A SOUTH EAST LONDON MAGAZINE www.thetransmitter.co.uk
ISSUE 28 Summer 2013
al Cryste Palac val i n Fest tio -Page sec 12 a nd M a p
g n i l z o nd o n siz ut h L
R E ER M SUM
Books • Cycling • Food • Gardening • Music • News • Property
WELCOME to our summer festival issue ...
Popcorn Andy Pontin Frozen yoghurt Annette Prosser Ice cream Simon Sharville www.simonsharville.co.uk Lemonade James Balston Andy Pontin David Hopkins Barry Willis Deckchairs Alexis Bleasdale Mike Fairbrasss Frank Ingram Jonathan Main Howard Male Rachel De Thample Michael Wagg Sue Williams Beach hut www.buxtonpress.com Beer tent Transmission Publications PO Box 53556, London SE19 2TL www.thetransmitter.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org 07530 450925 @thetransmitter
magine, for a moment, a future where Russians only open restaurants in Chelsea and Crystal Palace, where CPFC are in the Premier League ... hang on a minute. Hey! It’s summer! The Transmitter is back to bring you the full SP on a whole bunch of reasons to get happy about being up here in the windy city. Indeed there is so much ‘Transition’ going on around here we are unilaterally declaring this to be New Crystal Palace. In the next issue we will be declaring full independence from under the yoke of all these numerous and shoddy local governments who surround us and are only good for collecting the bins. We will, of course, be selling Freedom for New Crystal Palace T-shirts on our website.
So, what do we have for you? Well, first up, The Crystal Palace Festival, which attracted over 5,000 punters last summer (we counted them), promises to be bigger and better than ever this year and we have all the ins and outs of it in our special 12-page section. Keeping an eye on our neighbouring postcodes, there’s a round-up of other summer festivities within walking distance (p20). We have a fab festival fashion shoot in Westow Park (p42); memories of skateboarders in Crystal Palace Park back in the 80s (p10); a look at another of our great local open spaces (p14); and, natch, all our regular spots on gardening, music, books, recipes and fashion as well as a cool new cycling page. But alas, into each life some rain must fall, as we mark the passing of another local ‘boozer’ (p9). Sadly we must also accept that Rick and Angela have finally moved on from The Grape & Grain, leaving us with only memories of precious nights of rare ales and jazzy music ... and a regular half page advert. We’ll miss you. So, it’s all happening around here and CP is ‘on the up’, for good or for evil, and The Transmitter will be taking stock, looking back, looking forward and probably looking a bit confused. But that comes with age, it is issue 28 after all. Enjoy
Cover photo: Red broderie anglaise sleeveless vest by Emily & Fin £25, Hawaiian-print skirt by Emily & Fin £40, necklace £18.95 all at Smash Bang Wallop
Disclaimer The views expressed by contributors are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect this magazine’s editorial policy or the views of any employee of Transmission Publications. So there.
! e t a k S
! n Su
Cycle Corner 40 Our new regular column for pedallers Festival Fashion 42 What are you wearing this summer? Palace Patch 50 Sue admires some controlled explosions on hairy trunks Music 52 There’s a world out there! The world being Birmingham in this case
6 The eagles have landed We were there
9 A farewell to (Paxton) Arms There’s a place for us... Or is there, here in New CP? 10 How’s your backside air? Tales from the 80s when even being in CP park was dangerous
Food 54 Rachel’s summer picnic staples Books 56 Some damn fine summer reads The [un]funnies 58 A mish-mash of bad ideas
14 Our local lake district It’s got sailing, bowling, cricket, tennis and tea. It is England 20 Round-and-about Round-up Festival fun in neighbouring postcodes
Crystal Palace Festival 24 music Metamono: To Moog or MiniMoog, that is the question 26 Kids Poetry in the park 27 festival guide The complete lowdown on the best fest 3
News & Local Events News, events, local happenings, stuff like that EMAIL US: email@example.com
PRAMALOT A new mum herself, Mathilde from Training Points knows all about finding time for proper exercise. Her new Mummy & Pram Fitness class takes place every Tuesday morning in the big park and each class costs £2 which is donated on a 3-monthly rota to chosen organisations Great Ormond Street, Anthony Nolan and Macmillan. Meet at the park entrance opposite The Grape & Grain at 11am or pop in to Training Points in Church Road for more details
Photos: James Balston
LOTTERY FUND BREATHES FIRE INTO LOCAL THEATRE
Food, glorious (Biodynamic) food The Crystal Palace Food Market launched at the bottom of Haynes Lane in May. Every Saturday you’ll find locally-sourced delights – we stuffed our faces with delicious cheeses and breads on their opening day – and if you like to chew the fat about the provenance of products sold or get advice on quick, easy recipes in which to use them, you’ll be in the right place. It’s a Transition Town project, so you can find out what else they’re up to at the same time as picking up your goodies. Find info on individual stallholders at www.crystalpalacefoodmarket.co.uk. 4
Great news for an iconic landmark! The South London Theatre in West Norwood performs over 20 shows a year drawing on talent from all over London and the South East. It is based in the Old Fire Station, one of the few surviving Victorian stations with much of its original character intact. The South London Theatre Building Preservation Trust can at last announce that it has won a development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund that could eventually be worth £1.5 million to help rescue the Grade II listed building. This will ensure that the theatre company not only continues its extraordinary artistic contribution to the local cultural landscape, but that the space is open to the public and available for many community groups to use in the future. For more information on forthcoming productions and on the SLT Building Preservation Trust, see www.southlondontheatre.co.uk
Voulez-vous Boulez avec moi? Thanks to the Friends of Westow Park this lovely green space is just getting better and better. The playground, refurbished last summer, now appeals to older children too, really coming into its own on a sunny day during the school hols (and at the Festival). The beds are looking good, the community garden is thriving and now another string has been added to the park’s bow. Walking along Church Road, you may have spied over the fence a large sandy rectangle set into the ground: boules has arrived in SE19! Paid for by funds raised by the park group, local garden company Dan Goodwin lead the build with a group of volunteers providing the muscle to move the necessary 26 tonnes of material. Find out more about how to play at www.facebook.com/ westowpark
SHOUT OUT FOR SCOUTS If any young’uns fancy – among other things – a go at rowing and sailing, the 63rd Croydon Cub, Scout and Beaver group participates in activities at South Norwood Lakes (see our feature on page 14). It may be just the thing to get them out from under your feet and having fun (and away from those screens for a precious few hours). Boys and girls welcome! Beavers (age 6-8) Thursday 6-7.30pm Cubs (age 8-10½) Wednesday 6.30-8pm Scouts (age 10½ -14) Monday 7-8.30pm www.63rdcroydonscouts.org.uk
GCSE AT THE GALLERY Every summer the prestigious Dulwich Picture Gallery collaborates with the equally prestigious Brit School of South Norwood. This year’s event on Wednesday 26 June (5.30-7.30pm) is an exhibition of the school’s GCSE art students’ work, featuring a mixture of paintings and miniature site-specific sculpture pieces, both inside and out, with the theme of Tales of the Gallery. You’ll also be able to catch students reciting their own written stories inspired by the gallery’s history and architecture. www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk
The Show Must Go On We have a history here at The Transmitter of announcing musical events in Crystal Palace Park that - not to put too fine a point on it - don’t bleedin’ happen. But this time we are confident (fingers crossed behind back) that some fabtastic, retro musical shenanigans will be coming your way in the sultry heat (fingers remaining crossed behind back) of August. Pink Floyd (not the real ones obvs), the Blockheads (not the dead ones obvs) and the Kent Sinfonia (the real ones obvs) will each be headliners for the three day event. Pink Floyd in the Park with Just Floyd (16 Aug, doors open 6pm) Music & Fun Day in the Park with the Blockheads (17 Aug, doors open 12pm) Proms in the Park with the Kent Sinfonia & fireworks (18 Aug, doors open 3.30pm) www.crystalpalacegardenparty.com Tickets from www.wegottickets.com/festivals/f/6304 5
Words & Photos By Jonathan Main
Glad all over and then some hen Kevin Phillips scored the extra-time penalty at Wembley that put Crystal Palace into the Premier League, it was the culmination of a three year resuscitation of a near-dead club and also something more. It was a reward for every single Palace fan in the ground for their support through thick and thin - and as every one of them will tell you, there has been plenty of thin. Those fans, who three years earlier had protested outside Lloyds Bank when its subsidiary, the Bank of Scotland, owners at the time of Selhurst Park, seemed reluctant to do a deal, must have been pinching themselves, if they were sober enough to find their own arms. And it was a just reward for the four-man consortium that saved the club from liquidation two days after the bank demonstration on 1 June 2010. But almost more than anything else, it was a reward for the ethos the four had inherited from the previous owners, on which they then worked so hard to improve. One of developing and nurturing and investing in homegrown talent, of building a club around a community, of being South London and Proud. A return to the Premiership had seemed unlikely at the beginning of this season when the club, on the back of a terrible nine-game run at the end of the previous campaign, were tipped as second favourites for relegation to League One - an outcome that did not seem at all unrealistic as the team lost their first three games, including an, albeit unlucky, 3- 2 home defeat to Watford on the first day. So it was no surprise that a month later when the team faced eventual league champions Cardiff at home, the scant crowd inside Selhurst Park numbered 12,757, a sharp contrast to the 33,000+ who eventually made it to Wembley.
