Special Offer: Secrets from the Long Grass and Bodies Unfinished

Secrets from the Long Grass by Dean Stalham

Secrets from the Long Grass is the latest production at the Brockley Jack Theatre, playing until July 9th, Tues to Sat at 8pm. Book Online and use the code 'secrets' for £7.50 tickets (normally £12).

Summer, Italy, 1905.

The ceiling of Father Michael's chapel is crumbling into decay. Summoned from Rome, artist Vincenzo Cardosi has the job of saving the precious ceiling and the old priest's legacy.

But Vincenzo and his wife Angelina share a hidden past with the priest's young colleague, the ambitious Father Paulo. As work on the ceiling begins childhood secrets are uncovered and dangerous passions reignite.

Bodies unfinished by Lewis Hetherington

Tues 12th to Sat 16th July at 8pm
Book Online and use the code 'facebodies' for £9 tickets (normally £12)
This production contains full nudity (suitable for over 16s)

Alan's going to sort this mess out – this huge, horrific mess that is his life. He's got a plan. He is going to stop playing the husband, the father, the son and find himself.
He's going to sort it out once and for all.

Lewis Hetherington's exciting and raw new play explores the moment when you decide to stop doing what you know, and step out of your comfort zone.

Bill of rights

The discussion about Coulgate Street's van problem prompted Foxberry Mike to send us this photo of a van which he says has been parked in a prominent spot next to the petrol station end of Foxberry Road for five weeks.

He says:

I noticed the same firm, AA Bill, are doing the same in Forest Hill based on this thread on SE23.com.

AA Bill seems to be the company. There's the one on Canonbie as mentioned, one on Sydenham Hill, and one outside the Livesey hall near the Savacentre.

I see it as anti-social business practice, same as the D&M Van approach to taking from the community. Others who post seem to think it is a fine part of Olde Brockley heritage!! Or part of a glorious class struggle?

Worse still - their overuse of apostrophes is presumably responsible for the missing one in Brockleys Rock.

Martin's Yard construction update

Demolition work at Martin's Yard took reader Giovanni by surprise when he returned home to find that the removal of a wall gave him a perfect view of construction from his back garden. So he sent us some pictures, for your viewing pleasure. It seems to be motoring along at a fair lick.

Big Red, Deptford

30 Deptford Church St, SE8 4RZ

Big Red is a new double decker bus-shaped pizza restaurant in Deptford that has already collected glowing reviews from the Deptford Dame and Crosswhatfields. It's housed within a bus parked next to the Bird's Nest Pub, Deptford Church Street.

They've done a nice job of keeping the bus' features, while making the experience quite different to shovelling a Big Mac meal down your throat on the N171.

Despite the fact that pizza is apparently a food that the kids are all in to these days, this area's restaurant industry has been a little slow to catch on to consumer demand and good local pizza options are pretty thin-crust on the ground, so this is a very exciting addition to Deptford's growing collection of transport-themed eateries.

Please post your comments and reviews here.

Bonfire rights [UPDATED]

A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.
- The Bonfire of the Vanities

BC regular Lou Baker is well known for his sensitivity towards others' feelings and has posed this ethical question for us all:

Having had my home smoked out by a moron who decided to burn their crap on a day when everyone had their windows open, I'd like the chance to raise the case for banning this anti-social activity and name and shame the people who do it.

As it happens, BC has been wondering what the neighbourly etiquette is for bonfires, as we've spent hours uprooting bamboo and lopping branches and now have a lot of garden waste to deal with.

So, please help us - what are the terms under which it is OK to light bonfires?

UPDATE: In the comments, Ian has pointed out the Lewisham Council garden refuse collection service as an alternative. Ten bags for ten quid. Click here for details.

UPDATE: We've found an alternative to burning or bagging our waste - one that's sure to infuriate readers who think that "sustainably caught fish" are only eaten by ponces. An amazing Goldsmiths student is going to paint the bamboo and reuse it in an art installation with Homemade London.

The Blythe Hill Festival 2011, July 2nd

This year's Blythe Hill Festival takes place on Saturday, from 11am-4.30pm.

The schedule includes live music throughout the day from acts such as The Hankdogs, The Artie Fufkins, Annie & Frank, The Reel Thing, Brockley Rise Singers and the Brockley Ukelele Group (natch).

There will also be over 30 stalls from local companies, artists and producers selling local produce, jewellery, rugs, hand-made skin care and beauty products, crafts, ceramics, photography and more.

Food from Babur Brasserie and Yam Hill, plus Jerk Cook off Champion P’s Fish Cuisine, Arabic cuisine and delicious home-made paella.

For a full breakdown of all the attractions, click here.

Was your car scraped on Harefield Road?

After the commonplaces of everyday life, with their muffled dramas, all my organic expertise for dealing with physical injury had long been blunted or forgotten. The crash was the only real experience I had been through for years.
- Crash
BC's ray of sunshine, Happy Brockers writes:

I wanted to let the good people of Brockley know about an incident that happened today on Harefield Road, just outside 'The Orchard'.

I was on the 484 on the way back from Lewisham, at about 11.35am, and a Blue, (slightly electric in colour) Citroen (I think it was a Xsara) insisted on squeezing past the bus, and several parked cars on the road.

