Timber!

If the Stockwell Christmas Tree is standing, then it must be time for the most anal onionbagblog post of the year.

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Nine years ago and this event almost signalled the end of this blog. I am a man of routine, and I was repeating what had already been said:

‘Look, here’s the Stockwell Christmas Tree. I told you about this twelve months ago, and chances are that I will be telling you about it in twelve months time. This must mean the end of onionbagblog.’

But I had a change of heart, brought on once again by routine.

I work / I play / I blog about it.

And yet here I am at the fag end of 2014, spending a Saturday morning in the company of Pete the Greek – the demon barber of Brixton, running my arse off around the beauty of Brockwell Park, swimming in the lovely Lido and then cycling over to SE17 to see Bob, the best bicycle mechanic in all of South London.

Same as it ever was Comrades. Same as it ever was.

And that’s the way that I like it.

But there has been a few changes online in the past twelve months.

m’blog took a bit of a back seat for 2014. I’m not entirely sure what the point of onionbagblog is. This is exactly how I felt back in 2004.

But still – it looks like I am shackled with it. Plus I’m a stubborn sod that won’t give it up lightly.

My online activities spread out and seemed to take place elsewhere.

I started to use fargo.io as a hit and run blogging tool around March. I experimented slightly with the medium, settling on the best use for the platform as an online diary.

I’ve found the whole experience incredibly liberating.

onionbagblog was always about ‘here’s a report of something I saw this weekend.’ fargo covers my mundane daily life.

I personally really appreciate having an online record to refer back to. No surprises in that my day to day existence doesn’t exactly have a great amount of variety. I think that I made the same observation when I posted the first Sunny Stockwell Christmas Tree post almost a decade ago.

I also found some new online freedom through m’photoblog. I now feel free of the restraints of capturing things on camera, and then feeling the need to write about them.

Sometimes a half-decent picture really does tell 1,000 blog post words.

onionbagblog meanwhile seems to have become a repository for #METROKNOBBERS content. This is no bad thing.

I took the opportunity in 2014 to buy back and spruce up my own domain page as well. Some cheeky fucker in Colchester bought up jasoncobb.co.uk. His name wasn’t Jason Cobb.

Mid-summer and I started producing more content for Brixton Buzz. It just seemed the natural move. I now spend most of my work and play time back in South London and wanted to share my experiences in what is taking place.

I’ve known Mike Urban on and off for years. As with most Transpontine activities of late, Dulwich Hamlet was the social glue that got us talking about my involvement with Brixton Buzz.

I think that the very small team of “part-time bloggers, not professional journalists,” has produced some outstanding content over the past year. We’re certainly punching above our weight and showing that you don’t need to hoover up every grant going to publish a hyperlocal.

I didn’t manage to achieve nearly all that I wanted to having moved back to South London towards the end of 2013. We spent most of the year completely renovating the Sunny Stockwell flat. It looks like this will take up at least the first six months of 2015 as well.

But we’re getting there. And then South London is there for the taking…

My Brixton Buzz work led me to think about my own personal process when it comes to work and play activities online. These have stayed remarkably the same over the past decade.

I hadn’t really updated the tools or the process that it takes for me to put something online.

As ever: never underestimate the time that it will take to produce online content.

But Brixton Buzz is… agile. We hit and run with stories and then move on.

My own protracted way of working involves preciously editing every image, carefully crafting over the considered words and then trying to turn a blog post into a self-facilitating media node.

Something had to change.

The joy of blogging had gone.

fargo was partly the response. I also then slimmed down the way I work elsewhere.

I had a complete re-think over the summer months about how I go about producing content in schools. My hardware was pretty much b0rked.

This had to be the first thing to go.

I managed to justify a new MacBook Air. This alone has speeded up the time it takes me to achieve things.

My trusty flip camera was next for the chop. My iPhone contains ten times the power and resources of the flip. I now capture video and audio on my iPhone whilst on the fly.

That’s the content sorted; looking at the presentation is an early task in my schools for 2015.

A surprise move for me in late October of 2014 was the return of Colchester Chronicle.

Well I never.