Losing 2-0 at half-time the players eventually came back in convincing style to win 3 -2. Glenn Murray scored a hat-trick. He would later score 30 league goals for the season and become the second highest goalscorer in Europe, second only to Lionel Messi. Other players found their form. The captain Mile Jedinak had an outstanding season, Damien Delaney at centre back, resurrected a flagging career and had the season of his life. And Jonathan Williams, the next great prospect from the youth academy won his first caps for the Welsh national side. But it was the provider of the majority of those goals and the man who earned the Wembley penalty, Wilfried Zaha, who best reflects the clubâ€™s eventual achievements. Out of necessity certainly, Palace have a long and fruitful history of investing in their academy. Wayne Routledge, now playing for Swansea, is on the verge on an England call-up. Nathaniel Clyne has just completed his first season in the Premier League with Southampton and is an England under 21. Victor Moses is now playing for Chelsea in the Champions League and was Player of the Tournament at the African Cup of Nations. But it is Zaha who, almost every single Eagles fan will tell you, is the most exciting player ever to pull on the red and blue. For three seasons we watched in privileged awe as he grew in confidence, baffling opposition defences, and regularly produced the seemingly impossible. It was our secret and we were happy to keep it. Heâ€™s Just too Good for You we sang. And he was. Eventually, of course, he was too good for the Eagles too, and after he was called up for the full England team he was less of a secret. Suddenly every man and his dog had an opinion of him. Zaha played 142 times for the Palace and not one fan would begrudge him his move to Manchester United, and unless something goes seriously wrong, there
aren’t many who don’t believe that one day soon he will be recognised as one of the best players in the world. Waiting at Crystal Palace station that morning, a white-haired man in a vintage away shirt approached us. He gave us a thin smile. ‘Are you ready for this?’ he asked. ‘I’ve been a bag of nerves for a week,’ he added. This had been happening all week. People speaking in a slightly bewildered manner, not quite believing that it was true. It didn’t bear thinking about. But Phillips scored the goal and the thing that could happen, did happen and a day that was already brilliant, good-natured and sunny, turned into one that will be remembered by every Palace fan forever. Riches await. From having little or no money three years ago the owners now have a potential fortune to balance, a task made all the more onerous with the knowledge that the two owners prior to them both lost their shirts. Even before the final on-pitch firework was out, the experts had made Palace favourites to be relegated. Who were these experts? Were they the same as last year’s experts who predicted our decline, or were they new experts drafted in to replace the last lot who clearly didn’t know their A from their E. Either way we didn’t care, because for the moment anyway, as the song would have it, We Are Crystal Palace! We Are Premier League! 7
Trading Places Love a beer in the sunshine?
C as a Cu ba’s outs ide seating area rea lly hits the spot.
UP and UP it goes Our trusty posh-o-meter literally threw a cog when we waved it in the general direction of the new food emporium at the park end of Church Road. The Crystal Palace Market has both fascinated and thrilled as we’ve peeped in the windows and gasped at the refurb. At last – a butcher! At last – a fishmonger! We’re booked in for a Transmitter photoshoot and are verily champing at the bit for our nosh up : more in our next issue.
ill Mark H m e) mono fa (of Meta yl in v g in ll e is now s ino. at B a m b
Photo: Anne Caroline Weingarten
WHAT’S THE SHOPTALK ON THE STREETS?
The launch of Papagaio on Church Road has got Palace parents whooping with joy as for donkeys’ years there hasn’t been a dedicated local toy shop guaranteed to hit the spot for the last minute birthday party gift or treat. It’s colourful and spacious and owner Emma Astles has clearly enjoyed creating a jolly atmos in which to browse the shelves. The under 5s are currently the best catered for, though there are crafty and science-led toys for older children too. Then again, who among us isn’t young at heart enough to enjoy the sheer delight of the whoopee cushion? Of the many £1 goodies on the pocket money island, you’ll be heartened to hear that the Fart Whistle has been the most popular. Lovely soft reversible Duet Puppets by Trudi and chunky wooden London vehicles made by Imajo (including a black taxi and a big red bus complete with passengers) are real crowd pleasers, and there’s even a small stock of rainsuits and sunhats if the weather catches you out.
The latest vintage-lovers bible, The Rough Guide to Vintage London (with a foreword by Wayne Hemingway, and yes, available from your local bookshop) really does illustrate that Crystal Palace is firmly on the mid-century map as its South London section includes excellent reviews for a veritable cluster of SE19 shops. Growing the trend further, two new local online businesses have recently been welcomed into the vintage community. Magpie & Hen specialises in original books and toys from yesteryear and has lovely items for quirky present ideas. To Have and To Hold Vintage can provide everything you need for an old-style celebration, whether full-on wedding or intimate teaparty. Pretty glassware, table linen, colourful crockery or picnic hampers, they’ve got what you need. Their latest service is the fabulously-named Auntie’s Parties for children: retro games, robust tea-party china, pin the eye-patch on the pirate (not a real one, obvs) – if you’re looking for a more traditional birthday celebration, this is where you’ll find it.
