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Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

81 thoughts on “Possible site downtime”

  1. I put on a long-winded, windbaggy, why-oh-why, Daily Maily post last night about stabbings & shootings and it wasn’t there today, thank God. Is that why, Peter? Essential maintenance on the track? Maybe in my maundering, in the miasma of my Mail wailing and windbagging, I pressed the wrong knob.

    I have been bending my not inconsiderably serpentine mind to anything, anything at all, that will distract us from the grim killings that make us all sick, all of us, as we learned last time. So here we go, my best shot.

    The zebra-striped Conway’s workmen’s tea hut by the Dark Horse is an excellent contribution to Camberwell street art. Yes, eat your heart out, Bellenden lamp posts!

    Conways have been big in south-east London since 1961. Their usual Irish green livery for their trucks and huts bears a quasi coat-of-arms logo with a shamrock and English rose against a field of green. Most of the Irish subbie vehicle fleets are painted Irish green, so the zebra hut is a radical “BA tailfin” venture. Well done the Conway boys! The Irish Tiger roars on! Up the zebras!

    Better still, all manner of strange, primitive signs — arrows, suns poised between heaven and hell horizon lines — have been spraypainted on the paving slabs all the way down Camberwell Grove, leading to the zebra hut, culminating in two words, sprayed on the bottom of the hill near the Dark Horse, “BT chamber!”

    What a sight that chamber must be, full of underground BT dwarves, smoking, doing no work, moaning, but still highly intuitive to the ways of wiring and telephony, and ten times more effectual than the dithering ntl elves, who squat waiting to hear from head office that they’ve been sold for the treacherous tuppence of shareholder value.

    The photographers amongst us could chronicle this prehistoric art narrative, the arrows and suns and the hut, as a commentary on that urban jungle Barthes biz, the old/new, bumble/bungle, givin’ it the old urban herbal verbal.

  2. Last night, just before 10pm, I noticed a man with a clipboard walking round the open (broken) portaloo on Camberwell Green and counting items unknown around the base of the structure. Then writing down the number of things. What he was counting I couldn’t tell. But I thought (given the sometime scatalogical preoccupations of this blog) I should pass on the observation. Maybe it will lead to a report being written calling for repair procedure to be implemented. Maybe — and maybe this is better news — he was the first of Dagmar’s psychedelic semioticians.

  3. Is there a rodent problem in the area? I am thinking of buying in Camberwell but have a few reservations. Can you put my mind at rest?

    Also, what are the pubs like in the area? I went to one called the Sun & Doves last night and was a bit disappointed. No real ale on and they had possible the worst quiz night I have ever been to on as well. Other than it seemed OK. I would appreciate some guidance…

  4. I agree about the pub quiz last night — I was there too. The sound system wasnt up to much and it wasnt as slick as normal, also the lack of availability of real ale was disappointing. Hopefully these were just a one offs. The Sun and Doves is a great pub especially in summer when its a delight to sit out the back.

    Other pubs I would recommend in the area are the Black Horse, the Castle, the George Canning and Funky Munky if you want trendy wine bar type pubs with food, the Hermits Cave, Joiners Arms, Prince of Wales, Jack Beards if you want old mans pubs.

    There are great restaurants such as Safa, New Devonian for Indian, Tadim for Turkish, the Vineyard for Greek food, Pomodores e Mozarella for Italian, also Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese + other food available.

    And great independent shops — Crusons fruit+veg, Sophocles bakery, Chinese supermarket, 99p shop, independent electrical shop and various others. The chains arent so good — big Somerfield is poor, smaller Somerfield better but limited range, Woolworths always chaotic

    I dont think there is any greater mouse/ rat problem in Camberwell than anywhere else in london.

    I would thoroughly recommend buying here. I did so last summer and have never regretted it

  5. Good stuff. I have also read that Camberwell has a problem with “vunerable adults”. I seem to remember seeing a lot of them when visiting friends there. Is this a significant issue?

  6. It really is. I saw one such ‘vulnerable’ spring a leak at 6pm at a busy bus stop two days ago.

    Nobody batted an eyelid.

    I’ve seen calls on here to reduce the number of offlicenses but I’d prefer a zero tolerance approach to street drinking enforced.

