Monday, 15 December 2008

East London Line and the surveillance society: Paranoid and fragile state of England

Looking south towards Whitechapel Station; the new track being laid

Looking north-west towards Shoreditch Station, from Vallance Road; the new track being laid towards the bridge over the Liverpool Street main line at the site of Bishopsgate Station

I was reminded of the current Taking Liberties exhibition at the British Library when I was taking these photos on 12th December 2008 (and earlier photos for this artist's book / poetic photobook project). I have now been stopped and questioned twice by police for taking photos quite openly in public streets during fieldwork for my East London Line photobook - once at New Cross, and the second time at Whitechapel while taking these photos. At New Cross I was suspected of being a possible terrorist for taking photos near a railway station, and at Whitechapel of being a possible child molester for taking photos near a school. There's a strange disproportionate element about these police reactions to such public behaviour. I have heard recently of an artist who was told that he couldn't draw at Kings Cross station. This is the sort of police reaction to normal behaviour that we used to associate with totalitarian regimes. Writers and artists are now viewed with suspicion merely because they want to look at things! Are we now all to go around with averted gaze?
More to follow.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

East London Line (almost); South Bermondsey

Railway Arch on Rotherhithe New Road, 8 December 2008

The Golden Lion, Rotherhithe New Road, 8 December 2008. An infinitely sad, and all-too-common, sight in Britain's towns and Cities. Why has life been closed down and boarded up? Or has it just moved on?

South Bermondsey Station, looking north 8 December 2008

Rotherhithe New Road S.E., 8 December 2008

Yesterday (8 December) I was doing some fieldwork for my East London Line artist's book project. I took the South London Line from Victoria to South Bermondsey - a wonderful journey above the rooftops of Battersea, Brixton and Peckham Rye, and passing through the impressive Victorian brick and timberwork of Denmark Hill Station. I was going to explore the fascinating tangle of roads, railway arches, housing and industrial estates that lies in the area between Rotherhithe (Surrey Docks), South Bermondsey and New Cross Gate. Above are some of the photos I took.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Taking Liberties at the British Library; Tom Paine Printing Press

The Tom Paine Printing Press approaches completion

Last week I went to see the wonderful exhibition Taking Liberties - The Struggle for Britain's Freedoms and Rights - at the British Library ( This is on until 1st March 2009, and includes iconic documents from the BL's collections - from Magna Carta, through the Declaration of Right, Colonel Rainborough's Leveller statement during the Putney Debates, Tom Paine's The Rights of Man, Mary Wolstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women, the Bill of Rights, the Chartists, and the Suffragettes, to the Civil Rights Movement in America, the Counter-Culture of the 1960s and 1970s, Gay Lib, and the Human Rights Act of 1998. The exhibition includes a great deal of original printed material - books, documents, posters, etc. - which gives an insight into a wide range of letterpress and relief printing.

Last Friday I went to see the Tom Paine Printing Press (an 18th-century-style common press - a 'two-pull' press) as it nears completion at Alan May's home near Stafford - see the link to my Tom Paine Printing Press blog (, on which I've posted a lot of my photos. Alan May built the 'Gutenberg one-pull press' for Stephen Fry's recent TV programme 'The Machine that Made Us'. One of my photos is at the top of this post.
Advance warning.
I shall be showing my artist's books (poetic photobooks) at the Watercolours, Drawings and Works on Paper Fair at Covent Garden (the old flower cellars) at the end of Jan/start of Feb 2009. Maybe I can get my new East London Line book done by then? (or Borough Market? a wgreat place for Christmas shopping, and a pint or two of Harveys bitter at the Market Porter or one of the other good pubs nearby. Harveys of Lewes had and have a strong connection with the Kentish hop fields, hence this connection - the Hop Exchange and various hop factors were nearby).

Friday, 10 October 2008

Phoenix Open and Brick Lane

Walking south down Brick Lane, Sept 2008. One of my current projects is built around the East London Line (now being reconstructed), from New Cross Gate past Surrey Docks, Rotherhithe, under the Thames to Wapping, Shadwell, and Whitechapel and Shoreditch, then under Brick Lane (bridge shown above) to Liverpool Street. The high structure on the extreme right of the photo is the remains of the overbridge which used to carry the Great Eastern Railway into Bishopsgate Station (later Bishopsgate Goods Station). Bishopgate Station's earliest name was Shoreditch Station.

I'm showing my work (paintings, prints, artist's books) in my studio (3S3) at Phoenix Brighton this coming Saturday 11th Oct and Sunday 12th Oct, from 11am to 5pm. I'm up on the third floor.

My artist's books (poetic photobooks) include Kings Cross, Thames - The London River, Afghanistan - A Journey, Willow, Wilg, Weide, Saule (Ypres Willows) and The Euston Arch.

I'll also be showing at The Small Publishers Fair at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, at the end of October (Fri 23 - Sat 24).

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Peter Chasseaud and Altazimuth Press at the Small Publishers' Fair

I'll be showing all my artist's books and poetic photobooks at the Small Publishers' Fair on 24th/25th October 2008, including:

Kings Cross
Thames - The London River
Afghanistan - A Journey
Willow/Wilg/Weide/Saule (Ypres Willows)
The Euston Arch

Small Publishers Fair 24th and 25th October:
London - Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL
Free admission to Fair and all events, open 11.00am -7.00pm
Full details at:

“The book as art form….”
the international event in London celebrating books by contemporary artists, poets, writers, composers, book designers, and their publishers

This year the Fair will be featuring more publishers than ever before –over fifty - with a truly international field -, two publishers from New York – Cuneiform Press and Vanitas and Libellum books; Chax press from Tucson, Arizona; Perro Verlag from Vancouver; Antic-Ham of Korea; and with publishers and presses from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Belgium, and throughout the UK.

The Small Publishers Fair has announced this year's readings and events programme which takes place alongside the Fair. In a varied schedule, highlights include readings from Vincent Katz and Kyle Schlesinger, both poets, editors and publishers from New York, and the launch of the much acclaimed Reality Street Editions’ Book of Sonnets, to be introduced by its editor Jeff Hilson. Bill Griffiths’ The Lion Man and Others will be launched by readers from Veer Books, and for West House books, David Annwn will launch his largest collection to date, Bela Fawr's Cabaret.

