Friday, 13 December 2013

Alfred Vodna's Andover Report

I've lifted this from the comments. Do you agree?

'What is there to report? Bar someone setting off fireworks at 3am for about 5 minutes last night there isn't much going on bar the trouble making gangs that hang out in the middle of the estate - making it not a very safe place to be after dark. Growing up there in the early 90's, bar it's notorious reputation it was an extremely happy place for me. I knew every single one of my neighbours on my part of the estate, hung around with their kids, had dinner with them, played throughout the estate (the football pitch in particular) until I was so dirty and tired I couldn’t possibly stay out any longer. I remember one summer in particular and it was the summer of Euro '96 and the place was absolutely buzzing, flags out of windows, music pumping during the day, kids running about having water fights, BBQ's... Now with everything fenced off for security and safety reasons the place has lost its heartbeat I once used to feel being there, I know these were meant for a safer environment, which I fully agree on but it's just lost its soul - I only have a few neighbours that actually stop and say Hi now - neighbours come and go – some keep themselves to themselves, the ‘lifers’ as we called them have left, people dump their waste on their own doorstep, gangs hide in the dark.... I have lived there for almost 30 years and have recently just had a child of my own and (not that I'd feel safe letting them play in the estate.. ever) would never imagine them having the same experience in the estate as I did. It’s not all doom and gloom , I’ve never really had any trouble living there. I do have some great memories of how it once was but there is definitely no love pumping through its veins.'

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Have a Hornsey Road Christmas (presents)

Forget Oxford Street and Posh Islington. Amaze your family and friends by doing the Christmas shopping on the Hornsey Road.

The Match Day has everything for the Apartment Therapy reading Arsenal fan:

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Arsenal's The Armoury if you're buying for new parents or to undermine Spurs-supporting relatives:

Look! Matching
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Lioness on 159 (post coming shortly) sells, amongst other things, the kind of T-shirt that Topshop tries and fails to copy:


Bobby Joe's  ukeleles for the godchildren. Hipstery without being wankerish and easy to learn. Also, cute.

Organic Stall. Lovely things  from the local soap makers and ace mince pies:

Atlas World of Birds because your cat is worth it:

The African jewelery/bag pop-up at 336-8 because shiny:

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Clever Mike for anyone special enough to deserve a very very beautiful bike. Statue not included:

Done. Now go for a beer at the Shaftesbury

p.s. If that isn't enough, try Stroud Green Road. Italian Farmers Deli, Jack's, Hettie Holland and Concept should sort you out.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Organic Change

Setting up business on the Hornsey Road Home of Blight is always a brave move, but the Organic Stall seems to be doing reasonably well. They're now selling pies. I approve of shops that sell pies. The lack of pies is one of the may ways in which the South is less civilised than the North. Even butchers here think they they can get away with being pie-less. There should be a law. The 'Pastry Enforcement Act 2014'. It could also tackle the scourge of pubs where 'pie' turns out to be a limp blanket of pastry over stew. IT IS NOT A PIE IF THERE IS NOT A PASTRY BASE.

Anyway. Kay now wants to change things and make the store into a community shop. To get there he needs 150 people to sign up a £6.99 direct debit per month (no cancellation period). To start with he'd use the money to buy a fridge, then he'd use it to lower prices. Then (and this is where it gets interesting) he'd be able to hire some help, spend more time sourcing products, negotiating with suppliers, doing events and suchlike.

Go talk to him about it. It's early days, but like Hubbub or the People's Supermarket it's the kind of idea that might give the high street strength.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Christmas Carol on Hanley Road

Charles Dickens wrote a letter about visiting his sister Frances Elizabeth (Fanny) Burnett as she was dying in Hanley Road. It's here.

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Christmas on Hanley Road, 2013
Fanny had studied music at the Royal Academy and married a tenor, Henry Burnett. Their son Henry Burnett Jr was what was then called 'sickly' and 'crippled' and would now be called sick and disabled. He was a thoughtful, kind child and the inspiration for Tiny Tim. He died shortly after his mother.

Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim Cratchit as depicted in the 1870s by Fred Barnard, Wikimedia commons image.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Green House (Maison Verte)

Third despatch from the parallel baby world. This one is about something hard to find and worth finding.

The toys in the photograph are in a large, well-lit room. Pan out and you'd see playthings for slightly older children: china teacups, buckets and water to fill them with, plastic motorbikes made wide and squat enough for toddlers.

