The hacks over at the Torygraph have been told ball-by-ball is bollocks. Depends whose writing it, of course. onionbagblog is happy to trail the proposed LIVE! (knobber) blogging from The Oval this summer, thanks to the wonders of wifi and everyone's favourite ultra compact sub-price notebook. Lord's looks good for Sunday as well.
You sense a bit of South London jostling for positions here: Tooting traditionally starts off the South London Summer of Swimming, but Brockwell beats the SW12 lido by four days this summer.
These things matter around these parts.
With the Lovely Lido now employing an Education Officer, the summer season is now much more than simply arseing about on the deckingputting the lengths in.
There's the return of the traditional South London Swimming Gala - synchronised swimming promised! A Midsummer swim has also been mooted, to mirror the Brockwell Icicles mass initiation of Midwinter last year.
With a late lido closing scheduled for the end of September, I plan to have four seasons in one summer down in SE24 this year.
Here's another from the SW8Before and After Series. I originally shot this shell of a building at the end of January, and made a mental note to return to it sometime in September to check on the progress.
Definitely on time, although probably not on property price crash budget: six months ahead of schedule and here we have the completed picture. No word on the street about property prices as yet. No surprises either that it's a flat conversion, with one of those nasty *cough* giving back to the community type Buy to Let sort of landlord.
The Clap'ham-isation has filtered down as far down as The Oval; which just about squares the circle as The Oval joins up with Vauxhall and the silly property prices paid for a penthouse riverside view.
Now then, at the risk of sounding like a knobberinterested property speculator, what value would an oak door put on a property price? (yep, the fragrant mrs obb gave in and went for the upgrade. That's my summer months taken up with endless varnishing, then.)
A website that I'd rather didn't exit, but top marks for stolenbikelondon for addressing the issue. A blog devoted to Bike Thief Scum is flattering, even by their non-existant standards. The golden rule is NEVER buy a bike unless you can obtain a receipt. Easy to take the moral high ground, but if there's no demand then there's no market. And if your bike does get nicked, get yourself down to Brick Lane early on Sunday morning. Plus have a look at stolenbikelondon of course.
Via the wonders of wifi (plus everyone's favourite ultra compact sub price notebook,) here we are, LIVE at London Fields Lido!
Um, there's not a lot going on to be honest.
'Ah,' I hear you say. 'But how can we be sure that you're actually up in E8 and not stuck indoors on the iMac on the hottest day of the year so far?' Zoom in HERE and I'm the bronzed bloke with the six pack attracting all the attention from the beach babes. I would take photos, but lurking around a lido and shooting away at bikini babes can get you a lifetime ban.
I narrowly missed a playful towel flick from some Hackney Yoofs in the changing rooms. Quite what they were doing in the Gents is beyond me. I gave a South London growl to one of the kids and mentioned that his Liverpool top loooked as shit as his haircut. He went off crying to his Mum.
My journey up to Hackney came via a morning spin at the veledrome (seriously bonked,) and then somewhere in SE17 to see Bob, the onionbagblogbike mechanic of choice, of um, Bob's Bicycles. There's some good folks out there and Bob is a true diamond geezer.
It pays to develop an ongoing relationship with your bike mechanic of choice; it will pay off in the long term when you have a niggly job that needs fixing, but for little financial reward for your bike mechanic of choice.
Bob has been working on my fixie for a week now, charging me the grand total of NOTHING. He knows that I'll be back soon to buy a new bikefront brake.
Anyway, the sun is on my back, I'm sitting next to the tea hut at the Lido and Elvis has just appeared on the iPod.
But this was to be no evening for Americanisms; no Sireee. St George's Day is all about that uncomfortable culture of Englishness, and all the many and varied components that comprise of this fine country in 2008.
Billed as Still Looking For a New England, you get the idea that the name worked well, even if the concept had a lot of loose threads to try and pull together.
'Welcome to my alternative St George's Day,' beckoned Bill as he took to the stage in front of that most English of Guardianista audiences at The Barbican. The hall wasn't reeking of beer and fags, but broccoli breath.
'We've got an evening of music and stuff,' said Uncle Bill. 'We have to distance ourselves away from racism, my country - right or wrong. St George was an immigrant to these shores.'
