I Spy #6


An Oriental influence - but whereabouts in Brockley is it?

57 comments:

Tressillian James said...

Easy - on the entrance to Lewisham College in Breakspears Road - I think it is the symbol of the beauty therapist training school.

BTW it means Heaven and is read Tein in Mandarin and Ten in Japanese

Headhunter said...

I was going to say - that's heaven isn't it?

Tamsin said...

Nice to know.
Presumably as in Tienamen Square..?

Headhunter said...

Yeah, the same character in Tiannanmen Sq. One of my local Tube stops in Osaka when I lived there was "Tennoji" which meant something like "Heavenly Emporer's Temple"... More interesting name than New Cross Gate.

The Cat Man said...

I thought it meant 'day' as in tian?

The Cat Man said...

Just googled it. It means Heaven, but i Know from my studies at SOAS that 'tian tian' means everyday.

I have no idea how they are related...!

Headhunter said...

In Chinese it's all about the character. The language is tonal, so, for example "tian" with a downward inflection may refer to the symbol we have here and mean heaven but "tian" with an upward inflection could refer to a completely different symbol and meaning. To western ears the 2 words may sound exactly the same. I think there are 7 tonal ranges in Mandarin Chinese so there could be 7 different versions of "tian" all with completely different meanings. A bit like drawer and draw in English perhaps, but on a much more complex scale.

Tamsin said...

Rincewind trying to speak Agatean in Interesting times - and the "poisonwood" bible.

New Cross Gate (as I think I may have said here before a long time ago) is quite interesting when you know its origins.
Pilgrim route to Canterbury - thirsty holy pilgrims - the Cross Inn - fell or burnt down - the New Cross Inn (like the two Tigers Heads at Lee Green) - grotty roads - turnpikes - Tollbooth and turnpike gate near (well fairly near in those un-built up days) the New Cross Inn - New Cross Gate. This particular turnpike company was very successful and there is actually a pub called the New Cross Turnpike out Welling way. (A pub named after a commercial enterprise named after a pub....)
As a side issue - when the railways came New Cross and what is now New Cross Gate were operated by different companies (why one designates its platforms with letters and one with numbers) and both were called just New Cross. After all the different companies were merged into regions, so they were both now in Southern Region, it was just too confusing so the one closest to the older turnpike gate was called New Cross Gate.
Here ends the history lesson. Cards with pictures of the New Cross Toll Booth available from the Telegraph Hill Society and there will be a local history walk as part of the Telegraph Hill Festival on 22nd March.
Here ends the commercial...

Headhunter said...

I heard that the gate referred to the turnpike, I picked NC Gate out of the air but actually it does have an interesting history, I suppose I shouldn't sell the area short...

Monkeyboy said...

Tamsin, have you seen this little nugget of local history? A map of V2 hits, looks like they just missed me.

Monkeyboy said...

...and if you zoom into the satelite view you can see that the impact sites are full of 1950's/60's new builds. Adolf Hitler - Nazi, vegetarian, one testicle and town planner.

Tamsin said...

Well I've heard it said that it was Goering who was the main benefactor of the NCP - when I first came up to London in the 1980s most central London car parks were former bomb-sites.
Interesting map, thank-you monkey boy. And the numbers of casualties! Truely terrible.

nobbly brick said...

There's a large map at the Imperial War Museum (not sure if it's still on display) that had a little flag for every occurance of the falling of a V1 on greater London (during the last war). I first saw it when I lived in Telegraph Hill and it made sense of all the 'new' houses scattered amongst the terraces.

Xiayng said...

The things you end up doing when you can't sleep.. here's the Chinese lesson you always wanted.

This character is indeed "tian", first tone, pronounced "tee-en" very quickly. It means both "sky" and "heaven", both first tone (a high, flat tone), and is used in compounds with other characters to mean season, time of day, god, weather, nature, natural...

For those who are interested, there are four tones plus a neutral tone in Mandarin Chinese, and six plus a neutral tone in Cantonese.

Because Chinese is character-based, there have been many ways of transliterating the sounds into Western spelling over the years. The system most widely used now and recognised by China is pinyin (literally "spell the sound"), but older systems like Wade-Giles are still around so you will often see different Western spellings of the same Chinese character.

