Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Halifax to become betting office

A Crosswhatfields reader commented at the beginning of November that the Halifax would become a bookies but at that time we could find no information about no.93 Deptford High Street.

It seems his fears were not unfounded. Another reader has just emailed to say the notice is up on the window for an application for (as he said) BETFRED BETTING BOLLOCKS...Objections to be in by 19th January 2011. More info to come...

This will be the 10th bookies in the Deptford High Street vicinity if you include the two in the Evelyn Street parade (the latest being the John Evelyn pub becoming Paddy Power only last month)...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Convoy's Wharf planning application

The new plans for the billion pound redevelopment at Convoy's Wharf have been available to view since early November. On the developer's website (aka Hutchinson Whampoa) it says "Since last year, we have been seeking the views of local people, community groups, Lewisham Council and the GLA on our proposals. As a result we have made a number of changes to our initial proposals to reflect – where possible – the comments made."

Further information and the planning application documents can be viewed here:
Responses to the new plans must be in by December 30th. Comments can be made to Lewisham Planning here.

Friends of Deptford Creek (FODC) have a few objections. In their detailed letter of objection to the Lewisham Planning they summarise: "We urge the Mayor, officers and committee to reject this proposal. It offers minimal benefit to the local community and yet seeks to impose greater stress upon it and its infrastructure, offering the minimum of redress.
"The archaeological and historical importance of the site alone offers a unique opportunity to the borough to create a maritime enterprise zone to rival and yet compliment that of Greenwich, to revive and revitalise Deptford's unique local identity and provide sustainable employment into the future.
"Lastly, we urge that all this is considered in balance with the surrounding large residential proposals in the immediate area, already threatening to take unemployment levels to previously unimagined heights and further removing valuable employment space."

For more information read their letter here.

To register your support of their objections or to join Friends of Deptford Creek's petition against the proposals, please send an email to: petitions@friendsofthecreek.org.uk with "Convoys Wharf" in the subject field.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

St Paul's Sinfonia - Friday 17th December at 7.30pm

St Paul's Sinfonia mark the end of 2010 with a first chance to hear the music of their Composer in Residence, Stuart Hancock. Plus Score for an Imaginary Film by young composer David Braid. The evening opens with one of the best-known Romantic overtures, and ends with Haydn's famous 'Farewell' Symphony. (Having not been granted a holiday for some time, Haydn brought the point home forcefully to his employer, Prince Esterhazy, by gradually whittling the orchestra down during the last movement of the work, until just two players are left on stage).

Mendelssohn Overture 'Hebrides'

Stuart Hancock Violin Concerto
David Braid Score for an Imaginary Film
Haydn Symphony No. 45 'Farewell'
Friday 17th December 2010 at 7.30pm
Tickets £10/£8 - available on the door from 7pm
St Paul's Church, Deptford (Deptford Church Street/Deptford High Street)
More info at www.stpaulssinfonia.com

Anita Strasser: Deptford High Street

A photographic and textual journey into life on Deptford High Street.
Exhibition runs till Tuesday 21st December (Open Fri/Tue 9am-1pm, Sat 10am-3pm).
at St Nicholas' Church, Deptford Green SE8 3DQ

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Deptford Christmas Fair

More pictures on our Photos page, and a great write up on 853's blog...and some video from the Deptford Dame...

Ahoy abandoned...

East London Lines carries news that the Ahoy Centre has lost any chance of owning the jetty on their doorstep beach. Here's the story from East London Lines...

"The jetty, which is a hundred yards long and has resided in the Thames for almost 90 years was auctioned off for a single pound, although an annual £52,000 license fee will have to be paid to the Port of London Authority.

The Ahoy Centre, a charity that helps disabled and disadvantaged people into water based activities, were in talks with Fairview Homes, who own the site where the jetty is on, however they decided to sell it to the anonymous developer.

Clive Ongley, Chairman of the Centre’s trustees hoped that they could raise £7m towards the venture, and said he was ‘devastated’ after Fairview had retreated on their earlier talks.  Ongley had said that plans were at an advanced stage, with negotiations begun on transferring their PLA licence so that the new residential moorings could cover the cost.

