Friday, 27 May 2011

Slipstream @ Peckham Space

Ah, Peckham. Unless you live there, that word instantly evokes images of high-rise council flats, shit new (in the 70s) build pubs and Del Boy, in a shit sheepskin-coat, flogging shit on the street. That or knife crime, lots and lots of knife crime; Dodgy with a capital D, whichever way you look at it. But this is not the reality, this is just an easy evocation: take another look, a look from above. In Slipstream, David Cotterell maps Peckham from the air with a miniature helicopter, uncovering the area’s hidden stories. A bit like Google earth, but - in every sense of the word - with more focus. Presented as a two screen installation, Slipstream records memories of local residents on one, and follows them from above on the other. No better way to take a tour than with a local, no better way to see earth than from the air…

Friday, 20 May 2011

"They came for the party...

...with a simplicity of heart that was its own price of admission."

The delightful Dimbleby & Capper. It's not a personality problem when both are cuter than a pale full of kittens.

I woke up with a weird ache in my upper tricep, which I couldn't initiailly place - then I realised it was from making Mojitos. This lady is watching me make my 234th, at around eight-thirty...

Who's more in love with who?

Assia walks the floor, fists clenched and ready for action.

The incredible flying Magdelena, whose feet never touch the floor...

And the rest by Gregoire Bernardi

Once upon a time...

...we lived in a squat on Manor Avenue. While we were there we played pictures for the people. Then the owner decided he wanted it back, and we decided to give it him back. He was happy, so he wrote us a nice reference, in case we get into any trouble with evil land barons in the future:

"I am in the process of purchasing a house in Manor Avenue in Brockley which until last week was squatted in by Vyvian and a number of others.

During the purchase process I have visited the house a number of times to get trade quotes and take measurements.

I can confirm that the group living in the house were always polite and welcoming. There was never any problem with access. They took care of the property during their stay and did not cause damage or, as far as I am aware, any noise or nuisance to neighbours. In fact the immediate neighbours were on good terms with them. I understand from the current owner that they also paid all electricity bills during their stay.

When we asked the group to leave before the start of building work they vacated the property promptly and left it in a clean and tidy state."

Sadly, he couldn't come to our leaving party because he couldn't get a babysitter. But lots of our other neighbours did, including the mid-fifties couple from next door, and another couple whose little kids played with our doggies; it was hard to tell who was more in love with whom.

Someone else came to the party, and took lots of pictures.

The end. The beginning...

8 minutes to change the world...

“They’re fishing in the right pond, but they’re not using the right bait…”

Max Keiser

UK Uncut has become a force to be reckoned with in British politics over the passed six months or so; of the plethora of Con-Dem opposition groups, it's the organisation most to be admired for its gains in such a relatively short time. They're on the up and up.

Sadly, Top Shop's share price is also up since October. Sure, you might argue that it hasn't gone up as much as it would have otherwise, but as long as it is going up, Sir Phillip Green is laughing all the way to the south of France.

Look, I'm just a two-bit punk whose best instinct is to smash windows. I didn't conceive of this, it's not an original idea; I just think it's a good one, and that lots of people should hear it. So, no more ado, over to Max:

8 minutes to change the world

You don't need a degree in economics to understand it, but these are the three main points to take from these 8 minutes:

• Share price is all that counts, nothing else matters. It certainly doesn't to the company, and so it shouldn't to us. Share price is the company's soul: only by piercing it with a big fat stake can we turn it to dust.

• If a fund manager advises their clients to invest in a company that we're targeting, they're breaking the law. The actual law. If we write to them, pointing this out, they're bang to rights.

• Imagine a world without McDonalds. If this tactic had been employed, that nutrition terrorist would no longer exist.

Otherwise it’s like going to war with a slingshot: we may be chock full of killer instinct, fairly filled to the brim with bravery, but we’re going to get turned back by their tanks every time. Indeed, it may even be a bad idea to send wave after wave of occupiers into the high street, knowing full well that they’re going to get mown down, Fortnum and Masons-style. Something needs to cover their ass.

