If the Stockwell Christmas Tree is standing, then it must be time for the most anal onionbagblog post of the year. Five 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.
Traditionally it has been this blog post that looks back over the events in my year, in an attempt to confirm that I carry out the same routine every twelve months, and to seek confirmation in my own lifestyle choices.
I watch crappy football, I pound my knees into the ground running around Clap’ham and I look around Sunny Stockwell and I realise that there isn’t really anywhere else in the world that I’d rather live.
Um, hang on…
Ah, and so this becomes the onionbagblog Christmas tree post that breaks from tradition. The past twelve months have indeed been a year of change, and there’s much more to come. Crappy football and knee knackering running aside, it looks like I have finally broken out of the South London routine.
This will probably be the final Sunny Stockwell Christmas tree post. Hopefully by this time next year we’ll be settled in to our new North Essex home to write that first Wivenhoe Christmas tree blog post.
But first of all, what of the past twelve months around SW8?
Friendships have been brilliant this year – @funkturm, @cabbiescapital and @darryl1974 – lovely, lovely people who are worth a follow on Twitter, if not the odd drunken night out / afternoon (whoops) out.
Work wise has also been rather wonderful. I seem to have found a career by mistake. A different school for a different day of the week was the unlikely boast as the Stockwell Christmas tree was erected this time last year. Not quite, but managing three school websites certainly keeps me busy.
I’ve only bought three bikes this year – a road bike, a classic bike and a bonkers multi-coloured bike. Early Saturday morning rollouts have rotated between VCL at Le velo, and the (rather dangerous) road races with the Dulwich Paragon. The bonkers multi-coloured Moulton is reserved for West End trips and hat tips for the tourists.
The times that I managed to make it to #tuttle were usually made on the multi-coloured Moulton. I would normally shy away from these type of online / offline networking events, ever cautious of the egos and agendas. But there is something unique about tuttle that leads it to be something of a tosser free zone.
I took the Londonist Q & A test in February, shortly after Sunny Stockwell (and the rest of the South East) woke up one wonderful morning to be covered in six inches of snow. Weather aside, what was remarkable about that wonderful February morning was the way that the whole community came out to play. More of the same please.
The four hours round trip across South East London to see yer man Weller was just about worth it. I’m still pondering the logistics, and price, of the run of five nights at the Albert Hall from the Modfather next May.
April saw the first signs in the ongoing Great Lambeth Swimming Swindle. As we approach the year end, and with St Reatham pool closed, Clap’ham about to close and Brixton Rec just being plain bonkers with a get changed in the gym policy, then trundle down for a swim, but only between 7am – 9am, I fear that blog posts involving the wonderful exercise of swimming may be about to dry up.
I fell out of love with fixies a few weeks later, just in time to take the Moulton up to the badlands of Islington for a wonderfully quaint performance from the Bard at an inner city style village fete.
April was also the month when @funkturm and I first started to visit various art galleries around London, and then offer a critical analysis of the art in front of us. We started off by staring at a pile of TDK tapes.
The onset of May must mean that the lido days are amongst us once again. The summer season down in SE24 started off with the now traditional welcome of the art deco art fair down by the waters of Lake Brockwell. The Best Day of the Year soon followed. Six months of personal splendour and tranquillity lay ahead.
We prepared for another holiday by mistake in the tea rooms of Penrith by taking in a Withnail exhibition up at Camden.
A late May start to the bat and ball game at The Oval this summer meant that Surrey were all fired up and ready for a splendid season ahead. Behave. The patient Member’s of SE11 deserve far better than the utter tosh that has been served up as Surrey cricket over the past two summers. Here’s hoping we can end our Oval cricket watching days on a high in 2010.
More Specials was a headline waiting to happen. Thankfully the Brixton dates lived up to the hype, and were worth the twenty five year wait.
And now for something completely different… a bit of hey nonny nonny down at Bankside. Our Globe days are sadly not as regular as they used to be. My knackered knee and dodgy back can only take so many hours of standing amongst the penny stinkers. But still, Romeo and Juliet was all rather jolly for a fiver.
Keeping with the comebacks, I came out of football retirement in May, playing (rather well) at a football tournament with my good friends at The Guardian. We finished rather strongly, so much so that I was tempted to rejoin the Brixton Rec five-a-side ranks again on a Monday night. The morning after The Gdn tournoir put an end to such high hopes.
