Brockley PFI criticised by NAO

Lewisham Council has been criticised in a report by the National Audit Office for allowing the cost of the Brockley PFI scheme to improve the area's Council-owned housing stock to spiral out of control.

The Evening Standard reports that the Brockley scheme is one of six to be singled out, after the cost rose from £44.6 million to £115.91 million.

The Standard quotes a Lewisham spokesperson as saying:

“The change in cost was required because many of the properties in the Brockley PFI area required a high level of investment.”

Which is a pretty flimsy explanation, given that the condition of the stock would be one of the fundamental issues in pricing any contract.

The Brockley PFI scheme has been riddled with problems since it began and local resident Patrick McGinley has been leading a campaign to try and hold the Council more accountable for the way it manages the project. We've interviewed him on the subject but have been shamefully slack in publishing an article. More soon.

Goldsmiths Point replaces Telegraph Hill

Ross: So it's said that by the year 2030, there'll be computers that can carry out the same number of functions as an actual human brain. So theoretically we could download our thoughts and our memories into this computer...
Janine: ...and live forever as a machine!
Ross: That's so Janine, you-you-you know what, do you know we're doing right now? You and I, we're interfacing.
Janine: Yeah, I gotta go.

- Friends

Londonist has a brilliant visualisation of London's twitter topography, mapped by UCL. The more tweets an area produces, the higher it appears on the map.

Deptford, Goldsmiths, Lewisham and Forest Hill have the most tweets locally, with Honor Oak and Crofton Park appearing as Twitter's Death Valley. That seems to tally with our ocacsional twitter scans, which produce loads of tweets about Brockley and Deptford but very little about Crofton Park.

Brockley Central is edging close to the 1,000 followers mark, so please come and join us.

Brockley shops - no vacancies

Brockley Central is now the proud co-owner of a shop. Or rather, of a potentially crippling lease and an empty shell.

You’ll be hearing plenty about it in due course, but our shop isn’t the point of this article. The point is our thwarted efforts to locate it in Brockley.

Having urged others to invest in Brockley, we were keen to put our money where our mouth was. Not only do we think it would have been a viable location, it would have been perfect in terms of work-life balance.

The problem was finding a location. It’s not a business that would have been able to rely on local custom alone, so it needed to be close to good public transport links – in particular the ELL. So Crofton Park was out. It also needed to be the sort of place people enjoyed spending long periods of time, in a fairly attractive setting. So sticking it next to City Noodles or next to the bridge on Mantle Road was probably out of the question. It also needed to be reasonably big. The old holistic centre on the corner of Cranfield was too cramped and problematic in terms of layout. The unit next to the Shop on the Hill is tiny. And so on.

There was one site that fitted the bill. In a beautiful location, close to Brockley Station. Nice and big, on two levels. And available. The old Moore’s grocery shop on Upper Brockley Road was on the market to-let. The building was / is in a shocking state: Antiquated electrics, crumbly stairs, peeling walls and ceilings. It would have taken a lot of work. But that was OK, because the asking price reflected that and the fact that Upper Brockley Road has relatively little footfall.

We offered the asking price with the caveat that we’d need the standard rent-free period to complete the building works. Irritatingly, however, someone else was sniffing around at the same time – and we were told they were the preferred bidders. As disappointed as we were to hear that, we did at least console ourselves with the fact that if we missed out, at least we’d have a new business on our doorstep (apparently, the plan was to create a child-friendly venue of some-sort). But then we were told that the property had been withdrawn from the market altogether. The landlords had other plans. We don’t know what they are, but they obviously haven’t happened yet (months later) and we’ve been keeping a beady eye out for a planning application.

So that’s it. The last shop on Brockley’s historic high-street is gone for the foreseeable future. A business (whether ours or our rival’s), which would have created local economic activity has been thwarted.

And it highlights a wider problem. With the honourable exception of Crofton Park, the area’s supply of high-quality retail spaces is already small and in danger of dwindling. In Ladywell, the owners of the “Night Watch” shop, slap-bang in the middle of the high-street are hoping to develop the residential space above by shrinking the retail space down to about 30 square metres, which would severely limit the kind of businesses that could operate there. The Council has focused on demanding more retail space be built at the bottom of new developments on Mantle Road and Brockley Cross, but those are not where many retailers want to be, as the ongoing vacancies prove.

The answer, as ever, must be to concentrate on improving our existing high-streets. To develop high-quality sites on Brockley and Ladywell Roads and to prevent the loss of such spaces as we do have, so long as the demand from businesses demonstrably exists.

Aladdin's Cave - Clutches of sad remains, millions weep a fountain

We're always reluctant to pronounce time of death for a local business, but weeks after BC readers first reported that it was loooking suspiciously closed, Aladdin's Cave, the Crofton Park cafe, is still showing no signs of life.

It seemed a little confused about what kind of place it was and the passer-by might have struggled to guess what it had to offer, but nonetheless readers had given the coffee and service pretty positive reviews. We're sorry to say it looks like it's fulfilled the Seinfeld prophecy. BC is very bad man.

In other news on this strip, the Thai Mini Mart is still closed and BC regular Paddyom reports the Crofton Park mini mart has changed owners, with no visible side-effects.

Brockley photographers

The Brockley group on Flickr has over 120 members, whose work is featured in Brockley Central's photography section - the most popular part of the site, after the home page and the map.

One member, Tim, is hoping to meet up with other photographers in the area, to share ideas and techniques and start group projects with a view to creating a local exhibition. If you'd like to get involved, visit the discussion section of the group.

Brockley Flatshare

Please use this thread to post details of any flatshares you are organising or looking for in Brockley, Ladywell, Telegraph Hill, St John's, Nunhead and Honor Oak.

Eat Meet Supperclub

Brockley's first supper club organiser held her first full evening this weekend. Julie says:

Diners included food bloggers and life-long supperclub aficionados who tucked into a fruity-themed four course feast in our back garden.

Guests were thrust a cucumber gin cooler on arrival before they sat down to a salad starter of watermelon, green beans and halloumi with a mint dressing. Next was the main course of roasted Gressingham duck with cider baked puy lentils, watercress and pomegranate. Dessert was earl grey panna cotta with boozy berries and lemon and poppy seed mini biscuits.

More wine and water flowed and as the sun finally went down over Telegraph Hill, while the fruity-theme was continued in the cheese course of five british cheeses, quince jelly, homemade apple chutney and homemade spelt digestive biscuits.

