UK got too hot. Ghost style, stepping through ashes

Now the ghost, back with a bang.  Meets London at an angle, spinning off its own axis.

Last Saturday, there were sirens screaming through the night.

Police vans, straight from other boroughs heading fast up Stoke Newington High Street.  Cabaret at the Rebel Dog, we knew that something was going on.  I get a text from Tamsin “Riots in Tottenham?! X“.

What’s happening tonight London?

The answer is stranger than anything anyone can muster.  Uptown, Urban Dusk was settling the next evening when I finally journeyed up the Road, a road I know very well.  Maybe the ravens at the Tower started to get restless.  I’d never seen what a lockdown looked like.

Smashed bricks still there on wet tarmac outside Chances.  A Peoples’ Assembly was being held on the pavement where the men normally drink too much stout.

Ahead of The Game.  Connections really running deep.  ATP in Whitechapel.  Syzygy Re-Productions at the Sydney Youth Project.

Now I have previously drifted through Tottenham Carnival.  No carnival, the chatter on the High Road this evening wasn’t too good.  The police had killed a man.  And the situation on the streets got so tense and heated, that it blew up.  Now some of Tottenham’s buildings lay smouldering.

They’d closed the whole Road and the police them there maintaining the line.

Haringey People.  I left as more and more police cars sped around the one-way system at Tottenham Hale to get over to Enfield, where there had just started looting.

The Shock.  The Horror.

Also just the rupture in the every day mundanity.  They were in Wood Green Shopping City for 4 hours before cops turned up.

The next day I was in the West End.  I was the final customer that morning at the bank in High Holborn which they were closing early having heard from their management that rioting was happening nearby.  An hour later, and this was the scene at the shops in the recently renovated Brunswick Centre:

What happened here?  The kids picked on a Vodaphone shop, and smashed the windows to get at the phones.

The spark had spread, from the High Street in Tottenham so that it lit up something in the kids in Gloucester who started doing the same thing.  London as Barometer.  London as Microcosm.  On the second night of rioting, the whole world starts watching.

Later that night, I was back in Whitechapel.

There were kids outside were getting restless.  A lot of flashing lights were going around Stepney but nothing was going to get on Sky News.  Smoke filled the air and a fire engine pulls into the carpark at O’Leary Square.  We hit the street and they’d set the bin on fire.

Easy to talk about Britain going up in flames.  It wasn’t.  It was a few select locations in London.  But Whitechapel Ghost Style, present but not always on hand.  I was there following up.  Things get too hot and then they catch a fire.  And it came from the next neighbourhood up from us.  My beloved Tottenham.  On the third night, I was staying out of the trouble.  Someone’s doing San Ti Shi on a comfortable lawn in an Essex suburb.  The rioting and looting spread like a fire and later that night, we watched from a helicopter on the television as parts of the city of London burned.

No-one knows what happened here in the capital city.

In Peckham the following day…

A week later, the violence had stopped and everyone is simply trying to work it all out…

The Ghost still flits around, visiting England.  Everywhere, the police are trying to clamp down on something.  It is ill-defined.  The political classes have no answers.  Everyone is angry with police.

I say, what a spectacle from the Bullring in Birmingham!  For it was here as well…

It is so easy to break a window.

Strange scenes from what a deadly boring corporatist-fascist state in Britain might look like.  See the ad-hoc police cinema screen in the middle showing grainy CCTV faces of urban youth.

See the screen in the middle, amid the logos and the spectacle.  “Do you know any of these people?” the police want to know.  Streets away, speculative capitalism leaves the shitty Birmingham office blocks of the 1970s empty – and – also – boarded – up.  Something is happening in the UK but I don’t know who is really winning or loosing.

The shattered glass of retail centres has all been swept up.  And the wooden boarding was still in the windows of the Argos in the Arena Shopping Centre on Green Lanes when I got back.  Only streets away from the new Birmingham Bus Station, and people have been busy, dismantling the future they had planned for us all.