The Fair brings together international artists, poets, writers, composers , book designers and publishers to celebrate contemporary artist publishing. Now in its 7th year, the Fair has attracted widespread interest, and praise for the quality of the events, and the immense variety of work on display.

More than 50 publishers are showing work , and all the books and editions are for sale, - an opportunity to buy work at an affordable price. With free admission, there's something for everyone – from top class writing, beautifully printed artists’ editions, multiples, and zines, to inexpensive pamphlets and artists cards. Several young artists’ collectives will be showing their work for the first time.

Organiser Martin Rogers of RGAP said
'The Fair has established itself as the national forum for the many small presses and
independent publishers actively promoting contemporary work. A number of the books and editions on display are special; and may not find their way into conventional bookshops, or sit on regular bookshelves.'

Programme details:-

Friday 24th October
Fair open 11.00 am – 7.00pm

6.00pm Press Preview with drinks

Saturday 13th October

Fair open 11.00 am – 7.00pm

1.30 – 6.00pm Performance, readings and booklaunches in the Brockway Room at the Conway Hall as follows:

Royal Holloway MA Poetic Practice:
Cluster Arts Magazine - Act Two
Selected performances and readings
Kyle Schlesinger, Cuneiform Press
Launch: The Reality Street Book of Sonnets, introduced by Jeff Hilson
Vincent Katz reads ‘Barge’,
a collaboration with Jim Dine
West House
David Annwn and Martin Corless-Smith
Les Coleman
The Cat Talked in Latin with Greek
Veer Books launch Bill Griffiths’
The Lion Man, and readings by
Sean Bonney, Johan de Wit and others

Admission free to all events
Check: for any updates

Monday, 11 August 2008

Peter Chasseaud at Plugstreet, August 2008

Part I. Drawings. All copyright Peter Chasseaud 2008. NB: These were done in the rain, using soft pencil on thin layout paper, so they were wet and crinkly. They look very grey here because I've had to manipulate the images for them to show up sufficiently. Still, it gives a good impression of some of the weather conditions!

Part II. Photographs. All copyrighht Peter Chasseaud 2008 unless otherwise attributed.

Dawn at Ultimo Trench, German front line, 7th August, after the first thunderstorm. Photo Peter Chasseaud.

Willows and pond west of Prowse Point. Photo Peter Chasseaud.

Farm dated 1921 (date inscribed on stone below bricked-up window), behind British front lines west of Anton's Farm. Photo Peter Chasseaud.

Old photo of the windmill at Spanbroekmolen (now the site of a huge water-filled mine crater, blown on 7th June 1917). This site is south-west of Wytschaete. The photo is being used as part of an interpretation panel at the site. Source of photo unknown.

Contemporary trench art 1? Installation by Peter Chasseaud. Barbed-wire screw picket inserted in a cleft in a tree, Ultimo Crater, St Yvon. Photo Peter Chasseaud.

Contemporary trench art 2? Rat on a culvert at Le Gheer, just east of Ploegsteert Wood and south of Le Pelerin and the Birdcage. Photo Peter Chasseaud.

Willow tree at Bunhill Row, north side of Ploegsteert Wood. Photo Peter Chasseaud.

Contemporary trench art 3? The goggle-eyed booger with the tit. Fence post near Bunhill Row, north side of Ploegsteert Wood. Photo Peter Chasseaud.

Peter Chasseaud at dawn at Ultimo Trench, on the German front line of 1914-1917, near the spot where the remains of an Australian soldier (presumably a casualty of the attack on 7th June 1917) were found. Three of us were on site (relieving two others) during the night (and what a thunderstorm - luckily the remaining 1917 mines nearby at the Birdcage didn't go off!) to guard the remains until they could be properly recorded and excavated). The red glow in the sky at the left of the picture is the sunrise over Warneton, to the east. Photo courtesy of Henry Daniels.

As last year, my landscape (and phenomenology) work during the week (3rd to 9th August) was divided between the terrain of the wider context and that of the immediate site of the dig being conducted by the No Man's Land group of archaeologists, led by Martin Brown and Richard Osgood of Defence Estates, MOD.

My work consisted of field-walking, drawing, photography and writing, and I will be producing more artwork and writing over the next few weeks. I will be posting some of the results here.

I made two wider walks:

1) along the old German front line and its mining sites and craters from Wytschaete southward past Messines to Ploegsteert Wood, Le Pelerin and Le Gheer, taking in Maedelstede Farm, Peckham, Spanbroekmolen, Kruisstraat, Ontario Farm, La Petite Douve Farm, Trench 127, Trench 122 (Ultimo Trench and Factory Farm, sites of the dig), and The Birdcage.

2) a circumnavigation of the dark continent of Ploegsteert Wood, with forays into the interior (there are few public paths, and none that goes right through from east to west.

I saw a huge amount of wildlife - notably herons, hares, rats, partridges, moorhens and geese - and, following on from my project of last year, a large number of willow trees - particularly pollards.

More to follow.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Peter Chasseaud and Altazimuth Press at Phoenix Open and Small Publishers Fair

Kings Cross artist's book (poetic photobook)

Cricket at Firle (oil on canvas, 48x48 inches), one of many paintings on show in my studio at Phoenix Brighton.

The Green Lion (oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches). This one won't be at Phoenix Open.

I'll be showing my artist's books / poetic photobooks in October 2008 at:

The Phoenix Open (Brighton) on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th October 2008, where I'll be opening my studio (Studio 3S3, on the Third Floor), so my paintings, prints and drawings will also be on view (and for sale),

and also at the Small Publishers Fair at the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square (London) on Friday 24th and Sunday 25th October 2008.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Borough Market artist's book

June was a bad month for me, with a long bout of unseasonal flu. I hope I'm back on course now, working on a large-format version of my Euston Arch (2008) poetic photobook book (see previous post) and a new artist's book inspired by the Borough Market in Southwark, London, where I have been doing fieldwork for a couple of years. I touched on this area, near London Bridge, in my Thames - The London River artist's book (2005), but now I'm going to give it my full attention, including nipping into the great Market Porter pub tomorrow for a pint of Harveys bitter. Strange how almost everywhere I work I seem to find a pub which serves Harveys (though the Lock Tavern in Chalk Farm Road doesn't - I had to go all the way to the Holly Bush at Hampstead!).