Local foodie blogger Hollow Legs went and gave it her blessing:

"For £25 and to bring your own booze, it was a great evening; really interesting and chatty people, and lovely hosts in Julie and Sophie, who sat down with us at the end. Heartily recommended."

The next event is a singles night - persuading men to come to a supperclub singles night is apparently notoriously difficult, but we're sure Brockley can buck the trend.

Visit http://eatmeetsupperclub.blogspot.com for details.



or search for us on facebook to find future events or book for the next one... which is a singles event (roll-up roll-up men! We still have spaces for three single gents).

Football, bloody El

No Wickham for us yesterday. We inadvertently organized a children’s birthday party to coincide with the England v Germany match. At the moment it dawned on us what we had done, it seemed disastrous, but by the second-half, the opportunity to stop watching so we could fetch a five year old a drink came as blessed relief.

Because it coincided with the football, the kids’ party attracted a large number of adults too, so we gave local catering company El’s Kitchen a try. Run by Ladywell resident Eleanor, El’s Kitchen is a catering business in-search of a long-term home in one of our high streets. Until she finds one, she runs the business from her own home and through Facebook.

Our order cost £7 per head (an introductory offer) and was extremely good value. We ordered a mixture of feta parcels, bread sticks, salads, polenta cakes and – perhaps subconsciously fearful of being accused on here of sounding too right-on – pork scratchings.

The food was great and well-reviewed by everyone at the party, even those who’d had enough booze to be candid. We hope El finds a shop soon, until then, find her here.

New pilates classes in Ladywell

The classifieds section of Brockley Central features everything from pet therapists to Thai Chi classes. The latest addition is pilates classes that have recently begun in Ladywell. More here.

The Big Dance 2010



Once Don Simpson - then Paramount's star producer - had managed to commandeer the project, he fired Hedley and hired a new screenwriter, Joe Eszterhas, who was dispatched to Vancouver to research the story. On his return Eszterhas was downbeat: "The terrible news is there are no flashdance bars. They don't exist," he told Simpson. "The good news is we can just make it up."
- High Concept: Don Simpson And The Hollywood Culture Of Excess by Charles Fleming

We normally hate Eurovision with a passion. The UK’s repeated, self-inflicted humiliations in the contest make England’s performance against Algeria look dignified. Then of course, there are the songs. And pretty much everything else. But this year featured not only a German Kate Nash and a Norwegian Jamie Theakston but also one of the best things ever made: A mass dance that starts with a bouncer comically bundling people out of the way of the camera and grows in to a rousing affirmation of the European ideal that would give even the average Telegraph reader goosepimples.

The Laban dance centre aims to do something similar with the people of Lewisham as part of a project called Big Dance 2010. Here’s what they say:

Join in the Big Dance for Lewisham by learning a routine specially choreographed to get the whole borough dancing, at home, at work and at school.

Laban’s Big Dance team will be in Lewisham Town Centre to teach the routine between 11.30am and 3pm on Saturday 26 June. They’ll be joined by Bass Station and DJs from the British DJ and MC Academy. For those people who can’t make that date, there’s a chance to learn the routine from a video on Laban’s website at www.laban.org Over the next few weeks the Big Dance Team from Laban dance centre will also be out and about in the borough helping people learn the fun and simple dance routine. The dance can be learnt by people of all ages and abilities, from toddlers to older people.

The final Big Dance performance will take place at Lewisham People’s Day on Saturday 10 July in Mountsfield Park (www.lewisham.gov.uk/peoplesday). For those who haven’t yet had a chance to learn the routine or for those who want to perfect their dance moves, workshops will run during the day from noon. At 4pm, everyone will be invited to the Main Stage to perform the dance to a live performance of the 1980s hit Walking on Sunshine by Katrina, formerly of Katrina and the Waves. Laban is offering free Big Dance workshops to workplaces around the borough.

If you would like Laban to visit your workplace, please contact Louise Jardine at l.jardine@laban.org or 020 8691 8600.

The project is part of T-Mobile Big Dance 2010, the London-wide celebration of dance taking place from 3-11 July. The bi-annual event is the world’s biggest and most influential dance initiative, showcasing the diversity of dance styles and cultural attractions in the capital. Across nine days, dance will be staged in unusual places throughout the city - shops, parks, galleries and museums.

Led by the Mayor of London in partnership with Arts Council England, Big Dance is also being funded by Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity set up to help build a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from the 2012 Olympic Games. T-Mobile Big Dance in the South East is being coordinated by Greenwich Dance, one of the city’s five Big Dance Hubs. Laban’s Big Dance for Lewisham has been commissioned by Greenwich Dance and is supported by Lewisham Council.

Project Manager Louise Jardine says: “More and more people are getting enthusiastic about dance, thanks in part to the number of TV programmes that have brought it to new audiences. That’s why Big Dance for Lewisham is so exciting – it really is for everyone and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never danced before. We’ve already started getting out and about teaching the routine to people and we’re excited to see how many people will turn up for the final performance. Watch this space!”

For more information, see www.laban.org and www.bigdance2010.com

The Brockley Budget

Beyond the Brockley bubble, there is a momentous budget going on. Please feel free to use this thread to discuss it!

The Big Lunch in Brockley

The Big Lunch is an attempt to get the British to sit down together in public and enjoy a lunch party together. This year, the organisation is doing without the cloying TV adverts and - in Brockley at least - it seems to have paid off.

Last year, there were three events locally, this year there are eight, with others in Deptford, Honor Oak and Nunhead.

In Telegraph Hill, the organisers have cannily combined a Big Lunch on Kitto Road with the opening event for the Bold Vision "Hill Station" cafe and meeting place. In addition to the meal itself, there will be live music, a craft fair and a children's blanket sale.

Local resident Charlotte is also planning an informal picnic and games day in Hilly Fields as part of the celebrations and has created a Facebook group for the event here.

Other events are taking place on Adelaide Avenue, Rokeby Road, Dundalk Road, Arthurdon Road, Comerford Road and at the Salehurst / Manwood / Glynde / Ewhurst Road collective.

This is Brockley. Alight here for...

There are a lot of unexpected details that the tube's arrival in Brockley has turned up.

- The tannoy announcer system struggles to keep up with the frequency of the new service, so anyone hanging around the station for more than a few minutes is subjected to an unremitting stream of live commentary on arrivals, departures and delays.