I was unable to get the number plate of the car, the bus was crowded and I was sitting on the wrong side. But I imagine the bus driver will have got it, as the car scratched his bus. His reg was 'YX11 AHG.'

I just wanted to let you know, in case any of the reader's cars on Harefield Road were damaged, and they wanted to follow it up with the insurers?

Flood warning for Lewisham

Travis Bickle: Thank God for the rain to wash the trash off the sidewalk.
- Taxi Driver

Thanks to Hannah and to Londonist for alerting us to warnings that the Ravensbourne may burst its banks due to heavy rain today. The Environment Agency says:

The river and flooding forecast is: Showers are expected to develop this morning and these may be locally heavy and thundery for a time, before dying out this afternoon. Rainfall totals of perhaps 20 -30mm are possible in a short space of time in some locations. If these rainfall totals are realised, river levels could rise rapidly in response to these thundery showers and overtop banks in places. The weather prospects are: The forecast suggests that some more widespread, but lighter, rain is then expected later this afternoon and early in the evening. This rainfall should then clear away eastwards before midnight.

The Brockley Central Interview: Brockley's Rock

The opening of a new fish restaurant on Brockley Road is guaranteed to generate a lot of interest on Brockley Central, but owner Kyri Karoulla stoked the fires of the internet in a way that would put JJ Abrams to shame, with an esoteric choice of name that had grammar freaks hyperventilating: Brockleys Rock. Now, we've had the chance to interview Kyri to clear up some of the mysteries surrounding the new business:

When's opening day?
We are planning to open on Monday 4th July. If there’s any change to that plan, we will let you know via this website, so unless you hear differently, the 4th July it is.

What will your opening hours be?
Opening hours will be 11:30am to 10:00pm Monday to Saturday. Note has been taken that there is a keen interest on Brockley Central for Sunday opening, so watch this space.

Are you primarily going to be a takeaway or a cafe?
We will be both take away and restaurant. I want Brockley's Rock to have a relaxed atmosphere - somewhere you can bring your friends for a nice meal as well as the family.Or to just grab a take away.

Will you have any specialities? What will make you different?
We will be specialising in traditional fish and chips as well as grilled fish, seafood and homemade fish cakes. It's just going to be about fish and simple cooking. We do not have a drinks licence but our customers are welcome to bring their own bottle of wine and we will provide the glasses and the bottle opener.

You've seen the comments about the lack of an apostrophe on your sign ‘Brockleys Rock’, so we've got to ask, what is the name of the shop?
It’s called Brockley’s Rock. I was really surprised with the attention the apostrophe has attracted. The name Brockley's Rock was simply an play on words. Brockley's Rock feels personal – the fish belongs to Brockley and hopefully the locals can be proud of it. The apostrophe will be added to the shop's name hopefully before the opening date.

Why did you decide to open in Brockley?
I wanted to locate my fish shop somewhere diverse and multicultural. I love the feel of the area. It's vibrant and exciting and I hope to be part of that.

How long did it take you to get the business off the ground?
I've been looking for the perfect place for over a year.I was quite particular about the type of area I wanted to settle in .Brockley is not only going to be my place of business it is also going to be my home.

Which other local businesses do you admire?
I do love the food at Brockley Mess, and the coffee is first class. El’s Kitchen has to be admired for establishing themselves in the area in such a short time and are now running for Deli of the Year award. Peter from Heat is my neighbour and a five star hairdresser. Everyone on the street has actually made me feel very welcome.

Fishy Business gets very good reviews from readers, why do you think there is room in the area for another fish and chip place?
We intend to offer grilled fish as well as fried, and seafood such as calamari, whitebait, prawns and homemade fish cakes, not offered anywhere else in the area, I don’t think.

Do you have a background in the restaurant industry? Why did you decide to open your own business?
I have been in the fish and chips business for about 23 years. I ran my own fish and chips take away and restaurant in Bow East London for 10 years. Fish and chips is what I know and do best. Brockley's rock will be quite different with a fresh approach to good simple quality food.

Any other message to Brockley residents?
Thanks to all that took the time to post their comments on the Brockley Central website. On behalf of Brockley's Rock I look forward to welcoming you all.

25m mast to be built at Nunhead junction

Oli has sent us a copy of a letter he got from Network Rail, announcing that a 25m communications mast is to be built at Nunhead Junction, where St Asaph Road meets Aspinall Road.

The mast's construction is part of a programme of works to deliver a new system that will allow continuous communication between the driver and the signallers, "to improve safety, reliability and punctuality."

The tower is pretty tall - about one third the height of the new tower being built at the Deptford Distillery - but hopefully for nearby residents, it won't be too intrusive as the line is in a cutting at that point. Work should be complete by September.

New Arica Road Community Garden

Yesterday, a ceremony was held to officially open the Arica Road Community Garden. The project was initiated by local people, funded by a £5,000 grant from Lewisham Homes and supported by the Bold Vision project. This video tells its story.

We love simple incremental projects like this, which re-imagine tatty or neglected local spots to make Brockley a better place.

With thanks to Debra for the nudge.

