London by Lockdown

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It’s almost the end of 2020. As a special gift for getting through a hard year, in this bonus episode we share one of our all time favourite pieces of radio, and a holiday classic: ‘Xmas in Merimbula’ by Kayla (then aged 8). ************************** Some 30 years ago, aged 17, I first heard The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ and fell in love with the city, the band and the song — and all the complexities and contradictions within. Unlike so many other Xmas songs, there’s nothing sentimental here: “It was Christmas eve, babe; in the drunk tank. An old man said to me, ‘Won’t see another one’. And then he sang a song: ‘The Rare Old Mountain Dew’. I turned my face away and dreamed about you.” It’s not a song of solace, but a cautionary tale. There but for the grace… As the years have passed, ‘Fairytale…’ has migrated in from the margins. Nowadays it’s played in supermarkets, and since 2005 it returns annually to the top 20 charts — MacColl’s beautiful voice (she grew up in Croydon, South London, not far from here) perfectly counters McGowan’s character’s dirty murky syntax. And when listeners turn from McGowan’s scowl to MacColl’s songfulness for comfort, they fall victim to a beautifully rendered ambush: “They’ve got cars big as bars, they’ve got rivers of gold, but the wind goes right through you it’s no place for the old.” Who are these people? I get preoccupied with a song’s words. In retrospect, I always have. I listen to songs as a writer, zeroing in on utterances, while Shona draws meaning from the music, listening as a musician. She plays guitar, ukulele, piano, and sings. I get tangled in a song’s prose, piecing together characters’ inner lives until they forge a path beyond the song, until I don’t know who any of us will be when we reach the other side. For me, music serves as punctuation. I don’t really care about Xmas itself, but I’ll take any excuse to see friends and family Listening to ‘Fairytale…’ is my only Xmas ritual, one I’ve not missed in three decades, so taking those five minutes out will be the only usual thing about this year. A small piece of normal in the dumpster fire of 2020. Being so far from home and with so few options to return, it’s the video calls and photos bringing us ‘everyday’ updates that keeps us going. I began the year locked down in bushfires and ended up locked down in a plague. We hope you and your family can in some small way salvage a little cheer from 2020. Information about non-Xmas festivals during this time All Saints Day (1 Nov): Diwali (mid-Oct—mid-Nov): Hanukkah (late-Nov—early-Jan): World AIDS Day (1 Dec): International Day of Disabled Persons (3 Dec): Bodhi Day (8 Dec) BuddhistDay of Enlightenment: Human Rights Day (10 Dec): Kwanzaa (26 Dec–1 Jan): Facebook @Kwanzaanetworkuk Ōmisoka (31 Dec) – traditional Japanese celebration: Soyal (21 Dec) – ceremony of the Zuni & Hopi peoples: Pancha Ganapati (21–25 Dec) — Hindu festival honoring Ganesha: Hogmanay (31 Dec) – Scottish New Year’s Eve. Tu BiShvat (late-Jan or early-Feb): A huge thanks to Unregistered Master Builder: Mental Health Resources if Lockdown is Getting You Down How to Access Mental Health Services (NHS site): Mental Health Australia: Only Human Radio Show: Pink Therapy: Contact us Facebook: @CraigsAudioWorks  Twitter & Instagram: @LDNbylockdown Available
When a 1979 BBC documentary titled "Who is Poly Styrene?" introduces us to the punk singer’s work, we become utterly fascinated. With help from Poly’s daughter Celeste Bell, musician Rhoda Dakar and archival audio from Poly herself, this episode explores why her work looks, feels and sounds so relevant today. ************************** I know your antiseptic, your deodorant smells nice I’d like to get to know you, you’re deep frozen like the ice He’s a germ free adolescent, cleanliness is her obsession Cleans her teeth ten times a day Scrub away, scrub away, scrub away the S.R. Way — X-Ray Spex “Germ Free Adolescents”, 1978 Marianne Elliott, better known as Poly Styrene, formed the punk band X-Ray Spex as a twenty-year-old in 1977. (Polystyrene is an inexpensive, clear, hard and brittle synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer that can be solid or foamed.) With songs like “Germ-Free Adolescents”, “Plastic Bag” and “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” the music of X-Ray Spex brings together the many worlds of Marianne Elliott and Poly Styrene: the woman and the artist; the mother and the daughter; the punk and the hippie — all united by a willingness to laugh at and expose the limitations of the throwaway culture of the time (and of today). Arena’s