Friday, 17 February 2012

Music to My Ears

What a busy time I have been having.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Collective
On Monday 23 January I was at the old Regent St. Polytechnic building, now part of Westminster University, for a meeting of the Black Music Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Collective. Much of the discussion was taken with how to influence BBC radio and TV programmes, and have SC-T music included in the Proms.
Asset Transfer and Community Hubs
The next morning I was at Stockwell YMCA for the half day seminar organised by Lambeth Voluntary Action Council on Lambeth Council’s Co-operative Council consultation about passing some of the buildings it owns over to the  community and voluntary groups who use them to create community hubs for services and activities. During the discussion the lead Councillor and Council Officer admitted that Lambeth had been a bad landlord to the organisations using many of its buildings. This was a welcome admission.
Referring to the study of Stockwell community buildings I had carried out in 2008/9 for Stockwell Partnership I pointed out that a community hub asset transfer idea at that time had not happened. It appears this was due to some complicated legal problem that has been unearthed. I stressed that while it might appear the Council was trying to off-load buildings that needed a lot of repair as part of making cuts, there had been strong case for asset transfer for several years before the banking crisis triggered the recession. The cuts simply make the process more difficult.
I supported the Council’s hope that the idea of asset transference of some libraries like Minet (where Lambeth Archives are based) and Durning in Kennington was a different issue and should be kept separate within the parallel Libraries consultation that is also underway.
I also pointed out that there were many existing community hubs in buildings owned by others, like Stockwell Community Resource Centre (Hyde Housing) and Vauxhall Gardens Community Centre (CLS Holdings in a building purchased from Council).  I distilled issues relating to community buildings from the Stockwell study to hand out to many of those attending. Since then I have agreed that a Council Officer can share it with his colleagues.
The Beaufoy and Stockwell Studios
Unfortunately, there are other drivers within Lambeth Council which go counter to the Co-operative Council and community hub ideas The first was the sale of the Beaufoy Institute building for a Buddhist centre and the rest of the site for housing. Of course I am biased as I have put in a lot of time since 2004 in working with Riverside Community Development Trust (RCDT) and Lady Margaret Hall Settlement (LHMS) to try and have the whole site asset transferred into community  ownership for a vocational education hub.
The Council now seems desperate to ensure that the Buddhists make the building available for use to the local community as a hub. I had to deal with the topic in the February issue of the Kennington Vauxhall Alliance News I produce for RCDT and LMHS as their Company Secretary (copies available on request).
The second action which actually got reported in The Guardian was the sale of the former Annie McCall maternity hospital building and site to a developer, turning the Council’s back on its partner the artists’ collective Stockwell Studios, and the potential to turn the site into a  hub.
Andrew’s Inaugural Lecture on Digital Humanities
On Wednesday 25 January son of Battersea Andrew Prescott gave his inaugural lecture as newly appointed Professor of Digital Humanities at Kings College London. Title: An Electric Current of the Imagination: What the Digital Humanities Are and What They Might Become. Among the issues he discussed were the problems of general public access to the growing digital resource materials on the web. Find out more about Andrew on Although the lecture was filmed it does not yet appear to have been loaded up onto the College website. You can see our joint paper Black Freemasonry on
Wandsworth Heritage Festival
On Friday 27 January there was a meeting of the Heritage Wandsworth Partnership. A key component of the discussion was the emerging draft programme for the Wandsworth Heritage Festival. I will be giving talks and leading walks, and  sponsoring a talk Cassie Guelph, a Leeds PhD student, on Hester Thrale as female writer. The Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Network will sponsor a talk by Jeff Green. The programme is being finalised this week to enable the brochure to be devised.

Young Croydon Pianists
On Tuesday 31 January Ann and I were at the Fairfield Halls for a lunch time recital  by young pianists being taught through the Croydon Music and Arts Services Young Pianists Centre. This is headed by my friend Fred Scott, co-founder of the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Network and a former pupil of my mother.  When Fred told me last year that this concert (an annual event) would be held we discussed the inclusion of music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. I suggested he try and encourage some of the young pianists to improvise on his music. I had also suggested encouraging jazz interpretations. I certainly did not expect him to manage to include both in the programme. Two young women played their joint composition,  and 16 year old Jeferson improvised Deep River in jazz mode. More about the concert and especially about Jefferson in the Network Newsletters 7 & 8 on the Network website.
Tyneside for Popular Politics
On Friday 3 February I went up to Newcastle for a weekend on the North East Popular Politics Project. Saturday was spent helping to run a Day School at Northumberland Archives based at Woodhorn Mining Museum near Ashington (yes the home of the Pitmen Painters). The Project has had a lot of local press publicity and over 40 new volunteers have joined.
While up there I went with mine host, and lead organiser of the Project, John Charlton to see Newcastle play football. Never having been a football fan, its many years since I went with my youngest son Richard and his best friend getting drenched at Crystal Palace, and years before then in the winter of 1966/67 getting freezing cold on the terraces in  Sheffield. Not a spectacular game, but some good moments with some players showing real skill.
On the Monday John and I were originally going to go down to Middlesbrough to spend time at Teesside Archives. We had so much to do in terms of thinking through the implications for the Project of having so many more people join that we abandoned the idea.
Spanish Civil War Reminisences
Back on the Monday evening in London to go to the Pico Bar on  Vauxhall’s Albert Embankment to celebrate the birthday of friend Mel James, along with, Ann,  Penny Corfield and Tony Belton, and to remember the late Carmen Anigbault who died last year, a Spanish refugee from Franco – the Pico being one of her favourite eating places. Her short story, under her pen name Carmen Cortes,  Malaga On Week. Memories of Childhood Spain can be seen on my main (and very out of date website): 
World Premier of Thelma
The highlight of this busy time was the first night world premiere performance of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s opera Thelma put on by Surrey Opera at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls on Thursday 9 February. I certainly enjoyed, but I don’t need to say more here because you can read my comments and those of others who attended in Network Newsletter 8 on the Network  website or from me.
Gypsy Jazz

The Saturday that followed saw Ann and I at a jazz and comedy club! A first! Friend Catherine arranged for her violin teacher who leads the Dunajska Kapelye group based in North London, to play for the evening, and then organised a lot of her friends to go as a group booking.  The music was great (from Turkey, Macedonia, Hungary, Russia and Transylvania). The food was OK but overpriced. The staff friendly and helpful.
A Storm in the Playground
The chat was entertaining, especially remembering the incident when an early lady came into the playground my sons’ primary school and belted one the non-teaching workers with her handbag because she considered the woman was discriminatory against her grandson. A big cheer went up in the junior playground. Of course unacceptable behaviour. Grandma was banned for a while from coming into the playground. And who was her grandson, the boy who grew up be a leading jazz musician who has played at the Hideway. As I discussed it with one of my sons’ contemporaries at the school and his father, we wondered whether the musician has ever written a piece: ‘Grandma’s Wrath’ or ‘Grandma Rules OK!’. And the Hideway: a venue I would go to again. Check it out on
More Jazz!!!
And then three days later on Tuesday 14 February back at the Fairfield Halls for the next event in the Croydon Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Festival: the John Law Trio  playing Law’s own compositions, including variations on two of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s 24 Negro Melodies. A talented set of musicians, even though I am not familiar enough with jazz to understand all that is played.  The event was organised by Fred Scott’s Soundpractice agency: The next Soundpratice event in the Festival is at 1pm on 3 April: a  lunchtime concert by Megan Whiteley, Fred, Cornelius Bruinsma and friends, which will to include items by SC-T. Also at Fairfield Halls in aid of SCAT (Skeletal Cancer Action Trust). Tickets from 0208 688 9291 or

And ….

In addition to all this lots of work for Lady Margaret Hall Settlement and Stockwell Community Resource Centre, several background briefs for the Popular Politics Project, compiling and emailing out the Network Newsletter 8, British Black History Digest 5 and HSAN Diary and News 4 (all three available to me), a meeting to discuss the design of the next pamphlet I will be published under my imprint, a new edition of Stephen Bourne’s Aunt Esther, to be titled Esther Bruce. A Black London Seamstress. Her Story: 1912-1994. This will be followed by a pamphlet on the life of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor by Jeff Green, and a new edition of Vauxhall and the Invention of Urban Pleasure Gardens by Penny Corfield.
And because Popular Politics is now Twittering I now have a Twittter account, alongside my Facebook, Academicedu and Linkedin accounts! Oh the demands of social networking!
·       For newsletters mentioned about and my paper on community buildings issues in Lambeth email me on

·       To see Network newsletters go to

·       For more about North East Popular Politics Project go to

·       My Twitter is @SeanCreighton2. Why 2, because another Sean Creighton got on Twitter before me!

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