The future use of the jetty is still undecided however it is likely that the initial investment will be worth it as it could be capitalised on for when the Olympics come to London in 2012. James Cannon, of the auctioneers Cannon Capital who sold the jetty said: “It is well known that there will be a shortage of accommodation during the Olympics, so it could house temporary accommodation or be a birth for a floating hotel.”

Many thanks to East London Lines for this news...

Monday, December 13, 2010


After another crippling fuel bill from npower I'm looking into the possibilty of opening up the fireplace and using that instead, which, as I understand it involves cleaning the flue out. Has anyone done this and if so can you give me an idea of how much it costs? Thanks.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Deptford Christmas Fair - Sat & Sun 11 & 12 December

Our friendly Community Involvement Officer, Will Sharp, has emailed us to tell us about Deptford Christmas Fair that's happening this weekend...He gave us a link to Lewisham Council's website.

Deptford town centre is gearing up for Christmas with a host of festive events and activities. The weekend will provide an opportunity to try out the new walking and cycling route between New Cross and Deptford town centre.

Saturday's attractions will include:

    •    a big wheel – get a free bird’s eye view of the improved route and the wider Deptford and New Cross landscape (10am-7pm, Margaret McMillan Park)
    •    rickshaws offering free rides between New Cross and Deptford market (9am-5pm)
    •    a 'smoothie bike' (11am-3pm, Douglas Way)
    •    brass band and performances by Deptford Churches Together (12noon-1pm, Giffin Square)
    •    kids’ Christmas tree decorations workshop by Other World Arts (1.30-3.30pm, Giffin Square)
    •    fun and games with Bureau Of Silly Ideas, Teatro Vivo and Madcap Coalition (11am-3pm, various locations)
    •    information stalls on local walking and cycling initiatives and the on-going regeneration of Deptford town centre (11am-3pm, Douglas Way)
    •    Christmas tree lights switch-on (3-3.30pm, Giffin Square)
    •    artisan market, Morris dancing, BBQ, mulled wine and music (11am-6pm, Tanners Hill).

Other activities will take place on Sunday around the Deptford Project railway carriage café on the high street.

The majority of funding for the event has been provided by Transport for London and Design For London.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Creekside Urban Park Consultation - your views required

Witherford Watson Mann Architects are looking for your feedback on their plans for Creekside Urban Park. Crosswhatfields promised to post about this for those of you who were unable to get to the consultation held on 27th November. Unfortunately we've been a bit tardy in this task, but there is still a week left for you to register your views.

The plan below shows the extent of the area to be improved, and below that is a close up of the proposed changes on Crossfields itself. Generally, we can't see much at all to object to. Download the plans here for a closer look.

The proposals for Crossfields are as follows (text taken from plans):

Sue Godfrey Gardens and Space around storage sheds:

Existing Memorial Garden with established herb and wildflower planting and established trees. Garden is not maintained. Existing storage sheds in poor condition. Estate planting pocket adjacent to estate entrance has low quality planting. Garden has no water supply.

GCDA (Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency) and CGS (Crossfields Green Spaces) organised for the existing memorial garden to be cleaned out and repaired on 08/11/10. Intention for this garden to be CGS managed space to include new growing beds and managed herb garden.
Extend Sue Godfrey garden into the poor planting pocket to give the garden a public front.
Construct new low wall to form edge to extended space with new gate.
New raised growing beds
Provide 5k budget for new planting
Refurbish storage sheds with new paintwork to woodwork (possible community arts project)
New rain water collection butts on Congers and Farrer House
Replace missing Prunus hedge planting to Deptford Church Street
Remove broken bollards and railings

Mechanics Path (the path alongside the railway opposite Holden House)

Narrow cycle path and footway along both edges of existing listed railway viaduct. To both edges are estate lawns and estate hedges. The southern arm is overgrown. Existing surfaces are poor quality asphalt with area below viaducts made up in broken rubble.

Form new wider Mechanics Path by removing existing estate hedges – move existing railings back by 2m
Plant new fruiting hedge including Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Boysenberry, Gooseberry, Raspberry and Worcesterberry.
Construct 5m width rolled asphalt and granite edges path.
3 new seats
Apple, Pear, Plum and Quince planting to gardens in front of Holden House
Improve existing lighting of pathway
Removal of 5 Robinia / Platanus trees in connection with LBL tree officer and Network Rail support.

