Stuff I’m Looking Forward To in 2012
It must be the hangover that means I’m four days behind everyone else. I’ve only just woken up to the real possibility that we may be in a new year. But, in the spirit to which I’ve pledged (yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts) I’m still being upbeat and positive and actually there is much to look forward to this year in Greenwich.
It’s possible that we’ll see actual commencement on the Heart of East Greenwich. Of course I’m not holding my breath and Andrew, who has promised to eat hats of the developer’s choosing on several occasions if sundry 6/12/18 month promises are actually kept is safe, given that his last commitment to tifter-consumption was for March last year (a pledge made at the beginning of November 2010 and which I, in my naivety, thought was a tad brave) but surely, surely this year we’ll get some movement.
Similarly, Lovell’s Wharf. Not that I care in the slightest about whether the unexciting blocks on the riverfront are built or not, but all the time they’re not built the Thames Path has a gap in it like a lost tooth. They ripped out the path, blocking it off with a flowerbed and redirecting it to their sales office – then promptly stopped building altogether, forcing droves of bemused Path walkers to trudge round a giant
pond foundation surrounded by hoardings. Hell – even the people who designed the Jubilee Walkway (more about that later) were pragmatic enough to admit, when I asked them, that they had been given absolutely no idea about when the path might be reopened – the official Jubilee Greenway route in this Royal year goes round the outside of one of the dullest building sites on the river.
But hey – I’m supposed to be looking forward to stuff. So here’s something I’m looking forward to – a whole slew of really exciting books about Greenwich’s history, written by some of the town’s best historians, writers and artists. One of them actually unites three of my absolute, utter faves.
Volumes I am hugely looking forward to include:
- A completely revised (by Julian Watson) edition of Barbara Ludlow’s Greenwich Then and Now,
- Volume III of Neil Rhind’s definitive history of Blackheath (hopefully in time for yet another local anniversary, the 75th birthday of the Blackheath Society) which will cover south west Greenwich incorporating Crooms Hill,Park Wall, West Grove, Hyde Vale and etc; from Eastnor House in Lloyds Place through to Dartmouth Row and Lewisham Hill as well as Blackheath in the parish of Lee.
- A monster volume devoted to the Paragon and South Row, with 200 pictures, also by Neil Rhind.
- A ‘fat pamphlet’ on one of our nuttiest (and most secretive) buildings, The Pagoda , forever linked with Greenwich’s lost Montague House by the Scarlet Princess Caroline, by Rhind and Cooper.
- And the one I’ve been slathering for – the book jointly written by Neil Rhind and Julian Watson and illustrated by Peter Kent based on a long-lost-but-recently-rediscovered-vault-in-Wiltshire 1705 panorama of Greenwich town. It fetched up in the Earl of Pembroke’s collection, which is clearly bigger than the Phantom gallery since he was unaware he had it. Apparently it’s a streetscape that includes everything from Ballast Quay to Riverside Dock, more enthusiastic than accomplished, though with a load of detail. Neil and Julian have written the text and, hugely exciting, Peter Kent has drawn the same scene as it looks today. Cool.
So, with my reading matter sorted out I move on to other things I’m looking forward to. I confess to being utterly indifferent to the events of the 3rd Feb when we’ll all be turning Royal. It’s not that I particularly object; I just don’t really see the point. Dunno what kind of ceremonies are planned but I’m sure they’ll be all very civic.
I am rather looking forward to the 1000th anniversary of the death of St Alfege, though. There’s something quite odd about the fact that we ‘know’ the exact date of his bizarre demise – 19th April 1012. I don’t know what kind of events will mark it but if no one does a pageant that re-enacts the giant viking feast where he was boned to death (oo-errr) by drunken Danes, followed by a village fete where all the sideshows are ox-related, I for one will be very disappointed.
Maybe we could have a Grand Greenwich Talk Like a Viking Day. Or a giant Jutes and Vicars party. Or, given that Greenwich already has a Panto Horse and a Drag Race we could have one where everyone dresses up like Vikings and chases Chris Roberts, in fetching 11th Century Archbishop of Canterbury costume, through the streets of town. All for charity, natch.
Of course it’s also the 300th anniversary of the present church sort-of around the same time, give or take a year, ahem.
Then there’s the giant elephant in the park, the Equestrian events. As it happens I think it’s all worked out rather well. NOGOE made a huge fuss about how the park was going to be treated before, during and after the Olympics and though they didn’t succeed in getting the games stopped entirely, I think they achieved something much better.
We still get the games and all the exposure/interest/fame they bring, but, thanks to NOGOE’s to-do, I truly believe the park has been protected better it would than if no one had said anything. Knowing that there was a bunch of angry people to deal with at every corner must have at least partially concentrated the LOCOG mind.
I genuinely believe that the park’s welfare had not really been considered properly, and now it more or less is. So we get a win in both ways – the Olympics AND LOCOG taking more care than they might otherwise have done.
What else am I looking forward to? Well, the Cutty Sark, actually. We locals have been kept out of the loop at practically every stage which has sent the rumour-engines into overdrive at times, but now that the hoardings are down, the masts are up and Stuff is actually happening being done by Nice Blokes, I’m all excited again. I’m a simple Phantom.
And, of course, with that comes the Cutty Sark Gardens – still not sure what we’re getting there even though I’ve seen the drawings, but pretty much anything will be better than what we had before.
The foot tunnel – surely it must be opening properly this year, with lifts and everything? The idea of being guaranteed able to take my bike across the river at any time is tantalising.
And the pier. I’m looking forward to it not being a building site. It’s coming together now, and though I would personally have preferred to have something other than dull chains in the ‘iconic’ buildings, again, just getting it finished would be a big move.
Staying with the river, the Cable Car. TBH, unless it turns out to be really scary and starts to attract hordes of Euro-teens to take part in London’s latest white-knuckle ride I can’t see it taking all those thousands of people every five minutes, given it’s going from nowhere to nowhere, and the money spent on it obscene but hey – as Matt from Smoke points out in the best article ever written on the subject it’s a fucking cable car.
And linking them all, the Jubilee Greenway (not to be confused with the Jubilee Walkway, which was created for the Silver Jubilee in 1977) which is a big old walking loop round London. By the time it gets to Greenwich it is basically the old Thames Path but it’s had groovy glass paving slabs set into the ground for some time. I’m looking forward to being able to walk our section unimpeded by building sites, but that, my friends, is probably a wish too far…
What are you looking forward to in 2012?