The Secret History of Our Streets

Very late blog, just to say how much I enjoyed this series.

Part of the BBC London Season, which been mainly been fantastic, the programme has been an engrossing look at the social history of different areaof London. The Caledonian Road episode, in particular was really fascinating (clearly because it was the road I know best).

This one focused on a landlord who has managed to build up an oddly large number of properties on the road. Seemingly, portrayed as a ‘loveable rogue’, he was actually clearly just a very, very bad landlord charging people for living in awful conditions, and often illegally.

Since the programme, an action group called ‘Cally Cows‘, has been set up by tenants of the rogue landlord, and in then turn the members were given eviction notices. Pretty disturbing stuff, and indicative of the worrying state of the rental market. But, hopefully some good will come from highlighting just what this landlord has been up to.

For the main part, it was a great series, one gripe being that it was was a shame the series was only 6 episodes long – it definitely missed a huge chunk of NW London. And also, on a side note, one thing that The Guardian picked up on, and which did irk me at the time, was the unnecessary use of subtitling for people with strong accents in the programme. Something that probably did let the series down.

For more programmes on London, there’s also a really good archive of films on the BBC website here.


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Song Dong: Waste Not

Quickly caught the last day of this fantastic exhibition at the Barbican Curve the other day. Really glad I did. A massive collection of 50 years worth of hoarding by the artist’s mother.

Quite typically, I barged straight in and completely neglected to read the back story to the exhibition, so the poignancy of the whole thing went straight over my head until after I’d left and actually read up on it. But nonetheless it was amazing to see. I only wish I’d brought my actually rather than these dodgy camera phone pics but here you go!

More here and here

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June 18, 2012 · 20:35

June Talks

A couple of interesting talks and events coming up in the next few weeks.

Wednesday 13 June, 18.30- Roma Voices.

Part of the 3 day symposium Roma: Self-representation and popular media, this event looks at representations of Roma communities in the media, with a particular focus on the Channel 4 programme Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.

See more info here and register for free tickets here

Friday 15 June, 17.30 – Cafe Oto – Slavoj Zizek.

A 24-hour launch for Zizek’s new book Less than Nothing. The event will have an introductory talk about Hegel, a talk from the man himself (Zizek, not Hegel obviously!), and then people will be reading from the book throughout the night. Really looking forward to this! Tickets to the main event are sold out, but you can still go to the overnight reading.

See more info here

Saturday 16 – Sunday 17 June – Alternative Conference for the Rio Summit.

A free 2-day conference, taking place the weekend before the Rio summit. Organised by the Campaign against Climate Change and the SOAS Department for Development Studies, it will feature a range of seminars, workshops and speakers from the Green Party, Labour, New Economics Foundation, ActionAid, Friends of the Earth, Occupy and lots more. Subjects include food security, climate jobs, generational justice and fracking.

Find out more info here

Wednesday 27 June, 18.30 LSE public lecture – Should we build on the Greenbelt?

An interesting question. Although my knee jerk reaction would always be ‘no’, it is something that needs to be considered. Dave Hill wrote a blog on the issue a few weeks, have a look here.

More info on the talk here

Thursday 28 June, 18.30 – LSE public lecture – Amartya Sen Lecture.

A discussion between Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz. Free but you need to request tickets from the link below from Thursday 21 June at 10am.

More info here

Friday 29 June – LSE public lecture – Joseph Stiglitz.

The author of Globalisation and its Discontents discusses his new book The Price of Inequality. Like the previous lecture, you will need to request tickets for the event.

More info here

Other links

LSE public events

One world event listing

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The Secret History of Our Streets

A new 6-part series about London starts on BBC2 this Wednesday 6th June.

Commissioned as part of the BBC London Season, which is counting down to the Olympics, it will see how London has changed since Charles Booth’s survey in 1886. The series looks at a different part of London each week, exploring how each street has come to be the way it is now – a “Who Do You Think You Are for streets”,  says the director.

The first episode focuses on Deptford High Street, which apparently used to be the “Oxford Street of South London”, and is now one of the most deprived areas of London.

No doubt, it will highlight the crazy inequality of housing in London, which is home to both the most expensive and poorest housing (often in the same street). It’s been very clear for a long time, that something needs to be done about housing in London, and hopefully this programme might highlight this further.

The Homes for London campaign, which was set up during last month’s Mayoral elections is worth following. Although, Boris Johnson signed the pledge during his campaign, then claimed to have ‘not read it properly’ during the first Mayor Question Time *sigh*. Something to push him on, then.

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Pergola and Hill Garden, Hampstead Heath

The Pergola and Hill Garden is on the bit of the Hampstead Heath near Golders Hill Park. Originally part of Inverforth House, it’s was open to the public in 1963.

Surely discovered by anyone who has walked remotely near West Heath, and definitely anyone who has read any ‘hidden’ London-esque blogs, it still feels like the most awesome secret garden every time I visit. I’ve read about a million blogs and photo-sets about this place, and it probably doesn’t need another, but nevermind. Walking past today, I couldn’t resist taking pictures. (Probably could have taken them on a sunnier day!).  Whilst obviously decaying yet well kept, it still has an overgrown, forgotten feel about it, which reminds of Miss Havisham’s garden. The whole thing does feel like a ridiculous metaphor or something.

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Although the City of London Corporation, who look after the Heath, are looking into investment to restore the Pergola to it’s former glory, I quite like it the way it is now.

Find out more about the history here.

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St. Pancras Old Church Gardens

Randomly wandered into this churchyard a few weeks ago. I’ve passed it many a time on the bus, but have never thought much of it, other than it looking a bit creepy. Once in, it is initially quite unassuming, albeit pretty and green. But it’s actually quite an interesting place. Pictured here is the tomb of Sir John Soane (the architect whose house is now an exciting museum in Holburn), which was apparently the inspiration for the red telephone boxes.


It also holds a memorial tomb for Mary Wollstonecraft and William Goodwin, as well the meeting place of their daughter Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley.

If that’s not exciting enough, the church yard is directly next to Camley Street Natural Park, a very hidden nature reserve (which I still need to visit again.) in a very unlikely place.

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Indie Label Market


The inspirationally named Independent Label Market is back again this Saturday 19th May. This time at Spitalfields Market instead of Berwick Street. And as it suggests, lots of indie labels will be selling their records on market stalls for one day only. These include: Warp, Moshi Moshi, Bella Union, Wichita and Sonic Cathedral.

Really wanted to go last year, but wasn’t in London, and I would go this year if it wasn’t for the fact I’m too poor to spend money on records at the moment. Boo hoo.

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