(As regards the removal of certain trees, we are assured that they are either identified as unhealthy/dying or causing a hazard to the railway and removal is required by Network Rail. )

If you have any comments, please write them below or email Arthur Smart (WWM Architects) here

Arthur from WWM Architects braved the cold to exhibit the plans for Creekside Urban Park at the Bulb Planting Day on 27th November, which was organised by Lewisham Homes' Community Involvement officer Will Sharp. They were joined by Claire and Davey from Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency who provided refreshments and digging power.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tidemill School - Governing Body's Statement

This is the full text displayed on the Tidemill School's website


For over a century, Tidemill School has served the people of Deptford, educating 
generations of local children.

Ten years ago, Tidemill was a school in special measures, failing local children. 

Over the last decade, our school has been on an incredible journey, achieving 
OFSTED "outstanding" status in 2008 and recognised by the former Secretary 
of State for Children, Schools and Families as one of Britain's top-performing 
primary schools. We are proud to provide a world-class education for children 
in one of the most deprived parts of London.

Last night (Thursday 2 December 2010), Tidemill's Governing Body took the next 

step of that journey when it was agreed that the school would apply for academy 
status. This decision was made following an extensive consultation period, which 
commenced in July, and asked parents, staff and the local community for their 

Tidemill will continue to provide a quality education for all children in Deptford

and the local area. The school remains in the state sector and there are no plans
to change its admissions criteria. Tidemill School will continue to play an active
role in the local community, alongside our neighbouring schools and local partners,
making sure that Deptford children have the best possible start in life."
- Tidemill Governing Body

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas on Creekside

If you're looking for unusual Christmas presents, your local artists and designers are showing their wares this weekend. Chances are you can't afford it. But if you're looking for even one special present and don't want to go far to find it (or haven't already ordered it online and don't rate the post office's chances of delivering it) check the Deptford Art Map to find out who's open when. Lots of private views Friday evening 6-9pm at Art Hub (5-9 Creekside), Cockpit Arts, APT, Creekside Artists (Building A, Faircharm), Core Gallery, Bearspace...you don't have to go far.

The Faircharm Fair opens on Saturday and Sunday in Building A at Faircharm Estate, 11am-7pm (Sat), 11am-5pm (Sun)...promising a hotch-potch of all sorts...

If the Deptford Art Map leaves you cold, just wander up and down your road and see what's open, there's sure to be a warming welcome somewhere whether you're spending or not...

Tidemill governors decide

Tonight, the governors of Tidemill School met to decide the future of the school. A small number of campaigners braved the icy conditions outside the school this evening in a candlelit vigil, whilst the governors met inside the school.

At around 7.30pm the governors emerged from their meeting, but refused to comment on the decision made. It will be posted on the website tomorrow, the campaigners were told. "We want to let everyone know at the same time, so we can't tell you now" said another. "What if I'm not online?" asked one of the campaigning parents. "The parents will get a letter" was the reply...

Meanwhile, most topically and almost simultaneously, the BBC was broadcasting at 8pm on Radio 4 a documentary report called Who Owns England's Schools - an investigation into the government's drive for academies, as part of The Report series. Three schools are featured, one of which is Tidemill Primary, including an interview with Frankham House resident Leila Galloway who has two children at the school, but alas, whilst the programme was still being edited this afternoon, neither the head teacher Mark Elms (nor the Chair of Governors) was available for comment. Michael Gove can be heard, stroking his white cat.

One of the schools featured who converted at astonishing speed to academy status over the summer period, reported a total lack of interest from parents in their conversion. The BBC reporter, James Silver, tells Leila that it appears from Tidemill's website that the school has done a considerable amount of consultation. Leila has to remind him that there would have been none at all if she hadn't campaigned.

Much of the publicity around government changes in education have concentrated on university fees and the abolishment of the Education Maintenance Award, but bigger changes are going on right on our doorstep. See the synopsis of the Radio 4 report here. If this programme is available to listen again we'll post the link.  UPDATE: the programme is available here on BBC's iPlayer

More news tomorrow regarding the governors' decision...