    Don’t rule us out on the grounds of tramps though. It is precisely because of the ugly face of Camberwell around the Green and such like that you can get such high quality central London homes at reasonable prices.

    If you want to buy somewhere nice look near Denmark Hill Station. If you want to buy somewhere cheap with huge potential for capital gain look near Burgess Park.

    Where are you thinking of buying?

  7. I am looking around the Camberwell Grove, Grove Park area. It seems a bit quieter round there and reasonably priced.

    Our badly behaved friends are certainly an issue for me. I have looked at buying a place near Elephant as I think there is a killing to be made there but I recently saw a man urinating on his own bare feet whilst vomitting and it put me off the whole idea. I also saw two drunks getting fresh under the roundabout, stopping only to swig special brew and shout at passers by. I am not sure I could handle it on a daily basis.

    Are these people so prominent and frisky in Camberwell?

  8. You bet!

    Just wait for a sunny day and get down to the green.

    I always find it ironic as I look on from the bus on my way to work and their already getting their booze on in the early morning sun.

    Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a f**king big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers.

    I chose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got white lightning and a park bench?

  9. Yes there are a number of ‘vulnerable’ people with at times ‘challenging behaviour’ in the area. I think it is partly to do with the fact that there are various homelessness, alcohol counselling and psychiatric services in the area. Its debatable whether the people are in the area because the services are there or whether the people were there and the services set up to deal with their problems. Its partly to do with Westminster City Council’s policies aimed at clearing Westminster’s streets of homeless and other people which has the result of shifting such people to neigbouring inner London areas.

    Having said that Ive never had any problem with such people

  10. Another area to look at if you want to get away from such people is the bit of Camberwell where I live around Myatts Fields park — Knatchbull Road, Calais Road, Cormont Street, Flodden Road and surrounding have similar housing to Camberwell Grove and are a 10–15 minute walk from Oval tube as well as being 5 minutes into central Camberwell

  11. i’ve not often had cause to regret moving to camberwell. my rather more sensitive better half had reservations, but has not worried too much either. however the number of styreet drinkers here is worse than other places i have lived in s london, although if they don’t harass me then what oproblem do i have with them? none.

    on a more creative note, and completely off message, does anyone know an art supply shop nearby? perhaps the arts college? it doesn’t need a huge stock, just some acrylics. my flat needs brightening up so i’m finally going to paint the canvases propped against my kitchen wall.

    perhaps a nice irish zebra print..

  12. I made an interesting observation this morning at the tennis courts in Brunswick Park. A man who we have nicknamed Ike was using a red plastic chair minus the legs to shovel several inches of snow off the court, while he made he daughter (aged about 8) run around the edges of the court in the snow to warm up. The girl is an excellent tennis player (and would probably beat many of those who consider themselves a good social player) and I have seen on almost a daily basis her father berate her for not playing perfectly – although when she hits a winner back to him he never ever gives her any praise. He is absolutely insane and I worry about her. She might turn into a Wimbledon champion but at what price!?
    Has anyone else seen this nutter?

  13. The reason there are so many drinkers here is because they are near the place where they can — or could — get help. There was a ‘wet centre’ set up so that they could drink in a safe environment with counsellors on hand, but it was closed down to lack of funding. Same story with an emergency clinic for people with mental health problems.

    Rather than demonise them, perhaps a bit of understanding of their plight wouldn’t go amiss. I know their drunkenness and occasional fighting isn’t a pretty sight and can cause people to feel anxious, but when their lines of support are being cut I think we can also cut them a bit of slack.

  14. I’ve not seen that nutter but yesterday I sat behind a mother and her small child (maybe 6 ish) on the way to work. They weren’t talking and it wasn’t until the mother’s mobile rang and she pulled her i-pod earphone out of her ear that I realised why. She replaced it as soon as the call was over.

    I’m not a parent myself and I’m sure small children’s chatter can be irritating but that still seemed a bit weird and rather sad to me.

    In terms of areas — if you go a bit further down Coldharbour Lane towards Loughborough Junction and up Flaxman Road, Eastlake Road etc you can find some beautiful albeit shabby properties that are twice the size of what you can get in the Grove Area. Our flat needs a bit of work but we’ve got a massive garden, it’s Victorian, has shutters (major selling point for me), three bedrooms etc. We love it.

