Two thousand and eight

Good morning, and a very happy new year to all. The wife and I were in the Sun & Doves at the transitional time, perhaps slightly the worse for wear after having polished off a bottle of wine each earlier in the evening. The place was packed to the rafters with a friendly crowd, there was good music, and free champagne at midnight; which, in retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have drunk, as we had our own bottle. In recent years I’ve developed a sensibility which pushes me in the direction of home when I would have stayed out before, so I was at home a little after 1am; the earliest in living memory.

A couple of small Camberwell connections over the festive period: the wife received a copy of former Blur bassist Alex James’ autobiography, which features tales of his time at Camberwell College of Arts; and one of the comedians we saw at a comedy club on NYE was from Camberwell. And yes, I am just sad enough that both of those gave me a tiny thrill.

The fag-end of 2007 saw another shooting in the area, this time on the Aylesbury estate. There are a lot of posters around the area trumpeting the regeneration of the estate, but I suspect everyone would be a little better off if they razed it to the ground and started again.

But I don’t want to dwell on the negatives too much; after all, it’s a new calendar year and we should be looking forward to a positive future. I don’t make resolutions, but I’d be interested in hearing what everyone else has vowed to do in 2008.

Author: Peter

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

27 thoughts on “Two thousand and eight”

  1. Watched the fireworks over the London Eye from Ruskin Park. Probably about 40 people there. They have chopped down one of the trees so you get an unrestricted view of the Eye and Big Ben. Was lovely.

    My resolution is to go to the Bear, House, Caravaggio and the Hermit’s Cave as often as family life permits. I am also going to sell my Vespa.

    I hope those guys at the Church Street Hotel have made a resolution to get Angels and Travellers Tapas Bar up and running.

  2. Well done Peter and Anna; I’m mortally ashamed to admit [being a Scot] that I was in bed shortly after 11. I’m just too old.

    My resolutions for 2008 are less about where to go as what to do. I’m planning on jacking it all in and retraining in a new profession. Hopefully not too old for that.

    And I have to deliver an Arts Festival to you all during the summer [though not alone, else we’d be in real trouble!].

  3. one of my resolutions is to go to a pub quiz on a regular basis.
    So far my options are as follows:
    Sunday — Black Sheep bar
    Tuesday — The Bear
    Weds — The Sun and Doves
    Thurs — The Grove(? not sure if I’m right with this one?)

    any more suggestions? I am determined to go to a different one every night for a week and then pick my favourite to go to on a weekly basis.

  4. Of course I would alos recommend the S&D on Wednesdays and have heard good things about the Cambria on Thursdays.

    We were in the S&D on new years eve but everything seems a bit hazy: it was definitely a good night!

  5. Camberwell on news years day evening was a strange place — quiet and strangely desserted looking. Most pubs shut so we ventured to the Grove for dinner where there was a mixed collection of people

  6. Was there more to that sentence? Looks like it got cut off.

    Last time the wife and I went to the Grove we met a gentleman named Gypsy John, who told us tales of his days in the navy and his schizophrenia. He walked around the pub for a while before settling on us, then when I politely indicated we wanted some time alone he excused himself and walked outside. There, he climbed into a disability wagon (what are they called?) and drove off.

  7. So an updated list would read:

    Monday — Grove 8pm

    Tuesday — George Canning 8pm / The Bear 8pm

    Wednesday — Sun and Doves 8pm *this is the only one I have ever attended, on Halloween and great fun it was too, particularly the plasticine round although I think we was robbed and should have won that.

    Thursday — Cambria 8:30pm (I have also been informed of a quiz on a Thurs up near Oval tube, where the quizmaster is a theatrical type and apparently likes to read the questions in a theatrical way, this could be nonsense but it’s what I’ve been told)

    Sunday — Phoenix 6pm / The Black Sheep ?pm

    Right, I think i shall start my tour with the Cambria, for reasons no more interesting than because my boyfriend is welsh.

  8. on another note, we also noticed an eerily quiet atmosphere in Camberwell yesterday.
    After recovering slowly until lunchtime we had a day of discovery, we went Lordship Lane for the first time, dined in the Bishop which was ok, then wandered back over the hill and down Grove Lane, which is lovely! I’ve never been down there before and now I know where you mean when you mention the Grove and the Dark Horse on this blog.

    Then stopped in at the Bear for a couple of glasses of the Marius before staggering home. Wonderful!

    Also can someone tell me what that Thai place is at the bottom of Grove Lane, I think it’s a BYOB but couldn’t see a name for it anywhere, it looked really nice through the window?

  9. That’s Seymour Bros. It is a cafe and sandwich shop during the day but it is sub let to a Thai lady who cooks there in the evenings. The food is great.

    Seymour Bros is good for lunch. Do great side salads and they also do a massive ‘full monty’ cooked breakfast.

    No high chairs though. What’s that about?

    Same problem with Buddha Jazz..

  10. The guy who owns The Cambria is from Sunderland so there’s a tenuous Celtic link there.

    The first pub quiz of the year is 8pm tonight at The Sun and Doves:

    Brian, the star quizmaster, is doing a major 2007 review which will certainly be worth trying memory and knowledge on.

    Resolutions: Inadvertently I limited my options by stopping smoking five weeks ago and almost completely cutting out alcohol a month before that. Seemed a natural thing to do at the time and I’m sticking to both. I did share a rather nice bottle of Sancerre and one of Waiparra Hills Sauvignon Blanc with my woman at S&D on NYE though, had a great time, saw Ana and Peter but missed Mumu and friends, unfortunately, because I wouldn’t know them if they slapped me in the face with a kipper.

