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

Twelve 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.

But the Stockwell Christmas tree isn’t standing this year. TfL work on the Stockwell gyratory means that the tradition has been broken.

Oh dear.

Plus I pretty much document the daily drudge of what I’m up to over on my fargo blog. I quite like the discipline of capturing dull life non-events, and then archiving them in an online diary form.

And whaddya know – I work / I play / I occasionally blog about it.

It seems pretty pointless to look through my onionbagblog archives, and present something of an online reminder of what I’ve been doing throughout the year.

I’m also not entirely sure what the point of onionbagblog is anyway these days. Most of my online content ends up at Brixton Buzz.

But I’m keen to capture some form of end of year round up, even if Lambeth Council can’t be arsed with the Stockwell Christmas tree this year.

Some random thoughts…

There is the danger that as we accelerate at the end of the year into yet more uncertainty, time can appear a little out of sync with the grim realities of the counting down of the life clock.

“And then one day you find ten years have got behind you,
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun .”


But out of all of my 45 years, I feel that 2015 has been the year in which the internal and external time clocks both got a little out of control.


Where did the year go?

More or less between here and there.

Some of my most loneliest moments are spent on a bloody train between Sunny Stockwell and the Estuary Wilds.

But it’s what I wanted, and I suppose YEAH, I am living the dream.

And what a dream.

In short, I swim, I work, I watch Sky Sports and drink BOOZE.

I rather like my life.


Swimming has been the saviour for 2015; swimming was the saviour for 2003 to be honest.

I’ve still not reached the tipping point where outdoor swims outweigh the sterile indoor experience. But whenever I’m in South London then the lovely lido remains my spiritual swimming home.

There have been a few petty internal disputes down at Lake Brockwell throughout the year. But it is always that beautiful, beautiful cold water that somehow holds it all together.

As I write in mid-December, the water refuses to dip below ten degrees.

The Icicles are almost frostalgic for the thin layers of ice on the water surface that we are use to at this time of the year.

It’s really quite incredible how the cold water swimming scene has been allowed to develop in South London. Fusion and BLU have to take the credit for this.

I am lucky in that two of my South London schools are close by to the cool waters of Lake Brockwell. Rocking up just in time for a 9am assembly after the cold water ritual, GRINNING insanely at students and staff, remains the best way to start a South London morning.

I simply live for the lido. Long may this continue.

At the other extreme over in the Estuary Wilds is… indoor swimming.


There’s no way I’m going to splash about in an estuary that has a human waste recycling point upstream.

The indoor Essex experience is functional. That’s about the best thing that I can say about it. You can’t compare the Essex UKIP racist spa with the camp towel flicking that takes place back at Lake Brockwell.

Perhaps there is something of a grander, life-defining statement wrapped up in that observation.

And so that’s the swimming.

What of the work?

Once again, I have been very fortunate in 2015. Thank you, thank you to all of those that have had the patience to make this possible for me.

The three South London schools all offer different challenges. I try and find new ways of working, but I always end up running my arse around each school, and then spending the next couple of days doing endless content edits.

Work elsewhere is always subject to the signing a client-confidentiality agreement, and so there’s not much else to say. I’ve been busy though, with some surprise clients coming back for more.

Some internal company changes have taken place. It’s been incredibly tough for some close friends. Hopefully 2016 will see the new structures work, but also some good fortune for past work friends.

There’s a couple of potential new work projects coming up. One involving education and audio, the other being a pro bono piece of work for a local radio station.

As for the social?

I am becoming an old man. I can’t be arsed to be honest.

That’s not quite true, but after running around a South London school, the last thing I want to do in the evening is party like it’s 1995 all over again.

I’ve long since stopped being able to booze it on a school night. Instead I take my chances when I can – which usually centre around cricket and darts on Sky Sports.

The absolute find of the year has been the Lidl 89p IPA bottles. I stand guilty of smuggling a Brompton rear rack bag stuffed full of Lidl booze back and forth between Sunny Stockwell and the Estuary Wilds.

A social night out for Anna and I has now become a mid-afternoon weekend ramble across to Brightlingsea for booze, and then the early evening bus back to catch the 5:30pm BT Sport kick off.

We’re extending the reach further past Brightlingsea on the road bikes. There’s no booze involved here though.

I bought a new roadie at the start of the year, and then straight after bought a tourer as well. I’ve spent the best part of the last nine months playing money catch up for my bicycle fixation.

We didn’t roll out as much as we wanted to over the summer months. One of us was usually in South London, with the other on mad cat house sitting duties.

Ah yes. The bloody mad cat.

She has the freedom to come and go and live her own life. Which means that we don’t.

Every Estuary Wilds cat sitting day is a lost lido opportunity.

Cheers, luv.

Other mentions for 2015 have to include canoes and cricket. We’ve been out on the water a lot more this year, thanks to having access to the old town hard.


Cricket meanwhile pretty much took over my life from early May through until mid-September.

What a season for the ‘rrey down at The Oval!

I strategically managed to arrange my South London school days around the run of Friday night T20 fixtures.

And then when I was stuck back in the bloody Estuary Wilds on mad cat sitting duties, the ‘rrey were playing a mid-summer four day Championship match at Castle Park in Colchester.

Which was convenient.

It’s probably worth mentioning something about the Labour party and I.

Oh dear.

I have a membership card.

I also have a blog post waiting to be published that is *ahem* awaiting the outcome of a certain decision.

And so let’s move on, Comrades…

Critical Mass remains a link back to that first Stockwell Christmas tree blog post. As does the summer season at The Globe and watching Dulwich Hamlet.


London Towers basketball has been replaced by Brixton Topcats basketball. The Herne Hill Good Friday meet has become the Lea Valley Good Friday meet. I even managed to spin a piece out of it for Vice magazine.


The Lambeth Country Show was ACE; Brixton Splash was a little bonkers to be honest.

#ReclaimBrixton seemed to stir up some energy, but the momentum (aha!) appears to have been lost over the second half of the year.

And so that was pretty much 2015.

Head back to South London they said.

Spend entire evenings stuck indoors working on school content, so that you can buy a little lovely lido time at the weekend.

I do need to find a better balance for 2016.

I need to get out and blog about the AWOL Stockwell Christmas tree.

Have a good one.

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