Look around and as well as the children and their parents/carers you'd also see three or four other adults, a mix of psychologists and other childcare professionals. They're all easy to talk to and it's interesting to see them interact with the children, letting them take the lead and shape their own play. 

They're here because of her:

Francoise Dolto was a psychoanalyst who did many things, but what she's most remembered for is setting up 'green houses', places for children to explore the world outside their homes and for parents to have a reprieve from being alone with their children. De Gaulle and Andre Malraux (culture minister & the man who saved medieval Paris) got involved and the idea spread to St Petersburg and Barcelona, Belgium and Argentina. 

And now they're here.

For children 3 and under. Open Wednesdays 9:30 to 12:30 and Fridays 12:30 to 3:30. Free, but you're also free to make a donation.

It's in the 'community rooms of Finsbury Park community hub N7 7RW'. This translates as the other side of Durham Road from Poole's Park primary school, just inside the Andover Estate. Here's the  outside:

Trust me, it's worth going in. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Bavaria Road

The Post Office spent decades shuffling through British street names, thinning out the Church Streets and Station Roads. 

Blenheim Road off Hornsey Road was swept up in this alongside at least six other Blenheim-somethings. It's a neat renaming. John Churchill became 1st Duke of Marlborough after defeating the Bavarians at Blenheim in 1704, and Marlborough Road is the next crossing on the left.

Monday, 18 November 2013

And they all went into the Ark, for to get out of the rain.

The Ark (a stay and play for under 5s) is on Tuesdays from 10 to 11:30 in St Mark's church, off Tollington Park. No charge, but there's a donation box.  

Since I took the photograph they've put up a banner. This is good. Before you had to guess what was behind a door with a sign about food vouchers. 

Inside there's enough kindness to justify the C of E, synod, bishops, Westminster Abbey and all. There's no overt god-bothering or sense that any non-anglicans are unwelcome but it's a small, practical, repeated miracle.

I've long had a theory that middle-class people are spontaneously generated by fancy places. Open a cafe with a blackboard paint wall in the roughest part of London and watch the men with beards and cardigans appear. The Ark's the same, except with friendly, competent people instead of hipsters. 

Second in an occasional series about the parallel baby world. The first post is here.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Iain Webb 'Shaking the Ether'

Lapwing, a small press based in Belfast, published this in 1995:

'Driving through rain sheaves weather's cloud-handkerchief wipes Napoleon's nose
Vehicle tuts, shakes its head philosophically, longing for the old London routes
Charing Cross, Cricklewood, Muswell Hill, Hornsey Road, Trafalgar Square.'

I like to imagine the 91 singing it.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Morals, or Why Lewis Walker lived ten weeks and didn't matter.

Islington Gazette, 1872

'Dr Lankester held an inquest on Thursday last, at the 'Eaglet', Seven Sister's road, on the body of Lewis Walker, aged ten weeks.

According to the evidence of the father of the child, Daniel Walker, a greengrocer of 54 Andover road, it appeared that the mother of deceased died on the 1st September, and deceased had since been brought up by hand.

[Andover Road was on what's now the Andover Estate and was a filthy, disease riddled hole. Bringing up 'by hand' meant feeding the child watered down condensed milk or some other pap.]

 Latterly, it had diahrrea, and Dr Davidson prescribed for it on Saturday week. The child rallied a little, but then got bad again. It was then put out to nurse, but had no further medical attendance till it was in a dying state on Saturday night. The child died on Monday morning and the medical man, Mr Popham, refused a certificate.

[love the 'it']

Mr H. Home Popham stated that he saw the child on Saturday night, when it was in a state of syncope and so emaciated that he thought it had been ill-treated, and refused a certificate. On examining the body he found it emaciated but clean. On the head was a small bruise, apparently from a fall. Internally the mesentric glands were degenerate, and his opinion was that the child died of exhaustion from diarrhea.

There being no evidence to show that the child had been neglected in any way.

[Except for being starved]

A  verdict of 'Death from natural causes' was returned, and the Jury added that its death was accelerated by want of natural food. They also wanted to append an opinion that the inquest was unnecessary, but the the Coroner disputed their right to do this, stating that, as two medical men had refused to give certificates of the cause of death, there were fully sufficient grounds for holding the inquest. 

He also contented that the jury had no right to express an opinion as to the necessity for an inquest; they were only asked to record their opinion as to the cause of death. Some people, no doubt, thought the Queen should not sit on the throne, but they would get no judge in the kingdom to record such an opinion in a verdict. He was simply there to administer the law. He might say that, as it had been rumoured about the neighbourhood that the child had been neglected, the father ought to feel thankful for the inquiry.

