Monday, 17 December 2012

Living in the chapel

Around the turn of the last century there were Methodists everywhere on the Hornsey Road. The Spiritualist church, the police station and this blue building on Bavaria Road all used to be chapels.

Not a chapel, December 2012.

The blue building got turned into flats and the top flat went on sale with The Modern House last month. It sold quickly. Shame, because I wish I could live there.

Photo 8

Photo 13

Photo 4

'The apartment was the subject of an award-winning conversion by West Architecture in 2006, and would be ideal for use by an artist or a designer.The project was given a Wood Award in 2006, with the judges commenting: “The delicacy of the structure and the contrast of the steel and timber make this project a delight.” It was also shortlisted for the AJ Small Projects Award, and featured in the book Detail in Contemporary Kitchen Design by Virginia McLeod.'

I keep on thinking about Methodists and Hanley Arms arms patrons glaring at each other and how in the end both sides lost.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

How to save money on Christmas presents

Go to the bookshop next door to Hamlet's and opposite North London models with ten pounds.

Leave with eleven books. Eleven proper, actual, beautiful books. 

Wrap. Do not tell recipients how little you paid. 

Sidney reflecting that books do furnish a room.

Emily looking for her favorite book 'Mice - and why they must die'

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Ghosts of St Mark's past, present and future

St Mark's on Tollington Park is a Victorian dream of the middle ages. Here it is not long after it opened in 1854, bringing godliness to the edge of the city:

The Methodists opened a chapel on the Hornsey Road four years later. It looked like this: 

Methodists, 1858

Now it looks like this: 

Police station, 2011.
St Mark's, on the other hand, is thriving. There are two hundred adults and ninety children at the average Sunday service. 

In last March's advert for a new Priest in Charge the parish said:  'We have a long evangelical tradition, centred on faithful biblical teaching and preaching. This has matured in more recent decades to include a stronger commitment to being a charismatic church.' From the one service I went to this seems to mean being heavy on power point and low on graceful language. I don't approve, but I suppose churches have the right not to be an aesthetic theme park for non-believers. 

The advert doesn't say what the post pays, but it does say that Vicarage 'is a large, spacious, comfortable Victorian house and has been recently redecorated. It is fully centrally heated with four bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor. The ground floor comprises a vicar’s study, sitting room, kitchen, dining room, pantry and utility room. It also has off-road gated parking for two cars with a large mature garden. The garden has been partitioned so that the vicarage has its own dedicated section with a separate small area for church use. A separate flat above the vicarage is lived in by the Worship Director and his wife.' God (appropriately) knows, he probably works hard enough for it. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dr Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People

Today's post is thanks to the British Newspaper Archive and the Saturday 30 November 1901 issue of the Essex Newsman, and proves that alliteration can cure all. 

Fireman's Career Ruined by Rheumatism. 

James Pederson, London Fire Brigade, who lives at 6 Rhodes Place, Hornsey Road, London, N. recounted the following facts to a Weekly Dispatch reporter:

I was one of the most powerful men in the brigade, stood six feet one, and weighed sixteen stone.

 I have good cause to remember an outbreak at  a large printers in Barbican. I got soaked to the skin with hot water thrown back from the building. For three hours I was on duty without a dry stitch on me. The next morning I found I had taken a chill, which developed into high fever and influenza. 

I was as prostrate and helpless as a baby. It was two months before i was able to put a foot out of bed, but I pulled through and put in the rest of my time until I had my second serious illness: I caught another chill, which developed inot rheumatic fever. 

This was followed later on by a third illness- the most serious of all- and the after effects finally settled in my feet and ankles. for 14 months I was an invalid, just able to crawl about, and although I saw many doctors and specialists, none of the seemed to be do me any good. 

In 1897 I was invalided out of the brigade. The doctors certified that I was Totally Unfit for further service, because I was suffering from incurable rheumatism, gout, dropsy, and anemia.