But everyone is still shopping.

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Enter the Horse Stance, final days




Rainbird, throwing up Illuminati sign




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“Biri Ka’m Biri” (live and let live)



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Films from the Abyss – the first outing


Come one, Come all.  Haste ye to Rebel Dog, this space of exotic fancies in Stoke Newington.  Over the road from the graves of the West Hackney Recreational, stacked up and waiting.  Finally, the weight and the need to anchor these strange ramblings to a given place and time has resulted in this Films from the Abyss; poster above.  Your attendence would be approved…

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H.P. Lovecraft and the Churches of Dalston

H.P. Lovecraft

Howard Philips Lovecraft – Dalston Junion, in the first week of February, 2011.  Weird Fiction.  There is a connection.

At the end of last year, Lovecraft’s Necronomicon arrived on my desk.  A shiny black square tome of a book containing the collected tales and chronicles of a demented mind.  Lovecraft.  I dread to think of this guy’s evenings, what came to him late at night.  Unspeakable things.  Truly, a darkness at the very edges of everybody’s waking life.  Lovecraft’s is a modern horror.  That places we know and visit can contain truly frightening and terrifying scenes and goings on.  Into the Mauve Zone, it states that “The Necronomicon isn’t supposed to exist, but – like so many things that shouldn’t – it does. And how it’s come to exist makes an interesting, and troubling story“.  This is apposite.

This Winter, something has definitely been happening in Dalston.  A new era in the evolving story of this part of London is being ushered and in

and, with a certain reading, Lovecraft’s ideas can reveal a great deal.



Below is Dalston Square.  Dalston Square amounts to “A breath-taking regeneration” – it becomes a noun – “of outstanding new homes with excellent transport links including the new station, Dalston Junction, built within the development,” according to Barratt Homes.  For they have taken over this little corner of London.

Alongside the scaffold, and the fenced-off lifestyle zone you find the Rhodes estate.

Rhodes estate

Not even old Dalston, but still a master stroke of some woeful and piteously Hackneyed housing strategy from the 1970s.

Crosby Walk

Note the bat boxes, more on those later.  The estate named after the nasty imperialist himself, Cecil Rhodes.  The people here have had to put up with almost constant disruption, lives interrupted by the rhythms of the building site.  Dust.  Nights lit up with Neon.  Their air quickly became charged with the energy of re-development and the language; that things in Dalston must be made better.

Can U see the Church?

The worst of it is, last November a meeting took place, here,

at the Rhodes Estate Community Hall to establish the grounds upon which Barratt Homes would come into the Estate and establish a series of new public spaces.  As part of the Dalston Square development’s Section 106 agreements, the regeneration would help to make the little man’s world go round.  The developer would give back to this impoverished urban community by providing them with new community facilities on the estate.  This was the discussion that night, and, couched in the language of developers, how could anyone disagree with a community orchard??  It just sounds so nice.  So, with an apparently successful agreement between the tenants of the Rhodes Estate and the representatives of Barratt Homes, the meeting ended and all present were agreed.  Barratt Homes were to bring a new aesthetic regime to the area.  And this was enacted as part of the “changing” of Dalston in the Winter of 2010/2011.

This is where Lovecraft and his twisted fictions come into play.

Present at the meeting that night was some crew from Shoreditch called Urban Lash.


and Graham

They sat silently through the meeting, apparently lost in the PROCESS.  At the end, at Any Other Business, one of them got up to speak and he presented a very different agenda…

Urban Lash would play quite a serious role in the regeneration of the Rhodes Estate.  Urban Lash are an arts project which tries to inject a bit of random savagery unto the planning of new urban space.  The represent a new approach in the urban regeneration industry and are beginning to pick up quite a lot of local authority contracts in places like Stockton-upon-Tees, Blackburn and Dumfries & Galloway.  What they do is make the public spaces of new housing developments really demented and upsetting.  To do this, they take a number of Fundamentals from the Urban Design Compendium – a non-statutory design manual, standard reading in the town planning field – and mess around with them.  Like, really fuck them up.  Part of this dementia is when they orientate and control all nature

and natural things.

