Up My Street. Photo: Dylan Collard. (1/5)

Elizabeth Sullivan, Beautiful, Holloway Road. © Dylan Collard.

From Born and Bred – Stories of Holloway Road:

Elizabeth Sullivan was born in Hackney in 1991. She moved to Liverpool Road until she was 6 and then moved to Penn Road just off Holloway Road where she has lived since 1997. She has worked as a Beauty Therapist at Beautiful at 639 Holloway Road since 2010.

“I’m always over in Holloway shopping. Even now I’m like ‘I’m just gonna pop over to Holloway’ and I’m over there for hours. I do love it as a little shopping place, you can get a right bargain and if I don’t get my nails done in here there are always the little nail bars. I’ll always meet up with a friend over there and we’ll go for a bit of lunch and have a little shop around.”

“I do waxing, tanning, nails, tinting, facials, massages, a bit of everything really. I really like it here, it’s lovely. The people that come in are lovely. I get on with the staff here hence why I’ve been here two and a half years already and I haven’t planned to move on. I get regular clients who come in and come back to me. With this kind of profession you do build up a clientele just because either they like the way you do certain things or they like coming to see you. You do get a lot of requests. I do think the salon is really good for the area. Everyone that comes in says it’s so nice to have a salon like this locally.”

The above interview is taken from Born and Bred, an oral history project by Rowan Arts documenting the life of the Holloway Road. You can hear more at www.storiesofhollowayroad.com. Up My Street is Dylan Collard‘s own project documenting shops between Kentish Town and Archway. His exhibition The Twelfth Man is currently showing at Exposure Gallery, 22-23 Little Portland Street, London W1. Dylan is represented by the Vue agency. 

The discreet charm of the A102M. Photo & text: David Secombe.

Blackwall Tunnel southern approach, SE10. Photo © David Secombe 1988.

From Night Walks by Charles Dickens, from The Uncommercial Traveller, 1861:

Some years ago, a temporary inability to sleep, referable to a distressing impression, caused me to walk about the streets all night, for a series of several nights. The disorder might have taken a long time to conquer, if it had been faintly experimented on in bed; but, it was soon defeated by the brisk treatment of getting up directly after lying down, and going out, and coming home tired at sunrise. In the course of those nights, I finished my education in a fair amateur experience of houselessness. My principal object being to get through the night, the pursuit of it brought me into sympathetic relations with people who have no other object every night in the year.

David Secombe writes:

The above photo was taken in just such a mood as Dickens described: unable to sleep, and with guests sleeping in the living room of my one-bedroom flat, I drove around south-east London looking for images. The sheer emptiness of the industrial hinterland of the Greenwich Peninsula was eerie and unsettling, although I took the photo above; a lambent nocturnal scene, seen from the vantage point of the ‘Tunnel Palladium‘. The stillness was unnerving and it wasn’t long before I moved on to Blackheath Village. There, whilst looking at the exhibits in a taxidermist’s window, I was interrogated by two officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Special Patrol Group. The conversation went as follows:

DS and two PLAIN CLOTHES OFFICERS in front of a taxidermist’s window. About 3 a.m.

PLAIN CLOTHES 1: Who are you then?

DS: (produces card) That’s me.

PLAIN CLOTHES 1: So what are you doing? We saw you walking out of that alley.

DS: I can’t sleep. I have people in my front room, so I thought I’d go for a drive and maybe take some pictures.

PLAIN CLOTHES 1: Bit dark isn’t it?

DS: Well …

PLAIN CLOTHES 1: You ever been arrested?

DS: No …


PLAIN CLOTHES 1: Oh all right. (turns to face taxidermist’s window) What do you think of that kestrel? Clever isn’t it? Wouldn’t want it in my house though.

PLAIN CLOTHES 2: That’s not a kestrel. It’s a falcon.

PLAIN CLOTHES 1: What’s the difference?