gritty 1979 documentary flies to us straight out of the past, clear as day and with prophetic lucidity. Directed by Ted Clisby, it is gritty (there’s no better description), but it’s also personal and warm, with its aesthetic beautifully anchored in a storytelling past that also endures. Just like Poly Styrene’s lyrics, and precisely because it is a type of storytelling we don’t use so much anymore, the documentary and the music are out of time, and somewhat comfortingly both feel fresh, even if the sound and the colours are a bit muted after the passing of forty years and the digital changes to design and recording in that time. As an exhibit of deliberate and ‘slow storytelling’, this documentary is a rare portrait of a strong and loud woman singing her way through a world, an industry and an era dominated by white men. Poly Styrene’s images, lyrics, art, clothes and music reflect as much on life during the synthetic Seventies as they do on the post-pandemic world ahead. Hear and read more of my work at Thanks to: Unregistered Master Builder: Speaking Volumes: Lucy Hannah: Celeste: Rhoda (Pork Pie and Mash Up): If Lockdown is Getting You Down: How to Access Mental Health Services (NHS site): Mental Health Australia: Only Human Radio Show: Pink Therapy: Websites & Articles: X-Ray Spex: Stand up and Spit: Decolonise Fest: The London Sound Survey: City and Memory Global Sound: Diwali: Your Local Arena Partners & Collaborators: Manchester Literature Festival: Ilkley Literature Festival: George Padmore Institute: 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning: Cuirt International Festival: Durham Book Festival: Writing on the Wall Festival: Small Wonder Short Story Festival: Bradford Literary Festival: Contact us: Facebook: @CraigsAudioWorks  Twitter & Instagram: @LDNbylockdown
We look at how London’s workers, including us, are affected by the pandemic. ************************** I’m a workaholic. In 2015 I forgot how to swallow. Every time I ate, it felt like a bit of food lodged in my throat. It was intermittent at first; then it would happen a couple if times during a meal; then it was every time I swallowed, and no matter how much water I drank or how many times I cleared my throat, it felt like the food would get stuck. It didn’t matter how much I chewed, either. It felt like everything was squeezing shut. I started cooking soft foods, taking tiny mouthfuls, chewing a lot, and drinking water to push it down. I was scared I’d never eat properly again. At the time I was working at the University of Queensland, and had three freelance gigs. I was also writing a grief memoir (about my mother’s death from cancer in 2013) for a Masterclass Program. I was working (paid & unpaid) seven days. I knew this was unsustainable, but I’d juggled creative and paid work before. And Shona and I devised an exit plan, and so many other writers and artists do this. But the words I was putting down in my memoir were heavy. (I didn’t know how heavy.) I was diagnosed with a hole in my heart and hypertension. In the middle of all this, two people I knew passed away, four days apart. I remember the inflection in ------’s voice on the phone when she told me ------- was gone. We’d been housemates for some years. Now, that’s a lifetime ago. Surrounded by death, we flew to Melbourne to say goodbye. The sadness and hurt triggered grief, anxiety and guilt about mum. After returning home I continued working myself into the ground. Then it hit me a couple of months later, during a trip to Canberra for the Masterclass. When I ate I thought I was choking. I didn’t know what was happening, so I flew home early. I was exhausted. I didn’t eat solid food for weeks. I lost 10kg. My short-term memory dissolved, I couldn’t sleep, my digestion stalled, I was edgy, I thought I was going to die from cancer. I took sick leave from UQ, and only just finished my freelance gigs. As for the memoir, I did submit the 10,000 words by the deadline, but I shouldn’t have. At times I’d finish a paragraph and just start sobbing. To get through, I went to counselling. To stay healthy I run 40km a week. To stay sane I work Monday–Friday, 9-5. Sometimes food feels like it’s not going down properly, but I’m usually tired or stressed. My memory came back, my sleep is ok, but I have to be careful with what I eat. And of course, in lockdown, there’s the temptation to work more and the guilt of not working, so I really have to stick to my 9-5 regime. Thanks to: Unregistered Master Builder: Markus J Beuhler: Justin Mullins: BBC: London Soundsurvey (sound & audio maps): Carolyn Pelling - find her brilliant poem: Mental Health Resources: How to Access Mental Health Services (NHS site): Mental Health Australia: Only Human Radio Show: Pink Therapy: Find out more about: How UK sex workers set up and ran a hardship fund: The Tate workers strike: London’s bus drivers fight for safer workplaces: London’s cleaners big win against outsourcing: The ongoing campaign for justice for Belly Mujinga, including calls for a Public Inquest into the circumstances of her death and a Coronial Inquest. We have more links than we could fit here, so for a full list of workers voices and campaigns go to