[Starvation isn't neglect?]

Some of the jury refused to sign the verdict, 

[Because they thought the child had been neglected? Or because they thought their time had been wasted?]

but as the coroner threatened to lock them up all night twelve submitted and signed.' 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Not Ploughing on

The Plough's owners have put in a planning application to turn it into a shop selling 'second hand books [...] along with stationery, greeting cards and second hand items.'

That sound you hear is the echoing void of a campaign to save it. The Plough's been shut since June and was a sorry place for a while before: few customers and those few without the contacts, skills or money to get themselves heard. We went in once, awkwardly had a pint of not-real-ale and never went back.

Still, still, still. The Hornsey Road was here long before the Tudors, but this may be the oldest building on it and the stories attached to it will mean less if it is no longer a pub although the flats above will be worth more.

So here goes with three stories:

In 1823 Henry Pestell was arrested for stealing stealing eight waistcoats, fourteen handkerchiefs, a pair of trousers, a pair of shoes, eight pair of stockings, three shirts, three aprons, a ring, a pin, twelve pounds of tea, and four pounds of coffee; and selling the stuff in the Plough. He was nineteen. He was sentenced to death and transported, landing in New South Wales on 22 April 1824. The ship that took him there, the Guildford, disappeared in 1831 on the way back from Singapore.

In 1824 a Robert Fuller was acquitted of stealing a horse. His employer had sent him to Finchley to buy carnations and he'd taken the horse and stopped to have dinner with a friend in the Plough on the way. A witness testified to having met him on the Saturday morning on the Hornsey Road 'with some carnations in a wheel-barrow, but no horse'.

By 1846 Copus' Four Horse Omnibus hired out horses from the Plough Stables for bean-feasts (office party 19th century style), picnics, excursions, schools and weddings. They'd take you to any church in Islington.

More here.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

She's just a chick and she's on fire

Grace Dent has 188108 twitter followers and has just been named Stonewall's Journalist of the year. I have 248 and, um, my dad quite likes my blog.

I must therefore lend her my credibility by saying that she's right about Chicks on Fire on Hercules Street. Awful, awful name but great food, great value and lovely Iraq born Manchester United supporting owner. 

Extract from her Indie review below: 

Almost opposite the Swimmer, so you can go for a pint afterwards, and there's a charming cat across the road. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Match Day Memories

This blog skirts around Arsenal rather. I love that it's here, love that match day feels like carnival, love how the Emirates' roof cuts across the sky, love listening to 5 live in the kitchen and hearing the crowd roar like a distant storm.

All the same, my main memory of the 'invincibles' is that Henry was damn cute and Pires wasn't bad either, and if I tried to write about football I'd sound like the prattiest prat who ever pratted (see 'distant storm' line above). 

So, it's a delight when someone does something that lets me bring the Gunners in without making a complete fool of myself. 

'Match Day' on 14 Hornsey Road, used to be a cupcake store. Um. It didn't last.   

It now sells framed vintage programmes,  price lists, signed photographs,

and tables. I like the tables,

but the programmes are my favorites. So striking and so interesting and so much better than a drearily tasteful abstract print. You could buy a dozen for a hallway, or have a couple up in a kid's room, or mix them in with other pictures for a gallery wall. 

Open on match days, as you'd expect, and busy with the better heeled fans, as you'd also expect. 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Raffles the Amateur Clothes Thief

This story in the 24 May 1870 edition of the Islington Gazette repays close reading, because it shows a journalist's conscience fighting with their sense of fun. Conscience wins on points.

'Daring Burglary'

The opening paragraph is dry.

'A daring burglary took place on the morning of Wednesday last, between the hours of three and four o'clock, at the house of Mr Swales, tailor, Hornsey-Road. 

The second paragraph has the clunky verbosity special to police reports. 

The thieves effected an entrance at the back kitchen windows, and succeded in making off with the contents of the shop, consisting of a quantity of woolen goods, several coats, vests, jackets, etc., besides several items belonging to the family from the parlour. 

Then the mask slips,

What makes the affair the more surprising is that the robbery took place in broad daylight, and was witnessed by a watchman and a lamplighter, who both saw a pony and truck draw up to the shop door, and also two men emerge from the house with a large sack, place it in the truck and drive away.

and slips some more. He's practically high-fiving the thieves by now.

