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.'