What’s it like to be twelve and in lockdown? ************************** In this short bonus episode our niece Kayla has recorded her reflections on the ways Covid-19 has impacted on her and her friends. We love everything about our nieces and nephew: their creativity, their questions, the songs they sing, the art they make... Every time we video call Tom and Sadie, Tom needs proof that if it’s day there, then it’s night here, and visa versa. Sadie has impeccable comedic timing for someone so young (she really does). And Kayla, who’s almost a teenager, loves, among other things, reading, writing and drawing. The artwork for this episode is hers. She’s a winter baby, and I met her a few hours after she was born — wrapped in a blanket and beanie. It’s hard to reconcile today’s independent 12-year-old with the tiny human who could hardly open her eyes back in 2008. I was on my way to live in Timor-Leste with Shona (she’d already left Australia to take up her new job) and didn’t know when I’d be back, so it was important to be there for those first hours, days and weeks of Kayla’s life. I’m not sure if humans do the same thing as some birds, but there’s an imprinting thing that happens where the babies imprint on a ‘suitable moving stimulus’ (ideally a parent bird). On the off chance humans do that as well, I wanted to be there. So, whether she likes it or not, Kayla’s stuck with me. Tom’s a runner and a climber, and Sadie’s into anything and everything her older brother is — she does not like to be left out, and fair call, too. The youngest is always pushing to be included. In saying that, they look after each other. We miss them all. Even in Australia, where we lived, Meanjin (Brisbane), is a long way from Tom and Sadie in Naarm (Melbourne), and from Kayla in Canberra, so we don’t always see them as much as we’d like. Being so far from home at the moment with so few options to return in the near future, it’s the video calls and photos bringing us regular updates on loose teeth, artworks, science experiments, cricket, ‘Bluey’, skiing, books, cubby houses, backgammon, trampoline-ing, lego, grazed knees, star wars, afl, and butterfly wings that keeps us going. Thanks Unregistered Master Builder: Kesta on the Free Music Archive
This episode uncovers lost rivers, a smelly ogre and a magical reawakening. ************************** Once upon a time there was a river... I love rivers. The Birrarung (Yarra) in Naarm (Melbourne); the Murrumbidgee skirting Canberra; how the Maiwar (Brisbane River) psychologically and spiritually dominates the city of Meanjin (Brisbane) like no other river I’ve encountered; the powerful convergence of the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan) and Djarlgarra (Canning) rivers in Mooro, Goomap (Perth); the contradiction that is the Thames (I’ve still not spent any time with it); and the lost River Peck, a tributary that gives its name to Peckham, a neighbourhood to the south west of Telegraph Hill (which sits at the northern tip of what was once the Great North Wood). Once upon a time there was a river... The story of Australia, the driest inhabited continent, begins and ends with water. The original colony site, Kudgee (Botany Bay), didn’t have fresh water, so another site “with a run of water through a very thick wood” was found at Warrane (Sydney Cove). This was the “Tank Stream” (named after tanks cut into the sides of the bedrock to capture and store water). As the colony’s main water source, it was so fouled by the colonsiers that they soon had to cart water in from a nearby wetland. When that ran dry, they ventured further west on the promise of a “Rio Grande” or “Mississippi”, and on the back of the myth of an illusive inland sea (a tale for another time). Today the Tank Stream is lost under the streets of Cadi, Djubuguli (Sydney). I heard this growing up, but didn’t know England had a rap sheet as long as your leg. After ruining London’s streams, brooks and creeks they travelled to the other side of the globe only to repeat their mistakes. Once upon a time there was a river... The River Peck is mostly underground now; one of dozens of tributaries whose waters were redirected into the shit-carrying