And so pinch, punch, first of the month and blimey – here’s a bit of WordPress migration, a move that was long overdue. I blagged an audioboo interview with Mr Mayor to launch the new blog. He very kindly gave me five minutes of his time, in an incredible schedule that surely must make the lovely Mr Mayor the busiest man in South London. I think I just got about got away with my jeans faux pas, inside the prestigious parlour of Mr Mayor.
Early summer and the Friends of Vauxhall Park put on a splendid South London afternoon out. This was one of the highlights of the year – strange then that it was also the exact date when we first agreed that the Great Escape to Wivenhoe was a reality.
I became a poster boy for @TimeOutBigSmoke (well, passport photo poster boy,) penning a short piece pontificating the Beauty of Brockwell. It was around the same time that the Secret Garden at SE24 was in full bloom.
Broooooce! …was as brilliant as ever, with a balmy Hyde Park set that brought June to a clammy close.
Pig Sickness floored me for a few weeks in July. My recuperation wasn’t helped by a painful experimentation involving jazz. It took an ice cream concert on Clap’ham Common (cripes) to bring me back to my senses. Super Furry Animals were simply stunning as the sun set over SW4. We indulged in the music, and almost over dosed on the free ice cream.
August saw the arrival of another onionbagblog theme – the continued treatment of the nearby Palfrey Place as a public fly tipping patch of land.
I went in search of a more sustainable form of living, and almost found it up a tree in Regent’s Park. Blimey.
August ended in search of the Liberty of Norton Folgate. The Madness album of the same name was a huge surprise, a genuine treat and treasure for 2009. I didn’t know the Nutty Boys still had it in them.
Come October and a young blogger’s thoughts turn towards art. Shame that @lameth_council wasn’t so supportive to the artistic talent within the Rotten Borough.
I launched the Stockwell Stories oral history project later in the month. We’ve had a few ‘scheduling malfunctions’ of late, but optimism is high to complete twelve months of weekly oral history interviews around SW8.
But you can take the boy out of the booze soaked backstreets of Nottingham, but you can’t take the booze soaked backstreets of Nottingham out of the boy. And so a brief hit and run later in the month for some high japes with the boys back at the Nottingham Beer Festival.
The BLU AGAM in October once again confirmed @lambeth_council’s bonkers dual provision policy for pimping out leisure services in the Rotten Borough; you pay once for an indoor swimming membership with GLL, and then the buggers fleece you yet again for an al fresco dip with Fusion at the lovely lido. Still, at least I get to ask my annual question to the Council flunkey. Here’s hoping I get one more chance next year.
We had a hell of a time at the Herne Hill Halloween – a treasure hunt, some TLC at The Lido Cafe and then cyclo cross at le velo.
Come November and Boris in Brixton was just bonkers. The event came close to being spoilt by a small minority of South London idiots, intent on putting across their own isolated agenda, rather than listening and participating in the Brixton debate. Boris was as mad as a wet hen, but rather affable. Blimey.
There was better news on a micro local level, with the return of Di Lieto’s to the mean streets of SW8. The best bakery in South London is once again in business, despite attempts by the fools @lambeth_council to stop the building of the bakery, because of the “smell caused by the baking of bread.”
Only in the Rotten Borough…
We went slightly westward later in the month, returning to see the madness that is a John Otway gig. With Frank Sidebottom lined up for a few weeks time, the start of a new decade is starting to resemble 1990 all over again.
I became the Spokesperson for South London Swimmers, being the only user who could be bothered to turn out to the user’s forum at Clap’ham Leisure Centre. A rather uncomfortable half hour was spent being surrounded by six suits from GLL and @lambeth_council. I still managed to get a 3G signal out, and did a spot of podcasting on the fly.
A surprise email from the other side of the Atlantic confirmed later in the month that hyperlocal needn’t mean an insular and isolated approach. Regular exchanges have followed between myself and my new found Canadian friend. A private photo has even been sent over of a wedding celebration from the 1890’s, taking place in, um, my front room!
The second in the very occasional series where the good @funkturm and I offer critical analysis of the art galleries of London led us to the Viz Exhibition at the Cartoon Gallery.
And so friendships, workplace autonomy and a summer lifestyle centred around le velo cycling, boozed up cricket and arseing about at the lovely lido. Why leave for Wivenhoe?
Ah, that’s another blog post just waiting to happen…
Have a good one.