- Brockley Station now feels naked without a proper tube map.

- And the East London Line stations themselves are one of the best illustrations of the north / south divide in London. Every station north of the river feels like a major metropolitan hub – every station south, with the exception of Canada Water, feels sleepy and provincial.

But the thing that has most struck us is that when you arrive at New Cross Gate, you’re told to alight for Goldsmiths. At Brockley, we’ve got nothing. There is no reason to get off. Even at Surrey Quays they offer you the chance to change trains.

So if the operating company were willing to change the commentary to give passengers a sense of what they are missing every time they pass through Brockley, what would we ask people to alight for?

Flooding back

By the year 2000, the term "working class" had fallen into disuse in the United States, and "proletariat" was so obsolete it was known only to a few bitter old Marxist academics with wire hair sprouting out of their ears. The average electrician, air-conditioning mechanic, or burglar-alarm repairman lived a life that would have made the Sun King blink.

- Tom Wolfe, Hooking Up

Don't call it a comeback, he's been here for years. Rockin his peers and puttin suckas in fear.

Former Telegraph Hill Councillor Chris Flood has stepped in to the blogging ring, offering - at last - a Socialist Alternative to the suffocatingly right-wing dialectic that dominates Lewisham politics.

Highlights so-far include a preview of a jobs protest in Deptford planned for tomorrow and why it's OK to like football because Maradona is friends with Castro.

Hilly Fields orchard planned for November

The Transition Brockley website has provided an update on the group's plans for a small orchard in Hilly Fields.

We are proposing to plant 7 [apple] trees on the level patch of grass at the bottom of the slope with the stone circle. Semi-mature trees on the patch will be retained, and planting will be amongst the existing trees.

It is suggested to hold the planting event on 27th November, with training of park users and Transition Town members planned for the 6th or 7th November (to be confirmed).

The modest plans don't appear to interfere with anyone's enjoyment of the park.

Campaigners fight Goldsmiths nursery closure

Goldsmiths, University of London has announced that it will close its nursery by September. The nursery is currently used by the children of staff and students and a campaign group has been formed to fight the decision.


The campaigners argue that the nursery is an important part of the College's commitment to be an equal opportunities employer and academic centre. They also believe that the current facility is highly-successful, providing an educational, friendly and safe environment. They want, at the very least, to keep the nursery open for another year, to give people time to make alternative arrangements for their children.

The College argues that the nursery operates at a loss of £70,000 a year and cannot be sustained.

To sign the petition, click here.

Team Geddes Race for Life

Following last year's charity training sessions, the Geddes goddesses will be taking part in this year's Race for Life on Blackheath, July 4th.


The hair and beauty salon team aim to raise £2,000 for Cancer Research UK by completing the 10K challenge. You can sponsor the team here.

Cockpit Arts Open Studios

18-22 Creekside, London, SE8 3DZ
Sat 19 June - Sun 20 June: 11.00 am - 6.00 pm


In addition to today's Hilly Fields Summer Fayre, the Deptford creative business incubator Cockpit Arts is hosting an Open Studios event this weekend.

165 designer / makers will be exhibiting their work and visitors will be able to take part in a range of workshops.

Thamesworld - Liquid History

Promenade theatre is the new skateboarding.

Starting tomorrow and running until Tuesday, the Deptford Stories Company is staging daily performances along the banks of the Thames (except Monday) of a play which celebrates the history of the river, culminating in a celebration of the Windrush's docking in Tilbury.

They say:

Stories of the river over hundreds of years woven into drama laced withhumour. Stories of Irish, Eastern European and West Indian communitiesinterweave with Dockers, Lascars and ship yard workers who crammed into thebustling neighbourhoods. Songs play their part: Waterloo Sunset, Lord Kitchener’s Empire Windrush Calypso, The Israelites and more.

Saturday June 19 2.30pm
Sunday June 20 3.00pm
Tuesday June 22 6.00pm prompt (or we’ll get swamped by high tide)

Wear flat shoes!

Meeting point: The Hoy, 193 Creek Road, London, SE8 3BU

Tickets £5, numbers limited, children over 10 only.

Contact: TonyOleary2@sky.com or jenny@jennyharris.org

With thanks to Tyrwhitt Michael.

Pistachios confirms interest in our park

Pistachios in the Park have confirmed their interest in working with the Council to create a cafe in Hilly Fields, an idea that Mayor Bullock recently gave his support to.

The company already operates popular cafes in parks in Hither Green and East Greenwich (among others) and told us that they believe Hilly Fields has all the ingredients for a successful park cafe, with the right level of community use to support a business.

They stressed that the project was still at an early stage in planning the but said they are "keen to continue working with the council to offer a soulution which will benefit the local community."

It was a visit to their Manor Gardens cafe a few years ago, which first convinced BC that a Hilly Fields cafe would be a success, so it's heartening to know that an experienced, high-quality operator is interested in taking on the project.

Football, bloody hell

OK, so at least we're not Spain. Or France. Or Australia. World Cup glory is still ours for the taking. All he needs to do is put Joe Cole or Gerrard on the left and another keeper between the posts and we'll be fine.

As for places to watch the game, we have this feedback from the USA game at the Wickham.

It was pleasingly crowded - full, without being sweatily so. Good mix of grizzled Wickham stalwarts and the young and the beautiful. Only one very tall man standing in the middle of the room. Service was reasonable after a slow start and the BBQ was nice. Good atmosphere, no aggro. The screens were well placed and of a decent size.

On the down side, anyone standing too close to the men's toilets (as we did) will suffer from the smell, which seems to be a persistent problem, the reception was a bit rubbish and the sound was too low, especially in the beginning. Hopefully, they will fix these issues for tonight's game, just as Capello solves all of England's problems.

If you watched it here or somewhere else, please share your experiences.

Ward Assemblies v The Enemies of Reason

While Brockley Central was collecting chairs from Crystal Palace, Transpontine was doing some proper local journalism and has this report from last night's Telegraph Hill Ward Assembly, which focused primarily on the great skate debate.

By the sounds of things, the Assembly format once-again proved its value, diffusing an issue that had escalated in to hyperbole and acrimony and which attracted around 200 people to the debate.

It sounds as though a way forward has been found which will suit everyone - assumptions that the lower park was not an option were found to be false and that now looks the most likely location, as well as the most sensible.

