New nights at The Talbot

The Talbot's reinvention as a pub that does more than simply exist continues. Back in 2009, it was rescued from seemingly terminal decline and turned into a handsome pub with a decent kitchen. Then it stopped.

It seemed like the owners felt like they had done the hard work by raising the finance and fixing the wiring and the plumbing. It never quite made the leap from pleasant place to sit for a while to community hub, like The Royal Albert, The Orchard or Jam Circus. Recently, however, things have begun to change. First. Little Nan brought a bit of showmanship to the upper floor and then a new owner, Lesley Shearer, took over.

We tried it out for the first time since her reign began a couple of weekends ago and were impressed by the early signs. It feels fresher, friendlier and more personal. She's also intent on hosting more events and has announced two new regular nights:

- Tuesday is Quiz night, starting at 8pm
- Wednesday is Irish Folk Music night, starting at 8.30pm

More change is coming, but it's good to see The Talbot seems to be in safe hands.

Secret Garden Project, September 20th

Public art commission for the Brockley Corridor

As part of the plan to upgrade the "Brockley Corridor" between Brockley Cross and Honor Oak, a public artwork will be commissioned. Full details of the commission are on the Brockley forum.

There is funding available for an artist to produce a permanent piece or pieces of public art to be sited along this road. The commission must have a link or address the theme of either "environment and air pollution" and "green modes of transport" - sadly the road scheme itself won't do much to address either of these themes, however.

The deadline for initial entries is October 20th and the installation date is March - July 2015.

With thanks to Moira for the information.

Octopump returns!

Octopump should have been a Barbarella villain but is instead a beloved, beery institution, returning to the Royal Albert next week. The team says:

Octopump, The Royal Albert’s annual real ale and cider festival is back for its fourth year, bigger than ever before. This three-day festival, spread across the 26th, 27th and 28th September, boasts over fifteen hand-selected local, and regional real ales and ciders.

To celebrate National Cask Ale Week and the UK’s hop-picking season, Octopump offers a superb selection of Kent based breweries. With the likes of Caveman, Kent Brewery, Canterbury Brewers, Ramsgate, The Canterbury Ales and Whitstable, plus many more found in the ale barn, you will be spoilt for choice and will be constantly kept on your toes throughout the weekend. If cider is more your tipple, Octopump will certainly not disappoint. With an impressive selection of traditional apple and pear ciders, sampling is simply a must.

Providing the soundtrack to the Festival will be an assortment of some of New Cross’ finest local bands and DJs. Deptford veteran DJ Mario will be kicking off proceedings on Friday 26th with his eclectic box of 12” tricks. Saturday is very much a live music affair, featuring Blues, Rockabilly and Reggae four-piece band, John McClean and the Clan. Gather the kids and the family pooch for a lazy Sunday and sip the afternoon away listening to 50’s and 60’s soul and funk chart classics.

If all this wasn’t enough, pop your head into InSitu Project Space, The Royal Albert’s little sister pop-up gallery space, for a gander at the latest group exhibition by Creekside Collective, as part of this year’s Deptford X Festival.

Scotland decides - The Possible Diminution of Greater Greater Brockley (Part 3)

Part 1 covered the costs of independence, Part 2 covered the main debate battlegrounds. Time for predictions.

Nobody knows anything. The pollsters are already offering all kinds of disclaimers. There are no precedents or models. Turnout will be through the roof (the Scots deserve no lollipops for that - if they can't turn up to vote on the subject of whether to create a new state then they really can't govern themselves) and 16 year olds get the vote.

This is not about politics any more, it's about crowd dynamics. The entire country feels the hand of history on their shoulder.

On the basis of their campaigns, neither side deserves to win. No has been utterly useless. It started when they let the Independence campaign own the word "Yes". Then, they surrendered patriotism to the other side, offered a decidedly sheepish defence of Britishness and pretended that independence was not just undesirable but virtually impossible. Every big move they have made seems to have made things worse and offering Devo Max now is insulting to the Scots and to the rest of us.

