Pandemic Pondering #111

London. North or South?

PP#111 is very brief. All @theoldmortuary has done recently is paint fences black. There is less to write about when painting black fences than there is when renovating a Cornish Hedge.

North Londoners joke that there is nothing worth crossing the river for. Suggesting that South London has nothing of interest.

South Londoners know better than to retort negatively.

The most common reply is that South London is greener.

This is particularly true in our tiny patch of garden now we’ve painted the fences black.

Now the fences are back to black it’s all looking pretty lush. Not only that but I haven’t has to look too far for some stencil graffiti and Palimpsest with a green theme.

Stencil Graffiti bear , Gipsy Hill,
Church door Palimpsest, East Dulwich

Should you want to read about the North/South debate may I suggest this link- https://www.luxurytraveladvisor.com/destinations/north-or-south-london-which-better

Written by a proper writer rather than a mere scribbler. South London, it’s greener.

Pandemic Pondering #109

Restrictions being lifted on travel and overnight stays could not have come at a better time for @theoldmortuary.

A scumbag fly tipped outside our flat in London this week

Imagine our happiness when we discovered our neighbours/friends had tidied it up.

London , like many big cities, has a reputation for being an unfriendly place but from the moment we moved here we were surrounded by neighbours who quickly became friends.

Shit happens everywhere and our neighbour/ friendships were forged over another adverse event. Three days after moving in we were burgled, traumatic enough in itself, but the day after, our flat and by extension ourselves were subjected to a frightening police raid.

Our lovely new neighbours swooped in and picked up the pieces just as they did this weekend.

Socially distant Pandemic Pondering in the garden with our neighbours.

Pandemic Pondering #50*

* The late edition.
Apart from garden chores, we had no great plans for today. VE Day has written this late edition itself. The day started, as they all do, with a Joe Wicks Work Out.The picture below was taken during the two minute break between exercises. The dogs love Joe Wicks, the cans are our improvised dumb bells and the velvet cushion , an item that should actually be in every gym, is a great asset for the kneeling exercises. Out of shot are the cake plates.

Once Joe is out of the way it’s time to shower but the dogs were very excited by something outside.A small, unannounced, outdoor memorial service was happening just across the road. Just a vicar and a standard bearer and 5 or 6 people all standing apart, silently witnessing the service. 2 minutes silence in the midst of so much silence was intensely moving.

I was, however, not dressed for church.

Sometime later a Civic group appeared to lay a wreath.

Our poppies put up a natural show of respect.

Clean and sparky we set off on a dog walk. Someone in the estate just beyond the church was playing Glen Miller on a sound system that would not have been out of place at Notting Hill Carnival. The sound was the epicentre of our circuitous walk and we’ve chosen to listen to similar music all day.

This cute window display was just beyond the Glen Miller Sound System.Then a little further on this jeep appeared.

The Nature Reserve itself was unmarked by anything, but in its quietness it has always marked history

During lunchtime I remembered a friend in London has a Union Jack, in pristine condition. It survived the whole of the second World War and spent actual VE day flying from the roof of a house in Grimsby. This morning he ironed it and it posed in his garden and ethereally in his bedroom window, for this blog.

His cat Banjo was perplexed and intrigued. Banjo is a Gipsy Hill cat but not ‘ the’ Gipsy Hill cat.

While we are in Gipsy Hill, on the route of the number 3 bus, we found a shot of a number 3 trying to get through Crystal Palace on VE Day.

This evening we were on a social distancing adventure. The evening dog walk was in Plymouth where we had Click and Collected an order of fish and chips which we ate in the van. The van was cleaned today for its first run out in a month.

Then it was off to the Hoe for the evening dog walk and a visit to the many war memorials. This year there is a new one for the Merchant Navy.

Plymouth Sound was looking gorgeous.

We also found a new sculpture, the bottom and hand prints of the Beatles.

Sunk into the earth where they, the Beatles, relaxed in the sun before their gig in Plymouth in 1967. The moment preserved by an iconic photograph.We finished the day with a cup of tea and a scone. The scones were traded to us by a neighbour for the loan of our hedge trimmer.A cup of tea is a fine way to end a blog on VE Day. The last image of the day is my favourite WW2 picture from the South West Image Archive. The Archive is held by The Box, Plymouth and is of a woman, drinking tea while sitting on the rubble of her destroyed home near Plymouth Dockyard,

Pandemic Pondering #32

London is just as series of small towns and villages joined up by history and development. To the outsider it may just seem like urban sprawl but to people living there each town or village has its own identity and sense of soul and belonging. My village for ten years was Gipsy Hill, I still have very close links there.

Famed for Fanny, the Gipsy Hill Station Cat.Gipsy Hill also has the most amazing corner shop,right by the station, filled from floor to ceiling with organised precision it stocks everything, and is staffed by men who are always happy and helpful. I have never had a corner shop quite so lovely.

Sadly one of the men who works there has recently died of Covid-19. Terrible for his family, friends and colleagues. His loss will be felt by the whole community because Gipsy Hill and nearby Crystal Palace has so much love for this shop and the wonderful men who run it.

Communities all over the world are experiencing the loss of amazing people. Such difficult times. RIP.

♥️London ♥️Gipsy Hill ♥️FreshGo

Since I wrote this the Guardian has published an article on Kumar, the man whose death inspired this blog.I urge you to read this professional version.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/20/london-death-shines-light-on-covid-19-threat-to-local-shopworkers?CMP=share_btn_link

This story has a sad but gentle traction. Some one has created a graffiti tribute just outside the store.