Well done everyone. Society's not broken after all.

Fibre-optic broadband coming to Brockley soon (via Deptford and Forest Hill)

BT is rolling out its new fibre optic broadband network 'BT Infinity' to the exchanges which serve Brockley later this year.

On September 30th, it will turn on the service at Deptford, which serves Brockley. From December 31st, it will switch on the network at Forest Hill, which covers those parts of the BC area not covered by the Deptford exchange.

BT says the new cables will deliver download speeds of up to 40mb and upload speeds of 10mb, which means we will be able to abuse eachother at the speed of light. It will also enhance gaming and on-demand service delivery and of course, make life easier for many small businesses and freelance workers in the area, particularly for those currently unable to get Virgin.

Thinkbroadband reports the service will cost "£19.99 a month with a 20GB usage limit (£50 connection fee applies). The unlimited usage variant will cost £24.99 a month, but does save you the £50 connection fee. It also increases the upload speed from 2Mbps to 10Mbps."

Thanks to BCer Phil who spotted it.

Three suspects arrested in connection with Howson Road murder

Police have now questioned three men in connection with the murder of Matthew Clement on Howson Road in May.

The police are still urging witnesses to come forward.

DCI Hutchison said: "We still need to speak to anyone who heard or saw people on Howson Road, Whitbread Road or the surrounding streets between midnight and two o'clock on the morning of Sunday 30 May, and to anyone who heard shots or sounds of a disturbance."
Anyone with information should call the police on 020 8247 4553 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

The London Bubble comes to Hilly Fields


Jez: [whispering] When do we get to go out?
Mark: [whispering] As far as I can make out, we get to go out for a bit in an hour, then we have to come back for two hours.
Jez: You're kidding. I think I'll die.
Mark: If this was on television, nobody would be watching.
Jez: Oh God. Why aren't we watching television? I've got Heat on DVD at home. We're watching this, when for less money we could be watching Robert de Niro and Al Pacino.

- Peep Show

The lovely London Bubble theatre meets the greatest poet-author who ever lived in Hilly Fields, in a summer event custom-built for Brockley Central's viewing pleasure. From August 11-14th, they'll be performing "promenade-style", click on the poster above for more details:

Join the acclaimed ‘London Bubble Theatre Company’ on a journey from Earth to Titan via Mars and Mercury. This year’s production is an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s classic space-comedy, The Sirens of Titan, which foretells the space race and the creation of synthetic life while lovingly poking fun at our continual search for the meaning of life. Included with the tickets to the play is an entrance to the Rumfoord Mansion, an opportunity to stroke the Harmoniums of Mercury, and a chance to learn how to survive on Goofball oxygen supplies!

Skate park debate: SPAG hope to grind out the right result




Concept design based on the Croydon skate park

The Telegraph Hill Skate Park Action Group (SPAG) have delivered 4,000 leaflets ahead of the public meeting on the 17th, in an effort to win support for their plans. With two days to go, they say they have three streets left to deliver to. Despite the fact that some people have kickflipped about the idea, they hope that by giving the issue air time on Thursday, they will win people round. Although we have no truck with those who fear our young people, we spoke to the kingpins at SPAG to ask them about some of the issues raised on this thread.

The group hopes to create a concrete skating rink in Telegraph Hill, to be used by local children, from infant school age to teenage. Their plans are modelled on a similar facility in Croydon (pictured) and designed to cater for a slightly younger skater, providing a local alternative to places in Ladywell and Peckham and keeping skaters off the streets outside people's houses and in the line of traffic. Based on their surveys in Peckham, they expect an average of 15-20 children to use the park every day.

The most likely location for the park is the Upper Park of Telegraph Hill, at the bottom of the slope that faces towards the city, out of sight of anyone hoping to enjoy the stunning views, below the picnic benches, near the gates.

SPAG are not fixated on using the Upper Park and acknowledge that the loss of green space and proximity to some houses are understandable concerns. They told Brockley Central that they'd gladly locate on any suitable site within the ward. They'd like to work with the Council and the community to get their park built in the most acceptable location. However, options are very limited.

The idea of closing Kitto Road to create a park there proved understandably challenging, with the group told that they would not receive planning permission. Walbutton Road was also suggested but it appears that the land is targetted for an expansion of Crossways Academy.

Sites in the lower park were the group's preferred option and one of the organisers tells us that siting it in the lower park is still an outside possibility. The group are still open to alternative suggestions from anyone with a good idea.

Mayor Bullock: Cafe could work in Hilly Fields

A while back, we wrote that the success of the new children's playground in Hilly Fields meant that creating a cafe in Hilly Fields has become an even better idea than it was before. A cafe would complete a wonderful park, turning it in to a real destination.

There are three things that need to happen to make that idea a reality:

1. There must be private interest in running a cafe
2. There must be public support for creating such a facility
3. There must be Council permission for the project to go ahead

We know from conversation with one South East London entrepreneur that there is private interest in setting something up in Hilly Fields.

The response on this thread seems to show public support, albeit subject to seeing a detailed proposal.

Now, Mayor Bullock has given his backing to the concept. Following his visit to Hilly Fields to officially open the playground during the Brockley MAX, we asked him what he thought of the new playground and whether he would support a cafe in principle. Here's his response:

"I was delighted that we were able to secure funding for the improved play facilities at Hilly Fields. I could see when I opened them that local youngsters were already making great use of them. Our parks and open spaces work best when they are well used and I hope that the play area can be a catlyst for further local inititives possibly even including a cafe in the park which has worked well in other places in the borough."

That's as supportive as one could hope for without a firm proposal on the table, but it surely opens the door for an ambitious entrepreneur to come up with something that would serve local demand.

Comedy Nights at Jam Circus



After a successful trial run during the Brockley MAX, Jam Circus is planning to stage regular comedy nights.

The next one takes place tomorrow, Wednesday, 16th June, starting at 8.30pm.

Jam Circus' Katje says:

This week the line up is Jim Richards, Daniel Ward, headlined by Ria Lina. There will be a short break between each act of course for refreshments. The chap organising the funny is also your compere - David Jesudason, he did a marvellous job last week so very excited to see what he's got in store this week!

Its held in the 70's room, seating maximum 36 people. Tickets cost £3, and all the money goes towards paying for the acts. Tickets are purchased at the bar, you can call up to reserve tickets, but please give us as much notice as possible if you need to cancel your reservations, and if the tickets haven't been picked up by 8.15 on the night in readiness for the 8.30 start they will have to be offered to other customers.

