|So then....north of the
river's too la-de-dah for you, is it? Good, because it means this
particular stretch hasn't been as big a waste of time, money and effort
as all the others surely have. I don't know where the bloody hell
you're starting out from, but the first stop on this comparitively
unpleasant leg is big - very, very. BIG. It's got it's own tube
station, river pier, ten or twelve buses serve it and if I lived any
off the ground than thirty feet I'd be able to see it from my windows
even though it's at least twelve miles away from me. So however you so
get there, we begin this miserable reverie on the Greenwich Peninsula,
|The o2 (formerly the Millennium Dome)
Want to hear a fairytale to start? Probably not, but this place is a true phenomenen. It was born as a huge, hugely expensive and largely unwanted child, lived a year or so of hugely expensive, well-intentioned but futile existence, was mothballed thereafeter to largely rot at the taxpayer's huge expense and in a (fairytale) reversal of fortunes was revitalised by new, doting owners who saw potential that nobody else cared to nurture and let the building become the most successful entertainment venue on Earth - bar none. The Dome was built on a twenty-acre plot of industrial wasteland to house the Millennium Experience, a huge plan by the Labour govenment of the time to celebrate all that was great and good about Great Britain past, present and future. Yes, you're right: they *were* pissing in the wind. After it opened attendance figures were well below expectations, ticket prices were larcenous, the exhibits and attractions within weren't much cop, facilities were poor, food and drinks were overpriced, and in a stunning coup for the European Union the chief executive appointed to oversee things was a French bloke. Thus the relative failure to capture the xenophobic British public's imagination is hardly a shrouded mystery. Once the Millennial year was up the Dome closed down and the wilderness years began, occasionally doubling up as a storage facility or rehearsal space for a overly-loud Paul McCartney (to the annoyance of nearby residents), until the American entertainment industry goliath AEG decided that they'd give the place 600 million pounds to get it back on it's feet. Persuading the mobile phone network o2 to sponsor it for six million quid a year was even better, and today the o2 boasts around 20 bars and restaurants, an 11-screen cinema complex, a separate 2,300 seater live music club (the Indigo2) and a exhibition hall currently hosting the British Music Experience, with items of interest and memorabilia loaned by just about everybody who's had a hit record since the 1950's. Even Pink Floyd were cajoled into donating something apparently, supposedly Nick Mason's drum kit from 1980 with the Hammer Guard logo on the bass skin. So there you have it - a happy ending for all concerned. Ironic then that no Pink Floyd activity in the strictest sense has ever taken place here, apart from that master of mirth Roger Waters using the main arena in 2007 for the last shows of his 'Dark Side Of The Moon' tour. Incidentally, this was the venue that Pink Floyd was widely speculated to be playing at on the last day of the 20th Century for some reason or another. Obviously it didn't happen, because the Queen was booked to appear instead for the Dome's opening ceremony, doubling as the UK's official party to see in the new year and new Millennium. Once the building had been reopened the chief executive of AEG, Randy Phillips, didn't get his biggest wish either - it was to get Michael Jackson playing here "If it's the last thing I do," little realising it was nearly the last thing Jackson ever did instead. Maybe he should have been content with securing Led Zeppelin for their much-vaunted and acclaimed one-off reunion gig in 2007, at which David Gilmour and Polly Samson were present. In between whiles you could also have seen Prince, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, U2, Cliff Richard, Leonard Cohen and *real* legends such as the Spice Girls and Justin Timberlake. To follow this roster of infamy, 2011 is set to include Roger Waters taking the sunshine out of our lives once more with his 21st Century technologically-supercharged 'The Wall' world tour, threatened to be his last time roami...sorry, moaning across the globe before old age and infirmity get the better of him. Time will tell....
**Update 13/5/11** Well, you all know by by now anyway. Yes, Gilmour failed to renege on the deal he brokered in July last year and turned up to molest the Black Strat on top of Waters' wall for 'Comfortably Numb', uncharacteristically mangle the song's vocals (usually a Waters preserve), and pluck a mandolin during 'Outside The Wall' too (better than he did with the Strat on CN apparently). Thinly-veiled hints were given on the morning of the 12th by Polly Samson, but nonetheless it still seemed to raise the roof when he appeared to do his bit. I don't think anybody counted on Nick Mason joining them armed with a tamborine for 'Outside The Wall' though, which made it (however briefly) a full Pink Floyd reunion. Or as full as we'll ever get these days. I must extend my thanks to my sometime photographer Gray, who kindly thought to text me from the o2 on the night. Alright, so I left my phone elsewhere and didn't pick his message up until the following morning, but.... so there you go. The o2 *DID* get Pink Floyd after all!
**Update 1/5/12** Actually I'd known about this for ages but neglected to mention it, because as you know by now I'm a lazy arse. Remarkably you'll shortly be able to walk atop the roof of the o2 Arena, which if nothing else will give you some fairly impressive views of the surrounding area and distant city. Of course, enterprising (and illegal) chancers have nocturnally been doing exactly the same for several years already, in much the same way as they'd been exploring places like Battersea Power Station and coming up trumps with bits I'd never previously seen nor suspected. Seek them out on the web yourself if you want. Nonetheless, for a price it looks like we can *all* do the o2's roof canopy nowadays, which must take the shine off their previous illicit endeavours a little bit.....