I wasn’t really planning for this, even though I had kept the domain name, just so that bigtits.com couldn’t squat on what I had achieved before.

And then a brainwave during an early autumnal swim: bring back an… agile version of The Chronic.

The site fell off the back of the modern interweb back in July 2013. I simply wasn’t around in Sunny Colch to give it the attention that it needed.

That’s still pretty much the case now, but there is a huge vacuum for covering hyperlocal political stories in the area.

My early morning swim thought was that I could probably stretch to a twitter heavy return of The Chronic at localgov meets, plus some brief blog posts bashed out to back up the micro-blogging.

I personally think that this is hugely important as we approach both the General Election and the next set of Sunny Colch local elections in May 2015.

I’ve had to resist all sorts of very kind requests to take time out and go and speak with people in the town.

Apologies – I simply haven’t got the time and I’m not exactly around anymore.

But it feels good that The Chronic is out there once again.

The Wivenhoe Forum got a front and back end facelift mid-summer.

Ta, @pmmmikes.

We’re about to hit the 1,500 user mark – not bad for a town with a population of 10,000. We average around 5,000 page impressions per day.

I’m not going to say that it’s an easy ride. It’s pretty hellish to be honest. It certainly wouldn’t be possible without the very valued support of the Mod team that kindly volunteer their time.

But I do believe that it does more good than bad. I’m prepared to keep it online to help connect people in a rural estuary village to hopefully help to find some solutions.

And so what of the traditional Sunny Stockwell Christmas Tree blog post that looks back over the archives of onionabgblog as an online scrapbook?

There’s more to life than recording #METROKNOBBERS with the good @Darryl1974.

Honest.

The South London Folklore Society was a welcome find back in January. Many of the folk that gather each month are hardly new faces. Once again the Dulwich Hamlet strand runs through strong.

I went for another random walk around Vauxhall as #VNEB continues to change almost monthly. I hope that the LOVELY bus station is still there this time next year, Comrades…

The Tea House Theatre has also been good to me this year. Sipping endless pots of tea in a converted seedy strip den is perhaps the high point on the barometer of South London gentrification.

South London Hardcore continued to provide hours – LITERALLY HOURS – of Transpontine audio inspiration. SLHC Live was a lovely event. The strand of… Dulwich Hamlet ran through the evening.

Globe tickets were snaffled up for the summer season in February.

Same as it ever was, etc.

Crap Match Reports continued whenever my Transpontine work and play routine had the good fortune to synch with the Hamlet home games.

I CHUFFING love that club. It is a totally different club to what it was some 15 years ago, yet still it somehow remains the same.

Edgar Kail in my heart, Comrades.

I attended #ukgovcamp14 towards the end of January. It felt bigger than previous years with some of the randomness of the exchanges removed. It’s still a fantastic event. You get out of it what you put in I guess.

Southwark Cyclists took me out for a gentle Sunday afternoon roll out on what was a bloody bitter Transpontine afternoon. I think that I sneezed my way around the Canals, Parks and Villages (arf) of Southwark.

I continued to freeze my arse off at the lovely lido, something which I am still doing in December 2014.

This is perhaps the one most significant change in my life (SERIOUSLY) since that first onionbagblog Stockwell Christmas Tree post back in 2004.

The GOLDEN YEARS of the lido may have been during the turn of the Century, but we stopped swimming around mid-September.

This is no longer the case with Lake Brockwell now open 365 days a year.

It is absolutely ACE.

Sure the summer months are GLORIOUS, but I genuinely prefer cold, clear blue water, and then then all the silliness that follows in the gents post-swim.

The lido remains my life. Everything I do of significance, every major life decision that I take is made within those four glorious art deco walls.

I know that I’m not alone in this.

Magical.

I flogged the three Moulton’s in February. They just weren’t seeing any use. I thought that I would miss them dearly. The Brompton Boy within has been converted though.

The BRILLIANT Brockwell Park Run first appeared in my diary around mid-March time. I found the weekly timed run (not a race, oh no…) extremely competitive, not to mention addictive. Waiting for the results email to drop later in the morning became something of a fixation.

I managed a bit of basketball at Brixton Rec, but not as much as I had hoped for. The Topcats are a club on the up, mainly led by the women’s team. What was great to see was the increase in spectators, mainly from a young female base.

I made my first trip to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse later in the month. The Mini Me Globe was every bit as beautiful as the online images suggested. The Knight of the Burning Pestle was incredibly playful. We’re heading back again in January whilst the play is in rep.

This is funny: I made my first Dulwich away day [ha!] with an Oyster Card trip over to Wealdstone. Away days and Dulwich for me just haven’t happened over the past two decades. I watch football ‘cos it is local. I LOVED the Wealdstone experience. No Raider, but the pink ‘n’ blue smoke bombs made up for the experience.

Critical Mass continued to roll out on the last Friday of every month, much like it did when I first started the Sunny Stockwell Christmas Tree posts. Still we ride, Comrades.

Team METROKNOBBERS was resurrected for the first time in oooh, ten years [?] for the Transpontine South London Hardcore quiz that took place in April. We did so so with the south of the river questions; I confess to getting horribly lost cycling to Peckham Rye.

I buggered off to Norfolk around Easter time for a mini Tour. The Garmin guided me around the mean streets of North Norfolk. Who knew that there is more to Norfolk than the Sheringham to Blakeney run?

I found myself back in Brixton nick later in the month – voluntarily, natch. A selection of my photographs were included in a new permanent display down at the cop shop. I was rather chuffed.

Anna and I both rode the London Classic once again. The route didn’t appear as hellish as the year before. The Cols du South London were still a killer for the final few kms though.

A rather ‘tired and emotional’ Sir Trevor McDonald livened up a start of season Surrey Cricket Members’ AGM. There was high optimism ahead of a new season at The Oval. It didn’t last.

Cricket then took up most of the summer months with many a lost afternoon being spent on the piss in the Peter May Stand.

I headed off to the Lee Valley Velo on Good Friday for the annual Southern Counties Cycling Union meet. I was pretty pissed off to be honest that this had shifted from the Herne Hill roots. It proved to be a highly professional meet. The decision to shift indoors appears to have been vindicated.


Titus at The Globe was both gory and glorious. It was so good that I returned a second time later in the summer just to take in the faint-fest. Thankfully I wasn’t one of the many folk finding it a little too tough to stomach. It was without a doubt the best theatre that I have seen at Bankside over the past fifteen years.

#METROKNOBBERS first appeared in June. It came out of a conversation with @Darryl1974 on the #space4cycling Critical Mass-lite ride. We ended up talking so much during the cycle around central London that I suggested we start a DIY podcast. Fourteen recordings and counting

Anthony and Cleopatra followed at The Globe. It was something of a Titus comedown / let down.

Le Tour rolling out through Essex was one of the golden highlights for 2014. What a simply magical day. Anna and I cycled off to Gawd knows where, met up with some of the Brixton Cycles crowd, stood around, waited, and then saw the peloton speed past. And then we cycled back to base again. Brilliant.

Julius Caesar at The Globe was so so. I was still pining for Titus to be honest.

The Smithfield Nocturne Series was another now regular mid-summer event. The crowds are starting to get huge for the criterium. The circuit is slightly… technical.

The Comedy of Errors completed my summer of Bankside entertainment. I still don’t understand the plot.

The Lambeth Country Show is another regular returnee in these Sunny Stockwell Christmas Tree blog posts. I always come out with the line: Lambeth Council does few things exceptionally well. The Country Show is one of these.

The Brixton Bolt was a charming Sunday morning event late summer.

I cycled on from the Bolt across to Herne Hill to remember Dave Creasy, an absolute legend in South London cycling.


Perhaps the happiest day of 2014 for me was at the start of December. A run around Brockwell Park, a ‘lively’ swim in the lovely lido, and then over to Whitechapel in the evening to see The Style Council.

Sorta.

I haven’t stopped smiling since.

And so with all of this ‘content platform shifting’ (arf) elsewhere – will there be an onionbagblog Sunny Stockwell Christmas Tree post for 2015?

Probably.

I remain a stubborn sod; I remain a man of routine.

I’m not entirely sure what onionbagblog is for.

Same as it ever was.

Have a good one, Comrades.