June strike planned for DLR

The RMT union has announced a strike from June 23 (England v Slovenia)-June 26. The union's members will also refuse to work any overtime on Monday, June 28.

The RMT wants more money for its members following the introduction of three-car trains on the DLR. The operator Serco Docklands says there has been no change to workers' jobs, terms or conditions.

Brockley Station platforms to be extended

Network Rail has made a planning application to extend the length of the platforms at Brockley Station, creating the capacity to accommodate longer trains from London Bridge.

When plans to reduce the frequency of trains from London Bridge outside the morning peak period were announced, Southern argued that in addition to the extra capacity created by the East London Line, crowding on the London Bridge service would be reduced by running longer trains along the route.

This would appear to be part of that plan, but perhaps the more expert train people on Brockley Central can fill us in.

Planning begins for Brockley MAX 2011

Planning for next year's Brockley MAX has already begun, with the first meeting about 2011 scheduled this weekend. This year, buoyed by the decent weather, the MAX upped its game, staging more events and pulling in more people than ever before.


The aim now must surely be to build on this momentum and create a festival that attracts people from across the city, without sacrificing its home-made charm. To do that will take more money, meaning that each of the participating electoral wards should contribute via their locality funds.

This year, the MAX organisers' application for funding from Crofton Park Ward Assembly was turned down on the basis that the Councillors didn't believe it did a lot for their area but Cllr Addison promised to attend this year's festivities to see for herself whether the MAX deserved support in future. We hope she will have been convinced, especially with Crofton Park venues like Jam Circus, Mr Lawrence and the cemetery playing such an important role this year.

If individual wards want to ask for a greater number of events in their area in return for funding that should be achievable - the organisers have consistently shown themselves willing to expand the MAX's roster and design an inclusive programme.

The invitation to the Mayor to officially open Hilly Fields playground on the same day as the festival finale was a smart move, ensuring that he too was on hand to see how much is achieved with relatively little public funding.

Lewisham's local papers also deserve credit for supporting the festival so well this year, with the SLP publishing a full page of photos from the festival.

Brockley Central has always espoused a 'greater Brockley' vision of the area, with Ladywell, Telegraph Hill, Brockley and Crofton Park wards effectively forming one cohesive community. The Brockley MAX, which straddles three of these and employs talent and attracts visitors from all four is the best expression of 'greater Brockley'. The MAX should grow and the wards should work together to help it - even if one day we have to drop the 'Brockley' from 'Brockley MAX'.

Artist Open Studio next weekend


Saturday and Sunday 19th and 20th June 12-6pm, Flat 4, 12 Montague Avenue, Hilly Fields, Brockley, London SE4 1YP.

Not to be confused with the Brockley Open Studios weekend, local artist David Bottomley will be opening his studio, overlooking Hilly Fields, to the public this summer for a selling show of still life oil paintings on canvas and Hilly Fields Landscapes, both figurative and abstract.

He says:

Drop by for a look round after the Brockley Society's Midsummer Fayre on Hilly Fields on Saturday 19th June or on Sunday 20th. Look forward to seeing you there.

Duelling Ukuleles



A few years ago, we were asked by Xfm to sit alongside Dr Fox, Tim Lovejoy and someone from The Daily Star on a panel to judge a load of listener efforts at creating an unofficial World Cup anthem. If that line-up sounds hellish, the songs were even more so. Because beyond Vindaloo, Three Lions and World in Motion, there are no “good” England songs, only varying degrees of bad ones.

That said, the Dulwich Ukelele Club has come up with one that’s less bad than most and in doing so is threatening to usurp the Brockley Ukulele Club as the pre-eminent South East London uke-outfit. Can the BUG respond?

Thanks to Londonist and Brockley Jon.

Lewisham College Summer Arts Festival 2010

The Lewisham Way campus of Lewisham College will be hosting three event as part of this year's Summer Arts Festival. Here's what they say:

This summer Lewisham College will be hosting an arts festival to celebrate the work of some of South London’s freshest new talent.

The College will be buzzing with activity as over 300 students will be participating in the shows ranging from plays, to fashion shows, to gigs, to dance performances and art exhibitions.

Maxine Room, Principal of Lewisham College said: “This summer arts festival is a great way to showcase the talent of our students – they never fail to impress me with their creativity and I know many of them will go on to great things. If you haven’t been to any of our shows before, then why not start now? Come along, support our students and let them entertain you.”

Dance 2010
Tuesday 15 – Thursday 17 June 2010
2 & 7.30pm
Lewisham Way Campus

Play: It Snows
23 & 24 June
2 & 7pm
Lewisham Way Campus

Art Exhibition
Private View: 24 June 2010
Public Viewing: 25 June – 2 July 2010
Lewisham Way Campus

Hilly Fields Birdsong Walk tonight

The density of bumblebee nests in gardens in towns and suburbs is greater than in the countryside... Garden cities may be the best hope left for life on earth.
-
Charles Clover, The Times

The Friends of Hilly Fields are organising an evening birdsong walk in the park tonight, from 6.30pm to 8pm.

Chris McGaw from Lewisham’s People and Rivers Project will lead the guided walk. The group will meet by the Park Keeper’s Office.

Boris forgets Lewisham

Loveable Mayor Boris is at it again, playing a prank on South East London by forgetting to raise the subject of funding for Surrey Canal station during his meeting with the new Secretary of State for Transport, despite promising the London Assembly that he would.

LOL! What a legend.

Those spoilsports in the LibDems have failed to see the funny side, issuing this statement:

Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Transport Spokesperson, commenting on the Mayor’s admission at today's Mayor’s Question Time that he did not raise the issue of Surrey Canal Road station at his first meeting with the new Secretary of State for Transport said:

"It is incredible that the Mayor failed to raise the issue of Surrey Canal Road station with the Secretary of State when he clearly promised that he would. If we don't secure the additional seven million now this station will be lost for a generation.

"As a matter of urgency the Mayor must get on the phone to the Minister and ensure this issue is finally resolved."

Skatepark debate, June 17th

Plans developed by a group of local parents and children for a skatepark in Telegraph Hill are to be debated at the upcoming Telegraph Hill Ward Assembly, next Thursday, June 17th at Haberdashers Aske's Hatcham College, Jerningham Road, SE14 5NY from 7pm - 9pm.