So, where to now? Well, there's actually quite a few options available to get to our next stop, but cold, hard experience has taught me that the easiest and cheapest is taking a tube train from North Greenwich underground station. You could do buses, overground trains, walking or a combination of all three. But they take time. Lots of it. All in all I'd take a Jubilee Line tube to London Bridge. By this method, on arrival at London Bridge you want to get off the tube obviously. Step off the train, head to the right and take the London Bridge escalator and not the one for Borough High Street. Once you're at the top, turn right, through the concourse and right again. Just keep walking until daylight appears up ahead, as well as the entrance to Guy's Hospital on St. Thomas Street. Just before it, you might be intrigued by the building site you seem to walk along the edge of. That's going to be The Shard when it's finished, a little tower topping out at 310 metres tall. I bet terrorists have it in their sights already. So, turn left into St. Thomas Street and proceed marching. As you go, you should pass Stainer Street and Weston Street on your left, and then Fenning Street on your right. When you come up against the curiously-named Snowsfields on your (very) far right and the junction of St. Thomas Street with Bermonsdey Street running left to right and the jovially-named Crucifix Lane up ahead, pause for a moment. Not to collect your cross; doing this fucking tour's enough to bear as it is. No, look left down the long tunnel that is Bermonsdey Street. Have you seen it before? Perhaps. Was it along here that The Specials drove haphazardly and wailed despairingly in the video for 'Ghost Town'? Maybe. Makes a change from having Pink Floyd saturating your neurons even if it wasn't. Anyhow, turn right down the rest of Bermondsey Street and about thirty seconds' walk away, slightly dwarfed by its neighbours, is this:
Stones Rehearsal Studios
So here in the district of Bermondsey, along the conveniently named Bermondsey Street, one can find this seemingly mostly original condition Victorian warehouse building. Nowadays the London headquarters of the theatrically-themed Stage Magazine, in decades gone by it used to be owned by the Rolling Stones and served not only them but a great many others as a studio to rehearse in. And it'll come as a real bolt from the blue if I tell you that Pink Floyd were among those bands, won't it? No, I didn't think so either really. But it's what they did here which would ultimately make and break them artistically, financially and personally. After the Christmas of 1971, the band came here to rehearse for their upcoming tour which was due to start in late January '72. After a comparitively stale creative period during the last half of 1971, Roger Waters had been slowly toying with the idea for an album which would bind together all of mankind's fears, anxieties, pressures and all the things that (in David Gilmour's words) "are almost guaranteed to drive a poor boy mad." It was in a room inside this building that Waters' new lyrics and his, Gilmour's and Rick Wright's melodic ideas would first collide with each other in preparation for their first public unleashing on the 20th of January in Brighton. In what's becoming a bit of a recurring theme however, nobody is entirely prepared to commit themselves to telling exactly what was born whilst working here. What they do remember is that although they came not just to rehearse for the tour but write, not a great deal of writing actually took place. Gilmour can only recall how terribly dark it was in the rehearsal room. As a consequence, they then moved over to the old Decca Studios in Broadhurst Gardens, in West Hampstead - and there things really took off. Or so we're supposed to think. In the course of my research (yes, I do do *some*) I've found that different sources say that they went to West Hampstead first, then moved to Bermondsey. Others reckon it was Bermondsey first, and West Hampstead afterwards - not least Gilmour, who says so on the 'Classic Albums: Dark Side Of The Moon' DVD/video. In conclusion, all I can say is this: I'll take that as the true order of things, before it becomes almost guaranteed to drive a poor boy mad. The confusion doesn't end there, though. But this time it concerns the 1970 album 'Atom Heart Mother'. In an interview recorded in November 1988 for BBC Radio One, Gilmour made mention of "original rehearsal sessions that we did for it down in the Docklands in London, with very little idea of what we were going to do." Although I'm more than prepared to accept that there were other rehearsal studios in the Docklands area of London in 1970, I wouldn't mind betting that the place Gilmour alludes to was this one, assuming he even remembered it correctly himself. I do know that Blackhill Enterprises had a rehearsal facility along the Old Kent Road around the same time, which is kind of dockland-ish. Or was, when we still had docks. So was 'Atom Heart Mother' born and gestated there instead? I don't know. I've found absolutely nothing to strengthen the claim anywhere else, so if you've got some then let me know....
So, to replace The Specials and their wailing, think of all those early 'Dark Side' live performaces you may have heard with slow tempos and distant-harmony caterwauling instead as we continue down Bermondsey Street, passing converted warehouses containing offices for new media companies, cutting-edge bars, restaurants, flat conversions for young professional single income no kid types, estate agents' premises selling such places for millions and naturally enough a pub called The Woolpack, which is pretty good as these things go (even if old 'Dark Side' stuff has now been shunted in your cerebral radio by the signature tune to 'Emmerdale Farm'). In any event, when you finally, finally come up to the crossroads with Long Lane you want to be turning right down here and then straight over the zebra crossing, continuing along to the bus stop up ahead. Wait here until a bus (C10) comes along. Enjoy the ride (or not) until our female synthsiser tells us that the next stop will be St. George's Road/Imperial War Museum. If she perchance doesn't, then never mind. You'll probably see it coming up on your left as you get near anyway, because outside you'll see a big gun. Granted, in this neck of the woods almost everybody under the age of 30 probably carries a small one about their person in the first place, but no matter. Just don't antagonise them and you'll be alright. So, having stepped/tripped/jumped or fallen from the bus, turn right and walk along until you see some gates on the left, and enter Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park. If you didn't see the museum's huge weapon before, I bet you can now. Saunter over, and you'll find yourself at the....
|Imperial War Museum
So here we are in Lambeth, where the museum's main London site and corporate headquarters now lives. It was established in 1917 to provide a permanent repositry of Britain and it's colonies' efforts duirng times of conflict. As the collection of materials and exhibits has grown due in no small part to our continued involvement in wars, five other branches have had to open across the country. But this is the main one, now aiming to "enable people to have an informed understanding of modern war and its impact on individuals and society". Fair enough. The museum's been shunted around over the decades; it first lived in Crystal Palace, where we'll be going later on. Then it moved briefly to Kensington (which we've seen quite enough of on the South and West trail), and after that in 1936 the collection found a permanent home here in Lambeth. Obviously owing to inconveniences like World War Two, the museum grew considerably. The subsequent break-up of the British Empire actually slowed things down a bit, and so in the 1960's they had a refurbishment and built some extensions. In the '70's they expanded across the country and acquired new sites to house the still growing collections, and come the late 80's and '90's they refitted Lambeth again for the new Millennium. At present the Imperial War Museum has nearly 11 million items in it's inventory, and remarkably is free to visit - as in, no tickets, entry charges, etc. What used to be on this patch of soil before the museum swept in was the then current site of the world's first mental health institution, the Royal Bethlem Hospital. They arrived in 1815, and left in 1930. Bethlem gave rise to the word 'bedlam', which is one way of describing global conflicts that last for years. This chequered history of human loss, waste, torment, woe and horror was added to in 2000 with the press launch/preview of Pink Floyd's 'Is There Anybody Out There', chronicling the live performances of 'The Wall' in 1980 and '81. Yet again I wasn't in reciept of an invite myself, so details are understandably sketchy - but I do know that it took place on Thursday, the 9th of March. Guests and gatecrashers were subject to the following itinerary: a round of drinks (or more) and suitably indulgent canapes were available from 7:00pm onwards, after which the assorted gentry were forced to listen to the album at around 8:00. Curiously the intended finish of the preview was apparently 9:00pm, so it would seem that they fortunately weren't subjected to the whole show - or perhaps the brevity was to forestall cunning bootleggers instead. Obviously EMI considered that even an hour's worth would be far too draining for attendees; after nine, they laid on a supper of some description of which I have no details. I'd be quite amused if, in keeping with the wartime theme, it was suitably bleak fare as one would have found in Anderson shelters everywhere at the height of the Blitz though. After this potentially disappointing repast was complete, everyone was kicked out to trudge home again. Some however left with a special goodie bag containing the CD album's booklet & slipcase (but without any discs apparently), a reproduction of the original 'The Wall' tour programme, a special t-shirt and a big paper bag with Gerald Scarfe's Hammer Guard logo on it to cart it all home in. Annoyingly I don't even know whether anybody from Pink Floyd bothered to show up, or indeed if associated partners in crime like Scarfe or album producer James Guthrie wandered by either. But there you go. We all went out and bought a copy anyway, didn't we? DIDN'T WE???? Incidentally, if you missed it on the way in, the museum's got a big section of graffiti-covered concrete in the garden, a real segment of the Berlin Wall. Given Roger Waters' star-studded (if technically suspect) 'Wall' extravaganza at Berlin in 1990, maybe that's why the Imperial War Museum was chosen for the 'ITAOT' press launch. Or maybe not. I don't know....
