END OF AN ERA
Yogi News bids farewell
A local man’s life in books
A free newspaper for Peckham and Nunhead
Issue 23 October/November 2017
THE GUV’NOR Meet Mark Baxter Page 12
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DEAR READER, WELCOME TO ISSUE 23 OF THE PECKHAM PECULIAR, A FREE LOCAL NEWSPAPER FOR PECKHAM AND NUNHEAD. In a story we published a year or two ago, Peckham Vision coordinator Eileen Conn predicted that an “avalanche” of planning issues was about to flood Peckham. Her words were prescient, as the number of applications seems to grow by the month. With some of these set to have a major impact on our area (not least the proposed 40-storey tower pictured below), it’s more important than ever for local people to have their say. However, finding the relevant information on the council planning pages can be time consuming.
As a result, we’ve launched a new online planning round-up highlighting all the major, interesting and unusual planning applications that we think readers might like to know about – with direct links to each one so you can leave a comment quickly and easily. In other words, we now spend about a day each month trawling through the council planning pages so you don’t have to – and summarise all the key proposals you need to know about in one, easy to digest list. To view the three round-ups we’ve produced so far, visit peckhampeculiar.tumblr.com and
type “planning round-up” into the search box on the right-hand side. In this issue of the paper, we bid farewell to one of Bellenden Road’s best-loved businesses, Yogi News, which is closing this month after more than 30 years on the street. Turn to page 15 to read an interview with owners Nayam and Chetna Patel. On page 16 you’ll find a bumper four-page photo essay on this year’s Peckham Festival; while on page 20 there’s an interview with Steve Hume, who owns Peckham’s oldest business, Wilson’s Cycles.
As always we’d like to say a massive thank you to all the brilliant businesses and people who support the paper through advertising and ensure that we can stay in print. We wouldn’t be here without you. Our next issue is the Christmas and new year edition, which is published on December 2. If you’re interested in advertising your business with us, please drop us a line at email@example.com. We hope you enjoy the issue! Mark McGinlay and Kate White
Forty-storey tower proposed for Peckham A 40-storey tower that could be built on the Peckham and Bermondsey border has been criticised as “off-the-shelf junkitecture” and “far too high” by residents. Berkeley Homes has submitted a planning application to Southwark Council to redevelop a swathe of industrial land to the east of Burgess Park, between Bianca, Latona and Haymerle roads, Frensham Street and Malt Street. It is hoping to pull down existing buildings on the so-called “Malt Street regeneration site” to make way for three blocks of six, 15 and 40 storeys, providing 359 new homes – the first of which could be completed by 2022. The scheme will also include shops, restaurants, business, community and leisure space, a linear park, public square, art gallery and sculpture park, 129 car parking spaces and 563 cycle spaces to create what is described as a “thriving and sustainable neighbourhood”. Berkeley Homes is also seeking outline planning permission for further buildings on the site that could range up to 31 storeys, housing another 691 homes and almost 40,000 square feet of commercial and public space. It would bring the scheme to 1,050 homes in total, with 840 proposed as market housing, 105 intermediate and 105 social rented. If the proposal is green-lit it will mean just 20 per cent of the new homes will be “affordable” – well below Southwark Council’s requirement of 35 per cent. The application has received 55 public comments on the council website so far, with 53 against the scheme and two in favour. Many objectors have criticised the lack of affordable housing, the inadequate public consultation process and the height of the scheme. One said: “This is another development about greed rather than need. The housing market in London already has too many of this type of housing available at prices only investors can afford.” Another said: “I’m all up for developing more housing in the area but I’m sorry, 40 storeys is far too high. My block is one of the biggest in the
area and it’s only eight storeys high. The plan as it stands now is quite ridiculous, it will dominate the skyline.” A third said: “I strongly object to this planning proposal on the grounds that it does not offer enough social or affordable housing and also includes an enormous building of 40 storeys which will disrupt the local landscape. “This area is in need of housing but not of this glossy flashy stuff with absolutely no character. I would welcome housing developments but ones that are more considered and thoughtful and also ones that would address housing needs via affordable housing.” A fourth objector said the public consultation process was “tokenistic”, while a fifth said: “As a Southwark resident living within metres of this development, I have received no consultation documents, much less an invitation to join any consultation process.”
But a fan of the scheme wrote: “I support this application as it will bring a much needed revival to a forgotten and neglected area of south-east London. As a local resident for 11 years, I am very much in favour of development on prime real estate. “I see this development as a tool to help the entire area grow and develop. As long as the development is a balanced mix of affordable homes and community projects, I fully support the development.” When asked whether Berkeley Homes would like to respond to people’s concerns over the proposals, a spokesman told The Peckham Peculiar: “Berkeley do not wish to comment on this at this time.” The Malt Street area is just one of the sites on the Old Kent Road that is earmarked for significant redevelopment as part of Southwark Council’s draft Old Kent Road Area Action Plan. In
December further public consultation is expected to take place on the plan – a policy document that sets out proposals to “transform” the road over the next 20 years. It aims to achieve this with two new Tube stations as part of the Bakerloo line extension, 20,000 new homes – including “affordable” housing for local people – and 5,000 extra jobs. However, the plan has received opposition from some local businesses, community groups, TRAs and campaigners such as Southwark Defend Council Housing, who say it will see council estates, playgrounds, community centres and jobs swept away. Pictured above: the proposed 40-storey tower on the left. A 31-storey tower (shown to the right of it) could be built at a later stage. To view the proposals in full and have your say, go to tinyurl.com/maltstreet
THE PECKHAM PECULIAR Editors Mark McGinlay, Kate White | Production The Creativity Club (http://thecreativity.club) | Photographer Lima Charlie Features editor Emma Finamore | Sub-editor Jack Aston | Marketing and social media Mark McGinlay Contributors Tristan Bejawn, Garth Cartwright, Peter Collins, Sarah Gordon, Dan Harder, Seamus Hasson, Miranda Knox, Alexander McBride Wilson, Tim Richards For editorial and advertising enquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org peckhampeculiar.tumblr.com | @peckhampeculiar | @peckhampeculiar | @peckhampeculiar
THE PECKHAM PECULIAR / 3
Help Fat Macy’s open in Peckham A catering company that works with young Londoners living in temporary accommodation is hoping to open a permanent base in Peckham. Fat Macy’s is a social enterprise that provides homeless people with a pathway towards independent living by training them to cook and curate culinary pop-up events. People living in temporary accommodation are faced with insurmountable barriers when looking to move – including the bureaucratic benefits system, inability to raise cash for a deposit and a lack of affordable housing. Fat Macy’s overcomes this by using the profit from its events to create a housing deposit scheme for participants. Chefs volunteer their time and in return accumulate credit, paid into a secure deposit fund, which is held until they have saved enough for a deposit. Alongside increasing their personal savings, chefs are trained in vital skills for independent living: food hygiene, cooking, financial planning, running events and practical work experience. Now the charity is hoping to make a permanent move to Peckham, where it plans to find and renovate an old building to create a café and events space, complete with a professional commercial kitchen for training and events. It will host regular supper clubs and will create a hub with co-working space for community groups and social enterprises. The space will allow them to run workshops in the building and showcase what they do. Founder Meg Doherty, who lives in Camberwell, is hoping to crowdfund £54,000 to renovate the building, fit it out and buy stock and
equipment. So far 174 people have backed the project with almost £26,000 worth of pledges. Meg came up with the idea for Fat Macy’s when she was working in a homeless shelter in London.
“What really struck me time and time again was that people would say, ‘I’m glad I’m here and not sleeping on the streets or somewhere less safe, but there’s no way out’,” she said.