PLAIN CLOTHES 2: Plumage. A falcon’s got different plumage. And a flatter head.

DS: I’m not very good with birds …

PLAIN CLOTHES 1: Don’t you start.

… for The London Column. © David Secombe. 

Rotherhithe. Photo Geoff Howard, text Charles Jennings (5/5)

Brunel Road, Rotherhithe, London, July 1979. © Geoff Howard.

The rest is silence by Charles Jennings:

This car is following me. No, either it’s following me – dark blue Golf – or it’s as lost as I am and just happens to emerge and re-emerge round corners and at the ends of roads and roll silently past me, the driver painstakingly not looking my way but screwing up his brow as he lunges off up another sidetrack which I know will bring him out twenty yards ahead of me. This is paranoia all right, and I’ve only been here 15 minutes.

Another thing: after a lot of ducking and weaving, I shake the car get onto the street that runs down by the river, two apes start following me, cropheads, bomber jackets, you know the sort, bouncers. Didn’t say anything, mark you, just kept their distance 30 feet behind. Nice sunny day, but I still felt that unease. So I jinked behind a litter bin, doubled back round a newbuild block of flats, nipped out on Salter Road, turned round a couple of times, lost them. Close though.

I don’t normally act this way, but Rotherhithe is not on the level. It was a perfect day, breeze blowing, sun shining, operatic clouds billowing up from the south-west, and yet such is its emptiness, the untenantedness, the shortage of humanity around Rotherhithe a lot of the time, that I can’t remember the last occasion I felt so alone in the big city except when I was last down the wrong stretch of Wapping, the sister city across the Thames. Here they were, of course, Wapping and Canary Wharf, I could see them standing golden in the sun on the north side, while kids combed the shingle beach for pounds.

Alone and lost. Just me and ranks of newbuild properties – little three-bedders with oak-effect doors, new wave flatlets topped off with pointless metal triangles and overturned D’s; refashioned warehouses on the river; fake Georgian tenements – once in a while interrupted by a canal or dead creek with tide heights marked in Roman numerals up the side, all doubling back on themselves, leading in and out of nowhere.

Not even any shops to get some sort of bearing, apart from a pair of bolted and shuttered takeaways next to a Stop ‘n’ Shop and the The Compasses pub. I clung to this last for a bit, going round in circles, afraid to lose it and myself again – before I realised that I had to be somewhere else in an hour and a half and that if I didn’t start looking for a way out, I’d never leave in time.

So it was off to the Dan Dare tube station where I thought I’d arrived a lifetime earlier, and back over the scrap of wasteland – where I finally saw a couple of people, trudging into the distance, carrying bags. And then a terrific racking cough, like a bomb going off, and this wrecky old geezer lurches out from a bush and makes for a bench. I was going to hail him, winkle out the secret of Rotherhithe, the two worlds. V-reg cars penned in behind security fences (“Specialist Dogs and Tactics” it said on a notice on one) versus the tough old estates left behind, but then another of those blokes appeared – no. 1 crop, Crombie, pit bull on a string. I thought “Hallo,” like you do, and bunked off quick.

© Charles Jennings.

[Charles’s copy was originally written for The Guardian‘s ‘Space’ supplement and was published in April 2000. As such, it is almost as much of a period piece as Geoff’s photos. D.S.]

Rotherhithe Photographs: 1971-1980 by Geoff Howard is available direct from the photographer at £25.

Rotherhithe. Photo Geoff Howard, poem Tim Wells (4/5)

Go-go dancer, The Lord Wellington, Rotherhithe, London, June 1974. © Geoff Howard.

Smut by Tim Wells: 

There’s so
much of it
and never
under the
and on
A girl
with a
scarlet melton,
kir royale,
catches my eye.
the bar top,
and viscous.
She looks
at me
a cherry
in her drink.

© Tim Wells. 

Rotherhithe Photographs: 1971-1980 by Geoff Howard is available direct from the photographer at £25.