Let’s stop throwing stones at their windows and bring in the bulldozers. Are you really ready for that? This is about changing the world, not where you shop. Currently we all live on the Death Star, so some people are understandably nervous about blowing it up. But until we do, the Empire will keep striking back.

Remember: the goal is zero!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Artful eating at the New Gallery...

It’s not exactly new these days, having been rocking the Peckham Road look for just under a year now, but a gallery it certainly is. A top notch one at that: free art events and exhibitions in a superbly Soviet space, with hands down the best gallery bookshop I’ve seen in some time. But I’m not here to talk about the art, oh no, I’m here to fill you in on the food. As a rule of thumb, if you’re paying more than a fiver for a full English, you’re in a gastro pub/Clapham and, therefore, a mug/wanker. The New Gallery’s comes in at exactly five shiny ones and includes a homemade hash brown, garlic mushrooms, rocket and meat that tastes like meat. The Sunday roast is ridiculously good, and discounted when you buy two, which is a nice touch; who eats a Sunday roast in solitary? Take in the art while you wait or once you’ve gorged; it’s good digestin’, all round...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Dream House.

I'm walking down Gorway Road, somewhere I rode along early every morning for two years or so as a teenager, delivering the day's news. Telegraphs, Times' and Daily Mails. Almost unbearably heavy on a Sunday; when they were filling the weekend with all that supplementary shit, they did not have the paper boy's back, nor his listing bike, tyres flattened from the extra weight, in mind. Still, these are the houses of the small-town good and great – rugby club in winter, cricket club in summer – and they tip well at Christmas.

They're bathed in bright, crisp light: the kind that makes everything on a film set look beautiful. And unreal. The houses fairly glimmer, sparking and smiling in the sunshine - proud property wearing glorious, finely tailored, gardens. I walk passed the first: 'is that...?'. It is: wooden boards where the windows should be. My heart races, my pulse quickens.

Be cool, walk on, come back. I look up: the next house is boarded and abandoned, too. A fire that spread? Then the next, and the next. Some sort of development, a compulsorily-purchased bypass system? Not for the good and great. The amazement plays across my face and I run from door to door, back and forth across the street – everywhere the same. No need to be cool any more, the world is deserted, a disaster movie. The whole street is shut up; all these abandoned properties and I am the only person alive in the universe: their only salvation. The farmer has left the gate open, and these horny, homely heifers are winking at me, giving me the big come on.

I used to dream of occupying these houses as a kid, and now I am again. I wake up in my bed, hopeful but knowing that in a month's time my bed will be somewhere else. It's the lot of the squat. No yin of occupation without the inevitable yang of eviction.

A similar experience recently, a waking dream this time, in northern France. I was hitching to Paris over Easter and had gotten stuck in Dunkirk late at night. Too late for anyone to seriously consider picking me up but too early to bed down, I decided to use the time by walking to Calais, some 30km. It didn't look that far on the map.

I'm exhausted from a day by the side of the dusty road (all roads are dusty, it turns out, though some roads are dustier than others), in the heavy sun, with a heavy bag; the cool night air makes my skin tingle and I know I've been scorched. I've got no water and am using the last of my cigarettes to quench my thirst, although they burn. Je suis tres, tres, fatigue. I'm definitely making bad decisions, and this walk is one of them.

Ambling along a country lane, I come across a village that is just a collection of houses along the side of the road. They don't even have a post office, and everywhere in France has a post office. Walking passed the first house and it's all shut up. Oh shit, look at that; shame I'm only passing through.

And then it happens again: the next house is shut up, and the next. I look across the street and it's the same on that side. De ja vu doesn't quite do it: my mind wobbles. 'This is too weird, it's just like that dream I had last month.' But this is reality...isn't it? Confusion reigns for a while, and then I realise, it dawns on me: that's not sitex, that's a cultural housing difference; France brings down its shutters every evening. Hell is other people, at least after dark. Reality snaps back and it's me, the pains shooting through my shoulders, and the road again.

