Six degrees of Brockley

Homer: Hello? Why am I Mr. Sparkle?
Worker: You like Mister Sparkle?
Homer: Well, I am Mr. Sparkle.
Worker: You have many question, Mr. Sparkle. I send you premium answer question, hundred percent!

Despite living in South East London for nearly thirty years, Brockley had barely registered on our consciousness before we stumbled upon it in an increasingly desperate house hunt, about three years ago.

But since moving here, we find ourselves barely able to move without bumping in to old schoolmates at church fetes, ex-girlfriends in health food shops and the person who beat us to the role of "seven year old child" in a Greenwich Theatre production, nosing around the Co-Op.

Not only is our former life catching up with us in SE4, but Brockley's tentacles are reaching further and further in to the wider world. This weekend, we took shelter from the wind and rain on Southwold Pier in a little Heath Robinson arcade. It was filled with eccentric, hand-built machines which did everything from predicting your future to washing your brain.

We opted for a go on the Mobility Masterclass - a machine which trains you for a future of arthritic frustration by forcing you to cross a motorway with a Zimmer frame. We successfully avoided death only to find that our reward was a party at the Rivoli Ballroom.

What was a replica of the Rivoli Ballroom doing here? Was the fact that Gordon Brown chose to visit both Brockley and Southwold connected? Was it just coincidence that both places are filled with the angsty, middle-class artist-types?

The artist who created the game explains:

"The ballroom was the greatest challenge (it had to be a ballroom as I wanted the Zimmer to start dancing as the payoff for a successful crossing). I had a vague memory of an ornate ballroom in Blackpool and assumed there must be others, but no one seemed to know of any. Eventually I rang a magazine called Dancing Times who rather doubtfully suggested The Rivoli Ballroom in South East London. Still not knowing what it looked like, I persuaded the reluctant manageress to let me visit and take some photos. It was fabulous and spookily, exactly what I’d had in my mind. Not only were the ballroom and foyer perfect, but so was the exterior, which was almost identical to the one I’d drawn. Billy, the owner, and Charles, his barman, were great characters and I stayed chatting for hours."

So there's your answer, Fish bulb! If you've discovered any curious Brockley connections, please post them here.