When you double up the same character it makes it plural or intensifies it. So "tian tian" means every day, usually in a descriptive way e.g. The bus is late every day, or "day after day the bus is late". But if you mean actually every day in a factual way (such as "You have to take these tablets every day") you would be more likely to say "mei tian", where "mei" means "every".

The fact that Chinese is a character-based language means you can really play around with a character having both a literal meaning and a figurative meaning.

There's one other character pronounced exactly the same way (same sound, same tone), which means "to add or increase". And five other characters pronounced "tian" but with other tones, meaning variously: "Sweet" or "soundly", "tranquil" or "carefree", "to fill or stuff", "field" or "farmland" and lastly, "lick".

Hope that was interesting! And use your "tian"s with care!

Bea said...

Thanks - that was very interesting!

I knew the symbol is pronounced Ten in Japanese and means heaven or sky but it is great to read all about the various uses of the sound "tien" in Chinese.

After all these years it is astonishing how close the two sounds still are in Japanese and Chinese.

I always think the writing for tempura is great - 天ぷら - heavenly food!

nobbly brick said...

But does the sign conform to conservation area guidelines as laid down, and occasionally enforced, by the Council?

Anonymous said...

Certainly not. BAN THEM!

Headhunter said...

Interesting stuff about Chinese characters. So the character for heaven and sky is the same as the character for every day (tian tian)?

Reading Japanese characters is always a nightmare too, each character can have as many as 5 or 6 ways of pronunciation, depending on how it is used. There are no rules as far as I know, the pronunciation of the character just depends on which word you're using the character in.

Headhunter said...

That V2 blast map is very interesting. Only 1 hit in the conservation area, at the bottom of Wickham Rd where all those 60s council blocks are. I had heard that was V2 damage...

Tressillian James said...

BTW - has anyone else noticed that the photo is back-to-front? (or the sign is badly written)?

(Cue tirade of sign/conservation area related idiotic comments)

Tressillian James said...

HH - not sure that the V2 map is fully complete - but what it doesn't show are the V1 damage - which also hit the area

nobbly brick said...

Was it V2 only? It's a long time since my son was young enough to be taken to a museum by his father...

From vague memory I thought it showed a V1/2 landing at the bottom of Arbuthnot, and several other around Telegraph Hill.

Tressillian James said...

Nobby - was refering to the map Monkeyboy linked to this thread - haven't seen the one at the Imperial War Museum

nobbly brick said...

Oh yes, I missed that link completely.

(note to self: must read monkeyboys messages with more care)

Headhunter said...

Yeah may be it's only V2. the V1 was less damaging I heard. Not only cuold they not carry such large payloads, but they didn't travel faster than the speed of sound so you could hear them coming. I remember my grandparents telling me that you were alright until the engine sound stopped and the thing literally fell out of the sky. So as soon as the noise stopped you ran for cover.

The V2 was completely different - it travelled at faster than mach 1 and there was no warning at all. 1 minute you were walking down the street, next minute you were being blown across it. Or you could have been in the kitchen making a cuppa when suddenly the kitchen was coming down about your ears. They must have been terrifying times to have lived. I read somewhere that if the V2 had been invented earlier in the war, before the allies were literally on Berlin's doorstep, they could have been very decisive in the outcome for the Nazis.

Wasn't there a big V1 or V2 hit in New Cross by the then Woolworths? I didn't check the map. I seem to remember it was one of the largest losses of life in 1 spot for the whole war or something. It landed on a busy Saturday morning when people were shopping.

Tamsin said...

Yes, over 140 people in one incident and about half a dozen never identified. (Part of the plot of the radio play fabhat mentioned last week - that an unmarried mother took the opportunity to cut and run and abandon her five year old son to be looked after by friends.)
We have a photograph of the aerial survey of Telegraph Hill just after the War - lots of gaps and, course, St. Catherine's Church was reduced to a shell for the second time in thirty years. But a lot of it was normal blitz, as the Luftwaffe would unload their bombs here if the ack-ack was too hot over central London and there were also all the nice shiny rail-tracks to aim at.
Sudden death from the air must be a terrible thing to try to live with....

drakefell debaser said...

