Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Sunnyside down

Parks should feel like cheating, like you've wriggled through a loophole in the city fabric. It doesn't take grandeur: the Heath succeeds but so does the tiny Lambeth Recreation Ground, bounded by train tracks and the backs of office buildings. 

It does, I think, take love. Wray Crescent feels cared for, Elthorne Park somehow doesn't. Just next to Elthorne Park, though, are the Sunnyside Community Gardens and they are gorgeous

 Go down the beaten earth path

and you're not in Kansas anymore

Oh yes, and there's a hyper mural about environmental degradation. 

Add to that the fact that they provide horticultural therapy to people with special needs and it's very very annoying to see this: 

Their roof burnt down on Monday. It might not be arson, but either way they'll need money to rebuild. 

Don't suppose you've got some spare cash? 

Monday, 29 July 2013

Pictures from a mural

New (I think) at the cafe' in Platform, in the old Hornsey Road Baths building. Go see: 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Family Home

81 Turlewray Close is a large, ungainly but not ugly, Edwardian (?) house at the northern end of the Wray Crescent Open Space. 

It's also a misfit. The half-dozen other houses are 'family homes' in estate agent speak. Smart vies with smarter up to the house whose owner threatened to sue the cricket club if they damaged his Porsche SUV. 

81 stands alone and decades behind. Its woodwork is peeling, its curtains are sagging, its garden is a neglected haven for birds. The stripey awning over the main door has a faded seaside resort air and the 'CCTV' sign in the side window might as well say 'gentrification stopped here'.

It probably doesn't help that it's next to the Islington Arts and Media School.  IAMS is doing well now (good with outstanding features Ofsted, Kaya Scodelario's alma mater) but it has a tricky history and schools are noisy.

Still, this is the view from the front gate:

And this is the garden, as photographed by Davies & Davies: 

Yes, it's on sale and yes, they are asking £2m for it.  So why is it so run down? 

In 2004 it was a nine bedroom house on sale for £775,000.

Now it's bedsits, let for £8k a month. 5% return on your £2m, assuming no repairs and no voids. 

I'm curious to see what happens next;  whether it'll stay a relic of when round here was all bedsit-land, become flats or even go back to being one huge house. 

What would you rather? More homes or a better building and better homes for fewer people? The moral, I think, is that morals in housing are hard to pin down. 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Three reasons to visit Bright Sparks

Bright Sparks have a new store on 176 Seven Sisters Road.

I'm going to assume that you're an irresponsible bastard who doesn't care that they stop broken electrical goods going to landfill by repairing and reselling them.

I'm also going to assume that you're meanspirited enough not to care that the work is done by unemployed volunteers and that the skills they're learning will help them get work.

In fact, I'll assume you're the lovechild of Katie Hopkins and Jeremy Clarkson and that you take after both your parents.  

This is why you should check them out all the same: 

This record cabinet with scrolling wooden  doors is £65:

The metal trunk next to it is £35

This rather splendid 1970s solid wood dresser is £110.

Go on. 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Permanent Wave

Shoreditch is full of people (smart, creative, well-intentioned people) who strive after quirkiness. Think Labour & Wait or Monster Supplies: wonderful stores, but just the slightest bit try hard. 

The Hornsey Road is Dickens to Shoreditch's Trollope, Destiny's Child to its Leona Lewis, Bernini to its Borromini; the Hornsey Road doesn't have to achieve eccentricity, it blazes it. It's the kid who storms out of A-levels swearing at the teacher where Shoreditch is the cutie who smokes and never gets caught. 

Take the hairdresser's at number 418. There's a white shopfront with a net curtain:

Walk inside and it's the 1970s in a catholic country:

The lady who runs it has been there 43 years, and has customers who have been coming for decades. The place, in other words, has a role. It tells its customers that they are still welcome in London, still part of London; the city is infinite and forgiving. 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Blue remembered skies

@mizhenka, much missed and in Derbyshire, used to photograph the sky over Hornsey Road at n19skies.tumblr.com

Here are three reasons to look up: 

Friday, 5 July 2013

You were the future once.

Full-on post zombie apocalypse

complete with rotting ephemera:

When/if it becomes a living shop again I hope they don't throw away the sign. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Bobby Joe opened a store not long ago

Independent shops make life more interesting. If I walk past a Tesco or a Costa either I don't notice it or my mind is sent down predictable ruts (tax/cloned high streets/gentrification) round and round and round until even I'm bored and I like tax policy.

'Bobby Joe's Music Music Music' on the other hand fueled an afternoon's puzzling and had me humming 'Peggy Sue got married'. 

It opened last week on the corner of Tollington Way and Hornsey Road, on the same stretch of road as Ajani's, the Petter Pharmacy, the Organic Stall and Atlas World of Birds

The only disappointing thing about the shop is that Bobby-Joe turns out not to be a grey-bearded rocker from Montgomery Alabama. He's a young man who spent ten years working in his dad's music shop (Johnson and Jones, which has been on Dalston Lane for forty-five years) before deciding to set up on his own. His brother's called Steve. I assume their parents took turns choosing names. 

Anyway, with Steve's help, he worked out that there are a lot of people round here who play and a lot of gigs going on and no-one repairing instruments or selling things like guitar strings or indeed guitars.  Or ukeleles.

Or drums. 

They're ace and they know what they're on about so here's hoping it works out for them.

Steve on the left, Bobby-Joe on the right. 

So far it seems to be going well. They've had more customers than they thought they'd have, so much so that they're behind on setting up a website/facebook page/twitter account and on replacing the shutter with something less ugly that lets people see the merchandise because they've been busy doing repairs.  

They're also not sure what to do about opening hours - there's very little trade in the mornings and then a rush of people after 5:30 and it's tricky to balance that with any kind of family life or personal life. I was trying to persuade them not to open until lunchtime and to close at seven but, understandably, they were doubtful. 

Monday, 1 July 2013

Stained glass sleuthing

There's a paradox with memorials: they work as long as someone's alive who remembers you. After that they're only a record of your name.

The game then is finding out who that name belonged to. Here goes:

The starting point is a stained glass memorial/nativity scene in St. Saviour's on Hanley Road.


The scroll says 'And she laid him in a manger/they came with haste toward the Babe'.

The footer text is 'To the glory of God and in loving memory of William Thomas Blinco who died on April 5th 1922 this window is dedicated by his widow and friends'.

The choice of scene isn't helpful. A specialist saint would've been more informative.

The name is good though. There can't be many Blincoes out there. 

The Land Registry brings up someone of that name who bought a timber yard in Mount Pleasant Road. He lived at 6 Sparsholt Road and called himself a timber merchant. I think we can assume that's him.

N.6 Sparsholt Road, 2013

This link takes you to Jan Cornelis Haccou's 'A Road by a Cottage', which was bequeathed to the National Gallery in 1922 by a William Thomas Blinco. I'm guessing the bequest was an inheritance tax deal. 

The painting is a sweet pastoral scene, the kind of thing that gets dismissed, often unfairly, as chocolate boxy. 

So there you are. A timber merchant, married (presumably happily but without children),  moderately successful and with conventional tastes in art. I wonder if William Thomas Blinco would have liked to be remembered like that, or if he had had wilder hopes. Even Blincoes can dream.