Papagiao Mon - Sat 10am - 6pm Sunday 11am - 5pm 83 Church Road Crystal Palace SE19 2TA 020 8653 1070 www.papagaioworld.com
www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ magpieandhen www.tohaveandtoholdvintage.co.uk
DO YOU REMEMBER THE GOOD OLD DAYS BEFORE THE GHOST TOWN? (or GOODNIGHT MRS TOM) The Paxton Arms, opposite Crystal Palace station, has called last orders for the last time (after 158 years). Michael Wagg explains why he’s feeling bereft Ghost Town by The Specials rings out throughout the night, backed by a chorus of regulars: ‘all the PUBS are be-ing closed do-own’. It has quite naturally become the anthem of the night. On the TV screen 24 hour news declares ‘No more bailout’ for the Eurozone. The last game of darts is on. We probably all say this about our local but just like Barcelona FC is more than just football, the Paxton is more than a pub. It’s a common story. Pub closures are accelerating at an alarming rate. According to CAMRA figures, in the last three years 20 pubs closed in the borough of Bromley alone; the Paxton, the latest, has been sold to property developers. Councils are able to implement the 2011 Localism Act, registering pubs as assets of community value, but don’t appear inclined to do so. In the never-swept back yard I’m taking a photo. ‘That’s the last picture you’ll take of this pub,’ someone says, ‘It’s the end of an era’. The Paxton Arms Hotel was built around 1855, its first known landlord James Careless, an ideal name for the licensee of this raucous spot for locals and Palace-trippers alike. Len, a regular since the early 1970s remembers his first visit: ‘Roxy Music in the Bowl, just over the road. We came in the Paxton before the gig. It was a doubles bar – double Vodka for 2 and 6. I said to my girlfriend, “Let’s look for a house round here.”’ He’s been here ever since. Len reels off some of the characters who regularly passed through: One Shot Burgess; Little Joe, who watched molten glass from the burning Palace run down the hill past the front door; Charlie Kray, the twins’ elder brother; Geoff Capes; Keith Moon; a succession of Vietnam war draft dodgers; and on one occasion Spike Milligan, asking Len for directions to the loo. For a period in the 70s the pub also became a meeting point for the Garden Party music festivals in the Bowl: Neil Young, Arlo Guthrie, Fleetwood Mac, Mott The Hoople all played there and many of them nipped down the Paxton for a post show snifter. ‘There were lots of villains in here,’ says Len, ‘but it was a pub that would accept people.’ He concludes that you mustn’t fall in love too much, especially with
your local. Sooner or later it won’t be there anymore so you’re better off spreading yourself a bit thinner. Someone qualifies his warning: ‘when I was born, 45 years ago, there were 35 pubs in a square mile of Penge – now there’s about seven.’ My wife – known as Mrs Tom in these parts – and I shared our Monkey Do here (our joint version of a Stag & Hen Do). We sang I Got You Babe on the karaoke, or so we’re told. In recent years it was home to PISS – the Penge Institute of Soccer Skills; the West Wickham Underwater Hockey Club; the Sunday cheeseboard; the Paxton Penny Board and much more – there are dozens of places to get a drink and some food up the hill but very few proper boozers left. Granted it was pretty scruffy, the toilets did stink a bit and the ale wasn’t always up to scratch but it was ours, a local. It was the sort of place where you’d go to each other’s funeral, if that were possible. John Markham is one of the ghosts. The board outside tells of the man who courageously helped clear the wreckage of bombed out buildings on Anerley Hill – the Paxton was badly damaged by a flying bomb in 1944, and the Rising Sun just further down the hill wrecked and later demolished, now a Tesco Express – well, Markham helped just as soon as he finished his pint. What is lost is not just a good old station pub; what is lost is community, not a sense of community, but a real community. The society that a certain dead chemist tried to deny existed, but which did, and does, is once more in danger of being torn from its streets. The positive is that another pub like it, the Ivy House in Nunhead, has recently been saved by its own community, which succeeded in buying it using the Localism Act. They are now offering the community the chance to own a stake in the pub, a truly local local. No such luck for the Paxton. But people need places like this. They are as vital as water or stories or fruit – or, in fact, beer. The Specials sing on. The ghosts of Ghost Town shimmer and belch up and down Anerley Hill, their names ringing in the night – gone, but going on. Goodnight Mrs Tom. 9
Phil Burgoyne - gymnast plant
Love the Dressing Gown
Dan Adams - lien air to
t i p m a R UP What the f...
PREPARE TO BE EDUCATED ABOUT A 1980S CRYSTAL PALACE PARK YOU PROBABLY DONâ€™T KNOW EVEN EXISTED, AS A GROUP OF ONE-TIME SKATERS REMEMBER THEIR BELOVED VERT RAMP UNDER THE WALKWAY
was in the early 80s, it was The first time I ever went to Crystal Palace pe with flat bottom and it halfpi en wood a seen ever had the first time I al Palace though were the rad Cryst of s looked HUGE! My main recollection area could be a bit shady The rs. skate ramp UK of cream the sessions with people either got the where nts incide at that time. I can recall a couple of on the way to the stolen gear skate their all had or them of cr*p kicked out d a major role playe and ntial influe ramp. The Palace ramp was incredibly the remaining when time a at g skatin vert UK of ards in improving stand skateparks were disappearing. David Hopkins one making the impossible As for tricks, if you had to put money on some ide boneless. The good fronts a did He it would be Colin Taylor of Harrow. on Boxing Day for a there up board a took I once but times were great my throat cut. had and ed session. On the way home I was attack Phil Burgoyne
ramp but I would have to say So many great sessions went down on that was the best. The park had its States the the contest in 1985 before I left for on the way home. ed mugg g gettin ber remem I h. downside thoug Steve Douglas 11
in ’85. I totally The first time I skated Palace was sometime thinking ‘you want I’m ... lief disbe in it at up g lookin ber remem there were five or me to try and skate that?’ It didn’t help that Anyway, after time. the at it of out sh*t the g rippin guys six backside back to back ged mana I a day of Bottom Dwelling Saturday and every much Pretty d! hooke was I and grinds n [Hendricks] Sunday from then on was a Palace day. Lucia ramp. that on rule to used Matt Bain
Colin Tay lor - frontside
n Hendricks Most of the tricks that Danny Webster or Lucia so much style had they se becau best the of some were did Buz got badly and control. I remember a Harrow skater called ie ‘Deaf Aid’ Robb was it ly tunate Unfor once. up n beate e because he is Newell that found him and couldn’t tell anyon . dumb and deaf Darryl Jame s in London, so We were from Surrey and Crystal Palace was still children from were we as dating intimi s alway was n Londo lots of grass the suburbs. The ramp was in a sick location, the rain stayed off so , bridge the under was it and where every it to a point. Jason Lunn
Billy Smit h - lien air
Barry Abrook - layback air 12
Photos by David Hopkins
Danny Webster - layback air
Paul Roberstson - slob air
ricks d n e H n Lu c i e handplant
For a while it was the only credible vert venue in London - when progressive vert ramp skating was ALL that mattered. 1981-198 6. Highlights from that place include Lucian slamming four wheels on the 8-foot roof before re-entering a backside air [and the] Euro Skate ’82 contest with Neil Danz sessioning with Claus Grabke and pushing his backside airs to heights not seen in the UK until then. Any time an out of town crew dropped in it alwa ys turned up the dial. The ramp was ‘on the tour’ and we always got a visit from whoever was in town . The ramp was smashed up with out consent by a Bromley Council bulldozer on Chri stmas Eve 1986. If I had three words on Crystal Pala ce right now, they would be: Take Me Back. Dan Adams Memorie s colle cted by Zac at ww w.caughtinthecrossfire.co m
Photos by Barry Willis (www.barrywillis.com)
LAKE’S HEAVEN SLIGHTLY OFF THE BEATEN TRACK – AND PERHAPS UNKNOWN IF YOU’RE NEW TO THE AREA – THIS LOCAL GREEN SPACE ONCE PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE WITHIN INDUSTRIAL CROYDON. TODAY YOU’LL FIND A REAL HIVE OF COMMUNITY ACTIVITY SAYS ALEXIS BLEASDALE 14
I had been living in Crystal Palace for nearly six months when I discovered South Norwood Lake and Grounds. ‘Have you been to the Lakes?’ a neighbour asked me. ‘Of course!’ I replied. ‘I love the dinosaurs.’ ‘Not those lakes,’ she said. ‘The Lakes on Auckland Road.’ That I had been living around the corner from a free child-entertaining, duck-feeding location for this length of time and not discovered it left me feeling a little silly. But then I decided the joke was on her as the Lakes turned out to be singular. I now visit regularly (I have placed blame for the misnomer squarely in the lap of local estate agents) and recently discovered that this beauty spot has a fascinating history. 15
The site of the lake and grounds was once divided into common land and woodland owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Until the end of the 18th century Norwood was pretty wild and inaccessible, and the woodland formed a part of the Great North Wood. Part of the wood still exists on the grounds, running between the playground and Auckland Road. Other remnants nearby include Beulah Heights and Stambourne Woods. At the end of the 19th century a canal was proposed to link Croydon, a market town, to London and the Thames. Two reservoirs were built, one at Sydenham and one at South Norwood. The canal was constructed using a system of locks. The lakes would collect water from feeder streams to top up the canal, which ran from West Croydon via South Norwood, Penge Woods, Sydenham, Forest Hill, Brockley and New Cross to Deptford. The canal system was fully operational by 1809. Horsedrawn barges travelled to the London market and port, bringing coal and other products back to Croydon. Norwood itself had changed tremendously in the 19th century. According to Alan R Warwick in The Phoenix Suburb: â€˜In its day, the canal was a waterway of charm, a resort of boaters, strollers, anglers, skaters and bathers. Picnic parties resorted to its wooded fringes and the gardens that ran down to the tow-path. Horsedrawn barges with their assorted loads moved from lock to lock in leisurely procession.â€™ Sadly the canal was to last only 30 years. The Canal Company raised its money via tolls on the goods carried by its barges, and 16
