Archive for the ‘london’ Tag

Amy Winehouse in Camden Town

Atmosphere (2013) by Pegasus – Junction of Parkway & Albert St (Earl of Camden pub)
Junction of Bayham St & Pratt St
by Bambi – Amy (& Morganico – Michael Dixon) – Michael, the man in black, was a local hairdresser, friend of Amy, added later
a fresh one – under the railway bridge at Castlehaven Rd
by Pegasus – just in the doorway of the Old Market Hall (Camden Lock Market) straight off of Camden High Street opposite Castlehaven Rd
by Otto Schade aka Osch – Hawley St
by Scott Eaton (2014) – The Stables Market

The above are all the traces of Amy Winehouse around her manor ten years after her tragic passing. 

The below are previous street art pieces which have gone the way of most street art, to that  blank wall in the sky.

by Mr Cenz
by Amara Por Dios and Kaptain Kris
by Philth (Phill Blake)
by Amara Por Dios and Kaptain Kris

Here’s a good snapshot of Amy art in the summer of 2017 when the Jewish Museum, which sits firmly in her stomping ground (on Albert St near ‘Atmosphere’), held an exhibition in her honour, appropriately including a series of street art commissions in the area.

The 10th anniversary of Amy’s death is on 23rd July.

forever with her gran

THE ARTISTS

Pegasus 

Bambi 

Osch

Mr Cenz

Amara por Dios

Kaptain Kris

Philth 

SMART – The London International Smartphone Film Festival

The launch of SMART – the London International Smartphone Film Festival – set up by Adam Gee & Victoria Mapplebeck was covered in this week’s Observer in a piece by Arts & Media Correspondent Vanessa Thorpe:

 

The full article is here

Coincidences No.s 344, 345 & 346

No. 344 Magdala

16.4.21

I meet documentary filmmaker and Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab Sheila Hayman at Parliament Hill. We talk about the Magdala pub, a short straight walk from where we sit sipping tea, infamous for being the site of Ruth Ellis’ shooting of her nogoodnik lover. I ask Sheila “What’s a magdala anyhow?” She also doesn’t know.

The next day I am reading a pulpy detective novel whose plot kicks off in the Holy Land in the 20s. The second chapter ends:

” ‘It appears to be a letter,’ I said slowly, ‘from a woman named Mariam, or Mary. She refers to herself as an apostle of Joshua, or Jesus, “the Anointed One”, and it is addressed to her sister, in the town of Magdala.’ “

Mystery solved. A town in the Holy Land which gave Mary Magdalene her name.

No. 345 Suze

9.5.21

I am reading the biography of Jerry Rubin by Pat Thomas, having enjoyed ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7‘ very much. An interesting fact that emerges is that Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan’s girlfriend featured on the cover of the ‘Freewheelin’ ‘ LP, went on a visit to Cuba in June 1964 organised by the Fair Play for Cuba Committee based at Berkley. Jerry also happened to be on the trip. 

About two minutes before opening the book, I am looking at the contact print by photographer Don Hunstein on my living room wall (a limited edition of 25). It is the shoot for the cover of ‘Freewheelin’ ‘. Most of the time it is part of the furniture but the night before I was having a text exchange about Bob Dylan’s art and photos of him with a friend of mine after listening together to the Van gig at Real World and so today I am actually seeing it and looking closely.

No. 346 Prince

9.5.21

I am meeting the new Digital Experience Design MA student I am supervising, in Old Street. We walk around Shoreditch coming back via Leonard Street where I used to work when Little Dot Studios were based at No. 100. She asks me what my best ever gig was (The Clash at the Electric Ballroom). Then she tells me hers – Prince at some festival in her native Switzerland.