    Also, it’s about equidistant between Brixton and Camberwell, so you can choose which lot of tramps to walk past.

  15. I moved here a year ago and use this blog to find out what is going on. I am in the Lambeth bit of Camberwell just off Coldharbour Lane and this is a great place to live I was in Tottenham before where there is nothing!! Here you can walk to lot’s of nice pubs and resturants in Camberwell and Brixton. The street drinkers are here but i have never had a problem. My cat caught a mouse recently and left me to kill it as she had decided that long term torture was a better solution. You get mice every where in this city. Loving the Zebra hut may be we can take this further with all road works etc done in chintzy florals, it would look better than the mess on the Walworth Road at the moment.

  16. Hi tallulah. I think the council tried something similar with their ‘art on the carts’ scheme, which saw all the bin lorries painted vivid colour schemes. It wasn’t a great success.

  17. When I first moved to Camberwell (5 years ago now) the girl and her father were there in Brunswick Park, playing tennis, in all weathers. She was very good, and my wife and I would stand and watch her for a while. We did wonder whether she was being pushed into it or not, but she looked happy enough. And she’s still there playing five years later, but she doesn’t ever look happy any more…

  18. I reckon you should mind your own business.

    This is exactly the sort of curtain twitching disapproving gossip I grew up with in provincial England and thought I could escape in London.

    So they play a lot of tennis -it’s not exactly child abuse.

    How you can be so disapproving of sports enthusiasts and tolerant of urinating vagrant alcoholics is beyond me.

  19. Camberwell is certainly a lot better than other places but it could improve and one immediate way would be to deal with the antisocial people there. It has been done in other cities, Giuliani worked wonders in New York, and I see no reason reason why they couldn’t move these people on.
    Ultimately, everybody would see the benefits in house prices and I don’t think there would be too many complaints then.

  20. well said Peter (post 15). i don’t see that street-drinkers that are a threat to person or property. they might not be a pretty sight, but they just keep themselves to themselves.

    FoxyAL, camberwell grove and grove park are both nice streets. i lived near loughborough junction, myatts fields etc for about 18 months. nastiest, roughest neighbourhood i’ve ever lived in (and that’s saying something!). a truly horrible part of london. just avoid it.

    Have you had a look at property in Herne Hill? that’s a really nice place to live, not like being in london at all. but close enough to get to camberwell / brixton / the city centre etc easily.

  21. I would call it child abuse, Alan. It’s not healthy to make a child play tennis for hours on end – why isn’t she at school? (OK, maybe she’s home schooled) but I have seen him threaten her with verbal tirades quite often and once i saw him chase after her with the tennis racket. He didn’t hit her but he wanted to. And I am not a curtain twitcher – I just happen to walk past Brunswick Park on my way to work every morning. I just feel sorry for her as she does look miserable and and broken.

  22. So why don’t you say something to him rather than gossip about them on here. Ring social services if you really thing he ‘wanted to’ beat her with her racket.

    Well said Peter?!

    If someone staggers around on a busy family high street with their tackle out shouting and begging spare change then it doesn’t take a moan from someone like Foxy to ‘demonise’ them.

    It’s very right on to say I mind my own business and they don’t bother me so live and let live but that is ignoring the problem and not helping anyone.

  23. “family high street”? you’re fucking tripping.

    my point is that the street drinkers don’t hassle anyone. there’s more than enough people who’ll rob you or mug you or whatever in camberwell.

    peter was showing some compassion for damaged people who are living in a bad situation, and i’m all for that. alcoholics don’t need any more grief or stigma than they already get on a daily basis.

    personally i could care less about the delicate yuppie sensibilities of people who might not move to an area because there’s street drinkers within spitting distance.

  24. They keep themselves to themselves??? No they don’t! Screaming drunken obscenities, leaving litter everywhere and urinating on every street corner is not keeping yourself to yourself.

    I ‚however, do manage to keep myself to myself everytime I feel like taking direct action against these people. I fail to undertstand why people will continue to tolerate their behaviour and at the same time make people who stand up to them feel like they are in the wrong for “demonising” them. It is the drunk that is bully, not the other way round.

  25. Steady on Foxy old chap, it might happen to you one day, you know. Or do you have immunity to alcoholism?

  26. The high street is full of families.

    Granted they are mainly poor families but they shouldn’t have to tolerate the filth.

    Do you really think wanting to be able to take my duaghter to Woolies without being flashed by a drunk or begged at by a tramp can be dismissed as yuppy sensibilities?

  27. when you say “direct action”, do you mean physically stopping them?

    Like I say, the street drinkers aren’t a pretty sight, but I don’t think they’re the worst of your worries in terms of the sketchy people you can meet in Camberwell. Basically if you move to camberwell, you will have to see street drinkers, and probably a load more even less savoury stuff. If you don’t want to deal with that on a daily basis, then Herne Hill (where i live) is really pleasant.

  28. when you say “direct action”, do you mean physically stopping them?

    Like I say, the street drinkers aren’t a pretty sight, but I don’t think they’re the worst of your worries in terms of the sketchy people you can meet in Camberwell. Basically if you move to camberwell, you will have to see street drinkers, and probably a load more even less savoury stuff. If you don’t want to deal with that on a daily basis, then Herne Hill (where i live) is really pleasant.

  29. FoxyAl, when you say “direct action”, do you mean physically stopping them?

    Like I say, the street drinkers aren’t a pretty sight, but I don’t think they’re the worst of your worries in terms of the sketchy people you can meet in Camberwell. Basically if you move to camberwell, you will have to see street drinkers, and probably a load more even less savoury stuff. If you don’t want to deal with that on a daily basis, then Herne Hill (where i live) is really pleasant.

  30. FoxyAl,when you say “direct action”, do you mean physically stopping them?

    Like I say, the street drinkers aren’t a pretty sight, but I don’t think they’re the worst of your worries in terms of the sketchy people you can meet in Camberwell. Basically if you move to camberwell, you will have to see street drinkers, and probably a load more even less savoury stuff. If you don’t want to deal with that on a daily basis, then move somewhere else.

  31. Squidder — Is your point that as long as tramps are not mugging someone, they should be left in peace?

    Ben Patio — No, I am not saying that I am immune from alcoholism. Rather that if I ever do fall from grace I hope that others would not simply descrice me as a “character” and tolerate my disgusting behaviour.

    I am sure that these people have awful, tragic stories to tell but that does not mean they should be able to shit in my back garden.

  32. And thus FoxyAl, you see what’s wrong with Camberwell. Don’t move here. The people who cause all the problems are treated with white gloves while those who work hard and pay all the taxes are inherently evil and must be stopped. The “right on’s” rule. If someone could move them on, then maybe we’d get somewhere.

    Poor little girl though. She may grow up to be Venus Williams when those who know best for her think she’d be better off street drinking.

  33. my point is that there’s sketchier people in camberwell than the drunks. if you move to camberwell, you have to be prepared to see that stuff, and probably worse on a daily basis. i’ve never been flashed at by a drunk, sometimes they ask me for change, i say no, they wander off. simple as that.

    and yeah, i’d say that being an alcoholic isn’t as bad as mugging someone.

    it’s pretty staggering that you’ve not even moved here yet, and you’re already kicking off about who can and cannot shit in your back garden.

  34. I cycled the fabulous old Surrey Canal path from Burgess Park to Peckham a couple of days ago which comes out just by the fantastic Library. There were a bunch of tramps by the path, all looking north African. One was taking his cock out and another said to him in French, “Ca suffit!” That’s enough! Marvellous, I thought, I am in the middle of a Beckett play.

    As I crossed the road to get to Netto, a small black boy tripped over,landed on his bum and started howling. His mum tried to comfort him. But then this old white bloke, tall, with kind of pub-stained, tobacco-stained silver hair and black-framed glasses, bellowed at the lad, “Get up! Get up! You’re a Peckham boy, which is the ‘ardest geezer to be!” This was maybe a little over-robust, but the chap put his arm round the mum, with the booze deeply engrained in his bones, and comforted her, too.

  35. hey FoxyAl, Camberwell’s just a typical inner city area. Lots of potential (viz the drunks) but also lots of problems (viz the tennis player): probably just like Tottenham, Mile End and all those sorts of places.