Spot the town centre

For a long time, BC has been arguing that the vast array of vans that plague Coulgate Street and the surrounding area are a big problem, not just for local pedestrians and shoppers, but for the local businesses that have helped to make Coulgate Street such an important part of our town centre.

We're glad to see this wasn't our imagination. Reader Monkeyboy sent us these photos of yet another huge van plonked outside Browns of Brockley and the cafe's perfect response.

That vans occupy this spot on almost a daily basis is yet another argument for the part-pedestrianisation of Coulgate Street, which local people have been campaigning for and which the Council is said to be considering.

Brockley porn

Mike Hall, Brockley's artist in residence, has found another way to celebrate the beauty of SE4. Here's one image from his latest work, which you can buy via Etsy.

Graffiti paradise

Cathy spotted this bit of graffiti on a Brockley bench, apostrophe and all.

Application to redevelop Crofton Park high street site

Patrick has alerted us to an application to demolish and rebuild 437-439 Brockley Road, which houses two commercial units next to Spring Way Chinese takeaway and Crofton Park Pharmacy. The application is for:

“The demolition of existing commercial units and flats at 437-439 Brockley Road SE4 and construction of a single to four storey building, incorporating balconies and terraces, comprising a retail unit (Use Class A1) on the ground floor and 4 one bedroom and 5 two bedroom self-contained flats above, together with the provision of 12 bicycle spaces, a bin store and associated landscaping”.

Patrick adds:

Spring Way and the pharmacy are 433 and 435, so it looks as if they’re planning to demolish only half the building – very odd.

Bodge job Brockley [updated]

Friend of BC Lep Recorn has sent us another example of great work by contractors in Brockley, after Conway excelled themselves with their slapdash and hugely delayed efforts at Brockley Station. He says:

This photo was taken at the NE corner of the junction of Coulgate St & Foxberry Road. (This is similar at the SE corner).

It is the new one way sign that has been installed when that part of Coulgate Street was made one way.

It shows the electrical connection (white) coming out of the counduit (orange) and going into the sign’s post. All of this should be underground, the connection between the conduit and the post sealed and then completely covered with tarmac.

Not only shoddy – but clearly dangerous.

Family Concert, July 2nd

Brockleys Rock: Coming very soon

Brockley's new fish and chip restaurant has a name: 'Brockleys Rock'. Indeed Brockleys do.

They promised it would be "spot on" and so-far, so-good. They've put some effort in to the appearance of their Brockley Road business. Hopefully the food will be just as good.

Thanks to Jennifer for the photo.

El's Kitchen - London Deli of the Year 2011

Outstanding independent Ladywell business El's Kitchen has been selected as the joint-winner of London Deli of the Year and will go through to represent the region at the finals at the Great Taste Awards Dinner on Monday 5th September in London.

Judging took place at capitalist pig-dogs Fortnum and Mason on Wednesday 15th June, where more than 126 entries from over 400 delis, nominated by 10,000 people across the UK (hopefully including some BC readers) were scrutinised in great detail by the 10 independent judges.

El says:

The staff are so excited they are bouncing off the walls like a bunch of Zebedees!

Be master of our domain

We are now able to create dedicated sections of the South East Central forum for people with a specialist interest or passion that they want a home for, to reach people or organise.

The first person to give it a go is Pratish, who has just launched The Bike Lane. He's become a moderator - master of his domain, king of the county, lord of the manor. So if you feel that an aspect of local life is under-represented here and you don't think a single thread on the main forum would suffice, please get in touch with your suggestions and - if they're good - we'll set you up as a moderator.

Not you, doggers.

'Chain free Brockley'

The news that Toads Mouth Too has been put up the sale has, for some, raised the spectre that a chain might move in. The argument runs: what makes Brockley special is its chain-free status, the arrival of a chain would destroy its character.

It seems unlikely that such an awkward site as the one occupied by Toads Mouth would be taken over by a chain but that aside, Brockley is neither chain-free, nor a utopia. By our reckoning, there is a long list of big chain businesses in the immediate area, including:

Costcutter x 2
Co-Op x 2
Pizza Hut
Big Yellow
E Coomes

Brockley is a wonderful place that this blog has devoted a lifetime to documenting, but its high streets (Brockley Road and Lewisham Way) are clearly its Achilles' heel.

Yes, we have some outstanding independent businesses, but we also have rotting or empty units, shabby, half-finished shop fronts and landlords who think it's a good idea to price a florist out of their shop, only to have the money-transfer company that eventually replaced them run-off without paying their bills.

Many of our good independent businesses aren't found on the high street, they're tucked away from the squalor on side roads. Work to improve the high-street has been slow, with several false dawns.

We aren't chain free, we just have some pretty rubbish chains.

One or two excellently run, high-quality chains could undoubtedly make a big difference to the area. They could afford to invest in units to bring them up to scratch properly, they could sort out dodgy landlords and draw in new visitors to the high street, who would in turn frequent other local businesses. BC would be very happy if Carluccios took over La Lanterna and did it properly. The reality is that they almost certainly won't.

It's time to stop worrying about the threat of chains moving in and start worrying about how we sort out our high streets.

New homes on Mantle Road

Piling is underway on two new residential blocks in west Brockley

Work on the new residential development off Mantle Road on the west side of Brockley Station is proceeding at full pelt.