Great surprise has been felt that they should succeed in getting clear away at that time in the morning without detection. 

Then guilt sets in.

The police are using their utmost vigilance in endeavouring to discover the perpetrators of so daring a robbery, and it is hoped they will succeed in bringing them to justice, as the loss is of a very serious nature to the owner.'

Incidentally, someone really should reprint the Raffles stories. They're a deliciously subversive queer take on Holmes/Watson. E.W. Hornung (who wrote them) was A.C. Doyle's brother in law. I do wonder if Doyle was in on the joke. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

For I will consider my road Holloway

In the 1980s there were plans to widen the Holloway Road. Many serious things could be said about this, but for now and for here I'll only note that the list of petitions presented to Parliament has the rhythm of a Kit Smart poem: 

'There is a petition from the residents of Church Garth and St. John's road pointing out the destruction that the roads will cause to the environment.
There is a petition from the residents of Windermere road demonstrating that they, too, believe that the new road will cause severe destruction of their lives.
There is a petition from the residents of Witley road. They believe that the East London assessment study will threaten their homes with demolition.
There is a petition from the residents of Brunswick terrace and elsewhere. They believe that the road proposals will be harmful to the community affected. .
There is a petition from the residents of Barton road, Dalmeny road and Camden road. They believe that the proposals will destroy homes and businessess.
There is a petition from residents of Davenant road, Fairbridge road and elsewhere. They believe that the widening of Holloway road will reduce, and in some cases eliminate, green space available for public recreation.
There is a petition from residents of Tufnell Park road, Fairbridge road and elsewhere. They believe that recreational facilities and the livelihoods of employees will be destroyed.
There is a petition from residents of Rickthorne road and Stanley terrace. They believe that the amenities and environment of their community will be harmed and destroyed.
There is a petition from residents of Hornsey road, Clifton court and elsewhere. They believe that the road proposals will be detrimental to the health of their children.
There is a petition from residents of Sussex way. They believe that the road proposals will make their lives miserable, and will devastate the community in which they live and work.
There is a petition from residents of Bovingdon close. They believe that more pollution and a decline in their quality of life will result from the road proposals.
There is a petition from residents of Elthorne road. They believe that increases in noise and pollution will result from the road. There is a petition from residents of Tollington way. They believe that the road proposals will be detrimental to their environment, their community and their amenities.
There is a petition from residents of Holloway road and elsewhere. They believe that the road proposals will involve the loss of their neighbourhood and community.
There is a petition from residents of Yerbury road. They believe that the road will destroy their community and amenities. There is a petition from residents of Highwood road. They believe that noise and pollution will increase.
There is a petition from residents of St. John's way. They believe that the road would cause great disturbance to them and their lives. 
There is a petition from residents of Partington close. They believe that the road proposals will not accord with any of their wishes and decisions for their local neighbourhood.
There is a petition from residents of Mercer's road and Holloway road. They believe that the proposals will involve the demolition of homes and places of work.
There is a petition from residents of Kingsdown road, and teachers and parents at Acland Burghley school. They believe that the road proposals will directly affect their local community.
There is a petition from residents of Junction road and Davenant road. They believe that the road works will disrupt their local services, destroy their local community and work places and pollute their environment.
There is a petition from residents of Yerbury road, Sussex close and Wedmore street. They believe that the schemes will be very detrimental to their community, and will increase traffic. 
There is a petition from residents of Fairbridge road, St. John's grove and Marlborough road. They believe that the ELAS scheme will be detrimental, and urge the Secretary of State to abandon it. 
There is a petition from residents of Church Garth. They believe that the demolition of local shops, churches and homes will result from the road proposals.
There is a petition from residents of Fairbridge road. They believe that traffic noise and lead pollution will increase.
There is a petition from residents of Miranda road. They believe that shoppers and residents will be affected detrimentally. 
There is a petition from residents of Fairmead road and Dunmow walk. They believe that the road scheme should be abandoned. 
There is a petition from the residents of Eburne road. They believe that the road proposals will be harmful to their environment. 
There is a petition from residents of Newcommon house, Sussex way, Hornsey road and Gladsmuir road. They believe, especially as parents of children attending St. John's Church of England primary school in Upper Holloway, that the widening of Holloway road would be severely detrimental to the health and welfare of their children.'

