Walking the London Loop – Hayes to Kingston

It was great to be back out on the London Loop – picking up in Hayes on the May Bank Holiday Monday (6th May), where I’d finished back in March on the section that I’d followed down from Uxbridge. The first part of section 10 continues along the canal a short distance, past the rubble of the Nestle factory, as far as the River Crane, which takes on the role as titular spirit of the walk for much of the day. Then we visit the peaceful storied church of St. Dunstan’s where a memorial to the great comedian Tony Hancock is nestled in a corner of the churchyard.

The next part of the walk through Cranford Country Park towards Hatton Cross is characterised by jumbo jets skimming the rooftops as they came in to land at Heathrow. Seeing London’s great terminus sat on what was once a corner of Hounslow Heath (the ‘heath row’) gave me an enormous desire to jump on a plane and head off traveling once more.

London Loop Section 9

Section 9 finds us again following the River Crane down through spindly woodland to Hounslow Heath, full of memories of ending the first walk here for my book, This Other London. I even found the bench on a mound were I sat and ate a snack in the May sunset those seven years ago.

There was more roadwalking ahead, another section of the Crane, and skirting Fulwell Golf Course before reaching Bushey Park just before sunset. The deer roamed and grazed and I meandered to the gate exiting to Hampton Wick as the dark arrived.

The Thames twinkled as I crossed the great stone bridge into Sunday night Kingston, too late to seek out the King Stone which awaits the start of my next venture out onto the London Loop.

 

London Forest Buses Badge

London Forest bus badge

What a majestic object – a London Forest Buses Driver’s/Conductor’s enamel badge.

According to Wikipedia, London Forest was a short-lived subsidary of London buses that operated between 1989 – 1991 when industrial action in response to proposed pay cuts led to the newly awarded private franchise being transfered to a rival bus operator.

The strike was the first by London bus drivers since 1958 and led to the suspension of bus services in North East London for two weeks. The buses operated out of Walthamstow and Leyton bus garages. London Forest had planned to close Leyton garage but in the end it was Walthamstow bus garage that was closed and eventually developed as housing.

Here’s the text of the Early Day Motion moved by Leyton MP Harry Cohen in the House of Commons:

STRIKE AT LONDON FOREST TRAVEL
EDM #1143
Tabled 16 July 1991
1990-91 Session
That this House notes that the current strike by the 1,300 men and women based at Ash Grove, Clapton, Leyton and Walthamstow garages is the first official indefinite strike in London of busmen and women for 33 years; notes that it has been provoked by the management of London Forest Travel who are trying to enforce new contracts, upon threat of redundancy, which would mean 20 per cent. longer working hours plus a 9. 5 per cent. cut in wages; notes that this would make the working week for many of the bus men and women in excess of 50 hours; further notes that this situation has been brought about by an unrealistic tender submission 25 per cent. below present costs, including pay and conditions, but that management are not taking any cut; and calls for this dispute to be swiftly sorted out, without any reduction in the bus men and women’s pay and conditions, so that the buses can run again.

 

A fascinating moment in the history of the area discovered by searching for London badges on ebay.

River Roding Walk – Wanstead to Buckhurst Hill

A walk along the beautiful River Roding from Wanstead to Buckhurst Hill on the 24th February – a day when it felt as if Spring had come early. This is one of my favourite walks – following the meanders through Wanstead, Woodford to Buckhurst Hill (although I’ve yet to walk the Roding beyond Debden). The wooded ridges of Epping Forest rise on the horizon, herons glide over the rushes, and I once saw a snake slither across the path one summer near Woodford Bridge.

 

 

Endymion’s Dream – Celebration of Steve Moore at Brompton Cemetery Chapel

Brompton Cemetery

Saturday saw a magical event in Brompton Cemetery Chapel as people gathered to celebrate the posthumous publication by Strange Attractor Press of Steve Moore’s book, Selene: The Moon Goddess and the Cave Oracle, “an examination of the origins, dream-explorations and mystical practices centred on the Greek deity Selene.”

Alan Moore Brompton Cemetery

Alan Moore

Alan Moore Brompton Cemetry

screening of South London psychic circuit with Iain Sinclair – directed by John Rogers

The event started with a screening of my film with Iain Sinclair where we walked Steve Moore’s ‘psychic circuit’ around Shooters Hill, a landscape he mythologised in his novel, Somnium. Then Alan Moore read from his essay, Unearthing (the inspiration for the film I made with Iain Sinclair). Andrew O’Neill recounted how, grieving after Steve Moore’s death in 2014, he went wild camping in Epping Forest and encountered a vision of Steve on a horse and cart with Selene by his side. John Higgs talked about the scene in Steve’s Shooters Hill home following the discovery of his body, a scene he had described years before in one of his dream journals.