It can be said, from this vantage point which hindsight affords, that there was a tendency, within the Urban Lash Crew, to take their level of community re-design, to the darkness and obscure occultist practice.  Their pitch that night was this…  Urban Lash were willing leave Shoreditch.  To move onsite into new company H.Q. and work closely with Barratt Homes on-site management to recreate the parish land surrounding the Dalston Square development.

The ‘Process Church of the Final Judgement – Urban Lash’ was built at the heart of the new Dalston Square development.

The terrifyingly anonymous squat grey building has now become the living nucleus and brain of the whole building site.

Their design statement for the project went like this: Urban Lash’s involvement, primarily upon the Rhodes Estate, would take material expression in the form of a series of linked public spaces, installed by the developer Barratt Homes, in which the immediate experience of nature would be mal-aligned.  Deadened.  Urban Lash were basically in place to re-design and conceive anew all public space on the the estate.  Anything green or natural is to be seen as the enemy and is in some way aesthetically criminalised.  Urban Lash particularly don’t like the thought of people putting their actual hands into the earth of their estate, and getting them soiled and dirty.

The resulting public spaces are a series of pedestrian-hating, dead, grey, fenced-off little existence-zones.  For the people to enjoy.  They are neither lulled or visually seduced out from their homes, nor compelled to strike up a meaningful relationship with the large spaces outside of their living rooms.   The Ground Beneath Their Feet.  It’s gone now.  Barratt Homes

A touch of grass, fenced off.

Terrible scorched whips of New-Build shrubbery.

Straight Outta Crompton: Barratt Homes’ manual.

Their working style was to have huge parties in the building’s main room.  These would be frequented by young yuppies and new urban elitists, some of whom would rave there for whole weekends.

Everything.  Alcohol.  Ketamine, cocaine, a lot of cocaine, smack, other stuff; was provided for by Barratt Homes.  During these parties, design sessions were held whereby the party goers would hold what can only be described as workshops.  There, models of the new and existing housing blocks and the public spaces which were to be established in and around Dalston Junction, were debated and experimented upon.  Urban Lash think that if you’re poor, then it’s funny to spend millions and millions of pounds not actually improving your life.  So these workshops would come up with ways of producing really unpleasant places to live, and be around.  That’s their idea.  And after a process of months, these ideas and projects were duly contracted, awarded and built on-site.

And what has happened is that the residents of the Rhodes Estate have become actors in a debasement of planning, building control and the ghastly spires and murky grounds of the Churches in Dalston.  Energy Design.  Dalston.  Kill Off Hippies and Space, just like Lovecraft had envisaged.

Regarde, the play area designed for the children, the habitantes of Rhodes.

Relate to the photo above, not so much as the gaze of Bentham’s panopticon.  Here, the new yuppy flats have the gaze of the necronomicon.  A deeply unsettling feeling pervades all public space on the Estate, Real people – Tony Romanov a.k.a. Horsefat proletariat – have to live under actual energy waves of scorn and derision which emanate from the balconies of Urban New Build.  That particular business arrangement which was carved out in the early hours at the meeting at the Community Hall, unleashed a sickness of gothick proportions.  The Dalston Square flats would forever tower above the Rhodes estate, and the people there would feel a strange sense of alienation and foreboding.

Death Stare grimness now bears down on the people in Dalston.  It’s unease on the cold Winter breeze.  Today, as residents on the Rhodes estate leave their houses and enter into the public realm, they are confronted with a grey surface of aesthetic ambivalence.  A crude, unsettling street scene rendered corporate and blank through the involvement of Barratt Homes.  The whole palette of the developers the same…

Bleak.  Dour.  Depressing.