Saturday, 17 May 2008

The Euston Arch - new artist's book - some page images and complete text (poetic photobook) by Peter Chasseaud

The front cover of the Brighton Festival special edition of my new Euston Arch poetic photobook, which I will be showing, along with my other artist's books, at the Press and Release artist's book fair at Phoenix Brighton on Saturday 24th May 2008. This image does not show the red title, and I'll replace it with a better one soon.

Other pages below (also to be replaced), and complete text below those:

Stop Press Thursday 22nd May 2008: I've just collected the 50 copies from the printer (One Digital, Brighton, who do an excellent and speedy service), so they're now available, and will be on sale at the Press & Release artists' book fair at Phoenix Brighton on Saturday 24th May. Next thing is to get started on the heavyweight edition, which will be completely different!

My notebooks, camera (SLR only, as I took this photo with the digital camera I use), mug of tea and printout of the text of the Euston Book. Other stuff I use during fieldwork are a shoulder bag for lugging the stuff around in, a video camera, and jacket, cap, scarf and umbrella (depending on the weather). I write the text in my notebook along with all sorts of other notes and drawings, and work it up in the pub, on the train and at home. I then type it all into the computer so that I have a file that I can keep modifying, and I print it out every so often so that I can see what it looks like on the page (the shape of text on a page is very important) and make changes in manuscript. I then modify the text accordingly on the computer, and go though the process again. I therefore have several printed states of the text, and in between those there are even more unrecorded states on the computer. I have to decide when the text is 'finished', and sign it off, as it were, so that I can then lay out the book design with the images. Even then I can tweak the text and overall appearance up to the last moment until I'm ready to print.

With this Euston Arch book, I did all the design layout in one day and put it on a CD, got a digital printout as a proof, made some changes, made a new CD, and took it to the printer. The book was then printed within 24 hours. This whole process took only a few working days, although I have been working on the concept, text and photographs for years, intensifying this year. Some of the photos I took in 1960, and others in 2008.

Here's the complete text of the new Brighton Festival special edition (but no doubt this will be a mutatory text, as I continue to work on it):

The Euston Arch
Peter Chasseaud
Altazimuth Press 2008

The Euston Arch - A fieldwalking, streetwalking, photographing, writing, pub-visiting project carried out between 1956 and 2008 (mostly in 2007-8), inspired by my memory of, and the possibility of the reconstruction of, Hardwick’s great Euston Doric Arch or Propylaeum.

This special 2008 Brighton Festival limited edition is a provisional edition of a larger and more solid work which I hope to produce over the next year.

It is dedicated to the Lock Tavern (formerly the Wellington Arms and the Railway Tavern) in Chalk Farm Road, to the Hawley Arms (may it soon be rebuilt and reopened after the fire), to Dan Cruickshank and the Euston Arch Trust, and the Camden Railway Heritage Trust (not forgetting the Kings Cross Railway Land Group). Also to the memory of Alison and Peter Smithson, who were so outraged by the destruction of the Euston Arch that they produced a great book about it, published by Thames & Hudson in 1968.

May Camden Council learn, sooner rather than later, to respect London’s great industrial and domestic buildings, and preserve what is left of the fabric and texture of this historic and wonderful city.

Peter Chasseaud, May 2008

The Euston Arch

To Rainer Maria Rilke

Our Dinge - things -
The stuff of life – our reference points.
Expressing human life through our human construction –
landscape – the human in terms of the non-human.

Age of Gold
Age of Silver
Age of Iron
Pasture to brickfields,
ashes and dust?

Euston Grove, Euston Square.
The Euston Arch – the Doric Propylaeum – the temple entrance
(but which way are you coming from?)
at the end of the Sacred Way,
soaring from heavy roots in London clay,
to the London and Birmingham Railway’s amazing labour
of earth, water, air, fire.

Read the augurs, decode the signs in the things,
roam the labyrinth,
bring the map of Camden alive,
its Eros and Thanatos.

Hardwick’s shining Academy image
hovers in the sky, shimmers sublime in the sun,
floating out of joint stock’s genie, pounds sterling,
into Platonic ether.

Enter, go straight ahead, ascend or descend
to love and death,
then and now,
classical Arch,
new gothic Camden.

Some thing was but is not
but is dreams and desires.
wished to be again.

Bramley Fall stone
Yorkshire millstone grit
via the Leeds and Liverpool Canal
solid, vanished.
Build a monument to permanence
with human flesh and bone, blood and sinew, hair.
No longer knowing how to pray,
forget it is the temple’s entrance,
sweep it away.
Between Hardwick’s Lodges,
under his Arch
transmuted by a century’s damp soot
from a pale gold glow in the evening sun,
a white goddess glowering in moonlight,
to the colour of coal.

What if there are no mysteries?
Take it for granted there are mysteries, poetry, religion.
Work through the details,
prepare to encounter things as they are,
play on the blue guitar.

Pay attention, be aware,
reveal the mystery, history,
wonder in the face of the world (and of reason?),
will to seize its meaning as it comes into being.

Under long, close scrutiny, gaze,
the physical becomes the metaphysical;
stone’s grey grains gain the hypnotic intensity
of Kapoor’s piles of pure pigment.
Time becomes timeless.

Mother came down from Liverpool’s war –
Blitz, muddy Mersey,
Western Approaches, Johnie Walker’s corvettes –
to Euston in 1945 to marry Dad
who’d just flown back from Oflag in Bavaria: St James’s, Spanish Place.
My visit to family in Crosby in the mid-1950s –
the Euston departure platform, the simmering engine,
sliding wooden corridor doors, the shaking corridor connections.
Pierhead, Liver building, ferry to Birkenhead,
the Overhead Railway crossing the docks, Herculaneum.

Meccano, tin-plate trains,
centre-page spreads in the Eagle –
cut-away locomotives:
Coronation, Royal Scot.
My first electric train set in 1958 – the green Princess Elizabeth.

Sputnik to Cuba Crisis, London on the cusp.
68 bus from Upper Norwood to Euston and Chalk Farm,
or the 109 from Thornton Heath Pond to the Oval,
the musty, frightening Northern Line tube,
the green suburban train to Victoria,
the red, slow Circle Line to a still, empty, sun-baked Euston Square
where the Metropolitan and District
condensing steam engines,
steam and smoke sifting through fog, rain, particled sunlight,
beat through the cut-and cover’s light chasm, dark tunnel –
a piano keyboard –
through London’s gravel and clay
under the Euston Road.