There are a number of somewhat hysterical arguments being made against the park. The suggestion that it would lead to gangs, crime and anti-social behaviour misses the point that skateboarders are interested in their sport, which provides a positive outlet for their energy. It's also a scenario which seems more inspired by the Daily Mail than the reality of skate facilities in places like Ladywell, which are friendly and well-used.

However, there are also some very reasonable concerns being raised about the scale and location of the facility, which is proposed for the Upper Park - a beautiful and evocative setting, with housing located right next to it and few walls to screen the likely noise.

Over on The Telegraph Hill Forum, SPAG campaigners have been at pains to stress that they want to work with the community, to create an appropriate park. Campaigner Sophie explained:

The proposed design would take up about 1/4 of the lower slopes just below the picnic benches and parallel to the path. It would be made of free form concrete which is sunk into the ground and which is the quietest material that can be used. This is very low impact and will be designed in such a way as to be as sensitive to the local landscape as possible. Please do not imagine the steel & wood skate parks which are noisy, large and ugly. Ours will be sleek, low and architecturally very attractive, we think!

The large flat piece of grass next to the tennis courts is sometimes used by people picnicking when the weather is hot. I believe most people would still be happy to sit there especially as that wonderful view into the city would not be affected. I am not denying that there may well be the clanking of boards in the near distance but surely that is better than what is happening at the moment; many residents being aggravated by boys skating on the streets right outside their sitting rooms. As well as the real danger of a serious accident happening in one of these roads. Of course when in use there would be an element of noise which will be minimized and dampened by the material used and also the long steep bank of grass, trees and open space. And probably no louder than a game of football on the upper terrace and a full tennis court...

This proposal has got to this stage quite quickly it's true and we need to spend our funding within a few months or it will be lost. So whether we like it or not there is an element of pressure to find a suitable site as quickly as possible...

As has been said before these parks are for the use of everyone and there is absolutely no reason why having a small skate park situated in the upper park should have a detrimental effect on any other user be it jogger, dog walker, young families, tennis players or anyone else who wanted to use it for quiet contemplation. There will be many hours of the day/eve when the skate park will not be in use.

The one thing we have not managed to do yet and I must fully take responsibility for this on behalf of all of us in SPAG, is to try and speak with as many people as possible who live close to the proposed site and to explain in detail our plans. We are drawing up some literature and hope to rectify this as soon as possible...

We will only go ahead with this if we have the majority of local residents behind us as that is the only fair thing to do. We are not trying to push this through on the quiet; in fact we asked the LA to have a more thorough public consultation before allowing this to go to a vote.

Wherever this facility is finally sited, undoubtedly it will not please everyone but hopefully by seeing our plans and having a calm, measured, thoughtful discussion we can come to an agreed position.

England v USA, Saturday June 12th, 7.30pm



So, we've downloaded the World Cup calendar into Outlook from the BBC website, we've thumbed our Guardian guide to the tournament, we've entered the sweepstake and chosen our fantasy league team.

Brockley Central is almost ready for the start of South Africa 2010.

The only remaining issue is which pub we should choose to watch England v the USA on Saturday night. We raised the issue before and it seems to boil down to two venues - the Wickham Arms or The Talbot. Both will be doing special screenings. Both sell beer.

What matters to us is which will have the best atmosphere. So we've created a poll. Tell us which of the two you'll be going to and we will be guided by you.

Thanks - and see you there!

It's all about oil

"Cherchez La Femme, Bucky. Remember that."
- James Ellroy, The Black Dhalia

From time-to-time, something we write about Brockley triggers the suggestion from someone that we are on a secret misson to inflate our own house price.

Enjoy the East London Line? House prices. Good arts festival? House prices. Like somewhere to buy fresh vegetables? House prices. Concerned about shootings? House prices.

So, just so we're all clear - yes, as a resident of Brockley, we bought a property here. Yes, we'd rather the value goes up, rather than down. No, we don't feel bad about that, nor is it a hidden agenda.

Any attempt to improve the area - whether it's reducing litter or planting flowers - will by definition make Brockley more desirable and in the long-term could increase property values in the area. That doesn't make the exercise invalid, but we're flattered that some people think BC has the power to add billions to land values in SE4.

South East London's Crossrail future under threat

London Reconnections has an analysis of the Woolwich Crossrail station's chances of survival. They aren't good.

There have been frequent rumours of cutbacks to Crossrail, possibly to the Abbey Wood spur, and Woolwich's station was only added after furious lobbying and a promise of private funding from Berkeley Homes, which is now in doubt. The Transport Secretary made it very clear that public money will not fill the gap. Read on.

Brockley's key Crossrail access point will be at Whitechapel on the East London Line, far upstream of Woolwich, and whatever happens to the project, it seems certain to serve Canary Wharf, which will allow further expansion of the business hub, bringing more jobs east. So we're alright thanks very much, but it could be a big blow for the development of South East London, which could lose out on yet another river crossing.

Hilly Fields Summer Fayre 2010


The Brockley Society's showpiece event of the summer is coming soon. Whether it's the rodeo sheep or the vegetable modelling that takes your fancy, be there on June 19th.

GET INVOLVED - A MESSAGE FROM BROCSOC:

Volunteers: We need stewards, car marshalls, programme sellers, litter collectors, helpers on the tea stall, and elsewhere. Please ring or email Clare (020 8692 3829, chair@brockleysociety.org.uk) if you can help on the day. We need several hundred people in shifts, so state what you can do, at what time, in three-hour slots.

Cakes: Please make cakes and bring them on the day! Our tea stall is one of the main attractions and depends on donated cakes from large numbers of people.

Visit Brockley

One of our day-job clients is Visit London, who've got an impressive number of Brockley connections among their team and who, with a bit of gentle persuasion, have told the world's tourists of Brockley's charms on their blog here.

Great to see the Brockley MAX used to illustrate Brockley's arts scene and local institutions like the Brockley Jack, Tank Gallery, Mr Lawrence and the Tea Leaf Arts gallery getting namechecked.

Great shot of the door too.