Taking Action together to beat bullying - School Closed

Curious juxtaposition....

Anyhow, this is where they should be on a day like this...

 Though it's advisable to keep these on

And some headwear perhaps - you could get a very sudden head cold from one of these...

And here's a High Street Snowman who's remembered his scarf

Monday, November 22, 2010

High/Low - new public art on Creekside

Those walking across Ha'Penny Hatch very recently may have noticed a new structure erected on the wall of Faircharm Trading Estate. Some bulbs mounted on the structure may have been lit up as you crossed. This is what it looked like last night at around 7.30pm...
At the time, the tide was out. But you'd probably not want to be walking across the bridge at this time since it is mostly in darkness except for lampost light a few metres away each side of the crossing.

This piece of public art has arrived without fanfare. But I recognised it as an idea from the Creekside Charrette in 2008, the documentation for which was published in 2009. One of the proposals for public art came from 'internationally-renowned multidisciplinary artist/designer' Shona Kitchen. Shona proposed, among other ideas, "a ‘High-Low Tide Café’, a visual landmark on the Faircharm Industrial Estate rooftop that would be seen from the Ha’penny Hatch Bridge and other vantage points." (page 34 of the Charrette report)

Here is a mock-up of Shona's proposal for the High-Low Tide Cafe...

Could this be the same artist? Yes, a quick look at Shona Kitchen's website, and under 'Current Projects' is listed "HIGH/LOW - A public art work for Deptford Creekside Art in Regeneration, London"...Er...that's it...

Well, it's pretty at night. But you'll be lucky to catch it when either word is lit up in full. At high tide today (1.40pm) only part of the 'HIGH' was lit. And at low-tide this morning at 6.30am, no LOW...

It is also only visible to those on the DLR or mainline trains and those crossing the bridge, and perhaps from the top floor of Laban or from a penthouse in one of the new developments. It is strangely pointless since from these vantage points just by looking at the water you can see whether the tide is high or low. By looking at the direction of the water flow you can also tell whether the tide is coming in or going out. That would tell you whether a partly lit HI might become a fully lit HIGH.

But it is pretty at night...

Meanwhile, down at the Creekside Village, the new tower is going up apace, and now we have fountains with lights...I went back to look in the evening but they were turned off...or perhaps this is also tidal driven and only works when the tide is in...?


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sue Godfrey Garden Clean-up...and 'Creekside Urban Park'

Volunteers from the offices of DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) turned up this morning to help clear the Sue Godfrey Community Garden (besides the basketball court) and prepare it for replanting. The garden has been neglected for a while (since no one was sure who was supposed to be maintaining it) and had got rather overgrown. The Defra volunteers came at the invitation of Claire Pritchard of the  Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency who hopes to set up a food growing garden on the site. The project has come about through the co-op's involvement with the Crossfields Green Spaces group – Crossfields gardeners Ruth and John also helped with the clear up.

Meanwhile, Glendales have given Lewisham Homes 1000 bulbs to plant in the grass area on the other side of Church Street opposite the Sue Godfrey Garden. A Bulb Planting Day will take place on Saturday 27th November – volunteers are needed to come and help with this.

On the day, WMM Architects will also be presenting and consulting on their plans for 'Creekside Urban Park', a by-product of their work on the Route One Cycle Path which at one time was threatening to demolish one of our gardens. The idea is that you come along and plant a bulb, have a cup of soup and then comment on the plans – which at present involve widening the footpath alongside the railway, removing some trees and planting some smaller ones. (More details when we have them...and watch out for a leaflet or letter through your door).

Claire Pritchard (left) debates with the volunteers whether to uproot a monster buddleia as they tackled the area adjacent to the garden and next to the bike sheds. Some of the larger shrubs removed today will be replanted in other areas on the estate at a later date...

Meanwhile the volunteers were also working under the Greenwich Development Co-op's direction over at Creekside Centre, building some 'raised beds' that are intended for use by the Crossfields Green Spaces group, as part of a longer term plan to engage the centre with the community.

...And here's an 'artist's impression' of what the Bulb Planting area might look like next year...Apparently, this area is called Coffey Street Green East...(news to me!)


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Strange comings and goings on the Deptwich-Greenford borders.