“The government pays everyone’s rent each month but in order to keep the hostel going, the rents are super high because they have to pay for the whole service, including staff costs, which is something you don’t normally have attached to a house. “The more you work the less housing benefits you receive, which is obviously fine, but with the rent being so high, if you try and work full time the housing benefit gets cut to nothing and the rent is then a huge amount to pay monthly. It means people never really find a way out. “I came up with Fat Macy’s as a solution because when I was working at the hostel everyone was really into cooking – mainly because in hostels often they have canteens, so people aren’t allowed to cook for themselves. “They had a little training kitchen upstairs where I would run sessions. People would rock up and they’d bring an amazing recipe, or they’d say, ‘This is how my gran used to make chicken when I was a kid,’ and they clearly loved cooking.” Fat Macy’s is the antithesis of a top-down organisation, she said. “Everything we’ve done has been built out of speaking to the people who are living in the shelters and hearing their stories, what they struggle with and what doesn’t work currently in the system. “We’re very much saying, ‘You tell us what needs to happen in order for you to get out of this situation.’” Read more about Fat Macy’s and make a pledge here: spacehive.com/fat-macys
Crossing that bridge when we come to it A public consultation is set to be launched into the closure of Camberwell Grove bridge, with some residents battling to reopen it and others campaigning to keep it shut. The bridge, which carries Camberwell Grove over the railway tracks between Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill stations, was closed a year ago when owner Network Rail warned that a cracked beam meant it could no longer support traffic. Drivers using the street to travel from Camberwell to East Dulwich must now turn left onto McNeil Road and Lyndhurst Grove, before negotiating narrow Bellenden Road and other residential streets to get to SE22. The move has cut traffic on the top half of Camberwell Grove significantly and some people who live there – along with Southwark Cyclists – hope to make the closure permanent. But a group of Peckham residents say the extra traffic on their streets is making lives a misery. Lloyd Anderson from The Lane Ward Traffic Action Group, who lives on Lyndhurst Grove, said: “The closure of Camberwell Grove railway bridge has led to marked increases in traffic volumes in the immediate neighbourhood – up by 78 per cent on Lyndhurst Grove and Bellenden Road, and by 96 per cent on Chadwick Road. “The impacts of this pressure on surrounding, narrower, streets include an increase in the number of traffic conflicts and potential collisions, leading to arguments and losses of temper; an increase in vehicle emissions, affecting air quality and noise levels especially near schools; a less safe environment in which to move around, particularly for schoolchildren; greater distances
travelled by motor vehicles; longer emergency response times; and a decline in trade for local businesses that depend on ease of access and a welcoming environment. All in all, the closure of the bridge has made many lives miserable.” But Christine and Rowland Sheard, on behalf of the Camberwell Grove Traffic Campaign, said: “Camberwell Grove should be safe for people of all ages, including the hundreds of children who walk this way to nearby schools, and people using Quietway 7 for local trips by bike. “One-way traffic over the bridge is not the answer. In the past, we’ve seen cars mount the pavement to get past queuing cars, and frightening incidents of road rage. The bridge has been broken twice by vehicles that were over the weight limit. We’re worried that if it reopens with a three-tonne weight limit, trucks will try to squeeze through regardless. “For us, the real question is: how can we reduce non-local traffic in the whole area? We’d like drivers who are just passing through Camberwell and Peckham to use the main roads, so smaller streets right across the area become quieter and safer – especially for children and older people. It can be done!” Councillor Ian Wingfield, Southwark’s cabinet member for environment and public realm, said a traffic survey has now been carried out. He added: “We will be carrying out a full consultation in the next one or two weeks with the traffic summary results to hand. “We look forward to considering any comments we receive at the November community council meetings. The slight delay in consultation will not
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affect the timescales for any potential opening of the bridge, should this be the final decision.” The public consultation will be available to view at consultations.southwark.gov.uk once it goes live. The Peckham and Nunhead community council
meeting is on November 13 and the Camberwell meeting is provisionally booked for November 14 – visit tinyurl.com/ccmeetings for details. To contact Lloyd, email the-lane-ward-traffic-action-group@ googlegroups.com. To contact Christine and Rowland, visit sheard.info/cg
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A musical mash-up Opera, cabaret, film and technology will combine for a show like no other in Peckham this autumn, with producers promising there will be “something for everyone”. Stop all the Clocks is a multimedia cabaret performance and musical installation that will bring together four opera singers, a group of young filmmakers and cabaret superstar Frieda Love. It is produced by Shadow Opera, which was co-founded in 2010 by musician, composer and Nunhead resident Tom Floyd. The company focuses on contemporary classical music with an emphasis on opera. “We’re particularly interested in making it more accessible and bringing it to people who might not ordinarily go out of their way to hear contemporary classical music,” said opera singer and producer Sophie Goldrick. “It’s about presenting it so it doesn’t feel like a museum piece and it doesn’t feel stuffy or like you’re being judged by people around you when you come and watch it.” The company has commissioned a group of filmmakers who will each generate a new short to accompany live opera performances and cabaret music by Frieda. “Frieda’s a fantastic personality,” said Sophie. “She uses a lot of mixed art forms in her cabaret,
including ballet. We love the way she’s spliced those two art forms and really broken down what you think a ballet performance should be like. We thought she could help us do the same thing for opera.” The atmosphere will be “somewhere between a gig, a show and an installation”, with a gin bar and a relaxed feel. People are encouraged to come along with friends, enjoy some drinks, move around the space and watch the performances from wherever they like. On arrival they will download an interactive app to their smartphones featuring the English translation of the opera lyrics, to help them connect with the music. It will also showcase extra content from the filmmakers and links to their work. Asked what she loves about opera, Sophie, who hails from Sydney but has lived in London for five years, said: “Opera tells really heightened and large-scale stories and it’s every single art form – it’s a visual art form, it’s music, it’s storytelling, it’s great performance, it’s beautiful costumes. We want more people to experience opera and to connect with it.” Stop all the Clocks takes place on November 9-11, 8pm at Copeland Gallery. For tickets, go to shadowopera.com/stop-all-the-clocks
Car park campaign steps up a gear Peckhamites opposing plans to build up to 50 new homes on Choumert Grove car park are urging others to join them in putting forward an alternative vision for the site. Southwark Council dropped proposals to build 30 homes on the car park a few years ago following a campaign from residents, Rye Lane traders and faith groups, who argued the facility is much needed. But the idea has now resurfaced in the draft New Southwark Plan – a document that will guide regeneration and development across the borough. It is set to be formally adopted in 2018 after one more round of public consultation before it’s sent to the secretary of state. This time the council has pledged to retain car parking of “equivalent size” in addition to the new homes – raising the prospect of an underground car park – and a cycle-friendly “green link” will connect Choumert Grove to Rye Lane. There could also be units for small businesses. But local resident Juliet Barclay said: “Masses of people park there, from the mosque, from local churches, to do their shopping on Rye Lane and to catch the train from Peckham Rye. But parking is only one of its uses – it gives us all a fabulous expanse of open sky. “We see heart-lifting sunrises, soothing sunsets, incredible cloud formations, flocks of birds, falling snow, intricate patterns of vapour trails, lots of eager wagtails bobbing in the puddles – streetwise cats reflected in their surfaces – and the moon and stars on crisp winter nights. “It is used for chatting, dancing, music, racing radio-controlled cars, games of cricket, spontaneous singing and bike-riding. We all love its space and long for it to remain used as it is now and for future imaginative community activities, with perhaps some enhancing
Life on the lane
landscaping added around the edges and in islands. “Filling it with buildings would block out the light and make the area seriously claustrophobic. A car park under those buildings would swiftly become a dark, dank, dangerous place into which no sensible person would venture. We dread that happening.” Eileen Conn, coordinator of Peckham Vision, added: “Most days I walk past or through the car park several times. I love it because it is such a valuable open space and open sky in our
crowded town centre. It helps us cope with the busy narrow and crowded Rye Lane. “It could be landscaped to realise its nature as an open space at the same time as continuing to provide vital car parking space for the commercial town centre.” To get involved, email email@example.com or drop in to the Peckham Vision shop in Holdron’s Arcade on Tuesdays (2-4pm) or Saturdays (25pm). The final consultation is expected to go live at consultations.southwark.gov.uk later this year.
A photography exhibition featuring the people of Rye Lane is set to go on show in the Bussey Building corridor this month. The set of 12 striking images were snapped by Camberwell-based photographer Joe Magowan, who has spent months on the street with his camera. Joe said: “The exhibition is titled Portraits of Rye Lane and is the product of walking up and down Rye Lane for the past five months taking portraits of the people who catch my attention. “As Peckham is in such a state of flux at the moment and its demographic is constantly changing, I wanted to capture its essence through snapping the faces of the characters who pass through it each day.” Portraits of Rye Lane will go on show in the Bussey Building corridor from the second weekend in October for two weeks.
THE PECKHAM PECULIAR / 7
New bar for Nunhead It’s often used as a key ingredient in classic cocktails such as a martini or manhattan. But now vermouth is set to take centre stage as a drink in its own right at a new bar in Nunhead, if plans get the go-ahead from Southwark Council. Siblings Ollie and Greta Inglis were inspired to open the bar when Greta was living in Madrid and Barcelona, where “la hora del vermut” – vermouth hour – is a traditional part of the culture. The Inglises make their own wine and have been experimenting with producing vermouth over the last couple of years. “We’ve used our own wines to try and make vermouth and it’s just progressed on from there”, Ollie said. The bar, which will be called El Vermut, will have a rustic and colourful interior with
an “inviting, warm and buzzy atmosphere”. It will be located at 28 Nunhead Green and is expected to open in the spring. Spanish vermouth will be served along with some Italian and French varieties, plus wine, one or two beers and possibly a couple of cocktails. Spanish bar snacks such as olives, ham and cheese will be offered alongside. Vermouth is a fortified wine that comes in dry and sweet varieties. It can be enjoyed on the rocks in a tumbler glass with a slice or peel of orange, or topped up with soda water for a longer drink. The siblings hope El Vermut will be a welcome addition to Nunhead Green. “Nunhead is such a great place,” Greta said. “We hope it will fit in well with the general feeling of the area.”
Double, double, toil and trouble Fun run at The Den It’s 100 years into the future. Britain is obliterated, a barren, burnt out wasteland. There’s no technology, no electricity, no medicine. Most of the population has been wiped out, civilisation as we know it has gone and survivors face a daily fight to stay alive. This bleak, post-apocalyptic setting forms the backdrop of a gripping new production of Macbeth that is coming to the Bussey Building this autumn. Presented by Devil You Know theatre company, it will honour Shakespeare’s text while contemporising the play and giving it a new edge. Actor Henry Proffit, who is playing Macbeth, said there are many parallels between the futuristic setting they have chosen for the production and the harsh, barren landscape of the original script, which is set in medieval Scotland. “It’s a stripped down, brutal environment where everything has gone backwards,” he said of the new production. “That lends itself to perhaps a more tribal culture, a violent culture, a maledominated culture. “It’s akin to feudal times but in fact it’s a dystopian, future world. In the traditional play the characters are religious and they believe in the supernatural. In the kinds of environments [featured in this production] supernatural and religious beliefs can also become strong.” Asked how Macbeth – written in 1606 – appeals 8 / THE PECKHAM PECULIAR
to modern audiences, he said: “It’s a thriller with all the supernatural elements, but it’s also a psychological study of individuals who are wrapped up in ambition. “For Macbeth it’s about how his ambition as a man leads him to commit heinous acts, terrible acts. Ultimately he ends up murdering a lot of people and he becomes a tyrant. It’s a study of an individual who has committed murder and how that’s impacted him as a human.” The cast is made up of 13 adults and two teams of children. Henry hopes to attract a wide audience and is reaching out to local colleges and schools to encourage younger people to come along. He’s also excited to be playing one of theatre’s most famous parts and conveying the beauty of the language. He said: “The way Shakespeare wrote about humanity in the 16th century and the fact we’re in 2017 and are still blown away by it is so clever. It’s unfathomable really. “I wonder how many people will be thinking about EastEnders in 500 years’ time or Emmerdale? [Shakespeare’s] writing is quite incredible.”