Always on the road, always looking forward. At the moment that means looking forward to eviction tomorrow and moving to a former technical college that we've already had court papers for, before we've moved in. The place turns out to be owned by the local magistrates court, and naturally they're not hanging around. This makes the claimant of our case the Secretary of State for Communities (check the irony) and Local Government: none other than Jabba the Cunt, Eric Pickles. It looks sticky, alright, but the dream doesn't get any closer while you're standing still...

Dog Polish

Nothing to do with maintaining a healthy, shiny coat on your favourite domesticate, but the language that is accidentally learnt when you live with one Polish girl and her two dogs. Residing amongst a couple of Spaniards, an Estonian, a Scot, a girl from France and me, Ewa spoke her native tongue only to her doggies. Which she got in England.

So now I speak dog Polish. Three little words that kept cropping up and at some point crawled into my subconscious, before revealing themselves to my conscious. 'Spokuj', 'cicho' and 'na miejsce' (I thought this was one word, until I got Ewa to spell it), meaning 'calm down' (or calmness), 'be quiet' and 'back to your place' - all have an exclamation mark following them, properly speaking. Until recently, based on previous usage, I'd assumed they roughly meant, 'chill out and stop being a dickhead.'

Last Christmas, Ewa went home to Poland for a few days, and the two Spaniards – Pau and Agus - and I were left in in charge of the pups. Like their owner, they have a fiery nature and, not wholly unlike their owner either, they like to run around making noise. We remembered 'na miesjsce' made them do something Ewa wanted them to do, although we couldn't be really sure what it was. Try as we may, and despite attempting many and various subtleties of pronunciation, we couldn't make them do anything we wanted them to do. I'm entirely certain they understood every word…


There are probably a plethora of good reasons not to, but here are two in favour of smashing windows:

"The argument of the broken window pane is the most valuable argument in modern politics"

Emeline Pankhurst.

"England is the wrong place for a boy who wants to smash windows. Because he’s right, of course, he should smash windows. Anybody growing up in England without a serious urge to smash windows is probably too dumb for help. Have you ever put a brick through a big plate glass window, Ralph? It makes a wonderful god damn noise and people inside run around like rats in a firestorm."

Hunter S. Thompson.

Both are from a different time, different political epochs: both are perfectly valid today...

Monday, 9 May 2011

The final fling...

The Final Fling.

When I started writing this little guide to living free, I was sleeping on an air bed in an enormous but totally empty room, with no central heating, in the middle of the coldest winter of my lifetime. Getting dressed and undressed became sport: how to keep feet on bare floorboards for the briefest time possible? Nowadays, it’s fully furnished, thanks to Freecycle, and the draughty windows are welcome, as Spring bursts into life. And, just as the tree in the yard begins to blossom, we’re being hoofed out.

But, heck, life is change, and never more acutely so than when it’s spent squatting. No yin of occupation without the inevitable yang of eviction. Must all good things come to an end? Who can say — what we can say for sure is that my crew is moving on, and moving out of our Manor Avenue movie-mansion.

The ethos has always been that it was not our space, nor your space, simply a space, a space to share. For the past three months we’ve been doing this by opening up it up in the guise of a cinema, the People’s Picturehouse — free for all and for all who are free. Highlights have been a lot of Herzog, a Hunter S. Thompson double bill on the anniversary of his passing, and some truly special home-made vegetarian tapas. Truly special.

Now that we’ve been given our marching orders from the ex-servicemen’s club, we’re throwing a good old fashioned Saturday night shindig; a Manor Avenue micro-festival, if you will. To say thank you to our neighbours, and to repay some of the debt owed to the sheer amount of life that has passed through our doors and filled the halls with fun:

“Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise…”

Filling it once more is some of the talent that is fairly bursting out of Brockley and surrounding area. No films this time. Singer-songwriters — and neighbours — Joe Wilkes and Curly Joe Lewis are kicking off the good times with their ghee-tars. Next up is Jonny Hoyle and Co, bringing melodic musical magic (and a tuba). The NME called our headliner colourfully bizarre: we’re calling Dimbleby and Capper delightful, not least because she’s bringing her own dancers.