Yes has been in many ways worse. If you want to start a new state and break one of the most successful countries in the world, it should be incumbent on you to do three things: 1. Deal in facts, not fiction and fantasy. 2. Make a clear and compelling case for what you would do with new powers. 3. Treat those who disagree with respect, rather than mounting witch hunts against all those who dare to demur. They fail on all three counts and frankly, anyone who has been swept up in the hyperbole should be ashamed of themselves.

But who will win?

I'm 30-something, leftish, liberal, Guardian-reading and a Twitter obsessive with lots of 30-something friends, some of whom have revealed them to be Scottish sleeper agents, hopped up on righteous fury, which seems to have little to do with the cosy lives they've carved for themselves down among the Londoners they despise (not you dear reader, the "other" Londoners of popular myth). Yes has all the best tunes (unlike the pop stars who played at their rally this week) and best jokes (well, one joke, about pandas, that got old a long time ago). You can't open a browser for Yes Vines, memes and blogs.

The sense of occasion looks like it's sweeping all before it, just as the Olympics converted the nay-sayers in the final days before the Opening Ceremony. But it's also like the 1987 general election, when as a boy in South East London, it seemed obvious from the crimson blizzard of Labour posters I saw all around me that the left would sweep to power. The mania on display in Glasgow and Edinburgh may not be reflective of the wider population. This result will be a measure of how influential social media has become in Britain.

My bet is that it isn't quite strong enough yet. That the majority of "don't knows" will fall on the side of No. But I expect it to be exactly as close as the polls are predicting and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's Yes. And if it is, then it will both be fascinating and entertaining to see what happens next, for both our countries.

As I wrote, an independent Scotland would certainly be poorer in the first years after the vote, but might make a decent fist of it in the long term. At least as likely, however is that it would grow to mirror Scottish football - an area in which Scotland has fiercely asserted its total independence from England for over a century.

Deprived of a bigger stage on which to flourish, Scottish professional clubs have retreated inwards, been riven by sectarianism, struggled to get into Europe, flirted with financial collapse and lost their best players to the English game. The fate of the national team is entirely in the hands of Scottish football administrators and the country's youth development system has become an unproductive ghetto. Rather than becoming a national game at ease with itself, it is sustained by the occasional moral and actual victory over the English.

Who knows how to govern Scottish football better than the Scottish people themselves?

PS - there is one part of Britain that really is different from the rest.

On any measure of social attitudes, it is a UK outlier. Its way of life is very different to any other part of the country (less likely to do drugs, less likely to drive a car, more likely to have been born elsewhere) and, like Scotland, it has a distinctive culture and iconography, recognisable around the world. It gets the government it votes for about as often as Scotland does and its local assembly has far fewer powers. It produces financial surpluses that make Scotland's oil wealth look like chump change and its population is demonised by the rest of the country on a daily basis. Despite this, it votes for policies and parties that favour redistribution, rejects nationalism and regards those who talk of separating as cranks.

It is of course London - and I am proud to live here among all you other banksters, plutocrats, crooked politicians, chattering classes, oligarchs and all-round spivvy bastards.

Wine tasting at the Brockley Deli

The Brockley Deli is hosting a wine-tasting evening on October 10th, from 8.30pm.

Complimentary meats and cheeses will be served, with tickets costing £25. Proceeds after costs will go to Myatt Garden School. Only 20 tickets are available and for sale from the Deli.

Global Street Art Festival - Get Involved

Londonist has confirmed the news that Brockley has won the right to host the Global Street Art Festival, bringing top wall-sprayers together to transform some of our walls.

Brockley residents mobilised to cast 873 votes, putting us 150 votes ahead of our nearest rival, Walthamstow. Londonist says:

Next steps are for us and Global Street Art to make connections in Brockley, including Lewisham Council and community groups, and start seeking permission to use walls etc. Our intention is to roll out street art festivals across all nominated areas, building on a successful pilot project in Brockley.

They have already been in touch with Brockley Central, asking us to help hook them up with people in the area who may be able to help them put on the show, and since we don't actually know anyone in real life, if you want to be involved, please email us and we will connect you with them.

Brockley Central Label Cloud