Schoolchildren from Peckham took part in a fun run at Millwall stadium to raise cash for the NSPCC. Kids from Pilgrims’ Way Primary School on Manor Grove have worked hard to donate an impressive £1,764.97 to the children’s charity, with pupils from years two and three winning certificates for “best class participation” as
they managed to raise the most amount of sponsorship. Teacher Sultana Ferdausi said of the run: “It has been a very successful event. The children have understood the importance of it and how much this cause has an impact on children’s everyday lives. All the staff at Pilgrims’ Way are very proud of the children.”
Macbeth runs from October 31-November 18 at the CLF Theatre, 133 Rye Lane. For details and tickets, go to macbeth-busseybuilding.co.uk october/novemmber 2017
Would you help a Southwark child? If you are interested in helping children and young people fulfil their potential we would like to hear from you. Come and talk to us and see what you could do for a Southwark child.
We are looking for: •
Adopters we have a particular need for those who could adopt sibling groups of children. www.southwark.gov.uk/adoption 0300 222 5936
Foster carers long-term, short-term and respite carers are needed. www.southwark.gov.uk/fostering 0800 952 0707
Foster to adopt carers for both babies and older children. www.southwark.gov.uk/fostertoadopt 0300 222 5936
Family link carers to provide short breaks for disabled children. www.southwark.gov.uk/familylink 020 7525 5316
Come and find out more about adoption at one of our regular information meetings: Canada Water Library, 21 Surrey Quays Road, SE16 7AR, 11am-1pm. The next meeting takes place on 11 November. Please arrive promptly for an 11am start. We also hold twice weekly drop-in sessions if you just want to come along for a chat.
A fantastic full body workout on a mini trampoline burning up to 500 kcals a class! Join the thousands that are enjoying the benefits of trampoline fitness today such as fun exercise, fast results and the endorphin rush that leaves you wanting more. Classes are for both men and women, all ages, shapes and sizes. Plus Exciting news Kids Boogie Bounce classes starting November 2017 every Saturday afternoon, for children aged between 5-10 years old. Classes are fun packed with great routines, chart topping music and mini games. Send your enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org Why not try something new that is both fun, healthy and for the whole family.
CH PARTY N U A L E H T IN JO OBER 2017 T C O H T 9 Y A MOND A chance to try new classes:
Keep up to date: /boogiebounce.peckham Book your class: bookwhen.com/bbx-peckham
6.30pm-7:20pm Boogie Bounce Revolution 7:30pm-8:20pm Boogie Bounce Tickets priced at £5 each on 9th October Spaces limited book your ticket now (£2 saving)
Celebrating black history THIS YEAR’S BLACK HISTORY MONTH FEATURES A MULTITUDE OF FASCINATING AND FREE EVENTS, EXPLORING SPORT, SCIENCE, HISTORY, ART, WELLBEING, FASHION AND MORE. Here are a handful of highlights from the jam-packed programme SPOTLIGHT ON SCIENCE Garrett Augustus Morgan was a world-renowned inventor and businessman. He filed a number of patents including a hair-straightening product, an improved sewing machine and an early version of the traffic light. He also invented a breathing device to protect people in the presence of smoke and gases, which became the prototype for gas masks used in World War One to shield soldiers from toxic gas. Visitors will learn more about Morgan and his fascinating life during this interesting afternoon exploring black history and science. They can also have a go at making their own traffic light. The event takes place on October 8 and 15, 1-4pm at Dulwich Library, 368 Lordship Lane. To book your free place call 07848 389598 or email email@example.com.
Delve into the archives and research the history of your ancestors at this African-Caribbean family workshop. Visitors will learn how to use family history websites and access overseas records. There will also be tips and tools on getting the most from your research. Attendees are invited to share some of their family history stories and be part of a collective journey of discovery at the event, which takes place on October 9, 6-7.30pm at Peckham Library. If you’re interested in attending, book your free place at tinyurl.com/ancestryevent. For more information, contact Southwark’s Local History Library and Archive on 020 7525 0232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CARTOON CREATIONS This black history cartoon workshop is a must for aspiring cartoonists and black history enthusiasts. Tayo Fatunla will share skills and talk about cartoon drawings of black heroes and heroines from history. Head to the Bradfield Club at 5-13 Commercial Way on October 11 from 4-5.30pm to take part. The event is free but booking is essential – please email email@example.com or call 07802 970511 to reserve your place.
FASHION FORWARD A celebration of black culture and its influence on fashion will include an exhibition of traditional items, focusing on elegant headdress styles and accessories, head-wrapping taster sessions and a parade of creations made by parents, all set to music and live drumming. All are welcome to join the event on October 14 from 2-4pm at St Michael & All Angels Church on Wyndham Road. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIGITAL DISPLAY Works by digital artist Elaine Daley will go on show at Peckham Library. She depicts strong African and Caribbean women using explosive colours, with hints of Afropunk fused with an October/November 2017
PHOTO BY LIMA CHARLIE
Andy Warhol, pop art feel. Inspired by almost 20 years working as a solicitor assisting vulnerable people including the homeless, refugees and victims of domestic violence, Elaine uses her art to improve confidence and self-worth and to promote health and wellbeing – particularly mental health. Her work will be on display at Peckham Library from October 16-31. She will also give a free presentation at the library on October 20 from 6.30-7.30pm, where she will discuss her art journey and how it is intertwined with wellbeing. For more, email email@example.com or visit elainedaley.com/black-history-month
POWERFUL PERFORMANCE Don’t miss an exciting performance showcasing work by children from Belham and Bellenden primary schools in conjunction with Elim House, a Bellenden Road-based day centre for the elderly. It will celebrate the past while sharing future dreams, hopes and aspirations. Watch the performance on October 18, 6.30pm at Theatre Peckham, 221 Havil Street. For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7708 5401.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING South by South is the South London Gallery’s programme for innovative African cinema. For
Black History Month it will present a special health and wellbeing edition that will include a film screening and in-depth discussion in partnership with sexual health charity NAZ. The event is on October 21 from 12-6pm, with a masterclass at 12pm, a film screening at 2pm and a discussion at 4pm in the Clore Studio at South London Gallery, 65-67 Peckham Road. Message email@example.com or call 020 7703 6120 to find out more.
boxing, dance, yoga and Pilates. Well-known faces will talk about how sports have improved their mental wellbeing and there will be healthy food available including lunch from the cafeteria. The event takes place on October 25 from 10am-4pm at the Damilola Taylor Centre, 1 East Surrey Grove. To find out more, visit tinyurl.com/ sportingrecovery, email help@sportingrecovery. org.uk or call 0300 030 1233. Sporting Recovery founder Ron Bell is pictured above.
PAST AND PRESENT
Step back into the past and discover black inventors and how their creations have left a lasting impression on our lives at this Nunheadbased event. There will also be a showcase of diverse music and dance from past to present. All are welcome on October 21 from 10.30am5pm at Buchan Tenant Hall, 86 Buchan Road. For more details, email senioractivity@yahoo. co.uk or call 07930 646608.