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Soap and the British Economy

There's a hackneyed narrative of national decline that goes something like this: Britain used to be Great when it bashed bits of metal together and made Stuff and now we're overrun by advertisers and estate agents. Things are more complicated (in 2008 we were the sixth biggest manufacturer in the world) but it is true that London used to be full of people making things (ostrich feather dyers, wooden pulley makers, people who used dog shit to tan leather...) and now it's mostly not. This is not wholly a bad thing (see above re: dog shit) but one of the many things to love about Hornsey Road forcefield is that within in it there's light industry galore. We've a make-up school, a French mime academy, a harp-maker, a cabinet maker descended from Richard III and we've also got in the All Natural Soap Co makers of very lovely, well, soaps. 

Eliza started the company because she was struggling to find toiletries that worked for her sensitive skin and soon became addicted to soap-making. Apparently it happens quite often. Bit like horse-riding.

The soaps are made of olive oil, with aromatic plants, charcoal, honey and suchlike added to a secret recipe in a hidden-away workshop.

They're sold in Spitalfields market and should soon be for sale in the Organic Stall.

The only downside to using them is the usual downside to nice things: I'm beginning to dislike my usual second-cheapest-showergel-from-supermarket.


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Lower Holloway Sands and whatever happened to Leslie Compton

There are two posts on the Derelict London website about the old Hanley Arms and the damage that was done to it in the name of restoration (as M'Turk didn't quite say to Stalky 'Ruskin says that any man who'll restore a pub is an umitigated sweep'). 


I've tried to track down confirmation of the Compton rumour and pictures of the old Hanley arms and got nowhere. 

Here are the posts: 

John writes: 'the licensee during the 60s and I think 70s was one of the Compton brothers of cricketing fame not sure whether it was Denis or Lesley we used to have a couple of pints in there and then go a bit further up the road and have pie and mash'

Ian writes: 'This used to be a lovely pub with a wonderful ornate late Victorian fire surround and sparkling engraved glass all around the walls. I've no idea where it all went and the only current sign of the pubs past glory is the decorative wrought iron surrounding the entrance and above the fascia, what a shame .I remember going in there few years ago and was shocked to see that the glass had all disappeared and had been replaced with flock wall paper. It's not my local but I used to go to the art school at the top of the hill and have the occasional pint there on the way home. Very enjoyable environment to drink in then. He told me that he'd got the pub redecorated in exchange for the glass, or at least I think that's what he said. He seemed quite satisfied with the deal. God knows where it's all gone, beautiful stuff. I live in Holloway and have lived there for years and I'm quite amused at the new names given to areas like these: Crouch End Village, Crouch End Heights. I remember reading an article a few months ago from someone who lives in Gravesend, he said some places wear their names around their necks like a stone: Wormwood Scrubs, Pentonville, Holloway. I wonder how they'll muck around with Holloway when they get round to it, Holloway Bay, Lower Holloway Sands, Great North Avenue and so on maybe. The Globe Hotel opposite the Sobell has gone too, another great pub in its day. What I liked best about it was the heated foot rail at the bar. Wonderful on wet and cold evenings.'

Beloved Readers, do you remember more? Are any of you John or Ian?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Shed Seven and no swimming pool

In the mid 90s there were half a dozen shops in Milan that sold both the NME and Melody Maker. I preferred the latter but bought both, knew which shops got the new editions in first, and learnt the name of the writers like they were my friends: Caitlin Moran, Everett True, Peter Paphides, Sarra Manning, Taylor Parkes, Neil Kulkarni, Alexis Petridis, Tania Branigan, David Stubbs, Dave Simpson and Simon Price who's been so nebbishly fired by the Independent on Sunday.

Italian radio never played anything they wrote about, so the only way to hear the music was to risk a week's disposable income on a review and a name, and I could never get past Shed Seven's name.

C'mon, you've got all of English to choose from and you choose that? I suppose at least it's not Pearl Jam.

Anyway all this is to say that Shed Seven recorded the video for 'Dolphin' in a derelict Hornsey Road Baths, and that they turn out to be rather less bad than I'd imagined. Go badly named bands.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

How to find somewhere you didn't know existed

Go to St Saviour's and take the path on the left of the entrance,

turn right

and you'll find a derelict building and half a field. 

The building's 1899.

F.A. Bevan, I think, is Francis Augusts Bevan (1840-1919) who was Barclay's Bank's first chairman. The Bevans were Quakers, but I can't find a Quaker connection for St. Saviour's. 

A.J. Ard was interviewed by Booth and a Rev. A.J. Ard sailed from Liverpool to Quebec in 1904.