Site clearance has given way to work on the foundations of the two residential blocks that will be built on a plot of land running parallel with the railway line towards Crofton Park.

Meanwhile, exasperated would-be residents of Jude Court, also on Mantle Road, are left kicking their heels waiting for a project that is now almost a year late.

Guys Hospital reclad approved - Brockley views changed forever

Guys Hospital, one of South East London's most prominent buildings, is to receive a reclad according to SE1.

The brutalist concrete tower is a key feature of central London views from this area's various hill-top parks and sits in stark contrast to the rapidly growing form of its neighbour, the Shard.

The work, approved by Southwark Council last week, will involve cladding it with anodysed aluminium to improve the building's energy efficiency and prevent deterioration of the concrete.

Whether it will improve its aesthetics is hard to tell based on the accompanying render. Unlike some previous concepts, the cladding will do little to disguise its awkward form and the new lighting feature on top may make it look even more like it's been built by a toddler stacking bricks in the order they came out of the box. Still, it can't get any worse, so bring it on.

Chelwood Nursery Summer Garden Party

The outstanding Chelwood Nursery School is having its summer party this weekend.

Chelwood Nursery School, Chelwood Walk, St Norbert's Road, SE4 2QQ.

The Lewisham Choral Society charity concert, June 25th

The Lewisham Choral Society is holding a concert at 7.30pm on 25 June to raise money for the Lavender Trust.

The concert ‘Deep River - Summer Nights’ will take place in The Great Hall at Goldsmiths University of London, New Cross, SE14 6NW.

Music will be conducted by Dan Ludford-Thomas with accompanist Andrew Dutson and piano soloist Ben Saul. The full programme comprises 'spirituals', songs, piano works and gospel music.

All money raised will go to support the work of the Lavender Trust which funds information and support services for younger women with breast cancer. The charity has very close links with Lewisham and was co-founded in 1998 by former Lewisham councillor Beth Wagstaff. The Lavender Trust is Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock's chosen charity.

Tickets cost £15, £12 (concessions) or £2 for children under 12.

For ticket enquiries call 020 8309 0439 or contact the Lewisham Choral Society.

Thanks to Lewisham Council for the details.

Brockley Station gate to be replaced with barriers

Lep Recorn has sent us this letter he received from London Overground, confirming that the annoying gate on Platform 2 of Brockley Station, with which thousands of travellers play a guessing game every night, will be replaced by ticket barriers.

London Overground says that subject to planning approval from Lewisham Council, the new barriers should be operational by November 2011. Replacing the gate will mean that you won't have to wait until someone in the ticket office responds to the buzzer before deciding to let you through. The barriers should ensure that people in wheelchairs, or with walking difficulties, pushchairs or heavy luggage can get through easily, without service providers losing revenue through fare evasion.

London Overground also confirms a change of policy, which means that until the barriers are introduced, staff will be instructed to open the gate upon request and not just if they think they see someone who looks a bit like they might have a struggle getting up the stairs.

Telegraph Hill Scalextric Grand Prix, July 2nd

If The Big Society means anything - and it doesn't - it's this: a giant communal Scalextric event in Telegraph Hill!

Knotweed: J Horror in Brockley

Ryuji Takayama: This kind of thing... it doesn't start by one person telling a story. It's more like everyone's fear just takes on a life of its own.
- Ringu

Brockley has a Japanese Knotweed infection. Japanese Knotweed is the most invasive species of plant in Britain and needs to be removed by specialists if you have some. Happy in pretty much any soil or puddles of dark water, its roots can cut through concrete foundations or meat and bone easily.

One reader reports that it has spread to several gardens between Braxfield and Arabin Roads.

If you have some, you should consider getting rid of it as soon as possible, since it grows at up to 10cm a day. Thanks for the effort.

Cockpit Arts Open Studios 2011

17-19th June
18-22 Creekside, London, SE8 3DZ
Fri 17 June (6-9pm) and Sat 18 – Sun 19 June (11am – 6pm)

Cockpit Arts is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an Open Studios event this weekend. Their Deptford building is stacked several stories high with upholsterers, painters, printers, jewellery makers and more. They say:

We have been supporting talented designer-makers for 25 years! Cockpit Arts is an award winning social enterprise and the UK's only creative-business incubator for designer-makers. We are a renowned hotbed of creative talent, helping 165 resident designer-makers to grow their businesses and hundreds more through our Making It workshops and seminars.

Budgerigone - please help

Richard & Wei are desperate to find their lost budgies. They say:

We lost two beloved one year old budgies three weeks ago (29/05); one blue, one white.
Please call 07944063727 if you have any information.

Thank you

Ladywell Mercy fill-in

Ladywell Village Improvement Group reports:

A planning application has been submitted for this vacant site, r/o Rumbles sandwich bar. The application is described as "construction of a part two/part three storey building on the site of 1-5 Mercy Terrace SE13 comprising a ground floor commercial area (multi purpose hall for hire), 2 one bedroom and 1 two bedroom, self-contained flats, together with the provision of refuse and bicycle stores".

They also note that the site has often been used as a fly-tipping spot.

