London by Lockdown

A podcast about falling in love with a new city in the middle of a pandemic; remaining curious and open in strange and chaotic times; and about making it work.

Latest Episodes

9

August 28, 2020 00:18:29
Lost Rivers and Hidden Stories

Lost Rivers and Hidden Stories

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 ...

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8

July 31, 2020 00:32:44
Lockdown to Lockdown

Lockdown to Lockdown

From my home to yours. 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 ...

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7

July 15, 2020 00:11:47
It's My Birthday

It's My Birthday

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 ...

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6

June 15, 2020 00:12:06
How to Make a Friend in Lockdown

How to Make a Friend in Lockdown

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 ...

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5

May 27, 2020 00:11:39
Covid Dreams

Covid Dreams

In this episode we turn our attention to those everyday sounds we often overlook: the creaks, the squeaks, the buzzes and the pops that we build our daily soundtracks around without necessarily noticing. ************************** 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, 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. Thanks Opening & Closing Credits by Unregistered ...

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4

May 15, 2020 00:17:32
Exploring New Cross (+ bonus song)

Exploring New Cross (+ bonus song)

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. Thanks to ...

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