With no English National Anthem to speak of, Jerusalem, as sung on The Internationale, was given a rousing rendition with that rarest of English traits, the audience participation number.
'We need to reclaim this song from the public school system,' said Bill. Too bloody right. It might have felt strangely like the closing of the Tory Party Conference, but the fight back begins here, Brothers and Sisters. There was even flag waving from the audience, football crowd style with placards under the seats raised in sequence to reveal the cross of St George. Not a white van in sight, either.
Introduction over, it was time for the first English act of the evening to define their notion of English identity. Hailing from Northumberland, Rachel Unthank & the Winterset's take on Englishness comprised of humming away in harmony with the constant threat of clog dancing being inflicted on the crowd. Dizzee Rascal at the Hackney Empire this most certainly wasn't.
Sounding like The Supremes singing songs about wife beating in the style of Talk Talk, with the added twist of a Darlington accent, the Englishness of the Winterset made about as much sense to me as Zola Budd did back in the day. Out came the clogs and it all went a little New Model Army. Nice girls though.
Bill seemed to be enjoying himself with an Uncle at a Wedding Dance in the wings. He thanked the Winterset, and then gave a speech about how he wanted the evening to reflect 'a strong sense of place,' within each artist.
That place for me isn't Northumberland.
Coventry is a little closer to home, and so I took more of an interest as Tom Clarke took to The Barbican stage. Followers of the popular hit parade tell me that Tom is the vocalist in a beat combo called The Enemy. It means nothing to me, but Tom's music certainly did.
It was WellerBragg by numbers: songs about social cohesion, sung by a singer with a smart haircut as well. Cracking stuff.
Bill's musical map of England continued to head South until crikey - here comes the yoof of Kentish Town. I knew nothing of Kitty, Daisy and Lewis before their show, but I left the Barbican wanting to find out a whole lot more. It's a family affair for the North London teenagers, with a proud Mum and Dad relegated to minor roles on rhythm guitar and double bass.
There's no way of escaping this: K, D & L are a skittle band. But a bloody good one at that. They're a sexy version of Mark Kermode and at least went some way in explaining Uncle Bill's quiff for the evening. It was as though Joe Strummer had been locked in a time machine with Lilly Allen, and transported back to Teddy Boy Britain.
Two foxy Camden yoof, one sings, one bashes the drums. Then they swap roles! Don't forget the interchangeable guitar / ukulele / keyboard roles as well. Kitty had the upper hand over her sister in that she managed to shoehorn in a harmonica as well.
This is skiffle pR0n. Very London, very ACE. The ghost of dear old Charlie Cotton stalked the stage at The Barbican. It went a bit Blue Hawaii at the end, but that's no bad thing. K, D & L not only stole the show, they had the cheek to sell it back to you off the back of a lorry at Brick Lane on a Sunday morning.
*edit to add that Kitty is apparently still only fifteen years-old and so I can't get away with calling her a fox. I have since downloaded her album though, WITHOUT the album artwork*
A quick Barbican beer break, and then it was back for the Boy Bragg's turn on stage for the second half of the show. A simple set list should suffice:
'My name's Billy Bragg and I'm from Barking in Essex, ENGLAND!'
Still Looking For a New England finished off with a Jools Holland style jam of Swing Low. Sounds horrendous, but it was rescued with the returning rockabilly from K, D & L. If these Camden kids are the future of England, we needn't take down those flags just yet.
She didn't seem too fussed to be honest, and mentioned something about 'see you there, stay off the booze.'
Don't be silly - that just wouldn't be cricket.
My traditional eights cans of Tennents was replaced with a hip flask filled with a hot toddie to see me through the afternoon.
The change in alcohol wasn't the only departure from my usual Oval routine. Drinking from a hip flask is actually de rigour, seeing as though I am now *whisper* officially a Surrey member.
My acceptance into this elite club wasn't quite the same initiation required to become a member of the MCC. No waiting list, no member recommendation and no spanking of the MCC fags in the Lord's Long Room after lights out.
And so I strolled up with my membership card and got sloshed sitting with the rest of the oiks sitting in the public area. With the old pavilion clock striking midday as the umpires strolled out to the crease, the first can of the day was opened by the bloke sitting in front of me. It wasn't John Major.
