Thursday, 31 May 2012

Happy 10th Anniversary, Holloway Arts Festival

From tomorrow (Friday 1 June) wise readers will avoid the royalist malarkey and go to the Holloway Arts Festival instead. The full programme of events is here and if you can only give it one day go to Platform on Sunday the 10th of June between 1pm - 7.30pm and see:

A.L. Kennedy

Time: 6.30 - 7.30pm
Tickets: £7 / £5 (concessions)
Age Range: Suitable for 14+
Location: Platform Theatre
The acclaimed writer and deadpan comedian A.L. Kennedy shares how she coaxed, found and nurtured her voice. In this riveting solo performance, Kennedy will make connections between writer's different voices beyond the page, the voice in which they carry on their own interior narratives and voice with which they address the world. Kennedy's The Blue Book is currently longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Lois Tucker

Time: 5 - 6pm
Tickets: £5 / £3 (concessions)
Age Range: Suitable for 11+
Location: Platform Theatre
Local writer/performer Lois Tucker returns as her silent alter-ego 'Lois of the Lane' in this brand new hour-long show fresh out of the Tucker brainbox.
An irreverent black comedy performed to a continuous soundtrack, 'Fabled' finds our heroine in an unlikely storytelling setup, deep in the bowels of an unknown building. With only her wits and a bottomless suitcase to hand, Miss of the Lane will endeavour to entertain against all odds.

One Moment In Time

Time: 3pm and 4pm
Tickets: £2.50 / £2 (concessions)
Age Range: Suitable for 4 - 10
Location. Platform Basement
An Ocean of Stories - tales from beneath the sea.
A fisherman who marries a mysterious Selkie maid, a fish who helps young Davy to escape the clutches of the Devil, headstrong pirates and monsters of the deep… Explore the rich folklore of the British Isles with these tall tales from the depths of the ocean. Told with story, song, and live accordion music.*


Islington Reels Gala Screening

Time: 2pm, 3pm and 4pm
Tickets: £2
Age Range: Suitable for all ages!
Location: Platform Theatre
A wonderful assortment of animations and films made by and for young people, sharing their experience of life in the 21st century. This year’s selection includes short films by from Grafton Primary School and Tufnell Park Primary School, the experimental documentary 'Lives on Screen' by young people from the Cornwallis Adventure Playground in Holloway and 'The Stories of Five Olympic Circles’ an animation made by one hundred and forty children from the London borough of Islington and the pupils of the Czech School without Borders, London.


Worn Out But Still Useful workshop

Time: 1.30-2.30pm
Tickets: FREE
Age Range: Suitable for all ages
Location: Platform Basement
Angel Shed Theatre Company Presents
Come along to our FREE performing arts inclusive workshop including drama, movement and singing based on our current production ‘WORN OUT BUT STILL USEFUL’.
Anyone and everyone welcome.

Meet the Professionals

Time 2pm, 3pm and 5pm
Tickets £2 per session 
Age: 14+
Location: Platform Meeting Room
After a hugely successful programme at the Reel Islington Film Festival, Meet the Professionals is back and is better than ever. We have lined up an amazing array of professionals at various stages of their career in the arts world. Each one hour session will give the chance to learn more about their field of expertise and give members of the public the opportunity to ask directly any questions they may have. Line up includes festival producer and artist Chas de Swiet, multi-disciplinary artist David Blandy and composer and pianist Stephen Daltry

Me and My Shadow

Time: 1 - 3.30pm
Tickets: £2
Age Range: Suitable for any age but students need to have some proficiency in using scissors.
Location: Platform Media Room
Come and discover the magic of your shadow in this afternoon workshop with shadow puppeteers Louise Radinger and Aggeliki Polatou. We’ll play with shadows, lights, torches, make some shadow puppets and have a fantastic shadow performance at the end! We look forward to seeing you there!

Comics Workshop by Czech School Without Borders

Time: 2-3pm and 3-4pm
Tickets: FREE
Age Range: 3-10
Location: Platform
The workshop will accompany the London premiere of ‘Let’s Draw The Olympics!’, a 10-minute animation short made by 140 children from Islington and pupils of the Czech School Without Borders, London. We’ll be following further adventures of five animal friends – Cockroach, Fox, Pigeon, Mouse and Squirrel – that feature in the animation film. Children will be creating a comics with dialogues. What would happen if Cockroach woke up in the future, not in 2012? The storylines will focus on the friendship between the animals and their friend Jessie, while we’ll discuss how the present differs from the future. The workshop is aimed at children of all ages.