 I do not exaggerate when I say that every bone in my body ached; my ankles finally swelled to double their proper size. I gradually dwindled down until I was a mere skeleton. About this time my wife read of a wonderful cure by Dr Williams' pink pills for pale people. She brought the pills home and I began to take them. 

When I got to the end of the second box. I found that although for something like 2 or 3 years I could not move either of my arms, I could bend my elbows quite easily and without pain/...] I grew quite stout , and my old good spirits came back to me. I am 38 yrs of age, and I feel as strong and as hearty as I did when I was 20. This remarkable return of health is entirely due to Dr Williams' PP, which rescued me from a life of misery and an early grave".'

For more British Newspaper Archive stories, see here, here, here, here and here.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Sort of like Tom Cruise in Cocktail, but more North London-y and much less creepy.

Remember the London Flair Club who throw alcohol around and get paid for it? They've moved into the old Gym Equipment shop next to the Chemitex Pharmacy and you can see them practising through the shutters. 

This is Marcus, and this is what flair looks like: 

He's in training for the world championships on the 25th/26th of November. £10k prize. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Pakeman ghouls, or how I'm a scaredy-cat

First things first. Pakeman primary, opposite Kinloch Gardens,  is a fine school. Ofsted love it.

Second things second: In daylight, and if you're expecting them, these cut-outs of children decorating its railings are lively, cute, engaging, and all that stuff.

Third things third: If you first notice them in the dark, around Halloween, and in the kind of mood that once saw you jump because you'd mistaken a cow for a hedgehog (long story) they are spooky as all hell.


Eenie, meenie, miney mo; catch you and never let you go

This way to Hades

Minion of Mictecacihuatl

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Inkie lighting up the streets

The independent supermarkets opposite the new Tesco's have looked forlorn since it opened. Then this happened:

 It turns out that the Savewell Supermarket landlord is friends with Inkie.

Here's Artbelow on Inkie:

'This artist is one of the most notorious graffiti writers in UK history to emerge out of the 80's Bristol scene. Painting alongside 3D and Banksy, coming 2nd in the 1989 World Street Art Championships, the Kingpin was arrested as the head of 72 other writers in the UK's largest ever Graffiti bust, Operation Anderson.

Inkie has since worked as head of design for SEGA, Xbox, and currently resides in Jade Jagger's west London studio. As in-house artist and designer for prints, illustrations, clothing and with his trademark beauty on large-scale pieces, the globally respected artist, whose diverse inspirations collect Mayan architecture, William Morris, Alfons Mucha and Islamic geometry, has exhibited worldwide, been denounced by The Daily Mail and simultaneously lauded by The Times, his art published in the books Banky's Bristol, Children of the Can, Graffiti World and magazines Graphotism and Dazed & Confused.'

There's more in Time Out, the Telegraph and BBC Bristol.

Here is a picture of Inkie with Kanye at Jade Jagger's house. That is not a sentence I expected to write for this blog.

Pic by bigbadbanshee, thanks to the Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It blog.

Proof of the Mucha influence:


See? You should go and take a look. C'mon, what else have you got planned for tomorrow? 

I now want: 

A) Kanye to go to Ajani's.
B) Inkie and friends to take over the horrid shutters at With Love and Ajani's and Atlas and the Chemitex Pharmacy and hell the whole damn road. 

I'll settle for B. That would make me happier than seeing this Sydenham or this Leyton initiative being replicated on the Hornsey Road. And the world exists to make me happy for I am the centre of all things. 

I'm going to lie down now.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Spooksbury Halloween

The Gothic WI meet every second Thursday in the Shaftesbury. Their next meeting is a clothes swap, and this is where I regret giving away only corset I've ever owned*.

Oh well.

Anyway, the Gothic WI are/were (depending on when you read this) hosting two Halloween parties. The children's party ends in about fifteen minutes as I write. There were cobwebby cakes,

pastries shaped like dead men's fingers**,

and a smiley ghost cake.

I bought some apple butter because I couldn't resist mystery confectionery with a corset logo.

The grown-up shindig (hootenanny?) starts/started at 7. I'd go, but I'm not drinking until April 7th and I'd have to be a kinder, more mature and altogether better person go to a party in a pub, not drink and not sulk.

*I threw out my blessed Hussein Chalayan jacket the same day. Why? What was I thinking? Why didn't you stop me?
** Talking of which, have you tried these pathology cakes?  

Monday, 22 October 2012

Secret Garden in the Six Acres.

Came across this the other day. 

'2 January 2012 - 1 January 2015: Sans façon have been selected to create a new, artist-led garden design for the Six Acres Housing Estate in Finsbury Park, Islington.  Working in close collaboration with local residents and the estate’s landscape architects, they will be developing creative interventions for the site to enhance the central plaza of the estate and achieve a functional, successful social space'


A) Who are Sans façon

'It began as an investigation between French architect Charles Blanc and British artist Tristan Surtees, and has developed into an ongoing collaboration through an art practice. They undertake diverse projects, both temporary and permanent, predominantly exploring the complex relationship between people and place. They see the role of the artist and art as a catalyst in a process of raising questions and inviting people to look and think differently about a place, hoping to create an opportunity rather than an inanimate object.' 

They do interesting things. I approve of anyone who titles a piece 'Collaboration as a place you don't expect'.

B) Where is the Six Acres' central square? I still don't understand the geography there. 

C) Who's Dickon, who's Mary and who's Colin?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Changing the Six Acres.

I walked round the Six Acres the other day looking at the new buildings going up all over the estate:

A building

They look fine, I think. There's something 1930s about them (like an English take on the Gernsback continuum) and they don't have the cramped feel of a lot of new-builds.

There's a complicated conversation to be had about why we don't build enough houses in the UK and what can be done. I'll leave that be for the moment, though I'd be curious to know what you think about it.  There's a more local conversation about whether these particular buildings work for the Six Acres and again I'd love to hear what you think, especially if you live on the estate.

My (superficial) first impression is that they might make the Six Acres more welcoming.  The estate isn't frightening - the people in it are no better and no worse than the fancy lot in Crouch End and the closest I've come to violence there is when this kitten launched itself on me and insisted on having its head rubbed:

Very fierce.

But I do tend to avoid walking through it, whereas I'll take a detour to walk through the Andover, especially in spring or in autumn when the trees are in flower or turning red-gold.

There's this thing that happens in cities when spaces don't work. It can happen in a business district as much as in a suburb, in a rich area as much as a poor one. It's hard to describe but the coherence goes and it's like reading a book and finding that some pages have fallen out. You look around and you're not sure whether that road ahead is a dead end, whether that square is private. You get the impression that outsiders don't turn up often and perhaps aren't entirely welcome. If you're in a hurry, or (like me) you get lost easily you'll probably turn back and head for somewhere where your feet and your eyes know what to expect and how to read it.

The Six Acres seems like that, perhaps because when they obliterated Campbell Road they wanted to make something as different as possible to Victorian streets.

Tell me if you agree, or not. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Ujima court curse

Ujima court lies just north of Hornsey Road. Three stories, stucco and brick stripes, stepped roof, it looks normal but its windows have been gradually being bricked up for months and now the main entrance is boarded up too.

It turns out to be a morality tale.  There were 38 flats and bedsits crammed in there and none were big enough for people to live in them decently. Now the building's being closed down as people leave and something better will go up in its place.

Here's the story told by the council:

'Ujima Court is owned by London and Quadrant (L & Q) Housing Association.
At present it contains 23 flats and 15 shared bedsits - all of which are
undersized and not considered to be suitable living accommodation. Over
the past two years, Islington Council has been working with London and
Quadrant on plans to redevelop this site which will involve the
demolition of the existing building. During this time L & Q have also
been working with residents to find them suitable alternative
accommodation, which is why the building is predominantly empty now. 