"Peak Car" in London and its effects

Any story about traffic calming measures in Brockley is sure to excite a long debate about the cars v bikes v people - seemingly the eternal struggle. So it's worth reflecting that car use in London is in long-term decline, having peaked about 15 years ago:

In the meantime, let me observe that as far as London is concerned, peak car use came and went at least fifteen years ago, when none of us noticed. Transport for London's most recent 'Travel in London' report records a steady decline in private transport's share of trips since at least 1993 (then 50%, 41% in 2008).

This trend is compounded by the fact that fewer young people are learning to drive, put off by high insurance premiums and declining cultural cache attached to having your own car:

Indeed, it seems fewer young people nowadays harbour the ambition to drive. Between 1992 and 2007, the proportion of 17-to-20-year-olds holding a driving licence fell from 48 per cent to 38 per cent and that of 21-to-29-year-olds from 75 per cent to 66 per cent.

London's population has been growing since the 1980s (reversing a long-term decline). The same is true across the country. Denser cities make public transport, cycling and walking relatively more efficient and attractive:

In the UK there's a huge degree of urbanisation. Eighty percent of the populace (50 million people) are classified as urban-dwelling and urbanisation is forecast to grow at 0.7 percent – 350,000 people – a year to 2015.

And all those road-safety measures that people say don't work seem to be having some effect:

The proportion of cars exceeding the speed limit on residential roads has fallen sharply in the past decade, down from almost three quarters in 1996 to only half in 2006.

Which is helping to improve road safety and save lives:

The new TfL figures reveal how deaths and serious injuries on London's roads have dropped by a staggering 57 per cent over the last decade.

Last year, the first time since records began in the 1970s, the number of fatalities fell below 150 to 126, which represents a 32 per cent reduction compared with 2009, and a 49 per cent reduction since the mid-to-late 1990s.

What's more, figures recently published by the Department for Transport (DfT) show that London is considerably below the national average in terms of fatalities at 24 per million people, compared to a UK average of 38 per million.

And that is creating a virtuous circle. As roads improve for cyclists, more people try it. The more cyclists on the road, the more safe they become:

Cycling gets safer the more cyclists there are. That's the finding of a new report by the CTC, the UK's national cyclists' organisation... CTC also highlighted a major change in London, which has seen a 91 percent increase in cycling since 2000 and a 33 percent fall in cycle casualties (going on absolute numbers) since 1994-98.

But there is more work needed if we are to reap the health benefits as well as cut congestion. Investment in cycling is often half-hearted:

So, say, if you make London a really hostile environment to cycle in then people won’t cycle in it. If you design stupid cycle paths, some of which — I could show you photographs — are shorter than the length of a bicycle; if you put bicycle paths right next to a set of parked cars, so that if you cycled in it then every time somebody opened a door you would just die, but if you cycle outside it then all the cars get really indignant and beep their horns because they think that you should be in the little green cycle path then, if you do all of that then people will cycle less and people will be less healthy in your capital.

So there we go, as London is growing, car use is falling. More of us are using public transport and cycling is increasing. As a result, roads are getting safer for everyone, with other benefits in terms of cutting emissions and improving public health.

But these benefits are the result of two decades of enlightened policy in the face of stiff resistance from a driving lobby that resists any attempts to curb cars' excesses, however much the evidence supports the action and benefits them in terms of reduced congestion.

Secrets from the Long Grass at the Brockley Jack

The ceiling of Father Michael's chapel is crumbling into decay. Summoned from Rome the artist Vincenzo Cardosi has the job of saving the precious ceiling and ensuring the old priest's legacy.

But Vincenzo and his wife Angelina share a hidden past with the priest's young colleague, the ambitious Father Paulo. As work on the ceiling begins childhood secrets are uncovered and dangerous passions reignite. By Dean Stalham. An Art Saves Lives production.

Dates: Weds 22 June - Sat 9 July at 8pm (no perf Sun/Mon)
Tickets: £12, £10 (suitable for over 16s)
Box Office: 0844 847 2454 or online www.brockleyjack.co.uk

The Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London, SE4 2DH

TK Maxx opening in New Cross

Remember the pick 'n' mix in Woolworths? All the sweets individually wrapped. Proper, old-fashioned sweets, yeah? Not like the sweets they have now, all with knives in them and AIDS. Yeah, proper, old-fashioned sweets they used to have. Very nostalgic feelings I have for Woolworths. You used to go in, Saturday mornings, with your pocket money, and you'd get the old 7" singles they had and the pick 'n' mix and, um... There must have been something else they sold. That was it, wasnt it? Singles, pick 'n' mix. Its hardly surprising they went under.

TK Maxx is opening a new store on the New Cross Gate retail park, next to Curry's. We don't recall what it's replacing, but we're pretty sure it's no loss.

The TK Maxx website announces that it will be opening on August 22nd.

Thanks to Mike for the scoop!

Ladies Who Latte

The News Shopper reports that a new women's network has launched in the area. Reportedly a Brockley group, but meeting in Moonshot in New Cross, it's called Ladies Who Latte and it's an an all-purpose, drop-in social.