Golden Oldies Community Care Project provides community care and support for older people in London. It aims to help elderly people maintain a healthy lifestyle and promotes dignity and independent living in later years. Come and listen to the experiences of some Golden Oldie members, including obstacles faced and significant achievements made. The stories will be shared and brought to life through a variety of readings, poetry and an exhibition. October 26, from 11.30am-3.30pm at Walworth Methodist Church, 54 Camberwell Road. Go to southwark-golden-oldies.org/activities or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
SPORTING SUCCESS Sporting Recovery is holding a celebration day promoting the positive role that sport can play in improving mental health. Visitors can enjoy sporting activities such as Kemetic (African) Yoga and an African Cup of Nations mini football tournament. Other activities available on the day will include table tennis, badminton, non-contact
For full listings of all the events taking place, visit tinyurl.com/southwarkbhm. Pictured above: Ron Bell from Sporting Recovery, which is holding an event on October 25. THE PECKHAM PECULIAR / 11
The write stuff MARK BAXTER HAS PRODUCED A DOCUMENTARY ON JAZZ LEGEND TUBBY HAYES, AS WELL AS BOOKS ON FOOTBALL FASHION, MOD CULTURE AND MORE. His novel The Mumper, based on his life growing up in south-east London, was even made into a film starring Bob Hoskins WORDS GARTH CARTWRIGHT PHOTO ALEXANDER MCBRIDE WILSON
Mark Baxter might well be called “the guv’nor”, so strong is his presence and sense of authority. Born, raised and still resident in the Camberwell and Peckham area, he’s a sharply dressed big man, who speaks of his home turf with great affection. I first came across the Walworth Road magus via Tubby Hayes – A Man In A Hurry, a superb documentary about the late, great London jazz saxophonist. It’s narrated by actor and fellow Tubby fan Martin Freeman. Mark wrote and produced the film, and a quick Google demonstrates that he is also a PR, band manager and one of south London’s most prolific authors. He has penned all manner of books on topics such as local history, mods and football fashion, as well as three novels. “It all comes out of my background in the mod world,” he explains, when I ask him where his creativity stems from. “I was 16 or 17 in 1979, when Quadrophenia came out, and that 12 / THE PECKHAM PECULIAR
connected me to the mod revival which was then underway. “My uncle was an original mod who gave me a box of records – the Small Faces, The Animals, The Kinks – and my father was a pub singer around here, who loved Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. “Through that I got a great grounding and then I thought, ‘There must be a bit more to all this than just the Carnaby Street thing’, so I went off to find out about the original jazz guys. “I found a compilation album that featured Tubby Hayes’ A Pint Of Bitter and then boom! I tried to find out about him and years later my obsession led me to making the film. Madness,” he says, and laughs. Mark started work on A Man In A Hurry in 2013 after relentlessly writing books for the previous decade. “I wanted a break from writing,” he explains, “and so I decided to make a movie. No one was
interested in financing it so I had to self-fund. “Starting out, I had no idea how expensive it would be to actually make a [feature-length] film. Licensing footage of Tubby costs a fortune and we spent £17,000 on licensing from the BBC. I thought, ‘If this doesn’t succeed then I’m financially f*****.’ Thankfully it did.” Tubby was a household name in Britain during the 1950s and 60s and had his own shows on television. He played on some of the most iconic recordings of the era, including the film soundtracks for Alfie and The Italian Job. He enjoyed a growing reputation overseas too, with Miles Davis attending his first gig in New York. He also played with greats including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, both on recordings and performing live. Tragically he passed away aged just 38 in 1973, due to ill health and escalating drug use. “Tubby would have been 80 in 2015 so we had a big day at Ronnie Scott’s, with Martin Freeman and a lot
of other good people,” says Mark. In addition to the film, the books Mark has written demonstrate the breadth of his huge enthusiasms and energies. What’s more remarkable is that he had worked for Royal Mail for most of his life and had never written anything until he began his first book in 2002. Born in Camberwell, he went to Oliver Goldsmith primary school, then on to Thomas Calton secondary school in Peckham. “I got suspended for being a disruptive pupil,” he says. “I was taken out of school for a year and I spent almost every day in the library, self-educating. “I left school with no qualifications and became a postie. In 2000 my dad died and my wife lost a baby within three months, and that was a make or break moment. It was like a fire, the grief. It set something off.” Mark had an idea for a book exploring the fashion of football from the 1960s to the 1990s. With photography by legendary snapper Terry October/November 2017
O’Neill, it looks at how the two subjects are closely linked. It focuses on players such as George Best, Steve Perryman, Mike Summerbee and David Beckham, along with other well-known names such as tailor to the stars Doug Hayward, who designed Bobby Moore’s suits. It also charts the many influential street fashions which have emanated from the terraces, from the skinheads of the late 1960s to the casuals of the mid-1970s. Fan testimonies are provided by the likes of singer Kevin Rowland and writer Irvine Welsh, among others. “I had no idea how to write,” Mark admits, “so I did all the research and met the music journalist Paolo Hewitt and we worked on it together. It came out in 2004 and did really well.” Following the book’s success, Mark decided he wanted to write a novel about the south-east London of his youth and – again teaming up with Hewitt – they produced The Mumper. “It’s a story of me and my dad,” Mark says. “‘Mumper’ is one of those words I used to get called – [it means] a bit of a ponce. We couldn’t get a deal so we self-published and I started selling it. “I’m essentially a salesman,” he explains, when I ask how he went about shifting copies. “I’ve always been a hustler. If I’ve got a product, I’ll sell it. I used Myspace and the pubs and clubs and sold it. “The day I knew it was going to work was when I got a call from my cousin who worked on building sites. He said he’d read it and all his mates wanted it. And these are guys who only ever read the paper. “I then got an agent and sold the book to a real publisher and then the film rights. And that was me out of the nine till five. “I received a chunk of money and have been
They live in Essex and Kent but come back for Millwall and pie and mash Mark Baxter
self-employed ever since – peddling like crazy!” The Mumper was later turned into a film called Outside Bet starring Bob Hoskins, Jenny Agutter and Phil Davis. “Jenny, who lives in Camberwell, plays my mum,” says Mark. “She was waiting at the bus stop one day and my mum went up to her and said, ‘You’re playing me in a film!’ Jenny thought it was just some mad old lady,” he laughs. “At the premiere I introduced my mum to her and she said, ‘Remember me?’ It’s amazing to have a film made so I’m very proud of it. Bob Hoskins was a lovely gentleman. It was an incredible thing to hear him speaking the lines I’d written.” Mark then joined forces with Darren Lock, who collects photos of south-east London. “Once you become self-employed you have to make a wage,” Mark says. “So I thought, ‘What other ideas do I have?’ I met Darren, saw his photos and said to him, ‘That’s a book.’” The result of their collaboration was Walworth
Through Time, which was published in 2010 and was an instant hit. “We sold it in pubs, tailors, clubs and pie and mash shops like Arments on Westmoreland Road,” says Mark. “A lot of the people who bought it don’t live in the area now – they live in Essex and Kent but come back for Millwall and pie and mash. They loved the book. Then the publisher said, ‘It’s become one of our bestsellers so let’s do another.’ Now we’ve done three.” Mark again teamed up with Hewitt to produce The A-Z Of Mod, a book that’s sold strongly internationally. “We spoke to lots of original mods and got great stories about the clothes, the tailors and the bands,” he says. “It’s a starting point for kids who are just getting into it.” In 2011 came his next book, titled Elizabeth, Peter & Me. “That was the first novel I wrote by myself,” he says. “It’s about an older criminal in south-east London. Someone once said to me, ‘Write about what you know’, and I did. “The book predicts the Hatton Garden heist –
an old criminal, a diamond robbery, burying it in the cemetery. I got a film option on it but then the real Hatton Garden robbery [in 2015] killed it.” Taking a break from writing, Mark produced the Tubby Hayes documentary before going back to books to pen A Hard Day’s Month with writer Ian Snowball, a novel that was published in June this year. It’s an engaging, coming-of-age story set in 1963, which tells of two teenage Beatles fans who leave London to seek out their heroes. The protagonists are two 16-year-old girls, making the book a decided departure from Mark’s other projects. However, as with all he writes, it brims with detail, passion for music, youth culture and the simple pleasures of life. “Ian’s done lots of music biographies and he had an idea for a novel but was having trouble with the dialogue, so he asked me to come in and I got drawn in,” Mark says. “I always loved The Beatles and can see this book being developed into a TV drama. It’s an end of innocence story.” In 2016 they published another book together, Ready Steady Girls, a series of photos documenting the female fashion icons of the mod era. “We crowdfunded it, published a thousand and they sold out immediately,” Mark says with evident satisfaction. When I ask what’s next, it appears there’s no stopping him. He’s currently working on a photobook about the late 1960s skinhead/suedehead scene and has just signed a contract to write a documentary for Sky Arts. He’s also developing another documentary on 1960s mod fashion retailer John Simons with the same team who worked on A Man In A Hurry. How, I wonder, does he fit it all in? His answer is short and straight to the point. “I just get on with things,” he says.
