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Those people at Anatomy of Norbiton now seem to have done what I did in January with a camera, and walked the edges of Norbiton, an area which others have called "The town that barely exists" - it is after all really the eastward extension of Kingston's residential streets past Fairfield towards New Malden, and has not much in the way of a high street nor a centre. Their Circumnavigation is here:

They walk down a part of my old street and then head down a passageway to Fairfield. The coffee stall (Nev's) where they start is one I used most mornings when I used to commute into London.

My Norbiton Edge Walk photoset - I have still to determine whether the boundaries they set for Norbiton are the same as mine, but they certainly aren't far off although they started from the other end of town and went in the opposite direction - is here:

While Anatomy of Norbiton's function seems to be to discuss ideas of the Ideal City upon the blank slate of a suburb that has very little identity of its own, my project was simply to determine whether Norbiton could be functionally used - whether there was enough going on for the inhabitant to usefully identify Norbiton as the place they lived in: "An active project" as Iain Sinclair says about somewhere and something totally different, "Not an antiquarian exercise"†. So a similar intent but not identical by any means.

As to where I live now: Moseley very much has its own identity. One of my rucksacks sports an "I ♥ Moseley" badge. There is a Folk Festival. And so on. Things like that, in Norbiton, would belong to Kingston instead.

Frank Key, of "Hooting Yard", I notice has now picked up on Anatomy of Norbiton and includes a 'Norbiton Shed' in his new calendar.

to my surprise I find that quote isn't from one of Sinclair's books, it's from his review of a book by Aidan Dun.
which also contains the following gem timely to all discussed here:
"Allen Fisher’s Place ... was set largely south of the river, a nowhere defined by unnecessary particulars. Now Roy Fisher, he could do something with him – but the man had the poor taste to base his mythology on Birmingham."


Dec. 11th, 2010 02:04 pm
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Kingston Library is still closed because some person stole the lead off the roof and the next night it rained, ruining the interior.

Anyhow, Surbiton library is open, and is further to walk - a mile or so which was pleasant. Have returned with books by Eric Brown, KJ Parker, Brown / MacLeod / Reynolds / Roberts, Rachel Caine. Also took the eee (801 model, a nice size to be carried around) with me and did some writing in the reference library (although there is no access to power sockets there) - have a climactic sequence a-coming. I've still got to work out the details of what the Big Bad are doing but never mind.

Last night I dreamed I went back to West Kensington. Not quite Manderley, I agree. Not even the road to it. Why I should be nostalgic about somewhere that is on a major street that crosses an even more major road and has a railway running underneath it I don't know. Especially when I now feel much more settled in here.
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as I have been repeatedly informed over the last year.

However this may not inform my feeling while wandering through Bentalls Centre this morning that it was in essence no different from a seabird colony. I could imagine a helicopter zoom shot down over the cliffs to a squawking mass of terns or whatever squabbling and fighting over their nests; and the tiered and cliffed shininess of the Bentalls Centre with its loud and raucously breeding inhabitants is no different from that. I was too subdued to start saying "it's a breeding colony, nothing else" and contented myself with walking through the fountains in Market Place. Shot by both sides? More like wet on one side. Previously I'd been to the gym, and after that, had lunch and slept for an hour and a half until woken by a telemarketing call.

Tonight I have been up to Bayswater - to the Prince Edward - for the birthday celebrations of Olga, and its being Olga there was karaoke. Got talking to a young Polish woman whom everyone else seemed to be ignoring (due to almost everyone being in a couple). She is not even the first postgrad translation student I've met recently.

On the way home: the old Marlborough was full of people: the people who'd worked on it to turn it back into a pub. It opens its doors to the public tomorrow lunchtime, as the Fairfield Tavern. I'll be there.