Right, so where now? How about a stroll though the park? Wander over to the right of the big gun, beyond the confines of the museum, and hopefully you'll see a path heading roughly diagonally to the right. If you meander along this, after a few minutes it should bring you out at Kennington Road. Once there, turn left and go straight over Brook Drive. You'll go past the Grand Union pub/bar, and a bit beyond that after a phone box there'll be a bus stop for you to wait at. When and if it arrives, take a (59) or even a (159) to the Oval tube station. Get off here. You might have to walk a bit round the corner to the left and the Kennington Park stop and wait for a (436) going towards Camberwell. Once you're on board and moving again up Camberwell New Road, to keep you awake if the scenery's dull or your fellow passengers are boring look out for John Ruskin Street on the left. If I recall, the electric madame'll announce it's coming up anyway. We'll hear a bit more about Ruskin later on, so don't forget him. At length you'll cross over the busy junction with Camberwell Green and Denmark Hill. Just thought I'd mention it. Shortly afterwards you'll move through Camberwell Church Street, and on to Peckham Road. As our old friend the female automaton warns us that Southampton Way's coming up, ring the bell and start moving. You'll see our next stop on the left as the bus pulls up so you'll have to walk back to it, but I'm sure you'll manage....
|Camberwell College of Arts
Regarded as one of the world's finest seats of learning for art and craft studies, the college opened in 1898 after Victorian philanthropist John Passmore Edwards gave an embryonic artistic movement taking hold in south London an unspecified amount of money to build a college in the memory of Lord Leighton, an early supporter of the push for artistic endeavour in the area (until he died). The mission statement was thus: to give the 'best artistic and technical education to all classes in the district'. To start with, the college offered solid, Victorian practical subjects like cabinet design, stencil cutting and embroidery. In 1920, the range expanded to higher things and a dedicated fine arts department was opened. In the middle of World War Two Victor Pasmore was appointed head of the painting department, and brought in William Coldstream and Claude Rogers. Figurative painting began to...well, figure large in Camberwell's fortunes and renown, leading other famous artists and painters to join the staff at the college. By 1960 the noted abstract painter Robert Medley became head of painting and invited still more luminaries of whom I've never heard to accompany him. By now Camberwell had a dedicated art history department and, in 1973, a new purpose-built extension in place to house the growing number of students, teachers and their respective areas of endeavour. The 1980's saw further studies added to reflect the changing technologies available, and after a period of administrative shifting by local authorities to bring the big art colleges in London together in the late 1980's which seemingly only properly got sorted out in the early 2000's, Camberwell had become part of the University of Arts London (which includes Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London College of Communication and the London College of Fashion). Additionally it has links with other art schools and universities across Europe, America and Japan. With an illustrious heritage like that, you'll probably even know some of the names that have passed through and graduated from this place even if, like me, you don't know much about art and still less what you like: cuddly film director Mike Leigh, grave actor Tim Roth, Peter Kindersley (of Dorling Kindersley books fame), clothes dummy cladder/broadcaster Jeff Banks, peerless deadpan (and sadly dead) trumpeter Humphrey Lyttleton, foppish pestilence Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen and someone called Roger Keith (Syd) Barrett. He'd always had an eye for the arts, producing work through his early and mid-teens in Cambridge both at school and in supplementary classes. On leaving school in July 1962, art was the only subject he passed with distinction - and even won his year's special prize for art. He didn't bother showng up for the ceremony though. He then moved on to Cambridge Technical College, further developing his artistic talents - but getting waylaid slightly at times by a fellow student there called David Gilmour, with whom he'd jam away in the college common room. He'd also travel up to London to visit the galleries with then girlfriend Libby Gausden, and at some stage must have learned about Camberwell Art College. He applied and had his interview on the 26th of November 1963, which history tells us is the very day the Beatles were on in Cambridge. Syd even had tickets but gave them to Libby, had his interview, was accepted and moved to London in September 1964 to begin at Camberwell, studying for a Diploma in Art and Design. Apparently he'd rather have gone to St. Martin's or Chelsea, but Camberwell was quite good enough and probably suited him better because he wasn't at all bad at figurative painting - that is, art taken from actual human, animal or static objects as observed, and not non-representational stuff like abstract or modernist freakery. Camberwell was the only big college still taking figurative painting seriously, whereas the others seemed to think it old-hat. So what did he get up to when he was here? Quite a lot, absorbing everything he could around him to use in order to develop an artistic identity of his own. Thus he became just as proficient in collages and abstract workings as well as more conventional landscape productions, being apparently much better in the use and feel of colour in particular than many if not all of his peers. His advanced abilities weren't the only thing that marked him out; even then his good looks, seemingly detatched personality and intensity caught many an eye. Nobody at Camberwell, it seemed, could get *too* close to him - not because of his apparent introversion (is that a word?), but purely because he lived bloody miles away - first and briefly in Tottenham Street (just behind what would become the site of the UFO club) in central London, and then in north London at Stanhope Gardens in Highgate, lodging with Roger Waters at landlord/lecturer Mike Leonard's house. This physical distance meant that he probably wasn't around after hours to socialise much (if at all) with his peer group, thus remaining a bit of an unknown quantity to them. Of course, there's also the small consideration that music also occupied Barrett's brain a lot of the time, providing rhythm guitar and vocals for the band he'd joined up with shortly after he started living at Stanhope Gardens: Leonard's Lodgers. As it happened, they didn't keep the name for long (a month or so at best) and re-christened themselves The Spectrum Five instead. Owing to difficulties securing a band for a college dance, it's believed that the 'Five gamely stepped up and played here at Camberwell sometime in the autumn of 1964, featuring Syd (or Roger as he was known to all at the college), Bob Klose on guitar, Nick Mason on the drums, Roger Waters on bass and Mike Leonard on keyboards. As well as being their landlord and giving them a roof over their heads, he occasionally went out and played gigs with them too. Alright, so he was noticeably older - but he bought them the Farfisa organ they were using and so claimed the pianist's position for himself. The gig included a mixture or R+B and rock tunes apparently, for which they were paid twenty quid and all the beer they could make disappear. It might have been this date, perhaps another gig here or even a complete fallacy, but some witnesses are sure that Mike Leonard's light show accompanied them - although how he was supposed to do that and bother the piano at the same time probably means it's not true. If it was, an atrocious bootleg or even photographs would be a tantalising prospect - but that's all it'll remain, I expect. At some stage during 1966, being a student at Camberwell fell by the wayside completely for Syd as he devoted all his energies to the band, which having discovered a sound and a direction, would soon find an audience beyond college gigs - first at the Spontaneous Underground events in Soho, then at the London Free School benefits in Notting Hill, followed by the UFO Club, ultimately signing with EMI and recording the debut album 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn'. It was probably Syd's finest hour - and the beginning of his end too.....