WE ARE SAILING The Croydon Sailing Club, celebrating their 60th anniversary in 2015, sails all year round at South Norwood Lake. Racing takes place on Sundays (pop down around 10.30am if youâ€™d like to watch) and during the summer months there is organised sailing most Wednesday evenings. Although the club does not provide sailing instruction, anyone can join the club (a family membership costs ÂŁ65 per calendar year) and keen beginners can learn by crewing for (and taking the helm with) experienced members. The main class of dinghy sailed are Bytes, Toppers, Comets, Herons and Lasers, but any boat with a Portsmouth Yardstick rating and under 14ft 6in is acceptable. No boat? Club boats are available for use by club members at no additional charge. www.croydonsailingclub.co.uk
through the sale of fishing licences. In periods of dry weather, though, the higher levels of the canal couldn’t be adequately filled, and the railway began giving greater competition. The London and Croydon Railway Company bought the canal in 1836, drained it, and ran its railway track in the canal bed. West Croydon Station was built and the line was opened in 1839. Nowadays all that remains of the canal is a small stretch of water in Betts Park, by Anerley Hill. The lake at South Norwood lay derelict for many years following the closure of the canal, but in 1881 Norwood Sports Club was formed by Alfred Steer. The lake was used for fishing and swimming, and skating in winter. There was cricket, bowls, and at one point Norwood Sports Club, with 54 grass courts, was the largest tennis club in the world! In 1931 Croydon Corporation began the process of purchasing the grounds from the sports club, and they were once again opened to the public. Until 1955 a motor boat called the Skylark gave members of the public trips around the lake. You can still see the large wooden hoists for this boat in the lake near the clubhouse. Today there are still boats on the lake, managed by the Croydon Sailing Club (see information on previous page). A bowling green remains, as do some tennis courts, and a cricket field. The lake is the only large expanse of open water in Croydon, and at more than 200 years old, has come into its own. At 18 feet deep I can only guess of the monsters that lurk in its depths – I’ve seen some sizeable carp hauled in by the anglers! 18
The grounds are also home to slow worms, various insects which like the long grass at the edge of the sports field, birds such as the peregrine which sometimes flies over, and an array of wildfowl including cormorant and great crested grebe on the lake. Since 1997 the Croydon RSPB group has recorded 114 different species. Meike Weiser, Community Partnership Officer at Croydon Council, tells me that the site is one of the few really great places in London for bat watching. There are seven different species during the year. Community bat walks take place twice a year, advertised in the Walk Croydon leaflet available from libraries and online. If you haven’t visited the Lakes yet, do give it a try. It is a real community park. In the summer months it is full of picnickers and children enjoying the grounds, climbing trees, and eating ice-creams from the kiosk. There are fishermen, cricketers and dog-walkers. The playground may need a bit of love but it’s hoped that the newly-formed Lakes Playground Action Group will be able to reverse its fortunes. They are conducting a survey to determine how people are using the park and playground, so please do participate if you have a moment. The Lakes Needs You! To take part in the survey please follow the link on www.SE19kids.com or lpag.wordpress.com Community bat walk information is at www.croydon.gov.uk/leisure/ parksandopenspaces/walks
It’s that time of year again and whether you’re looking for exciting music, classical or contemporary, a bit of a dance, some tasty street food or somewhere to take the kids for a runaround in colourful surroundings, there’s a local festival that will meet your requirements. We’re blessed with a fair bit of greenery in South London, so dig out the sunscream/wellies and go see what’s occuring Festival-wise in the coming months.
E H T LET LET
Streatham’s summer celebration spreads over several days, 11-14 July, and includes arts events as well as introducing the new colourful Lane and Vale Carnival on Saturday 13 – organised by a community group passionate about regenerating their neglected streets – which promises an exciting parade of live music and performers. Vintage attractions include the Swing Patrol Blitz Party and the splendid-sounding Ragroof Players dance show and community tea dance, whilst the recently-launched Streatham Theatre Company’s production of new play Then and Now: The Glamour Days of Streatham reveals a glitzy glimpse into SW16’s theatrical past. More info at www. streathamfestival.com 20
Photos: © urban75.com/brixtonbuzz.com
LAMBETH COUNTRY SHOW
If you’ve never been to this annual South London jamboree in Brockwell Park, you really haven’t lived. Jousting, anyone? Yes, just like Merlin! (Although I’m pretty sure Bradley James won’t be there. Sorry.) Never seen pig-racing? Now’s your chance. For many the highlight of the day out is a visit to the tents housing the produce competitions, including enduring favourite the Vegetable Figure Sculpting contest. Last year’s winner – a recreation of Pulp’s frontman renamed Harvest Cocker, lovingly-fashioned from orange and red peppers – will surely take some beating. There may even still be time to enter the Celebrity Scarecrow competition! Application forms on the website. Stalls, music, funfair, cider … it’s all there from 11am-7pm the weekend of 20 & 21 July. More info at www.lambeth.gov.uk
SOUTH NORWOOD COMMUNITY FESTIVAL Just down the hill at South Norwood Recreation Ground on Sunday 7 July between 10am-6pm you’ll find a proper community festival celebrating its hometown with music stages, street food, dance groups, a funfair and maybe even a Palace player or two – Eeee-ger-ulls! The numerous ale-drinkers amongst us will be able to sample the honeyed delights of the Cronx Brewery too, yet another reason to visit. More info at www.se25.org/sncf 21
Photos by Graham Webb
STREATHAM KITE DAY
You’ll have to be quick to catch this annual event as it’s happening 11am-5pm on Sunday 16 June, having been postponed from April (remember that awful weather?). Stroll along to Streatham Common to see lots of giant inflatable characters your tots will recognise, plus some spectacular kite-flying from the professionals. Anyone can take any kite along – over 45s, still got your Peter Powell stunt kite lurking in the garage? – or there are even instructions on their website showing how to make one out of a bin bag, two sticks, some sellotape and string. More info at www.streathamkiteday.org.uk
SYDENHAM ARTS FESTIVAL
A rich and varied programme of comedy, music, workshops, dance and performance awaits visitors to this well-organised event which runs from 29 June to 14 July. By the time you read this, some of the ticketed events may well be selling out fast, so check out the site soon if something catches your eye. Two big names are upping the ante this year with the wonderful Benjamin Zephaniah and Blake Morrison performing and in conversation at two Sydenham schools. Many events are free (though booking required) – fingers crossed there’ll still be space available for new production of Steel Magnolias at Master Cutters Salon: an excellent venue for this story of the women who define all our communities. Take a picnic to Mayow Park on Sunday 7 July and you’ll be able to witness the crazy spectacle of The Remarkable Race of 1913; in the park the same evening will be a free open air screening of 1970s cult classic Silent Running (PG). A must-see movie for all film fans and preceded by live music from fabulous Crystal Palace Festival headliners Metamono. More info at www.sydenhamartsfestival.co.uk 23
Words By Jonathan Main Photos By Peter Hope (MONO), Bruce Atherton and Jana Chiellino (Colour)
The first time I saw Metamono, who will be headlining this year’s Crystal Palace Festival, fresh from recently supporting The Orb in Brixton, they were playing a secret gig in a shop somewhere on the Triangle. A shop famous for its dignified clutter, you would not have imagined that there would have been space for a busker with an acoustic guitar, let alone four banks of synthesisers and a theramin, but the band had set up their equipment in the middle of the room and the audience – if such a bland term can be used for the people present that night – approached them on all sides. Metamono like to get among their people. It was a special evening and in the spirit of a Dada happening a man with a megaphone stood on a box and declaimed the band’s Manifesto. The band will not use digital sound generation or sampling, or mechanical sound generation. No overdubs. They will not, as their name suggests, be afraid of mono, but the remix is verboten and they will never use a microphone. They are three members, all long-time Crystal Palace residents, Jono Podmore and Paul Conboy both musicians who had become frustrated with digital sound and music made on a laptop, and Mark Hill a fine artist and long-term collector of anything with a valve. Formed in 2010 they quickly understood that by giving themselves a set of rules to work by, they were actually liberating themselves from any number of distractions. In the past they have been known to describe themselves as a futurist skiffle group. That night there was a liquid light show, and before the evening was out there was much dancing to the analogue electronic beats wheezing from equipment that was twenty or thirty years old. It actually did sound like it had a soul. And there wasn’t a laptop in sight.