The Songs of the Oak

Christina Carty [left] has been in touch to tell us about her new Honor Oak choir:

I have recently started a new choir called "SING IT BACK!" that meets every Tuesday evening at The Honor Oak pub. We focus on singing funk, soul, mashups and classic pop and are nothing like the big name/mainstream choirs around - we're relaxed and extremely friendly. See more details on www.singitback.org

I chose the Honor Oak because it was much friendlier than a church hall - I wanted the choir to feel like a social gathering where people could make friends and relax. People turn up and have a natter and a drink (which they are welcome to bring in with them) before they start. The room at the back of the pub is just the right size too - roomy but still with a very warm feel. And I am fairly local - I live in Hither Green.

Sing It Back started on the 17th May so we are still very new. So far we have covered songs such as the "Umbrella/Singing in the Rain" mashup from Glee and Adele's "Make You Feel My Love". We have also done mashups of my own creation - Chic's "Good Times" vs Luther Van Dross's "Never Too Much" and KC's "That's The Way (I Like It) vs "I Believe in Miracles" by the Jackson Sisters. This week we'll be doing "This Charming Man" by The Smiths. As you can see, not your usual style of choir!

Lewisham hands Fusion Lifestyle 15 year leisure contract

Lewisham Council announces:

The Council has awarded a new 15-year leisure management contract to Fusion Lifestyle.

The new contract, due to start on 15 October, covers the management of nine of the borough’s sport and leisure facilities, including public gyms, swimming pools, sports halls and an outdoor athletics’ track.

Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, said: "These are exciting times for sport and leisure in Lewisham. London 2012 is around the corner and we are near completion of several major leisure developments in the borough, so we have big expectations from our new leisure provider.

"The key aims of our sports’ strategy for the borough are to encourage Lewisham people to be more active and to create better sport and leisure facilities. This new partnership with Fusion Lifestyle will go a long way to accomplishing this."

In addition to Ladywell Arena, the Bridge, Wavelengths and Ladywell leisure centres that are covered by the current contract, Fusion lifestyle will also take on Loampit Vale Leisure Centre and Forest Hill Pools, once they are opened.

The relocation of Wavelengths Library to the Deptford Lounge is due to take place this autumn. Fusion Lifestyle will finance the sports equipment needed to convert the new vacant space into an additional sports area within the leisure centre.

Fusion will also manage other local community facilities including a third party lettings system to maximise community use of school facilities.

Tim Mills, Business Development Director of Fusion, said: "Improving leisure and cultural opportunities is a key priority for Lewisham Council and the team at Fusion is looking forward to delivering exciting developments over the next few years. As a registered charity, we are committed to providing the local community with high quality services at a price people are willing and able to pay".

Brockley Open Studios 2011

A map of this year's exhibitors

The Brockley Open Studios returns in 2011 with a record 54 exhibiting artists, for a long weekend on July 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Open Studios weekend is always warm and sunny and is our personal highlight of the Brockley calendar. The artists really open up their homes (many of which are stunning) and are fantastic hosts while the work on show is eclectic, ranging from the amateur to the excellent.

Untitled, by exhbitor Victoria Scott

This year there is also a show of small works from most of the artists involved at Toad's Mouth Too, from June 28th - July 15th.

Supercuts license review

Cllr Darren Johnson has notified us of a review of the license held by Supercuts on Upper Brockley Road:
Following long running problems with anti-social behaviour in the area, the local police have made an application for a formal review of the license for the Supercuts off-license. The license will be reviewed by the Council’s Licensing Committee. They have the power to revoke or amend a license if they believe the licensing objectives are being undermined.
If you wish to comment on this license you must submit your comments in writing or by email to the council before 23rd June. Comments should be sent to:
Licensing team
Laurence House, 5th Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, Catford SE6 4RU
Tel: 020 8314 6400
Email: licensing@lewisham.gov.uk
Any comments you make must only be in relation to one or more of the Licensing Objectives. These are
- Prevention of Crime and Disorder
- Public Safety
- Prevention of Public Nuisance
- Protection of Children from Harm
Your comments will be seen by the Committee before they make a decision. Please note that if you do submit a comment your name and address will not be made public.

New speed bumps for Brockley Road

The Council has introduced speed bumps on Brockley Road next to the remodeled junction with Coulgate Street. Combined with the road narrowing and new layout it will hopefully lead to a safer stretch of street.

With thanks to Kenny Tinsel for the photo.

The New Cross Food Group

You need to focus on the neglected food groups, such as the whipped group, the congealed group and the Chocotastic!

- Dr Nick Riviera

Transition New Cross writes:

Do you grow your own food? Would you like to sell your surplus? Interested in a planned new Community Supermarket? Come along to the launch of the Transition New Cross Food Group and find out more!

Date:June 21st
Place: The Hill Station cafe (Kitto Road by Telegraph Hill Park) SE14 5TY
Time: 7.15pm (7:30pm sharp start) until 9.00 pm

Explore ideas for how our community can make our food more sustainable, local, healthy and fair for all. Promoting local food growing, food Co-ops and a Peoples Supermarket for New Cross. Join us and help make it happen! Everyone welcome!

For inquiries email: transitionnewcross@gmail.com

Batman in Croydon: The Killing Joke

This will be a good life. Good enough.

- Batman, The Dark Knight Returns

Metropolis is supposed to be New York by day. Gotham is New York by night. Or Croydon at any time.

