Friday, 28 March 2014


For the full effect read this with 'Poses' by Rufus Wainwright playing in the background.

This is the new Dennis Bergkamp statue outside the Emirates: 

Fifty yards away there's a giant photograph of him in the same pose:

That photograph was taken by Andrew Budd during a 2003 game against Newcastle (one all draw. Thierry Henry scored). He works for Action Images, the sports photography branch of Reuters.

It took me five minutes to find out his name, even though the Reuters schtick is not to draw attention to the individual photographer or journalist. It must have been in Arsenal's PR pack for the papers. However, I can't find the name of the sculptor anywhere. It might be that Arsenal were miffed because someone leaked pictures of the statue being put together and this was their way of taking revenge, but I doubt it. It's more likely that no-one thought it worth mentioning. 

There's something terribly old-fashioned about that. It's a complete writing out of the maker and the artist. 

The composition's taken from a newswire and the sculptor might as well not exist.

Curious that. 

Monday, 17 March 2014


“Marcus couldn't believe it. Dead. A dead duck. OK, he'd been trying to hit it on the head with a piece of sandwich, but he tried to do all sorts of things, and none of them had ever happened before. 

Star Gazer - Pinball Backglass Image
Image thanks to the International Arcade Museum
He'd tried to get the highest score on the Stargazer machine in the kabab shop on Hornsey road - nothing. He'd tried to read Nicky's thoughts by staring at the back of his head every maths lesson for a week - nothing. It really annoyed him that the only thing he'd ever achieved through trying was something he hadn't really wanted to do that much in the first place. And anyway, since when did hitting a bird with a sandwich ever kill it? People spend half their lives throwing things at the ducks in Regent's Park. How come he managed to pick a duck that pathetic?” 

― Nick HornbyAbout a Boy

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

we put all the beds in one room, so that if we died we’d all go together

Irene Ellis' story:

My mother lived with me and she was stone deaf. We had heavy wooden tables in the kitchen. My husband worked on the aircrafts. So we would get under these heavy tables, and I thought this was so funny. My mother couldn’t hear a thing. My children couldn’t understand a thing, my mother would say to them ‘be quiet children, there are neighbours next door’.

They built places by the road where you could shelter at night. My husband made ours comfortable, he built bunkbeds and we put down carpet. My friend had a public house across from where we were, so we used to go there to enjoy ourselves, then when the sirens went we spent the night in the bunkers.

I worked at a factory nearby, making materials for the planes, there were bomb threats against this factory from the Germans every night. So we put all the beds in one room, so that if we died we’d all go together.

My mother used to queue up for hours for the food. The butcher’s in Hornsey Road, he used to get rabbits twice per month. So we bought some and made a stew of them with scraps of bacon. The things we made out of our rations was unbelievable. Maybe that’s why the older people are such good cooks.'

From the BBC's WW2 People's War archive:

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Elegant residences that have come down in the world.

This is from Thomas Burke's 'The Outer Circle: Rambles in Remote London', published in 1921

'If you start from Holloway and pursue Seven Sisters Road to its end you will come to Tottenham. You may exclaim: " Who on earth wants to come to Tottenham ? " Well, quite a number of people live at Tottenham, and thousands of strangers go regularly to Tottenham, not to see the parish church, or the room where Queen Elizabeth slept, but to see the game of football played at the ground of the Tottenham Hotspurs. 

I first went to Tottenham one fine Saturday, when I had nothing better to do. I had not meant to go to Tottenham. A tramcar, labelled Waltham Cross, attracted me at Tottenham Court Road by its bright colour and firm lines. I boarded it. Until then my journeys along Seven Sisters Road had ceased at Finsbury Park. There seemed no just cause for going farther. 

At Finsbury Park was The Manor House, and at The Manor House was a large concert-room, with tables and chairs negligently scattered about it ; and there family parties would gather and order refreshment of alert waiters and listen to a string band, which afforded  fluent music. So here one rested and speculated in security on what lay beyond of peril and mis- chance, and possible benightment. But that day there was no such lure. The Manor House music-room was closed, and I suffered the car to bear me away. 