 *I'm so glad this exists that I almost don't want to point out that 'moment in time' is an unnecessary repetition (where exactly can a moment be if not in time? It's like saying 'place in space'). Almost, but not quite. Pettiness & inquisitiveness are the main forces driving me. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Last chance to see.

Arsenal and London Metropolitan University have brought shiny buildings to the southermost end of the Hornsey Road and directly/indirectly they're pushing out the businesses that clustered there when the area was cheap.

The car repair workshop's been there thirty years and it looks like it my be gone soon. In an Opie and Iain Sinclair way I wanted to record it, so here goes:

Round the corner a flat is for sale at £675000.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

My overlooked launderette.

Sometimes I act like I'm blind. I walked past the launderette at 450 Hornsey Road dozens of times before I could see how good a melancholy film set it would make.

The story would be about people falling behind with the rent and in or out of love, the cast would dress in 1950s pastels to match the washing machines or wear dark red saris like the lady who runs the place or go about in converse, hoodies, and a hungover haze. 

It might have a happy ending (I'd like it to, I think) but it couldn't be a hero-wins-the-lottery-and-gets-the-girl type of happy ending. There'd have to be a sense that the happiness was a fragile thing, its feathers in danger from loose nails or an overloaded machine.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Rabbit, walk.

With thanks to the ever wonderful Mizhenka for finding it, here's a giant rabbit on the Hornsey Road:

It's from Dazed & Confused & Channel 4' s Random Acts series of three minute shorts. 

The small and sidelined part of my mind that doesn't overthink things knows that the film makers chose the road because it was near them, but the rest of me likes to imagine that they scanned every street in London, agreed consistent metrics to compare them, ran a best practice quality assurance process on the results and came to the evidenced conclusion that if a demoralised rabbit were to live anywhere it would have to be off the Hornsey Road.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Oh my fruiterer and my greengrocer, long ago, long ago.

Once upon a time Blackall's the greengrocer was next door to W. Plumb the butcher.  

Image thanks to Sludgegulper on Flickr.
London switched over from the 01 telephone numbers in 1990 and the sign says 'established over 100 years'. Blackall's must have opened in 1890 at the latest.

This is what the shop looks like now. It is not an improvement. I wonder if the old sign survives underneath?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Time breaks the threaded dancers/And the diver's brillant bow.

There used to be a Tollington Park dance club and it started a craze called 'bohemian dancing'. You can see it here. It was an uncoordinated slow twist and comes with this kickable voice over:

'Hard-boiled, perhaps, but there's certainly nothing stale or bad about the average teenager today. The present generation is probably more maligned than any since the turn of the century, but while some merit this criticism the vast majority are much the same as teenagers have always been.

 Let's take a look at the very latest form of exhibitionism 'bohemian dancing' it is called and these kids start dressing up where the Teds and werdies left off. The craze started here at the Tollington Park dance club in North London, but it's already catching on in other areas.

The youngsters, from 14 upwards, come from all walks of life and include schoolgirls, bank clerks, junk dealers, labourers and window dressers [interesting interprestation there of 'all walks of life'], and talking of dressers the most conventional clothes on view are the new pointed shoes, presumably not for the square person.

As you can imagine, the idea is to look like nothing on earth, even if it means looking like a nightmare, although we must admit there's no limit to their ingenuity. By comparison, ordinary dance floors are dull.

Although they're allowed to let of steam here there's never any trouble. If someone gets hot and bothered they cool off with a long drink of [dramatic pause] lemonade. So remember, next time you're thinking of throwing away those old moth eaten clothes, save them for your teenage son or daughter. It could, in their words, make them look fabulous.'

(The title's W.H. Auden. It breaks my heart, but I doubt he ever came to the Hornsey Road)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Census, or how the Hornsey Road nearly drowned.

Hornsey Road circa 2008

It was raining and I didn't want to look like a lost trainspotter clutching a notebook while the drizzle soaked through my clothes and rivulets of rain made their way under my collar, into my shoes and down my sleeves so I used Street View data (roughly three years out of date and with gaps where I couldn't see the shop fronts) to build this chart.