Yes, around 168 people died in Woolworths. There is another map linked in the comments section of the Londonist which reckons 238 people died in total from V2 strikes in the Brockley, Telegraph Hill and New Cross areas.

Going by that map I live about 10 minutes walk away from 5 different blast sites. The inhabitants at the time must have had nerves of steel.

patrick1971 said...

Is that V2 shown at Crofton Park station accurate? Can't think of any new buildings around there, IIRC it's just an ordinary streetscape. Will have to have a closer look.

There are clear bombsites on the corner of Brockley Grove and Marnock Road, now occupied by a 1960s block of flats, and on the corner of Ewhurst and Crofton Park Roads. These must have been either a V1 or a plain old standard bomb!

Headhunter said...

I remember my dad's parents telling us when we were very young about their experiences in WW2. They lived near Luton and said that during the blackout, if they looked out of the front room bay window they could see fire reflecting off the night sky in distance as London burned.

Bea said...

TJ - well spotted! You're right! The fatter longer stroke should be on the right - not the left.

Nobbly Brick - since it's not a shop front but one of the college entrances (in the modern extension – 60s / 70s build?) I suspect it gets different guidelines!

Monkeyboy said...

Von Braun had plans for a two stage rocket that could of reached New York from Europe. Couple that with THE BOMB that they were working on and who knows? Although apparently the information available now suggests that the Nazi's were not as far along path to nukes as was thought and getting one to work on an intercontinental rocket would have been a bit of a chore.

[mind you, I would have been on the axis side in the last war so would have been lauding it over you lot if we'd won]

Headhunter said...

Yeah it was the start of missile technology. The Americans took the German scientists to the US to help with their own nuke and missile efforts.

Did anyone see that documentary a few months ago about UFOs? There was a very intriguing bit about UFOs spotted over Germany by allied bomber planes. They called them Foo Fighters (like the band).

There is some indication that there was top secret work by German scientists at the time to use magnetism to power incredible manoeuverable saucer shaped flying objects, and after the war a strange base was discovered in a forest, however all documentation had been shredded and burned so know one knew anything about it or could pick up on the work.

Or at least that is the official line, however some people think that these German scientists were whisked off to the US to Area 51 to embark on new research into flying technology and the US government nurtured the UFO theory to hide military research being conducted.

Allied bomber pilots and navigators etc frequently reported brightly coloured discs darting about in the night sky as they headed towards their targets.

Conspiracy theory!

Monkeyboy said...

Don't go getting all David Icke on us.

...and of course it turned out that Von Braun was not in fact a Nazi sympathiser at all. He just joined the SS 'cos he liked the uniform so that's all right then.

Tressillian James said...

"The inhabitants at the time must have had nerves of steel."

I'm afraid DD that only the poorer inhabitants had to have the nerves. It was at this time that the Brockley Conservation area emptied out as the middle classes took to the country. After the war the council picked up the properties as they became run down.

Headhunter said...

They actually filmed the mysterious "base" in the forest, it still exists so that part is correct. No one has yet come up with a proper explanation for it, however there are very heavy electric cables leading underground indicating that whatever it was used for required enormous magnetic or electrical current, also various control panels etc still in situ but no one knows what they were for

Tamsin said...

Wow, intriguing.
Did anyone see the drama/doc. series about the space race a year or so back? Really good. Starting with Von Braun and his team clearing out of Pienemunde and fleeing south, then hiding more from the Nazis than the allies. His comment was that he was looking to surrender to the Americans - he was scared of the Russians and the British could not afford him.

Monkeyboy said...

Three must read books for space nerds...

A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts [Andrew Chaikin]

Moondust [Andrew Smith]

The Right Stuff [Tom Wolfe]

from 'I Spy' to 'Apollo' in five easy steps.....

Brockley Kate said...

The photo isn't back to front.

Tressillian James said...

..then the sign is...that can't be good feng shui

Tressillian James said...

so Kate...is it at Lewisham College?

Anonymous said...

On the subject, what's the best chinese in the area?

My vote is Mae Hong in Ladywell but open to suggestions?

patrick1971 said...