Exactly as she utters the name Prince we are at the window of Pure Evil’s gallery at No. 98 and facing us is one of Pure Evil’s tear pictures of …Prince.

by Pure Evil

A Thing of Beauty

by David Speed @davidspeeduk in Shoreditch, London 9.5.21

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness

John Keats – ‘Endymion’ (currently featured in Poems on the Underground to mark the 200th anniversary of Keats’ death)

“Our first set of poems for 2021 is now on trains. Poems on the Underground is marking the 200th anniversary of the death of the poet John Keats, and features six poems written or inspired by Keats and his love of nature. These poems are:

An excerpt from Endymion by John Keats
An excerpt from Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelly
Wish You Were Here by Julia Fiedorczuk
rising by Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze
I go inside the tree by Jo Shapcott
When I have Fears That I May Cease To Be by John Keats”

David Speed on Insta

Story snippets

7.5.21

While scouting a location for the music documentary we began shooting today in London, I crossed paths in Alan’s Records in East Finchley with the owner of the Terrapin Trucking Company record shop which was a key fixture in the Golden Age of Crouch End. It stood a few yards away from Banners, run by Juliet and Andy Kershaw, another key part of the picture. Here it is as preserved by the British Record Shop Archive.

And here’s Simon, the man behind Terrapin. (He doesn’t work for London Underground, just trying to stay warm and likes the gear.)

9.5.21

After a peaceful reading session by William Blake’s grave in Bunhill Fields, I emerged onto City Road to be met by the sight of an elderly lady, dismounted from her bicycle, clearing up two broken bottles she had cycled past – for the sake of dogs and fellow cyclists. There was no bin in sight so I offered to guard her bike while she popped into the park to dispose of the now wrapped glass safely. She was very grateful but I was even more so because it’s nice being nice, service is a key to happiness. 

This is The End

The End by Heather Phillipson

The 4th Plinth on Trafalgar Square has proved to be a brilliant lens for Britain to look at itself through. The commissions are so varied that taken together they are also a rich record of British identity and state of mind at different times. Each commission takes into account the resonance of the location and its relation to surrounding public art, buildings, environment and the history linked to them. 

Heather Phillipson’s ‘The End’ is a worthy addition to the chain of public art that has temporarily inhabited the free plinth. It looks particularly good against blue sky and the collapsing gobbet of cream topped by the falling cherry matches the colours of the Canadian flags behind it on Canada House / La Maison du Canada. 

On one side is a huge fly, undermining any initial joy at the prospect of some kind of knickerbocker glory. On the adjacent side is a drone, on a different scale, with moving propellors.

a backdrop of the National Gallery

What does it all mean? There’s a sense of imminent collapse. An indication of rottenness. And a strong hint of surveillance.

The stalk paralleling Nelson’s Column

‘The End’ officially took up residence on the plinth on 30th July 2020, the 13th commission there (the first was in 1998). At 9.4 meters height it is the tallest so far and one of the brightest. 

The drone transmits a live feed of Trafalgar Square at www.theend.today Here’s what it looks like right now, the eye of the sculpture itself:

What’s the legal status of those two people? Is it legit to spy on them for artistic rather than security reasons?

The artwork reflects Trafalgar Square’s heritage and function as a place of both celebration and protest, as well as its highly surveilled state.

VE Day (8th May 1945)
Anti-Lockdown protest (26th September 2020)

Phillipson came up with the idea in 2016, in the shadow of Trump’s election and Brexit. 

“For me, we’ve been at a point of some kind of entropy for a long time. When I was thinking of this work there was a sense for me of an undercurrent that was already there … this feels like a continuation of that.”

It was unveiled in the middle of Covid19 year, delayed a few months by the pandemic. The perfect temporal setting for the piece. 

This is the end

Beautiful friend

This is the end

My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end

Of everything that stands, the end

No safety or surprise, the end

I’ll never look into your eyes again

Can you picture what will be?

So limitless and free

Desperately in need

Of some stranger’s hand

In a desperate land

Jim Morrison & The Doors ‘The End’

Despite the title the artist does not envision the work as a dead end. 

“In the end there is the possibility of something else forming. There’s the chance of radical change inside any ending… there is potentially hope for something else.”

The artist

‘The End’ ends in Spring 2022.

