New Street Lighting

New Street Lighting

Lewisham Council have recently installed brand new lampposts in our road alongside the older greyer models put in place some years ago.

The most obvious difference – the colour of the lights – wasn’t immediately obvious until the one opposite our front window was switched on this evening.

It has the most unexpected effect. For the first time in ten years I see bright white light cascading over the properties across the road. Gone is the orange light from the old lamps, now it’s clean white with crisp shadows. There’s an almost calming continental feel, making the other colour in comparison rather depressing.

The effect was same as when our bathroom was completely re-done a couple of years ago. The old frosted window from the eighties was replaced with a clear one. In the space of 24 hours, I could now see over to Crystal Palace tower I’d not been able to see in all the years we’d lived in this house. A corner of London had been revealed. I love seeing that view first thing every day.

The new white light on the lamppost across means I see our neighbours’ properties across the road in an entirely different way. A more realistic view free of the tired old orangey bias. More forgiving. More sympathetic.

Not only that, as I look down the rest of the road, there’s something just a little bit exciting about seeing a row of twinkly white lights. These new lampposts have, quite unexpectedly, lifted the spirit of the road.

Mixing it up a bit

I love fog.

London started the day with fog all around. I began my day in my dressing gown, staring in wonder at the fog from the decking at the top of our garden, a cup of coffee in my hand.

Magical stuff. Eery.

On the radio in the kitchen, Petroc Trelawny played recording of the agonising beginning of Bach’s St John Passion on the Radio 3 breakfast programme.

The picture was complete. A creepy looking shot accompanied by the relentless painful beauty of Bach’s music.


Bach’s St John Passion is – predictably and perhaps a little unimaginatively now – Easter to me.

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Local branch of timber business’ dying moments


Men in fluorescent jackets were dragging pieces of masonry around the yard of a local timber business this morning when I was walking to Hither Green station, confirming what I had thought about timber merchants T.Brewer. This branch has shut down.

Had I looked at the hastily put up and now ragged signage a few weeks ago, I probably would have known it sooner. This site is to be developed in housing. What with the old biscuit mill the other side of Hither Green Station, the site of the old Hither Green hospital and a new block of apartments just completed further down the road, I can’t think of any time in the past ten years when there’s been so much housing development.


A good thing, no doubt. New housing will – surely – result in a demand for local business. Central Hither Green must surely benefit as a result. Maybe the parade of shops opposite the former site of T Brewer can turn into something useful and attractive and meet the challenge.

It’s still a sad thing to see. Old places of work – old meeting places for small specialised and industrious communities – being dismantled. In its place, a fragmented community with few guarantees other than a very strong likelihood that those who live there will maintain a comparatively insular life.


London 2012 Goodie Bag: Underground Busker

An unexpected and impulsive inclusion in my Thoroughly Good Goodie Bag for the London Olympics is the busker on Euston Underground station who took up position on the final approach to the Northern Line platform early evening on Wednesday 7 March.

His well-chosen funky backing track overlayed with a sax line counterpoint made for a very relaxed feeling while us tired commuters waited for our trains home.

I only hope visitors to London this summer get to hear him play too.

Listen to him here.

London 2012 Goodie Bag: The Wombles

A Womble

One of my ‘hopes’ for 2012 was that I would in some way engage with the Olympics this year.

I live in London, I should surely feel excitedly proud about the prospect of them being here.

The truth is that I would probably be more excited about the Eurovision being hosted here – in London. I don’t anticipate that happening any time soon. (And in case you’re wondering I’ve absolutely no insider knowledge and will be as surprised as the next man if the unthinkable happens and we end up winning the event this year.)

But because it will be difficult to ignore the London Olympics this year, it feels weak and feeble to not do anything but jump on the bandwagon. Hence this rather long and drawn out introduction to what I hope will be a series of posts loosely connected to the thing I’m not really that interested in (but can’t afford not to be.)

Here’s my thinking. This country – and the place where I live – will welcome god knows how many people across the world for a two (for some longer) week period in the summer.

If you were playing host to some foreign visitors what would you offer them in their welcome pack? What would you encourage them to go see or do? What would you feel proud of? What would you feel ashamed of? What would be the lasting image you’d want them to take away with them when they headed off home? What sights? Where in the countryside would you take them for a break from the ridiculousness of the Games? And what about the catering?

Here’s my amuse-bouche. The opening sequence of a children’s programme from the 1970s – The Wombles. Yeah, OK. The reference to London – Wimbledon Common – makes this a little obvious. For me, it’s the simple heartfelt tune that stirs. It makes me feel warm and accommodating. And it raises a wry smile too.

The Wombles. The first of my personally selected ambassadors for London 2012.