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Top of the shops AFTER MORE THAN THREE DECADES IN BUSINESS, NAYAM AND CHETNA PATEL ARE PREPARING TO PULL DOWN THE SHUTTERS ON THEIR MUCH-LOVED SHOP YOGI NEWS ONE LAST TIME. We popped in for a chat with the friendly couple, who will be sadly missed by the community WORDS SEAMUS HASSON PHOTO TRISTAN BEJAWN
Over the last 32 years, 123 Bellenden Road has been Nayam Patel’s home and livelihood. It’s where, in 1990, he was joined by his wife Chetna and it’s where the couple brought up their family. As owners of Yogi News, it’s also the place where Nayam and Chetna became firmly ingrained in the Peckham community. One loyal customer, Janet Skidmore, told The Peckham Peculiar: “Nayam and Chetna have created a very friendly atmosphere that has grown over the years. They’re lovely, lovely people. We will be so sorry to see them go.” The couple’s decision to retire has been deeply felt by the community. It is a decision that has been sadly hastened due to a sharp rise in rent. “The rent is going up and we can’t afford it,” Nayam explains. “I mean, rent is going up across Peckham.” “That’s especially true on Bellenden Road,” Chetna adds. “The landlord has been very good to us down the years. It’s just the market rate. It has become very trendy around here, that is why the rent has gone up.” “We’ve been here quite a long time, and we’re getting older now,” Nayam adds. “In the next few years we would have decided to go anyway, so that makes it easier. It was just forced on us a bit earlier than we had planned.” When I pop into the shop for a chat, Chetna is behind the counter and greets me with a warm smile. Nayam comes down from upstairs wearing a T-shirt, his face and arms covered in a light coat of white paint. October/November 2017
“I’ve been doing a bit of decorating to get everything ready before we leave,” he tells me. Apologising for his attire (there was really no need) he disappears back upstairs before reemerging moments later spick and span. “We’re selling off our stock at the moment,” he says. “It’s been reduced by about 75 per cent, and we have to have it all cleared before we go.” The couple have two daughters, Kiran and Kejal. Kiran, the eldest, has a degree in physics from Imperial College London and is a systems engineer for TfL. Her younger sister Kejal also holds a physics degree from King’s and works as a software engineer. Nayam came to London from Uganda in 1972 following President Idi Amin’s expulsion order on Asian people living there. As a result the family were forced to flee and the young Nayam soon found himself living in unfamiliar surroundings. “Life was, you know, difficult to begin with,” he says. “But we settled down here pretty fast and we managed. Looking back I think it was more difficult for my parents.” Chetna moved to London from India 27 years ago and quickly immersed herself in life on Bellenden Road. She has an obvious affection for the place and, in particular, for the shop. “My customers are like my family,” she says. “There are some who we’ve known since the start. There’s a 95-year-old gentleman who has come in every day for his paper for the last 30 years.” While the newly gentrified Bellenden Road may be unrecognisable from the place they moved to
all those years ago, Yogi News has remained a reassuring presence. “We haven’t changed at all actually, because a newsagent is a newsagent,” Nayam says. “We sell sweets, newspapers and tobacco and that’s it.” Nayam puts much of the area’s gentrification down to an investment by Southwark Council about 15 years ago, which he says “has worked to a certain extent”. He adds: “There were quite a few empty properties that were refurbished and the whole area has come up. But it has also resulted in a lot of changes.” “They’ve now started calling it Bellenden Village,” Chetna laughs. “It has become pretty famous, there have been a lot of newspaper articles written about this road.” The couple will close the shop at the end of October and plan to go travelling for six months. First stop is India, where they will spend some time visiting relatives before exploring other parts of the country. Then it’s back to the UK for a brief stop before heading down under to Australia. It’s a well-deserved break for the pair, who have worked all these years from 6am to 8pm, seven days a week. Nayam even delivers the morning papers himself. “We have never had an opportunity like this,” Chetna says. “We’ve only ever previously had a break for 10 days or so.” When they return from their adventure they will settle in Stanmore. “I’m looking forward to quiet walks in the countryside,” Nayam says. “We’re moving from a very busy road to a very quiet one.” “We’re so used to noise that we won’t be able
to sleep without it,” Chetna laughs. When I ask them what they will miss about Peckham, Chetna is unequivocal. “We will miss everything,” she says. “This place has been such a big part of our lives for the past 30 years. Then there are our customers; all our beautiful customers. We will miss them all.” The feeling is clearly mutual – the couple are so highly thought of that when some of their regulars heard about the rent increase, they even offered to start a petition. However, both Nayam and Chetna have accepted their fate. “The way business is, we can’t survive anymore,” Chetna says. “With rent going up and a decline in business, it has become very difficult. It isn’t just us – talk to anyone who runs a traditional business and they will tell you the same.” So how do the couple feel about saying goodbye to the shop? “These 30 years have just flown by,” Nayam says. “I keep thinking we’ve just bought a shop and now it’s time to retire.” “Last night he said to me, ‘I don’t want to leave,’” Chetna adds. “And I’m thinking, ‘I don’t want to leave either’. Sometimes I’ve got tears in my eyes, but you just have to manage.” As I’m going, Chetna kindly fills a bag of loose sweets for me – a selection of mints, rhubarb and custards and aniseed balls. It’s a lovely parting gesture from a couple who truly care about their customers. Yogi News really will be sadly missed. Pictured: Nayam and Chetna Patel with their daughters Kiran and Kejal. THE PECKHAM PECULIAR / 15
PECKHAM IN PICTURES
What a weekend PHOTOS TRISTAN BEJAWN
This year’s Peckham Festival was a huge success, with more than 200 events in SE15 celebrating the area’s unique creativity, diversity, community spirit, history and culture. The festival, now in its second year, drew thousands of visitors from Peckham, Nunhead, south-east London and beyond. A multitude of events were on offer, from walks and talks to performance, film screenings, theatre and art exhibitions. Our photographer was on hand to capture all the atmosphere and action over the long weekend, from artists’ open studios to musical performances and more. You can relive the highlights with our bumper four-page photo essay on these pages. An unmissable addition to this year’s event was the inaugural festival carnival, which was held in Holly Grove. Led by DD Projects, the Movement Factory and Pomba Girls, it saw the street filled with people and transformed into a giant dancefloor. The music stage at Copeland Park was also a big draw and introduced festival-goers to some of Peckham’s best musical talent, with a Sunday night finale featuring surprise guest Bradley Zero. During the weekend about 70 artists, designers, makers and creators opened their studios to the public, with many offering taster workshops and introductions to artistic and creative practice. Festival volunteer and Peckham resident Rachel Kareem said: “The festival was a celebration of everything Peckham. The launch night at the 16 / THE PECKHAM PECULIAR
Peckhamplex showed videos of Peckham dating back over a century – very pertinent, considering change has been on my mind. “The weekend had a strong emphasis on people of colour and Peckham’s LGBTQIA+ community, with the gal-dem film fest and the BBZ installation, which was a look into the lives of some remarkable queer, trans and non-binary people of colour. “Sunday was carnival – Holly Grove was transformed into a mini-celebration of Caribbean culture; a day that was mainly hosted by community groups, charities and voluntary organisations. “It was a day that truly appealed to a lot more indigenous Peckhamites, with an even more mixed crowd due to the beauty of the music, and real ‘community’ in Peckham to bring people together. This was the day the Peckham I grew up in was really reflected.” Jordana Leighton and Ian Graham, co-directors of the festival, said: “Peckham Festival 2017 truly felt like a celebration of everything Peckham, thanks to all of those who hosted, curated and performed across the weekend. “Above all, it would not have been Peckham Festival without the 70-strong volunteers who supported it. Plans are already being made for 2018 and we hope to build upon the success of this year and welcome even more people in SE15 to Peckham Festival.” Next year’s Peckham Festival will take place on September 14-16. October/November 2017
PECKHAM IN PICTURES
THE PECKHAM PECULIAR / 17
PECKHAM IN PICTURES
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PECKHAM IN PICTURES
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Wheels of fortune WILSON’S CYCLES OPENED ITS DOORS ABOUT 150 YEARS AGO AND IS PECKHAM’S OLDEST BUSINESS. Owner Steve Hume tells us more about the shop’s rich history and its well-known former proprietor WORDS GARTH CARTWRIGHT PHOTO LIMA CHARLIE
Wilson’s Cycles is the oldest business in Peckham. Ever since it first opened its doors about 150 years ago, in an age before electricity and automobiles, it has sold bicycles and the parts needed to service them. Owner Steve Hume, who took over the Peckham High Street shop in 1995, is an excellent bicycle mechanic. I’ve been making use of Wilson’s for almost 20 years now and have never been disappointed. Steve is also an affable proprietor, who welcomes customers with a broad smile and is happy to discuss local history. Having grown up in nearby Lyndhurst Way, he knows the area well and is a proud south Londoner. “Wilson’s opened some time in the 19th century,” he says. “The oldest record of its existence that [Peckham-based] historian John Beasley could find when going through local records was 1870, but that’s not to say it wasn’t in business before then. “[Harold] Wilson was the founder and then it went to his son Arthur Wilson, who handed it down to his son Norman Wilson. “Anyone who came in would remember Mr Wilson in his khaki-coloured coat. All the shopkeepers used to wear them. “Norman largely worked by himself and this was the only cycle shop in Peckham. He would have been about 70 when I first came into the shop, so he seemed ancient to me. He wasn’t a very talkative man. “I’d buy bits and pieces here and tinker around at home. I came in aged 12 to buy a back wheel and when he presented it to me I said, ‘Where are the cogs?’ And he said, ‘You have to take them off 20 / THE PECKHAM PECULIAR
your old bike and put them on.’ I remember him doing that for me. “Many Peckham people remember Norman as he was here forever, running the shop all his life. It was the only job he ever had and he kept it until he died in 1995 aged 91. He was the last of the Wilsons and never married or had kids.” So how did Steve come to take over the shop? “Living locally and having long been a customer – I first came here in 1976 to buy a puncture repair kit – I was aware that Wilson’s had been shut for five or six months,” he says. “Then word got round that Norman had died. “I was managing a cycle shop on the New King’s Road at the time but fancied having my own business, and Wilson’s was perfect for me. I made some enquiries and became owner in 1995.” Running Wilson’s has made Steve something of an expert on the shop’s interesting history. “Wilson’s used to manufacture its own bikes – I’ve seen a picture from 1902 of a Wilson’s bike for sale for £12. “During World War One the small workshop out back where they built the bikes got requisitioned and they had to start making parts for the military. Wilson’s used to export internationally – an old document lists the prices in pounds, dollars, roubles etcetera. “When I first starting coming to the shop you couldn’t see inside, as the windows were boxed in and you had big frosted glass doors to enter through and a dark wood interior. Norman was very set in his ways, Victorian really, and had made no effort to change with the times. “The window always had the prices in pounds,
shillings and pence [long after Britain went decimal in 1971], until the 1981 Brixton riots spread to Peckham and the front window got smashed. After that some more modern things got put in. “When I took over in 1995 the place was filthy. Everything had been kept in cardboard boxes – none of the fancy packaging you get now – and they were covered in dust. I took down the window boxes and the frosted doors – I wanted people to see in and me to see out. “In 2008 I replaced the original timber entrance because it was rotting away. Also the door was set within the entrance rather than on the street, which meant drug dealers and such made use of it. “I used to get architecture students and people from English Heritage coming down just to see the entrance, as it was a relic of Victorian architecture not often found. “If they’d been willing to put some money up for the repair I would have been happy to have kept it, but that was never on the cards. Other than that very little has been done to the shop.” Indeed, Wilson’s original wooden bench still survives and the steel stand Steve fits bikes to also hails from a century ago. Another tradition is Steve’s refusal to take payment by card. He also maintains Wilson’s ethos of providing same-day repairs, spares and accessories. “Wilson’s has always been a communityorientated shop,” says Steve, and it has certainly maintained that ethos, with a constant flow of people popping in as we chat. They include old friends who have known Steve all his life, people wanting repairs or advice,
cyclists demanding intense discussions on the pros and cons of London cycling and youths who just want their tyres pumped up (“50p mate”, says Steve to such requests). One customer is Mark Pearman, a local whose family has lived in Peckham since the 1860s. He’s a generation older than Steve so remembers Norman Wilson well. “Wilson’s Cycles was like that Two Ronnies sketch of the four candles,” he says. “It was a Victorian shop, very dark and it smelt of rubber. Norman’s sister used to work here in the 60s. She had a pink Cadillac that she used to park outside and it would take up most of the road. “To me Wilson’s was like a sweet shop – there were all these bikes in the window that I couldn’t afford. There was a showroom upstairs with lots of cycles and a lovely brown lino floor. “The shop was shut for a year in the 1980s and we all thought Norman must have died. Then it reopened. I came in and said, ‘You’re here?’ and he replied, ‘Yeah, I got fed up and went on a world cruise on the QE2.’ He was grumpy, as a lot of old shopkeepers are. “I’ve seen a print of the Peckham Cycling Club from 1867 so this was always a popular area for cycling. “Legend has it that Charles Dickens bought a bicycle in Wilson’s. His mistress used to live in Nunhead so he certainly used to come down this way.” Steve smiles at the Dickens story. “It is interesting that I own the most historic shop in Peckham,” he says. “I like the fact that while so much has changed, Wilson’s keeps going.” October/November 2017
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“Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires” A thrilling new version of Shakespeare’s most violent and chillingly evil play, charting the bloody rise and downfall of the legendary warrior Macbeth. Set in a post apocalyptic Britain 100 years in the future, civilisation and technology has been all but obliterated and survivors face a daily fight for survival.