And the sound’s being taken care of by the south-east’s legendary squat soundsystem, Reknaw, which means it should all be fairly booming. Nicely, nicely.

The Squatter’s guide is signing off, but don’t forget: this is no wake, this is a celebration of life…

Modern Neon Lights

Simon Tyszko is mischief maker number one. When he’s not making a criminal of those that buy his art by working in cocaine, he’s spending six months installing a full sized Dakota wing in his fifth floor Fulham council flat. When confronted with the awesome, silent power of an enormous Icelandic glacier, Simon felt the natural thing to do was strip butt-naked, throw a Molotov cocktail at it and take a picture. Modern Neon Lights brings all this bad craziness under one roof, in what ‘might be best described as a vast, incandescently coloured turmoil’ (it’s not just neons, oh no). And what a roof: Mol’s Place is the home and occasional exhibition space of Jan Mol, Dutch art collector extraordinaire; hidden behind the Freemason’s Hall in Covent Garden, we can say his pad is plush. Drop them a line, mention the mischief maker and tune yourself in to the turmoil… Sprung.

‘More of a fruit salad than a hairdressers’, sometimes it’s an art gallery, sometimes it’s a legendary speakeasy style pARTy place. It’s whatever Michael Ptootch has going on in his brainbox, and boy has he got a lot going on. This time it’s a pop-down restaurant: two nights of serious eating, drinking and bohemian dancing out the back of his Kentish Town kingdom. The serious eating comes courtesy of the Oliver Rowe BBC’s and some extra special spit-roasted meats. The ‘highly-attentive waiters’ are also musicians (natch), and will be providing sporadic performances whilst you enjoy said eating. And once you’ve munched your way through three courses and specially selected booze accompaniments, Patrick Forge will be playing balmy beats until the very small hours. Sort of secretive, somewhat schizophrenic, sure to be sensational…

The Deptford Project...

Unless you’re a flag-waving moron (and, being a discerning lecool reader, let’s assume you’re not), you’ll be doing your damnedest to avoid the scumbag wedding this weekend. If you can’t get right out of London, your best bet is heading down to old pirate town, Deptford, and getting involved in this alternative street party. You may have thought that – from natty tweed to sparkly, sparkly tiaras – the royal family have got ironic kitsch all sewn up, but the Deptford project is going to give them a damn good run for their money. Wedding look-alikes are welcome and projections from the Deptford Archive will be showing photos of ordinary working class couples at their wedding breakfast during the last years of the second world war. What with the beautifully brassy TaNa Deptford leading the dancing, the south-eastenders are throwing a right royal knees up and no mistake, me old china…

Monday, 2 May 2011

The People's Picturehouse is proud to present...

...a Manor Avenue micro-festival and good ol' fashioned Saturday night squat-shindig:

Saturday May 7th - 7pm til 1am - £3 (suggested donation)
60 Manor Avenue, Brockley. SE4 1TE.


The delightful Dimbleby and Capper (and dancers!):

Dimbleby and Capper

Melodic poetics courtesy of Jonny Hoyle & Co:

Jonny Hoyle & Co

A bucketful of joy from our friend and neighbour, Joe Wilkes:

Joe Wilkes

Hey, it's another neighbour, the gritty, acoustic blues of Curlee Joe Louis:

Curlee Joe Louis

And DJs and dancing and de usual debauchery!

"The old servicemen have finally been given their marching orders, so to celebrate all the life that has passed through the doors of number 60, say thank you to our wonderful neighbours and squeeze some of the talent that is fairly bursting out of Brockley and the surrounding area, we're having one last party. It's a South London love-in, alright, and there's plenty to love..."

The People's Picturehouse is dead: long live the People's Picturehouse!