The question is, can I live with this not-meshing with the rest of the world? Or is it just that some people make more of it than others?
chrisamies: (pub)
Last night I finally went to the Rose Theatre, Kingston, having been a Friend of it for a while but never went to an event there until now. What it was, Sebastian Faulks talking about 'The Writer's Life'. Worth an hour and a half of my time. Never, he suggests, mix real things into fiction; and 'don't write what you know', which makes sense. How else, he wonders, did we ever overcome the 'adultery in Hampstead' novel that dominated English fiction in the 1980s. With an eye to Bechdel-proofing (though he didn't mention that by name) he suggests that very often the gender or sex of a character is less important than other things for example their background.
I mustard mitt I haven't read anything by him though I will now.

The theatre is good - in the round, though the acoustics aren't so good that the people at the back can hear low voices from the area in front of the stage.

Afterwards, wandered back through Kingston, night falling, lights on, tried Samir's Kebabs for my supper - this one is on Apple Market and I haven't been there before so was prepared for dodginess but it was allright even if a 'medium' shish isn't very big.

Added the latest Closed Pub picture to my Flickr set - this one I have probably seen before as it's visible from the train between Vauxhall and Clapham Junction, but it is so no longer a pub that it can't have registered. If I hadn't been trying to assemble the whole of "Animals" from Youtube videos the previous night I would never have spotted it - there is a still on one of the videos showing Battersea Power Station with the Pig floating between the chimneys, and in the foreground is the previously-mentioned building, still a pub, though the name is unclear. From working out where the shot must have been taken from I found the street, and the identity of the Butchers Arms. Unfortunately though I have a screenshot from the video this will be copyright so I can't really put a before-and-after on my Flickr, can I?
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Tuesdays could turn into an interesting day for a couple of weeks. This Tuesday evening K & L CAMRA are having a trip to Ashtead - I'm generally ignoring their weekday trips, but I've never been to the Leg of Mutton and Cauliflower despite passing it many a time (since childhood. We used to drive past it and chortle at the funny name, though by current standards it isn't funny at all. Presumably the pub was called that to suggest to passing trade that they could get a good meal there, not just a drink). Although it looks from Beerintheevening that all is not as well as it was, down there. We'll see.

Then there is Easter and Orbital, and the Tuesday after that the Silver Wizard Project and a few other bands are playing the Old Queens Head in Islington.

This weekend?

Spent Saturday doing garden-related things including sowing seed trays full of tomato and chili seeds. Then for a pint at the Honest, but the pint of Pride I was sold was so cloudy that I found myself drinking Guinness - in anticipation of the 17th. It may be Johnny-no-mates to go into a pub on your own but surely it's worse to sit at home alone on a Saturday night?

Sunday was the writers workshop but despite being in Richmond the weather was so foul I went by bus. Was able to report that the present-day WIP is back underway again having removed 'the Miami Vice nonsense', which I think was stopping it.

Called in at the Park Tavern on the way home for a pint of Dark Star Old Ale. Best pub in town, that is. The Willoughby is up there with it for beer but I prefer the atmosphere in the Park Tavern. Those two always show up in the list of good local pubs and would be on any pub tour of the area.

And Firefox hung my MacBook so definitively that I'm now using Safari. Which is not that bad actually but I'd rather have properly working Firefox back.
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Is it really only four weeks since the pub closed down? It is; and last night in the Honest Cabbage it was all right but emotionally unsatisfying. The only two people there from the Marlborough weren't up for much conversation and left fairly early - the Marl's former manager is leaving the country with her family in May and I hope I get some time to talk to her before that because it doesn't seem like I have recently. Did not have much beer. There were plenty of people in the HC but nobody else I knew. Could talk to them or to Susan but it didn't have the atmosphere.

This morning, up bright and early as you can tell, and a surprise awaited in the pond: not only frog spawn, but two (at least) frogs. Looking up at me and apparently guarding their eggs. I should probably not go down that end of the garden much during the egg-hatching season as I don't want to disturb them. Cats are bad enough (well, cats are worse, they think frogs are tasty. I could plant Coleus canina but I don't know that it works and it's too late for this year).
chrisamies: (garden)
I still don't have broadband at home. Rang up Sky on Sunday morning and asked them where my new router was. They told me they hadn't completed the Q&A that would enable them to send me a new one. I told them they'd left a message on my voicemail saying they were sending a new one. They agreed to send me one. It is now two weeks and given the horrible weather yesterday it would have been quite nice to have been able to use the internet from home.
Because there wasn't a lot else one could do given the weather. I did some pruning in the garden in between showers on Sunday, and much of Saturday was spent reading 'Fortean Times'. An issue dedicated to Mister Crowley and what went on in his head.