Delta Point in West Croydon has been converted into Gotham General Hospital for the filming of the Dark Knight Rises, according to ThisisCroydon:

One onlooker said he saw a dramatic car chase being filmed on set along with several rooftop shots involving the action hero.
The spectator also got a sneak peak of one of the characters crashing through a window of the building.
The onlooker said: "It's nice that Croydon is put on the map for the Batman film.
In the final part of Christopher Nolan's trilogy, Batman is pitted against Dane (Bowers) while fighting an unstoppable tide of human filth that pours out of the East London Line every night.

Children's story telling in Hilly Fields, June 14th and 20th

The Ivy House reopens

Launch Party double A Side - Friday 17th June and Wednesday 22nd June
8pm-11pm, (18+ events). Free entry.

The Ivy House music hall in Nunhead, which briefly closed this year, is celebrating its reopening with a launch party this weekend. Writing on the forum, Rocklands says:

The Ivy House is home to a 1920s theatre stage and real ale. It has hosted “an array of musicians, performance artists and general weirdness.“ (Time Out) over the years, including the likes of Jo Brand, Elvis Costello, Ian Dury and Joe Strummer (with pre-Clash band, The 101ers).

A friendly comedy and cabaret circuit favourite, it is also a function and dining room, a film club, the occasional boot sale market and a hub of South East London creatives,

This special place, previously highlighted in The Guardian, is considered those in the know, as one of the capital’s treasures. Understandably, there was much gnashing of teeth when it closed.

The Ivy House has been rescued by the people behind the success of The Joiners Arms in Camberwell. John Bundy and friends have given some love and improvements, while retaining the authentic originality of it’s decor. Such is the excitement around the return of The Ivy House, that special events are confirmed on the bookings calendar, up to New Year already.

Two gatherings kick off it’s re-opening and are buzzing facebook events. Get involved, book dates, make friends, be entertained, drink booze!

The Deptford Deli closes

As mentioned on the Deptford forum, The Deptford Deli has shut down. The news comes only a few months after the Tanners Hill shop opened its basement as a restaurant.

A sign outside now advertises the shop space for let and their phone number no longer works. In May, they reported they were forced to close for a short time due to plumbing issues.

Models needed

Bohemia Hair, the Mantle Road salon, is offering free hair colouring to volunteer models. They say:

We're looking for 2-3 hair models for a FREE hair colour on Tuesday, June 14th, 2-5pm.
This is for a training day we are holding for our staff. Colour will be done by a L'oreal expert trainer. Anyone interested should email me bohemiahair@live.com or call on 07912 981108.

Brockley Common Gardening, June 12th

The Brockley Cross Action Group are looking for gardening volunteers again, to help with regular watering, planting and weeding of Brockley Common. They're meeting by the station tomorrow from 2pm - 5pm if you want to go along and lend a hand and get involved.

The BC Universe

There's more than one way to experience Brockley Central.

This week, Brockley Central got its 2,000th follower on Twitter - the perfect excuse to copy this graphic, which shows how UK newspaper groups' reach is split between print, web and social media:
Likewise, the Brockley Central family is split across five channels: this site, Twitter, Facebook, the forum and the SE Central Twitter feed. Based on average daily visits to the two sites and total number of followers on the social networks, we get a daily reach of over 4,800...

Like the newspaper graphic, it's not really very scientific. It doesn't take into account overlap between these communities, which will be subtantial, nor the additional reach generated by being Liked or Retweeted. But it's interesting to compare the relative populations, with Twitter the biggest BC outlet and the forum a nascent channel.

Brockley Girls Are Easy

Forsythe: In this dream I found myself making love to a strange man. Only I'm having trouble you see, because he's old... and dying... and he smells bad, and I find him repulsive. But then he tells me that everything is erotic, that everything is sexual. You know what I mean? He tells me that even old flesh is erotic flesh. That disease is the love of two alien kinds of creatures for each other.

- Shivers

Brockley resident Reisha has recorded her account of alien activity in Brockley on UK UFO Sightings:

I was awake around 3am because I've been suffering with insomnia lately, and I was sat up in bed. I looked up and out of my window and I could see a round orb looking thing, it was quite large. The orb/UFO was moving directly upwards quite fast. It wasn't moving side to side or anything. It most definitely was not an airplane or a satellite because it was moving from quite near the ground directly up towards the sky until it wasn't visible. It was glowing white. I researched this and it looked exactly the same as the UFO which was seen above Jerusalem in January of this year, which can be seen on Youtube.

This is not the first time that Brockley's had to cope with alien invasion. The question is, who's attacking the Brock this time?

Reisha's insomnia suggests Solaris, the recent spate of runaway cats suggests Alf but the machete maniac was straight out of The Hidden.

A new MP for Greenwich and Deptford (and Brockley)?

853 blog has been sifting through the boundary changes to MPs constituencies predicted by Democratic Audit, to see what the future could have in store for South East London politics as the government attempts to reduce the number of MPs to around 600. One of the most significant changes forecast is the merging of much of Nick Raynsford (Greenwich) and Joan Ruddock's (Deptford) patches, including Brockley and Telegraph Hill wards.