That's all I can find about them. 

Anyway, the point is that this is an illogical, inefficient, uneconomic use of space. There's an old joke about an economist seeing a £10 note on the pavement and not picking it up because if it had been worth anything someone would have done it already. This is the land use version of that, space that somehow escaped becoming something useful and so stays there, a patch of miraculous scrubland in the middle of London.

It'd make perfect allotments. 

Monday, 9 September 2013

The St Mellitus Times

The outside of St Mellitus is church imperial, church triumphant: a monumental portico and vast brick walls stretching out behind. Inside it's painted in garish blue and red, a colour scheme far more authentic than the reverential Farrow & Ball recreations of the Past as packed with tasteful Period Features. The colours make the space feel welcoming and unexpected.

The lobby has the usual Tablets and Catholic Times, but there's also a lot about support for migrants and nothing that I could see against equal marriage or contraception.

Curious, I went online and found that St Mellitus' priest has an unofficial blog:

It's a rabbit hole well worth falling down, a funny, angry, despairing read that's left me more optimistic about the Church than I've been in years because if there are priests like this there's hope yet. Highlights reproduced below, but you really should read the whole thing. 

Someone give the man a column.

Full disclosure: I'm not a parishioner at St Mellitus or anywhere else. I can just about claim cultural Catholicism. I grew up in Italy where Church is the Catholic Church (a schoolfriend was seventeen when she first heard that Protestants were Christians and I don't think she believed it), I've been on a retreat to Pluscarden Abbey and I spent four blissful years getting paid to write about 14th century Franciscans (John of Montecorvino, the first archbishop of Beijing, was a great man), but I've never believed or practised.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Disgraceful State of Hornsey Road

This is from the 29 December 1865 edition of the Islington Gazette. I've taken the title from the original, but despite the outraged tone it wasn't a prominent article. Ragged children hurling filth at passers-by seems to have been news, but only just, and only if someone died.

'An inquiry was held at the Queen's Arms, Queen's-Road, Hornsey-Road, on Saturday last, to inquire into the death of Eliza Mary Timbrell, aged 13, who was knocked down by a horse and cart on Thursday last. 

Ann Timbrell, of 62, Ashburton Grove, sister to the deceased, said deceased was brought home insensible about nine on Thursday last. She did not think the driver of the cart was to blame. Had heard that some girl had run after the deceased and frightened her, and she had heard that boys were in the habit of doing so on some occasions. 

William Dunderdale, MD, stated that he was called to the deceased on Thrusday last, at a quarter past nine. He found her insensible and she expired in about ten minutes in his presence. He had made a post-mortem examination and had found a graze passing down the left leg, but no sign of violence sufficient to cause death. Internally, he found the liver ruptured, which accounted for death.

Jesse Jones, of Turningmill-Place, deposed that he was going up the Hornsey road on Thursday and saw a cart coming down the road, the driver being in the cart. It was being driven at the rate of about seven miles an hour. The deceased was on the pavement, and suddenly started from it and ran in front of the horse, which knocked her down. The cart was near the middle of the road and it passed over her body. He saw no one near her. The driver tried to pull up, but had no time. He stopped immediately after passing over the body. He did not see any possibility of the driver's avoiding the accident. The deceased got up and ran to witness after the accident.

Thomas Fisher, of 27, Hornsey Road, said 'I am the owner of the cart. I had just turned out of the Holloway- road, when the deceased ran suddenly from the pavement in front of the horse's head. I had no time to pull up. The road is narrow at that part. I did not see any other children. On the coroner asking if there was any evidence to show that he child had been frightened by any other children. The Rev. Mr. Mackenzie stepped foward and stated the neighbourhood abounded with a horde of rough boys and girls, who assailed respectable children with stones and sticks. At his school (the Holloway Free Schol) the scholars were constantly annoyed on their way to and from the school.

Several of the jurors also bore testimony of a similar kind, and stated that is was dangerous for even grown men to go down the road, as they were not infrequently pelted with stones and filth. 

The attention of the police had been called to the nuisance, but they had refused on several occasions to take persons in to custody, on the ground that they did not see the offence committed.

Dr Lankester expressed his surprise at the conduct of the police, when Inspector Barber said that the public seemed to think that the police possessed more power than they really did. By law no constable could take anyone into custody unless he saw the assault committed. Persons so assaulted could take out a summons. 