sewers. Here and there, though, before it hits the pipes, The Peck pops up to remind us: the brook in Peckham/Rye Common; a shallow depression running alongside East Dulwich Road; a bubbling spring in a basement, which is then pumped back into the river system; or a stream through the cellar of a pub. Where Shona grew up on the outskirts of Naarm the local oval was originally a small overflow wetland for Brushy Creek, before the creek was diverted and sent underground. Now it runs under the oval, which explains why the grass remains lush, even in the heat of summer, and why, on any given evening, birds flock there to feed. Our rivers are never completely lost. Information & contacts Thanks Unregistered Master Builder: Free Music Archive BBC SFX Archive If Lockdown’s Getting You Down How to Access Mental Health Services (NHS site): Mental Health Australia: Only Human Radio Show: Pink Therapy: Websites & Articles London’s Lost Rivers by Paul Talling: London is a Forest by Paul Wood: Great North Wood: Hollie McNish:; Instagram & Twitter: @holliepoetry Ben Okri: Brendan Kennelly: Forest Schools Association: BugLife Tales of the Thames (Guardian): Peckham/Rye Common: Pump Shutdown Stops London Cholera Outbreak, 1854 (Wired): Contact Facebook: @CraigsAudioWorks Twitter & Instagram: @LDNbylockdown Available
In this episode author, travel podcaster and poet Maame Blue drops by to chat about London, Naarm (Melbourne), travel and... oh yeah, her debut novel "Bad Love" (Jacaranda Books). ************************** "I’m not a romantic. I don’t know how to tell those kinds of stories, the ones filled with magic and laughter and a purple hue. Romance has never connected with me in that way. But love — hard, bad, rough love — well, I could speak on that all day." — Maame Blue "Bad Love", 2020 From the start, nothing about Maame Blue’s first novel "Bad Love" is what it seems. Even Dapo Adeola’s cover design hints at an underlying chaos that’s at odds with the cover’s gentle beauty. "Bad Love" is a detailed search for belonging; a love letter to a London that’s far from perfect; and an exploration of faded and unconscious decisions, half-thoughts and shard-words — all those things never said. It follows Ekuah, a young Ghanian-Londoner in her 20s as she navigates and dissects all of love’s permutations: hard, bad, rough, straight, queer — and everything in between. Lyrical where it needs to be, playful when it wants to be, and truth telling when it has to be, "Bad Love" is a complete rendering. I found myself fretting, cheering, and caring about every character: Dee and Jay, Ekuah’s loves; Amelia, Vio; Ekuah’s parents. There is heartbreak here, it’s not all hugs and puppies, but the power of this novel comes from Maame’s agile writing consistently defying expectation. So the power isn’t immediately obvious. Drawn from personal notes on relationships, experienced and observed, Maame’s quality as a storyteller lies in her caring and tender descriptions of every aspect of so-called everyday life. There’s something extraordinary in all our everydays, isn’t there? In this way "Bad Love" is not about, as the potentially misleading title suggests, a particular type of Love, a specific Relationship, or even one explicit incident of "Bad Love" — as I said at the start, nothing about the novel is what it seems. Without giving away any spoilers, "Bad Love" is a celebration of all the constituent talus and scree (both the good and the bad) that make up love; and it’s about how love’s riffles and glides (again, both good and bad) make their way inside us over the years, and, if we’re open to it, teach us how to love deeply. Information & contacts: Maame Blue: Jacaranda Books: Headscarves and Carry-Ons: @Headscarves-and-Carry-ons Dapo Adeola (illustrator & designer) @dapsdraws Jacaranda Books August 3 Instagram Live Event: #twentyin2020 A huge thanks to: Unregistered Master Builder: Markus J Beuhler: Mental Health Resources if Lockdown is Getting You Down: How to Access Mental Health Services (NHS site): Mental Health Australia: Only Human Radio Show: Pink Therapy: Websites & Articles: Australia After the Bushfires (Guardian article): The goats of the Great Orme have an important coronavirus message (Wired article): Book Brunch (an interview with Maame Blue): Contact us: Facebook: @CraigsAudioWorks  Twitter & Instagram: @LDNbylockdown Available:
How much Iso birthday fun can two people have? ************************** I arrived four weeks early: induced, tiny, underfed. My ‘origin story’, according to my parents: when the doctors heard my heartbeat weakening, they induced; once born, they used tissue-sized nappies. Details are thin on the ground, but I’m the eldest, so I imagine my parents were really stressed and probably didn’t have all the information themselves. From what I can gather, the placenta wasn’t working so well (when this happens growth slows to maintain essential organs: brain, heart, kidneys). The placenta transfers nutrients and oxygen from mum to bub. Our friend Sally, a midwife, explained it to me this way: ‘Placenta is like an oxygen tank, and if it stops working it’s very hard to survive.’ If doctors see a placenta malfunctioning it’s often better to deal with the challenges of prematurity (immature organs that might not work perfectly) than a fully defective placenta. Sally again: ‘You’d rather be in a leaky boat than underwater with a faulty tank’. Having said that, being premature, even today, holds risks, but here I am 47 years on. And since I’ve been old enough to wag school I’ve taken my birthday off. I try to enjoy exactly where I am, but that’s not always easy. We lost mum the year I turned 40. My family crammed into a hospital room with crappy blue curtains and catchpenny furniture, and sat around my tiny disappearing mum. What I remember, though, is when she ate half a piece of my birthday cake, the only solid food she’d eaten in weeks, and smiled. She did that for us. I found it difficult to find light in my birthday afterwards, although recently Shona and I created a tradition of going to Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) each year. So maybe losing and then finding that light on that beautiful island helped us to reconfigure 2020’s birthday — not that any of us have a choice. It wasn’t without its problems, but we had a good day. We all know the pandemic sucks, and I’m sure you have similar touch-and-go birth stories, but if you add up our childhood accidents, the stupid chances we take in our teens and 20s, and the random-ness that can strike any time, stopping one day a year to look about, even now — maybe especially now — feels right. Huge thanks: Unregistered Master Builder: Markus J Beuhler: Information & contacts: The History of Mary Prince: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano: Olaudah Equiano: Narrative of the Enslavement of Ottobah Cugoano: Mental Health Resources: How to Access Mental Health Services (NHS site): Mental Health Australia: Only Human Radio Show: Websites & Articles: Isolation Song Contest: After being randomly assigned a country, each comedy act had one week to compose an entry. The contest has so far raised almost £30,000 for The Trussell Trust, Crisis and Refuge. Resurrection Myths by Marcus Westbury The City of London’s Wild Heart: How Rebel Botanists are Using Graffiti to Name Forgotten Flora: Country Diary: preening avocets attract attention: Shona played me this Ben Okri poem on my birthday [video]: Contact us: Facebook: @CraigsAudioWorks  Twitter & Instagram: @LDNbylockdown
In this episode we see if Craig can make a new friend during lockdown. ************************** Between mid 1990 and early 1991 I had a recurring dream (Grades 11 & 12 at Lake Ginninderra College). I’m sitting in the shallows of a lake... I’m unnerved because a near drowning a few years earlier means I don’t swim. Thunder, lighting and wind convulse the water into a wave that propels me from the land. I’m lucid, but can’t control the dream. In a second, day is now night, I’m at the opposite shore at a bonfire party of friends (current, future, past, lost). I’m greeted heartily as I make my way to warm near the fire. I know them all, but recognise none. A friend hands me a glass. I scan the crowd over his shoulder. ‘We lost her at the beginning.’ ‘Where have you all come from?’ I ask, but wake before he answers. In the first month of 1991 a friend tragically drowns while swimming in Lake Ginninderra. I’ve not dreamt that dream since. My 2020 dream occurs the week I’m flying to London, and is set at Lake Ginninderra College. I’m speaking to a friend, known but unrecognised, when one of his mates steals my wallet. Despite knowing the culprit, I pretend to canvass the whole school. My friend’s in a gang, so when I get to their hangout, everyone, except my friend, crowds me until I leave. I repeat the process — dreams within dreams? — until, in time, I find my friend alone. We search the place and discover every artefact that’s ever been stolen at the school, collated and stored. I wake before I find my wallet. Within a month of arriving in London the world is locked down. I’ve not had any ‘covid dreams’ since. These two premonitory dreams — thirty years apart — are indelible. I have counter-intuitive relief. Sure we have no idea about the virus’ long-term implications, health or otherwise, but the world’s frame has never really