    The good thing about Camberwell is that its nice and close to central London and eventually, once the council has sorted out Peckham, the Elephant and the Old Kent Road, they might even focus on it.

    In the meantime, its still a great place to live and has a nice edgy, urban feeling. The streets all look a bit different, too, which is nice. Preferable to bland East Dulwich streets, if you know what I mean.

    If you want to be a yuppie here, there are loads of yuppy places you can go to — and if you want to be a leftie, there are places for those types too.

    I moved here as one and became the other — and I didn’t play tennis or drink in the street.

  36. Of course most of us are fed up with the anti social behaviour carried out by street drinkers/ homeless people/ other assorted mad people you sometimes find on the streets of Camberwell but the solution to the problem is not to loudly condemn them, their presence on the streets is a symptom of a wider problem. We should be pushing for action from the statutory authorities to deal with the problems at source by providing support and care to enable them to return to somewhere near normal as I’m sure most of them in their lucid moments would prefer not to be in their current situation.

  37. The longer an argument goes on, the more absurd it gets. It sounds to me as if you can’t walk down the high street without a puking drunk waving his cock at you, and yet the reality I see is somewhat different.

    Undeniably, Camberwell has an abundance of street drinkers. The solution is obviously not to turn a blind eye, but neither is it to dismiss them as tramps and lock them up or move them on. These people need help, and the help keeps getting taken away from them.

    The problem with Camberwell is not that the “right ons” rule, it’s apathy. When the wet centre was on the verge of being closed down, who did anything? No-one.

    To say that there are the ‘right ons’ and the ‘hard-working tax payers’ is a false dichotomy; I work hard and pay my taxes, and yet I don’t support the demonisation of the homeless or street drinkers.

    I would suggest that if the less savoury aspects of urban life bother you that much and you can’t be bothered to understand it or attempt to do anything about it, you should think about moving to a gated community where unpleasantness can’t arrive at your doorway.

    For anyone without the luxury or the inclination to do so, people with mental health problems are a fact of life, and it does us ill to dismiss that.

  38. oh snap. all my cleverly worded posts have vanished! Peter, i think i got caught in your spam filter… oh well.

    err, what’s left to say? dunno, FoxyAl, i don’t think you’d like living in camberwell. although i would pay good money to see you take “direct action” at a street drinker when all that built up anxiety finally explodes and you go nuts in a shopping mall with a flame thrower.

  39. I take the point of the last three posts. Well argued points. However, I don’t think allowing people to gather in parks,alleyways and street corners and drink all day does anyone any favours.

    I also don’t believe that some people here have NEVER seen an intimidating or unpleasant tramp and wished they would just go away. If you allow these people to get away with doing nothing, that is exactly what will happen. Moving them on or forcing them to take responsibility for their behaviour may mean they actually begin to do so.

    Perhaps Tramps gravitate to Camberwell because they know that the people there are more liberal and will tolerate the behaviour more readily? If this was not the case, they would be forced to move on or behave. Even if only a few decided to do the latter, would that not be better?

  40. peter, that spam filter of yours is too good, and has deleted all my witty, intelligent posts… oh well

  41. I suspect, FoxyAl, that if I ever came to your house I would find a lot of dust swept under your carpet…

    I was going to close comments when I made this post, as it was just a technical note and was intended to be temporary; the astounding ability of my visitors to make their own topics never ceases to amaze me!

  42. Welcome Foxy Al. Good to have a fellow Nimby in the area.

    I can feel the upward pressure on houseprices rising through my feet.

    Well hosted debate Peter- you have to take some credit.

  43. So I wanted to see if Danish-owned Netto sold any Danish things. I found Swiss Rolls Made by Dan Cake.

    Dan Cake!

    Dan Cake of Denmark, founded 1931, fiercely independent, like Maersk with the unusual, seven-pointed star on their containers which rumble through Camberwell.

    Netto’s 14% abv South African red wine, “Robert’s Rock”, is great for £2.95, with a screwcap so you can “uncork” another bottle without anyone hearing you in the next room or street.

    It even makes you edgy the next day, so much so that you can hear the creak of the bricks around you growing in value!

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