Back to the designs for the Rhodes estate, those Urban Lash parties must have got really fucking heavy…

At one of them, people were laughing for hours at the idea of food deserts.  In an estate like the Rhodes, there were simply never enough shops built to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for a population of its size.  The response of Barratt Homes and Urban Lash is to force people to grow their own greenery to supplant their poor diets.

Food Growing Area, i

Food Growing Area, ii

Food Growing Area, iii

Here, they are growing dock leaves and hollihock, bitter and sour to the taste but essential if the people are to eat something that was really grown.

Is it any wonder that in the dwellings of the New Build, the residents must take their vitamins only in the form of fruit.

Tart Green Apples encased in mangled wire.  To be modern, and to be doing well, is to be in need of a Philippe Starck lemon squeezer.

Architecture goes necronomical.  It is towards the south side of the Estate where the Barratt Homes development becomes truly dark and unnerving.  Rumours are still circulating in Dalston, that there must have been meetings, quite senior meetings, before Barratt Homes officially came into the area, between the Church authorities, Hackney Council and some high-ranking player in East London’s underground occultist scene.  A little like the speculative meanderings of Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor, the Churches of Dalston have swung into play, with the machinations of development.  Presumably in some evil riposte to falling attendances and a marginalised position in the local social scene, these Churches appear to be changing.  Not outwardly, but inwardly.  And currently, this is only tangible to the discerning resident or pedestrian.


See the photograph above, the Holy Trinity Church of Dalston never used to bear down on the houses of the Rhodes Estate.  A certain weight or heaviness is now present where none used to be.  Of itself, this is nothing to worry about, a slight change in atmospherics.

Holy Trinity

side door

07.02.2011 092 a snapshot


But other Churches are involved as well…

snag on the Junction

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Manic Street Preachers

It is difficult for me to talk about the Manic Street Preachers. Still, I will make an attempt to discuss them here…

A couple of nights ago I attended their concert here in London. Blackwood intellectuals. Brixton Academicals. A very pleasurable evening I spent. I was there with good company and I consider that the band played an accomplished setlist. Yet I struggle with the Manic Street Preachers because I worry. I worried that I wouldn’t know how to respond to them any more. And judgement is called. For example, how to listen to the opening riff of Slash ‘n Burn and what is the proper response? I have listened to this song hundreds and hundreds of times. I have learned to play it on guitar. It opens their first album and was the band’s opener last Friday. It led me to recall a warm sense of nostalgia and memories of being younger. Great.

Many an hour was spent in a teenage bedroom, reading lyric booklets and perfecting guitar playing postures. From the Manic Street Preachers I learned my politics and philosophy, I earned my teenage stripes and alienation. I used to spend days perusing the record shops of Edinburgh and Glasgow, desperately trying to complete a full discography on Compact Disc. I’m delighted to say that recently this has been achieved, and I am the proud owner of every single Manic Street Preachers single.

I have these and it still feels fucking good. Look here, at She is Suffering CD2. Look here, as to how the Manics actually became the wave which was British guitar music in its last great pomp. 1996. 1997. 1998. Remixes here by the Dust Brothers, who were the Chemical Brothers, before they had to change their name, after receiving death threats. Noel Gallagher did vocals for Setting Sun by the Chemical Brothers. Richard Ashcroft worked with U.N.K.L.E. Oasis. Radiohead. The Verve. Pulp. Manic Street Preachers. It was a different era, and the Manics played their part well.

Nicky Wire was fucking 42 last Thursday. A question How can a band like the Manics – still shouting “You Love Us, You Love Us” ever contend with a culture of N-Dubz and X-Factor. They can’t and in a grown-up and measured way, the band perform an engaging array of tunes from their back catalogue. And it has to be said, they have within them some very very good songs.

My Little Empire
La Tristessa Durera (Scream to a Sigh)
Everything Must Go

The last time I saw the band in concert was on their Greatest Hits tour. A miserable gig at the biggest cowshed in Scotland, the SECC. A crush with Eyeliner, Mascara. Cuban cigar drooping from my mouth, posing in the cold of a Glasgow car park. Only to find that the crowd inside was mostly bevvied-up Topman boys. Singing through songs about the Spanish Civil War like it were karaoke on a night out with the rugby team. At that time I felt disgusted, with the band and their fans. And wondered how this dynamic would play out in Brixton. I certainly didn’t find the same vitriol for the London crowd. Well, the audience almost entirely white. Expected, no great distaste. And what kind of a Manics fan am I now? My party positioned ourselves somewhere near the middle of the crowd. We did not join the throng at the front. Nor did we hover at the back of the Academy, for a better view. There were a few scattered individuals, dressed up in leopard print and feather boas. Here I was, £3.80 pint of Tuborg in hand.

Seeing the band again, I feel that I have become more stoical. I realise now, that for all my grievances with the rugby boys, Sport was always part of the Manics essential history. Wire, the Welsh Beckenbauer. The gig on the eve of the Millennium at a rugby stadium in Cardiff. The Match of the Day loop. Believe, I’ve served my time at the clubhouse of Dumfries Rugby Club. Getting in a pie and beans with a pint after the match: a good thing. The guy’s called James Dean Bradfield. And after retreating into the living room of middle age, I do still insist that there is something special about the band. Pop music to underpin the rhetoric, the statement.

Libraries gave us Power“.

The other thing which quickly became apparent over the course of last Friday’s concert, was just how fickle and self-contradictory the band are, and have always been. Those who once quoted Foucault and Octave Mirbeau in Top Ten albums and perhaps took the greatest intellectual stance of any British pop group, now revel in the mainstream. “We don’t talk about Love, We only want to get Drunk,” is fucking lush to sing along to, when you are, indeed, intoxicated. After Everything Must Go, they produced hooks. Wrote anthems. Who aren’t even pushing barriers, let alone smashing them. A band who used to cover the Faces and now cover Rihanna. Listen, this seems to have kept their fanbase happy, and I don’t want to go back to living by new manics/ old manics dichotomies…

I am becoming comfortable with the settling of teenage dreams and scores from my youth. Music shapes the soul and this band helped define the person that I have come to be. The fact that they are still in existence and still touring does bring solace and I left the concert feeling elated and happy.

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Antebellum Clapton

Belladonna. Jack da Rippa. Rippavilla Plantation in Spring Hill, Tennessee. And before the swing intro and the fun starts, a hilarious meander through the ol’ house’s web guest page, at  They do teatime at the House, every 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month. Also, a genealogy class including tips on researching Black genealogy called Digging up Roots.  That’s just wonderful…

Now, down to Business.  Them boys at the Volunteer State Paranormal Research done themselves some fine work. They investigate ghosts and paranormal activity across Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee.

This, from their homepage,  “Anyone with an interest in ghosts, spirits and the paranormal has probably heard the terms “ghost hunter” and “paranormal researcher”, and wondered if there was any difference between the two and what those differences are. What makes you one or the other? From my experience, I would argue that there are some very key differences between ghost hunting and paranormal research. I won’t say if one is better than the other, or even that one is right and the other wrong. There are numerous schools of thought when it comes to spirits and communicating with the after life. Whether you relate to be a ghost hunter or a paranormal researcher is up to you – your personal preferences and beliefs.

“I’ll drink to that,said the Vicar, seeing his pint away and getting up to leave the George in Clapton.

Me, I was there just this Tuesday. I think the hour was around 3 and I had had a lot to drink. They had a trad-jazz band playing tunes all night long. Now, I’ve never been one to get down with them trad cats but these boys were playing something red hot. So getting late, they wound down, and inevitably I got a bit wound up; already anticipating the closure of the aforementioned public house to be converted into living spaces, or flats.  The name of the game.  Best give up the ghost.

So I this walked back through Hackney, took a stroll through this place.