Saturday p.m., to the Kingston Gate (former Black Horse) which has an unfair reputation in my humble estimation as a rough pub. No, it isn't posh, there are few yummy mummies with pushchairs and 140-decibel brays or people called Tarquin in there, but there was absolutely no trouble. The doormen (which there were, unfortunately) were spending most of their time wandering about the pub talking to people - I suppose they could call that 'pre-emptive' mindering, which is better than letting it get out of hand.

Ventured into Kingston on Sunday lunchtime, and Skindeep (on Clarence Street, near the Kings Tun), as a result of which I now have a new leather coat and a pair of leather trousers. Cool!

Units of alcohol over weekend, 10 (ok).
Units of alcohol over week preceding this, 0 (v. good).
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I like this story from the Surrey Comet: the comment about 'get to the bottom of it' sets the right tone.

Also the police's response. Did they send a patrol car screaming down there with blues and twos going? Nope, they sent a CSO*. On foot. Probably told him to take his time as well. I can only applaud this grading of the 'threat' somewhere below finding lost budgies and guarding the Mayor's chain.

The response to this is predictable, with some people defending and others accusing the defenders of being 'public nudity activists', because as we all know nobody can ever defend someone else's right to do as they please unless they have a vested interest ;)

*Community Support Officer. Part time police officer, sometimes referred to unkindly as a 'hobby bobby'.
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I’ve compiled a list of Kingston pubs - all those in KT2, KT1 apart from Hampton Wick, and the part of SW15 in the borough. There are 43 pubs currently active and another 23 which have closed since 1945. Of those 23, nine closed in the 1970s and 1980s - 1985, when the relief road was built, was especially hard. Another six have been lost since 2000.
Where ASDA now stands, on London Road, there used to be a pub called the Liverpool Arms. It was demolished in 2001 after a long and varied history. No replacement was built for it. London Road has also lost the White Horse (in 2004) - supplanted by housing. The relief road built in 1985 swinging round between town centre and Fairfield, accounted for three pubs including the Magnet on London Road, the Royal Charter (Canbury Place) and the Castle (Fairfield Road). I suppose we should just count ourselves lucky we didn’t lose the library as well at the time. Sometimes Kingston seems to consist only of chichi shops and huge youth-oriented bars, no place for culture or the traditional pub. There is money for shopping developments and the hideous Rotunda, but the Rose Theatre hasn’t yet been finished because there are no funds to complete the interior.
Back to pubs: the Three Compasses was lost to the Eden Walk shopping centre, a place I particularly detest. Just what Kingston needs: more bloody shops, built on the bones of another part of Old Kingston. And as with the new development at Shepherds Bush, which lost us that fine old Irish pub the Mailcoach, no pub was built into the Eden Walk scheme. Sometimes I dream (literally) of finding a little pub in a corner of a shopping centre. Very often the reality of such places that they are piss-holes with Formica for a floor and a stink of beer throughout; but that doesn’t have to be the way. I believe there is a way forward that has more of the café about it, less of the stand-up caff. But in this new world driven by two things: mark-up and political correctness, there seems no room for the little neighbourhood bar, and nobody ever thinks to incorporate public houses - or public conveniences, for that matter, into new developments..
In 1975 the road opposite the railway station was widened, and we lost the Kingston Hotel, a fine old Victorian building by all accounts. June Sampson says in Kingston Past that no pictures exist of it, but I think I have a screen-shot of it: in the Sweeney episode Hit and Run, part of which was filmed on Hardman Road, a long shot (here) (© Fremantle Home Entertainment) has a building in the background that I suspect is the Kingston Hotel.


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