The Coroner summed-up and expressed a hope that the press would give publicity to the state of the neighbourhood, so that something might be done to abolish the nusiance. He thought that more police ought to be put on duty there. The jury returned a verdict of 'Accidental death'.'

Friday, 23 August 2013

Hope as illustrated by tomatoes.

Somedays you wake up and wonder what the point of things is: would the world be any worse if you stopped trying to be kind, or learn, or work?

 Short of getting a George Bailey/Ebenezer Scrooge revelation (huh, I only just realised that 'It's a Wonderful Life' is 'A Christmas Carol' in reverse) may I recommend a walk down Hanley Road?

The front of St Saviour's used to be so dreary that some parishioners thought the church had closed down. Then some blessed person has the idea of making it into allotments and now the tomatoes are as high as an elefant's eye:

So, you see, it is worth being alive after all. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

In which I find proper arancini and thank the gods.

The other day someone accused me of not caring about locals priced out by gentrification. That's unfair, but I'll admit that the blog has veered towards the shinier end of things because, well, because shiny things are easy to notice. I must do better; the Hornsey Road hides its treasures. 

Case in point: after the Arsenal roundabout the road narrows and scoots right to join Holloway Road. Walk down that tributary branch and on the left is 'Mamma Mia'.

Look, as a rule places called 'Mamma Mia' are best avoided. Places called 'Mamma Mia' with the strapline 'Breakfast, Sandwich Bar, Coffee' might rise to an eatable fry-up but that's it. They're usually as Italian as ketchup and nowhere near as nice.

This 'Mamma Mia' though is a dream. It actually is a proper family-run (note the bicycle) Italian trattoria.

It's run by a Sicilian Milanista, who has a framed photograph of himself with Franco Baresi (if you don't know who Baresi is you should be ashamed)

and who cooks perfect arancini. 

Go eat them. Really. 

Monday, 12 August 2013

360 degrees turn

No. 360 has been fed through the infinite improbability drive and come out as an accountants' office. 

Four years ago it was 'Gunner's Play' an Arsenal social club. Except it wasn't. It was a front for the 'Tottenham Boys' gang and their drug stash.

It was a pretty convincing front: a man working at Mr Cee's Caribbean Cafe' next door told the Islington Tribune: 'I thought it was a pool club. I was thinking of joining. The guys used to come in here. They seemed fine.'

Next, the landlords tried to get permission to make into a flat, arguing that its criminal past made it unlettable (which makes it sound like a Fallen Woman Who Had Lost That Which Is Most Precious).

So, yay for the brave accountants for taking it on.

I know less about gangs than I do about porcelain, but I desperately want to know why a Tottenham gang chose to pretend they were an Arsenal social club. Misdirection? Elaborate joke? Self-loathing? Hope that somehow Wenger would get the blame? 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Trip the Light Fantastic

Islington Gazette again, 1867 this time, and a story that's so patronising it'd drive a high church Anglican to fury:

'The usual Christmas entertainment provided for the inmates of this establishment took place in the dining hall of the institution [Hornsey Road infant poor house], on the evening of Thurs last.

The amusements commenced, as on previous occasions, with an exhibition of the laughter-provoking 'Punch' and a clever performance with marionnettes.

This part of the entertainment was followed by one equally as gratifying to the young recipients of the Trustees' liberality, and this was the distribution of an abundant supply of cakes, oranges, toys, etc.

Then came the performance of instrumental music by the school band, under the conduct of their indefatigable instructor, Mr Pheminster.

This was succed by recitations and singing by the children, who appeard
to acquit themselves to the satisfaction of the numerous audience assembled. The conclusion of this part of the evening's proceedings was the signal for the removal of tables and seats to enable the young ones to 'trip on the light fantastic' etc... which healthful exercise they enjoyed to their heart's content; when the performance by the band of the national anthem brought to a termination another pleasant anniversary of the children's Christmas treat.

Several of the trustees and their friends were present, and appeared heartily to participate in the feeling of happiness which pervaded the whole of the proceedings.

On Friday afternoon last the Mr and Mrs Gunnery and a party of ladies and gentlemen attended by appointment to distribute a large quantity of oranges, buns and toys, provided by the Rev. gentleman, amongst the inmates of this establishment.

The benevolent donor and party, after spending considerable time with the little ones, left evidently well-pleased with having been the means of promoting the happiness of those who had been the recipients of their bounty.'

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The riot at 38 Mitford Road

Mitford Road is tree-lined, too narrow to drive down quickly, and a three-bed terrace costs £595,000.