31 October – 18 November BUSSEY BUILDING The CLF Theatre, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham, London SE15 4ST
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Live performance & film collaboration Shadow Opera presents a multimedia cabaret, bringing together 4 incredible opera singers, 10 of London’s finest young film-makers, and cabaret superstar Frieda Love. Grab a gin, download the event app, and let us seduce you with a night of musical oddities!
9, 10, 11 November, 8pm. COPELAND GALLERY, Peckham. BUY TICKETS NOW: £15 from shadowopera.com/stop-all-the-clocks Use offer code JOHNNY for £3 off per ticket (limited availibility)
Flat chat FLATSHARE IS A NEW FILM SERIES THAT ADDRESSES A RAFT OF TOPICAL ISSUES, FROM ONLINE DATING TO GENTRIFICATION AND THE HOUSING CRISIS. Creator James Barber tells us about some of the personal experiences that inspired him to write it WORDS EMMA FINAMORE PHOTO ALEXANDER MCBRIDE WILSON
Peckham has been no stranger to the screen – both small and silver – over the decades, with its streets taking centre stage in shows like Desmond’s, Only Fools and Horses and Youngers, and in films such as Gone Too Far and SuperBob. Soon the area will make its internet film debut, in a new series centred around a group of young people and focusing on everything from LGBTQ issues and gentrification to online dating. Flatshare follows the stories of four diverse housemates, living together in a run-down flat in Peckham. In each episode viewers will be taken on a riveting journey, delving into the lives of the characters and using them to look at important issues, both individual and collective. “I wanted to create something that reflected my own experiences and the people within my inner circle, because I don’t see us being properly represented in mainstream media,” says creator James Barber, a journalist who has worked for the BBC, CNN, the Independent, Huffington Post and the Times. The series will address the housing crisis (James was initially inspired to write it after seeing the hashtag #VentYourRent) and the challenges of living together in an almost uninhabitable flat. It will also examine dating in the digital age, sexual identity, racism and prejudice – issues that James says he has dealt with and has been personally affected by as a black gay man. Gentrification is another topic he has experienced first-hand and wanted to relay on screen. On the crowdfunding page for Flatshare, he talks about growing up in south-east London and how much it has changed. He says it has gone from “being predominantly urban working class areas into thriving cultural hotspots. But this sudden change has resulted in soaring house prices, unaffordable rent, the closing of local businesses, and the displacement of communities.” James, who was born and raised in East Dulwich, says that even though Lordship Lane is just a three-minute walk from his grandmother’s house, she rarely goes; it’s simply too expensive. Instead, he says, she walks (despite a bad leg) with her shopping trolley to Peckham. But he fears that Peckham might not be an affordable place to shop for his grandmother – and people like her – for much longer. “I saw this article in the Sunday Times the other day [that] branded Peckham a ‘middle-class hotspot for hipsters’, which I have a serious problem with,” he says. “It’s great that money is coming into the area, but who is it benefiting? Is it creating more jobs for the local people who already live in the area? Or is the so-called regeneration of Peckham only set up to benefit a select few?” It’s a change that’s having a direct impact on him, looking to buy a home near his family, but unable to find anything within budget. “All of my immediate family live in south London [and] I’d like to be near them. “But unless the government decides to build more affordable homes and not these luxury apartments I see popping up everywhere, I don’t see that happening any time soon,” he says, October/November 2017
telling a story many young Londoners will be familiar with. “Yes we need more homes in London,” he says. “[However] most apartment blocks that are being built now in south London are being sold to offshore investors way before they hit the UK market, but are being presented as these
affordable, community spaces. It’s all a farce. “What angers me is that the council are stupid enough to believe that people aren’t aware of what is happening. We have a huge housing crisis in London. Young people like myself can’t get our foot on the property ladder. “We’re being forced to pay extortionate
amounts of rent for properties that are barely liveable, and it’s unacceptable. If the government fails to keep its promise of building more affordable homes there will be more social unrest.” One Flatshare episode in particular looks at gentrification in detail, when a Peckham shop owner is forced to sell up to a wealthy businessman because he can no longer afford the rent. “When I first wrote that episode it was a bit of a rant, but then I added more layers to make it more complex, as gentrification is not a ‘black and white’ issue,” explains James. “It’s a really juicy episode because it’s exploring the complexities around privilege in terms of who gets to speak on behalf of oppressed groups,” he adds, “and what it means to be an ally to people who don’t share the same privilege as you do.” The Flatshare characters themselves are as close to his heart as the storylines, with each of the four leading roles reflecting an aspect of his own personality. Seb represents the activist in him; Omar is the “spiritual seeker”; Kemi is the intellect, and Tom the rebel. “Developing the characters and the storylines was a very organic process,” he says. The characters are portrayed by a group of young actors with plenty of experience, both on stage and screen. Lewis Brown, who plays Omar, has appeared in short films as well as stage productions such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Lauren Cato (Kemi) – who in Flatshare is trying to find a man her strict Nigerian parents will approve of – has starred in the web series My Fake Valentine and has appeared in feature films like Night Bus as well as two short films this year. Andrew Rowe, who plays Tom, has several short films and TV shows including Banana to his name, along with theatre productions and the feature film Great Expectations. Callum Tempest, who is Seb, has acted in plays including Dick Whittington and The Man of Mode. When Flatshare is released later in 2017, James hopes his audience will be left with a deeper understanding and appreciation of London’s diversity, and how – despite these differences – Londoners are all connected. He thinks this is more important than ever in light of recent events. “One of the reasons I created four very different leading characters is that I wanted to show the beauty of London’s rich diversity, but also the conflict it can create,” he explains. “We see that on the news all the time, we see it on social media, but when something tragic like Grenfell happens, you also see communities coming together to support and help one another. That’s the shared humanity within us – that’s what I want the series to speak to. “Yes, I’m highlighting social issues, but through Flatshare I want to show that we are more alike than we are different, and that ultimately we are all seeking the same thing.” The pilot episodes of Flatshare will be released in late November and will be available to watch at tinyurl.com/flatsharefilms THE PECKHAM PECULIAR / 23
Bourne and bred STEPHEN BOURNE’S IMPORTANT BOOKS ON BLACK AND GAY BRITISH HISTORY SHINE A SPOTLIGHT ON UNDER-REPRESENTED CHAPTERS FROM THE UK’S PAST. We meet the Camberwell resident, historian and author as Black History Month begins in SE15 WORDS GARTH CARTWRIGHT PHOTO TRISTAN BEJAWN
Stephen Bourne is a leading historian, specialising in black British and gay British history. He’s also a native son of SE15. “I was born in a hospital in Camberwell, St Giles’. It doesn’t exist anymore,” he says. “I grew up in a council flat on Sceaux Gardens Estate on the Peckham Road in a very happy, working class family. “It was lovely growing up there in the 1960s and 70s. Everything we needed was there – trees to climb, a park to play in, Peckham Odeon cinema and the old Peckham library. My sister used to take me there when I was very young and that’s where I got my love of reading. “My grandparents lived on Queen’s Road on the Acorn Estate. My mum worked in a shoe shop on Rye Lane and my granddad was night watchman at Jones & Higgins, a famous department store at the start of Rye Lane – today only the clock tower remains.” Stephen went to Oliver Goldsmith primary school “and then to a secondary modern in Camberwell called St Michael’s”, he says. “I was 24 / THE PECKHAM PECULIAR
very unhappy as it was a third-rate education, so I used to bunk off school and go and visit my older relatives in Fulham. “I used to talk to my great aunts about their lives. Aunt Esther was different as she was black and born in Fulham in 1912 – she was adopted by my great grandmother during World War Two. They were neighbours and when Esther’s father was killed in the Blitz, she was left without any family, so Granny welcomed her into ours. “It really caught my imagination hearing a black, working class woman talk about growing up in London. So long before I started writing books, I learnt about the importance of firsthand testimony.” Stephen’s first job was “working in the dole office in Peckham – a very unsatisfactory job but I had to earn a living”, he says. He then went to London College of Printing as a mature student in 1985 and wrote for The Voice newspaper during the 1980s. “After I graduated in the 1980s there was a real push to get ordinary people’s lives written down,”
he says. “In Peckham we had the Peckham Book Place. It was a book shop and publisher [on Peckham High Street] – young people could go there and do poetry and stuff like that. It was a wonderful place, very encouraging. It published pamphlets by local Polish and African and Traveller communities. “I’d been interviewing Aunt Esther, capturing her stories. In the late 1980s I approached the Peckham Book Place about her and they said, ‘You must do a book.’ That’s how I got started in writing black history and oral history.” The Sun Shone On Our Side Of The Street: Aunt Esther’s Story was Stephen’s first book. Published in 1991 as part of the Ethnic Communities Oral History Project, it featured on the cover of Spare Rib, sold out and a second edition was printed. Inspired to continue researching and writing black history, Stephen began work on a book close to his heart. Brief Encounters: Lesbians and Gays in British Cinema, 1930-71 was published in 1996 to wide acclaim.