I took the hazards of the road. From Holloway to Finsbury Park Station, Seven Sisters Road is a long line of poor shops that have not quite made up their minds what produce they shall stock, and elegant residences that have come down in the world and are now addresses for little mail-order businesses. The very road is vacillating in character, and seems not to know whether it should be reticent and grave, or rude and matey.
 It seems to have relaxed all effort, and to have yielded to any external influence that may beat upon it. 

It seems almost too tired to go anywhere; and I was astonished when I discovered how far this wounded snake had dragged its slow length along, shedding, on the way, some half-hundred desultory by-streets. It has suffered two terrible gashes ; one in the tail and one near the head. The length between is bright and whole. 

You are shocked when this meagre street changes to solid prosperity, as it does between Finsbury Park and Amhurst Park Road; and shocked again when the opulence crumbles to decay in its final section ; and shocked yet again when you escape from these squalors at Seven Sisters Corner into High Road, Tottenham; Tottenham, which, according to Domesday Book, a Countess Judith held of the King for five hides. Here are the seven beautiful sister-trees that commemorate the original seven.'

Friday, 7 March 2014

This is not paradise

I've written before about number 382, the Pool and Amusements building that's been rotting for decades. The door was open today (there was work going on) and this is what it looks like inside: 

There were builders in. I hope this means there is hope.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

On the Atchison, Topeka and the Hornsey Road*

Philip Aris
Holloway Life image

This is Philip Aris (@ArisPhilip on twitter). He wants to resurrect the Station that Vanished and bring the Goblin line back to Hornsey Road. 

Embedded image permalink
Philip's image of the station site

He can tell the story better than I can, so here it is in his words: 

Q: How long has this been on your mind?

A:  For ages, but I only recently decided to do something about it. The more I've looked at blogs, such as yours, and social media, the clearer it's become to me that today with the internet almost anything is possible. Until a few years ago I might simply have written a letter to the Ham and High suggesting that re opening Hornsey Road Station would be a useful addition to the local area. With luck they would have published it. A couple of readers might have sent in their good wishes, and that most likely would have been the end of the matter.

Now things are different.

In today's tweeting, facebooking, blogging world,  I believe it really IS possible to discover if there  is the will among local people to improve public transport. If we discover that there is, then I am hoping that this can be translated into action and that politicians and officials can be persuaded to back the project. And then it might actually happen. It must be worth a try. With the electrification of this long-neglected line actually officially agreed to, what better time to have a go?

Q: Where would you put the station?

A: That's easy. right where it was before. On the west side of Hornsey Road, at its junction with Fairbridge Road. The old platforms are still there, though hardly visible through the undergrowth. Opposite the station site on Fairbridge Road was until recently Elson's the Builders Merchants. They have moved their main yard to St Albans and on the land now is Landsdowne Court, a huge and quite attractive block of flats. Family Mosaic are even now building more homes behind this. It is buildings such as these that are changing Hornsey Road. Far more people now live nearby. And more people need better public transport.

Q: I like your Hornsey Rise Village idea. Where would the boundaries be?

A: I don't think it matters very much. Hornsey Road Post Office, a few meters from the Fairbridge Road corner, would make a natural centre to the "village". The council has recently spent a lot on improving the street furniture and laying much better paving. Andrew has recently opened a smart barber's and is hoping to bring in a women's hairdresser as well. There is a fine looking day nursery right opposite the Station site. 
The Thai massage shop has closed and generally every week the place looks better!

Q: Hornsey Road is scruffy. Some might say blighted. Why do you think that is?

A: To me it feels like a real place. Obviously it was a centre for builders tradesmen, like Elson's. And many still remain. I hope they always will be there. But why shouldn't people and businesses exist side by side? As the Hornsey Road blogger, you seem to have a true passion for the road and its people. And so do I. I was born about four miles away seventy years ago and I love everything about the area. Yes it's mixed. Good. Yes it's not all a pretty picture postcard. Good again. Hornsey Road has changed before. It certainly won't be the same twenty years from nowOr even in five years or next month. How much better it would all be with a station of its own!

Out there is a huge pool of talent and enthusiasm and experience. It would be terrific if that could be harnessed to help to get one. I'm anyway up for trying.

If anyone thinks they can help, or advise, or dream up an idea or two, it would be great to hear from you.

*Re: title, see below. Any excuse for a Judy reference.