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.

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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 …”

Spring in Epping Forest

Leyton Flats, Leytonstone

Sometimes, in the absence of a better plan for a walk, you should alllow yourself to be guided by your feet. That’s what I did last Sunday, leaving home at 2pm, directionless.

Blackthorn, Leytonstone

My trotters led me up Leytonstone High Road to the Green Man Roundabout – gateway to the forest. The gorse (I think) was burning brilliant yellow in full bloom, the white blackthorn flowers waved at the early Spring picnicers nearby on Leyton Flats.

metal post near Birch Well

Metal Post Birch Well

I followed the path that runs behind Snaresbrook Crown Court, the borderlands of Leytonstone and Waltham Forest. Next to the Birch Well I spotted a metal post beside a low standing stone, the embossed text no longer legible. My best guess is that they are boundary markers, perhaps of the old Borough or the Parish.

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Birdsong rang out across Gilbert’s Slade in celebration of the arrival of Spring, and I sat on a pile of logs to savour the scene. This is a tract of land that is forever boggy and swampy, noted by Buxton in his Epping Forest book of the 1880’s and still very much the case. He laments the lack of beech trees here, where hornbeam, holly and oak dominate.

Highams Park Lake

The wildfowl were lively on the waters of Highams Park and I rested again, one of my favourite spots on this Forest walk. This is a route described and mapped by Buxton and one I’ve followed frequently over the years, memories of those previous walks and the churnings of my mind annotated into the footpaths, re-read and added to with each passing.

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From Epping Forest by Edward North Buxton

Although the end point of the walk would be determined by the sunset, the Royal Forest pub beside Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge always looms large in my mind around this point. Would I be able to get past it – or would all paths lead to the pub?

Daffodil Epping Forest P1100566

I picked up the course of the gentle River Ching and followed it along the lower reaches of the forest, downhill from Woodford. London is blessed with these meandering tributaries that often get overlooked in favour of the grand rivers of the city or the celebrated ‘lost rivers’ of London, buried but not forgotten. The Ching is a modest water course, going about its business flowing from the forest to the Lea.

Welcome to Waltham Forest Chingford

On Rangers Road, Chingford I pass a second Waltham Forest boundary marker of the day – on the other side this time is not Redbridge but the County of Essex. Today has not only been a forest wander but a borderland walk.

Royal Forest Chingford

Somehow I contrived to arrive on Chingford Plain as the sun started to set shortly after 6pm meaning the only logical thing was to progress to the bar at the Royal Forest Brewer’s Fayre where I processed the walk over a couple of pints and toasted the arrival of Spring in Epping Forest.

 

 

Iain Sinclair – Living with Buildings

“I use my own ways of digressing and picking up on other stories that you don’t expect to find by walking and wandering over the ground that’s been described by other people.” – Iain Sinclair

July 2018 and I found myself back out walking with Iain Sinclair, this time retracing one of the walks in his latest book, Living with Buildings and walking with ghosts. We met by Canada Water Station and Iain explained how the book was associated with the Wellcome Collection exhibition of the same name, but was its own beast driven by Iain’s narrative.

John Evelyn's Mulberry Tree, Sayes Court

John Evelyn’s Mulberry Tree, Sayes Court

We proceeded past the old Evening Standard printing works, now slated for development, through Greenland Dock bound for the Pepys Estate – once the home of film-maker Andrew Kötting and featured in the book. After paying homage we moved on to the next key location in this particular chapter of Living with Buildings – John Evelyn’s Mulberry tree at Sayes Court Park.

Iain Sinclair Living with Buildings

Walking with Iain is always a magical experience, layers of London history and lore kicked up and chewed over with every step along the way.  The book, in some ways, is Iain Sinclair’s most traditionally psychogeographical work, exploring the very tangible relationship between the built environment and  human health and psyche.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to further discuss the book and Iain’s work in general at the brilliant Wanstead Tap when Living with Buildings was published in October – as you can see in the video below.