Perienne Christian at cueB Gallery


cueB Gallery at The Brockley Mess, 325 Brockley Road

Open Monday – Friday 9am – 5.30pm, Saturday 9am – 6pm, Sunday 10am – 6pm

Perienne Christian is an acclaimed local artist, specialising in drawings and prints. She will be exhibiting her work at the cueB gallery, which is rapidly establishing itself as a leading local art venue, justifying their decision to ban pushchairs from the gallery space.
The exhibition begins with a private viewing tomorrow and runs from 9th June 2010 to the 22nd July 2010.
Perienne studied at Bath Spa, the Leipzig Academy and The Prince’s Drawing School, where she won the Chairman’s 1st prize for her end of year show. She recently completed a one-year residency at Kensington Palace, and is current artist in residence at Chat’s Palace Art Centre, Hackney.

She has work in the collections of HRH The Prince of Wales, Soho House, Leipzig Acedemy, Leipzig Buch Halle, and various private collections.

Brockley Open Studios 2010

If you're wondering how to replace the hole left in your life by the Brockley MAX, then here comes the Brockley Open Studios, which this year will take place on:

Saturday 3rd July, 2.00-8.00pm
Sunday 4th July, 2.00-8.00pm
Monday 5th July, 5.00-8.00pm

Now in its 18th year, the event will see 43 artists open their studios and homes for the public to browse a wide variety of art in some amazing homes scattered throughout Brockley.

The website isn't updated yet, but in the coming days, the new line-up should be published.

Plant bombing at Brockley Common today

It's not too late to get down to Brockley Station to finish off the Common planting with the Transition Town team, who have invited anyone with a plant to come and plant it with them between 1pm and 3pm today.

Presumably Japanese knot weed not welcome - here are the instructions:

Bring any plant(s), or seeds etc of either edibles, herbs or flowers.Probably best to bring perennials or hardy plants to survive without lots of TLC, but it's up to you. If it's edible or colourful and you like it, bring it and plant it.

Bring whatever implement and water (in a plastic bottle?) you need for your planting or seeds - the ground has been composted.

If you can bring some mulch (can be grass cuttings - if you don't have any, does your neighbour?) this will help to keep down weeds and conserve moisture round your plant(s).For those who have gardens, thinning out is a good source of spare plants.

Basically no-one is being prescriptive about what you bring, and nature will decide what survives.We like the idea of edibles and of people picking leaves (eg rocket) or herbs on their way home from work.

Council to tackle Harefield / Breakspears junction


Lewisham Council has agreed to modify the junction of Breakspears and Harefield Roads following complaints from local residents, who believe it to be dangerous. Although we can't expect any action for at least a year due to funding requirements, the Council issued this statement:

Our traffic engineers have taken a preliminary look at the junction and agree that the current lay-out is less than ideal.

They've looked at the personal injury accident data and while the accident rate is not particularly high it has not significantly lowered since the introduction of the 20mph zone. We would have expected to see a reduction following the introduction of the zone.

The engineers would like to look at what improvements could be made to the junction. As a result the site has been added to our Small Traffic Schemes List for further investigation. The Small Traffic Schemes List contains requests for engineering measures from sites all over the borough from residents, ward members and MPs. Each year the schemes on the list are prioritised according to agreed criteria and as many taken forward from the top of the list as is possible with the funding available.

There's always somone worse off than you

The handful of hardcore East London Line refusniks who haunt Brockley Central may be interested to read this article from the Sussex Courier. The East London Line critics were always telling us that our overland train services were being sacrificed for the benefit of the landed gentry who commute in to London from the home counties. And yet here we are, with Sussex commuters irate that the urban elite are messing up their services to accommodate the East London Line:

Commuters have slated timetable changes at Southern trains which have left passengers fighting for elbow room on the Uckfield to London line. Rail users from Crowborough, Eridge and Buxted are livid with the company's new schedule...

They are unimpressed with Southern's explanation for the change, that the newly extended East London line has being given priority.

Application to convert Manor Avenue club into housing

Following the rejection of plans to turn 60 Manor Avenue in to a nursery, an application has been made to convert the former United Services Club in to two large houses, with accompanying studio space. The application summary is:

The external alteration, extension and change of use of the social club at 60 Manor Avenue SE4, to provide 1 four bedroom and 1 five bedroom houses, together with demolition of approximately two thirds of the club building at the rear and the alteration and conversion of the remaining portion of the hall at the rear of the site into 2 workshops/studios for the use of the occupiers of the aforementioned residential units.

The original proposal was met by fierce opposition from residents on the street, primarily on the basis of the impact it might have on local parking and congestion.

With thanks to 'Slimewad'.

Brockley MAX 2010: Final Weekend

Here is the world's most intrictate running order for this weekend's Brockley MAX festivities, courtesy of Moonbow John:

Friday - Outside by the Stone Circle, Hilly Fields Park

Bar from 7.30pm

8.00 - 8.40 Etta Ermini Dance Theatre
8.40 - 9.15 DJ Joe
9.20 - 10.20 Local Film Makers Short Films (approximate)
10.20 - 11.30 Local VJ Thabo Zijlstra on visuals with DJ Tweed mixing the sound

Event ends 11.45pm Please leave quietly along Eastern Road

Saturday - Outside by the Stone Circle, Hilly Fields Park

Children's Day and The Marquee of Moonbow Bar and Stage

Yoga For Children 12.30
Food Demo 2.30
Drums From Around The World 2-4
Painting Wood 12-4
Capoeira: 2.30 Workshop 15.35 performance
Make Your Own Badge With Recycled Materials 12-4
Face Painting 12-4

Hilly Fields Playground

Storytelling 12.30
Craft Workshop 1pm
Official Playground Opening 2pm
Innerscent Art 2-4pm
Who Are You? Make Your Own Id Card 12-4pm
Art In Nature 12-3pm

Stage

Montage Theatre Company 12pm
Haydn Meddick 1930s afternoon dj 1pm
Zumba 1.15pm
Mayor Bullock Opens Playground 2pm
Billy Jenkins 2:10pm
Board Games 2:45pm

Afternoon of Pervasive Gaming 3pm
Billy Jenkins Ends with Fire Hazard 3pm
Tai Chi 3:15pm
Capoeira with Luiz 3:30pm
Sarah Gillespie 4:00pm
Samba 5:05pm
Rosie Wilby evening host 5:45pm

RAFFLE PRIZE DRAW

Blackberry Wood 5.55pm
DJ Nova Evening Music 6:30pm
Ellie Rose 6.45pm
Richard Swann 7.00pm
Deco Dance Wickerman 7.38pm
Carl White 7.55pm
Moira and speeches 8.20pm
Bad Habits 8.33pm
Deco Dance Wickerman 9.07pm
DreZone 9.15pm
Deco Dance Wickerman 10.07pm
Letz Zep 10.20pm
Bar Closed 11.30pm

Gordonbrock: Lewisham Council proceeds as planned

Lewisham Council has confirmed that it intends to push ahead with its plans to redevelop Gordonbrock School in Ladywell.

In the long, colourful history of Brockley Central, no issue has been as controversial as the fate of Gordonbrook School. Plans to decant pupils to Forest Hill and rebuild part of the school were put on hold earlier this year as a result of a last minute legal challenge by the Brockley Society, who hoped to prevent the demolition of historic buildings.

Initial concept sketches for an alternative design were produced by BrocSoc and a meeting was held with the Council to see if a way forward could be agreed and a legal challenge could be avoided. Following the meeting a Lewisham Council spokesperson said:

“Having considered the Brockley Society’s revised plans in detail, we remain concerned their proposal to retain an extra building on the site does not allow for the level of flexibility required to meet the future needs of the school. The Society’s plans place restrictions on the preferred teaching arrangements, would require significant changes to the existing plans and would take additional time that could seriously endanger funding. For all these reasons the Council has decided to proceed with submitting a planning application based on the original scheme.”

Brockley Central at The Ladywell Tavern tonight

As part of the Brockley MAX, Brockley Central has organised a night of live music with our friends at the Ladywell Tavern. Please come along, we have a great line-up and last year roughly 200 of you turned up to enjoy the show.

There are no formalities and no obligation to talk to anyone - least of all the BC team. Just come along, have a drink, enjoy the atmosphere and listen to the music.

It's free and some fantastic artists have given up their time to take part.

Starts at 7pm. See you there.

The Standard: "East London line delivers property boom"

The Standard says it, so it must be true. Though the evidence presented is the less than convincing testimonial of local agents Rocodells who say that a flat that sold in Avignon Road recently for £250K would probably have only fetched £230K two years ago, honest.

Thanks to Crofton Park Ranger who tipped us off yesterday and to Headhunter who already posted the link - what sounds suspiciously like a Brockley Central reader has waded in to the comments section, to reassure any prospective buyers that the East London Line is rubbish after all.

Hilly Ibiza

I am an island. I'm bloody Ibiza!
- Will, About A Boy

We wrote the following article about a week ago, just before the weather turned rubbish again and have been waiting for a sunny day to publish it:

Last weekend, we went back to the new playground in Hilly Fields. And we realised, our last review was wrong.

It isn’t a playground. It’s a beach holiday.

The huge sandy stretch has become the centrepiece beside which parents loll on sun loungers, benches and blankets. Kids run and splash water and sand. Whereas play used to be a solitary experience, now it’s shared. Debates range over whether to dig a channel or build a damn or to funnel water from the pump left or right.

Now attend to us, because this is how it used to work, o best beloved.

You’d walk your kids up to the playground, whereupon they’d spend five minutes on the pirate ship, wrestling over control of the wheel with the one other child there. Then they might have five minutes on a swing, five minutes jumping in to the sandpit and that would be about it. As a parent, you’d prop yourself against the metal railings, waiting bored for them to finish. And so it wasn’t somewhere that was ever very busy, best beloved. Do you see?

But a twenty minute play session has become hours. We were there for two and had to drag the kids away. There were others who looked like they’d booked themselves in for two weeks. It’s fantastic.

The transformation means the play area is full from dawn to dusk with kids and their families. South London Press’ Kate reported that she’d arrived at 9am to find it already packed.

Yes, it’s summer and it’s new, but it’s already clear that the playground is a hit. They will keep coming. The market is there for the park cafĂ© that’s been mooted. Hundreds of people who’ve played for hours will want more than a single ice cream van (although props to the ice cream van man, who is lovely). The logic is irresistible.

Hilly Ibiza needs its Cafe del Mar.

Lewisham Police appeal for help after Howson Road murder

We have been contacted by Lewisham Police, who've asked us to post the following message:

Detectives are appealing for witnesses and information following a murder in Brockley on Sunday 30 May.

Police and the ambulance service were alerted at 02:03hrs to a man injured in the road at Howson Road SE4.

Matthew Clement, 23, was pronounced dead at the scene, and a post-mortem at Greenwich Mortuary gave cause of death as a gunshot wound. Officers from Trident are investigating the murder and urge anyone with information to contact them.

Superintendent Lisa Crook, of Lewisham Police, said: “We understand the community’s concerns about the murder of a young man in Brockley after recent incidents in the area. Our officers take this extremely seriously and are working hard to stop this violence on our streets. Members of Brockley Safer Neighbourhoods team (SNT) are patrolling the ward to reassure local people, and if you need to discuss any concerns please contact the team.”

DCI Hutchison, investigating Trident officer, said: "This murder took place in a quiet residential street in the early hours. We need to speak to anyone who heard or saw people on Howson Road, Whitbread Road or the surrounding streets between midnight and two o'clock on the morning of Sunday 30 May, and to anyone who heard shots or sounds of a disturbance.

"We also need to hear from anyone who has information about the shooting. We rely on the help of the community to find the perpetrators and get justice for Matthew and his family."

Anyone with information should call the incident room on 020 8247 4553; if you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Brockley MAX presents: The Jam Circus Games Night

In a Brockley MAX first, Jam Circus will tonight play host to a games night. The event is organised by friend of BC, Muireann and inspired by the Brockley Central readers' Scrabble-inspired babble. She says:

We have lots of board games – Pictionary, Blockbusters, Guess Who, Downfall, Jenga, Scrabble... And fun games like Twister, musical statues, etc. Come with friends, or solo, there will be spaces. There will also be prizes. And bubbles. It’s going to be fun.

The games start at 7.30pm. Batteries not included.

Aladdin's Cave, Lewisham Way




Aladdin's Cave is the reclamation yard on Lewisham Way, not to be confused with the Aladdin's Cave cafe in Crofton Park.

Having admired its life-size model of Predator for years, we went in there for the first time yesterday, on a chair hunt. The place is mind boggling. An Escher drawing of chair legs, a tunnel of fridges, a garden of kitchen equipment and a menagerie straight out of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film.

It's the sort of place we're really glad exists, but which we lack the wit and ingenuity to make use of. We left chairless, overwhelmed by the variety of chairs and wondering how they fitted everything in.

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