… when I read the latest edition of Greenwich Time.
When a newspaper that is the unashamed mouthpiece of the council uses such weasel words as “the borough is also working with the [Greenwich] theatre to explore the future of the building” without even attempting to jazz it up, alarm bells start ringing in my spectral ears.
They’re somewhat clumsily trying to make it look like a good news story – a ‘boost for the arts,’ no less – bigging up the old borough hall as a new hub for the performing arts – which to me just reads as’a way to close down the theatre by pretending to move it into the old borough hall.’
I mean – c’mon – if it was a good ‘future of the building’ Greenwich Time would have been all over the lovely, exciting possiblities like a particularly virilant rash. It’s the sin of omission, GT – when you’re desperate to make everything the council does look good, missing something like that out sounds bloomin’ ominous to me.
Back in the 1960s the people of Greenwich – not just the posh ones – everybody – went to incredible lengths to not only save Greenwich Theatre but to rebuild it and create something quite extraordinary – a force to be reckoned with in 1970s and 80s theatre, attracting major, A-lister stars. Just google within this blog and you’ll find loads of references to the recent history of the place – it’s impressive.
Sadly, thanks to the savage cuts of the 1990s and beyond it’s no longer able to keep up the kind of starry presence it had, but Greenwich Theatre is still an important venue. We owe it to the residents who saved it for us, to keep a close eye on what the council intend to do with not just the theatre but the building – if not for ourselves, for the generation that comes after us.
At the moment, this is just a niggle at the back of my tricorn. But I – and many other residents, if my postbag is to be believed – will be watching this story closely. If there is the slightest whiff of anything – well – how shall I put it…evil…I’ll be manning those barricades faster than the entire cast of Les Miserables.
The Greenwich Phantom @ December 6, 2013
By rights this should be in the Parish News section, though I confess I’ve not touched it for a long time – sorry folks – things have been very, very hectic recently.
But this one is really worth asking.
Do you know anyone who might be alone on Boxing Day who might like to go to Greenwich Panto with a family?
Basically a long-term phantophile told me today that his father-in-law has passed away suddenly. Along with all the other ghastly things that has to happen when a loved one dies, they have realised that they will be sitting in a theatre on Boxing Day that’s rammed to the gunnels with happy, excited people – with an ominous empty seat looming next to them.
Greenwich Theatre won’t refund the ticket, so the family would really like to take someone who might otherwise be alone that day (sorry I don’t know if it’s a matinee or evening perf…) If you know the warden of sheltered housing or something like that, please do ask them, and contact me – I will pass your email on.
The Greenwich Phantom @ December 6, 2013
Okay – you asked for it (well, actually one person did, and that’s good enough for me…) The glorious and continuing Alphabet of Greenwich, which is today brought to you by the letter T.
Someone suggested that we try to get to X for Christmas but I’d like to think I’ll be able to think of more festive stuff than that. On the other hand, I’m still trying to think of ways to follow last year’s advent calendar. The Phantom Webmaster aked me the other day if I had one since TPW had gone to all the trouble of creating the software – sadly I don’t just yet and I’m not sure I can face creating more of the same – that kewpie doll still haunts my nightmares – but if anyone has any bright ideas, just email ‘em over…
But back to the Ts.
You all know the drill.
Anything Greenwich beginning with T
Extra kudos for anyone who comes up with festive suggestions.
Actually as I’m typing this I realise there are dozens of Ts.
but I’ll leave most of them up to you. Lovely things beginning with T, please…
The Greenwich Phantom @ November 29, 2013
Heavens – is it just me trying to deny the march of time or has the festive season snuck up on everyone this year? I’m so NOT ready to be festive yet – and yet there’s no denying it’s almost here. From the council guys putting up the lights earlier this week:
to the arrival of the Christmas tree (nice to see a real one back…)
and being spruced up:
through to the grand switching on yesterday:
Missed the lantern parade and the turning on of the Greenwich Christmas lights yesterday? Worry not. Mike didn’t:
So – what’s next…? Advent Windows and Greenwich Panto. Actually come to think of it, I am feeling a little more festive…
The Greenwich Phantom @ November 28, 2013
Honestly – that’s not a sealion – that’s a mermaid in a mask. This, apparently, is the Greenwich Hospital coat of arms – so not a new design, as I had assumed last week, but a renewal of the old one. Joe found this banner in the ORNC, with the ‘correct’ badge on it.