He followed this with a companion book of sorts – 2001’s Black In The British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television. These ambitious books discussed how two prominent minorities had been represented in British cinema and TV. “Both of them were very successful and gave me a foot in the door,” says Stephen, who was working as a library assistant across Southwark libraries at the time. He also became involved in police-community liaison. “In 1994 I was invited to join the Southwark Police and Community Consultative Group,” he says. “That came about because of the Brixton uprisings. “In a very short space of time I realised the police [were] not tackling homophobic crime in this borough and as a consequence, in 1995, I was at the front of bringing together a consultancy on homophobia with Southwark Council and police and the LGBT community. “I’ve always believed in bridge building and being a critical friend to the police. I don’t see October/November 2017
myself as a political activist. The way I approach my activism is to build bridges and win trust. Partnership is the key.” Stephen’s enthusiasm for black British history has seen him ensure that major figures in Southwark’s history are honoured. “I managed to get a blue plaque for George Roberts, a Trinidadian soldier in World War One and fireman during World War Two, who settled in Peckham then shifted to Camberwell,” he says. “The plaque was unveiled on Warner Road last year. “I also wrote a local booklet about Dr Harold Moody, the Jamaican doctor who settled in Peckham and was a local GP from 1911-47. He was a community leader for the early black community in Peckham.” In 2008 Southwark Council published the booklet to be distributed free to local schools. Alongside working with the police, in libraries and his community activism, Stephen doggedly kept researching and writing. He has published several biographies of overlooked black female singers – Elisabeth Welch: Soft Lights and Sweet Music; Ethel Waters: Stormy Weather; and Evelyn Dove: Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen – all of which make for fascinating reading (the latter is beautifully illustrated with period photos). Yet he says he often struggles to find publishers for his books and coverage in the media. “I’ve always wanted to write,” he says. “Unfortunately, mainstream publishers in this country are very conservative and won’t take risks. And where there used to be lots of left wing and feminist publications, there now are very few. “Somewhere like Radio 4 gives me no attention at all. It took me eight years to get Mother Country: Britain’s Black Community On The Home Front 1939-45 published.” The book
Long before I started writing books, I learnt about the importance of first-hand testimony Stephen Bourne
was eventually printed in 2010 by the History Press and has done very well. Stephen followed Mother Country with two more books looking at the black British community and the two world wars. The Motherland Calls: Britain’s Black Servicemen & Women 1939-45 and Black Poppies: Britain’s Black Community and the Great War both brought forward much valuable history and ensured that Stephen became an in-demand speaker. “The black community are nothing but positive towards my black history books,” he says. “When Black Poppies was published the response was phenomenal. I’ve been everywhere with that book – the Houses Of Parliament, the Imperial War Museum. “When black families come up and say, ‘Thank you for doing the book’ it is heart-warming. You know you’ve done the right thing, because in the school curriculum there is no place for black British history.
“One of the most wonderful things was being invited back to Oliver Goldsmith – I left there in 1969 and got invited back in 2015 to talk to the kids. It was like stepping back in time – the interior looked the same as when I was there. “The children were wonderful and the school bought 12 copies. I’ve tried very hard to work with the Department for Education to get Black Poppies into more primary and secondary schools but it falls on deaf ears, which is heartbreaking as I know it would be well received in schools across the UK.” Keeping with his theme of researching the two world wars, Stephen’s latest book looks at gay British men who were soldiers in Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars. “People are very confused – they think I’ve written a book on black gay soldiers,” says Stephen with a chuckle. “I’ve only written one gay history book before [Brief Encounters: Lesbians & Gays In British Cinema 1930-71] and
that came out in 1996 and did wonderfully. “The honest truth is that in 2012, BBC History Magazine commissioned me to write about gay men’s lives in World War Two. An editor at IB Tauris read the feature, loved it and contacted me asking if I’d like to work it up into a book. Of course! “What comes with age and experience is confidence, and I’ve reached a point in my writing career where I knew I could write a really good book. But, my goodness, when I sat down to write it so many great stories were revealed to me. “I insisted it be published in July 2017 as it’s the 50th anniversary of the partial repeal of laws punishing gay sex. And I also insisted that I could write the hidden histories and not have to go on about Alan Turing and Lawrence of Arabia.” The book, he says, practically wrote itself. “Everything just seemed to flow. It was a wonderful experience. There’s lots of funny stories – people need to realise it’s not all doom and gloom. “It’s a book written not just for the gay community but for everyone. The parameter is my niece, who couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get married when I was 18 years old. This is a book for everyone who doesn’t know the history.” Stephen loves his work but admits it’s not easy making a living as a writer. “It’s bloody hard work and even harder when you can’t get funding – I’m not an academic,” he says. “But I am getting more recognition. Having left school at 16, I’m now getting an honorary fellowship from London South Bank University for my contribution to diversity at their graduation ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in October. Isn’t that amazing?”
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Park life PENNY METAL HAS IDENTIFIED A STAGGERING 555 DIFFERENT TYPES OF INSECT LIVING IN A SMALL PARK IN PECKHAM. Now she’s published a book on her findings, which include the first sighting of a mosaic leafhopper in the UK WORDS MIRANDA KNOX PHOTO PENNY METAL
At first glance, Warwick Gardens – the small park located behind Lyndhurst Grove – appears a pleasant but relatively insignificant green space. It’s tiny for a start, consisting of just 1.52 hectares of grassy land maintained by Southwark Council, with a football pitch and a children’s play park, a couple of picnic benches and a wild meadow. It’s often regarded as a shortcut to Camberwell, and unassumingly nestles between the train tracks and a row of back gardens. But on closer inspection there’s so much more to this small south London park, which is just minutes away from bustling Rye Lane and Bellenden Road. Graphic designer Penny Metal has lived in Peckham 24 years and has been visiting the space almost every single day for the last six, keeping a record of the smaller, less assuming park regulars – the insects. “I’ve always been interested in insects to an extent, and initially liked bumblebees in particular,” says Penny, when we meet in the park for a chat. “The design and engineering of insects is amazing. “I had a Canon 550D camera and a macro lens. I started taking pictures of bumblebees and then I got really into it. The idea behind the photography is to show people the beauty of insects.” Penny expected to find a handful of interesting insects to photograph, but the little park has exceeded expectations – so much so that she’s now collated a 236-page book on the various species living within the patch. “I expected to find about 50 insects but my count is now 555,” she says. “The council leaves the area to the side of the football pitch as a meadow and it’s full of plants like yarrow, which October/November 2017
attracts tachinid flies, butterflies, bees and wasps. “There are days you can come and there isn’t anything,” she admits. “It all depends on the weather. Sometimes you can be here for three hours spotting things. I’m still discovering more – in April I found a hoverfly I’d never seen.” Penny chose to survey Warwick Gardens – which won a Green Flag award recognising it as a well-managed park in 2012 – partly for convenience (she lives on nearby Choumert Road) but also for its normality. “I like the fact it’s just your average park – on the surface it looks nothing special,” she says. “I started visiting and realised I really enjoyed it. I’d come round every day, fascinated about what I could find and where I could find it, and spotting things I’d never seen before.” While they might be tiny, Penny has an eye for recognising insects most park-goers wouldn’t give a second glance. For example, not many people will have been lucky enough to spot one of the park’s three 10p-sized wasp spiders, so-called for their striking patterned bodies. Penny explains: “Wasp spiders first appeared in the UK in the 1990s. I noticed them the first year I came to Warwick Gardens – we had one. Now I’m really pleased that we have three.” However, getting to know the park’s diminutive dwellers isn’t without its challenges, she says. “It’s been a massive learning curve over the years – I knew the basics but then you suddenly start delving in a bit and you think, ‘Blimey, what’s that?’ “Twitter, Facebook and Flickr have been amazing because you’ve got a whole load of people who are also taking pictures of insects,
and it’s a way of finding out what it is you’ve seen. There’s a lot of specialist groups. “I know the park so well, so when I see something I’ve never seen before I get so excited,” she adds. “There used to be a big ivy bush that got cut down last September, which is where I discovered the mosaic leafhopper. I called it the Peckham leafhopper. “It was the first sighting of it in the UK, and it put Warwick Gardens and Peckham on the entomological map. I’ve looked every day for it but it’s gone now unfortunately. I’m gutted. Last year we had 10 nymphs, so they were beginning to establish themselves here. “For me, it’s about promoting the idea of a small, insignificant park and what you can find in it. The Peckham leafhopper did that – it increased interest. I’ll still see someone with a sweep net, or others come and look around because they’ve seen on social media what you can find. “Another insect the Natural History Museum was very interested in was the mottled shieldbug – that’s come from France, and we have one of the biggest populations in London in this park. When I first found them in 2011 it got a lot of reaction online.” Other insects residing in the park include the endangered stag beetle, which has been spotted flying on warm evenings during late spring and early summer. The beetles typically grow up to 9cm long and have a life cycle of several years. How one of Peckham’s smallest parks has such an array of wildlife within its iron gates is a slight mystery. “We’ve got gardens along here so they come in through planting, plus we’ve got the trains so a lot of things get swept in,” says Penny.
“It’s also really protected – it’s like a mini climate. There’s absolute full sunshine in some areas because it’s south facing, so it’s a real good habitat for plants and insects. We have southern oak bush-crickets, buddleia attracting butterflies and lilac.” Sadly various factors mean some insects don’t survive. “We did have a scarce fungus weevil that used to live in one of the logs,” Penny says. “Apart from the Peckham leafhopper it was one of the best beetles I’d seen. “When you look through insect identification books you think, ‘I’d love to see one of those’ and for him to be in this park you needed a certain kind of fungus that is indicative of old woodland. Sadly I think the foxes took all the fungus and a spider got him in the end. “The whole point of my book is to include [these insects] in our community,” she adds. “Having lived here for 24 years, I’ve been looking at what’s going on in Peckham and looking at what’s happening in the park too. “We’ve got more people coming into the park and into Peckham now and everyone wants to put their own stamp on it. For me it’s about looking after the old residents, and being a bit careful about those who live here already – just to be aware.” Insectinside: Life in the Bushes of a Small Peckham Park costs £20 and is available now from Review bookshop or from insectinside.me. All Peckham Peculiar readers are invited to the book launch at Review, 131 Bellenden Road, on October 8 at 1.30pm. A walk around Warwick Gardens will follow at 3pm. THE PECKHAM PECULIAR / 27
A Peckham puzzle PECKHAM RESIDENT TIM RICHARDS HAS PHOTOGRAPHED A SELECTION OF STREET ART FROM PECKHAM, NUNHEAD AND EAST DULWICH. Can you guess what streets theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re from without looking at the answers below?
ANSWERS 1 Railway arches, Peckham Rye Station 2 Choumert Road 3 Adys Road 4 Brimmington Park 5 East Dulwich Grove 6 Cheam Street 7 Meeting House Lane 8 Surrey Canal Path 9 Mission Place 28 / THE PECKHAM PECULIAR
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285 Rye Lane, Se15 4UA firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7358 9150
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Proud to be Peckham PECKHAM CART DELIVERS LOCALLY MADE FOOD TO BUSINESSES TO RAISE CASH FOR CHARITY. The team behind it explain how they hope to build a circular economy, where money stays in the surrounding area for the beneﬁt of those who live and work here
WORDS MIRANDA KNOX
Speak to anyone who knows Peckham well and they’ll tell you how much they love the thriving local community. While there are diﬀicult ongoing issues with gentriﬁcation, council cuts and rent increases, one thing that has remained strong is local support from both residents and businesses when it comes to important issues. It’s thanks to this unwavering sense of loyalty to the area that social enterprise Peckham Cart Project has been able to relaunch, in a bid to save the Sumner Road-based charity Southwark Refugee and Migrant Project (SRMP) from the brink of collapse. Already, thanks to the generosity of local businesses and people, it has raised just over £1,000 for SRMP in three months, by selling artisan doughnuts stocked at Slow Richie’s and Old Spike Roastery. Peckham Cart’s ideology is simple. It aims to support local business by stocking and delivering locally sourced or produced food, and in turn gives back a healthy cut of its proﬁts to the charities and projects that Peckham is proud to be home to. The cart was initially founded in 2014 by talented baker Manuel Monade, 53, who has lived in Peckham for 28 years after moving here from Paris. He began by selling artisan bread and cakes from a stall in the Aylesham Centre in aid of SRMP. The cart is now co-run by Sam Oxley, 29, and Laura Harrisson, 26, who are aiming to build an online delivery service. Laura says: “Peckham Cart is a social business where we stock local produce and give back to projects that matter to local people. “We want to create a new kind of business and we want to see a circular economy, where money stays in the local area and sustains Peckham’s businesses and projects. “We’re building relationships with some amazing producers and community projects all within ﬁve miles of Peckham – such as London Smoke and Cure in Crystal Palace and Gringa Dairy on the Old Kent Road – so that we can build up the produce we supply. “It’s early days – currently we’re just stocking doughnuts while we concentrate solely on raising funds for SRMP, but we will gradually start stocking bread from Manuel and items such as cheese and pastrami too. “Once we have the funding, we’re aiming to eventually introduce hyperlocal brunch and recipe boxes that people will be able to order via our website and have delivered to their door.” Sam adds: “It’s about supporting the local area, and being proud of local businesses by stocking their produce, while giving back to projects such as SRMP, Glengall Wharf community garden and Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers and Refugees. If you can help make a diﬀerence and give people something tasty in the process, then it’s a win win.” The ﬁrst goal they’ve set their minds on is to save SRMP from closure. The charity, which was established in 1991, provides English language lessons, social activities and advice sign-posting for those who need it most. However, like all refugee charities in the area, SRMP is suﬀering from funding losses in the region of £80,000. Unfortunately this meant it lost 30 / THE PECKHAM PECULIAR
its team of four staﬀ and was unable to sustain its full advisory service. It is now completely reliant on volunteers. Peckham Cart founder and SRMP chairman Manuel explains: “We want to be able to aﬀord one part-time development manager, to oversee the running of the charity. It’s such a shame the charity is on the brink of closure after helping refugees for the last 26 years. “The cart was originally set up to raise funds for SRMP, and to raise awareness of the project in the local area, which it is still doing. “Sam and Laura have taken over the running of the project, while I produce the doughnuts to be sold, and they understand the importance of community. It’s a project that has a real commitment to Peckham.”
The idea of supplying “charitable treats” to Peckham as a way of fundraising began in 2016, when Manuel and Peckham Cart teamed up with local surplus food charity FoodCycle for a fundraising initiative. Based at All Saints Church Hall on Blenheim Grove, FoodCycle uses surplus food that would otherwise be wasted to cook up a free, threecourse meal for the local community once a week. It also began making surplus fruit jam for Peckham Cart’s doughnuts. Organised by FoodCycle leaders Sam and Laura, the doughnuts were then sold across Peckham over the summer with support from Hop Burns and Black, Slow Richie’s, The Nines and Lerryn’s, raising more than £500 and promoting SRMP’s proﬁle in the area.
Last month they had a stall selling doughnuts in Copeland Park during Peckham Festival, which sold out both days and raised about £500 for the charity. Manuel says: “Local support has been amazing, and the doughnuts have proved extremely popular. We obviously can’t plug the gap the council cuts have made, but the project is getting our name out there, and providing a steady income in the process.” Now the doughnuts are available every Saturday at Slow Richie’s on Blenheim Grove, and have just been introduced at Old Spike Roastery on Peckham Rye too. Sales are currently raising approximately £350 a month, which will increase as more businesses stock them. Until SRMP is saved, an incredible 70 per cent of the proceeds are being donated towards it, with Peckham Cart aiming to raise at least £15,000 in order to keep the charity open. Long term, Sam and Laura have their sights on creating a wider impact. Peckham Cart will set up a crowdfunding page to raise the initial cash needed to achieve its aims and expand the business. Laura explains: “We want to enable a new kind of local buying culture, where people can exchange volunteer hours at local projects for our products. “The idea is to encourage people to become actively involved in the area, not just through giving money. We want to redeﬁne what it means to be an investor, by getting people to really invest their time and skills in projects that are close to home.” Follow Peckham Cart on Instagram @peckhamcartproject or subscribe to their website, peckhamcart.com. To donate to SRMP, visit southwarksrp.org/donate Pictured above: Sam Oxley and Laura Harrisson; Peckham Cart doughnuts (photos by Cedar Film Co/Ed Schoﬁeld) October/November 2017
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We’ve just sold through No-Flies, and their service has been excellent. Both Brendan and Tony know their stuff and are very responsive - they’d reply to emails to arrange viewings at the weekends and evenings. We got lots of viewings and were very happy with the price achieved too. They also managed a complicated process between offer and exchange with patience, sensible advice and humour and I really can’t recommend them highly enough. Ali Copleston Road
We had tried selling via two other agents and found that they inflated the value of our flat in order to get our business, and were then unable to generate enough interest in it. We then put our flat on the market with No-Flies and had a flurry of interest, and accepted an offer at the asking price within a week. Laura East Dulwlch Grove
I would really recommend Brendan and Tony at No Flies. I have just sold my two bed flat through them and they were such a pleasure to deal with. They’re great value , but also very professional, knowledgeable of the local area and supportive. From them putting it on the market to finding a buyer also took just seven days. You can’t argue with that! Adrian Evan Cook Close
Only very rarely am I moved to leave a comment but the wonderful job that No Flies did selling our house in ED deserves a shout out and the encouragement for others to use them as well. Extremely pro-active, knowledgeable and great value for money, I would highly recommend instructing them. Oliver Landells Road
*Extracts from some of the many testimonials available on www.eastdulwichforum.co.uk