An uncertain walk to grey pavilions, offices, hotel
(time’s photos show that foreign land -
growlers, hansoms, horse-buses, taxis)
before passing under the dark-grained Arch,
through the Great Hall.
George Stephenson in death’s cold marble,
below the boardroom’s double staircase sweep,
models in glass cases – engines, carriages, ships;
steel and glass arches of the arrival side,
the departure side,
electric trains, parcels, mailbags, milk churns.
Coronations and Princesses,
Patriots, Royal Scots on expresses,
tank engines shunt vans and empty stock,
the disaster of demolition.

The old station’s chaos of platforms and structures,
main lines and local, arrival and departure.
At the curving steel-and-glass-arched,
glass-screened, arrival platforms
an engine sizzles by the buffers.

On the departure side
all is more urgent.
Fireman sands the rail as his engine backs down,
riddles the fire, turns on the blower to roar it white;
boilers and injectors hum, safety valves sing, erupt.
The driver leaves his cab, goes back to confer with the man on the bank engine.

The guard flags green;
steel tyres grip and grind the sand
on the steel rails.
Shuddering from zero
the two locomotives lift the train
under Wriothesley Road, the Hampstead Road,
up Camden Bank’s 1 in 70, 1 in 100,
banker pounding behind,
pressing up the incline
watched by Sickert, peering over the blue-grey wall of engineering brick
into that sooty chasm by Mornington Crescent,
from whose house Gore paints the black saddle-tank ,
the station pilot down below on empty stock,
where the down and up main cross the backing-out road
along which empty trains are backed out
to the carriage sidings and sheds.

Bourne’s quite perfect drawings.
George Scharf, artist and lithographer from Bavaria,
draws on the stone with greasy ink,
alchemises an image of topography and sweat,
with Wellington’s army from Flanders to Paris;
sits and draws the excavations, the clay-hewers,
the wheels, gins, barrows, retaining walls, bridges, the Primrose Hill tunnel,
from Euston to Chalk Farm.
The cable ascent of Camden Bank.
The four tracks rise,
to grow the grime-coral accretion of north London’s water and soot,
along the mile-and-a-quarter,
sheer-gouged and grey-bricked, iron-arched.

Church spire dwindles into fog.
Why am I walking, or sitting on the top of the bus,
along Hampstead Road, up Camden High Street,
waiting on the tube station,
watching the rat on platform 4,
in the lift, on the escalator;
looking at the punk-goth debris
the shops and stalls under the arches
by the Hawley Arms and Camden Lock?

Arguing against the trend, the evidence of continual renewal,
looking for Dinge - things, reference points,
corners of stability, cultural co-ordinates,
before greed’s flood sweeps them all away –
shop and pub names, street lamps and signs,
black brick walls, stone copings, granite blocks, horse troughs, drinking fountains,
rough stone sleepers chiselled to seat the rails’ iron chairs,
holes bore to take wooden plug
for iron spikes to grip;
iron bridges, bollards, posts, public conveniences.
Costermongers’ barrows in the Inverness Street market,
(with their makers’ and owners’ names
so beautifully (except for the most recent) carved and painted
with skill, pride and love
into their solid timber).

1809: Tom Paine’s death and Talavera,
Pitt grinds our radicals and revolutionaries,
our combinations, corresponding societies,
our Blake, Byron and Shelley,
Nosey (Sir Arthur) grinds Boney’s men in the Peninsula.

Iron wrist- and hammer-wrought,
blast furnace white-molten poured, pig-cast,
rolled, lathe- and mill-machined.
Cylinders cast and bored, connecting rods forged,
crank pins, eccentrics, journals turned.

Fire forces water to steam
in the wrought-iron boiler of Richard Trevithick’s locomotive,
piston, connecting rod, crank,
trundles people
on a circus ring of track
at Euston Grove.

A decade after Waterloo.
The Stockton and Darlington,
the Liverpool and Manchester:
Rainhill; Sir William Huskisson
loses his leg to a locomotive,
and is whisked to hospital at railway speed.
Wellington fears democracy, turbulent crowds,
the terrifying lower classes, using the trains to get to London,
to destroy property, foment revolution
in a Reform Bill fervour,
they smashed his windows at Apsley House.

After the Great Reform Act,
the London and Birmingham Railway,
capital’s great triumph.

Walking the terrain, eye and brain seeking, worrying out the trace,
fixing the sight-line
with level, theodolite, chain:
Francis Giles, George and Robert Stephenson, engineer the railway,
follow the canals,
through the new-enclosed and turnpiked landscape,
guide the formation, embankment and cutting,
skew bridge and tunnel,
earth, brick, iron and stone.

The London and Birmingham
the Chester and Holyhead
the Manchester and Huddersfield
Joseph Locke, engineer to the Grand Junction,
the Lancaster and Carlisle.

Committees, Acts of Parliament,
compulsory purchase: lawyers deal parcels of land;
navvies switch
from canal navigations to the iron road,
bivouac, rant and roar, roast beef and swill beer,
occupy the route:

In eighteen hundred and forty one
My corduroy breeches I put on
My corduroy breeches I put on
To work upon the railway, the railway
I’m weary of the railway
Poor Paddy worked on the railway . . .

Poor Paddy, potato famine, absentee landlord and free trade victim.
Irish and English riot by the Round House.
Great Exhibition excursions steam to Euston from the North
to view the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park,
a heliograph flashing in the sun,
prime beacon of the empire.

Iron road, steel rails, copper firebox,
coal, fire, water, steam, sand, oil,
clay, brick, stone, timber.

The clay of London’s farms and fields – dug for brick-earth, fired on site:
Brill Farm, Somers Town, Agar Town, Kentish Town.
North of the New Road, houses batter back the hedges and fields.
Brill Farm and Brick Field,
Upper Brick Field and Lower Brick Field,
Tile Kiln Field,
St James’s Burying Ground.

Trams and trains batter across
Old Twelve Acres, Old Barn Field,
Britannia Field, Shoulder of Mutton Field,
Upper Pitt Field, Lower Pitt Field,
Further Field,
The Kiln Field,
Chalk Field.