Brompton Cemetery Chapel

Brompton Cemetery Chapel

Alan Moore, Andrew O'Neill, Mark Pilkington, and John Higgs

Alan Moore, Andrew O’Neill, Mark Pilkington, and John Higgs

Brompton Cemetery

Brompton Cemetery

Endymion’s Dream was produced by Strange Attractor in association with the London Month of the Dead and hosted by Mark Pilkington.

Deptford Jack in the Green May Day Celebrations Greenwich

The streets of Deptford and Greenwich were yesterday taken over by The Jack in the Green May Day celebrations, led by Fowlers Troop and the Deptford Jack. A great cacophony of instruments filled the air peppered with shrieks and yells as the Jack processed along the banks of the Thames to the Cutty Sark where Morris Dancers pranced around the Jack and a Mummers Play was performed. A bright pink Oss gambolled through crowd. Two hurdy-gurdy players duelled in front of watching tourists.

I asked great film-maker Andrew Kötting, who’d been inside the Jack along the riverside, what it’s all about, “fecundity, awareness, what was, what isn’t, and what yet might be”, he said.
Deptford Jack in the Green
The Jack in the Green is a framework adorned with laurel leaves and flowers (dressed the night before in the Dog and Bell in Deptford), that is paraded through the streets accompanied by musicians, Morris dancers and Mummers. It’s said to date from the 17th Century as an evolution of traditional May Day celebrations, a time of cavorting and revelry with deep pagan roots.

Deptford Jack in the Green

I’m told the Jack went ‘rogue’ in Greenwich Park, as Jack in the Green is compelled to do on May Day. It doesn’t surprise me, the atmosphere was alive with the spirit of Spring.

The mighty Clapton CFC

Went along with my son and one of his friends to watch Clapton CFC (Community Football Club) at Wadham Lodge, Walthamstow on Saturday. It’s been a long time coming. I lived near the Old Spotted Dog ground in the early 90’s – home of Clapton FC, but we never made it past the doors of the pub to a match.

Clapton CFC

Clapton CFC 27 April 2019

The atmosphere that the fans have created at the temporary home of Clapton CFC (they move into a bigger ground next season) is something to behold, and incredible for a team playing in the Middlesex Counties League. Saturday’s exciting (and slightly fortunate) 3-2 victory over London Samurai Rovers have taken them to the brink of the league title, and the double, in their first season.

I’ll be back for more next season. FORZA CLAPTON CFC.

 

Tales from Tin Pan Alley at Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema

Tin Pan Alley A1 LS Poster

We had a full house at Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema last Wednesday for Henry Scott-Irvine’s brilliant documentary, Tales from Tin Pan Alley.

Tales from Tin Pan Alley

Henry Scott-Irvine introducing Tales from Tin Pan Alley

I first met Henry in the alley behind the 12 Bar Club on Denmark St while it was being occupied by musicians and protestors following its closure. I made a couple of videos about the campaigns to save live music venues in Soho and Denmark Street, some of the footage appears in Henry’s film. Tales from Tin Pan Alley, is far more than a protest film. It’s a documentary that tells the stories of the street of music from its Georgian heritage (with Dan Cruickshank) to its brief period as London’s ‘Little Tokyo’, to the place that gave us the pop charts. It’s an incredible story, brilliantly told in this absorbing and essential documentary.

IMG_7343

In the Q&A afterwards, Henry passionately told the audience about the campaign to save Denmark Street’s music heritage. We were also joined by Jimmy Winston, one of the founder members of the Small Faces (formed in East Ham) who told me about coming to Leytonstone as a youth to look at the guitars in Friedman’s Guitar Shop on Leytonstone High Road. It was a memorable evening.

The true ‘unsung heroes’ of Tin Pan Alley are the musicians, the songwriters, the music publishers, the technicians and the people from behind-the-scenes who have come out of the woodwork, out of history and out of retirement to approach us. Individuals that would be very hard to find in any other circumstance have come forward from across the globe, saying, ‘We want to be in this special documentary film!’

We have them here now. This is their story – a contemporary urban Canterbury Tale – a vital testament from over 30 musicians, broadcasters and historians.

In 2018 Tin Pan Alley’s 110 year old music legacy is currently in peril due to ensuing gentrification, leading to upcoming penthouse flats, hotels, restaurants and a shopping mall.

The legacy of those who worked in the street is our testament to Denmark Street’s unique place in international cultural history.

The struggle for those remaining, continues …”