A glance at their website brings up an impressive list of kit in their Instrumentarium. Among the twenty-eight pieces are a Korg MS 20, a Doepfer A-100 Modular, a Soundcraft Spirit Folio Console and a Stylophone. Apart from the Stylophone, which David Bowie used to advertise, I have no idea what any of the rest of this stuff does. So far, the band has released music on vinyl and cassette. Cassette! You say? Yes mate, cassette. As Jono, the tall one, tells me, ‘a good chrome cassette gives a much better sound than a mp3 file’. Although, when their new album, With the Compliments of Nuclear Physics, is released the vinyl will come with a digital download, they tell me through faintly gritted teeth. (The band has a Kickstarter page for the album whereby you can sign up for any number of different variations and formats.) In any case, most of their previous releases can be seen and heard via the YouTube channel on their website, including their most recent release, a cover of Bowie’s Warszawa, a dreamy but solemn track from Low that they turn into something eminently more spirited and um, danceable. Also listed among their bits of kit is the fascinatinglytermed dirty electronics mute synth – girls come back, don’t worry, the band promise me that they have even been practising a Salsa number. Imagine that, as the sun goes down over Westow Park and you sip on your Transition Town, home-foraged mint julep. www.metamono.co.uk
Frank Ingram meets Marion Sharville, 80 years as a poet and still going strong (with the aid of a very big monitor).
1933, 11-year-old Marion Sharville heard The Song of Hiawatha by Longfellow, read aloud at her secondary school in Edmonton, north London. ‘It must have been only a small section of it,’ said Marion. ‘It goes on forever. Twentytwo chapters. The rhythm made the words sound like music, and I was captivated. Hiawatha helped me fall in love with poetry, how it expresses the musicality of language, and it has been a part of my life ever since.’ Marion’s irrepressibly positive attitude to life and her energy are quite humbling for those of us who have to make a real effort to not say how tired we are all the time. At 91, she has macular degeneration, causing severe visual impairment, but shows no signs of giving up. She now writes from her home in Worthing using a 42-inch monitor, with an iMac parked around the back. The screen cursor is getting on for an inch high, and the scene is not dissimilar to that of the HQ of Edna Node, superhero fashion designer in The Incredibles. She has also just completed her first novel, set on a cruise ship, and is currently thinking about a sequel. Marion will be a guest at the Festival, reading her new book. Picklemouse Pumpkin is an illustrated story for younger children, written in verse, about a lonely mouse who gets an unexpected visit from his Great Uncle Jack, returned from his adventures with a bus load of orphaned mice from all over the world. ‘I’m really looking forward to reading at the Festival. I’ve had seven kids of my own, and I wrote a lot of my poetry for them when they were young, including a book about an alternative ark, full of strange creatures that never made it on to the original boat. It’s always a treat to read to children. Hopefully, I can have the same effect on them that Hiawatha had on me.’ Marion Sharville will be reading at the Festival’s storytelling tent on 29 June at 1.15pm and 4pm. Her son, Tim, who illustrated Picklemouse Pumpkin, will accompany her and will be showing children how to draw the mice that feature in the story.
Marion’s blog, A Carrot in the Toaster, features her poetry and short stories, for adults and children www.acarrotinthetoaster.co.uk
Come into the Garden Maud (M—pathy)
Much maligned myopic Malcolm, meaning to mow the lawn in March, missed that month but managed May In the meantime, the grass had grown monumentally much more. Maud, meandering and meditating among the magnificent Marigolds, is mercilessly mown down by the mechanical mower, manifesting immediately into minced morsels. Miserable, mal-adjusted Malcolm, missing Maud, muddled in mind, mopes, muses on her mysterious metamorphosis. Meanwhile, Maud, macerating in her moist compost mausoleum, is maturing into a malodorous magnificent mulch.
Photos by Alex Hewson
It’s all go at Herne Hill this summer thanks largely to the efforts of the Save the Velodrome campaign and the track operators Velo Club de Londres (VCL). Following the resurfacing in 2011 a new junior track and multi-use games area have now been completed and lighting installed, providing the opportunity for training and racing into the South London night. It’s thrilling to see this brilliant facility starting to show its real potential: the development of a new pavilion is the next stage. New Friends of Herne Hill Velodrome are always welcome. www.hhvt.org
If you’d like to watch full-on local racing, the Crystal Palace Crits are on our doorstep. Held on a technically-demanding circuit in Crystal Palace Park, these are fast, fiercely-contested and often spectacular races. Weather permitting, over 100 riders compete every Tuesday evening throughout the summer (in male, female and junior categories). Itching to take part? You will need experience, fitness and a British Cycling Race Licence: it’s not a gentle spin around the park. Racing on this circuit goes way back and has seen many famous names including double World Champion Tony Doyle and Tour de France Yellow Jersey-wearer Sean Yates. The course also hosted the 2007 Tour of Britain prologue, won by supersprinter Mark Cavendish. Olympic and World track champion Jo Rowsell has said she’ll be racing this summer too – brilliant news. The series, supported by and run under British Cycling regulations, runs until 20 August and it’s free to watch. Youth races start at 6.45pm (race fee £3), seniors 30 minutes later (race fee £10). www.crystalpalacecrits.com
It’s extremely exciting to find out that Crystal Palace now boasts its very own workshop manufacturing exquisite hand-built steel bikes. Talbot Frameworks & Wheelworks is a brilliant collaboration between Blue Door Bicycles, Matt McDonough and Justin Russell, which resurrects the tradition of frame-building at this location – by previous shop owners, the Talbot family – which dates back to the 1940s. Each frame is built to order. Three standardised models (road, cyclo cross and track) are offered, with the size and specific requirements (including colour, very important) dictated by the customer. Or you can have a fullycustomised frame designed and built to your exact specifications: this is special. A hand-built steel frame can last a lifetime, has a superior quality and is cheaper than most high-end carbon fibre models. Another independent retail feather in Crystal Palace’s cap and local craftsmanship at its very best. www.talbotframeworks.co.uk www.talbotwheelworks.co.uk www.bluedoorbicycles.com
Festival Fashion Itâ€™s time. Dig out the blanket, pack your hamper & go find some festival fun
Photography by And y Pontin Hair & m ake-up by Hele nB All vintag e rugs, ham pers, baskets & bunting a vailable toire h from www.toh avean d toholdvintage .co.uk
1970s peach floral cotton dress £28, Vintagehart; necklace £18.95 and bracelet £12.95 at Smash Bang Wallop; wellies from £10 from Jake Dunn; straw hat from a selection at Vintagehart
1970s peach floral cotton dress £28, Vintagehart; necklace £18.95 and bracelet £12.95 at Smash Bang Wallop; wellies from £10 at Jake Dunn
1970s sheer rose-print blouse £26, 1980s candy-stripe shorts £18 both from Vintagehart; necklace £18.95, bracelet £12.95 at Smash Bang Wallop; headphones model’s own
Pink & green palm-print summer dress by Emily & Fin £49, necklace £18.95, bracelet £12.95 all at Smash Bang Wallop; wellies from £10 at Jake Dunn; straw hat from a selection at Vintagehart; sunglasses model’s own
Stockists: Smash bang Wallop, 40 Westow Street, London SE19 3AH Vintagehart , 96 Church Road, SE19 2EZ Jake Dunn, 69 Church Road www.tohaveandtoholdvintage.co.uk
SUE WILLIAMS TAKES A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE WITH THREE - HOPEFULLY HARDY - SHOWSTOPPERS arrived … well sort of ... the season of picnics and festivals and lovely trips to stately homes where they serve prune and pistachio muffins and fancy-sounding ice creams that taste just like Cream of Cornish. The season that we gardeners wait for all year. Where tender plants can stay out all night and we have yet another pop at planting peach trees which might one day bear a fruit. Summer!! I love the adventure of an exotic garden scheme where the plants transport us to somewhere more flamboyant and unfamiliar than the English landscape has a right to: plants that look as though they really should be in the jungle. Until the harsh winters of the last two years I had overwintered many tender plants outside but we can no longer risk being quite so gung-ho; any purchase of exotic plants needs to factor in the facilities for sheltering the plants through the harshest months. With this in mind I’ve chosen three hardy specimens which, with a bit of tlc, will live outside all year.
A walk round the splendidly-restored dinosaur lake in Crystal Palace Park shows off the hardy tree ferns in dramatic fashion. Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins would have been thrilled to bits. Dicksonia antarctica has grown in popularity over the last few years. It’s certainly not as cheap as bunging in a few marigolds but it is a marvellous statement ... a controlled explosion of finely fretted green on top of a hairy trunk which can reach up to 8 feet or more. During the spring the plant slowly unfurls to produce huge fern-like fronds which can reach up to 15 feet long although this might be a tad ambitious in Norwood. As the plant absorbs water through its fibrous trunk the Dicksonia requires plenty of moisture in summer and winter. When the fronds die back in autumn the trunk does need some protection. Fleece can be used although I always think this looks pretty ugly. For me a better protection is to lightly pack dried bracken over the crown. This provides insulation but still allows rain water to percolate through. Roger at The Secret Garden has a tree fern on display and can order them in.
As our summers seem mostly wet of late there should be no difficulty in growing the Gunnera manicata. This plant is a beauty. The Freddie Mercury of the garden ... have a look at me and then some. There’s a grand old Gunnera in Kelsey Park. For this fellow you will need plenty of space and a corner of the garden where he can keep his feet wet. This plant often features beside ponds for this reason but as long as you take a bit of care in its siting, the Gunnera will perform. Commonly … and I mean commonly ... this plant is called the prickly rhubarb and it does bear resemblance to its fruity cousin. It produces huge, deeply-veined and sharply-toothed dark green palmshaped leaves which can reach 6 feet and are borne on prickly stalks. In early summer crazy conical stems of tiny greenish red flowers are produced. These are followed by similarly coloured fruits. Again the plant does need a bit of winter protection. Most commonly the dying leaves are folded over the crown of the plant and removed when the threat of frost has passed the following spring. Gunneras will benefit from good rich
humusy soil which will help to hold in the moisture. A hardy fellow with more than a dash of the dramatics. Melianthus major is a bit more tricksy in terms of hardiness. It is a stunner though and worth a bit of extra effort in the autumn. This Honey bush is a tall erect shrub which produces fantastical spreading leaves. These are bluey-green with a hint of grey and very sharply toothed so they appear to be curling slightly upwards. From late spring to early summer the plant produces spiky racemes of crimson flowers. Try that for exotic. The Melianthus is slow to get going in spring but slowly builds up pace through the summer until it’s wiped out with the first frost. It is important to leave the old stems in place through the winter as they provide anchorage for a thick layer of fern fronds which will need to be placed over the roots for protection. The Dicksonia fronds would be perfect. Remove the covering when all threat of frost has passed to allow the new growth through, then prune last year’s stems to ground level. Happy gardening 51
THERE’S A WORLD OUT THERE! Apologies. Howard Male gets so carried away by a singer from Birmingham he only has space left to mention one other artist from the rest of the world he main reason my musical tastes shifted away from home-grown and American pop and rock towards ‘world music’ was that the former had become increasingly predictable and self-referential. Every genre from soul, to funk, to art rock was stuck in a rut, utilising the same instruments, the same arrangements and the same vocal mannerisms. World music, however, offered engagingly complex polyrhythms (instead of the usual plodding four-four rock/disco beat) and an endless supply of new instrumental sounds and textures. But having said that, once every few years, a home-grown artist does come along who has precisely these qualities of originality I’ve missed in pop music. In this instance I doubt you’ll need me to tell you about her, as the media, for once, hasn’t been lying to you in proclaiming that Birmingham lass Laura Mvula is an exceptional talent.
