Friday, September 18, 2015

Top ten Marthas in music

1. 'Martha' by Tom Waits
2. 'Martha My Dear' by The Beatles
3. "Ring them bells sweet Martha", lyrics from 'Ring them Bells' by Bob Dylan
4. Martha Wainwright
5. Martha Reeves And The Vandellas
6. 'Martha's Harbour' by All About Eve
7. Martha and the Muffins
8. Martha Tilston
9. 'Martha's Song' by Deep Forest
10. 'Mostly Martha' by the Crew-Cuts

For Martha, naturally.

Monday, September 07, 2015

London through its charity shops #27: Penge, SE20

Penge sounds like the kind of place you've vaguely heard of, but don't know where it is and never want to go there anyway but off the rather ugly High Street – which is nonetheless quite well served by a combination of chain shops (a handy Homebase and a Lidl) and independents – are fine Victorian terraced houses and cute Alms cottages. Even on the High Street are the fabulous Gothic Royal Waterman's Almshouses and possibly the oldest Police station in London, a lovely Victorian building now being turned into flats.

More to the point, there are some good charity shops. Coming out of the bottom of Crystal Palace Park (a stone's throw away from the dinosaurs) and emerging onto Penge High Street, the first charity shop going down the hill is Little Ones Charity, small but full, with stuff spilling out onto the pavement. Lots of children's books and games, crockery, women's clothes, some records, CDs (including Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson) and books (I flicked through a small book of Robert Mapplethorpe's flowers).

Further down, on Maple Road off the High Street, is a Salvation Army Charity Shop and Coffee Shop. I've never seen them open, though apparently they are Monday to Friday and til midday on Saturday.

Back on the High Street and opposite Waterman's Almshouses is a Scope, spacious and selling furniture but a bit shabby. Plenty of tacky ornaments. Next door is a typical British Heart Foundation – squashed but high quality. Lots of women's shoes, decent CDs (Disclosure, Beck, Fleet Foxes) and books.

Slightly further along on the other side of the road is a well-presented British Red Cross with good CDs and DVDs. A few doors along, the St Christopher's Hospice is like a labyrinth of books, bric-a-brac, games, clothes and mixed media (haven't heard that term since 1994 have you?). Further along, just before the wilderness, is Aldlife Charity Shop, our final charity shop stop in Penge. It has loads of everything – shelves of books, piles of CDs and records, lots of kids stuff and bric-a-brac.

Penge may have an end of the world ambiance and be home to some shockingly awful looking people but it has a fairly interesting history. Nearby Beckenham-born boy Bowie included Penge in the lyrics to his 1967 song Love You Till Tuesday: 'You can walk around in New York while you sleep in Penge.' Bill Wyman was actually born there and the painter Pissarro lived there. Wikipedia says it was a fashionable district in the 19th century and had a spate of notorious murders in the 1870s.