    I had an eerie experience on NYE actually, S&D was running out of change so I went to George Canning, busy but no change; The Dark Horse and the Grove. Both obliged with change and both were virtually empty. I mean less than half a dozen customers in either at 11pm. This, in all honesty, quite freaked me out. I wouldn’t wish that on any one. I didn’t have a chance to check out Phoenix, Funky, Hermits, Castle, Silver Buckle, Bear or any other. Nevertheless my fears about Camberwell being a difficult place rose up.

    So now my resolutions are:

    To be much less stressed out about Camberwell being a difficult place.

    To free up some time and take my photography much more seriously.

  11. sounds like a good one tonight, unfortunately I have a date with a Tesco van between 7 and 9pm but will come down if I can.
    I love pub quizzes.

  12. Dark Horse and Grove aren’t places I would choose to pass NYE; they don’t feel sufficiently warm or comfortable. They both have distinguishing features — ale in the Grove, food in the Horse — but both make me want to sit up straight in my seat, not slump down in it.

    That said, both were the busiest I’ve ever seen them the weekend before Christmas.

  13. @8 Yes I seem to have cut off that sentence — I’m sure I carried on along the lines of it being the biggest number of people I’ve ever seen in the pub (the Grove) but it was still less than half full.

    I think the problem with the Grove on NYE was that they were selling tickets at £15 each (which I think included food) which is a big commitment to make as you would feel you had to stay there the whole night even if it was a poor atmosphere.

    I think also the Grove is not really a pub you would get attached to — its perfectly acceptable but doesnt have much character in the way that the S&D, George Canning, Bear or Hermits does.

    And selling tickets in my opinion totally defeats the purpose of pubs which is that you can come and go to different ones as you choose.

    I did see you Mark but was too shy to introduce myself — we were the group of six people sitting at the two rectangle tables on the left at the back of the pub indulging after midnight in crazed dancing.

  14. NYE performance is not an accurate barometer for success. We regularly go to the Grove for lunch with the kids but wouldn’t have dreamed of buying tickets for New Year.

    That said I’m sure they’ll be busier post Datchelor development, even at New Year…

  15. Mumu — I agree with your comment about Dark Horse and The Grove — Lovely architecture but the makeover has forgotten to include some soul…Although perhaps that is more a reflection of the persons involved in conceiving them or indeed a general sign of society and the times we are living in…

  16. Well i enjoyed my Camberwell Xmas — marred slightly by catching the winter bug that is going around — i’m nearly recovered but still quarentined to avoid infecting others!!

    My Near Years Resolution is to stop worrying about not owning a house, use local pubs more and learn a new skill — i quite fancy a DIY type course so i can avoid having to call out my landlord/workmen every time something small goes wrong — and fix my leaking boiler that’s been annoying me for some time!!

  17. I live in Northlands Street, and right outside my flat the young guy Andrew Pratt was stabbed to death. This has understandably shaken me and my new housemate up a little. I’ve heard there has since then been another stabbing murder, though this time indoors in one of the local estates and gang-related (so therefore not reported so much). What do you all think about recent crime levels in the area, and what is to be done?

  18. Hello Ben. I can understand that you must be shaken by what happened, but I think we must resist the temptation to assume that crime is on the increase; it could well be that, over all, levels have remained the same but there have been a cluster nearby which make it seem like things are getting worse. I’m not saying they’re not — I can’t say that with any certainty at all — but anecdotal evidence is not always reliable.

    The media, as usual, have been quick to sensationalise, grouping all kinds of knife crime together as if there were an epidemic; but a boy getting stabbed by a gang and a woman getting stabbed by a friend in a drunken argument, to take two recent examples, have nothing in common except the means by which they were killed. If one were shot and one strangled, no link would be drawn.

    As for what is to be done, that’s a very big question. My main response would be: don’t give in to fear.

  19. Does anyone else think the recent spate of incidents may result in a kind of silver lining for Camberwell? The more bad publicity we get, the more likely it is that the council and/or the govt will put in some cash to regenerate the area and do something about it.

  20. People still say to me: Camberwell, oh Camberwell carrot.

    So that’s a good thing that our image hasn’t changed since Withnail.

    Whereas if I say Peckham, they mock dive for cover.

  21. Damn straight PK – let’s hope. Put Criminal Camberwell under the microscope – no need to exaggerate, ‘cos we got it awwll.

    If local house prices take a tumble in the meantime that is a legitimate sacrifice – they’ll recover after the regeneration projects of which you speak, and those who love Camberwell will wait for that, aye and with a glad heart.

    Ben’s “What is to be done?” echoes the same from Chernyshevsky, Herzen and Lenin regarding social justice, the first of three great Russian questions, the others being:

    2) Who is guilty?
    3) Who [will do what to] who?

    Britons generally prefer to concentrate on question 2, indeed our favourite habit is devoting the lion’s share of available public funds to determining “who is guilty?” ahead of any project or inquiry, with the answer usually being “no-one – the accountability is spread too thinly”.

    I therefore welcome with gusto Ben’s refreshing invitation to concentrate on question 1.

  22. I was in the Geranium shop for the blind in Tulse Hill today. The chap behind the counter had an incident yesterday where a fellow who begged outside the Somerfield next door asked whom he was looking at, followed him into his shop, threw clothes around and when asked to desist pulled a knife. The shop chap hollered that there were many witnesses — the whole street became involved. He called the polis and 8 officers arrived and jumped on the fellow — taking no chances — and took him away. My friend behind the counter had some vivid scars on his hand and wrist from previous knifings — he had worked in security. It seems the percentage of youth and street people holding a knife is rising with our Olympic medals bonanza. Anyway, we are not alone in SE5. Soon the prisons will be packed with such felons like knives in a draw.

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