So what is it about Ms Mvula that makes her so special? Well, this agreeably self-effacing singer-songwriter has simply redefined what a pop song can be, in the way that only a few artists in the past forty years have done. The Guardian’s label ‘gospeldelia’ (a clunky collision of gospel and psychedelia) just doesn’t cut it as a way of summing up the rich yet airy sonic landscape she creates with multiple voices, piano and a variety of percussion instruments. Nor does it convey the sheer gravity-defying majesty of her songs. Gospel, yes. But psychedelia? Not really. Her songs simply sound like they’ve been stolen from the future by some canny time-travelling A&R man who thought he’d test out a record-buying public that might not be ready for them yet. But as it turns out, we were ready. Mvula’s debut album Sing To the Moon (RCA Victor) peaked at number 9 in the UK chart and is sure to re-enter and climb even higher, following a string of high-profile live appearances throughout the summer at Glastonbury, V Festival, Latitude and plenty of other festivals across Europe one normally wouldn’t associate with a gospel-influenced musician. What is it about Mvula that has given me back my faith in contemporary popular music? Where do I start? Melodies and arrangements of startling originality might be a good place. The breath of fresh air that is Green Garden sets a choir of overdubbed Mvula’s against a looped glockenspiel motif, stark handclaps and lush orchestration. Then there are her deceptively simple lyrics. The hymn-like Father appears to be a moving testimony to a crisis of faith, but then I read it was 52
actually addressed to Mvura’s own absent flesh-andblood father. It is such ambiguities that add weight to many of her songs. David Bowie’s Starman not only utilised the tune of Harold Arlen’s Over the Rainbow it also took up its theme of the unattainable and mythic. Mvura refines this idea further with the album’s title track Sing to the Moon. Because if you do sing to the moon with all your heart (as Dorothy might have put it), then the stars will shine more brightly, because your heightened emotional state will focus your perceptions thereby turning up the brightness switch so that those pin-pricks of light sparkle more merrily. Yet Mvula doesn’t say all this in so many words. In fact her art as a lyricist is to use as few words as possible and let her strange, rich, sensuous music do all the heavy work. Bugger! What happened there? I seem to have come almost to the end of my allocated word count. So I’ve only space to mention one album from the rest of the planet. Having said that, The Heliocentrics are also a UK act (even if their last album was collaboration with Ethiopian pianist Mulatu Astatke). 13 Degrees Of Reality (Now-Again Records) couldn’t be more different from Laura Mvula’s perfectly poised grandiose statement: it is abstract expressionism to her austere classicism. What’s more, it takes several listens to locate anything resembling melody and structure in its ragged battle of loose complex grooves, viciously-distorted guitars, glitchy electronica and bursts of scrambled short-wave radio dialogue. But even though everything teeters on the edge of crashing, clanking chaos, this rock/jazz (rather than jazz rock) album is curiously satisfying and addictive. So take your pick – choral contemporary soul or anarchic punk jazz? I’ll try to get back to giving you less of a stark choice next time. Howard Male is the author of the novel ‘Etc Etc Amen’ (available from The Bookseller Crow)
COOKBOOK FED UP WITH SOGGY HAM SARNIES AND A SQUASHY BANANA? RACHEL DE THAMPLE SUGGESTS TWO BRAND SPANKING NEW IDEAS FOR YOUR SUMMER PICNICs Photo from Less Meat, More Veg by Rachel De Thample, Kyle Books. Photographer, Peter Cassidy.
ZESTY POTATO SALAD
TUSCAN STALE BREAD SALAD
I’m not a big fan of store-bought mayonnaise – it contains far too much gunk and I’m usually too lazy to make my own – so I wanted to come up with a delicious potato salad that was mayo-free. This has become a picnic favourite, and is always met with a request for the recipe.
This is a classic Italian salad that is loaded with veg. It travels well and sits beautifully along other picnic classics: scotch eggs, potato salad, cheese and bread, jammy tarts …
1kg new potatoes 8 spring onions, finely sliced 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard 100ml olive oil Juice and zest of 1 orange 2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar Generous handful of herbs (such as parsley, mint, chives and/or basil), roughly chopped Sea salt and black pepper Halve or quarter the potatoes and lightly boil them until tender. Toss them in a large bowl with the spring onions. Season and set aside. Whisk the mustard, oil, orange juice, zest and vinegar to make the salad dressing. Once the potatoes are cool, add the dressing. Fold in the herbs and store in the fridge or cold box until ready to eat.
3 red and/or yellow peppers 4–5 slices stale bread (such as sourdough or ciabatta) 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for oiling 750g tomatoes, diced 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 3 spring onions, sliced 100g pitted olives Large handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar Sea salt and black pepper Preheat the oven to 200˚C/gas mark 6. Cut the peppers into 2cm hunks and tear the bread into 1cm cubes. Place on a well-oiled baking tray and mix through the oil. Roast for 15 minutes until the peppers are soft and the croutons golden. Place the tomatoes, garlic, spring onions and olives in a large bowl, then add a dressing made with the 3 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, black pepper and a touch of salt. Mix everything together. Add the roasted peppers and toasted bread. Top with the basil and pack up until ready to serve. It will keep for 24 hours.
THE BOOKSELLER JONATHAN MAIN FINDS TIME TO RECOMMEND SOME DAMN FINE READS
rofessor Andrew Martin has just solved one of the biggest problems in all of mathematics, the Riemann hypothesis (for which there is a real-life million dollar prize). The Vonnadorians – a race from another, much more mathematically advanced, far away galaxy – are terrified that this knowledge will destroy the universe so spirit him away, replacing him with one of their own whose job it is to destroy all evidence of the discovery and eventually kill Professor Martin’s wife and child. This is the premise of Matt Haig’s The Humans, described by Joanne Harris as a cross between The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and The Man Who Fell to Earth. Matt has described the book as being born out of a bleak time in his life and calls it a letter to his younger self. What emerges during the course of its pages is a very moving meditation of what it means to be, well, human. Matt and his book have been the toast of the recent Hay Festival, but first, before he left for there, he came to our shop to help us celebrate our sixteenth birthday. Bit of a coup that, a customer told me.
Ben Fountain was another recent visitor. When, this time last year, I read and reviewed the Texan writer’s, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (now out in paperback, Canongate £8.99), a book that I’m confident will be regarded as a modern classic – Simon Beaufoy, Oscarwinning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire is currently 56
writing the screenplay – I never imagined that a year later I would be hosting an event with him. Ben and his wife were a pure delight and gave a polite exhibition of southern manners and kindness. Heck, he was still signing books for people at 10.30 at night. Now Ben’s earlier book of stories Brief Encounters with Che Guevara has finally been published in the UK (Canongate £9.99). These are stories that centre on the world’s political hotspots: an academic birdwatcher is kidnapped in Colombia; a down-at-heel golfer goes to work in Burma giving lessons to the Generals. Five of the stories are set in Haiti, each one of them reads like a mini-novel about power and its abuses. If you had told me when I was reading it that All That Is by James Salter was written in 1967 I would happily have believed you. The book begins with a ship at war in the Pacific before taking its main character, Philip Bowman, on a journey through the world of New York publishing from the early 1950s to the mid-1980s via a succession of failed relationships – think a gentler Richard Yates, for instance. The book feels like it has escaped from an earlier time. This is not necessarily a bad thing, Salter writes a beautiful sentence, and the writing hypnotizes. Salter is now eighty-seven years old and this is his first novel for thirty years – although there have been other books in that time, including two books
of short stories now collected together, Collected Stories (Picador £18.99). Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers (Harvill Secker £16.99) ticks a lot of boxes for me. It is a very original story set in the New York art scene of the 1970s, involving motorbikes, land speed records, land art and revolutionary Italian politics. It’s probably as much of a fantasy as Game of Thrones – real people mix with detailed biographies and company histories that are entirely imagined, but which feel authentic, and like the Italian motorbike that Reno the central character rides across the Nevada salt flats, it has a ridiculously strong zip to it. Snapper by Brian Kimberling (Tinder Press £14.99) is a lovely book. The quirky, gracefully nonchalant story of a young man’s coming of age in southern Indiana birdwatching for the state university. It spins tall and not so tall tales in the manner of a near neighbour to Lake Wobegon with more than a dash of Annie Proulx. One of my favourite books is The Great Gatsby (many and various editions) by F Scott Fitzgerald. Unless you have been living up a mountain for the last month or two you won’t have failed to notice that it has been given the Luhrmann treatment and a Jay-Z soundtrack and is available at a Cineplex near you (but not alas in Crystal
Palace). If this has sparked an interest in all things F Scott then Sarah Churchwell has written Careless People, subtitled Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of the Great Gatsby. It is a fascinating ‘biography’ of the book, detailing both its writing and the social and political climate that produced it. Another of my all-time favourite books is Tom Drury’s The End of Vandalism (Grove Press US import £9.99). Published in 1994 it tells the story of various inhabitants – small-time thief Tiny Darling, his soon to be ex-wife Louise and Sheriff Dan Norman of Grouse County, Iowa – circulating their shenanigans with a wonderful deadpan humour, part Raymond Carver, part Coen brothers. Drury hasn’t published a book since The Driftless Area in 2006 and so the just-published Pacific (Grove Press US Import £16.99) is an anticipated treat, particularly as it returns us to the landscape and characters of the previous book. Finally, if you were cheering along to Crystal Palace as they won at Wembley and put themselves into the Premiership you might want to read their former owner Simon Jordan’s memoirs, now out in paperback Be Careful What You Wish For (Yellow Jersey £8.99).
Mystic Mike Channelling the tragically unalterable cosmic blueprint of your life
Gemini The Twins May 22 - Jun 21 B efore next W ednesday, set aside a really nice picture of yourself, so that the police have a flattering one to use in the investigation.
Cancer The Crab Jun 21 - Jul 22
Aquarius The Water Carrier Jan 21 - Feb 21
Rather than being born in a star sign you just flopped out in Poundmart. This both explains and predicts much more than astrology can.
The habit of bracing yourself aloft in your chair when you trump is the single thing your partner hates most about you.
Leo The Lion Jul 23 - Aug 22
Pisces The Fish Feb 22 - Mar 21
Your sign is extremely vain, caring more about cosmetics than Third World poverty. You’re fighting a losing battle as much as they are.
As Mercury is bicuspal with Orion, your already prominent moobs will swell up to twice their size later this month.
Virgo The Virgin Aug 23 - Sep 22
Aries The Ram Mar 22 - Apr 20
Your partner says the most amazingly beautiful thing to you tonight, but you won’t hear it because you’re mid yawn.
There are several parallel universes and in all of them you have a more attractive partner (as do they).
Libra The Scales Sep 23 - Oct 23 Libra men: When dancing this weekend, remember the stuff that wobbles on a woman can be alluring but the stuff that wobbles on a man is definitely not.
Scorpio The Hunter Oct 24 - Nov 21 After dinner tonight, you discover that an empty crab shell fits just nicely on to your cat’s head.
Taurus The Bull Apr 21 - May 21 You’ve got such a fat mouth you accidentally catch a Frisbee in it whilst walking across Crystal Palace Park tomorrow.
Celebrity Birthdays Because...
They are better than you
Sagittarius The Archer Nov 22 - Dec 21
Marilyn Monroe 87
You try to ‘unlock your inner genius’ after reading a self help book, but all that comes out is a narrow-minded individual of average ability.
Tragic, pouting, chesty bottle blonde, wind-snuffed candle
Capricorn The Goat Dec 22 - Jan 20 You want to lose weight and gain friends but sadly the reverse is your true destiny.
Alanis Morissette 38 Pony-faced, whimsical, irony-ignorant songstress
Ronnie Wood 65 Emaciated bark-faced, mushroom cloud-hair guitarist
Bob Monkhouse 85 Mystic Mike is omnipresent but can be found here.... @mrmysticmike www.mysticmike.co.uk 58
Mole-faced, bug-eyed, lost gag book, dead, funny man
Chavatar (an ode to Poundmart) By Pip Irkin-Hall
Now showing at the Palace, a former blockbuster. Real life in 3D. Red carpet? No. Roll out the split-level, low-quality pile; stack the shelves. A bargain? A bin? Still they come in … In for a penny out for a pound. A pound of flesh stood electro static, suited in shell. Staring through stacks of poundage, their life: style devoid. Bottles of pop, boxes of choc, media snacks, nappy mega packs. Undesigner labels, luxury bads. At least, that’s what I thought until I went in and it’s actually really good value. Please send your poetry to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Economy Custard
@ economycustard | economycustard.co.uk
© Simon Sharville 2013 59
To place and advert, email email@example.com or call 020 8771 5543
Transmitter GOES Round the ‘ouses
In THE THICKET of it
Local residents were delighted when, over a year ago, modest South London business Lightbox bought the dilapidated Thicket Tavern on Anerley Hill: over 260 of them even went to the trouble of writing to support their plans for the development. The finished building – six 2-bedroomed flats over a spacious commercial area on the ground floor, currently temporary home to the Bigger Picture Gallery – will be celebrated at a launch party the day before this issue hits the streets. For Neville de Souza, Lightbox architect and longterm Gipsy Hill resident, it will be a proud moment. ‘We formed Lightbox in 2008, believing we could do something about the lack of care and attention many building projects seem to suffer from,’ he says. Their passionate belief that producing quality buildings will help to nurture neighbouring businesses and enhance the surrounding environment as a whole, lies alongside that magic word : local. ‘The reason we’re extremely committed to all of our projects is simple: it’s because we live amongst them.’ Putting at the top of their list a desire to research and then retain the original spirit of their buildings,
attention to detail is something the group does well. The Thicket’s public house heritage can clearly be seen, with pub signwriting throughout the apartments, and even the name of J Lassum – the original proprietor in 1864 – appearing too. The London stock bricks of the tavern have scrubbed up immaculately, and the group were excited to find stunning original Victorian tiles – not just one or two as usually happens, but dozens of the beauties – buried underneath 15 layers of paint and cement. Take a wander down to look and you’ll see just what a transformation this now very impressive building has undergone. This summer, the commercial floor of The Thicket will house paintings from local artists, with Lightbox’s share of any profits made through artwork sales being donated to Upper Norwood Library. In the future, the space will be taken over by a commercial business, carefully selected by Lightbox to bring something to the area, with maximising their profits not at the top of their list. Plans also include a wish for The Thicket to become a listed building. ‘It may be a long, complicated process,’ says Neville, ‘but we’re certainly going to pursue it’. 63
By James at Martin & Co.
REASONS TO MOVE TO CRYSTAL PALACE
Round the ‘ouses
THE PAST Steeped in history, Upper Norwood was once known as London’s Fresh Air Suburb. In Victorian times it was all country houses for the rich, taking on the name Crystal Palace following the Great Exhibition in 1851.
THE SHOPS If independent shops with passionate owners are your thing, you’ll love the Palace. Whether it’s organic chocolate, homewares, cards, clothing, books, furniture, fine meats or cheese you need, you’ll find it.
THE NAME You can’t really argue with the address: the Crystal Palace, who wouldn’t want to live in one? Ok, so there is no actual palace now, but the romance the name conjures still works for me.
THE RESTAURANTS, PUBS & BARS Something for everyone (whether you’re a glutton or a healthy-eater). Vietnamese, Cuban, Japanese, French, Venezuelan, Brazilian, British, Indian, Sardinian, Portuguese the list goes on … GREAT PUBS.
SNOW DAYS Don’t let your boss read this, but when it snows in London it really snows in SE19 (we’re on a hill, remember?). A dangerous walk to the station, gritters can’t get up here, trains don’t run … get the picture? It’s BEAUTIFUL covered in white too. THE PARK Gentle stroll, arduous workout, maze, Bank Holiday motorsports, fishing, bat walks, dog walks, dinosaurs, National Sports Centre (fabulous 60s architecture) and community-minded parklovers caring about their backyard too. THE TRAIN STATION Crystal Palace Station is a treat to commute from: stately-home beauty, recently refurbished and with a wonderful café too. And airconditioned trains on the Overground.
THE PEOPLE It’s like a Dickens novel: The place is chock full of interesting characters. Just like Dickens. THE VIEWS On a fine day, or a windy day, or a cloud-filled day, or a showery day, the views from our little patch on the hill that is Crystal Palace are really awe inspiring. LOCAL FLAVOUR Crystal Palace creates Palacians. If you come here, chances are you’ll stay. It’s not Royston Vasey, but it does have a magnetism that makes you want to stay and be part of the community. Crystal Palace turns you local.
A South London Magazine