made sense to me, so now that the system’s fragilities are so obviously laid bare, we see what we’re up against, and we know how to win: radical empathy, compassion, connection and friendship. A huge thanks to: Unregistered Master Builder: Markus J Beuhler: Justin Mullins: Information and contacts for the people and organisations mentioned in the episode Speaking Volumes: https:// Jay Bernard: London Renters Union: Mutual Aid London: Radical Empathy Podcast: https://anchorfm/radicalempathy Hill Talk:; Facebook: @hilltalkshow Waltham Stories: Maame Blue Writes: and Headscaves and Carry-ons available on Spotify Websites and Articles: I Dream of Covid: Wired: Contact us: Facebook: @CraigsAudioWorks  Twitter & Instagram: @LDNbylockdown
What is our house trying to tell us? In this episode we turn our attention to those creaks, squeaks, buzzes and pops that build our daily soundtracks. What are those everyday sounds we often overlook? How often do you stop and really listen? ************************** Whenever travelling in a new place it’s easy for our attention to be hijacked by the grandiose: the British Museum, Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge. End to end, our flat is a modest 32 footsteps. At first, when we paused to listen closer, all we heard were random, almost opaque, individual noises, but as we refocussed our attention — maybe as we plodded into lockdown, maybe as we fell into restlessness and insomnia, maybe as the world we knew ground to a stop — patterns of composition, harmony and story took shape. And it was the familiarity of these stories that comforted me, despite having never listened to them before. I found a grounded counterpoint in an emerging world that isn’t mine (or yours, for that matter — it is too much to say here it’s now the virus’s). For me, lockdown is like sleepwalking though a restless Dream-Wake hybrid world punctuated by fatigue, insomnia and curious dreams that, dull at their edges and obtuse and fractured, create No Time. And I’m not alone, lockdown has spawned a world-wide epidemic of weird, mysterious and self-contradictory dreams. In this soundscape, ‘32 Footsteps’, we explore, and in part decipher, the mental and physical landscapes of London during lockdown. Through the intricacies and half-spaces of a recurring dream about leaving a house — any house, my house, your house — we attempt to uncover the overlooked stories of our homes. A huge thanks to: Unregistered Master Builder: Markus J Buehler: Justin Mullins: BBC: London Improvisers Orchestra Bandcamp: Facebook: @londonimprovisersorchestra Sound Design at Greenwich Facebook: @SoundGreenwich Soundcloud: Listen, Subscribe, Rate and Review (we’re available on seven platforms) Spotify: Apple: Stitcher: Podchaser: Soundcloud: TuneIn: iHeart Radio: Articles Coronavirus has created an epidemic of weird dreams: Why is Ryanair taking to the skies when there’s nowhere to fly?: Transition Events (excerpt from my novel set in a hybrid Sleep­–Wake world where nothing is as it seems): Contact us: Facebook: @CraigsAudioWorks  Twitter & Instagram: @LDNbylockdown
In this episode we learn about the place we now call home. ************************** “In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry.” So eloquent is the opening to Ben Okri’s The Famished Road (one of my all-time favourite novels), that those three sentences, drifting as they do between histories and worlds, truths and fictions, contain all the confusion, lyricism and complexity of a full-blown biblia sacra. The simple enormity of it: how one thing is in fact many. My sister gave me a copy for my 21st and it’s travelled with me across the globe, a beautiful old dog-eared and fox-blotched thing. In it Okri asks whose stories should we believe: those told by people with self-proclaimed authority, or those we tell each other? Our local histories birth and sustain our homes, the places we live: material, self evident and layered; our daily battles prove we’re not as fragile as maybe we imagine — despite logical misgivings and insecurities about the world outside; and our shared stories branch out to the whole world, continuing further than one individual, beyond each of us, not limited to one time or place. Join us as we walk the streets of our Borough, learning about its fearless history (the ‘Battle of Lewisham’, the tragic New Cross Road Fire and how the New Cross Library was saved) and discover the day-to-day actions of the people keeping us safe, connected and sane during lockdown (mutual aid groups, Telegraph Hill Radio, the Doorstep Disco). We acknowledge everyone who keeps the stories of SE14 alive. A huge thanks to Jay and Vedina for letting us use their audio! Jay Bernard: Jay's work can also be found at Speaking Volumes: Vedina Rose: Unregistered Master Builder: Not in the mood for something too heavy? Here are some cool London links we’ve come across:  Bookcase Credibility: Twitter @BCredibility and #bookcase Instagram Telegraph Hill radio (enjoy the ‘doorstep disco’): Waltham Stories: Black History Month: London Community Video Archive: Great women you should know about: Contact and follow us Facebook: @CraigsAudioWorks  Twitter & Instagram: @LDNbylockdown