What is it about maps?  Someone at Lewisham council appears to have thought that it would be useful to include a map with the consultations details that were delivered to residents earlier this week.  It would have been even more useful if they hadn't moved Deptford High Street over towards Greenwich.

But it's not just councils that get confused by the treacherously fluid geography of Deptwich-Greenford borders.  Tesco have just opened a store on Creek Road, and they've produced a map indicating both Tesco Greenwich and Tesco Deptford yet the map directs prospective customers to the Wetherspoons pub in Greenwich....
And while confusion reigns, Greenwich Council have made another grab for the Laban, claiming it as being part of what makes Greenwich such a wonderful place in their ''Destination Greenwich'' video.  Here's a group of dancers displaying what they think of Greenwich's geographical skills.

I swear that one of these days we're going to wake up and find ourselves in Tower Hamlets...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Funeral for The Duke's legendary landlord

Older residents on the estate will remember Erich Höfer, landlord of The Duke pub, when it was a lively music venue some years ago – home to Squeeze, The Realists aka The Electric Bluebirds, The Repertoire Dogs among others...*

Erich is immortalised in a Crossfields mural painted in 1982 on the side of Cremer House by Claire Humm (now living in Hastings). That's him, behind the bar, of course. A small number of the pub's pictured clientele still live on the estate, or in the area.

Erich recently passed away, and his funeral will be held on Friday 19th November.
Anyone who knew him will also remember (and probably know) his son Karl. Karl has kindly written to inform us of the arrangements for the day, should you wish to pay your respects:
"It begins with 10am mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Deptford, then on to Charlton cemetery for around 11.30am where he'll rejoin Anna and Aidan, and then on to The Duke from around 12.30 onwards. All are welcome. Flowers are fine or donations to cot death research (fsid.org.uk/), whichever people prefer."

*Violinist Bobby Valentino (then of The Bluebirds) recalls a time in the early 1980s...'A variety of guitarists would be there including - intermittently - local heroes Mark Knopfler and Tom McGuinness. The most “musicians” we ever had performing in the corner of this very small pub, was fourteen. The “divvy” of the £30 fee didn’t cover the refreshment expenses...The audience often included other famous locals like Glen Tilbrook (who was later to produce a couple of tracks for the band), Albert Lee, and the above mentioned guitarers. The place became so packed (it just could have been the number of muso's) it was pointless having a break since we couldn’t get to the bar, and the beers had to be passed forward. The South East London Mercury when reviewing an evening likened it to “...sharing a train compartment with the cast of the Muppets” '.  (Extract from Bobby's website here).

Truly memorable days for some of us, with Erich (and his wife Anna) at the heart of it.

"Erich Hofer, The Duke of Deptford, will be sadly missed, a true gentleman and the best pub landlord in my life, RIP" Colin Bodiam

First we take Manhattan...Tescos opens on Creek Road

Some may be overjoyed, some may be disheartened, but the new Tescos Express we reported on back in March (here), has now opened, as part of the Theatro development on Creek Road.

A reader commented back in March: "Tescos: dontcha know they feel lonely unless there are a few within walking distance from each other? Rather like the betting shops in the high street, methinks."

If you find yourself using the high street store in the evening for last minute supplies you may be pleased that you'll no longer have to navigate through the drunk gamblers outside Ladbrokes and Paddy Power who represent the main nightlife on the high street now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

6.30pm today - Deptford Says No to Tidemill Academy - open air video projection

The campaign against Tidemill Academy (academies.sayingno.org) will be projecting their short video "Deptford Says No to Tidemill Academy" onto the side of the new Deptford Lounge in Giffin Street this evening at 6.30pm.

They hope to raise community awareness of the school's plans to opt out of local authority control. They say that the new building, which will house the new school (at the back of the development by the railway), has been publicly funded but is in danger of being handed over to a privately run trust for a peppercorn rent. And they say that the trust, run by private sponsors, will lie outside any democratic structure and become unaccountable to the community it should be serving. It will buy from privately owned companies the services now provided by the local education authority. Parents who disagree with any school policies will have to appeal to the Secretary of State, rather than the local authority.

We have already written on this blog about the poor consultation process (see here). In their consultation document the school states "we do not want to influence you one way or the other", but parents going to the school to get more information are presented with a document to sign that only has the option to say "yes"...

Show your support for the campaign by turning out this out this evening to watch it.

Meanwhile, if you can't make it at 6.30pm see it here.

If you want to help stop Tidemill becoming an academy, respond to the consultation document, replying by Email or Post by Monday 15th November.
Email to: chairofgovs.tidemill@gmail.com, cc: businessmanager@tidemill.lewisham.sch.uk, sue.frewin@lewisham.gov.uk
Post: Chair of Governors, Tidemill School, Frankham Street, London, SE8 4RN (make sure to keep a copy). Feel free to extract some points from the campaign's counter argument They Say, We Say, or just register your opposition to academy schools in general. Copy any letters to:  jeevan.vasagar@guardian.co.uk, john.hugill@slp.co.uk, CllrPaul.Maslin@lewisham.gov.uk, cllrpaul.bell@lewisham.gov.uk, steve.bullock@lewisham.gov.uk, frankie.sulke@lewisham.gov.uk, letters@guardian.co.uk (and anyone else you think may be interested).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Putting the clock back in Deptford.(3)

To avoid a bit of disorientation, it might be useful to note that where we now have, working south, 3 parallel roads - Giffin Street, Frankham Street and Reginald Road - in Booth's day there were 5 parallel roads - Giffin Street, Regent Street, Stanhope Street, Hale Street and Reginald Road.  Looking at this map:

it appears that Regent Street - or Stanhope Street -  has been re-named  Frankham Street, and Hale Street has disappeared apart from the High Street end where there's the remains of a narrow road behind the Shaftesbury Centre (or whatever that churchy-chapelly thing is called).

The next part of Booth's walk takes him from  Mechanics Path/Resolution Way.

 On the west side by the railway is a passage leading to High Street. Ground on south side is taken for Builder's Yard. (Holloway's), one house occupied by foreman. Two and three storied houses; a few shops,

On the site from Browne House and further south, he notes:

opposite Giffen Street and south of that point, people are poor. Barefoot girl came out of one house. Group of women talking in doorway near Hale Street.

For Booth, the sight of a ''Barefoot girl'' is a clear indication of poverty. Women standing in doorways are another.  And

Men sitting on pavement outside publichouse with feet stretched across footway. Pony cart standing on road – chalked for sale. Few shops are comfortable. German baker etc.

hardly makes the area seem more prosperous.  

W along Giffen Street. 3 storied, about 6 rooms. Many of the houses at the east end are dilapidated and boarded up. Slatternly women standing about; some shoeless children. Low class, some prostitutes, hawkers, etc. Some houses let in furnished rooms. Street Roadway has been made up – covered with tar paving and shingle.

All this sounds very attractive.  Low classes, poverty, prostitutes and hawkers. And again, women standing around talking, though this time they're ''slatternly.''  Though there were fewer ''charges'' therefore the area had improved.

Linking Giffin Street and Regent Street there appears to have been a connecting street, Bevill Street.  

S along Bevill Street. Deptford Ragged school – a large square at W. corner of Giffen Street. Three 3 St houses on east side – like Giffen St. Dark blue. E along Regent Street. Two storied houses – broken windows. Some street sellers. Two women talking in roadway as we entered. ''Well known prostitutes'' said the Inspector. The women moved off quickly, evidently recognising him. Board School extended to W. Dark Blue as map. S and W along Hale Street. Narrow crowded street. 2 st houses. Broken windows, sills broken away. Street doors open into room. Beds seen through ground floor windows. When visiting with Inspector in the morning the women were standing about the doors, criticising their visitors. At an afternoon visit I found them sitting on groups on the foot path, one on a chair, more on the edge of the curbstone whilst one woman completed a small circle by sitting in the road with her feet toward the kerb. Costers driving home on their pony carts. Candle factory at west end of street, emitting very evil smells. Not much crime. Dark Blue rather than Dk B lined as map. N into Stanhope Street. 2 st houses, flush with pavement. Broken windows, cemented roadway blocked with barrows. Two men breaking up some gas fitting and putting the metal in a sack. A few Italians; some costers and prostitutes; shoeless children running about and frowsy women gaping at the doors. Board School takes greater part of north side. The west end of the north side is more open and the people a little cleaner, approximating to LB. Dark blue lined black as map.

It seems odd that the only reference I can find to him returning somewhere for an ''afternoon visit'' happens to be to where there are well-known prostitutes.  I wonder why he returned.

(I've placed a transcription of Booth's walk onto the Backtalk page - if you are interested in his observations for the rest of his journey followed by his conclusions, please visit it.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Free Lessons for the Educators

There are a couple of these two-page posters still hanging up around Deptford.  This one is pasted onto the wall by Kim's newsagent in the High Street.
Fancy that!  How do you learn a train?  Is it like reciting a tram?  Learning a bus?

Disregarding the fact that there is no company or college name and only a mobile phone number, the offer of  ALLOWANCE CASH OF £££ 95 WEEKLY for only studying HALF A DAY A WEEK IN 6 MONTHS seems just a little too good to be true.  So I phoned the number and asked about these Btec qualifications.  No company or college name, just a ''Hello'', and no apparent immediate knowledge of Btec courses until I asked him about the poster I'd seen when he got his brain in gear.  But he was too busy (well, it was just after lunchtime) and I'd have to call back.  What time?  Around 5.

I was tempted to call back just to see what kind of a scam it was.  But I couldn't be bothered in the end.  But some free advice, worth £299 a month to you as an exclusive offer (no obligation): if you want to pretend to be a business, first think up a business name and then don't make it unbelievable by offering the moon.  And above all, WANT TO LEARN A TRAIN makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  So learn your trade.  Finally good luck with the English lessons.


A local school entrusted with the education of many of our local children recently set out on a consultation exercise about changing its status.  When some people started to voice their disagreement about the scheme, the school, ever keen to vaunt its multi-cultural credentials, leapt instantly to the defence of those who may not have English as a first language:

In particular several of our parents with English as an additional language have expressed how they are finding this lobbying confusing and how it is causing them considerable anxiety. 

 ...it declared.  So, let's examine how much care the school has taken to accommodate people whose first tongue is not English.  Because this would be a good measure of  the amount of respect and consideration the school pays towards newcomers.
 Ok, word by word...

SVP - Better to start with a polite ''Veuillez contacter...''

contacter - But, on the other hand,  if you have to start it with SVP, you're going to need to conjugate contacter, as in SVP contactez

l'office - Nah, that's a faux ami or false friend.  Office is more of a role than a place in French, the normal word is bureau.  And a French speaker would use the word closer to the meaning of the  English reception: l'accueil

Si - The sudden introduction of a capital letter in the middle of a sentence is even rarer in French than in English.  It should be si.

vous avez des  - Very good, three words without an error

difficultes a -  Shame, after 3 correct words, there is now a total disregard for accents.  My computer does them, French-speakers do them.  Difficultés à

comprendre se document comprendre  is fine, so is document. These are the 4th and 5th correct words, se however is wrong, it should be ce.

or -  Or simply doesn't mean /or/.  Or is a French word meaning gold, or it can mean /now/, even a kind of literary marking of the minor part of a syllogism.  One thing we do know, it doesn't mean what our /or/ does.  Pourrait faire mieux....

I make that 8 mistakes and, even after correcting them, I'm not sure that a non-English French-speaker would easily understand what's being said because it's still tainted by Franglais.  They would understand, however, that their language had not been respected.  And the sincerity of the school's commitment to multi-cultural inclusiveness...well, I'll leave you to decide whether they've been co-opted, patronised and contemptuously instrumentalised, or whether we should simply say ''Bless, the poor little dears, the things they come out with...!''

Good luck with the French lessons.

(In case you think I'm making this up, the text can be found here)

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I feel that I ought to be writing something incisive about the future of local primary schools but I need to allow myself to stand back and take a few philosophical deep breaths. 

So meanwhile, here's something that had never struck me before.  I went up to the display on Blackheath last night, took a few photos, but it was only when I got back to the quiet of my flat that I realised quite how floral fireworks are.  Half a year from spring and in a carnivalesque inversion, the vibrant daytime displays of spring are recreated against bleaker winter skies.  Is it just me who sees something vernal?

And here's a couple of accidents...