniers: 17th Century Tavern Scenes, which takes place at Dulwich Picture Gallery on June 12 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12 from dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk
Anne Shelton was a popular English singer who provided inspirational songs for soldiers during World War Two, both through radio broadcasts and in person at British military bases. Born Patricia Jacqueline Sibley in 1923 in Dulwich, she began singing aged just 12 on the radio show Monday Night at Eight. By the age of 15 she had a recording contract. Shelton’s own radio programme, Calling Malta, was broadcast from 1942-47. In 1944 she was invited by Glenn Miller to sing with him and his orchestra in France but declined due to prior commitments.
Miller died on the tour when his plane crashed. Shelton appeared with Bing Crosby on the Variety Bandbox radio programme and had a number one hit song in 1956 with Lay Down Your Arms. In addition to her music career she appeared in several films and Royal Variety performances. She was awarded an OBE for her charity work with disabled service personnel and continued to perform charity and anniversary concerts almost until she died in 1994. Her Dulwich home at 142 Court Lane was awarded a blue plaque by Southwark Council in 2007.
Local poet Paul Terence Carney’s The Empty Horizon is his debut collection of 21 poems. It features the narrator Roisin, a picture-book illustrator and writer down on her luck, who is losing her sight to the genetic condition retinitis pigmentosa (a condition the poet has, too). Roisin lives with a bohemian family in Dawlish, ostensibly helping with the children. But the clamouring family are needy and leach-like, and she seems more slave than staff. On the side, she is writing a book about a child in medieval Ireland. She has fallen in love with a voice on the phone, the voice of her editor, whom she has never met. She harbours fantasies of him getting on a train and coming to Dawlish to rescue her. This is beautiful, narrative poetry and story-telling. Mixing everyday humdrum with more profound ideas, the imagery of birds runs throughout the poems, which also feature black swans, a crow and a weary Peckham fox. Rosin is like a modern-day Mrs Rochester – the mad woman in the attic, the woman who exists in the world rudderless, without a partner. In thrall of a faceless man she’s never met, she is too poor as a single woman to survive, to live independently and to be truly free. The craft of her art doesn’t pay for food on her table, and her eyesight is worsening, so she becomes enslaved to this family, The Others. London is like a shadow, a ghost of a former life, the distant sounds of Peckham with its foxes and all. The poems are infused with the sadness of unrequited love, the subject of Roisin’s love casting shadows through her days and in her dreams, but he is never physically present, enforcing her existing loneliness and the sense of being a cuckoo in the nest. But there is a freshness to the writing and a vigour to Roisin, and a sly and subtle sense of humour. Following the poems are notes by the writer, contextualising some of the imagery and ideas, which rounds the collection off as a wholly engaging reading experience. The Empty Horizon won the Live Canon first collection prize. Many of the poems in the book were part of the writer’s final portfolio for his master’s degree in creative and life writing at Goldsmiths, where he received the Pat Kavanagh Award. £9.99, Live Canon.
THE DULWICH DIVERTER
30 | DIVERSIONS TO THE PUZZLE 1 1
TO THE ARCHIVE 1
Each of the other anagram answers is a 14 Across.
ACROSS 1 AND 1 DOWN EEEGGNOORS (ANAGRAM) (5, 5) 6 ILLEGAL DISTILLER (10) 7 SMOOTH, LEVEL (4) 8 CDGHIOOR (ANAGRAM) (8) 10 ALMOND, EG (3) 11 ENTICE (4) 13 ADEGIKLNS (ANAGRAM) (9) 14 CCDHHIILLNOOSUW (ANAGRAM) (6, 2, 7) 18 GET TO GRIPS WITH (6) 19 AELLNSY (ANAGRAM) (7) 21 MALE DEER (4) 23 MEATY RESTAURANT! (10) 26 AEEGLORVV (ANAGRAM) (5, 4) 27 CRUNCHY SALAD STALK (6)
DOWN 1 SEE 1 ACROSS 2 DITTY (4) 3 ____ KEYS, POP STAR (6) 4 FOOD WITH A SHELL (3) 5 BEEHR (ANAGRAM) (5) 6 CHESTNUT COLOUR (5) 9 ADEELNORS (ANAGRAM) (9) 11 ROOM TO MANOEUVRE (6) 12 NUMBER IN AN OCTET (5) 13 HIT, RAP (5) 15 ACHERRT (ANAGRAM) (7) 16 WEST YORKSHIRE CITY (5) 17 DISSIMILAR TO (6) 20 FEMALE SIBLING (6) 22 DONATE (4) 24 AMPHIBIAN (4) 25 SOUTH LONDON CRICKET GROUND (4)
SOLUTION ACROSS: 1 Goose, 6 Bootlegger, 7 Even, 8 Goodrich, 10 Nut, 11 Lure, 13 Kingsdale, 14 School in Dulwich, 18 Tackle, 19 Alleyn’s, 21 Stag, 23 Steakhouse, 26 Grove Vale, 27 Celery. DOWN: 1 Green, 2 Song, 3 Alicia, 4 Egg, 5 Heber, 6 Brown, 9 Rosendale, 11 Leeway, 12 Eight, 13 Knock, 15 Charter, 16 Leeds, 17 Unlike, 20 Sister, 22 Give, 24 Toad, 25 Oval.
TO THE HAMLET 1
Pictured is an advertisement from 1902 for the Encore Cycle & Motor Co, which was once based on East Dulwich Road. No doubt a must-have accessory for East Dulwich residents of the day, the Trexo Trailer cost £6 and is described as “roomy, comfortable and elegant”. The company’s slogan however, was anything but – and was more of a tonguetwister than catchy advertising jingle. Try saying this one out loud: “Trexo leaves other trailer traders’ trailers trailing in its trail”. Source: gracesguide.co.uk
TO THE STREETS 1
Richard E Boyd Position Midfielder
Flight lieutenant Richard E Boyd was one of 80 men from Dulwich Hamlet who served in the Armed Forces during World War Two. Boyd joined the Hamlet’s junior team after his friend suggested he should come with him to a trial. The friend failed to impress but 16-year-old Boyd was signed up. With the outbreak of war, most of the senior squad were sent to fight and more youngsters were promoted into the first team, including Boyd. He made his debut on September 7 1940 on the first day of the Blitz when, with 20 minutes to go and Hamlet winning 3-2, the air-raid sirens sounded and the game came to an abrupt halt. Boyd went on to train with the RAF and flew 33 missions
THE DULWICH DIVERTER
Illustration by Peter Rhodes
over Germany and France in a Lancaster heavy bomber. He was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry. Read more on the history of Dulwich Hamlet at thehamlethistorian.blogspot.co.uk
Local resident Claire Hennigan (@realyogadoctor on Instagram) snapped this micro-poem by the artist Gommie on North Cross Road.
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