In this episode your intrepid lockdown travellers tackle the big food questions: what are Romanesco broccoli and celeriac and what do you do with them; what’s the great 'jollof rice controversy'; how hot is too hot for a vindaloo; shouldn't we all eat cheese scones every day; and are vegetarian Scotch eggs worth it? ************************** For information about the UK Landworkers Alliance go to: For the 'World Famous London by Lockdown Cook Off' recipes go to: Vegetarian Vindaloo:; Cheese Scones:; Jollof Rice (it's so good we included two links):, and; and finally Vegetarian Scotch Eggs:
In this episode we reflect on a confusing couple of weeks and try to make sense of events that almost don't make any sense at all. ************************** During February and March we were house hunting. My memories of those confused weeks are thin — I’d just arrived from the other side of the world, and as much as I search for a linear and coherent story, none exists. I remember having to shake off claustrophobic thoughts before going into potential homes for house interviews; the intricate combinations of smell and light and sound; and the time before physical distancing. Our precautions came with caveats and weight: we didn’t shake hands, we used hand sanitiser, we Zoomed if we could. I flinched at every cough. As potential housemates, we discussed move-in dates, rent and bills, all without hashing out what ‘our house’ might look like if we, strangers, were plunged into indefinite 24/7 lockdown, except that’s one thing we needed to discuss. We all spoke as if coronavirus was happening to characters in other people’s dreams. But Shona and I had a hard move-out date, the lockdown’s bottlenecks had created myriad uncertainties, and the weeks were slipping away, so we increased our budget; began looking further afield, despite loving Leytonstone; and, somewhat reluctantly, decided no housemates. We also sent a ‘hail Mary’ email to Shona’s colleagues (when all bets are off …). A friend of a friend had a flat in south London. Four days later, moving day, March 24, Day 1 of lockdown: the removalists arrived three hours late, then we took an uneasy Tube trip across town to a part of London we’d never visited, holding an unsigned contract with landlords we’d never met, to move into a flat we’d never seen.
In this series we discover what it takes to fall in love with a new city during a pandemic. ************************** When London shut down on March 24, 2020, I’d been here four weeks and my partner Shona, eight months. Our staggered arrivals were so she could take a job with a global human rights organisation and I could finish my work back in Australia. I arrived with a few contacts, a resume and a visa, so when London shut down my job prospects fell off a cliff. (Shona’s still working.) In 2008 I also swapped a stable job for the unknown, when we relocated to Timor-Leste so Shona could work with a local human rights organisation. Our three years there showed us what a post-Coronavirus London may look like: overwhelmed medical system; sporadically empty shelves; and the existential threat of illness (dengue, chikungunya, malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis — not to mention unnamed ‘bugs’ that inflict combinations of diarrhoea, fever, nausea, vomiting, headache and fatigue). Fever was optional, but diarrhoea was a given. In the first week of shutdown we filled water bottles; re-stocked our first aid kit; bought dry goods that didn’t need refrigeration; and re-organised our fresh food options (the UK’s food systems are acutely fragile — see Episode 3). We also moved house — see Episode 2. We’re thankful we’re together (had my visa taken another week, we’d be on opposite sides of the world right now). ‘London by Lockdown…’ is about falling in love with a new city in strange times, remaining curious and open, enjoying everyday discoveries and making it work.
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Podcast Details

Created by
London by Lockdown
Podcast Status
Apr 24th, 2020
Latest Episode
Dec 24th, 2020
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
15 minutes
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