The End

Things That Are No More #2: I’m Walking Backwards for Christmas – and forever

This is Michael Dickinson (filmed by me in April 2018) not far from Spike Milligan’s stomping ground. Sadly he passed away recently. He was a much-loved presence in East Finchley as well as other parts of London such as Camden Town. He came to East Finchley to visit the Phoenix Cinema (which BTW is about to re-open) among other things.

Michael was an actor, writer and campaigner. He suffered from a psychological condition called ‘retropulsion’, a compulsion to walk backwards, which is a symptom of Parkinsonism. He died from Peritonitis on 2nd July in his bedsit in Highgate, aged 70.

Michael was born in Yorkshire. He lived all around Camden Town in the 70s and 80s, then mov­ed to Istanbul. After 30 years living in Turkey and working as a teacher, he was deported back to Britain in 2013 after being arrested for exhib­iting a collage portraying President Erdogan as a dog collecting a rosette from George Bush.

He studied at Manchester School of Theatre in 1969. Michael acted and wrote for the Pentameters Theatre (which BTW urgently needs support to survive and has a crowdfunder on the go to that end) above the Three Horseshoes pub on Heath Street, Hampstead where he was considered a talented actor. His final play was about Keats whose manor included Heath Street. Léonie Scott-Matthews, who has run Pentameters for over five decades, witnessed when the condition kicked in: “I remember when he started walking backwards. He was in a play here. He got off the stage and just started walking back­wards. It was just after he had got back from Turkey.”

In a 2017 interview in the Camden New Journal Michael said: “I am not acting. If it wasn’t for the retropulsion, I would much prefer to be walking forwards.”

For some time he lived in a tent on Hampstead Heath. Other times his home was a cardboard box behind Sainsbury in Camden Town and various squats including Hampstead Police Station (also on Heath Street). Eventually he got more regular accommodation. 

The Erdogan episode took on international proportions. Michael arrived at the appeal hearing bearing a similar collage with Erdogan’s face on a dog’s body. During the shenanigans Charles Thomson, co-founder of the pro-figurative Stuckist group of artists,  wrote to the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to encourage the “strongest condem­nation of this prosecution”.  Thomson said: “The story got international media attention because they were trying to get into the EU at that time. I think without it he would have got a stiff jail sentence.” He described Michael’s art as “exquisitely wrought political collages”. Relating it to the movement he founded he said: “Stuckism is for individuals who feel marginalised and not prepared to kow-tow to the establishment. They are not afraid to be them­selves and often they pay the price for that.”

Besides plays, as a writer michael wrote dozens of articles, mainly published on Counter­punch. His output included various essays about his life.

Michael’s life is a perfect example of the richness of stories that can underlie people in our communities we are perhaps dismissive of or put in a judgmental box. Another such example from my own childhood community was Dr Stephan Hassan, known as the Edgware Walker. When I started working at Channel 4 the filmmaker-comedian Lee Kern (Co-producer of Who Is America? with Sacha Baron Cohen) gave me a copy of the film he had just finished (2003) as a tribute to a forwards runner, as mysterious as Michael Dickinson.

Lee’s affectionate film, The Edgware Walker, was first broadcast in 2004 (Channel 4). Its core message is that is is important to engage with such people where we live, including asking them questions as you would your friends and neighbours. 

Things That Are No More No. 1

Maurice Podro 1928-2020

Maurice Podro 43 Group by Stuart Freedman

Maurice Podro photographed by Stuart Freedman 2020 (copyright Stuart Freedman)

Maurice Podro was 91 which is one reason why he hardly appears on the Web. He has two search returns: a listing as a company director – inactive and a piece to do with his time in the 43 Group, a post-war anti-fascist group mainly of Jewish ex-servicemen who took on Mosley and the blackshirts, pretty successfully. Maurice’s older brother was quite political and led the intelligence operation. Maurice wasn’t political – he just said “I knew it was the right thing to do”. That second search return is an article entitled ‘Remember the day they did not pass’ – it’s about the Battle of Cable Street.

Maurice Podro fought the resurgence of fascism in post-war Britain and his response is unambiguous.

“I am a firm believer that you fight violence with violence. I don’t see it any other way.”

The journalist, Alex Davis, seems a bit disapproving of this plain-speaking response. Maurice had a catchphrase to conclude any debate or discussion: “…and that’s simplified it.” That meant, that’s the plain truth.

The photograph above was taken by Stuart Freedman to capture the last half dozen surviving members of the 43 Group. I had connected the historian Daniel Sonabend, author of ‘We Fight Fascists’, a definitive history of the 43 Group, to Maurice and he interviewed him. Daniel then connected Stuart to Maurice and he photographed him. Maurice was not too well at the time and he didn’t much like the photo for that reason. Ditto his wife, my mother. But I really like it because it captures Maurice’s determination and fighting spirit in those pursed lips.

The last outing I went on with Maurice was to an evening discussion about Daniel’s book at King’s Place, York Way. He was wearing a camel hair coat and looked like the dapper cross of a mafioso and a Wingate football club supporter of the 70s (minus the cigar). Every inch the swagger don. I was well proud of him that night.

In the foyer he bumped into some men whose families worked in Petticoat Lane/Wentworth Street market. Maurice knew their relatives in detail – crystal clear memory. It was like the time I took him to a Sinatra show at the Palladium – the children of some market traders of the golden age recognised Maurice at the interval and eagerly questioned him about their parents’ generation down the Lane. He knew every name without fail. He was a living link to a past now almost vanished. I’m glad that I got round to interviewing him at length on video and I’m going to give the video to the Jewish Museum in Camden Town now. I did the interview with David Rosenberg who is a specialist on the history of anti-fascism and radical politics in the East End. I once took Maurice on one of David’s ‘Anti-fascist footprints’ walks and every time we stopped at one of the landmarks Maurice would pipe up and add more first-hand testimony to David’s commentary. Such as details of the mini-train that snaked around the playground at his school, JFS. And the time they beat up a blackshirt, broke his legs and chucked him in a bin.

So I wanted to get Maurice properly on the internet with this post to mark his passing to the big jazz club in the sky yesterday afternoon. I’m writing this listening to Buddy Rich. Maurice loved drumming, learnt to play during his time in the RAF, hung out in Archer Street, Soho in the days when it was in effect the jazz musicians’ labour exchange. He took me to see Buddy play twice. The second time, at the Festival Hall, I got to meet him and get my record signed. I was in my school uniform still. Buddy told me I should be at home studying on a school night, not out listening to jazz.

The last time I saw Maurice he was at home in the Corona Lockdown. I saw him through the open side door at the front of my childhood home. He was frail and not doing that great. I cracked a joke slightly at his expense and he laughed – I can’t remember what it was but I remember being pleased it was a good one and was appreciated. I’m glad that was our last ever interaction.

He took me to jazz. He took me to the other Lane (Spurs, where he got me hot Ribena and we sat next to a man who sucked on a huge cigar but never lit it) – in latter years, we would go to a caff opposite before the match and he would engage with all and sundry, the highlight of the afternoon eclipsing the actual football. In the good old days he had an 8-track in his car on which he introduced me to some great music such as ‘Hot August Night’, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder. He gave me a job down the first Lane as a teenager – as we passed Hoxton on the early morning way into work he would pronounce “‘Oxton – ares’ole of the universe!” (it’s improved some since then), and get me good grub at Mossie Marks or Kossoff’s, sausage sarnies with lashings of ketchup a favourite on cold mornings. All a far cry from my dad who was a research scientist.

Maurice was my step-father and the best way I can capture him is to say that whenever he was introducing me to anyone he would always say “this is my son, Adam” – never “my step-son”.

maurice podro sadiq khan mayor london cable street commemoration

Maurice with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan when he was honoured at a Cable Street commemoration

VE Day 75 – The Walk

flags VE day 75th 2020 london

Beginning of my VE day walk – a lone hint of celebration on our street – East Finchley, London N2

st pancras and islington cemetery commonwealth war graves

Coronavirus has stopped normal access to the commonwealth war graves in St Pancras & Islington cemetery

the commonwealth war graves in St Pancras & Islington cemetery

The commonwealth war graves in St Pancras & Islington cemetery earlier in the lockdown (before they closed the cemeteries)

naked lady henlys corner statue war memorial

I’m sitting just beneath Emile Guillaume’s La Délivrance known locally as The Naked Lady – it’s a WW1 memorial but it is opposite the flat where my great-uncle Bruno lived, a concentration camp survivor & refugee from Leipzig Germany, so its WW2 victory for me

children holocaust memorial henlys corner

Flowers for children VE Day 75, Henly’s Corner

clock tower war memorial golders green

The clock tower memorial to WW1 & WW2 at Golders Green with its distinctive blue

keith douglas poetry golders hill

WW2 poetry Keith Douglas in flower garden at Golders Hill – wisteria no hysteria, stiff upper lip

Comment: unicornsalmost

‪This Sunday, on @bbcradio3 : Unicorns, Almost – a play about the life and poetry of Keith Douglas https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000j2bn‬

hampstead war memorial

Hampstead war memorial to both world wars – a few hundred yards from where I was born, overlooking all of London

location Allied brad pitt hampstead

Film location of ‘Allied’ movie with Brad Pitt & Marion Cotillard set during WW2

Film location of 'Allied'

Film location of ‘Allied’

I met a family sitting out on their front steps down the road from here, told them what I was doing and they pointed me to…

nicholas winton s house willow road hampstead

Nicholas Winton saved 669 Jewish children from the Nazis when based in this house in Hampstead

liam gallagher RAF roundel

Liam Gallagher‘s RAF roundel window at his old place in Hampstead

lee miller roland penrose house downshire hill hampstead

Photographer Lee Miller‘s house Hampstead – she photographed WW2 for Vogue magazine including the liberation of Dachau & Hitler’s bathtub in Munich

hampstead heath pond

My dad remembered vividly a doodlebug V1 exploding in the corner of this pond near his childhood home – I never walk by without thinking of him Hampstead Heath, VE day 75

george orwell house hampstead parliament hill

George Orwell‘s house – his wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy worked at the Ministry of Information during WW2 (in the censorship department) in Senate House, University of London & he famously used it as the model for the Ministry of Truth in 1984 – Orwell was in the Home Guard & broadcast for the BBC

ve day walk montage

That’s the VE day 75 walk done – 9 hours, 24,600 steps, good fun

Story Snippet: The Old Forge

This morning found myself by The Old Forge in Mill Hill (London NW7), my childhood neighbourhood. It sits at the bottom of The Ridgeway, a road running along the crest of a line of hills. It is just beneath the old convent (St Joseph’s) where my mum used to take us for some reason to meet a nun called Sister Theo and where in 2011 we filmed Jamie’s Dream School for Channel 4 with the 3Rs: Rankin, Rolf (Harris) and Robert (Winston). Here’s one of the brilliant pictures Rankin (who hails from adjacent Edgware) took on that shoot:

Rankin Jamie's Dream School Channel 4

As I was explaining to Enfant Terrible No. 2 that this white clapboard building which comes to a point at the junction of The Ridgeway and the road beneath the convent (once famous as a training place for missionaries) was the site of Mill Hill Village’s blacksmith and when I was a boy a tea shop (where I went with my friend Daniel Glinnert). As I was explaining an old fella emerged from round the corner, doing some gardening. He explained the place had been in his wife’s family for generations, that her father (grandfather?) had been the last smithy and asked us to guess what year the forge finally closed. I was miles out – it was 1932. He went on to describe how the focus had been on shoeing, not horses, but oxen. And then he shared a little known fact: oxen cannot stand on three legs (unlike horses). They had to build a special tight pen so that the ox could lean over while being shod. It’s fabulous what stories come to light in everyday life.

There used to be bee hives by the forge at the adjacent cottage (which used to be on the same family’s land, now sold off). They are gone now, the bees caught a disease. That little corner where the forge was is a just-about-hanging-on vestige of a lost age which you can really sense at that spot.

the old forge mill hill london nw7

the old forge mill hill london nw7

the old forge mill hill london nw7

the old forge mill hill london nw7

the old forge mill hill london nw7

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