My version last week was wrong in practically every detail – my red cross was diagonal, my crown is of the party hat variety instead of the seafarer/king style, my union flags don’t have St Patrick’s cross in them and my sealion is an actual animal of the ‘arnk, arnk’, ball-balancing-on-nose, fish-catching species, whereas theirs is – well, just made up…
And, I note, their Neptune doesn’t have a trident either, CB.
Who wants to join with me in a campaign to get a proper sealion on the GH crest? It is, after all, one of the most pressing problems Greenwich faces just now.
The Greenwich Phantom @ November 26, 2013
This morning got off to a really good start. A press release in my inbox cheered me right up and I was just about to do a jolly piece about it, when I came across this timely and worrying post by 853 Blog that talks of the iminent and very real threat to the Woolwich Grand theatre, next door to the town hall in Woolwich and the more distant but equally serious threat to Greenwich theatre.
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here by rehashing what Darryl has to say, but I seriously recommend you read the article and worry. Woolwich Grand may have only been around for a couple of years, but it has been welcomed by Woolwich people and run with passion. There may be a need for housing, but there is also a need for community and if every venue/facility gets turned into micro-apartments then a town stops being a town and starts being a dormitory.
Greenwich Theatre’s closure would not just mean the loss of an important facility but would betray the people of the 1960s and 70s who put everything they had into not just saving but reinventing a hugely important institution. Its glory days may have gone (ironically with the ‘glory’ of the garden…) but it is still hugely, hugely important to Greenwich. Heaven forbid the day comes but if it does, The Phantom will be first to haunt the barricades.
Darryl’s post makes grim reading, but like Pandora’s box, after all the misery, right at the bottom of the feature lingers one little ray of hope – which brings me back to the press release I received this morning. We are to get a new studio theatre, in the bowels of the Cutty Sark.
As you’ll see from the size of it, there’s no way the Cutty Sark Studio Theatre can begin to compete with Greenwich Theatre in size or versatility (though I seem to remember it’s been collaborating with GT) but any new performance space is a plus and I for one am delighted.
They’re starting the season off with some starry names: Alan Davies, Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, Ross Noble, Richard Herring, plus some student and community shows.
The website’s got a glitch at the moment, but they’re promising it’s going to be working by Wednesday.
The Greenwich Phantom @ November 25, 2013
Now I have a bit of a soft spot for heraldry so I was quite keen but even my eyes glazed over as I was reading the description:
Her Majesty The Queen has been graciously pleased by Warrant under Her Royal Signet and Sign Manual bearing date 4 November 2013 to give and grant unto Greenwich Hospital, Her Royal Licence and Authority that it may bear and use the Armorial Bearings and Supporters namely Arms of Argent on Cross Gules between four Anchors Sable a Royal Crown proper with a Crest of Issuing from a Naval Crown Or two Union Flags of the reign of King William and Queen Mary the poles headed with Ribbons flying Or and crossing in saltire proper and there tied with a Ribbon Or with Supporters of dexter a Sea Lion and Sinister a representation of Neptune both Or and Royally Crowned proper: the said Armorial Ensigns being first duly exemplified according to the Laws of Arms and recorded in Her Majesty’s College of Arms: otherwise the said Royal Licence and Permission to be void and of none effect.
And to signify Her Royal Will and Pleasure that the said Royal Concession and Declaration be recorded in Her Majesty’s College of Arms.
Gah! Could we have that in English please?
In the end I decided the only way to work out what the badge might look like would be to draw it myself, taking each element as it came and working it out as I went along.
Of course this is probably in contravention to some ancient edict outlawing the creation of arms by anyone other than Her Majesty’s Heralds. If I don’t post for a while, I’ll have been carted off to the Tower for treason involving felt tip pens and colouring pencils…
Unfortunately the only felt tip pen Phantom Towers coughed up was blue and I had a sudden attack of amnesia as to what a sea lion looks like, so it looks a bit like a dodgy school project but in general, it wasn’t as hard as I had feared:
Arms of Argent on Cross Gules… - I think this is the shield itself – argent is silver but I think it is represented by white. It doesn’t say which way the cross should go but ‘gules’ is red, if memory serves.
…between four Anchors Sable Four black anchors comin’ right up…
…a Royal Crown proper with a Crest of Issuing from a Naval Crown Or
Okay, this bit foxed me a little. I couldn’t remember what a Royal crown looks like so I just drew a Christmas cracker crown, with some sailing ships like the ones in the Old Royal Naval College on top, and coloured it
yellow gold (Or).
…two Union Flags of the reign of King William and Queen Mary the poles headed with Ribbons flying Or… So two union flags, without the red cross of St Patrick, with some nice flying gold ribbons.
…crossing in saltire proper and there tied with a Ribbon Or As any fule kno the Saltaire is the Scottish flag. Hmm. Either Greenwich Hospital has a crystal ball, complete faith that the Scots will vote to stay in the Union next year, or enough cash to have a quick redesign in a few months.
…Supporters of dexter a Sea Lion… So, that’s a sea lion on the right, okay…?
…and Sinister a representation of Neptune both Or and Royally Crowned proper Couldn’t work out whether the sealion needed to be gold and wear a crown as well as Neptune, but made an executive decision that a sealion in a hat was a geegaw too far…
Okay – when the offical version comes out let’s see if it bears any resemblence whatsoever to my interpretation.
I bet their sea lion isn’t as good as mine…
The Greenwich Phantom @ November 22, 2013
This, folks, is a Heritage Wall. No, I don’t know what makes a heritage wall either, but whatever they are, this is one. Mark and I have been wondering if this means it might enjoy some level of protection, given all the controversy in this little part of town, but I’m not counting on it.
It’s an oddity – on the beer garden side (i.e. the pub side) it has blocked up doors and windows and on the green side, it’s clearly had the rest of it removed save for some white tiles – perhaps it’s what’s left of bomb damage?
But these ‘memorials’ fascinate me. They say who erected them but fail to say what or who they remember.
I’m assuming they’re left over from the churchyard – but maybe not?
So – a bunch of unanswered questions today.
A) What actually is a Heritage Wall – and does that give it any protection whatsoever?
B) What used to be here – Shops? Houses? St Peters?
C) Who do these memorials remember?
Answers on a postcard, please…
The Greenwich Phantom @ November 21, 2013
Cliff tells me this is going up on the Peninsula next year. I guess it’s been coming our way for sometime – AEG sulked for a while that they didn’t get the Super Casino, but they were always going to build a hotel here. It’s a monster though.
The Greenwich Phantom @ November 20, 2013
Here’s an odd one…
A couple of years ago Roger asked about a strange-sounding house on Shooters Hill Road that had a load of old cars and a steam traction engine mouldering in the front yard. He wanted to know if anyone remembered a sort of “Fred Dibnah type character.”
I guess it’s all to do with property prices being so high, but you just don’t see Steptoe & Son in people’s front gardens any more. Nowadays the best you’ll get is a tedious caravan under a bit of grey tarp, and even that’s never of the old-fashioned Gypsy variety. This curious magpiedom, which amounted, almost, to Outsider Art in some cases, has all just quietly gone away, and no one saw it go. I’m guessing it was around the time when Greenwich lost the vast majority of her junk antique shops too.
Roger was particularly keen to know if anyone had any old photos.
Caroline did remember a chap called Val who “was a family friend. He was a lecturer in fine art at St. Martin’s School of Art and his hobbies were collecting steam traction engines and old Alvis cars which he kept in working order, if not ‘spruced up’ in his front garden. He used to drive the traction engine to steam rallies and had another one or two of them he kept in Wales.
Val was a batchelor and let students share his large house, including the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band which comprised former students. The cars and traction engine were presumably sold when he died as the house was sold at that time. Val was a shy, kind and interesting person and a ‘true gentleman’ if a little eccentric, and was greatly missed on his demise, in the late 70′s/early 80′s.”
Of course, no one had any photos. And that was it – until Roger emailed me last week. He’d been clearing out some old pictures and guess who had pictures of the very thing he’d been asking about…?
The Greenwich Phantom @ November 19, 2013