Well, it had to be said really, didn't it? So I did. If you're finished, cross over Peckham Road and either walk left or right until you find a bus stop. Yes, people - we've got to go all the way back to Camberwell Green. You could walk through the back roads, but I wouldn't fancy it. So hang around at whatever bus stop you found on the other side of Peckham Road, and get any bus you like going back to Camberwell Green. You might actualy find the stop to disembark at is actually Camberwell Chuch Street/Camberwell Green (stop L), and you'll have to walk round to Denmark Hill. From there, you could walk it even further but you might as well wait and get your money's worth from your Travelcard. I've got loads more walking for you later on anyway, so enjoy the rest while you've got it. If it comes, take a (40), (42), (68) or even a (468) and as Miss Electra warns of Champion Hill coming up, make your move and get off. Cross over to the other side of Denmark Hill, and you'll probably see a park in front of you - and a gate to get in, with any luck. Once you're in, wander around a bit until you see this. Does it look familiar? Maybe not. It will do though....
Situated south of the river Thames and about five miles from central London, this park was opened in 1907 after a campaign by local residents in the Denmark Hill area for somewhere to relax, saunter, stretch out and enjoy themselves - or as much as one could do in those buttoned-up days without being sent to prison. They proposed to develop a 24-acre stretch of land on which stood six large, imposing and presumably semi-derelict houses on Denmark Hill itself, and by various means the deal was done and the people got their park. The noted designer J.J. Sexby laid out his herbaceous plans, the houses were (mostly) flattened, and in February 1907 the park opened for business. It was named after John Ruskin, a famous demi-polymath of the age who used to live on Denmark Hill in one of the big imposing houses that were demolished. The honour of having the park named after him would've been even nicer were he still around at the time to see it, but he buggered off in 1871 because the adjacent newly-built railway line disturbed his peace and quiet. The poor love. Still, were he around 94 years later he'd have a bigger cause for complaint: one day in July 1967, photographer Colin Prime came here with four oddly-dressed young men and shot them standing, sitting, pointing, peering or otherwise making a nuisance of themselves around the environs of or actually *in* the Portico, Ruskin Park's last surviving relic of the houses that lived here before the park came along. The Portico itself belonged to what used to be at 117 Denmark Hill, and for reasons unfathomable it escaped demolition. One of the pictures from this session was further immortalised when Syd Barrett chose it in silhouette for the back cover of Pink Floyd's debut album, 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn'. So if you want, you too can replicate those early promotional shots with the aid of friends, family or passing strangers, but I'll take no responsibility if you're bundled off to what's just across the road from Ruskin Park itself - the Maudsley Hospital, a sprawling facility specialising in mental health which is grimly ironic considering Barrett's predicament towards the end of '67. Just to bring it full circle, the City Wakes memorial events of 2008 in Cambridge included an exhibition of Syd's paintings, wrtings, drawings, memorabilia and photographs held at the Ruskin Gallery, part of the Anglia Ruskin University - who adopted John Ruskin's name in 2005 because he established an art college at Cambridge in 1858 in Sidney Street of all places, which roughly 150 years later had expanded to become the Anglia Polytechnic, and then the Anglia Ruskin University. Being such a lovely seat of learning, they even gave David Gilmour an honourary doctorate in October 2009. Finally, on a personal note, fifteen years or so before Colin Prime turned up here at Ruskin Park with Barrett, Mason, Waters and Wright, my own father and aunt used to gambol around the place in long shorts and watch the steam trains go by on the adjacent railway as a child. So, that's Ruskin Park for you. What are the chances of all that happening, eh?
Now, the next location is both far way and annoying to get to. But I'm determined to get you there. Walk out of the park the way you came in, and cross back over Denmark Hill to the bus stop you abandoned your carriage at earlier. Plonk yourself down and wait for a (468), and take it to West Norwood station. This'll take a fair old while, so sit back and enjoy the ride if you can. Probably not, but give it a go anyway. If you're on the top deck, after a time you'll probably notice something: it's quite hilly round here, is it not? That's why they stuck those bloody great masts up that you've probably spotted already. If you like tall things made of metal, get happy as we'll be getting really quite close to one of them shortly. But for now, you're loitering with intent at West Norwood station - or the bus stop outside it. You could actually take a train from here to Crystal Palace, but I've never tried it myself and I have no idea at all how frequent or otherwise they are. So I'd use a bus myself. When a (437) deigns to lumber by, take it to Crystal Palace Park - and on the way, you'll start worrying how much hillier it's become. I know I did. If memory serves, and especially if you're on the top deck, you can look out of the windows on the left hand side and see for miles over to central London and the West End. Make the most of it, as when the bus finally strains up to the top and we're told that Crystal Palace Park/Annerly Hill is upon us, get off. Hopefully you'll be able to see a way into to the park not far away, and some wide pathways throughout. You'll certainly see the gigantic television mast, and if you want you can almost - *almost* get to the very bottom of it. But don't forget what we're really here for though. Follow all the signs to the far end, at which you'll eventually happen by this:
|Crystal Palace Bowl
Situated at the northernmost end of Crystal Palace Park in south London, the open-air Bowl hosted one of Floyd's more infamous concerts on the 15th May 1971. Its legendary status comes not with a particular recommendation about the music (which was supposedly quite dull according to reviewers), but for the alleged aftermath of the show. The long-held yarn is that our heroes' ear-shattering cacophany was the direct cause of death for an undisclosed number of nearby fish, who up until that point were quite happily getting on with day-to-day life and bothering nobody in particular. Whether or not any untoward sub-aquatic mayhem really took place, we shall never know. What is reasonably concrete is that this venue saw only the third performance of what was six months later to become the 26-minute novella 'Echoes', on the album 'Meddle'. We also can say with pinpoint accuracy that on the day, shortly after the show began, it absolutely bucketed down which must have pleased the extra-special guest - an inflatable octopus, which watched events from the lake at the foot of the stage - no end. Curiously, footage from this show exists and can be seen in a short film released in 1985 called 'Life Could Be A Dream'. By, and largely about Nick Mason, one can apparently see lots of him, the band clowning around backstage, playing onstage and even a look at the octopus before inflation. Then it shows Mason racing cars covered in Rothmans logos, as demanded by the film's tobacconist backers. Oh well. Annnoyingly the film was never really properly released, apparently only being shown on airliners or press conferences or other official-type gatherings. Being a quarter of a century since it was made, don't go hoping for it to turn up on YouTube just yet. To compensate, what I suspect are pictures of the concert can be seen on the pages for May - November 1971 in Miles and Andy Mabbett's Pink Floyd - A Visual Documentary (3rd Edition, ISBN 0-7119-4109-2). If you know the pictures I'm talking about, then you'll notice a slight discrepancy between them and my one here. The stage that was used back in the day was in fact only a temporary arched structure made of wood. Each summer they'd take it out of storage and set it up, and break it down again come the autumn. It was only as recently as 1997 that things changed forever and the permanent stage seen here, designed by Ian Ritchie, spelled the end for what I can only assume were some rather tired-looking planks of timber. For this information I'm indebted to a park ranger whose name I forgot to ask, but if you see a balding chap with dark hair and a thinnish beard walking or driving round in a Land Rover, that'll probably be him. Driving round the park, that is. Not just any old place you happen to be. I suppose I ought also to make mention of something which, if you go to Crystal Palace Park, you'll notice long, long, long before you even begin to think about finding the Bowl. Indeed on my initial visit it comfortably pushed the Bowl into second place for me. The TV transmitter is...well, it's huge. It's frightening. I was scared to look up at first in case I fell backwards. When I eventually did look up, it looked down on me as if it was about to fall over itself. Get as close as you can to the bottom of it - you'll see what I mean. It was built in the 1950's, is the only self-supporting mast of such a magnitude in the entire country, is 196 metres tall, and serves 20% of the British population with analogue and digital services. The rest of the park is also good for a wander round, having superb views of south-east London and Kent's rolling hills to feast upon, an athletics stadium (itself becoming a live music venue from time to time), the world's first life-size model dinosaurs lurking somewhere in the undergrowth and the remains of the once magnificent Crystal Palace itself to ponder over - but the story of that's for another time and place altogether, because it burned down some thirty years before Pink Floyd even began to exist in any way, shape or form. Around the time they did in fact commence their reign of aural terror, the athletics stadium was a location for the film 'The Italian Job', featuring Michael Caine bellowing "You're only supposed to blow the bloody DOORS OFF!" Personally I'd have liked him to have made a special appearance in 1971, shouting "You're only supposed to inflate the bleedin' OCTOPUS!" He didn't though, and I for one consider it a great opportunity missed.
Right, wasn't that nice? Oh well. Bloody sod you then. Vengeance shall be mine, for I now want you to walk all the way, all the way, *all* the way back to where you first entered the park on Annerly Hill. Once there, turn left and lurch uncontrollably down the 1 in 10 gradient to Crystal Palace railway station. Now, you've got a few options here. The easiest by far is a bus, but it also takes the longest. Fortunately the route - a (410) - is fairly frequent, allegedly coming evey eight minutes or so. To get to our next port of call using it will take just over half an hour, though. Other choices involve risking life, limb and personal sanity on the railways. Yes, it's quicker - but involves changing at Norwood Junction to then go on to East Croydon, which is where our trusty bus - the (410) - will also deposit us, albeit twenty-five minutes after the train does. If time has slipped by, then by all means try the train. If it's no object, see how the bus does you. Whatever course of (in)action you choose, when you're dumped at East Croydon, take a look around. It's quite....urban really, and possibly not all that attractive. How in 2002 the local council thought it could sell the town as "an imitation of New York or Prague" as a cut-price film location is anyone's guess. But never mind. I think they got more television work out of it than Hollywood blockbuster action, and even that was just news reports incredulously telling us about it. All being well you're outside East Croydon station, wondering what to do and why the place seems to have a tram network. As we're here, this is also the station which Bob Geldof's train was approaching when David Gilmour called him on his mobile phone to tell him he wasn't going to do Live8. As Geldof had already begun his journey to see him personally, he wasn't taking no for an answer and he certainly wasn't about to get off at East Croydon - and as we know, Geldof didn't get off and ultimately Gilmour did get on board for Live8. But back to the job in hand: if you've come by bus, you'll have got off and be standing on George Street with the railway station over on the other side of the road to you. Obviously if you got the train, you won't be. So if that's you, cross over George Street. Mind the trams though. Assuming everyone's on the correct side of the road, head off down George Street, walking along until you come to the big crossroads with Park Lane. If you turn left here, trudge along for a few minutes, passing College Street on the left. Salute the Nestle Tower over on the right, but get the pronunciation right. Pretty soon a big concrete box will make itself rather apparent on the left In fact you probably saw it from some distance away in any case. This drab mausoleum is the....
One of south London's premier entertainment venues if not south-east England's (honest), this facility was built on a plot of land which, not unreasonably, used to be a big field in which fairs were held. We're going back centuries though - half a millenium in fact. The fairs were colossal in both size and attendance, attracting the great, good and gutter sweepings of society to indulge as they pleased. This orgy of fun, pleasure and violence continued unabated until the mid-1800's, when a concerted effort to rid Croydon of moral decay successfully saw the fair banned, outlawed and squashed beneath the yoke of puritan(n)ical tyranny. So what to do with the field formerly containing the fair? Sell it to a railway company, that's what - and the owner did. Thus in 1866 it became a depot for maintenance, repair and general locomotive tomfoolery until around 1933, when the railways left for some reason or another. In 1938 the local authorities thought about building a new civic centre on the land to serve the growing population of Croydon, but then thought not due to what they called the "international situation". It was probably for the best, not just because a little global skirmish was on the immediate horizon but because Croydon's populace didn't like the Civic Centre idea much in the first place. The Second World War came and went, Croydon was damaged quite badly, and it was only in the late 50's that anybody thought about putting a concert hall up to fill the void that'd been stood there for twenty years, presumably as part of the rebuilding programme after the war. It would take until the 2nd of November 1962 before the all-new concrete box you see in the picture over there opened for business, with the Queen Mother cutting the ribbon and (presumably) enjoying the first performance - the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent and featuring fiddle stroker Yehudi Menhuin. Since then, the halls have seen almost everybody who's somebody - be they classical, popular, obscure, dramatic, comedic, pantomimic, oratoric (I know - but you know what I mean) and any other category of entertainment you care to name short of naked limbo dancing in the company of tigers. Yet again, I'm not going to hand out sweeties if you correctly guess that four scruffy hippies with a weird name have stopped off here. Not very often, admittedly. Alright, only twice. Their first visit was on the 30th of May 1969, the third show of their UK tour that year. They played the 'Man and Journey' suite, consisting of new music and existing pieces under different titles to represent a full 24-hour day in the life of the average bloke. As with other shows on this tour, the Croydon date included a sea monster (or roadie in a costume) marauding the stalls and pestering innocent members of the public with a giant set of genitals. A review from the local paper said the monster ended up on stage and "did the most personal things," the reporter sadly not elaborating further presumably to safeguard their job. The music was very good though. It was at this show that Syd Barrett of all people was alleged to be in attendance. In his book 'Dark Globe', Julian Palacios tells of Waters remembering that Barrett, at that time recording his debut solo album at Abbey Road and taking longer about it than EMI wanted, went backstage after the show and asked Gilmour if he could help. In the event both Waters and Gilmour went and finished off the record with him. Anyway, back to Fairfield Halls. After the indecent assault of their first visit, they made their last appearance here on the 18th of January 1970. But it was a curious show by all accounts: press previews suggested that anybody still standing or at the very least still able to hear anything afterwards would be a rare breed indeed, but the actual performance on the night was reviewed by the same newspaper in a rather negative vein. In a word, it was dull. Apparently there were no accompanying lights, they noodled around for ages, and at almost three hours it started to bore a bit. The paper's review also made mention of a track called 'Niagra Dellof', featuring Rick Wright tinkering away which has never been heard of before or since under that name. Most people think it was actually 'The Violent Sequence' instead, so we can only marvel at the reviewer's imagination. Or maybe his eardrums were perforated earlier in the evening, causing him to mishear everything thereafter. So, but for this slight oddity Fairfield Halls has nothing left to offer us. Bit of a waste of time really. Nowadays, you're just as likely to see tribute bands packing the place out, and obviously enough not just Pink Floyd ones. But when they do decide to play here, they sometimes get a bit of a fright. The Australian Pink Floyd did a show on September the 26th 1994 and found themselves being surveyed by the critical eye of David Gilmour. In the May 2003 edition of Record Collector magazine, he said "I booked a box at Fairfield Hall once. We had a jolly entertaining evening - they took my picture afterwards, which they're still using in their advertising ever since as a seal of approval. They were jolly good fun." He then went on to say that he subsequently booked them for the post-show party following the last night of the Earls Court residency in 1994, and (as you'll already know if you've been on the South and West trail) he also got them to do a turn at his 50th birthday party along with the Bootleg Beatles. Gilmour added "I've never seen Pink Floyd, you see. So it's great for me to see that." He also mentioned the Fairfield incident elsewhere in another magazine called CDi, in 1995 (I think). That time he elaborated by saying that he had about ten people with him in the box, a few drinks too, that the band did some bits better than they did in his view, and that "They didn't know we were there, but there was no security or anything so we wandered along a corridor or two until we came to the dressing room. I opened the door, and these poor guys....the double-takes were something to see." Altogether now: aaahhh..... Isn't that lovely? Still, if you ever tried to pull a stunt like that with the *real* Pink Floyd then I gravely doubt the reception would've been as warm....
Bored yet? Me too. Having investigated all possible angles of Fairfield Halls, move towards Park Lane out the front and see if you can spot the signs to the nearest subway hidden in the trees outside which'll take you under Park Lane without getting run over by a truck. Go down the stairs, walk past the subterranean car park which you probably didn't expect to see, and at the other side take the small staircase on the left. Once you're back at street level, turn left down Katharine Street up ahead. Down here you'll see some bus stops in the distance. Queue in an orderly fashion at stop KL, and when a (109) comes along get on, and prepare for a bit of a rest. About an hour's worth, in fact. It's a long old journey, this bit - but if it's raining outside you'll thank me. If, and I stress IF you don't think you'll last the course, get on anyway and wait until you arrive at West Croydon bus station, get off here and use their facilities to decant your bladder. Don't go behind a wall or somesuch, because you *will* end up starring on the CCTV control room's Christmas tape. You could also stock up on provisions and then queue again in an orderly fashion at stop B4 for the next (109). Then again, when I last came here testing the routes it was more like the bull run at Pamplona when the bus pulled in. So, whatever you did or didn't do, you're hopefully on the bus bound for Brixton. As I say, it's a long ride and if you nod off in the meantime, I'm sure the electric mistrerss will rouse you from your torpor when she intones that Lambeth Town Hall's coming up. So waggle your legs to get the circulation back, collect your belongings and disembark. You'll probably have seen our next stop anyway when you were still on the bus, so cross over Brixton Hill and Effra Road at the lights, stride across the ground purposefully and survey this:
Well then, welcome one and all to the Ritzy - a quaint little picture house which has stood here for the better part of a century. Opening in March 1911 as the Electric Pavilion, it's just about the only surviving cinema Brixton has from decades gone by, the other eight or so either suffering war damage or closing down on health and safety grounds. Having said that even this place had a reputation for free shower facilities owing to its leaky roof. Most of the other cinemas in the area were put out of business by German bombing campaigns in the Second World War, and the Electric Pavilion nearly joined them when a huge bomb dropped and took out a theatre next door. Bad luck for them, and good for the Pavilion: they cleared the rubble away and extended themselves onto the now empty plot. The place reopened in 1954 and continued to trade until 1976, when it was gutted of all furnishings, fixtures and fittings and fell into a state of decrepitude. Lambeth Council had long wanted to bring Brixton town centre into the 20th Century and bought the remains of the Pavilion with the intention of knocking it down and redeveloping the site. However, five local men who thought it should be returned to use as a cinema clubbed together, put up some money and negotiated with the local Labour Party-controlled council to let them try and run it. They agreed and even let them off rent for a while just to see if they could turn it around. It was hard, it was awkward, it was difficult and it was painful - but it opened up again in April 1978 under the curious name of 'Little Bit Ritzy', presumably because it was in stark contrast to the rest of Brixton and found a solid following as an indepenent art-house cinema, also showing more mainstream and commercial stuff as well. At some stage they realised the 'Little Bit' bit sounded a little bit odd and renamed the place the Ritzy - and it remains thus to this very day. It was bought by Oasis Cinemas in 1994, who provided further expansion and modernisation and seems set to continue as a going concern for a while yet. Providing such an eclectic programme of attractions for the culture vultures of Brixton, perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that this modest facility was where David Gilmour chose to do something quite ambitious: alright, so he'd done his domestic premiere for 'On An Island' on September the 6th 2007, beaming live and direct in surround sound from the Leicester Square Odeon to sixteen other cinemas around Britain and selected others in Europe. That went smoothly, so where could he go next? Well....how about Canada and America? Why not indeed, eh? Thus, two weeks after the UK/European premiere, a scaled-back setup was dragged over to the Ritzy where Gilmour and company did it all over again on the evening of the 15th of September. Just as was done for the UK/Europe, his blog had asked for questions to be submitted from the other side of the pond to perhaps be answered by Gilmour himself in the interview segment, but instead of Stuart Maconie conducting the Q+A Phil Manzanera did the honours - and it was a considerably more relaxed affair, apparently. I dimly recall technical issues with satellites causing some trouble for those watching far away, who in fact were rather less than were anticipated. It seemed that Sony Records in America didn't promote the event with any great gusto and so many cinemas that recieved the broadcast were quite sparsely attended. Still, those lucky few that won tickets to be at the Ritzy on the night were more than happy.
So, that's that. If you walk over to the lights at the junction with Coldharbour Lane, you can cross over here and then turn round to look at the important-looking building over the other side of the junction. That's what used to be called Brixton Town Hall, which you'll probably remember getting a mention on 'The Wall'. It's where the Hammer Guard's march to Hyde Park began, on record at least. So, ponder on that for a while and then turn round again to make your way up Brixton Road towards the railway station. Just before it on the right you'll pass by the top end of Electric Avenue, made more widely famous by the Eddy Grant song of 1982. Pass under the bridges and carry on past Brixton Station Road, and then Beehive Road on the right. Shortly afterwards you'll reach the junction with Stockwell Road on the left. I know Brixton has a reputation of sorts, and it was here that I was accosted on a reconnaisance run and asked if I "wanted one?" Alas, it wasn't a crack dealer or even a street walker offering favours for cash, but a pastor with a pamphlet instead. Alleluia....still, give praise and thanks we've just about made our next stop unscathed. Plod up Stockwell Road for a few feet, and take a look at this:
|o2 Brixton Academy
Well, to start with you've probably guessed: this *wasn't* one of the eight or nine other cinemas that I previously mentioned had gone west in Brixton. It nearly did, but we'll come to that later. Built at the considerable cost of a quarter of a million and opened in 1929, the Brixton Astoria was a slightly older sister to the Finsbury Park Astoria, which subsequently became the Rainbow Theatre and can be seen on More of the West and North part 2. Brixton's one was just as ingeniously designed, well-built and extravagant as Finsbury Park's, equally at home as a live theatre or cinema and continuing the Astoria trend for fantastical interior decoration. The foyer has a domed roof which has planets and stars painted on the inside and a marble floor with a vaguely sinister six-pointed star design. The auditorium was fashioned to make punters forget they were even in England, let alone Brixton: the roof had the expected twinkling stars and other (unspecified) atmospheric effects, and the walls were modelled on Mediterranean village/townscapes, featuring the illusion of buildings crammed together with roofs, columns, balconies, arches and chimneys and trees poking out from between them. The proscenium arch had the usual octagonal towers either side with a bridge connecting the two, spanning the length of the stage, and then of course there was the stage itself: bloody enormous apparently, both back when the place opened and now. So big it's still Europe's largest fixed stage apparently. Obviously there was the obligatory Compton organ to accompany things as well. But back to the old days: the opening night's bill included an Al Jolson film followed by variety acts of varying quality, but they can't have all been bad as the BBC broadcast some of them - presumably on the radio, although there's a chance it could have been an early televisual extravaganza to an audience of extremely few. Still, the filmic/live entertainment programme continued without cessation for a good forty years or so, after which the Astoria's nemesis would prove to be old age. Being forty-three years old and having passed through three or four owners by then, it was geting a bit tatty and frayed around the edges. Possessed by the Rank Organisation at the time, it finally closed and bolted it's doors on the 29th of July 1972. Not for long though. By September it was back again as the Brixton Sundown, a ruse by Rank to reopen or otherwise convert old theatres and cinemas as rock/disco venues. Brixton's opening night featured Deep Purple but Rank only managed to get three other old cinemas going in London under the Sundown name - in Mile End, Charing Cross Road and Edmonton before announcing in February 1973 that it wasn't entirely working out. Brixton closed in January '73, but the following year English Heritage granted it a Grade II listing on account of the interior's (faded) opulence. Lucky they did really; some clown wanted to knock it down and build a garage in its place. It never happened though, and Rank kept the place closed but heated to preserve the insides. In the early 80's Brixton itself was socially up shit street and another attempt to get music going at the Astoria, The Fair Deal, opened featuring UB40 but ran out of money within a month. However entrepeneur Simon Parkes came along in 1983 and bought the place, bringing it up to scratch and reopening it as The Academy on the 7th of October. From that day on, it's never really looked back. As a performance facility and rehearsal space, the Astoria was always busy with minor acts and world-famous supergroups alike in the earlier days, and nowadays it still attracts artists of every size, shape and genre you care to name. But guess what? They never, *ever* got Pink Floyd! HA! As a final stamp on the Brixton Astoria/Academy's importance, English Heritage upped it's status to II* in March 1990. So if Pink Floyd were too big for Brixton, why are we here then? Well, of course they got David Gilmour, keeping his hand in during the wilderness years and fiddling the banjo with panache as part of Pete Townshend's Deep End on the 1st and 2nd of November 1985. There was a third night lined up but it didn't sell enough tickets and got cancelled. As luck would have it the two that did go ahead were recorded and filmed, and both a video and album were issued in the UK and the US. But they've both long since been deleted so clips are probably all over YouTube. It wasn't even the whole show anyway, but Townshend did finally issue a full double CD in 2004 which has also been deleted now. Ho hum. So that's Gilmour out of the way. Would you ever believe Roger Waters has been here too at some stage? No, me neither. His 1990 live recreation of 'The Wall' in Berlin was a well-documented technical disaster, both in terms of quality of performance and continuity. There were so many power cuts that after the show had finished they had to immediately redo the songs which were silenced (mercifully, some might say) again. One sequence that managed to buck the sonic trend and *still* be unusable was Ute Lemper's performance in 'The Trial', which was fine in every regard save for the unacceptably shaky camerawork. How this escaped notice until everything at Berlin had been cleared away and packed up is anyone's guess. But apparently it did, and so they reshot parts of 'The Trial' here on the stage of the Brixton Academy. Lemper is seen in close-up against a black background, miming to her original live rendition on the night. Did Waters turn up to oversee things? Possibly, though I doubt it - when 'The Wall Live In Berlin' was due to be released on video he didn't even bother turning up to its press conference, so.....
If you want, you can wander down Astoria Walk along the side of the building, and across Stockwell Park Walk at the bottom. If you then turn round and look up at the back end of the Astoria, you'll see one of Brixton's famed murals. When you've finished, go back up Astoria Walk and wait at the bus stop across Stockwell Road. When a (345) turns up, take it all the way to Clapham Junction station. But before you get there, as you pass the verdant greenery of Clapham Common, see if you can strain your eyes over to the west side. It'll be easier if you're on the top deck obviously, and bloody impossible if it's already dark. But over there, just off Clapham Common West Side, is a street called Broxash Road. When Roger Waters divorced his wife Judy, he moved to a house along Broxash Road in 1976 or thereabouts. From here he used to have to drive over to Britannia Row studios every day (which must have been a kick in the bollocks considering how close their marital home in New North Road was to it) during the making of 'Animals'. Still, as he's said in the past the route he took, going past a certain power station in Battersea, provided him with a bit of an idea for an album cover. By 1980 Waters had moved on again to Fife Road in East Sheen, which is miles away - in every sense of the word. I'll give you a flavour: when I went there, I was rather distracted by the opulence of the properties and nearly got run over by a vintage Rolls Royce Phantom VI in metallic gold. I know where you live, pal....anyway, it was in the poverty-stricken surroundings of Fife Road that 'The Wall', 'The Final Cut' and his first two solo records were drizzled out. Not that I'm suggesting anything by that, mind. If I can fiddle it, I'll put it on the South-West trail but it'll be hard as public transport is non-existant there. But anyway, when you arrive at Clapham Junction you'll be dumped on Falcon Road. Walk back up to the big junction you passed through with Debenhams on the far corner, and turn right onto St. John's Hill. Walk up it, past the shops, pubs, entrance of sorts to Clapham Junction railway station, and just keep going until you get to the crossroads with Strath Terrace and Plough Road. For a better view, cross over to the opposite side and turn round. What you see ought to look a bit like this.....
Well, here's one we're not strictly supposed to know about. I say this because as far as I'm aware, never have the band or any individual members ever publicly performed here, nor has it been used as a location in a solo or group promotional video or projection film. They've never lived here. They don't own it, and unless you know different I don't suppose they want to buy it either. But nevertheless, the once derelict Grade II* listed former cinema and bingo hall tucked just behind Clapham Junction railway station played a key role in a certain aspect of Pink Floyd's affairs for a very short time in the early '70's. Already known by then for their live sonic prowess, the Floyd weren't too far away from the threshold of superstar status at the time. Their concerts were getting bigger and the venues larger, and to keep pace with this steady expansion they needed better equipment - especially in the sound department, not that they weren't loud enough to begin with. It was here, on or about the 5th of May 1971, that their road manager Peter Watts and proper manager Steve O'Rourke put two new PA systems through their paces. One was (here's the science bit - concentrate) a two-way passive Bill Kelsey system, and the other was....well, nobody knows anymore. For his part, Kelsey took his PA system along and found that there was another company and their representatives already there with their PA system too. This rather irritated Kelsey, who hadn't been told he was competing against anybody else. But he set his gear up anyway, and both systems were hooked up to a mixing desk and given a thorough workout. Kelsey later recalled that it seemed to be going quite swimmingly, but Watts said to him that his system was actually a load of rubbish. O'Rourke was even more scathing: he complained about the waste of time it had all been, not to mention the money it had cost to hire the building for the day. Watts demonstrated what he meant by fiddling around at the mixing desk. One fader was pushed up and a muffly fuzz issued forth; a second fader, presumably attached to Kelsey's opponents' PA system, instead sang out with a clean, clear sound. Kelsey was horrified, but luckily for him both Watts and O'Rourke were unable to keep the pretence up any longer and collapsed in gales of laughter. The pair of japesome funsters had stealthily crossed everything over, meaning that Kelsey's PA *was* as good as he thought it was and the rival system was the dull one. As just reward for his abilities in sonic engineering and being able to take a joke, Kelsey's PA system was adopted at the beginning of 1972 in time for the 'Eclipse' tour of the UK. A fine tale, and worthy of telling. But wait - it doesn't end there. Oh no, not by a long chalk. This building has more going for it than that, again in a clandestine way. Speak to any hardcore Floyd fan, and they'll tell you that the BBC Radio One live session of 1971 for John Peel's 'Sounds Of The Seventies' show was an all-time high point of the band's career. If perchance you're lucky enough to have heard the show, have you ever wondered why it was so damn good? They worked hard for it, that's why - and here's where they rehearsed, apparently. In Miles and Mabbett's book 'Pink Floyd - The Visual Documentary (3rd. Edition)', it's stated that the band's equipment was shipped in from Stockholm and set up inside the Granada on September the 29th. The following day was spent rehearsing, which finished at around half-past five in the afternoon. And then three days later, on October the 3rd, the band and their gear went down to the Paris Theatre in Lower Regent Street and recorded the radio show. Or so Miles and Mabbett say, at any rate. Unfortunately, Povey and Russell's book 'Pink Floyd - The Complete Performance History' thinks that the radio session took place on September the 30th, which is when Miles and Mabbett say the band were rehearsing in the Granada. Povey and Russell additionally claim that the broadcast of the session was on the 12th of October, and Miles and Mabbett stretch credibility by stating that the band wrapped the radio session up, shipped out to Naples and played a gig there on the same day that they think it was recorded (October the 3rd). Povey and Russell don't say anything at all about October the 3rd, and Miles and Mabbett don't say anything about October the 12th. So who's right? Are they both wrong? Do you know? Do you care? Probably not. I know I don't anymore...
**Update - 01/08** After a protracted battle between interested parties and the council's planning department, a bid to turn the Granada into yet another branch of the Universal and most Holy Church of the Golden Tabernacle, Silver Chalice, Platinum Altar and Silken Vestments to the Eternal Glory of our Lord God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit Amen Alleluia (Ltd.) was defeated. Instead, an ambitious scheme to create 59 new apartments by way of adding two extra floors on top of the roof *and* restore the interior of the cinema to its former glory for future community use won out. Thank Christ for that....
**Update - 3/10** I forgot all about this. Apparently the auditorium *is* going to be an evangelical church after all. One of the agents selling the apartments above reckon they'll be considerate neighbours, despite this type of worship having a tendency to be quite boisterous/borderline illegal apropos health and safety regulations. Hopefully the soundproofing was upgraded too....
So, that's your lot. Painful, wasn't it? All you've got to do now is find your way back home. I reckon Clapham Junction railway station might be a good place to start.....