L & Q submitted a planning application in 2011 for the following:
Demolition of 23 flats and 15 shared bedsits and associated outbuildings
and redevelopment of the site to provide 28 new flats and maisonettes (1
x 1 bedroom flat, 17 x 2 bedroom flats, 2 x 3 bedroom flats, 8 x 3
bedroom maisonettes) new external works and landscaping, including three
disabled parking bays, cycle parking (28 spaces) and refuse storage. 

All of the 28 new housing units on this site with be for affordable
housing; either Social Rented or Shared Ownership - it is a 100%
affordable housing scheme. '

Meanwhile someone (an ex tenant?) has written this in chalk on the paving stones: 'Oh yeah, whoever trashed all my stuff fuck you sad cunt. Now you're cursed: bad luck; cancer growing, growing, growing.'

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The university that wasn't.

The corner of Seven Sisters and Hornsey Road has a bike shop, a Chinese supermarket, and a pub that survived a Zeppelin attack.

It doesn't have a university. It never had a university. It is unlikely ever to have a university. 

The 'American University in London'

It does have a building with a plaque. The plaque, just about visible in the photograph above, says 'American University in London'. 

AUL was never accredited anywhere, and could no more confer degrees than I can (though if anyone's interested in a Hornsey Road MA my fees are reasonable and attendance requirements not onerous). 

Its website is still up. It shows good-looking young people smiling and skates over AUL's premises being a few rooms over a bookies. 

Note the crest with House of Commons-y portcullis

It recruited up to the 2011/12 academic year even though AUL was fined in 2006 for 'misleading prospective students by deceptively representing itself as a university in spite of lacking proper accreditation' and I can find no evidence that they became accredited after. 

The plaque's still there too. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Everest Spice

So I was cycling home with a friend the other day and we had one of those disjointed conversations where you catch five words before the traffic lights change. Anyway he recommended Everest Spice.

'Really?' I said 'This place?'

Photograph from here
'Really' he said.
'Mmph' I said. 

But I tried it and he was right. You should try them too if you haven't already, in which case I suppose you're shaking your head at my slowness of uptake.

Photographing food is difficult

If I had more data I'd theorize that there's an inverse relationship between how rundown takeaways look and how good they are. Someone should do a study. There should be graphs. 

Really difficult

Where? 53 Hornsey Road
When? Monday to Sunday 17:00-23:00
Tel: 020 7609 7487

Monday, 3 September 2012

... by any other name

The police said Josie Daly was 'in the premier league of London madams', making millions out of the Aqua Sauna on Hornsey Road and two other saunas (only one of which had a sauna). 

She claimed to be shocked, shocked that anything illegal was going on in her establishments. Then she was fined £2m and opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate having dodged a jail sentence. 

The story made the nationals, who wrote about her house (named 'Bunty's corner' after a dog buried in the garden), her white Rolls-Royce, the 1000-1500 men who visited her saunas every week and (magnificently) that she had advertised in the British Transport Police's official magazine.  

The journalists made the Aqua Sauna sound like it belonged in: 

A) an x-rated Whisky Galore: 'Daly was wheeled from court past flowers and pot plants from well-wishers stacked against a wall. Messages included one from ''a customer" which read: "Keep smiling, the end is near." '; 

B) an N7 Lilya 4 Ever: 'Fiona was 21 when she worked for Daly. "She was the worst brothel owner I ever worked for," she said. "OK, so she didn't rape or beat me like most of the male pimps did, but she was cruel and nasty. We had to work 12-hour shifts and ask her permission to go and buy a sandwich." '; or 

CJuvenal's Satires: 'one would suppose that in a "grown-up" world, there would be no hiddenness, no shame, no furtive visits to Josie Daly's massage establishments'

I don't know which of these takes is closest to the truth. I can guess and you can probably guess what my guess would be, but my biases aren't evidence. I do know, however, that all this happened in 2000 and that I took this photograph last month: 

They didn't even change the name.