Number 38 (below) is run down, 

but smartened up it would look as villagey (incidentally what is it with the London fixation with make-believing that we live in St Mary Bloody Mead instead of in a great city?) as its next door neighbour: 

In 1866 the landlord of Number 38, backed by rioting railway labourers and coster-mongers, sheltered a man from the police.

It's an odd story, with an odd ending. Here it is in the 30 January 1866 edition of the Islington Gazette:

'On Thursday three navvies named William Stevens Charles Starr and Henry Watson were brought up for final examination before Mr Bodkin and Col. Jeakes the sitting magistrates at the Highgate  petty sesssions, the two former charged with feloniously assaulting and injuring Police Sgt Foster Police Constable Dalton and Police Constable Barnes while in the exectuion of their duty.

Barnes was so seriously injured that his life is despaired of. He has appeard
once before the bench, but in so prostrate a condition that great difficulty was experienced in obtaining his deposition and signature.

The assaults were committed on the 9th of December last, after a fight at the 'volunteer' beer shop in the Hornsey Road. Stevens was one of the combatants.

The police were called upon by the landlord to quell the disturbance, but he refused to give the men into custody.

The three constables endeavoured to 
persuade the men to go away quietly, one of the fighters accepting the good advice given him. 

Stevens, however, refused, and on being taken into custody by Sgt Foster he kicked the officer about the legs with his heavy boots and struck him repeatedly in the face with his fists and bit his litttle finger, taking off a portion of the nail. He had previously stripped to fight the Sgt.  

Starr was lower down the road, creating a disturbance and was also requested to leave quietly. He became very uproarious and struck and kicked the constable Dalton.

Both Stevens and Starr were secured, with the assistance of Barnes, a fellow-constable, when Stevens called on the mob to assist and prevent them from being taken to the station house.

About 200 men, apparently railway labourers and costermongers, hemmed in the officials with their prisoners and hooted and yelled frightfully. 

The prisoner Watson urged on the mob to a rescue, and called out, ' Get the ___ into a dark street and then we'll give it to 'em.' The mob obeyed; and forced the police, with their prisoners, into Hooper-street (a dark street) when showers of brickbats were hurled at the constables, Sgt Foster being struck on the head with a brickbat, and Dalton's cheek being laid open. 

A desperate struggle with the prisoners then took place, Sgt Foster, Constable Barnes and the prisoner Starr falling to the ground. Watson, seeing this advantage, called out, 'don't let our mates be taken'. 

In the confusion Starr got up first and kicked Barnes about the head and body, and then jumped on his chest. Starr was rescued by Watson and others, and escaped but was subsequently apprehended at 38 Mitford Road, Holloway, where the landlord denied the police admission. 

The riot was put a stop to by the arrival of several constables. Barnes, after the violence inflicted upon him by Starr, was unable to rise, and was conveyed in a state of insensibility to the Royal Free hospital, wehre it was ascertained that he had sustained a fracture of three of the lower ribs on the right side, with injuries to the head, chest and back. 

He remained in the hospital a month, out of which he was three weeks in bed. Although it was as believed that Barnes was injured for life and disabled from again doing duty, the poor man, anxious to get out of the hospital, left on his own accord, and during that absence from the hospital made his deposition, but two or three days afterwards he had to return, where he still remains in a very precarious condition. The right lung was injured by the broken ribs.

Mr John Hackney, house surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, said [...] Barnes had had a fit, rendering it necessary to shave his head. He had lost his sight and hearing on one side of the head. He was in a most dangerous condition.

The prisoners having nothing to say, the Bench said they would be committed for trial at the next Old Bailey Sessions.'

The  odd ending is that Stevens and Watson were acquitted, Starr only got four years and no-one else was even prosecuted. 

If the Gazette's story is true (and for what it's worth it matches up okay with the record of the trail) then rioting, threatening police officers and blocking an arrest weren't taken very seriously.

I am very out if my depth here. Anyone know about Victorian criminal justice? 



Thursday, 1 August 2013

In memory of Martin Dinnegan

At the corner of Axminster Road and Tollington Way there's a memorial, unplanned and unshowy but all the more affecting for that. 

One side of what was the Devonshire Arms is covered with tributes to Martin Dinnegan who was killed for no reason when he was fourteen. 

The CitySafe Havens campaign, backed by Martin's mother Lorraine, asks businesses to give refuge to young people fleeing street violence. There's more at