Three years ago was the depths of the recession before the one we're in now and the street was dying. Out of 210 shop fronts 52 were either empty or had been empty for so long that they'd be turned into flats while another 5 were bookmakers and most of the rest looked tired. It's funny, in the not funny at all sense of funny, that RBS not doing due diligence before buying ABN AMRO bankrupted little shops in North London.

I remember walking along the Hornsey Road for the first time about then and thinking 'bloody hell this is grim as fuck, I wouldn't want to live here'. My inner monologue swears too much, but it/I had a point and we hadn't even noticed the fake university, the two brothels masquerading as saunas and that some members' only clubs were really drug dens.

Things are, I think, slightly better now. The Hornsey Road will never be a conventional cloned high street but it is perhaps edging its way into becoming something interesting. You can rent a 711 sq ft (66 sq m) shop for £155 a week (or less - they've been on the market a while) while a flat that looks to be about the same size and is in the same area rents for £290 a week. My dream of a second hand bookshop or record shop moving in just might come true. That or we'll get another bookies.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

'I should have gone barmy, if I’d been a more sophisticated or fragile human being. I wasn’t. I came from Finsbury Park.'

In 1958  Don McCullin took a photograph called 'Cafe, Hornsey Road'.

I can't post it for copyright reasons, but you can see it here. In it a young man with black hair that's almost but not quite in a quiff is biting down on a cigarette and looking sideways and sort of down at you. He's at ease, maybe even prepared to be charming, but he also looks like he'd laugh as he hit you.

The cafe behind him is blurred out by soft focus and by cigarette smoke. It takes a while to see that there's another man sitting beside the protagonist - a friend or a hanger on or both.

This, I suppose, is what gangs look like when you're on the edges of them.

The title quote is from a Financial Times interview, where McCullin says growing up round here prepared him for working in a warzone. 

Saturday, 5 May 2012

How Arthur Pereira went from Everest to the Hornsey Tap.

In 1928, the photographer Arthur Pereira lived at number 498 Hornsey Road.

Four years earlier he'd been on the Mallory and Irvine expedition to Everest.

Photograph thanks to Sue H J Haskeron on Flickr.

Honorary Secretary of the Royal Photography society and a fellow of the Royal Geography society,  Pereira had form as an explorer. He'd spent 1912 working on  'Across Africa on Film via Rhodesia to Katanga and Lobito Bay: The Tanganyika Concessions at Work' and in 1924 he was Director of Photography on 'From Senegal to Timbuctoo'. All the same, he wasn't allowed all the way to Everest.

Instead, the magnificent and erratic Captain John Baptist Lucius Noel* who filmed the expedition, hired him to set up and run a photography lab in Darjeeling. 

Pereira worked fifteen hours a day for four months, developing the films as soon as they arrived from Tibet and turning the best into lecture slides. I wonder if his Portuguese surname and technical knowledge (in his old age he published a 'Manual of Sub-Standard Cinematography) might have counted against him; he wasn't quite one of us.

Either way the film he worked on has lasted. It's called 'the Epic of Everest' and you can see it at the BFI's Mediatheque. It wasn't a commercial success at the time, though. The idea had been to film a triumph for the Empire, but then Mallory and Irvine both died and the Tibetan authorities were furious that the filmmakers took Tibetan lamas on a tour of the UK to publicise the film. 

There's footage here of the lamas just after they landed in the UK with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay looking terribly dapper and everyone else looking shy - it's as though Clark Gable had landed in the middle of a Leyton Orient game. [Edited to correct error pointed out by kind commenter]

*Captain Noel was inspired by the Herbert Ponting, who was gold, pure, shining, unalloyed. Go look at these and then read Apsley Cherry Garrard's 'The Worst Journey in the World'. 

And if you haven't heard the story of Mallory's pipe you should go read this too.

And if you have jstor access go look at Peter Hansen's article 'The Dancing Lamas of Everest: Cinema, Orientalism, and Anglo-Tibetan Relations in the 1920s' here.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

How the Shaftesbury was saved

The Shaftesbury nearly didn't make it.  In 2007 it was owned by Sabretooth Vintners:  
Sabretooth Vintners

They gave up and tried to turn it into flats. It would have gone from this: 

To this:

Note how trees magically appear in the second drawing. 

The council turned them down because 'the proposal would result in the change of use of the host building that contributes to the liveliness and vitality of the street scene and provide a service of local value'.

If you're worried your local pub might close, go talk to CAMRA.