Wasn’t feeling quite so scared when I realised that the whole darn place is lit up like some Disney tribute to whatever wonders the folks from Barratt Homes think they’re achieving. Photographic evidence to follow later readers… But seriously someone let The Man ride rough-shod through this part of town, right over the residents, and made a dense and solid part of Hackney-in-the-dark give its fertile soil and its dialectical ground over to some people, who wanted to make it look like this is somewhere in the suburbs. To the Petty Bourgeois of North East London: Two fingers, held high.  This isn’t Paris guys…

The gorgeous artworks above courtesy of Frank Laws and his website, Please Visit. I insist

Who built this?

Obsessed with the South.  I’m imagining what Antebellum London might have looked like.  Blood seeps from the black bricks, sometimes it’s hard to picture London after the war.

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This here is a duppy in Spanish Town, Jamaica…

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Forgotten spaces, in Japan

Ever the pied Magpie, the Rook, the Hooded Crow here shows, how the borrowin and pilferin off the internet becomes routine.

But look what I have for you.  Pictures from another world.  Some other, random web-log from Japan lists abadoned spaces and chronicles them.  All Thumbnailed.  Innit weird when everything descends slowly, de-fragmenting, into Chris Petit’s mantra for this, the most silly and banal of ages we are yet to know.  Content.  It’s all becoming Content

But here, severity online.  I love a bit of severity.  Also, that this blog appears to be named after research, into spirals.  Yes. 

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London. Glimsed. The same place, from a different time…

Recently I stumbled across these incredible scenes – photographs below readers. 

Pure and unadulterated in their simplicity, a mid-ranking Priest of digitalised design combining two worlds in one picture.  2 Photographs in 1 scene. 

O! So here I extol the marvels of a Tekno-enabling revolution.  My! Photoshop becomes a verb and what we are now able to achieve…  The images below like an brief essay in the potentials of download/ upload capacities. 

These pictures of London, compositions such as these cause the mind to re-wire  —  re-run the past as if it were now, right here in the present day? 

See how the lady walks towards a building in mid-collapse.  See how the clean corporate lines of a pared-down postwar City Modernism arose from the very destruction and rupture which the Blitz caused here.  This tumbling facade, who knows?  If not Hitler’s Luftwaffe then many buildings like it.  The City replaces, simply forgoing the decoration but not the massing of the old building in the foreground, to the left of the old picture.  The old falls forever silent.  The mind boggles, concepts reel and London still goes on.  Changing  &  Shifting 

Wapping.  Yeah.  Formerly a place of work, of docking.  Presently, a museum in East London.  An Estate Agents’ theme-park.  Disneyland evocation of Labour and of the working classes.  Architecture built for work.  The same building though now houses the Museum of London Docklands.  The photoshopped photo here captures beautifully the contrast.  I’d wager these men would have laughed at the continental tables laid out but yards from where they worked, ready for visitors’ cappucino.  

Juxta —  Positioning

See how the passer-by meanders, completely unaware of the echo of the nearby shoe shiner.  I’m actually comfortable with the Ghost in the P.C. – The play of the public street.  History reverberating, and it’s becoming ever closer now through the gadgetry and circuit boards of the MODERN MACHINE. 

I learned today that William Wallace was Crowned with a Garland of Oak before he was found guilty.  They dragged him past the Tower of London, up to Allegate before he was evicerated and his bowels were burned in front of him.  Most horrible.  Eagle-eyed readers will note that Aldgate was where I formerly banked.  Funny how quietly the ghosts share the pavements.

Months previous I would have said that Lefebvre’s everyday life, the stuff of **today**, tends towards banal.  But things are starting to kick off, as they say.  We have almost weekly uprising.  London witnesses real anger on the streets for the first time in many a year.  Weekly the students have been out.  Lewisham Town Hall overrun and its reception ransacked just two nights ago.  Nay, the old lady’s spirit lives on in us today…   Check the fellow in the Top Hat behind.  Gnarled…

My thanks to chamber images @ for their pictures and Concept. 

Everyone out – Day X, this Thursday, City Centre. 

The Revolution will be fun and


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