Sadlers Wells, St Pancras Wells, cattle ponds, pastures and liers;
on either side of the slow Fleet river,
Pond Field, Brewers Field; water for the breweries:
the watering holes of the Southampton Arms,
Adam and Eve, the Oxford Arms, Parr’s Head,
Devonshire Arms (now the Hobgoblin),
the Queen’s, the Princess of Wales, the Albert, the Victoria,
Pembroke Castle, The Engineer, the Delancey,
Elephant and Castle, Old Mother Red Cap, Mother Black Cap,
The World’s End, The Lock Tavern.

Water for the winding engines,
for the locomotive boilers, tanks, cranes and troughs,
for the horses and houses, for the barges
whose tow-ropes groove the parapet,
the Regent’s Canal for the Docks and the River,
for the sodden curs in Dead Dog Hole,
for the people’s typhoid pumps, the cholera.

Constable’s Hampstead skies, flashing blue, grey, white,
above the fog and coal smoke stink;
wind turning the mills’ sails, heaving at the sprits of barges on the cut,
forced air feeding the furnaces’ burning coal.

Clay ground rises reeking, burning,
Cruickshank’s apocalyptic battleground of a million bricks,
volcanoes of flame, smoke and ash:
the locomotives’ fires, seething spark serpents, spent cinders, roaring skyward,
winding-engine furnaces blazing
beyond the canal at Camden Bank’s brow,
burning the goods depot, the Collards’ pianos,
Gilbey’s warehouse, spirits,
burning, burning, burning;
the Camden Lock fire, the Hawley Arms.
Up from the stinking tideway, where sweet swan sprit sails glide
above the Thames valley gravel
(bronze swords and axes, mammoth bones, Roman leather).
Elemental Euston, Camden, Chalk Farm.

North of the Regent’s Park the land swells green,
to the yielding flesh horizontales of Park Village, St John’s Wood, Maida Vale,
yellow brick and stucco shine,
streets thin to villas, market gardens,
lone houses straggle up the road,
to the Wellington Arms and the Chalk Farm Tavern.

Navvies carving the cutting’s clay,
under roads, bridging the canal with brick, stone and iron,
boring through Primrose Hill to the north of Shakespeare’s Oak,
swerving to the west around Haverstock Hill and Hampstead.
Topping the bank, over the canal,
by Camden’s railway goods depot, Pickford’s,
the canal interchange for Limehouse, Brentford, the docks.

Hay, water and steaming dung,
shovelled by the ton for market gardens,
mingling with tea-leaves for Camden’s roses:
a heavy brigade of horses,
more than charged at Quatre Bras, Waterloo, Balaclava,
shunt the high sidings above Vauban-brick-buttressed walls,
built to drop down the goods to horsed road wagons,
horse-stables, stock-brick arches, vaults and tunnels, coal drops,
catacombs, canal basin grotto.
Iron shoes ring, skid, slip and spark on steel,
on rail lines sunk in granite setts, tramlines;
the horse hospital.
Horse-drivers and shunters,
some veterans of the Peninsula, of Inkerman, the Redan,
wet their whistles across the road (the wet canteen)
under the smoke-yellow lincrusta ceilings.
The Wellington Arms (the Good Old Duke) becomes the Railway Tavern,
becomes the Lock Tavern.

The one-inch map engraved, fine hachure lines caress the hills;
capital letters stride the shires; burins now plough the new railway lines
into the copper plates.
At Chalk Farm and Camden,
Colonel Bayley, Royal Engineers,
supervises the survey for the large-scale plans,
triangulating, chaining, levelling;
every line, siding, wall,
the Round House, the Goods Station, the Interchange, the Coaling Shed,
fixing every signal post and horse trough . . .
every detail
(but what has he missed in the gaps in between?).

Air photos into map,
field-walk on the ground, prop up the bar,
decode the things, the stuff, to find the culture;
Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

North west of the canal, under the tracks,
twin winding engines lie buried in vaults.
On the prevailing sou-westerlies,
sky-scraping chimneys lift their smoke over tree’d, poetic, democratic Hampstead –
Keats Grove and Flask Walk,
the glowing grate of the Holly Bush,
the Heath,
the clapboards of Jack Straw’s Castle,
the Spaniards,
‘Appy ‘Ampstead’s green turf.


Camden High Street:
Halfway Houses: Red Cap, Black Cap.
The Crescent pub, the Camden Theatre,
Mornington House, the Cobden Arms.

Dark side of Camden:
the Euston Murder; Camden Road (Crippen’s wife),
his telegraphic ocean arrest.
The Hampstead Road: Camden High Street, Chalk Farm Road.
Mornington Crescent south end.
Sickert (the ripper?) paints ennui,
north London contre-jour, demi-monde;
his scumbled and impasto models, clothed and unclothed,
renamed The Camden Town Murder.
A dining car attendant on the Midland
out of St Pancras is falsely accused, acquitted.

Inside dark music halls, gaslight and limes’ smoky glare;
the flickering monochrome western on the screen,
Minnie Cunningham, all in red, sings at the Old Bedford;
the Gods sway and jeer,
lust after the elegantly straining caryatids’
underlit breasts and thighs.

George Robey, Vesta Tilley, Marie Lloyd.
Westerns flicker, time jumps, frame by frame,
Moy’s cinematograph cameras film the Western Front.
Life’s slow gravity salami-sliced into spasm, shudder, twitch;
the smile for the camera, immortality,
the brief moment of banal, futile fame.

Shining tramlines score the black street;
at No. 257, Tom Sayers, Pugilist, died.
The butcher’s cleaned up, shut up shop,
the fried fish shop’s open,
damp newspaper, salt and vinegar, gets the saliva going.
Wet, dim-lit pavements -
London and Irish, blood and drunk in the gutter
under the crash of smoke and noise,
the public bar’s roaring, beery, sawdust floor,
brass, cut-glass, bright gaslight in the polite saloon.

Mornington Crescent station, shining dark red-brown,
white glazed tiles and paint.
Egyptian cats and art deco: Carreras building occupies the Gardens.
Mornington Terrace: the Victoria pub , facing the railway.
Outside the Camden Theatre, Cobden, free-market spokesman
(subscription-list headed by Napoleon III),
turns his back on the High Street wrecked by his free market;
the pigeons shit on him.

Dylan Thomas writes in his caravan off Delancey Road.
Alan Bennett writes. They like the beer.