He says:

A new Greenwich and Deptford seat would run from the Telegraph Hill ward in Lewisham borough across to Greenwich borough’s Peninsula ward. Essentially, it would mean the current Lewisham Deptford seat, held by Labour’s Joan Ruddock, expands east to take in Greenwich and Blackheath.

The new boundaries ought to make the seat slightly more marginal than Ruddock's existing stronghold. Will it make political life more interesting? And will an MP with responsibility for Greenwich and the peninsula have much time for Brockley and Deptford? What do you think?

In this model, Ladywell would be lumped together with Lewisham, Lee and other wards up to Grove Park and Downham.

More charity pop-up restaurant dates in June

Guests at the first fundraising dinner

Emily's written with an update about her charity pop-up restaurant in Brockley, which has two more available dates this month:

Our pop up restaurant opened with a burst of sunshine last Saturday (4th June) and was a fantastic success. Food and company were fab and we can't wait for the next. We had quite a few Brockleyites and it was lovely to see new friendships being formed. More and more people from Brockley are coming to the upcoming events and as the original dates have all been booked up, we've added a final 2 extra ones for June: Sunday 19th and Sunday 26th.

Please email Emily asap me if you'd like to make a booking - agirlcalledemily@hotmail.com

We've had lots of people contact us via Brockley Central, everyone seems to love the idea of making new friends locally, enjoying good food and giving to a great cause.

Sam's family have now got a wonderful new website where you can track his progress and find out more about fundraising events: www.supportingsam.co.uk

It's also possible to donate by the website if you can't make it to one of the events. The need to raise money for Sam's physiotherapy is really critical now. Encouragingly, Sam moved his leg slightly for the first time last week, but without additional physiotherapy there is a real chance his progress will plateau.

His discharge date from hospital is the 29th June and the NHS can't fund the intensive physiotherapy Sam's recovery is dependent on... But, together, we can!

The Hilly Fields Summer Fayre 2011

The Summer Fayre, run by BrocSoc, is one of the main events in the Brockley calendar and this year takes place on Saturday, June 18th, 12pm-5pm. As ever, it will offer an eclectic mix of live shows, rides, stalls, games and food.

But to make it a success, BrocSoc is asking for your help. They say:

What makes the Fayre such a brilliant day is that it is a community event, run entirely by volunteers. But it doesn't happen automatically - we need help on three fronts:

1. FREE programme distribution
2. Volunteers on the day.
1. PROGRAMME DISTRIBUTION: 10,000 to distribute FREE! Attractive booklet with information about all the events + a map of new layout + support from a lot of advertisers. This is a new way of publicising the fayre and its features.

On the day, we're also looking for help with:

Car marshalling and set-up 8am–12noon.
Tea stall: all day
General help all day: programmes, raffle tickets, train, bungee run and gladiator tickets, stewarding, litter picking.
Teenagers: volunteer on a rota with collecting tins to subsidise the cost of Farm Animals and Birds of Prey.
Clear up and litter: 4.30pm till 5.30pm . . .

If you would like to help with any or all of this, get in touch by emailing chair@brockleysociety.org.uk or calling 020 8692 3829.

New feature: Most popular posts

If you scroll down and look to your right hand side, you'll see that we've added a widget that tracks the most-read articles on the site over the last 30 days and compiles a top 10. Just because.

Toads Mouth Too for sale

When we were first thinking about moving to Brockley, back in about 2005, researching the area online was tricky. No one with access to the internet seemed to have anything to say about it.
One of the few things Google had to teach us was that there were two local cafes that people liked: Moonbow Jakes and Toads Mouth Too.
Both places were born at a time when the most common complaint from local businesses was that too few customers were interested in eating out (today, the more common complaint is from customers, that there are too few options available to them). They shared druidic names, loungy layouts and veggie-friendly menus. They were well-loved and well-worn. If Bagpuss was a café, he would have been one of these two.
Moonbow’s closed a couple of years ago, replaced by the slightly slicker Brockley Mess. Now, after months of speculation, Toads Mouth is on the market.
Toads Mouth isn’t perfect. The menu is a little limited, the service a little erratic and the tendency for the same people preparing the food to handle the money has been a consistent grumble from BC readers over the years. However, the Toad’s labyrinthine layout is nice and intimate, the portions are tasty and generous and the garden is one of the best places to be on a sunny day. The waiters have always been friendly, in our experience.
Perhaps new owners could iron out some its flaws, but they will have a tough act to follow and we hope that it doesn’t lose its charm.

East London Line passenger numbers double

The Evening Standard reports figures from TfL, which show that passenger numbers have doubled over the last year:

Passenger numbers on the East London line have doubled in the first year since its £1 billion transformation.

It has carried more than 20 million people, about 85,000 a day, since it was reopened by Boris Johnson a year ago. Figures are expected to double again by 2016...

Last month the East London line was named the most punctual railway in the UK for its performance in April.

Although not great news in itself, as anyone who's traveled between 08.15 and 08.45 can testify, the figures are an endorsement of the quality of the service and its transformational potential and a strong argument for further investment in the network, whether through increased frequency, longer trains, later running times, new stations or enhancements to the existing stations, such as making Brockley Station fully accessible.

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