8 AM Saturday 9 June 2012 Nunhead Heights.

I have been called my “own worst enemy.” I don’t mind being my own worst enemy because that way I know my enemies aren’t as bad as I am.

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Yesterday, I posted about the chopping down of the wood in Camberwell Old Cemetery in East Dulwich, southern Southwark. That’s right next door to my Nunhead. I wrote how The Council is to cut down acres of trees, bushes and flowers for thousands of new graves. And that someday people will regret doing that.

I am not the guy to be making a stink about this.

I shoot from the hip, don’t do the detail work, get too upset. And yet I want people to like me. It’s a bad combination.

Most important: I am not English. There is a certain way that English people talk to each other so as not to offend. I haven’t mastered that. I offended people when I lived in New York, too.

The Council will probably cut down more trees just because I’m putting in my two cents.

But someone needs to stand up for Southwark’s trees and green places.

Two years ago I was on BBC Radio Four standing up for New York in “The Great Cities Debate.” I lost. Nikky Bedi and Mumbai won. I haven’t been asked back on the BBC since.

Novelist Jake Arnott thought London was the greatest city because it was the greenest city, with its parks and open spaces. That’s hardly praise for a city. It’s like saying a rural county is great by noting how urbanised it is. He didn’t see the irony.

You can compare it to the ridiculousness of the London “congestion charge.” Cities are supposed to be congested. Without traffic and people you wouldn’t have a city. The equivalent would be making city people pay money for staying out the countryside. More irony.

Southern Southwark is green.

Nunhead and East Dulwich are surrounded by parks, cemeteries, reservoirs and allotments. Once the northern tip of the Great North Wood, the area was the last place in Southwark to be urbanised and much of it became cemeteries. Over the last 75 years the cemeteries became overgrown and the natural forest returned.

But maybe only ten percent of the population of Southwark live in Nunhead and East Dulwich. We’re richer [well, not me], we own our own homes [on a mortgage] and we’re not as dependent on The Council for our incomes and our flats. It seems we don’t have much a voice in Southwark.

Most of Southwark doesn’t know about the forests of Nunhead and East Dulwich.

And probably most Nunhead and East Dulwich people don’t even know about the wood of Camberwell Old Cemetery – the beautiful wood that The Council calls “scrub” and “contaminated” and is planning of mowing down and replacing with ugly, ugly, dead graves.

Someone needs to tell southern Southwarkers – Nunheader and East Dulwich peeople – what they are about to lose.

Someone needs to tell northern Southwarkers – the people in Bermondsey, Camberwell, Peckham, and Borough – that these forests are there, that they belong to them and that they need to be saved.

I am not the man to do it. I am my own worst enemy.

Another post concerning Nunhead’s cemeteries:

“The Delightfully Dead Nunhead Cemetery is Buried Alive.”


Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday at the Source Below. Free admission. Reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow

One thought on “Speak up for Southwark's forests? I'm not the right man.

  1. I completely disagree – not with your views on the loss of southeast London’s woodland, but with your belief that you’re not the right man to make people aware of these sorts of issues.

    It shouldn’t be about people winning arguments – it should be about everyone affected by the council’s decisions being informed of what’s going on and getting their chance to voice their concerns and influence what happens. Fail to allow for that and we’ll have many more case studies like Deptford High Street on our hands.

    I think you’re probably doing more than most to spread the word given your radio show and your blog so please keep at it. We need more people like you, not fewer!

    As for causing offence, sometimes we English people need a good boot up the arse to snap us out of our politeness and complacency so don’t hold back in that respect.

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