I was settling down into the return of the summerwinter game, watching a poncey Middlesex side take to the crease wearing pink.
When in North London, etc.
Surrey struck early with only twelve runs on the board and I looked forward to being back at base in time for afternoon tea being taken in a steaming hot bath. This wasn't a day for Hairy Back Man to showboat his trademark cricketing attire.
My Man of the People preferred seats of choice were soon in danger of being upgraded to the bloody John Major Room with the fashionably late arrival of mrs obb.
'What's the point in paying for membership if you don't get to treat the lady of your choice to the inner sanctum of the OCS stand?' she reasoned?
She was right of course, and in the absence of the lady of my choice, I escorted mrs obb into the OCS as my official guest.
Sadly the old pavilion is currently closed whilst the construction of a poncey plaza in place of the Surrey Tavern is taking place. Members are instead invited into the John Major Room, with all the comforts of a discounted bar, comfortable seats and toilets that haven't got a lake running through them come close of play.
The downside is that you have to leave them with your grey underpants worn on the outside of your trousers, in recognition of our former Great Leader.
And so finally we were seated, watching the Surrey attack make hard work of Andrew Strauss as he slogged his way to his century. Seasoned cricket observers (and supporters of Notts CCC) will not be surprised to learn that the Surrey 'attack' was being led by Chris Lewis.
mrs obb was by now in blanket mode. I was tempted to snuggle under the rug, but I was concerned that I might feel a right knobber, and I don't mean mrs obb.
Speaking of punishment, Strauss gave James Benn-ing a good beating as the Surrey bowler failed to find any length.
Straus finally fell for a fine 163, attempting to loft Chris Jordan mid-wicket. A standing ovation followed for the forgotten man of English cricket, setting up the 'Sex innings with a new County record for this competition.
'BOOOOLLOCKKKKKSSSSSSSS' came the hot toddie oh, all right - Carlberg burp as I belched one out from within the inner sanctum of the John Major Room. I'm sure that bastard Michael Portillo has spoken worse to the Great Man.
There was something for everyone; cricket etiquette being observed by the collars 'n cuffs Tory Boy sitting next to me in the John Major Room; 'BOOOLLOCKKKKKSSSSS' from the cut-off combat trousers oik who had the Surrey officials urgently reviewing their membership policy and looking for loopholes in the same way that Chris Lewis looks for the fairies.
And so the 'Sex went into pavilion on 315-6 after their 50 fifty overs. I went into the John Major toilets, even saying 'excuse me' when I let rip underneath a portrait of our former Great Leader.
I was in desperate need of some style to compensate for my Peter May pisshead behaviour. Cometh the hour, cometh my cricketing companion, the Glamorous Girly Friend. She missed the Middlesex innings because she was taritng herself up for the Tory Boyrecovering from a nasty virus, but an appearance for the afternoon session at least guaranteed a Norma Major presence as Surrey emerged from the pavilion.
A fine opening partnership between Scot Newman and Benn-ing took Surrey to 89, with Mr B finally being dismissed for 47. Time for the main attraction, time for Mr Ramps.
Second ball and Mr R was walking, disappointing the ever-loyal Rampant fans with a duck, not to mention the GGF who rose from her sick bed specifically to see the Great Man.
'That will take his average down,' remarked mrs obb. Yeah, but Mr Ramps has an 'average' that still puts the average man to shame.
Sod the rest of the cricket; Chris Schofield and Jordan both went for a duck - thanks for turning up, etc. Surrey eventually lost after Mr Duckworth / Lewis made an appearance, setting an unlikely target of 103 off eight overs. What is this? The IPL?
I returned back to obb HQ II, thawed out, thankful of the free cups of tea so thoughtfully provided in the John Major Room at the close of play. It's a long summer ahead, and one that at some stage I hope to introduce our former Great Leader into the delights of eight cans of Tennets, swooning at Mr Ramps and taking photos of Hairy Back Man.
'Rock against Racism was a grassroots movement which encouraged members to campaign and challenge those in power; Live 8 relied on stars such as Bono and Geldof cajoling and flattering the powerful... a text message to register concern, a click on an on-line petition.'
'They used to say don't trust anyone over 30,' says Don Letts, 'but today I don't trust anyone under 30 - let's be blunt: today's young are spoilt motherfuckers.'
'To most developers, The Den is in the way. The stadium takes up seven acres and current land prices in the area make the plot worth £10m an acre - or £70m.'
So spoke the SLP, ahead of Millwall's 'clash' (in every sense of the word) with Leeds United.
In a season that has seen some worrying developments on the pitch, reading the above has to be the scariest thing to have come out of SE16 since Terry Hurlock forgot to go to the hairdressers.
Let me repeat that phrase once again:
'The Den is in the way.'
Those words look to me like the epitaph of this once fine South London club. The money men are coming and the Lions look like they have finally met their fiercest foe.
'There's an elephant in the room,' as the money men would no doubt say using one of their current marketing buzz phrases. Translated to proper South London speak, this basically means that Millwall are up s*** creak yet no one's really talking about it.
The future of The Den is about as optimistic off the pitch as the club's fortunes on it. It seems a different era now when the late John Smith MP cut the ribbon along Zampa Road back in 1993. Built as the first new all seater stadium post the Taylor Report, the 20,000 capacity looked like the Lions would have a bright future.
Fifteen years later and both the footballing landscape, and the London landscape has changed. Who could have predicted that the 'traditional working class heartlands of South London' (ex-slag heap that the money men never knew existed) would all of a sudden become a boom patch?
Just like the old docks, old labour has no place in the squeaky clean world of New Labour and its love affair with The City. Money talks, football clubs have to walk, as Millwall are about to find out.
It would be harsh to blame all of this on Tony Blair's right wing leanings, tempting although it may be. But the likes of property developer Graham Lacey, and his 29% holding in the club, would have been unheard of in the days of Terry Hurlock.
If there's any room for a second Elephant in the Room in SE16, I would like to let you know that Mr Lacey cares about the Leeds home match about as much as I care about Mr Lacey and his Isle of Man property portfolio.
Fifteen thousand or so empty seats means that nothing but a great big empty space is actually in the way for Mr Lacey and his kind.
All the talk is of 'Olympic opportunities.' Listen carefully and you will hear a great bellowing sound of yet another Elephant in the Room: Olympic opportunities is a polite way of saying poncey housing, over-priced restaurants and lifestyle opportunities for the rich. Terry Hurlock's won't be putting down a deposit.
Too right. Fisher Athletic are seeking new funds to complete the development of their proposed 10,000 seater new stadium. Except the South London Conference club currently pull in around 250 punters as part of the ground share with Dulwich Hamlet.
Fisher chairman Sami Muduroglu is looking for new investors for the project. I'd wager he's also looking for another 9,775 bums to put on those fancy new plastic seats.
New Labour, old labour; Millwall fans may be about to go back to their proud docker’s roots after all.
Once upon a time, the William IV on Albany Road in Walworth was a community boozer. Local pissheadscommunity types would come inside and say 'gawblimeyguv' to each other until chucking out time.
But with gawblimeyguv's on the decline in South London, the William IV closed and it became a community crack house. Local scagheadsrecovering users would come inside, do the dirty deal and then collapse for the rest of the afternoon on a piss stained mattress until a rat awoke them by biting them on their bum.
And now the William IV is about to be returned to the community. Hurrah!
The boozer on the edge of Burgess Park was looking a sorry state only six months ago. With the front of the building opened up for all to see along Albany Road, even the local scagheads were somewhat reluctant to pass the time of day with their preferred leisure activity of choice on show to all of SE17.
Local artists, working as part of the Aylesbury NDC scheme, have transformed the face of pub, camouflaging the former crack house to blend in with the backdrop of Burgess Park. Being a community type pub, pupils from nearby Walworth ComprehensiveAcademy helped out.
The result, as you can see, is a rather wonderful and unique community project, blocking out a once rather nasty blot on the Burgess Park landscape.
But the project is so much more than just an art installation makeover, ticking all the right boxes to satisfy Southwark Council that the NDC scheme is actually working. The William IV now has a future with the interior being developed into: