RSS Feed

Tag Archives: peckham

I Went To A Seance That Wasn’t Really a Seance

I went to a séance last week.

In a mysterious chapel that stands in the centre of a cluster of 17th Century almshouses, known as Asylum.

It was hosted by a magician so really, I should’ve known it would all be one BIG LIE!

The séance looked nothing like this

The séance looked nothing like this

Despite having all the ingredients for a spooky night; the promise of talking to the dead in a crumbling chapel, some darkness and a distinct lack of heat (basically the end of the Blair Witch Project minus the snot), the end shock reveal was less ta-da, and more I-will-never-get-that-hour-of-my-life-back.

Nothing says disappointment more than this baby

Nothing says disappointment more than this bored baby

After waiting for a while outside the chapel, we were invited in. The chapel is AMAZING. All chipped stone and flaking paint and apparently disused, although later I found out it can be hired for special events and trendy weddings. With coats, jumpers and hats remaining on, we sat on wooden chairs and lit candles laid out for us. Because candles mean atmosphere, innit.

We were told a story about a ghost girl, who died in the chapel after being crushed by a falling ceiling. I believe it’s what they call “setting the scene.” This girl carried around a music box which went missing in the rubble. But guess who had managed to get his hands on THE VERY SAME ONE? Our host, the magical, mystical, magic magician man.

Now THIS is a scary music box

Now THIS is a scary music box

He reminded me of the boys at school who ended up as estate agents. Bleached blonde hair gelled into what he probably thought was a sophisticated style, polished shoes that men wear to get into Tiger Tiger and a contrived confidence that added nothing to the gravitas he so desperately wanted to command the room. I think his glasses were from the designer range at Specsavers and his neediness smelt like Lynx deodorant.

He introduced our psychic medium for the evening and she was rather attractive. This made me suspicious. When are mediums ever hot? It was at this point I began to smell a rat. And the rat too, smelt like Lynx.

She explained a bit about herself, her power and had some awkward dialogue with the magician. I knew we were to be treated to a scripted performance but perhaps one not so poor. It made me think about the potential of the every actor in Hollyoaks. After doing a few exercises, she guessed (sorry, read) the room and found out someone in the audience had recently lost their Grandmother. A classic “I’m, I’m, getting a…a…a…J….” reading complete with reaching fingers and a squint. I’d been trying to channel Michael Jackson, so I got rather excited. But no, it was old lady, Joan.

I should've gone to this seance to speak to the King of Pop

I should’ve gone to this seance to speak to the King of Pop

Or this one

Or this one

The medium got into a cubicle, similar to those used in hospitals, so she could “make the spirit feel safe” and more likely to come out to say hey. Or something. She had a bell, a book and the music box, later used as a dramatic tool to emotionally manipulate the audience. She was tied to a chair, as to not interfere with the objects and the curtains were closed. And then the bell rang.

A “volunteer” went in the cubicle to make sure the medium wasn’t fiddling with anything and confirmed the bell moved by itself. Then a little girl, dressed up for Halloween appeared and screamed. Then the musical box went off. Then the medium vomited.

I wish Gaz had been our medium

I wish Gaz had been our medium

After this song and dance, we were told it was all pretend. Well, duh! The vomit was revealed to be a simple mixture of flour, rice and carrot and the little dead girl was a real alive girl. The magician piped up and said with a wry smile: “You have been part of an experiment to explore how Victorian audiences were once fooled into believing they could talk to the dead. And I think we can safely say that audiences still can be.”

So, rather than doing a Derren Brown and treating the audience as intelligent, Mr Magician here thought he could win us over by treating us like dum-dums. But as I looked around at the cold and bored audience, still holding their freebie candles, it was obvious all were ready to lock him in the crypt.

You want astonished?

You want astonished?

Unaware, the magician then asked us all to stay a bit longer to film some more audience shots. “Look really astonished” he said. Several times.

So I widened my eyes, opened my mouth and laughed out my candle.

Eating Bugs at The Pestaurant

On Thursday, I queued up with bankers and brokers alike to eat a pigeon.

The Pestaurant...see what they did there?

The Pestaurant…see what they did there?

The common pigeon (Columba Livia) doesn’t have any one habitat in London’s grey and pleasant land. You can find them almost anywhere; hanging out in intimidating gangs in Trafalgar Square, getting caught up in weaves on the Peckham pavement and begging for tuppence outside St Pauls Cathedral. I’ve never been inclined to kill man nor beast, and I think the last time I saw a pigeon on the menu I freaked out as only a ten year old seaside child in a Lebanese restaurant can. But I was hungry, and curious.

Yum.

Yum.

Whilst queuing with The Suits, I was offered a light starter of barbeque meal worm, a crispy and unsatisfying snack, not dissimilar to the crap bit of popcorn that you have to painfully pick out of your teeth. I doubt we will see the meal worm gracing our cinemas or supermarkets anytime soon.

Can I tempt you with some tasty nibbles?

Can I tempt you with some tasty nibbles?

The pigeon burger was alright but the disappointment of it not looking like a bit of pigeon was just too much; I wanted more of a pigeon feast for the eyes. Think hundreds of urban pigeons rotating on the spit roast, with a pile of pre-plucked carcasses waiting to be prepared for a grilling; a little more feather and a bit more drama. Instead, we were handed a standard looking burger in a bun with the small print stating that this was pigeon mixed with venison and bacon which meant it just tasted like bacon. Whilst we were told (and thank God; I’m not ready for another horse meat scandal), it was a bit lame; you can get venison and bacon anywhere and I wanted a dirty, London-tasting pigeon in a bun and in my hand. The taste of pavement and puddles.

Or something like that.

Looks like a burger, smells like a burger.  It's a pigeon.

Looks like a burger, smells like a burger. It’s a pigeon.

Disaster struck when the kind people at Rentokil ran out of all the other pesky delicacies which swarms of city workers desperate for a chocolate ants and barbequed crickets had come for, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. Now, I’m not trying to say that The Suits got greedy, but, well maybe they did.

Now, what to feast upon next...

Now, what to feast upon next…

The irony demonstrated by the shortage at this Rentokil Pestaurant is that we could have just found our own creepy crawlies, whacked them on the grill and had ourselves a very, merry picnic without the queues but I guess also without the media exposure. Which, at the end of the day, is what is needed to get Londoners to eat their common household pests.

Now, I’m off to find me a rat.

The Face of Peckham

The Face of Peckham

Peckham.  An area of diverse culture, from the roller-skating youths to the 90s-channelling hipsters to the Evangelical street proclaimers who have no qualms with bothering you (and God) every time you board the 436 bus.  An area ripped apart by the 2011 riots which not only saw the clothes store “Loot” well, looted, but also left the people of Peckham ultimately Greggs-less.

999429_10151621177679403_1173928140_n

A lot has been done to restore the peace of Peckham since 2011.  They’ve not only got one replacement Greggs on Rye Lane, but their second one shines in full glory on Peckham High Street.  Along with the clean ups organised by the community, a wall of post it notes grew from the remains of the smashed Poundland window.  With messages of support, such as “People and Peace” and “My Home”, the temporary post its  were preserved in the form of the “Peckham Peace Wall” now found in front of Peckham Library.

peckham peace

And artist, Josh Jeavons has started to transform the desolate hoardings of Peckham, giving it a face again.  Starting with the boards surrounding the scaffolding skeleton of what once was,  next to the burnt out Greggs, Jeavons has pasted facial features opposite a bus stop, reminding the people of Peckham of what happened two summers ago.  It looks to me as if one of the eyes peeping out from the posters is definitely on you and it doesn’t look impressed.  So please, no more rioting.  And leave poor old Greggs alone.

971416_10151621177829403_870985413_n