Haven't been to Mae Hong but will check it out. I don't think either of the ones in Crofton Park (the one in Ewhurst Road, and the one next door to the launderette on Brockley Road, opposite Mr Lawrence's) are up to much. The rice from Ewhurst Road is often very dry.

Tamsin said...

@ Monkeyboy - I absorb it all at second hand and I don't think my husband goes with the Tom Wolfe take on it (certainly not the film version). However we do have a couple of shelves of books on the space programme - including compilation re-prints of the NASA reports for Apollo 7 thru' 17.

Monkeyboy said...

you read just one, read Moondust. It's less technical and more about the mood and thoughts of the astronauts. Especially like the story of how one of the ageing, grizzly ex-Apollo astronauts got so sick and tired of the conspiracy theorists that he decked a reporter from Japan when he stuck a microphone in his face to ask him about faking the landing. And the toilet arrangements, think plastic bags with double sided tape that you were supposed to stick to your bum. I won't go on but one of the chaps bunged himself up with pills rather then poo in a capsule the size of a VW Beatle with two other guys holding there noses.

Anonymous said...

next

Tamsin said...

To stay off topic - but on the new mini-topic of the Apollo missions. Chaikin's book meets with a nod of approval but I am told the best single book is "Apollo: the race to the moon" by Murray & Cox. The astronauts, while not denigrating their laid-back courage, were but the tip of the iceberg and this is the back stories, well told, of the team-work and engineering achievement behind it all.

Ralph said...

Some more local info on V1/V2

http://www.flyingbombsandrockets.com/V1_summary_se4.html

Anonymous said...

Evidently, 1944 in particular was one shit year for Brockley.

Kind of puts the lack of local organic fairtrade olive oil into perspective, doesn't it?

Ralph said...

And down the road ... but no SE13 in the incident log. On a par with the NX Woolys job?

http://www.flyingbombsandrockets.com/V1_maintexti.html

Brockley Kate said...

TJ - apols for the delay - yes you are right!

I am beginning to wonder if I'll ever manage to find an 'I Spy' which isn't guessed by someone within about five posts!!!
(Anyone with ideas, email me ...)

Headhunter said...

Ah yes, the Lewisham market V1, heard about that 1 too. Interesting that you can see that building in the B&W photo, the one which now houses Yates's and Fitness First (I think). I have always wondered what it was designed for though - it has little art deco steam trains, propeller planes and steam ships embossed into the brick work near the top...

fabhat said...

HH - are those tiles from when it was part of the Army and Navy stores? They were certainly next door to the market for a long time - where the police station is now - with a bridge linking the Lewisham Centre and the Army and Navy for a seamless shopping experience.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget the Lewisham Odeon where I saw Adam and the Ants (and probably some others) in 1981.

Headhunter said...

May be it was the Army & Navy Stores but it almost looks as though it was deisgned for some kind of travel company

Anonymous said...

According to RV Jones book on the technology and intelligence battle during WWII. The V1 and V2 were not particularly effective weapons compared to the tonnage that could be carried by bombers. They were very inaccurate. But they satisfied Hitlers desire for a spectacular terror weapon. They were effectively the Cruise missiles of their day.

Apparently SE London got hit a lot because MI5 fed false information to known spyies suggesting that the V1s and V2 were hitting too far to the North West. This encouraged to Germans to tweak the range limiter and a lot of bombs fell short of London.

Brockley was certainly not the place to be in 1944 and early 1945. The anticipation of a V1s motor cutting out must have been terrifying. Apparently there was an Anti Aircraft gun on Hilly Fields.

I wonder if kids get taught about this sort of local history. One would have thought that they would find it quite riveting.

Tressilliana said...

When my children were at Gordonbrock, they got taught about some of it. One of the governors was a child at the school when war broke out and he used to go in and talk to the children, and also lead local walks where they looked at the old workhouse etc. There were also two teaching assistants there who had lived as children in prefabs on the Hilly Fields side of Adelaide Avenue. They were only removed in late 50s/early 60s, I think.

Fascinating thread this, all round! I do love this blog.

Fizzy said...

Headhunter: the art deco building with the cast concrete motifs etc was actually a Co-op.

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