Thanks to Rachel Baseby on the Friends of Gipsy Hill Facebook page for this image

Libraries and bookshops, journeys to somewhere else.

Saltash Library

All my reading life I’ve loved libraries, as I got older bookshops took over because library opening hours are not always convenient for working people. We always visit libraries whenever we travel to cities. Birmingham and Seoul stand out as two of the best. Yesterday I was in our local library doing some admin for a book group. Not planning to get anything for myself I had a quick wander around in case something irresistible caught my eye. Two books leapt out at me, not because they would take me on new journeys but because they reminded me of journeys already taken.

Alan Johnson’s In My Life will be the second Alan Johnson book I’ve read. The first one The Long and Winding Road was the third book of his memoirs. I have yet to read the first two parts. The Long and Winding Road was significant to me because during the period it covered we were neighbours, not close, but some of his roads were my roads and when his days of secure chauffeur driven cars were over we shared our regular commute into Victoria or London Bridge. Obviously like proper London commuters we never made eye contact.

Looking down Gipsy Hill
© theoldmortuary

Alan Johnson is not the only recognisable face seen on the platforms of Gipsy Hill Station.

One stands out as the ‘ most’ famous. Fanny, the Gipsy Hill Cat. Famous throughout London for her duty of care to the commuters of South London. She has her own station waiting room.

and is nearly always on hand for cuddles or ticket checking.

Spiri Tsintziras book Afternoons in Itheka is the second book that grabbed me and is the second based in Itheka that I have read.The first was North of Ithaka by Eleni Gage, a book that fueled a trip to Itheka last summer.

The trip to Ithaka was serendipitous and wonderful. It is such a peaceful island.

We had a huge rustic supper in a general store and occasional cafe.

Some of the artwork was surprising.

The food was everything you would expect of Greek hospitality. Comforting, delicious and never ending.

Reading is my favourite pastime, it gives me time and location travel. Sometimes backwards like these two books but often projecting me forward to adventures as yet unknown.

Leap Year

What to do with the extra day in 2020.

©Hong Kong Ballet

Obviously after just one Barré lesson we are fizzing to leap around on Leap Day, but this young man does it so much better .

February always needs more red.

Leap Year attracts flimsiness and fun, see my efforts above, or read Guardian flimsiness.
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/feb/29/leap-year-day-how-you-could-and-should-celebrate-29-february

But it exists to keep us all ticking along nicely in time. Introduced by Julius Caesar over 2000 years ago.

Leap day recalibrates and corrects time keeping because every year is actually 365 days and 6 hours long (one complete earth orbit of the sun) so once every four years those extra 6 hours are gathered together to make an extra day.

29 pictures in red to fill your extra day.

Red car Plymouth Hoe
Miss VV
Tywardreath rail crossing
Crystal Palace Rail Station
VV and Mum talk Rothko
Posters Devonport Playhouse
Redcurrants Butler’s Cottage
Red vase @theoldmortuary
Poppies @theoldmortuary
Jewel Salad @theoldmortuary
100 Homes Project, Plymouth
Chinese New Year , Hong Kong
Bowls South Korea
Hugo and Lola hit the Red Carpet
Gipsy Hill Brewery at The Lord High Admiral , Plymouth
Nasturtiums
Detail of painting
Street Art Haggerston
Chilli lights and cook books
Welsh Guards
Autumn Leaf Dulwich Picture Gallery
Beach plastic, Portwrinkle
Croxted Road, Dulwich
Detail from painting
Street Art, New York
Dodging the spray, Niagara Falls, Canada
Post Box, Barnes
Brixton Market
Hoi An

Advent#22

Suburban Winter Solstice

Waking up on the morning after the shortest day is always a little bit perkier than waking up on the shortest day. We could have bust a gut to be at Glastonbury but the reality is that the solstice has been happening here in Gipsy Hill just as long as it has been just north of the A303.

This area of London was countryside until 1856 when the railway station opened. The abstract photograph above is of the sky above the council estate which was built on the original coal yard and sidings for steam trains. They brought prosperity to the area and crowds to the nearby Crystal Palace. The posh houses that were built on this part of Alexandra Drive would have been directly in line of the steam and soot of shunting steam trains starting and ending their working days. The corrosive effect explains why some of them have been rendered.

As a sideline Alexandra Drive was named for Princess Alexandra, the long suffering wife of Edward The Caresser. Edward VII, 10 years on the throne, a lifetime of sexual incontinence.

Before the railways not much is written about this location. Part of the Great North Wood, this particular area is where Gipsies lived and worked. Samuel Pepys mentions in his diary that his wife, Elizabeth came here to visit them.

Another sideline, Samuel also suffered from sexual incontinence and married Elizabeth when she was 14.

Street Art on The Paxton

There was a plague pit in the triangular park opposite the Paxton pub at the bottom of Gipsy Hill, also the location, occasionally of contemporary short-term Gipsy encampments.

Post Victorian development of Gipsy Hill has expanded as a South London suburb. It was substantially bombed during WW2 and had a nuclear bunker built in the Cold War.

Most importantly, Gipsy Hill has Fanny, the Gipsy Hill Cat. Often on duty at the train station and always available on her Twitter account. Fanny unites this suburb with her cuddles and affection on Platform 1.

Residents crowd funded when she had a mishap. The Friends of Gipsy Hill are building her a workplace garden. She also has a loving home and family when not on-duty.

Today she is the face of Suburban Solstice.

Last sideline, Fanny keeps herself nice.