Factories and shops go one by one, piano factory, timberyard, foundry,
the butcher, baker, candlestick maker, fishmonger, ironmonger, hairdresser, toy shop,
stationer, furniture shop, chemist, electrical goods,
newsagent, sweet shop, comics,
Mars Bars, Sherbert Fountains, Tizer,
as globalisation and supermarkets wash them away;
in move the charity shops.

Capital’s hot lava powers on,
suborning politicians:
Thatcher, Major,
Blair, Brown,
Ken, Boris . . .
spinning, privatising,
PFI cons,
power to the centre,
crushing community -
market-fodder -
pushed by tacit conspiracies
of rentiers, developers,
councils and government,
destroying post offices, pubs,
schools, hospitals.
In Highgate Cemetery, Marx,
who lived in Camden,
spins in his grave
(has he seen what they’ve done to his Reading Room?).
Property is theft! Freedom is a good horse, but to ride somewhere! I am a citizen of the world! Keep your head down! You can’t fool all of the people all of the time! Who said that?

Road traffic and motorways destroy railway freight,
Camden goods depot closes.
Dereliction becomes tribal chaos:
burlesque, corsets, tops, skirts.
A strange fantasy stalks the streets -
Gothic, Lolita and Punk -
occupies the wasteland
vaults, stables, girders, arches, shops.

Not a golem or vampire. So what?
A mythical figure – some nocturnal transformation?
Nosferatu? Bela Lugosi?
The purple and black sex-death associations.
The Velvet Underground, Jim Morrison and The Doors,
Bauhaus, Ian Curtis, The Cure,
Siouxsie and the Banshees,
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds . . .

Chalk Farm

Roaring up from Euston, bearing left-handed;
London and North Western Railway’s nervous system:
signal boxes and signals,
levers, points, rods and cables;
pine poles chop the passing view, copper wires swoop and loop,
telegraph and telephone.
Warning rings and beats: Train entering section . . .
Thunder over the dark and echoing canal, drop the banker,
pass the goods depot’s brick pile, stables and capstans,
breast the summit by the tunnel for the local lines,
past Camden Loco Shed, rattling coal, raking clinker;
smouldering engine on the turntable, more over the ash pits,
smoke eclipsing sun, darkening houses,
under the coaling plant, on the inspection roads;
fitters and cleaners drink in the Lansdowne by the shed entrance,
drivers and firemen, come off duty, sink pints, wash down the dust.

Cornwall and Columbine, Bloomers, Jumbos, Problems, Precedents and Precursors,
Hardwicke, elegant single-wheeler Lady of the Lake, DX Goods, Cauliflowers,
Webb compounds, George the Fifths,
giant six-coupled Claughtons galloping fifteen heavy corridors,
taking Shap in their stride;
glossy blackberry, shining names sunk in brass:
Champion, Niagara, Daphne, Tamerlane, Vampire,
Jeannie Deans, Thunderer, Titan, Dreadnought,
Charles Dickens, Greater Britain, Thunderbolt,
Sirocco, Vesuvius, Sir Richard Moon.

Glimpse Chalk Farm Station and the Round House
as the line swings west.

Roundhouse, mathom-house of memory, by the coal yard:
goods engine shed, gin store,
Centre 42 - Wesker’s Kultur-Haus;
where the goods yard’s buffers’ eternal percussion
and clanging diminuendo,
engines coughing, whistles shrieking,
scored the smoky landscape’s staves,
music throbs into the Chalk Farm Road:
Pink Floyd, The Who, Country Joe, the RSC.

Engines for north-bound trains, coupled together,
slip off the shed,
wait for the down express to pass,
cross the down fast into the neck, the locomotive spur,
at Camden Junction below Adelaide Road,
wait for the board to go off, clear down the bank to Euston,
by the twisted, tangled skein of tracks at the tunnel mouths;
fly over, dive under,
beneath the steel plates and girders
of the Regents Park Road bridge,
through the worm-like bores of Primrose Hill.

Drumming past Kilburn High Road, Kensal Green Cemetery,
each station’s platform with its chocolate-block pavers,
steaming hard through Willesden Junction – dark under the Low Level awnings,
dim glass-cased staircases from the screened High Level,
Willesden Junction Hotel looms over the coal offices;
under Old Oak Lane - a railway terrain:
tall iron and glass street lamps, cast-iron name plates:
Stephenson Street, Crewe Place, Webb Place, Stoke Place, Railway Cottages.
past Willesden shed yard crammed with goods engines, the freight yard.

Bushey troughs, Watford Junction, and Tunnel, Berkhamstead,
Tring Cutting, Cheddington, Leighton Buzzard,
Bletchley (Station X), junction for the Oxford and Cambridge line,
Wolverton station and works, Roade Cutting,
Blisworth, Weedon, Welton, Kilsby Tunnel,
Rugby (the Great Central passes over) and its massive signal gantry,
Brinklow, Shilton, Nuneaton,
Tamworth, Lichfield, Stafford . . .

Rattle down Madeley Bank
(three miles of 1 in 177 out of Crewe,
difficult for heavy up expresses with engines starting cold from Crewe),
Crewe South Shed, Station, the North Shed, the Spider Bridge,
Crewe Works,
steelworks, goods line underpasses.

The Chester and Holyhead line swinging west,
taking the Irish Mail to the Dee crossing,
Chester, Conway Bridge,
Abergele’s dreadful smash,
Penmaenmawr’s tunnel, viaduct, avalanche shelter,
pushing across the Menai Straits in Telford’s tubes,
racing over druids’ Anglesea,
for the Admiralty Pier at Holyhead, the Dublin packets.

Pounding northward out of Crewe,
on the west coast line,
clatter over the Manchester Ship Canal,
the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,
across the Lancashire of commerce, king cotton, king coal:
Warrington, Wigan, Farington,
Preston’s double-headed smash, taking the curve too quickly,

Mail bags and TPOs, The West Coast Postal, The Night Mail;
GPO Film Unit, gritty, gutsy Grierson of Granton Trawler and Drifters, Auden and Britten,
filmed from the air, breathlessly bound for the border.

Running fast on the level, slicing water from the long trough,
the fireman sets the injectors to keep the water over the firebox crown,
turns, slides his shovel under the coal,
swings, lunges, shoots it under the brick arch
to the white furnace, piles it on, again and again and again.

