Sunday, 29 April 2012

Picture Framing Therapy

I carted postcards, prints, photocopies, pages torn from magazines and exhibition posters from rented flat to rented flat for years thinking that as soon as I knew I wouldn't have to move for a while I'd put them up. Then we bought here and lived for two years with bare walls. For all my ambitions I didn't know what I wanted or how to get there or who to ask for help and the longer I waited the harder it seemed to choose anything.

The blog was my salvation.Well, when I say salvation I mean kick up the arse to stop me dithering because I found Art and Soul in the Belgravia Workshops and went there.

Zoological drawings, bought in Lille, framed off Hornsey Road

It was heaven. They should market picture framing as therapy.  The workshop is a 
set of interconnected rooms, painted white, full of the flotsam and jetsam of tools and bits of wood, with a big round window looking onto the courtyard and TMS playing. I'd move in if they'd let me. 

Smyrna/Izmir sea-scene, as per above.

I spent so much time choosing between different mounts, frames and glass types that my dad (who was visiting that day and had kindly come along) decanted himself next door to Libertea for tea and cake. And the pictures look beautiful, far better than in my photographs.

Map here: 

Contact details here:

telephone: 020 7263 0421
mobile: 0771 569 7345

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Channeling Herbert Chapman

This is the Hornsey Road taken over by fans leaving the Emirates:

They'd watched a goalless draw with Chelsea and were quiet except for a little boy saying 'I think we played much better than them' at the top of his voice. It was like a morose carnival procession where the rules of normal life were upturned: we could walk down the middle of the road and everyone was heading the same way and thinking about the same thing.

It also felt (and yes, I have been watching a lot of Dr Who lately) like time travel, because this crowd could have existed and would have had the same thoughts and conversations a hundred years in the past or in the future.

Change the clothes and can't you see those two tramping home from a disappointing nil nil draw under Herbert Chapman?

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Ethel Le Neve at 313 Hornsey Road

Dr Crippen and his wife Cora Turner lived in Holloway on a road called Hilldrop Crescent that doesn't exist any more.

Cora Turner as 'Belle Elmore' her music hall persona
Wikimedia Commons image 

Dr Crippen
Wikimedia Commons image

It wasn't a happy marriage (look at them - how could it have been?). In 1910 Cora disappeared and Crippen moved Ethel Le Neve in and let her wear his wife's clothes and jewelry. When Inspector Dew of the Met became curious the couple panicked. They fled to Belgium, disguised themselves as a father and son and boarded the SS Montrose to Canada. 

Meanwhile, the police were digging up Hilldrop Crescent. They didn't find a whole body but they identified Cora from a piece of scarred skin and found traces of poison in the soil.  

Inspector Walter Dew (extreme right) searching the garden at 39, Hilldrop Crescent
Wikimedia Commons image

The newspapers found out and made it into a Great British Murder. The kind you would read about on a Sunday afternoon 'preferably before the war. The wife is already asleep in the armchair, and the children have been sent out for a nice long walk. You put your feet up on the sofa, settle your spectacles on your nose, and open the News of the World. Roast beef and Yorkshire, or roast pork and apple sauce, followed up by suet pudding and driven home, as it were, by a cup of mahogany-brown tea, have put you in just the right mood. Your pipe is drawing sweetly, the sofa cushions are soft underneath you, the fire is well alight, the air is warm and stagnant. In these blissful circumstances, what is it that you want to read about? Naturally, about a murder.'

Even the SS Montrose's captain read about the case and sent this telegram back to England: 'Have strong suspicions that Crippen London cellar murderer and accomplice are among saloon passengers. Mustache taken off growing beard. Accomplice dressed as boy. Manner and build undoubtedly a girl.' 

Inspector Dew boarded a faster ship and was there to arrest Crippen when the SS Montrose reached Canada. They were the first fugitives to be caught by wireless.

Hawley Harvey Crippen and Ethel Le Neve. Credit: Photograph by Arthur Bennett, 1910. Wellcome Library, London.
Photograph by Arthur Bennett, 1910. Wellcome Library, London. 

They both pleaded innocent. Crippen was convicted of murder, Le Neve was acquitted of being an accessory. 

File:Execution of Crippen - Museu d'Autòmats del Tibidabo.JPG
Execution of Crippen - Museu d'Autòmats del Tibidabo
Wikimedia Commons image

After the hanging Le Neve claimed £268 from the Crippen estate and gave her address as 313 Hornsey Road. That house has gone now too, replaced by Islington council housing. 

They may have been innocent. There's now a movement to retry Crippen, backed by people who believe that Cora had run off to America and changed her name to Belle Rose. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

How Kinloch Gardens went from bad to gold

This is a post to celebrate good news.

Kinloch Gardens is a park just off the Hornsey Road.

It feels like a walled garden because it's surrounded by houses and they almost hide it. You'll only notice it if you walk to Pakeman primary school, stop, turn and look down what seems a normal side street for long enough to realise that there's a park there and not just a bit of greenery at the end of a cul de sac.

It's tiny, but you should still go find it. There are mosaics:

Kinloch Gardens cat mosaic thanks to Gaz-zee-boh on Flickr 
And there are flowers:

Kinloch Gardens in the late afternoon thanks to Gaz-zee-boh on Flickr  

The good news is that it won a 2012 Mayor's Safer Parks Gold Award because 'since the friends group was set up in 2008, there have been annual Easter, summer and winter events that have boosted local community involvement. It has been designated a ‘no drinking park’ which has reduced street alcohol abuse in Kinloch Gardens and enabled community events to flourish.'

If you'd like to join the Friends of Kinloch Gardens, go here.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Juggling with alcohol

A few weeks ago I started noticing clattering and banging coming from this shop.

The mystery shop 

Then there was more banging, and more clattering, but still no sign of what it was all for. 

This happens way too often. Shopkeepers work like crazy getting their shops ready for opening, but won't stick a poster to the shutters saying what's coming or set up a basic website. It's like they think it would be immodest to advertise before they open.

Anyway, some creative googling later and I found out that what was coming wasn't a shop. It was this:

Flair, it turns out, is juggling with alcohol. Sometimes it's competitive juggling with alcohol. Other times it's just decorative showing off. 
The London Flair Club is, according to them, 'the only social flair space in the UK' and 'a place to get together, develop & learn new skills and practice competition routines'.  

I can't carry a cup of tea across a room without spilling it, but I'm glad they're here. Their facebook site makes it look like they're having fun getting the place ready and now I can add flair bartending to model railway making and running a jazz restaurant  to the list of ways people find joy in the Hornsey Road. 

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Faces of St. Mark's

St. Mark's, on Moray Road just off the Hornsey Road, is full of faces.

Ruskin praised such details in medieval churches as 'signs of the life and liberty of every workman who struck the stone; a freedom of thought, and rank in scale of being, such as no laws, no charters, no charities can secure'.

St. Mark's is a very Ruskin-y church. 

Ruskin also believed that wrought iron was a sign of madness, so make of that what you will.

Either way, it works here. The church is rustic and welcoming, and the faces balance that out by looking stern and aloof. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Telephone Box Garden

This is the telephone box opposite what will be the Yale Terrace Tesco's:

It's a sorry thing, sitting there without any purpose or any future except decay and rust. It's also a beautiful thing because red telephone boxes just are, they look defiant even when they're beaten down. It's mostly a forlorn defiance, but there may be hope for this one. Not as a telephone box (that world's gone now) but as a garden.

Colette Blanchard, with help from Islington Council, has planted two derelict phone boxes in Archway. with miniature ivy, pansies, narcissus and polyanthus. The Tribune has the story here 

If Tesco's want to help that parade of shops flourish they could get the With Love florists from across the road to do the same.