Coal detonates; heat passes to water through firebox walls;
dragged by the blastpipe,
fiery gases rush through boiler tubes,
carry char up the chimney and away,
to clatter on carriage roofs and singe grey wethers on the moor.

Garstang, Lancaster, Carnforth, Oxenholme,
water fizzes to steam, superheats,
builds pressure to ram the pistons,
drive connecting rods, wrench cranks, swing driving wheels round,
fighting gravity and friction, on and up slowing Grayrigg,
dip and speed again,
Low Gill, Wild Boar Fell growling to the east,
to meet, climb, breast Shap Fell’s blasted grind;
Tebay (poor steaming, side wind, slippery rail? pick up the banker?),
the driver lengthens his cut-off
to get every slogging bit of work out of his expanding steam
on Shap bank, four heaving miles at 1 in 75.
Gradually quickening exhaust-beat as the lessening gradient’s calculus
works incrementally in his favour,
he tops the bank, Shap Summit Box,
coasting fast down to Penrith, Carlisle.

On by Caledonian to Glasgow,
past Gretna munitions works,
Quintinshill, where a signalman’s error caused the Royal Scots,
bound for the furnace of Loos,
to roast in the train’s wreckage.

Races to the North – the ’88 and ’95,
wartime Jellicoe Specials for the Fleet at Scapa,
royal trains setting north for Balmoral, to stalk the stag.
The iron road is a hard road . . .

Special Brighton Festival Edition 2008

Limited to 50 signed and numbered copies.
Text and most images © Peter Chasseaud 2008
Designed and made by Peter Chasseaud

Altazimuth Press, Lewes, May 2008

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Camden Council Vandalism by the Canal

This was the view yesterday from Oval Road on the canal bank at Camden. The building was a fine warehouse built by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMSR). I've been visiting this Camden-Chalk Farm area regularly while working on my forthcoming Euston artist's book, but I wasn't prepared for this. I naiively thought that the surviving railway warehouses and other historic industrial buildings along the canl were safe. How wrong I was! What is Camden Council thinking of to give permission for such vandalism? It doesn't seem to have any respect for the historic built environment at all. And I have just heard that it has allowed Stanley Buildings north block, between Kings Cross and St Pancras stations (see my Kings Cross artist's book 2004 elsewhere in this blog) to be demolished. Again, I had thought it was safe. There are good people fighting to save the best of our industrial and architectural heritage, and no end of good uses to which they could be put with thoughtful conversion, but against stupidity even the gods fight in vain.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Peter Chasseaud at Press and Release, Phoenix Brighton

Here was fire: behind the Hawley Arms, Camden, 1 May 2008; phenomenological phenomenon (fieldwork for Euston Arch artist's book). Meanwhile, visit the brilliant Lock Tavern in Chalk Farm Road.

I'm taking part in the'PRESS & RELEASE' artists' book exhibition at Phoenix Brighton, and also in the one-day artists' book fair there on Sat 24th May, so you will be able to see my Kings Cross, Afghanistan - A Journey, and Thames - The London River books there.

If you want to see my other work-in-progress - e.g. Rosenberg or Erotic Cabinet - or talk about my current Euston Arch artist's book project, you should email me via this blog to make an appointment, or contact me at Studio 3S3, Phoenix Arts Association, 10-14 Waterloo Place, Brighton, BN2 9NB.

Exhibition: 26 Apr – 7 Jun, 2008
Artists' Book Fair: Sat 24 May

'PRESS & RELEASE' is celebration of artists' books and independent publishing, showcasing an intriguing selection of UK and international artists, with work ranging from the profane to sublime. The exhibition provides an opportunity to encounter a range of visions arising out of the world of artists’ books within an imaginative, improvised space dedicated to revealing the artist’s book in a new light. Sculptor Ben Thomson has completely transformed the gallery space into an environment housing the work of individual artists and publishers, presenting books and related ephemera outside the conventional glass case. The show includes over 30 individual artists and groups, with an emphasis on limited edition, hand-made work that stretches the parameters of printmaking, mixed media and other approaches, to arrive at highly original and inventive permutations of the book format. Ranging from underground comics to journals, pop-ups, posters, web-based pieces, installations and gate crashers, the work provides a glimpse into the dense and multifaceted world of self-publishing.
And a brief political rant:
I'm reminded (after the clobbering the government and Ken got in last week's local government elections) of what I wrote about the Lewes Arms / Harveys beer / Greene King business last year: 'Greene King's attempt to ignore the locals has gone very flat; a faceless corporation has beaten an ignominious retreat.' Perhaps New Labour will now become less arrogant, and treat its locals with more respect. And as for local government in Lewes - we have three councils (county, district and town), and the really important one (town) only has the power of a parish council - i.e. none! All the important decisions over planning, parking, and so on, are made by the other two councils. So the town population is essentially disenfranchised. It's time we had relevant decisions made at the local level - i.e. at town level. Let's shift power from the centre and the big councils, and have some real devolution and local democracy. This means a big reform of the local government structure. And while we're at it, let's keep our post offices, our pubs, our small shops, our village schools, our local hospitals, all so important for community. I hope you're listening, Gordon Brown.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Euston Arch, new artist's book by Peter Chasseaud, update

I'm trying hard to knock my poetic text of Euston Arch into shape, and I'll post a version here as soon as I can. Thanks to The Lock Tavern in Chalk Farm Road and pints of Peroni for rest and recuperation, and the inspiration of their music listings. Meanwhile, a pint of Harveys bitter at the Lewes Arms this evening, I think. Not too much ale tonight, though, as tomorrow it's the dress rehearsal of the Minotaur at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, from that brilliant team Harrison Birtwistle, Sir John Tomlinson David Harsent, etc.

Peter Chasseaud at Press & Release, Phoenix, Brighton

I'm taking part in the
'PRESS & RELEASE' artists' book exhibition at the Phoenix Arts Association in Brighton, and also in the accompanying one-day artists' book fair on Sat 24th May, so you will be able to see my Kings Cross, Afghanistan and Thames books there. If you want to see my other work-in-progress - e.g. Rosenberg or Erotic Cabinet - you should email me via this blog to make an appointment, or contact me at Studio 3S3, Phoenix Arts Association, 10-14 Waterloo Place, Brighton, BN2 9NB.

Exhibition: 26 Apr – 7 Jun, 2008 PREVIEW: Fri 25 Apr 6–8 pm
Artists' Book Fair: Sat 24 May

'PRESS & RELEASE' is celebration of artists' books and independent publishing, showcasing an intriguing selection of UK and international artists, with work ranging from the profane to sublime. The exhibition provides an opportunity to encounter a range of visions arising out of the world of artists’ books within an imaginative, improvised space dedicated to revealing the artist’s book in a new light. Sculptor Ben Thomson has completely transformed the gallery space into an environment housing the work of individual artists and publishers, presenting books and related ephemera outside the conventional glass case. The show includes over 30 individual artists and groups, with an emphasis on limited edition, hand-made work that stretches the parameters of printmaking, mixed media and other approaches, to arrive at highly original and inventive permutations of the book format. Ranging from underground comics to journals, pop-ups, posters, web-based pieces, installations and gate crashers, the work provides a glimpse into the dense and multifaceted world of self-publishing.Highlights includes John Dilnot’s cabinet of curiosities, hand-cut pages from Kaho Kojima and Chisato Tamabayashi, Batool Showghis’ family albums, Paul Clarke’s gothic childerns’ stories, Mayan women’s collective Taller LeƱateros, and installations by Nicola Dale, found sound duo reassemble, and collaborative trio Borbonesa. In the south gallery, Alasdair Willis scours cyberspace for self-publishing pioneers and rogues, and fills the walls with his discoveries. Books and other publications are for sale in the exhibition through the Permanent Gallery Bookshop.Special guests include Le Dernier Cri, an artists’ publishing house in Marseille that generates beautiful and intense, often disturbing limited-edition books, prints, and animations from European, American, Japanese and South American artists. They are joined by Knust, an artists’ collective from Nijmegen, Netherlands which employs a unique stencil (mimeograph) printing process and champions some inventive ways of producing books, posters, cd’s and wallpaper.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Fieldwork between Mornington Crescent and the Roundhouse

Georgian houses north of the NLR near Camden Road Station;
view from Kentish Town Road

Another good day doing fieldwork between Mornington Crescent and the Roundhouse. I took lots more photos and filled up more of my notebook with ideas for my Euston artist's book. It was sunny and warm, with occasional clouds - perfect conditions for walking, photographing and notemaking (and for a jar in the Lock Tavern, as well as a peep into the Misty Moon, also on Chalk Farm Road).

Gothic, Lolita & Punk in the Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road

Posters in the window of The Lock Tavern, Chalk Farm Road.

I love the names - witty and poetic. This is a brilliant pub.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Steaming to Paris, 1968 (for John May); Music, Rock Festivals and Cars 1967 to 1971

Steaming to Paris, 1968. Amiens station. I seem to remember that 1968 was a busy year, what with being at University (Sheffield), anti-Vietnam War demos, LSE, pop festivals and Paris. There were also John Mayall, Ravi Shankar, A J P Taylor, The Incredible String Band and The Pentangle at the City Hall, and visits to Oxford, Amsterdam, Maldon (for sprits'l barges), Cultybraggan OTC Camp, the Brown Bayley Steelworks, Hull fish dock (St Andrew's Dock), etc.

1969 was also a good year for music at Sheffield (and elsewhere) - see the ENTS schedule below:

And then there were also Pink Floyd at Plumpton, Dylan at the Isle of Wight, as well as more anti-Vietnam demos . . . And I've still got this giant matchbox from the Dylan festival:

Below: me in July 1969

Biba was fun . . .

And so was The Prince Consort on the sea front in Ryde (1971-2, before I did the Afghanistan trip, where I used to drink with Anthony Minghella (I taught him A-level history), Clare, Georgina, Frank, Martin, Debbie and the rest of the Sandown High School contingent. The Minghella Ice Cream Parlour was fun too:

This was my yellow Series I Land Rover 'Gandalf', which I had from 1968 to 1970 (after I had to sell my 1932 Rover Nizam 2-seater sports tourer), taken in the winter of 1969-70 somewhere near Farthing Down while I was on the Foundation Course at Croydon Colege of Art. I used to drive in this to the Sculpture Annexe at Norwood, giving a lift to most of Group 5. Bruce McLean took us for 3-D studies on Fridays - great days. Lunch was a baked potato with baked beans - wonderful grub. I was paying my way through art college by washing the floor at Littlewoods supermarket in the evenings. A shame I can't find a photo of the whole group - there area a few of them in the back of Gandalf (Mick Shillaker is the one with the specs). I also drove Gandalf to the Blues Festival at Plumpton in 1968, Pink Floyd festival at Plumpton 1969, Isle of Wight Festival 1969 (Dylan) and Bath Festival 1970. He got around the Derbyshire hills all right in my last year at Sheffield (1968-9), but broke something serious on Abbotsbury Hill in Dorset. Apart from the name painted in gothic black letter script on each door, he also had a black and red anarchist flag painted on the front mudguard. No heating of course. I froze right to the bone.

Below is my 1932 Rover Nizam 2-seater sports tourer, outside my digs in Sheffield in November 1967. The water pump never worked, so I had to keep stoping at garages and elsewhere to top it up with water when it boiled over. I bought it for £40 in 1966, and drove it up the M1, which was gradually being extended northward at the time, from Thornton Heath to Sheffield (the M1 at the time ran from Hendon to south of Chesterfield, I think). No heating of course. I froze right to the bone. In the end I couldn't afford to restore and keep this splendid car, which had a wooden body frame with metal over plywood panels, going, so I had to sell it (again for £40). I hope it's still running somewhere.
Below is the poster I designed for the event on 18 November 1969 when David Bowie came to play accoustic guitar and sing Space Oddity (and other stuff) at the Gun Tavern in Croydon. I was part of something called Croydon Arts Lab at the time, but we somehow shortened that to Egg, hence the shape of the image.

The one below is self-explanatory:

And so is ths one:

Bath Festival 1970. What a line-up!:

I went up from London to the Lincoln Folk Festival in July 1971 on the wing of an open Mini-Moke, with my Canadian friend Frank (who I travelled with to Afghanistan and India in 1972) and his friends. There were 7 of us in and on this Moke. I don't think this would be allowed now! I was living in Muswell Hill at the time, kitchen-portering at John Lewes in Oxford Street as a summer job before going to teach for a year on the Isle of Wight: